Kasey Kahne was the highest finishing Toyota driver in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Kansas Speedway with a runner-up result.
It marks the second consecutive top-five result for Kahne, who also finished fourth in last Sunday’s race at Dover.
Camry drivers Kyle Busch (11th), Denny Hamlin (16th) and Brian Vickers (19th) also earned top-20 results at the mile-and-a-half oval.
Busch led the field once for eight laps (of 272) in the 400-mile event.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Joey Logano (29th), Bobby Labonte (30th), David Reutimann (35th), Martin Truex Jr. (36th), Michael McDowell (39th), Joe Nemechek (41st) and Casey Mears (42nd).
Busch is now eighth in the unofficial NSCS point standings — 20 points behind leader Carl Edwards — after four of 10 Chase for the Sprint Cup races. Hamlin remains 12th in the standings — 79 points behind the leader.
KASEY KAHNE, No. 4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 2nd What happened on the final restart? “We had good strategy there. Kenny Francis (crew chief) did a nice job. We had a pretty fast Red Bull Toyota. Jimmie (Johnson) just beat me on the restart. I spun the tires some — he (Jimmie Johnson) jumped on a little prior to where I thought he would so he kind of beat me. Brad (Keselowski) gave me a good push. I had a good run and then he (Jimmie Johnson) just kind of used the whole track up in (turn) three and I was in bad air and had no shot. The guys did a good job. It was a good day for us and we’ll just keep working.”
Are you happy with your second-place finish today? “Yeah, it was a good race. We had a good Red Bull car, came in third that first stop and the jack broke, so we had to get a new jack and came out dead last and just kind of battled our way back up through there the rest of the race and made the right adjustments. At times we were really loose and then a little bit too tight. We were pretty good there at the end. We took four tires, started 12th, got to second there, and then on that restart Brad (Keselowski) gave me a nice push — coming on the restart Brad gave me a good push, and I had a shot at Jimmie (Johnson), I just couldn’t really get to him. I thought maybe getting to (turn) three I would go high, and he kind of entered into the middle and then just creeped his way to the top and just really didn’t have a shot there at him. But I think we had a good Red Bull car. The guys did a nice job today.”
What does it mean to leave the Red Bull Racing Team on a good note? “The biggest thing to me would be to leave on a good note. There’s a lot of people there working really hard and unsure about maybe their future and where they’re going to work next year, and they’re still putting everything they have into our race cars each week. That’s pretty awesome on their part. Kenny Francis (crew chief) is doing — just always is looking, him and Keith Rodman, they’re always looking to make the car just a little bit better, how can I do this, how can I do that, so we’re always working together trying to do that. I’m fortunate to go with him (Kenny Francis) next year, so we’re working on things for next year as well as just trying to finish strong this year.”
Did you think you had a chance to beat Jimmie Johnson on the final restart? “Yeah, I thought if I could get a good restart I’d have a shot because my tires were a little fresher than his. Jimmie (Johnson) was the car to beat all day that I could tell, so I knew he was going to be fast once we got going, and he actually just jumped — like he took off before I expected him to, so I just was thinking it was going to be a little bit later. And, when he took off I kind of jumped it and hit the throttle maybe a little too aggressively, spun the tires and then got them back and was accelerating. Brad (Keselowski) had a good start behind me and was pushing me at the same time because we weren’t to the line yet, so he pushed me, and it ended up working out all right as far as being in the second place, but I didn’t have a shot at all when I got to turn one. He had a car length on me. So, at that point I just tried to build a couple corners, and I got to him getting to (turn) three on the final corner, and that’s when he just kind of went across and I just never really got it to turn.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 11th
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How was your race today? “I think our Toyota Camry was good all race. We ran top-four and these races just keep coming down to strategy one way or another, and we thought our best chance was to come down and take two tires there on the second to last caution. We took two tires and the car was plowing tight and we lost a bunch of spots on the restart. Came down and took two tires for the green-white-checkered and the car went wrecking loose. So, for some reason we were just getting huge balance swings when we took two tires today. We’d taken two tires earlier in the day and the car got more free, so the second to last stop where it got tight we lost most of our track position. That’s the one that took me by surprise.”
Why do you think the car had balance issues with two tires? “It’s really tough to put a finger on it right now. Both times we had to restart on the bottom and the lane got checked up and that really killed a lot of momentum. Sometimes when you’re at a slick track like this the end you ask the most of is the end that gives up. That first caution maybe the bottom line checked up and Kyle (Busch) asks a lot out of the right front (tire) which made it tight and then the next time maybe he asked more out of the right rear (tire) — I’m not sure. A lot of questions, but this Toyota Camry ran fast all day. The disheartening thing is we just didn’t finish where we raced. It would’ve been wonderful to get out of here with a solid top-five finish, which we had the car to do it, and Kyle did a magnificent job of moving around. I’ve never seen somebody run that many laps all the way up against the fence and not touch the wall. Kyle did a great job behind the wheel today. I’m really proud of everything he did and everything the team did. I’m just a little disappointed with the finish.”
Are you looking forward to next weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway? “Yeah, we’re excited for the rest of the Chase. When we saw the schedule this winter we knew that the first four races — Dover we’re typically pretty good at — but Loudon, Kansas, Chicago, those were the tracks that we were the most concerned with. We had a good opportunity to make up some points today and should’ve, but we didn’t capitalize. I’m really optimistic going forward to Charlotte.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 16th How tough was your race today? “We were just struggling pretty much all day. We were right around 10th-place. We had a bad restart there at the end, and we finished 16th. Just frustrating because I feel like we’re better than what we’re showing. We just got to work on our stuff and get better. Everything right now needs to get better.”
Are you moving in the right direction to get better? “I think we know what direction to go in — whether we can get there or not — got to have cooperation from everyone. People need to be open-minded to make changes. We’ll just see where it goes from there.”
Is there any specific area where you need to get better? “It’s everywhere. It really is. It’s everything that goes into to putting the race together and making it fast — we have to get better at.”
Are you looking forward to next weekend at Charlotte? “Normally, I would say yes. But, we aren’t quite running as well as what we should be at this point.”
MIKE FORD, crew chief, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Why did you have Denny Hamlin stay out on the track for the second to last restart? “We weren’t good on restarts all day. We’d give all of our track position up on restarts and it was just too tight back there — 10th to 12th — so we had the option to stay out and try to get a clean race track and that was our shot. Had we pit, we would’ve lined up where we were and maybe moved forward and maybe not. It was our shot to get a good finish out of it. I feel like we had a top-five car all day, we’d just give too much up on the restarts.”
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 19th
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 29th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Bush’s Beans/Kingsford Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 30th
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 35th
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 36th
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing, LLC Toyota Camry, HP Racing Finishing Position: 39th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 41st
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 42nd