Camry driver Kyle Busch (fourth) was the highest finishing Toyota in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Dover International Speedway.
Brian Vickers (fifth) earned his best finish since returning to racing this year after medical issues sidelined him one year ago when he missed the Dover race.
Vickers’ most recent top-five finish was a victory at Michigan International Speedway (8-16-09).
Martin Truex Jr. (eighth) also earned a top-10 result for Toyota in the 400-mile Dover race.
Other Camry drivers in the field included David Reutimann (15th), Denny Hamlin (16th), Bobby Labonte (18th), Casey Mears (23rd), Joey Logano (27th), Kasey Kahne (36th), Joe Nemechek (39th), Mike Skinner (41st) and Michael McDowell (43rd).
Busch is third in the unofficial NSCS point standings following Dover, and is now 37 points behind leader Carl Edwards.
Other Toyota drivers in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings after 11 of 36 races include Hamlin (13th), Kahne (18th), and Truex (19th).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 4th Was this a difficult race? “It was a rough weekend — it started out rough. The guys just did an awesome job getting me what I could get. We took four tires on that last (pit) stop and then we kind of worked our way up and passed most of those guys on the restart. You just had to get as much as you could right then and there on the first two laps of the restart because after that you were pretty much single-file. It was a tough race for us, but we ended up looking really good considering how our weekend was.”
Are you happy with a top-five finish? “Yeah, considering how far we were behind when we started this weekend. We had our engine failure there and I put it in the fence, so I got us behind. It was my fault. The guys did an awesome job with what we had and with what we could do. We put something under it knowing this is how we ran here in the past and it just didn’t work today. I don’t know that it really — anything would have worked for a lot of guys, you know. It just seemed like you would get single-filed out and you just couldn’t really pass very well. I don’t know what the deal was, if it was the tire or if it was the rubber down on the race track or what. It seemed like it was a really hard race to try to pass. I can’t say enough about these guys on this M&M’s Camry team — they did a great job for me. All the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing, thank them and we’ll be back at the All-Star race next week at Charlotte.”
How were you able to recover and secure a top-five finish? “I don’t know, but we definitely started behind this weekend with the engine failure and getting knocked into the wall there. All my fault there, I got the guys behind. They persevered and worked through it and did what they could to give me a good piece. I don’t know that it was very good out there for anybody, really. It seemed like it was really, really hard to pass and a lot of guys really struggled with the rubber build up on the surface and we did including. If you can make up ground on restarts, man you had to try to do the best you could. Fortunately for me, I was in the right lane and I could do that. I made the outside work. The M&M’s Camry for the first couple laps after a restart was pretty good but then it seemed like you couldn’t go anywhere. We gave it all we got. We came from a long ways back and the guys on pit road helped me out, too. All in all, we’re happy to get out of here with a fourth — that’s pretty good, considering now we can go to the All-Star race in Charlotte.”
Was today’s race physically demanding? “It will wear on you, for sure. It makes you think, it makes you work. The thinking part was a lot harder to do today than it has been in the past at this place. You’re already out of the physical demand with the way you’re sawing on the wheel back and forth, left and right trying to miss the rubber — sliding over the rubber, not meaning to. You’re, as some of us put the turn, you’re butt and elbow’s were up in the air, man. You just try to get all you can get.”
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 5th How does it feel to get a top-five finish? “I have to thank the Red Bull guys — they did a great job with the car. It was definitely a team effort this weekend, both of the teams were working really close together. Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief) and the guys made good calls all day in the pits — good stops all day. We had an incident there, really I was going to get under Kevin (Harvick) and he swerved to miss somebody and I swerved to miss him and got into the inside wall. The guys did a good job getting the car fixed.”
Do you think this race shows everybody that you’re back? “I really do. It’s a special race for me. Last year, I didn’t make it here. Last year, I was laying in the hospital with IVs in both arms when this race was going around. It feels pretty good to finish it — and finish it well.”
How did your car feel in the race? “I still felt good about the car. The guys did a really good job all day in the pits — good calls. Not over-adjusting the car, fixing damage from the start of the race. The biggest thing that you needed was track position.”
Was this a wild race where you’re battling so close with other competitors? “It really is. The cars, the track, the way the rubber is laying down — great job by Goodyear. I’m sure some guys complained about it, but I love it. I love it when the track lays down rubber like that. Makes it slip and slide and you have to move around and find a groove. Good job by those guys. Everyone is so competitive. The Red Bull guys did a good job today with the car — they were quick. All we needed was track position and that’s why you fought so hard for every spot.”
Does this finish give you and your team momentum? “Yeah I think it does. We needed a good run. We’ve run well all year, but the guys deserve a good run. We just haven’t had it. We’ve had a lot of bad luck this year. I’ve had fast cars, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do. You have to keep charging, you can’t give up. That’s what today was for us.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Finishing Position: 8th Are you happy with today’s top-10 finish? “I’m satisfied. I’m not happy. I was looking for more. We got up to third about the mid-point (of the race). We just lost the handle a little bit. I think some guys got a little bit better. We didn’t really fight a major balance issue, we just didn’t have the overall grip and the car was bouncing back and forth between loose and tight, and it was hard to tell them what I needed. One lap it would try to spin out and the next lap it plows. So, it was just real hard to hit it just right. It was very, very hard to drive. It was hard to know what to ask for other than more grip, and a little bit of a smoother ride. It just got real bouncy out there on the rubber build-up.”
Do you think you had the car ‘right’ when you were running third? “That was the best we were. That was the longest run I think we had all day long and that seemed to help us. It was weird because we weren’t very good on the short runs with new tires. Then we would kind of — with 15 laps in, we would hit a point for about 10 laps where we were really good. Then we weren’t good for 20 or 30 more laps. Then, right at the very end of the longest runs we were good again. It was really strange how much the car would back and forth between too tight and too loose. Really, I think they did a good job adjusting on it just to get me some more overall grip. But, really we fought all day just being a little tight in certain spots and a little loose in certain spots. Every time we try to fix one, we hurt the other. We just kept going back and forth on both sides. So, it was real difficult. It was honestly the toughest race I think I’ve ever run here, as far as being line-sensitive. You would run two or three laps okay and then on lap four you almost spin out and just about wreck. And, then you’d run three or four okay, and almost wreck again. It was very, very crazy. Glad we made it alive.”
Could you ever determine how to best fix the handling? “I think we were just off a little bit on our set-up — overall grip-wise. If we could get some clean air, we could run as fast as the leader. But, we really struggled in traffic. I know a lot of guys did. You could tell, even at the end, it was hard to pass. I think that was part of what we were fighting. But, overall it was a solid day and a good job by all the guys on the team.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 15th
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground/Autism Speaks Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 16th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kingsford/Bush’s Best Baked Beans Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 18th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 23rd
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 27th
KASEY KAHNE, No. 4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 36th What happened to take you out of the race? “We had a great run with our Red Bull Toyota. The car was fast. I was really loose, we kept working on it and we got up there and would fall back on the runs. There’s a lot of rubber on the track coming off the tires so you get sliding around a lot. Early on I actually, it was like something was wrong on restarts and I’d get about six or seven thousand (RPM) and it would stop. I over-revved it one time trying to get it to go — get it past a second and go. I think that probably had something to do with why the engine let go. It was probably a little bit my fault, but it wasn’t running. I don’t know