Toyota MENCS Kansas Post-Qualifying Recap

Toyota Racing Post-Qualifying Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Kansas Speedway – October 20, 2017

2nd, Kevin Harvick
3rd, Ryan Blaney
*non-Toyota driver


American Muscle

MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 78 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Starting Position: 1st
Is this your most important pole of the year?
“It’s pretty big, the biggest one at this point in time so that’s what matters you know. We race one week at a time and try to do the best we can. Obviously we needed this, this was a big one tonight with next week’s pit selection, so just really proud of everybody. Great execution all day making right adjustments and right calls in qualifying there. Just had to step it up there, I’m shaking a little bit after that one it was pretty wild.”

This has always been one of your best tracks, how important would a win be?
“Things are pretty terrible lately (laughs). This stuff is so difficult, all these teams out here work so hard trying to be better than we’ve been the last couple times. If you’re not getting better you’re going backwards. Just a credit to my team, the guys worked really hard on this car back in Denver this week with a lot of updates and thanks to all those guys back in the shop for busting their tails and awesome job by my guys here on the road.”

How important is that number one pit stall at Martinsville?
“I would say it’s probably the biggest advantage of any track we go to, to have it there. We’ve already been working hard on Martinsville and that’s certainly going to help us.”

How did the wind affect your lap?
“Any time you come to Kansas you expect high winds. It’s kind of par for the course. I think the fact that it was pretty consistent all day long even though it was fairly strong, it was pretty easy to deal with. Just really proud of all the guys on our Bass Pro Camry. They did a really nice job this week and the guys worked really hard to get this car ready throughout the week back in Denver. We had a few changes to put on this car late and they did a great job with that. Had a good day throughout practice. Felt like we needed to make some adjustments going into qualifying and you know just made all the right changes and then again throughout the three rounds. Just made the right changes for each round. Proud of everybody. They did a great job. It’s nice to be able to step up and when there’s kind of something big on the line, to step up and make it happen. It was fun and looking forward to starting up front here this week and then also that first pit stall next week at Martinsville is huge. We were definitely gunning for this pole to try to get that for next week.”

How hard did you have to push the car on that final lap?
“I was shaking a little, I’m not going to lie. My heart was beating. It gets the adrenaline going so high. To put down a lap like that, just to go the fastest you have all day long in that final round on the third run on tires, we just – we put it all together. We got the balance better and I stepped up and put it on the line out there and it stuck. Commitment level was high and car handled it well. It’s always a good combination.”

How closely were you watching Kevin Harvick’s line when he ran in qualifying to get your best line around the track?
“I actually ended up running in the line in the third round that I ran in the first round. It was kind of the line I committed to before qualifying started. It worked well in the first round. Round two I felt like we tried something a little different in one and two and it wasn’t quite as good for my car. We made some adjustments and went back to the line that I ran in the first round and it worked out well.”

You haven’t stopped running hard throughout the Playoffs even with your points cushion, why is that?
“It’s not really that easy, you can’t just turn it off, turn it on. I think we said coming into the Playoffs that we have to try to just be who we are, play to our strengths, do things the way we know how to do them. I feel like if you try to lay back or if you try to step it up at certain points of time you open yourself up for mistakes. You have to just push right on that edge that you’re used to that you’re comfortable with. That goes for the team as well as me behind the wheel. I think for us, we just go out here and do what we know how to do. Kansas has been an awesome track for us over the years in general, but really the past couple years we’ve been really strong here. I feel like we understand this track really well and the tendencies of it throughout the weekend and that plays into our hand. Really honestly just excited to see the speed in the car for qualifying that usually means we’re going to have a pretty solid weekend here. Typically I feel like we always race better here than we qualify even though we did have a pole last year at this race track. Definitely optimistic about the rest of the weekend and looking forward to getting to work tomorrow.”

Do you feel like the monkey’s off your back now that you’ve checked off that win in Kansas?
“I’ll let you know Sunday night. It’s just racing, you never know. Certainly we’ve had some strong runs here over the years. I think we probably should have more than one win without a doubt, but that’s racing. That’s how these things go sometimes. They don’t play out the way you hoped they would. You can be the fastest car all night long, it doesn’t guarantee you anything which we’ve seen before. We’ll play it by ear. We’ll go race hard and I know we’ll have what it takes to win and hopefully we can get it done again this time around.”

What is it about that first stall in Martinsville that makes it so important?
“The crew chief being able to see all the other cars come and try to get you on the bottom lane for restarts is pretty huge. We’ve seen that come into play there. That’s the best spot to make that happen. But aside from that, just getting a clean entry into your pit stall and then a clean exit. We’ve seen crashes happen there trying to get out of your box. Guys two, three-wide, can’t fit. It’s a very tight pit road, so just having that clean out I think is a huge deal getting to your pit stall and then having that clean out is a big deal. We’ll see if it works out. Hopefully it’ll be an advantage. It typically seems like it’s just a fast amount of time on pit road when the guys have first box.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 4th
Did you have anything left for the field?
“I really don’t feel like I did. We could’ve done a little bit better on the balance of the race car, but I thought they made great adjustments every round. It was similar every round, it was just – that was just all it had. I felt like I got everything out of it we had. Just a tick off those other guys.”

How big is to start up front as you try to collect Playoff points?
“Yeah, I mean that’s a start. I mean Friday you want to qualify well and then certainly you want to get good race setup tomorrow and then Sunday you just got to – you got to execute. You got to figure out how to be fast on restarts and fast at the end of the run as well. And then of course we’ve got to do good on pit road, so hopefully I keep that track position or improve a few spots actually and stay up there the whole race.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 5th
How happy are you with a fifth place starting spot?
“Fairly. Fairly. Just looking at this weekend, looking ahead if there’s any car I’d like to have the number one pit stall would be the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.), so we’ll just kind of – hopefully this is going to work out for us. We need to have a good solid run. No mistakes. Top five qualifying position is good for just the few minutes that we were in qualifying trim. Our car has got good speed. We’ll just tune on it tomorrow and hopefully make it a race winner.”

How does your position over the Playoff cut line play into your mentality as you approach this weekend?
“I think it’s just limiting the bad positions that you put yourself in. Ultimately, the safest place you be is up front, so you don’t want to get yourself caught 15th or something on a restart. That’s a bad place to be. This race track has taken out some cars in the past, it’s not just one of those mile-and-a-halfs where it goes status quo and goes green. We know that there’s going to be attrition and we’ll just make sure that we get through this weekend clean with our FedEx Camry and move on to Martinsville.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 8th
You saved some tire there in round one, were you thinking that might help in round three?
“I was just sideways loose, just trying to hang on and not crash the thing. We weren’t really saving tires, just trying to make sure that we could have another run underneath us. The M&M’s Halloween Camry is just not quite right. There’s something missing, something we’re just not quite, quite feeling. It’s not communicating between my head and my butt and the rear tires so we’re trying to figure all that out and get it to where we can find some – it’s got speed, just find some more balance, find some more comfort to be able to hustle it and to be able to get out of it what we need out of it.”

Do you lean on your success here with crew chief Adam Stevens heading into Sunday’s race knowing you just have to finish well, it doesn’t have to be a win.
“I think so, but there’s no telling, so obviously we’ve had some speed here that we’ve been here the last few times and that helps things. The speed that we’ve had here, we’ve qualified on the pole and we’ve had really good balance, we’ve had really good qualifying, so we didn’t have that today. Hopefully we can find some of that tomorrow and see what we have for in store here this weekend.”

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