Martin Truex Jr. (sixth) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Camry driver Denny Hamlin (seventh) and 10th) also earned a top-10 in the 400-mile event.
Other Camry drivers in the race at the 1.5-mile oval included David Reutimann (13th), Kasey Kahne (14th), Joey Logano (23rd), Bobby Labonte (24th), Casey Mears (25th), Kyle Busch (38th), Michael McDowell (41st), Joe Nemechek (42nd) and Landon Cassill (43rd).
Toyota drivers unofficially in the NSCS top-15 point standings after three of 36 races include Truex (seventh), Hamlin (eighth), Kahne (13th), Busch (14th) and Labonte (15th).
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Finishing Position: 6th Are you pleased with a sixth-place finish? “This team has been on it this year. We really hit on some things at the end of last season. The communication is going great, Chad (Johnson, chief engineer) and I are really on the same page as far as getting the car setup. We had a good car in practice all weekend, we had a good run last week. It’s just been good — the communication has been going really well and we’re building a lot better race cars. He’s really learning what I need in them — there’s going to be a lot more of this, this year.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 7th How was your race? “It’s commendable, anybody that was out there today knew that passing was nearly impossible — it was so hard. I think it just has a lot to do with the speeds that we’re running and as hard as the tires are. We’re just so dependent on the air. When someone is in front, it takes it away and we can’t do anything. Hopefully when we come back here, they’ll soften the tire up and that’s when you’ll see a lot of side-by-side action.”
Did you have any concerns about your engine after seeing what happened with Kyle Busch? “We definitely have not gone each week yet without an engine issue. Hopefully we’ll get that all together and everything and get TRD (Toyota Racing Development) on it to figure out what’s going on.”
What was wrong with your engine and was it similar to what happened to Kyle Busch? “No, his was the bottom-end and mine was the top-end, it’s two totally different deals. Really, luckily for us, stuff is happening in practice and things like that. It’s not biting us in the race yet in talking about the 11 team. Hopefully we get all this stuff figured out and the team gets it worked out before the Chase.”
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 10th How does it feel to finish in the top-10? “Today was finally the good start to our season we have needed. We have to keep it up and chip away at the points inch by inch each week. We made the most of everything today and got every drop we could out of the car — the guys did a great job in the pits and with adjustments. Everyone gave 100 percent and that’s all you can ask for.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Tums Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 13th How was your race? “We had a fast race car today, but every time it seemed like we were going to break into the top five , something put us back. We kept battling back and ended up with a decent finish. It isn’t what we wanted or think we deserved, but it moved us up in points and we’ll try to gain even more at Bristol.”
KASEY KAHNE, No. 4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 14th
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 23rd
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 24th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 25th
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 38th Was there any warning with what happened to your car? “No, there wasn’t. It’s really unfortunate. We had a great race car. That Snickers Peanut Butter Squared Camry was fast today. We chased down (Tony) Stewart there and unfortunately the air is so sensitive today that you get within a five car length cushion and you just can’t close anymore, I kind of got stuck behind him through traffic. The car was running awesome before that and then unfortunately we had a tire go down there. It got us a little behind. The guys did a great job changing tires. We got out and we were the ‘lucky dog’, fortunately — lucky us. Then, on the restart there, I was going to bide my time and try to get back through traffic with plenty of time to go and ‘kablooey’ — it just broke. I really hate it for these guys, they worked really hard. Hopefully the 20 (Joey Logano) and the 11 (Denny Hamlin) don’t have the same problems today.”
Does it matter that this happened in your hometown of Las Vegas? “No, it wouldn’t be any different if it were any other race. Fortunately it’s early enough in the year that we can still bounce back and rebound to get ourselves in contention and solidly in the Chase before we get to race number 26.”
What do you think about your weekend in Las Vegas? “I’ve been blowing tires, mowing grass, knocking walls down and setting balls of fire down the backstretch and Kurt (Busch, brother) has been doing ‘loop-d-do’s’ through turn four today. We’re having problems of our own in our hometown – it might be good just to get out of here and come back and try again next year.”
Is there concerns your team is having engine issues? “Obviously we have some sort of problem that we can get through and work around. We’re trying to make the best horsepower we can to keep up with some other teams that we know have better horsepower than we do. The guys keep trying to find every ounce they can and unfortunately sometimes we push the limits. The pieces that break sometimes are smaller than your pinkie fingernail. It’s hard on them.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing LLC Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports Finishing Position: 41st
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 42nd
LANDON CASSILL, No. 60 Big Red Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 43rd