Toyota NSCS Kentucky Post-Race Notes & Quotes

TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Post-Race Notes & Quotes
Kentucky Speedway – June 30, 2013

Camry driver Matt Kenseth was victorious in Sunday’s rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Kentucky Speedway.

The victory is also Kenseth’s 28th career win and his fourth of the season — the most of any driver to date this year.

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He also won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March), Kansas Speedway (April) and Darlington Raceway (May).

Kenseth led twice for a total of 38 laps (of 267) en route to victory lane.

Camry drivers have seven wins this season.  In addition to Kenseth’s four victories this year, Kyle Busch has a pair of 2013 first-place trophies (California and Texas) and Martin Truex Jr. made his way to victory lane last weekend at Sonoma.

Toyota drivers have now registered 56 NSCS wins since the start of the 2007 season.

Camry drivers Clint Bowyer (third), Busch (fifth) and Truex (seventh) also registered a top-10 finishes at Kentucky.

Other Toyota drivers in the field included AJ Allmendinger (22nd), David Stremme (25th), David Reutimann (27th), Brian Vickers (31st), Denny Hamlin (35th), Joe Nemechek (37th), Mike Bliss (41st) and Travis Kvapil (42nd).

After 17 races this season, Bowyer (third) is 41 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson, while Kenseth (fifth), Busch (seventh) and Truex (eighth) are also in the top-10 in the unofficial point standings.

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position:  1st
Were you worried about restarting as the leader with no fresh tires compared to other cars having two and four?
“I didn’t roll the dice, Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) did.  I thought he was slightly crazy when that happened.  First of all, I just have to thank the Lord for putting me here — this is such a great team and great opportunity for me.  It’s just been an unbelievable season and year of my life honestly.  Also need to thank Sprint, Dollar General, Home Depot, Husky Tools, Toyota — thanks to our partners.  Jason did a great job — I didn’t think there was any way that we were going to hold on for that win.  He made the right call at the right time and those guys got it done.”

Did you ever imagine you would have four wins at this point in the season?
“I dreamed about it, but I probably didn’t imagine that would be realistic.  Like I said, it’s been incredible.  We’ve had some moments that tested us this season already and obviously it’s great to have the four wins.  Hopefully, we can keep it rolling. It’s been a lot of fun.”

What do you think of the fans coming back out after yesterday’s rain delay?
“Thank you, I don’t really know what to say except for thanks to our fans that came back out today after the rain delay yesterday.  It’s a great race track and great fan base.  I’m really proud to be driving this Dollar General Toyota.  It’s been a wild ride so far.”

How do you go from struggling in practice to winning the race?
“I feel like he’s the man right here (Jason Ratcliff, crew chief).  I don’t know how he does it every week.  He pretty much heard me crying for the last three days and he got the car to do what it needed to do today.”

What happened during the restart with Jimmie Johnson?
“I don’t know, I didn’t see the last restart except for where I was at — I don’t know what happened to him.  Jimmie (Johnson) definitely had the best car all day.  He was class of the field.  Got some gears there pretty good and was able to clear him there in (turns) one and two.  I’m not sure what happened behind me.”

JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry
Did you think Matt Kenseth could hold the lead with no tires?
“I kind of knew that if we could get Matt (Kenseth) position that he would make a good fight out of it and he obviously did.  We got a couple good restarts there.  Once he got out front and got rolling — the 1 (Jamie McMurray) car was coming and there were some good cars behind us there, but I knew that was going to be our only shot to get it done today.  In the position we’re in now with the 20 car — we’ve had some success at the start of the season and we can take some shots like this and we can take some chances.  This was one where I came short a few times on the Nationwide side as a crew chief and this is one that is really special to me.  To get it in the Cup Series is a huge, huge deal.  I have to thank these guys — everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing — just a tremendous win.  Probably, they’re all my favorites, but this one is a standout for the year for me for sure.”

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 30th Anniversary Camry Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position:  3rd
Were you having fun at the end of the race?
“Well, to be honest with you, I was blocking hoping I was running out of laps.  It was just too many to be blocking like that. I knew he (Jamie McMurray) was a lot faster.  I was either going to get myself wrecked or let it go and I chose to let it go. Good day for us.  Obviously when you get that close at the end you can smell a chance at the win – just not our day yet.  I’m proud of the way our team is working together and keeps clicking off solid finishes.  This is what we have to do this time of year and hopefully those wins will come when the time is right.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
How did the race car handle?
“We had a decent race car today — it wasn’t great.  I knew unloading here that it was going to be a tough weekend and a tough race.  This is the most ill-handling you’re going to have, but whoever is the least ill-handling car is going to win.  We had our work cut out for us today — that’s for sure, getting spun out early and then coming back through and working hard. The Doublemint Camry was good and at points in the race it seemed it was really consistent for me to drive.  I don’t think the left side tire was the right tire choice for coming here, but we all had to deal through it.  We did the best we could and we ended up with a top-five.  All things considered, it was a good day for us.  You always want to be better and we see our teammate in victory lane so we know there’s something better out there.”

Did the setup for night conditions change how you had to race in the daytime?
“Threw me for a huge loop because anytime I got cloud cover I could pick up three-tenths of a second.  It was stupid the amount of time I could pick up and then I go down into the next corner and the sun is back so you know you have to back the corner up and as soon as you do then you’re just wrecking loose.  Really, really edgy to drive out there today and challenging, but yet we persevered and come home fifth.  We can take that effort and go into next week.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 7th
How was the race?
“We dodged a lot of bullets today.  We didn’t have a very good car all day long.  Track position was important and we got it a few times and we lost it a few times.  One time we pitted and caution came out and we had to take the wave around. Just could never get the car right today — really loose in and really tight off.  The track didn’t seem like it was really any different from the start to the finish — it really never changed.  We just never could get the car in the race track and I feel very lucky to finish where we did.  We were bad all day, but the one run was really bad and we were seventh or eighth before we put tires on and we tried to make it better and we made it worse and fell back to 18th or 20th or something and then had to work our way back and it was difficult.  These are the kind of days that we need when we don’t have a good car.  Just persevere, fight through it and get a top-10.”

Why did the team elect to take four tires rather than two on the final pit stop?
“The last stop everybody took two (tires) and our car wasn’t very good on two so we elected to take four.  We were pretty far back on that restart and luckily we had two really good restarts and we were able to get some spots and then hang onto them at the end.”

AJ ALLMENDINGER, No. 47 Scott’s Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position:  22nd

DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Swan Energy Toyota Camry, Swan Racing
Finishing Position:  25th

DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position:  27th

BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 Aaron’s/University of Louisville National Champions Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 31st
Are you okay and what happened that caused the car to hit the wall?
“Man, that was a hard hit.  It was a hard fought day — the guys and everyone on this Aaron’s Dream Machine did a great job making it better.  We were way too tight to start, but man we had a good car there at the end.  We drove up to the front, we pitted and we were one car length away from making it to pit road before the caution came out and the lights came on right before we crossed the line.  We would have come out in the lead if we would have made it and unfortunately we came out at the tail end of the field then clawed our way back to the top-five.  We were running great right there with two tires — those guys had four and just lost a tire.  Not really sure what happened, it just blew going into three.  Really hard hit.  I just hate it.  It was great to have the Louisville Cardinals on the car this week.  Thank Aaron’s for putting them on there and especially here in the state of Kentucky.  Love to have gotten them a victory, but unfortunately it just wasn’t our day.  Just didn’t have luck on our side and then this tire just kind of put a fork in it.  We had a good car.  I think if we would have had four tires and track position there at the end we could have given those guys a run for their money.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 35th
Do you plan to continue with the rest of the season?
“Definitely have to proceed on.  I have a test in Indy tomorrow that we’re going to do to try to get better and get to performing better.  Really today it was the best performance for us in a while.  Hopefully at least something to build off of even though we don’t have a good finish.”

Will you still contend to make the Chase?
“I felt pretty good about the way we were racing today.  We were with the right track position, we could run with everybody except for maybe the 48 (Jimmie Johnson).  We’re just going to try to win races and that’s what my job is for the rest of the year is to try to win and do the best I can for my sponsors and my team.  Really the biggest thing I was pushing for was to get my team into the Chase.  Had an opportunity owner’s points-wise to get into the Chase and this is obviously another hit.”

How hard was the hit?
“It’s very similar to Kansas of last year during the test day of the race weekend.  Flat right side hit, especially, you are picking up a lot of speed off of (turn) four here.  For me, it didn’t go down slowly like the tire did the first time — this one just blew out solid and quick.  Obviously, when I lost steering I hit flat.  I would rather hit head-on anywhere than flat up against the wall on these walls.”

JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position:  37th

MIKE BLISS, No. 19 Plinker Tactical Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports
Finishing Position:  41st

TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position:  42nd

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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