Kyle Busch was the highest finishing Toyota driver in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a runner-up result.
Busch led a race-high 111 (of 334) laps in tonight’s race.
Camry drivers Kasey Kahne (fourth) and Denny Hamlin (ninth) also earned top-10 results at the mile-and-a-half oval.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Joey Logano (12th), Brian Vickers (20th), Martin Truex Jr. (23rd), David Reutimann (26th), Bobby Labonte (29th), Casey Mears (32nd), Michael McDowell (39th) and Joe Nemechek (43rd).
With his second-place finish, Busch gained four positions and is now fourth in the unofficial NSCS point standings — 18 points behind leader Carl Edwards — after five of 10 Chase for the Sprint Cup races. Hamlin remains 12th in the standings — 86 points behind the leader.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 2nd What did Carl Edwards say to you after the race? “He (Carl Edwards) just said he didn’t like the way I raced him off of turn two that one time when he got under me. It made me loose and it was steering me down the track instead of my butt going up the track. I was just trying to hold on and not do anything. I side-drafted him and stayed alongside of him down the backstretch and that was it. I was just trying to keep my position. That 17 (Matt Kenseth) — he found something that none of us could find tonight and made something out of nothing. He just out drove me. Great run by the M&M’s Camry. The guys did a great job and gave me a great car. Best run we’ve had here in a while. Still coming up short.”
How do you feel about your chances in the Chase after five races? “We have to keep finishing like this — it’s all it takes. It’s not that hard. We finally finished where we ran except we didn’t. We still lost a position, which is four points essentially because you get three for bonus points of winning a race. Again, it’s frustrating, but we’ll take it and if we can finish second from here on out then we might win this deal. These other guys — the 99 (Carl Edwards) and the 29 (Kevin Harvick) finished too good tonight too.”
How good was your race car to come from the back to the front? “Just not good enough. (Matt) Kenseth just out drove me. He found something out of nothing where there wasn’t anything to be found for us. You try to run that extra 10 percent and sometimes you can find speed — most of the time I can’t — he did. I’m already there. I can’t get no more. Those guys just made something better there at the end. The guys gave me a great race car. This M&M’s Camry was awesome. I didn’t make a change to it all night. Just come home and rode with what we could.”
KASEY KAHNE, No. 4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 4th How was your race tonight? “We had a great Red Bull Toyota. The guys did an awesome job. It was just a fine line of being really good or a little off. We kind of went over it throughout the race. That one restart — Matt (Kenseth) got a bad start and I was trying to push him and (David) Ragan got to my inside and Jeff (Gordon) must have thought that we were only two-wide and we were three and we ended up all wrecking. Then we had to fight back after that. It was just kind of being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. We had a really good car and it was another positive race for us.”
How difficult was it to pass tonight? “It was tough. You would come off the bottom and for whatever reason you would slide the nose. You weren’t even loose up there — you were just tight. It was just tough to pass. Usually there’s a top here and there just wasn’t tonight so you had to just rip the bottom all night and try to get people off the corner or when they get hung up or miss the bottom. That was your opportunity. It was frustrating, but these races are so long and you have so much time to move up and think about pit stops and making your car better. When you have 500 miles, you have enough time. When you restart 20th or 24th, you just can’t waste it at all because it actually takes a lot longer than you think.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 9th What happened in the final restarts? “Those last two restarts we were in the bottom line and the bottom line went nowhere all day long. Just don’t know why this tire this year — the high line is just not working throughout the race. Usually you see guys up against the wall here and you just can’t do it nowadays. Everyone runs the bottom and it’s just so hard to pass. When you get pinched on that bottom lane — those last couple restarts we restarted in the top lane and we’re talking about a top-three or four finish here. It was still a good day for our FedEx Camry. We’re making strides and we’re heading in the right direction. We’re still trying to dig through all this information that I’ve got to give these guys to head us in the right direction for the future.”
What do you think your team is struggling with this season? “It seems like it’s a tire thing because it’s Dover and here and a lot of different race tracks — there is a lot of trash on the race tracks that the rubber is laying down. Then when we go out there and try to restart, you just slide around with no grip at all. There is something different in this tire than we had last year and obviously that goes a little into our struggles as well. We’re just trying to dig through some information right now and try to end on a good note so we have something for 2012.”
Have you had to adjust your driving style this year? “We’ve had to adjust all year long because what worked last year is not working this year. The tire is different and I do think that Goodyear is using a different tire and I think it’s throwing us for a loop and it’s taken us this entire year just to get to the point where we’re at right now.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 12th
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 20th
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 23rd
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 26th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Lance Snacks/Tom’s Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 29th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 32nd
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: 43rd