Toyota NSCS Talladega Post-Race Notes & Quotes 10-20-13

Photo Credit: Kala Perkins/Speedway Media
TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Post-Race Notes & Quotes
Talladega Superspeedway – October 20, 2013Camry driver Kyle Busch (fifth) was the top-finishing Toyota in Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway.

Busch started 27th, and despite losing track position after a pit road miscue on lap 42, worked his back to lead the field three times for nine laps (of 188) on the 2.66-mile track.

Busch’s fellow Camry Chase for the Sprint Cup competitors Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth finished 10th and 20th, respectively, in the 500.08-mile event.

Kenseth led the field for 32 laps over four race segments and Bowyer took the lead twice for two laps at Talladega, while Camry driver Bobby Labonte (34th) also led the field for two laps.

Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. (eighth) also claimed a top-10 result in Alabama.

Other Toyota drivers in the field included Travis Kvapil (19th), Cole Whitt (31st), Michael Waltrip (32nd), Denny Hamlin (38th), David Reutimann (40th) and Joe Nemechek (42nd).

After the sixth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship 10 race playoff, Kenseth trails the points leader Jimmie Johnson by four points.  Busch ranks third (-26 points behind first) in the standings and Bowyer is eighth (-57).

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position:  5th
What happened on pit road?
“Well, you’re supposed to come to pit road single file and I didn’t.  I would have ran into the back of the 1 car (Jamie McMurray), so I had to go to the outside of him and not hit him.  When I did that it essentially blocked me out of my stall, so just had to go through the pits and try to come back around the next time and I think that’s two or three years in a row we’ve done that here.  It’s not a surprise, but it’d be nice if we could not come down when everybody else is coming down and be so ‘combobulated’ and then have a clean pit road to enter on.”

Why didn’t anyone make a move at the end?
“Well, there was nobody going anywhere that was behind us trying to make moves, so it didn’t make any sense to go down there and try to make a move yourself and just fade to the back.  It’s monkey see, monkey do.  If they go down or start moving up and start coming forward, then you’ve got to pull down and start making your move, but they all kept going backwards.  So, I think the move was only going to come in (turns) three and four where you could go to the bottom and make up some ground on some guys and see if you couldn’t get a train of a few to push you down on the bottom.”

What happened at the end of the race?
“It was interesting that everybody stuck up on the outside that long and certainly that was the fastest way around.  There wasn’t anyone making up any time on the bottom.  I figured that a lot of people would try to and be able to make up some time, but a couple tried and never made anything happen.  The M&M’s Camry was riding there in fourth or fifth, sixth or something like that and then I think the 14 (Austin Dillon) come spitting out of the middle somehow and then we made it through that and we’ll see how NASCAR scores the finish.  I feel like we were pretty good.  We ended up with a decent finish here today, so that’s all we could ask for.  The Lord blessed us with a safe on today.”

What were you thinking at the end of the event?
“I was just trying to figure out when to make the move.  Obviously, a lot of guys around us and way behind us were making those moves and trying to get in the bottom and make the bottom go.  Nothing was going anywhere, so it didn’t make any sense to jump down there too early yourself and get shuffled to the back.  There was definitely going to be — you were going to have to do it at some point or another, whether it was off of (turn) four through the tri-oval or something just to try to get up a couple spots.  Depending on when your momentum took over and if the guys in front of you were going to check up, you just have to go with it.  Our M&M’s Camry ran great all day.  I appreciate the guys and everybody from TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Toyota and Monster Energy.  You know, it was fun to finish one of these things.  It’s God’s grace that allows us to finish one of these and we appreciate it today, especially coming home with another top-five.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position:  8th
How was your race?
“This by far has been the best restrictor-plate race I’ve run this year.  I made the right decisions all day and I am so happy to be able to drive my NAPA Toyota back to the garage in one piece.  It was a good day for us.”

CHAD JOHNSTON, crew chief, No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How was today’s race?
“Pretty uneventful.  Just tried to keep it straight and finish the race.  We hadn’t done a very good job of finishing speedway races this year and kind of fell in line there at the end and come out eighth.”

Did single file racing in the closing laps affect the chances of there being the ‘big one’?
“Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened.  They just kind of run single file and the 14 (Austin Dillon) got pushed out of the line and wrecked at the back, but I mean he was by himself.  There wasn’t really a ‘big one.’  You sure had the makings of just being a single-file race.”

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position:  10th

BRIAN PATTIE, crew chief, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Was today’s race unusual?
“Yeah, no big wreck obviously until the last lap and I wouldn’t call that too big.  Our 5-hour Toyota was plenty quick.  It’d go to the front when we wanted to, so just — it’s normally how these Chase races go.  It seems like they don’t want to mess anybody’s Chase chances up, so they kind of pay a little more attention to their driving.”

Did you think there wouldn’t be a ‘big one’ as the race became single file?
“Yeah, it kind of looked like that.  Most people are just trying to stay out of the way of the 48 (Jimmie Johnson), 20 (Matt Kenseth) show and kind of didn’t work out for us, but got a fast hot rod and we’ll take her to Daytona next year.”

TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position:  19th

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Home Depot “Let’s Do This” Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position:  20th
Was there anything wrong with your car during the middle portion of the race?
“I guess not because after the last pit stop it drove good again.  It drove fine that last pit stop.  I was just — after the last one, I was just — I kind of got stuck three-wide on the bottom and then we actually hung in by the lead for a long time.  And then they just — when they got me shuffled back to the very bottom somebody went outside three-wide to make me on the bottom and just you’re no good down there, so I fell back, got back up to 10th or 12th on the outside and then I thought everybody would mix it up at the end and try to make a race out of it, but everybody stayed up on the top and pedaled it.  That was my bad.  I guess I should have just been happy with 10th, but I just have a hard time doing that.”

Why didn’t a second line form?
“Well, you have to have enough cars that do it and I don’t know.  We had — Joey (Logano) went  and I went, 99 (Carl Edwards) went, the 2 (Brad Keselowski) went and we needed about two more cars.  I don’t know if everybody just — the guys from behind saw them as easy spots, so they stayed up on the top to hang out and just thought that was safer than actually trying to progress and end up getting shuffled back like I did.  So, if I had to do it over, I would probably just ride up there.  Just was trying to make something happen.”

Were guys thinking about what moves to make?
“They must be still thinking about it, because nobody made one.  They were all up on the top there — the top-10 or 12 at the end — so, yeah.  You couldn’t really — once everybody got piled to the top with about 15 (laps) to go, I don’t know why, but if you had five or six cars to try it you could get it back to two-wide, but just nobody tried it.  I did and it was it dumb on my part because I can’t get enough cars to do it and just fell backwards.”

What happened to your race car at the end of the race?
“It was really bizarre — typically, handling is a non-issue here and we just got so loose I couldn’t even hang on to it.  I pretty much had to run in the back for two runs which was disappointing.  We finally got it fixed that last run, but we only had 20 laps to get back up there.  I really needed to be up there like we were early and feel like I was controlling the race more — the lanes and the runs and all that and I could never get back to there.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Home Depot “Let’s Do This” Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued)
Are you disappointed with today’s finish?
“We just got off in the middle of the race, we just got loose and had to come and try to fix it.  That last run there I had, I had some position a couple of times and just couldn’t get my Home Depot ‘Let’s Do This’ Camry in the lane I needed it to be in.  Finally got back to the top, I think we were 10th or 12th or 13th and I was going to try to make something happen with a few other drivers — we all moved to the bottom and tried to make something happen and nobody else really did and ended up getting hung out and it cost me — got us back to 17th or 18th.”

How does it feel to lose the lead in the championship standings?
“I don’t think it will affect my team.  I think I have one of the greatest teams out here obviously and I feel like we can go everywhere else, and honestly we can race with anybody when we’re at our best.  Hopefully, we’ll be at our best the next four weeks and we’ll give them a run for their money.  It was just an incredibly disappointing day.  The end there, I just still for the life of me figure out — I need to watch it.  From third on back to 14th, I think everybody was running half – throttle and me, Joey (Logano) and Carl (Edwards) and I thought Greg (Biffle) was going to go with us too and he must have decided not to.  A couple of other guys tried to make it happen and I figured two or three more would bail on the bottom and we’d mix it up and somebody would go up and try to be the leader, but nobody wanted to go.  Everybody wanted to stay in their spots.  I should have been smarter there and I guess paid attention to points, but I’m not really wired like that.  I want to go up and mix it up and try to win the thing.”

COLE WHITT, No. 30 Black Clover Toyota Camry, Swan Racing
Finishing Position:  31st

MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position:  32nd

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Scott Products Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position:  34th

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position:  38th
What happened to end your race?
“It looks like we broke a retainer on the number six cylinder, so it’s just tough.  This is kind of the growing pains that you go through when you’re testing different stuff.  Hopefully, these are the kind of things we can learn so we don’t have these issues in the Daytona 500.  I know us and the 55 (Michael Waltrip) are on an experimental package.”

Did you shut down the car coming to the garage?
“We had another engine let go.  Just started losing power and started smoking and I didn’t want to cause a caution, so shut it down, come in here and let these TRD (Toyota Racing Development) guys diagnose it.  Us and the 55 (Michael Waltrip) were on different package — experimental package for next year — and ran really well.  Just didn’t stay together.”

DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position:  40th

JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position:  42nd