NASCAR Cup PR Toyota Racing NCS Post-Qualifying Recap -- Auto Club 2.29.20

Toyota Racing NCS Post-Qualifying Recap — Auto Club 2.29.20


NCS Post-Qualifying Report – Auto Club Speedway
Six Camrys Set to Start Sunday’s 400-mile California Race

FONTANA, Calif. (February 29, 2020) – Kyle Busch claims highest starting position for Toyota at California’s Auto Club Speedway.

Toyota Racing Post-Qualifying Report
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Auto Club Speedway – February 29, 2020

1st, Clint Bowyer*
2nd, Jimmie Johnson*
3rd, Alex Bowman*
4th, Kurt Busch*
5th, Kevin Harvick*
*non-Toyota driver


CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 95 Rheem Toyota Camry, Leavine Family Racing
Qualifying Position: 22nd

How was your qualifying lap?
“Qualifying is qualifying. Honestly, it was a lot easier than what I was anticipating. Yesterday it was 20-something degrees hotter or 10 degrees, whatever it was, but yesterday qualifying runs were not easy. It was just right on the edge of could you hold it flat or could you not hold it flat and today, at least for my car it was easy to be flat all the way around. Hopefully, that’s a sign of what’s to come tomorrow. I don’t care where we qualify, as long as we race good.”

Was that more adjustments or track temperature?
“A lot of it was probably track temp and especially whenever I was out there, it was clouded up quite a bit.”

How has the adjustment to Cup been for you?
“Obviously it hasn’t been great so far. At Vegas and Daytona I felt like we were right with our teammates so that’s good. I have to limit my mistakes obviously. Can’t afford to be crashing. It’s very important for me to finish this race on Sunday.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Qualifying Position: 28th

What happened in qualifying?
“We’re just slow, a half-second off all weekend. We knew we would be at least that in qualifying.”

Is there an explanation or is the team scratching their heads?
“I’m not sure. I think we definitely are. We think a lot of guys have grip built into the car and they were able to hold it wide open so it would be faster. I don’t know, it’s tough to say what we’re struggling with.”

Does it seem odd since nothing really changed?
“A manufacturer got a new body, built for one year based off the rules that we got. That helps. Everyone else continues to develop, you definitely don’t sit still. No team really sits still.”

Why is the racing so much more aggressive mid-pack now?
“It certainly is. Last week I was in the 20s, it’s nuts back there. It’s not any fun, I can tell you. It’s definitely a lot different racing. These are people that are scratching, clawing to stay on the lead lap. I know I had to race Chase (Elliott) in a very unprofessional way last week at the end of the stage to stay on the lead lap. It sucks that you have to do that when you’re having a struggling day and running in the 20s, it’s what you have to do.”

ERIK JONES, No. 20 Resers Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Qualifying Position: 29th

What happened in qualifying?
“Just not good. Almost crashed in one and two, we were just slow. We haven’t been able to get the car driving that good all weekend. Just been fighting it. Just struggling. Have to be better. Just wasn’t that good.”

Is the team looking for answers right now?
“We’re obviously behind as far as speed and race ability right now. It’s just going to take time. Chevy has a new body and it’s doing pretty well for them. We are just behind right now. We have work to do, but we’re doing all we can with what we have for wind tunnel numbers and trying to get the cars better, it’s just going to take time right now.”

Is there a sense of frustration?
“Yeah, you’re frustrated, but it’s part of it. It ebbs and flows in racing. Sometimes you’re really good and we were really fast last year at a lot of places and this year we’re just struggling to start. It’s hard when you come off a good year and the next year you struggle out of the gate and that’s where we kind of are right now. We don’t know how we’re going to race tomorrow, hopefully we race good. Obviously, we’re going to start pretty far back and that will make it tough. Hopefully we can race up and just have a decent day. Didn’t have a great day in Vegas and we need to have a good race here soon.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Qualifying Position: 38th

Does the performance of your car in practice yesterday make you optimistic about the race?
“I’m always optimistic. I did feel good about our car and seemed like long runs we were strong. Hopefully we’ll have a lot of those tomorrow and be able to use those to our advantage.”

Do you know what failed in inspection?
“I guess we failed a small spot on the body the first time through and then fixed it, came back and then got into the LIS roulette game. Chased that around a few times and here we are.”

Is there frustration within the organization about performance?
“We had a car capable of winning last weekend. This stuff is not easy. We’ll see how tomorrow goes. We lack speed by ourselves for sure on these bigger tracks and we did last year as well. I think we focus on what we need to race good with and hopefully tomorrow we’ll find out that we can race good, that’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes. We have to race first.”

Will you have a different strategy to get track position?
“There’s not many opportunities here because of tire wear. You have to put tires on. If you don’t, you’re just going to get run over. We’re just going to have to pass some guys and look forward to having some fun.”

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