FOUR TOYOTAS IN THE TOP SIX AT FIRST CUP SERIES RACE AT POCONO
Hamlin runner-up, Bell finishes a career-best fourth
LONG POND, Pennsylvania (June 27, 2020) – Denny Hamlin (second), Christopher Bell (fourth), Kyle Busch (fifth) and Martin Truex Jr. (sixth) led Toyota with top six finishes in the Pocono Organics 325 at Pocono Raceway on Saturday afternoon.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Race 14 of 36 – 325 miles, 130 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Kevin Harvick*
2nd, DENNY HAMLIN
3rd, Aric Almirola*
4th, CHRISTOPHER BELL
5th, KYLE BUSCH
6th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
28th, DANIEL SUÁREZ
35th, TIMMY HILL
38th, ERIK JONES
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
What more did you need in the closing laps to catch Kevin Harvick?
“Obviously a fast FedEx Camry. I don’t know if more time would have helped, but I had a bad vibration there the last 15 (laps) and that kind of hampered our efforts coming to the front there. Not sure what it was, but it was really, really bad and we just did all we could to run him (Kevin Harvick) down and that’s all we had.”
What do you need tomorrow that might have been missing today?
“We don’t need anything. We have a race-winning car, just finished second today.”
How severe was the vibration?
“It was bad, it was like someone loosened all the nuts on the car. It was unfortunate. We got there and we came there from a long way back and had a strong FedEx Camry. With about 15 or 20 (laps) to go, the vibration just got really, really bad and still would have been tough to pass him (Harvick), even though we got there, it was going to be tough to get around him. Our car was extremely, extremely fast. Optimistic for tomorrow’s race for sure.”
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 95 Rheem Toyota Camry, Leavine Family Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
What does it mean to score a top-five finish this afternoon?
“We seemed to be really fast in turn one, that’s kind of where I could make all my moves at. Just have to work on turn three a little bit and see how tomorrow goes.”
Were you paying attention to the strategy or did you just have to trust in your crew chief?
“Whenever I started working with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) two years ago in the Xfinity Series, well even before that, I started following him and I knew he was really aggressive on strategy to get his driver up front. Seems like the majority of the race tracks that we’ve been to the last couple weeks have just been, put four tires on and go, but Pocono is definitely a place where you can mix up strategy, pit early, pit before the stages and so forth. Obviously, Jason did a great job and got us up front and we had the car speed to stay up there.”
From 36th to a career-best fourth, talk about the run today at Pocono Raceway.
“Yeah, it was a great day. I was really happy with our Rheem Camry. It took me a little bit to get up to speed with obviously not having practice in my first race in a Cup car here, but by the end I was really happy with the car. Everyone did a great job here on this 95 group; we executed and ended up upfront.”
With as good as car as you had today, how excited are you to get back on track tomorrow?
“I’m looking forward to see if we can build on it. I think all of our cars are really good. We are close to winning, so hopefully we can continue to get better and see if we can move up a little further tomorrow.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Mini’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
Describe your race and what more you needed to get to the front today.
“Our M&M’s Mini Toyota Camry was pretty decent. We had some speed and there were laps that I could run with the 11 (Denny Hamlin), but the 11 could just do it lap after lap after lap where I was pushing everything I had to keep up with him there. I just couldn’t do it. I would make the tires mad and would start to fall back. We were just a little tight all day. We really fought tight early on, but we made some really good adjustments and got it a lot closer and got it a lot better. Our strategy there worked out to get us in the top-five, that was about all we could ask for out of today. We got some really good ideas for tomorrow hopefully that will help us out and hopefully get us some speed so we can keep up with those front guys.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 SiriusXM Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
You had a strong car early in the race, but looked like a vibration hampered you in the closing laps?
“We started in a decent spot and lost some spots early. I thought we had a pretty decent SiriusXM Toyota early on and kind of had to do a little different strategy there. Stage one didn’t look too good, but I felt like we were pretty close with the car. We made some adjustments and got some track position through stage two, so we were able to get some decent stage points there. We were in a decent spot again towards the end and got a really bad vibration, so I was a little concerned that we were going to have a tire issue or something. Luckily, it held on and it wasn’t a great finish by any means, but a solid finish for sure and something we can work on for tomorrow.”
Do you feel the car is in a good place for tomorrow’s race?
“I think we’re close. I think if we can make a few of the right changes, we can be really strong. At one point in the race, I felt like we were really close and I got a little damage on the right side on a restart when I got squeezed a little bit off of turn one and scraped the fence. That definitely hampered us the second half of the race. I think if we can fix that and make a few of the right adjustments, hopefully we can gain on it. I think tomorrow is going to be a whole different ballgame with us being the third race of the day and the sun is probably going to be out or at least they’re calling for that. We expect warmer temperatures and different track conditions. That plays into things.”
Does it feel odd doing two Cup races in two days?
“Yeah, it does for sure. This whole deal has felt weird – just showing up to the track with no practice and just sort of winging it has felt strange. At this point, we’ll pretty much do whatever everybody wants to do and we’ll make it work. I feel good and it was a nice, cool day here at Pocono. This is generally not a highly physical race track, it’s more mental. I think everybody is in pretty dang good shape after today and ready to roll tomorrow.”
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