Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Watkins Glen International
Race 22 of 36 – 220.5 miles, 90 laps
August 4, 2019
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Chase Elliott*
2nd, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
3rd, DENNY HAMLIN
4th, ERIK JONES
5th, Ryan Blaney*
6th, MATT DiBENEDETTO
11th, KYLE BUSCH
26th, PARKER KLIGERMAN
· Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. (second) was the highest-finishing Camry driver in Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Watkins Glen International.
· Truex started from the fourth position and ran second much of the 90-lap race to race-winner Chase Elliott on the New York road course.
· Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin (third) and Erik Jones (fourth) also scored top-five finishes.
· Leavine Family Racing and fellow Toyota teammate Matt DiBenedetto (sixth) earned a top-10 finish.
MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 19 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
What more could you have done to get around Chase Elliott?
“I tried to do all I could. Chase (Elliott), he did an excellent job just not making mistakes. All I could do was get to within two car lengths or one-and-a-half at the closest in braking. Just trying to force a mistake, but he hit his marks and his car was really fast in the key areas there where it needed to be and leaving a few of the key corners. Just couldn’t get a run on him and was just kind of stuck there. Unfortunate, but our Bass Pro Camry was really, really fast today. We passed quite a few cars and finished up front, just couldn’t pass that last one.”
What does this finish say about this race team on road courses and overall?
“We enjoy the road courses. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and all the guys really understand what I need here. Honestly, we weren’t as good as we needed to be yesterday and made some changes after practice. Definitely in the right direction, just wish we could have been just a tiny bit better. Really was all about restarts and track position. If I could have just got by him on that last one, we could have set sail I believe. We didn’t and he won and he did a good job. Overall, it was a good weekend for us.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Cares Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
What were you missing that the top-two cars had in today’s race?
“We were just a couple tenths off each lap. They were just a little better. I fought the bus-stop all day, I was just a third-place car all weekend and it showed up by finishing third. We optimized the most we were going to get out of our Camry right there. Good day for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) as a whole – two, three, four — 18 (Kyle Busch) we know was fast, but had issues. This keeps momentum for us, but just wish we were a little better. Overall, not bad.”
What has this team hit on in recent weeks?
“Just been better as a whole. Just communication getting better, everything is getting better. I’ve got a first-year crew chief (Chris Gabehart) that’s finding his feet right now and our communication is good. He’s showing up to the race track and bringing me a fast car. I’m driving them as hard as I can. It’s all working right now.”
ERIK JONES, No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
What did today’s finish mean for you?
“It’s good to keep it all going. Watkins Glen is kind of the wild card in there. Being a road course and everything, we’ve been on some tracks that have been really good to us and Watkins Glen has been good to us, but you still never know what can happen on strategy. It worked out the best it really could. I made a mistake yesterday, we started too far back and just took us all day to get the DeWalt Camry up front. I felt like we had a fifth-place car all through practice and we were able to get a little better finish than that. It’s nice to keep that streak going and now going to two places – Michigan next week and then Bristol where I think we can win. We have some really good momentum behind us these months. You can’t keep running up in the top-five every week and not win a race. That’s what I keep telling myself and hopefully we can do it here soon.”
Do you feel like you can race for wins now without worrying about points?
“Real close. We’re right on the edge of that. We’re over a race up so we can definitely have a race where things don’t necessarily go our way, but we don’t want to get in a spot here with two races to go where we’re back in position where we have to really salvage points. We’ve done a great job this last month-and-a-half of carving our way back into it and really getting towards the top of the non-winners in the Playoff picture, which is a good feeling. Where we should be and where we belong – it’s nice to be up there. Points are off the mind a little bit more than they have been the last few weeks.”
What did you need to race with Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. today?
“It’s tough to say. I feel like I’ve been getting better on the road courses. I’m not where I want to be yet. I feel like our cars are capable — Martin (Truex Jr.) and Kyle (Busch) showed that. Just more time – just need more time to figure it out. There’s a couple things our car could have been better handling-wise, but there’s still more that I need to figure out in a couple sections of this track to get competitive. I felt like we needed two to three tenths to be with them. I would say three-quarters of that is probably on me.”
Is this a better finish than you expected after qualifying yesterday?
“I felt like we were capable with a clean day and that’s exactly what we did. The DeWalt Camry had good speed and we just kept it clean all day. Never got in trouble, never made a mistake on pit road or on the track and came home close to where I figured we could. I don’t think we were capable of racing with the 9 (Chase Elliott) and the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.), they were really fast and pretty far out there. Good for us. We’ve been good at Watkins Glen the past few years and it’s nice to get a good day after yesterday’s mishap. We definitely could have gotten some more stage points if we started up front. Still, a good, solid day for us.”
MATT DiBENEDETTO, No. 95 Procore Toyota Camry, Leavine Family Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
What was working today and what wasn’t?
“Track position was big and we got messed up in our qualifying run by a couple guys, but it wasn’t their fault. So that set us back and we just had to diligently all race long, inch our way forward little by little. It was cool and it’s always so satisfying on these road courses for us to inch our way forward and pass some guys. I wish we could have started a little further forward. I know we could have run a little bit better, but that’s fine. It’s fun to get so much support from all our team, Toyota, JGR and Procore. I just hope I can be a part of this for a long time to come.”
What do you think Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. had that you needed in today’s race?
“They had good track position all day and their cars were fast. Martin’s (Truex Jr.) obviously an excellent road racer, I’ve gotten some good advice from him on the road course at Sonoma and some other places. He’s good, he’s a champion and he’s one of the best. Chase (Elliott) and that 9 team, they are fast at this place and their cars have a lot of speed so it makes sense that they were up front. I think we could have gotten a few more positions if we had track position. Our speed was there, but it was hard to pass with the dirty air.”