David Reutimann (fourth) was the highest finishing Camry driver in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Alabama’s 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.
Joey Logano (fifth), Martin Truex Jr. (sixth) and Denny Hamlin (ninth) also finished in the top-10 for Toyota.
Other Camry drivers in the field included Robby Gordon (18th), Casey Mears (24th), Kyle Busch (25th), Kasey Kahne (26th), Joe Nemechek (27th), Michael Waltrip (28th), Scott Speed (29th), Marcos Ambrose (34th) and Jeff Fuller (43rd).
Nine Camrys took turn leading today’s 500-mile race for a total of 63 (of 188) laps. Lap leaders included Reutimann (14 laps), Logano (eight laps), Truex (nine laps), Hamlin (four laps), Busch (20 laps), Kahne (three laps), Nemechek (one lap), Speed (three laps) and Ambrose (one lap).
Hamlin remains second in the unofficial NSCS point standings and trails Johnson by 14 points after seven events in the 10-race 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoff. Busch moved to the fifth position and is now 230 points behind Johnson.
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 4th How was your car able to push and lead in the draft today? “It’s just weird, sometimes you get out behind cars and you can push them and you can move forward. Other times you just can’t. There’s just no rhyme or reason for it. Had a great Aaron’s Dream Machine – great pit stops all day. My guys did a great job – Rodney Childers (crew chief) and everybody did a fabulous job from the time we unloaded until now. Thanks to Toyota and Toyota Racing Development – great horsepower all day. That thing was like 280 degrees when we came back around here on water temp and they told me to keep digging. I don’t know too many motors that will take that all the time so hats off to those guys. Just happy to get out of here – this is probably our best speedway car and we’ve been using it quite a bit. Thankfully we haven’t left where it’s been torn up too bad so we’ll be ready to take it back next year.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 5th Did you have any plans on who to draft with in the closing laps? “Basically it was whoever was in front of me on that last restart. We were trying to get all three (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) cars together there for a while and it was working for us. That caution came out and it split us all up. At that point the 56 (Martin Truex Jr.) was in front of me, which was cool because it was a Toyota and we just hammered down. I was just a bulldozer and kept pushing, pushing, pushing. Was able to get the 56 up there – we were up to fourth and fifth and we were catching the first four cars there. As soon as we got there Martin had to check up a little bit and that killed our momentum and at that point I went by him. He tried to get back to me to push me and that was it. I felt like if we were able to get by those guys there coming to the line there then maybe I could have pushed Martin another lap and tried to make a last lap pass for the win there. It was fun there at the end. I had a lot of fun in the Home Depot Toyota. We had a good car and just had to be patient the whole race – that was the toughest part is trying to be patient and riding behind these guys and waiting to position yourself there at the end. I was pretty comfortable when I was in the top-seven or eight there with about 20 (laps) to go. Felt like that was where I needed to be and didn’t do anything stupid. I just stayed in line and when it came down to it, I needed to go. We did what the plan was today, but the plan was to win it so we almost did the plan.” Did you want to try to help Denny Hamlin when he went a lap down? “There’s not a whole bunch we could do. You’re out there trying to get yourself to the front so it’s definitely a challenge there. Basically if he (Denny Hamlin) was hung out then we would let him in and help him out as much as we can. Felt like we did a good job helping him out as much as we could today. I think he had a solid run.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 6th How do you feel about your finish at Talladega today? “We finally finished one at Talladega. I had fun today driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. I had a good car all day. Here, it is all about surviving. We were able to survive. Usually if you can do that, at least for me, I have a shot at winning. I haven’t been able to get it in a Cup car, but we were close today. We had a big run coming to the white flag. We had good help from Joey Logano in the 20 car, but the hole closed up on us. Logano was pushing me really, really well for the last two laps. We had a huge run coming. If they didn’t block us, we were going to be the leader at the white flag. I guess it wasn’t meant to be – what are you going to do? We had a good race.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 9th How was your race overall today? “It wasn’t very fun. I didn’t get to race as hard as I would like to at times and thought I was in a good position there. I was actually in a great position with two (laps) to go. I had the 5 (Mark Martin) pushing me, but as soon as we passed the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) he stopped pushing and that’s teamwork. That’s what I would expect of a teammate. We were in a bad spot. We weren’t around our teammates when it counted right there at the end.” How did you feel when you fell to one lap down? “I was a little disappointed. I knew we could get it back. I was hoping we were going to stay out and get the pass around, but Mike (Ford, crew chief) wanted to make the safe call and get the lucky dog. We got that and just had a good car. Just never ran all day. I hate that I had to race like that. Unfortunately with our points format, it’s how you have to race. It was an up and down day. It looked like everyone broke even. I lost a little to the 48 (Jimmie Johnson), lost to the 29 (Kevin Harvick), but still it wasn’t anything detrimental today.” Why were you upset when you got out of the car? “I had the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) by five spots coming off the last corner and when the 5 (Mark Martin) stopped pushing me, it just killed us. We weren’t going to go forward from that point.” How do you feel being 14 points behind Jimmie Johnson leaving Talladega? “It’s what I asked for. I asked for nobody to really get killed here this weekend and to let us settle it on the race track where our cars and our teams can make a difference and us drivers can make a difference. That’s what we got. We’ve got a tight one and I’m looking forward to the last three (races).”
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 Speed Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports Finishing Position: 18th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 24th
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 25th
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How do you feel about the race today? “This is one of those places where a lot of people leave upset and a few leave happy. We’re pretty happy with our M&M’s Camry – it was a pretty good car. We could lead, we could push really good, but circumstances at the end – it just didn’t work out for us. We got hung on the bottom and the top line just freight-trained us. We lined up behind the 00 (David Reutimann) and there was a small hole and he was able to get up top. Then we lined up behind the 20 (Joey Logano) and there was another small hole and he was able to get up. You can’t blame those guys – that’s what they have to do to finish ahead for themselves. We could never find that small hole to get up – we got trapped on the bottom and we got freight-trained there. We got a 28th-place finish out of it. I think this team is a lot more solid than that. That’s what’s disappointing. One of the rewarding things of this sport is at the end of the day you always have a report card – you know how well you performed. It stinks when your report card says you finished 28th, but you know you were a lot better than that. We’ll lick our wounds and get ready for Texas.”
KASEY KAHNE, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 26th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 27th
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 Aaron’s 55th Anniversary Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports Finishing Position: 28th
SCOTT SPEED, No. 82 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 29th
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Kleenex/Clorox Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 34th
JEFF FULLER, No. 97 Heatredefined.com Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 43rd