Toyota NASCAR Notes & Quotes Sonoma June 2011

TOYOTA NASCAR NOTES & QUOTES Week of June 20 – 26, 2011 TOYOTA TIDBITS  

DENNY DELIVERS IN MICHIGAN:  Camry driver Denny Hamlin earned his first victory of the 2011 season in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Michigan International Speedway.  He started 10th and took the lead with eight laps remaining after a 6.8-second, two-tire pit stop during the final caution of the race.    

The win was Hamlin’s fifth top-10 result in the last seven races, which has catapulted him from 20th in the points in April to his current position of ninth in the standings.  Camry drivers Kyle Busch (third) and Brian Vickers (10th) also earned top-10 results at the two-mile oval.  

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STRING OF THIRDS:  A third-place result in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Michigan International Speedway was Busch’s fifth-consecutive top-three finish, beginning with a victory at Talladega Superspeedway in April.  In 11 NNS starts in 2011, Busch has finished third or better in eight races, including five wins.  In addition to Busch’s third- place result at Michigan, Joey Logano finished sixth.    

ROAD COURSE RACERS: Toyota drivers have one victory (Busch, 2008) and one pole (Vickers, 2009) at Northern California’s Infineon Raceway.  In addition to Busch’s win in 2008, Camry drivers have collected three other top-five finishes at Infineon, including a fifth-place result by Hamlin in 2009.  Toyota drivers have led more than 40 percent of laps at the 11-turn road course since 2007 (185 of 445 total laps) with Busch leading 88 laps, Hamlin out front for 33 laps, Vickers for 16 laps and Martin Truex Jr. has led one lap.  

CALIFORNIA CONNECTION: Toyota driver Casey Mearsgrew up in Bakersfield, Calif., and watched his father Roger and Uncle Rick compete in open-wheel racing.  Mears began his racing career competing on road courses in open-wheel racing.  He made the jump to NASCAR in 2002 and has one Sprint Cup Series victory (Charlotte, 2007) and one Nationwide Series victory (Chicagoland, 2006) on his racing resume.  This year, he’s competing for Germain Racing in the No. 13 GEICO Camry.  In seven starts at Sonoma, Mears has one top-five and two top-10 finishes.  

WISCONSIN WINS:  This weekend’s NNS race at Road America is the second for the series, but Toyota is no stranger to victory lane in the state of Wisconsin.  Since joining the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) in 2004 — and NNS in 2007 — Toyota drivers previously competed at the Milwaukee Mile.  Toyota had three straight NCWTS victories at the ‘Mile’ — all by Johnny Benson — in 2006, 2007 and 2008.  In NNS competition, Toyota has a pair of runner-up finishes at Milwaukee — by Logano (2008) and Busch (2009).  

CHELSEA’S HOPE:  Sponsafier 3 winner Tim Blankenship of Berkley Springs, W. Va., has decided to use his prize to raise awareness for Chelsea’s Hope, a non-profit that raises awareness about Lafora Disease. ‘An Evening of Miracles’ to benefit Chelsea’s Hope will take place this Friday, June 24 at 5 PM at the Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood, Calif.  Special guests of the evening include Toyota drivers Busch, Logano, crew chief Greg Zipadelli and the 2011 Toyota Pro/Celebrity race winner William Fichtner.  For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit www.chelseashope.org.  

NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS NASCARSprintCupSeries(NSCS):  Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for three victories, 16 top-five results, 33 top-10 finishes and have led 1,529 laps … After 15 races, Kyle Busch is fourth in the NSCS point standings and Denny Hamlin ranks ninth … Enumclaw, Wash.-native Kasey Kahne has one win (2009) and two poles (2008 and 2010) at Sonoma … JTG-Daugherty Racing and Bobby Labonte’s primary sponsor Clorox is headquartered in Oakland, Calif. … Andy Morgan, mechanic for the Red Bull Racing Team No. 83 Camry, is from Roseville, Calif. … Charlie McDonell, mechanic for the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 Camry is from Cottonwood, Calif. … Rick Bray, mechanic on the JGR No. 11 Camry, is from Placerville, Calif.  

CASEY MEARS,No. 13 GEICO Camry, Germain Racing Do you like road course racing? “I do like road courses — they’re a lot of fun.  I enjoy driving them.  It’s fun to do something different throughout the year.  I grew up racing mostly road courses when I ran open-wheel stuff.  Infineon Raceway is a lot of fun to drive — it’s very technical.  It’s a very difficult course to pass on, so that’s a little bit frustrating.  I do like the elevation changes.  It is a very technical course.  It gets very hot and slick, so it takes a driver to really get around that place.”  

BOBBY LABONTE,No. 47 Clorox/Kleenex Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Are you looking forward to running a road course? “Heck yeah.  We tested at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) recently.  We didn’t get to run a lot of laps, but a lot of the things that I said, Marcos (Ambrose) said last year.  I’m definitely not the road racer that Marcos is.  We had a great qualifying run last year in the 71 car.  I think it’s a great race track and I love going to road courses.  It’s a lot of fun.  You have to try to be as smooth as you can and as fast as you can.  You can just lose so much time in a lot of different areas.  You have to hit them all right obviously.  It’s a long race and you just try to be there for the end of it.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Does a victory give you a sense of security in this year’s Chase? “Realistically you know if the whole world collapses and ends, you’re still one win away from getting a Chase spot pretty much.  One win is not going to put you in necessarily.  It might if you’re still high up in points, but we know two wins pretty much puts you in.  From here on out, we know we’re one win away from having a Chase spot.  My goal is still to get in the top-five in points.  If I didn’t dig us such a big hole at the beginning of the year, we really could be possibly fighting for the lead in the points going into the Chase.  My realistic goal is top-five in points to not have to worry about any kind of wild cards once we get to Richmond.” How have you and Kyle Busch been working together and helping each other? “I think a lot of it is you come to realize that you need your teammates to help you perform better.  We’ve been to a couple really strong tracks here these last few weeks and (Kyle Busch) has kind of picked my brain quite a bit.  I’ve given him every bit of information I have on them.  He’s obviously had two consecutive top-three finishes at those tracks that he’s not necessarily been the best at in the past.  So, he ’s using that knowledge to his advantage.  Trust me, when I go to a road course or something like that, I’m going to be on him trying to find that same information.  That’s what we did I think at the beginning of our relationship really, really well, was that we pushed each other to be better.  I think we’re starting to get back to that right now, just using every bit of information we can from each other because he knows that I’m good at some race tracks and I know that he’s good at other ones that I struggle at.  In order for us to get closer together and start using each other’s setups, we’ve got to get on the same page.”  

KYLE BUSCH,No. 18 M&M’s Pretzel Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Is the competition different when you go to road races compared to ovals? “It’s different already.  There’s a lot of guys out there that have the road racing background that know a heck of a lot more about road racing and technique than we do.  The neat thing about road racing is just being able to have — it’s not a throwaway weekend, but to me it’s like a vacation weekend.  You just go out there and have fun and do the best you can and you’ll either do really well or you’ll do really bad and you just go on to the next one.  We do have some testing for it and you try to pick up on it, but in respect to who you’re racing, yeah, you can expect to race a little bit different crowd.  (Marcos) Ambrose has been really good this year, so we’ve been racing him more and more on the ovals.   Juan Pablo (Montoya) the same thing.  Jimmie (Johnson) has been a lot better at the road courses, so now you race against him, you race against Tony Stewart.  A lot of the guys that race well at both, you race against every week.”  

Is it important to have a road course win during your career? “I think it’s great to be able to have wins at all types of facilities.   In ’08, when I won the road course races, I also won the road course (NNS) race in Mexico.  That was a big road course year for me.  I just clicked at all of them.  We’ve run top-five and top-10 since, but haven’t quite been the car to beat.  I enjoy that type of racing and I’d like to get back to it at Sonoma.”  

NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS):  Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for six wins, 18 top- five results, 38 top-10 finishes and have led 1,120 laps … Kenny Wallace (seventh) is the top Toyota driver in the NNS point standings … Steve Wallace (eighth), Brian Scott (ninth), Michael Annett (1 0th) and Joe Nemechek (13th) are also in the top-15 in the standings… Michael McDowell will make his second start of the season in the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 Camry this weekend … Earlier this year McDowell finished seventh at Iowa … Toby Bigelow, windshield and driver support for the JGR No. 18 Camry, is from Neilsville, Wis. … Jered Lynch, mechanic for the JGR No. 11 Camry, is from Milwaukee, Wis.  

MICHAEL McDOWELL,No. 18 Pizza Ranch Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Are you looking forward to racing at Road America with Joe Gibbs Racing? “Yeah, I have two victories at Road America in the Star Mazda Series in 2003 and 2004.  I qualified fifth last year in the 81 Nationwide car, so  it’s a good track for me.  To drive the 18 and have great equipment and great pit stops is really going to give us a shot at winning the race.  It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.  I feel very fortunate just to have the opportunity because I’ve been in this sport a few years now and kind of pounded around start and park teams.  For me, it gives me a real opportunity to show speed and ability.   It’s also a real pleasure to drive something that good — it’s fun and it makes this worthwhile.  I’m very fortunate to have Pizza Ranch behind us for Road America and we get to go back to Iowa, so we’re very excited about that.   We led some laps there, we ran good — just didn’t put it all together with the restarts. Hopefully I will be able to capitalize on the opportunities I get at Joe Gibbs Racing and get another win for the 18 car.”  

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):  Since the start of the 2011 season, Tundra drivers have registered six wins, 14 top-five results, 27 top-10 finishes and have led 642 laps … Timothy Peters (sixth), Brendan Gaughan (10th), Max Papis (11th), Todd Bodine (13th), Justin Lofton (18th), Miguel Paludo (19th) and David Starr (20th) are currently in the top-20 in the point standings … The NCWTS has two more weekends off before returning to action July 7 at Kentucky Speedway.

TOYOTA 2011 NASCAR STATISTICS Series Races Starts (Drivers) Wins Top-5s Top-10s Poles Times Led Laps Led NSCS 15 179 (18) 3 16 33 1 113 1,529 NNS 15 120 (19) 6 18 38 2 61 1,120 NCWTS 9 115 (24) 6 14 27 2 31 642  

TOYOTA DRIVER ROSTER – Infineon Raceway/Road America NASCAR Sprint Cup Series David Reutimann, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Camry Kasey Kahne, No. 4 Red Bull Camry Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Freight Camry Casey Mears, No. 13 GEICO Camry Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M’s Pretzel Camry Joey Logano, No. 20 Home Depot Camry Bobby Labonte, No. 47 Clorox/Kleenex Camry Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Camry Mike Skinner, No. 60 Big Red Camry Michael McDowell, No. 66 HP Racing LLC Camry Brian Vickers, No. 83 Red Bull Camry Joe Nemechek, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Camry NASCAR Nationwide Series Kenny Wallace, No. 09 RAB Racing Camry Brian Scott, No. 11 Shore Lodge Camry Michael McDowell, No. 18 Pizza Ranch Camry Michael Annett, No. 62 Pilot Flying J Camry Jason Bowles, No. 64 Fuel Doctor Camry Steve Wallace, No. 66 5-Hour Energy Camry Kevin Conway, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Camry  

WEEKEND RACE SCHEDULE

Sat., June 25 — NNS @ Road America — 4:30 PM (CT), ESPN — Race 16 of 35

Sun., June 26 — NSCS @ Infineon Raceway — 12:00 PM (PT), TNT — Race 16 of 36

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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