Toyota NSCS Michigan Post-Race Notes & Quotes

TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Post-Race Notes & Quotes
Michigan International Speedway – August 18, 2013Clint Bowyer (fifth) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Michigan International Speedway.

Bowyer started 11th and recovered from a first-lap spin to record his eighth top-five result of 2013.

Camry driver Mark Martin (27th) led 23 laps (of 200) in the race’s closing segments, but ran out of fuel with three laps remaining.

In addition to Martin’s laps led, Camry driver Denny Hamlin (20th) paced the field for nine laps over two race stints in the 400-mile, 200 lap event.

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Other Toyota drivers in the field included Matt Kenseth (15th), Martin Truex Jr. (16th), David Stremme (26th),

Travis Kvapil (28th), Kyle Busch (31st), Joe Nemechek (34th), Bobby Labonte (35th) and David Reutimann (38th).

In the unofficial Sprint Cup Series point standings, Bowyer continues to hold second-place — 41 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.  Busch (fifth), Kenseth (sixth) and Truex (12th) are also in the top-12 in the point standings following the Michigan race.

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position:  5th
How did you recover to finish fifth?
“Beats the hell out of me.  Man, what a long day.  Spinning out on the first lap I’m like — I couldn’t figure out — a lot of times you just know that you’re hanging it out too much and trying to get too much out of it and you wreck on your own.  I didn’t think that was the case.  I was trying to get around the 2 (Brad Keselowski), felt good, wide open, good ‘ole girl stuck and all the sudden it wasn’t stuck and away I went.  Hard fought battle for our 5-hour ENERGY Toyota.  All these guys they just don’t give up.  That’s what I love about this team, this organization.  That’s why we’re where we’re at in the points.  Obviously, we want to  start winning races, but those days like that are what win championships.  You’ve got to be able to make good out of a bad situation and certainly we just kept working and kept working and kept working to get better and better and finally ended up with a top-five.  Unbelievable.”

Was your setup off for today’s race?
“Yeah, but what a crazy day.  I spun out on the first lap and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, man.  This is not good.  This is not going good for our day.’  But it’s just a never give up attitude for everybody on this 5-hour ENERGY Toyota.  We brought new cars here.  We were fast all weekend long.  We just missed it.  I think the track was a lot slower, a lot slicker and a lot slower lap times and I think we missed our gaps on the front on the splitter quite a bit, which is just grip.  We ended up taking packer out several times, which tells me we were way off and kept getting better, kept getting better, kept getting closer to the front and ended up with a top-five.”

Does your team need to change anything for the Chase?
“You’ve got to turn days like that into good and if you can continue to do that, it doesn’t matter if you have wins or not. Most of my wins have always come in the Chase races and hopefully that will hold true again this year, an d if it does, it’s days like today that’s going to win us a championship — not just one win.”

Are you pleased with your finish?
“Oh yeah, unbelievable after starting out the way our day started out.  I’m thinking, ‘Man, this is absolutely not going to be good,’ and it wasn’t just that — I regrouped and got calmed back down and about wrecked again several times and we couldn’t go anywhere.  When it spun, I was trying to figure out was it me, was I trying to push it too hard on low air pressure or something or was our car just that bad?  I didn’t really know until I went back out there and I figured out real quick the car was just that bad.  Brian Pattie (crew chief) and everybody on this 5-hour ENERGY Toyota kept digging, kept working and we ended up with a top-five.  That’s what you love the most about this race team is we can just always seem to make things happen.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position:  15th
How was your race?
“Our biggest problem was we were way off on speed.  We didn’t handle perfect either, but we had a couple runs that were pretty good and then it seemed like the time we took fuel only and didn’t put any tires on, we just got really loose and got to the back.  We never could really overcome that.  We came and got tires at the end and worked on it at the end and worked on it a little bit.  We just couldn’t make any ground up.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position:  16th

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position:  20th

DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Lean1 Toyota Camry, Swan Racing
Finishing Position:  26th

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position:  27th
Did you think you could make it all the way on fuel?
“We were just hoping for one more yellow.  It’s not a bummer — so proud of Rodney Childers (crew chief) and Michael Waltrip Racing and everybody on the Aaron’s team.  They put us in position.  We just needed one more yellow and we could have done it.”

Did you know you were going to run out of fuel?
“We knew we needed one more yellow.  I saved a lot of gas.  Just stayed ahead of Joey (Logano) there, but if he would have slowed down I could have maybe saved enough.  I had to go that fast.  I had more speed in the car, but just was trying to stay in the lead.”

How does it feel to finish the Michigan race by running out of fuel with three laps to go?
“Well, we did save a ton already.  We started out six laps short.  We only needed one more yellow flag and you know you usually get them in NASCAR racing.  Kudos to Rodney Childers (crew chief) and everybody on the Aaron’s Dream Machine.  The car was hooked up today and out front there we were just pedaling it just enough to stay out in front of Joey (Logano) and we saved a bunch of gas, but we needed one more yellow.  If we would have gotten one more yellow, we would have been in good shape.”

Where you trying to get a debris caution called in turn three?
“It was there and they have thrown yellows for that before, but it was bare bond.  But they throw yellows for bare bond when they need yellows.  You know, they didn’t really need one, but it was there and they certainly had an excuse for one.  It was just above the groove in the middle of three and four, just big as day.  It wasn’t blowing away.  It was a big piece, heavy piece that wasn’t going anywhere.  We just needed one more yellow somewhere along the way and it would have been a brilliant day.  But, it was anyway.”

Was there any reason to play it conservative today?
“We are going for ‘W’s’.  These guys really wanted to get a win with me.  They got one with Brian (Vickers) already and they’ve been so close with me and with Michael (Waltrip) as well and they were going for it.  You usually get — you can count on eight yellow flags a lot and towards the end of the races, so I don’t think it was a long shot to hope for one more yellow.  That’s all it would have took.”

Is it frustrating to realize you are going to run out of fuel?
“There was no way to save fuel and lead.  I was saving a lot of fuel, but in order to stay leading I couldn’t save any more.  I did save a lot.  I was lifting.  I never touched the brakes the whole last run ever, never even put my foot on the brake and I was lifting way early, but Joey (Logano) would be right there so I kind of — you know.  I would have needed to slow down a second a lap to stretch it without a yellow.  But, we were hoping for that yellow.”

TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position:  28th

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position:  31st

JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position:  34th

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position:  35th

DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position:  38th

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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