Camry driver Kyle Busch won Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Busch led 153 (of 500) laps en route to victory lane.
The victory was his first of the 2011 season, his 16th driving a Toyota and his 20th overall NSCS win.
After winning yesterday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Bristol, Busch became the first driver in series history to ‘sweep’ two consecutive race weekends at the same race track.
The Las Vegas-native has now won five consecutive NASCAR national series races at Bristol Motor Speedway. His wins before today’s triumph came in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Aug. 18, 2010), NNS (Aug. 20, 2010), NSCS (Aug. 21, 2010) and NNS (March 19, 2011).
Camry drivers Kasey Kahne (ninth), Bobby Labonte (13th) and Martin Truex Jr. (17th) also earned top-20 finishes.
Other Camry drivers in the field at the half-mile oval included Joey Logano (23rd), David Reutimann (30th), Denny Hamlin (33rd), Brian Vickers (36th), Casey Mears (37th), Joe Nemechek (41st), Landon Cassill (42nd) and Michael McDowell (43rd). Toyota drivers in the top-20 in the NSCS point standings after four of 36 races include Busch (sixth), Truex (10th), Kahne (12th), Labonte (14th) and Hamlin (17th).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 1st How was today’s race following yesterday’s Nationwide Series win? “It was a lot harder today, that’s for sure. Carl (Edwards) kept me honest there. I was making a couple mistakes, but nothing we couldn’t rebound from. This M&M’s Camry was awesome today. Can’t thank the guys at Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing — M&M’s — thanks for signing up for another infinite years. It’s a multi-year deal so we’re excited about that. This is a heck of a way to kick that off. All the partners there, all the employees, all the people worldwide at M&M’s. Also all our thoughts and prayers go to the Toyota folks and everybody in Japan. Anybody can go to RedCross.org and donate if they can and if they have anything to give. It’s fun to come out here and do what we love to do, but in the travesties of things that happen in the world, it’s cool to also give back to those guys. Thanks Sprint, Marquis Jets, Gillette, NOS Energy Drink, the fans. This is cool to come to Bristol.”
How were you able to keep your car so clean today? “There’s a couple on the right side — you just haven’t gotten to that side yet. You have to be patient sometimes and sometimes you have to go for it and put it through the middle. There’s a couple lapped cars that kind of held me up a little bit and I just kind of gave way. Too early in the race to push the issue. I let Jimmie (Johnson) take the lead. Our guys on that last pit stop won this race coming out of the pits first. I don’t know if I could have gotten by Carl (Edwards) — Carl was good. Our car was definitely better on the longer run. We kind of stretched it out a little bit there. I was worried that Jimmie might get by him and come frazzle me for a little while. I felt good about these guys and what they did. Dave Rogers (crew chief) — awesome job.”
Do you feel like victory lane at Bristol is your new home? “As soon as I can beat Darrell (Waltrip) for most wins here they can name it after me. This is his right now. This is pretty cool. It’s an awesome opportunity to come to Bristol and win in front of these fans — I love it. It’s a lot of fun and especially five in a row. This is cool. It was a grueling day today. I didn’t feel my best, but we put it all together there when it mattered most. This M&M’s Camry team did an awesome job. Mark (Cronquist, engine builder) got a lot of pressure put on him a couple weeks ago and everybody was wondering what was going on, but I believe in those guys and what we’re doing here. It’s fun and I love coming to Bristol. There’s nothing not fun about this place. I’m sure all these fans know that too.”
Was it fun to race Carl Edwards following the final restart? “No, it’s not fun when you’re racing that hard, but it’s fun for the fans to see that. I thought it was going to be a little bit reminiscent of 2008 — he (Carl Edwards) gave me a little shot getting into turn one, but we gathered it up and drove through that. I actually screwed down here when I saw Joey (Logano) get in the wall. It kind of jumbled me a little bit so I just had to get regrouped and put my thoughts back together and get back going. I drove away from those guys so once I drove away from them I could kind of calm back into my rhythm a little bit and that was good for us.” – more –
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued) How patient did you have to be with lapped traffic today? “It did go on for a long time. I kept saying, ‘Man, give me a little bit more room, hold your line. Do what you were doing when I caught you.’ One time I tried to go to his outside. That’s when he moved all the way up to the far back of the race track. I’m like, ‘Alright — he’s watching his mirror a little bit.’ I would try to get on his inside. On the entry, you have to kind of go shallow a little bit. But he would really go shallow on my door, up the race track, diamond it, come back to my door again. It makes your car really loose when people do that. I just had to be patient, bide my time with what I had. There were a couple times last year, year before, same thing happened. I was leading. Jimmie (Johnson) was second. Jimmie said the same thing. He expected me to waffle somebody, spin them out or something. I told these guys at one point during the race, ‘There’s still time, got plenty of opportunities here to run these guys back down.’ I let Jimmie go to see if he could do anything with them. He couldn’t do anything. There were only three or four laps till we had another caution. Essentially Marcos (Ambrose) did everything he could do to not go another lap down. No fault to him. It’s Bristol, what we have here. It was nerve wracking there. Getting a little frustrated. You just kind of think about one more pit stop still left to go.”
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How do you feel about the overall performance of the race team today? “I’m real proud of the entire M&M’s team. This is a team win for sure. We came off the truck Friday really good. Kyle (Busch) was extremely happy with the car. We knew the track was going to tighten up, it always does. We still got behind. Saturday we weren’t very good at all. We were really tight. We put the new tire on and it was worse yet. We made some stabs at it in practice. We got it better, but we were still a good tenth and a half, two-tenths off. That’s pretty far off at this race track. So we studied the notes, talked to Jason Ratcliff (18 NNS crew chief), talked to Kyle after the Nationwide race yesterday, studied the tire data — whatever Goodyear would give us. We came in this morning and made a number of changes, pretty significant changes. The road crew seemed to put together a sound race car, then Kyle did his job on the racetrack as we expected it to. Comes down to a final pit stop. Our guys shined. Total team effort. Real happy with everybody.”
J.D. GIBBS, president, Joe Gibbs Racing How did you feel watching today’s race? “Bristol is just nerve wracking from an owner’s perspective. Kind of like Talladega and Daytona in a way, you have to survive it first, then you have to be in the right place at the right time, make the right decisions, good stops. Kyle (Busch) took advantage of that. It was kind of fun to watch today, especially to get to kick off the whole extension with the M&M’s Mars team. It was real special for us. We’re real appreciative.”
KASEY KAHNE, No. 4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 9th How was today’s race? “The best part about our race was our pit crew. Our pit stops were awesome the entire race. It was the best job they’ve done all season long. They’ve been good all year, but not that good. It was awesome to gain spots every time on pit road. We just missed it a little bit with the car. At times we were a top-five car and at the end we were a top-10 car. The momentum thing got us. It was a decent day and we finished.”
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Bush’s Baked Beans Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 13th How did your car handle in today’s race? “We were good all day. It just seemed like the longer the runs went, the better we were. We just had a little bit of an issue with going on the green flag runs. Guys did a really good job though for no more practice then we had on this tire. I just got passed there at the end by Mark (Martin) squeezing me up there a little bit. I’ll get him back. It was a good, strong run for us. We beat a lot of good cars today. We got too tight there at the end. We just really didn’t get the car freed up enough there at the end. It was so hard to pass and track position meant so much.”
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Bush’s Baked Beans Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing (continued) What happened when you spun out during the race? “I was passing somebody and I ran up on the 56 (Martin Truex Jr.) and he had a tire go down they said. So he just stopped — he wasn’t worried about me. I just hit the brakes so hard that I popped the rear tires loose. I got underneath him and then just held it wide open and did a 360 and lost the spot and kept going. It was a miracle that we didn’t get torn up any.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Finishing Position: 17th How did your car handle during today’s race? “We got extremely loose at the midpoint of the race and finally got it pretty good at the end, but we smoked the right rear tire off racing Marcos Ambrose. We’ll have to work on our car a little bit to figure out what we need to do to stay up front. We were pretty darn good in the beginning and it was nice to lead all those laps. We just have some more work to do. As the rubber started building up that’s when we started to struggle.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 23rd
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 30th What happened early in the race that took you out of contention? “We just can’t seem to catch a break right now. It seems like we’ve been caught up in something almost every week so far and it’s frustrating. The thing that I’ve been able to take away from our misfortune so far is that our guys never quit. We bring the Aaron’s Dream Machine in and they get it fixed back up as best they can as fast as they can and we’ve been able to minimize the damage. We’ve had great cars every week this season and just haven’t been able to show it yet. I know that we are a great team with great cars and I know it’s just a matter of time before we start to get the finishes I know we are capable of. We’re going to try and get it started again next week in California.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 33rd
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 36th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 37th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 41st
LANDON CASSILL, No. 60 Big Red Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 42nd
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing LLC Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports Finishing Position: 43rd