TOYOTA NASCAR NOTES & QUOTES
October 19 – 25, 2015
JGR TOP-10s IN KANSAS: Three Camry drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) recorded top-10 results in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday – Denny Hamlin (second), Kyle Busch (fifth) and Carl Edwards (eighth). In the first five events of the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, JGR drivers have tallied 14 top-10 finishes, including wins by Hamlin (Chicagoland Speedway) and Matt Kenseth (New Hampshire Motor Speedway). Camry driver Kenseth (14th) dominated much of the Kansas contest and led a race-high 153 laps (of 269), but finished in the middle of the field after contact from race-winner Joey Logano in the closing laps of the race.
CHAMPIONSHIP PRESSURE AT DEGA: The Talladega Superspeedway NSCS race is the second elimination event of the Chase and Camry drivers Hamlin (second, 3082 points) and Edwards (fourth, 3076) sit above the eighth-place cutoff entering what could be an unpredictable event. Busch ranks ninth (3064) – just six points out – entering the final event of the ‘Contender 12’ round of the Chase. Kenseth is 12th (3035) and 35 points behind the eighth position and will be looking for a win at Talladega to advance to the ‘Eliminator 8’ round.
TUNDRAS ON TOP AT TALLADEGA: Toyota Tundra drivers have won three-straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) races at Talladega, as well as seven of nine Truck Series races since the series began competing at the track in 2006. In last year’s event, Tundra driver Timothy Peters led 31 laps (of 95) en route to the checkered flag, while Johnny Sauter and former Tundra driver Parker Kligerman won at Talladega in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Former Tundra driver Todd Bodine (2007-08) and Busch (2009-10) won four-straight NCWTS events in Alabama from 2007 through 2010.
BELL BOUND FOR DEGA: Tundra driver Christopher Bell will make his fifth NCWTS start of 2015 in the No. 54 Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports at Talladega. Bell won at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in July in just his third Truck Series start – and in NASCAR’s only race on dirt, a surface Bell is very familiar with. The Talladega race will mark Bell’s first event on a superspeedway in any series after growing up racing dirt midgets en route to the 2013 USAC National Midget championship. In addition to the 20-year-old driver’s win at Eldora, he finished fifth in his NCWTS debut at Iowa Speedway in June and has a combined 15 wins in midgets and late models in 2015.
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Camry drivers have won 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races this season, including victories in 10 of the last 16 races … Toyota needs one more victory in 2015 to tie its most wins in a single NSCS season (14 victories in 2013) … Camry drivers have captured three NSCS victories at Talladega Superspeedway … Kyle Busch and former Toyota driver Tony Stewart won on the 2.666-mile track in 2008, while Denny Hamlin piloted his Camry to Talladega’s victory lane in 2014 … Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) team owner Michael Waltrip will be behind the wheel of the No. 98 Camry this weekend at Talladega … Waltrip won the fall 2003 race at the superspeedway and finished fourth at the track in May 2013 … In 58 career Talladega starts, Waltrip has earned one win, eight top-five finishes and 16 top-10 results.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How intense is the racing at Talladega Superspeedway?
“That’s just the biggest crap shoot we have. I feel like as a race team if we can make it through this round with Talladega being in there then to me the rest of the year is kind of simple. I feel like we can run really well at Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix – those are places we’ll run fine at in order to score a win at either of those or be able to move on through and go to Homestead with a good chance to win a championship.”
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Subway Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How do you approach Talladega as the conclusion of the ‘Contender 12’ round?
“It is the most unpredictable track on the circuit with basically ours and ten other guys championship hopes on the line. For us, we really believe if we can advance past this round, we have a great opportunity to race for a championship at Homestead. We’ve worked really hard to put ourselves in a position where we have a little bit of a cushion going in and we’ve done that – we had a good run at Charlotte and we had a decent run at Kansas. There is an opportunity for us to get a victory here – really that’s the only way that we can guarantee that this all works out, so that’s what we’ll go for.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What do you expect to see at Talladega and did last year’s Chase race there surprise you?
“I count on there being a big wreck at Talladega because there always is. Low and behold, there was never that wreck in the Chase race last year where I thought it would be a complete wreck-fest because three-quarters of the field doesn’t have anything to lose. I remember having to finish 18th or better and I was going into the last lap 22nd and I’m out they said. I’m trying to gain every position I can – I finished 20th and made it in anyway because whoever I was racing didn’t get there. It’s just so nerve wracking.”
How nervous are you entering an eliminator race at Talladega?
“To try to do this thing on points at Talladega sucks – we had to do it last year and it was miserable. Every lap was miserable because we didn’t know where we stood and every lap it changed. Everyone else is going to be sweating it out.”
JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 20 DeWALT Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How will you approach the Talladega race?
“I think for this weekend heading to Talladega that we just need to go out there and be as aggressive as possible. I feel that typically whenever you try to avoid problems, you find one. Last year, we saw where a couple of guys just really needed to finish this race in order to advance in the Chase and they ended up getting caught up in something else at the back of the pack, which is very common. We’re just going to go out there and try to run up front and lead every lap on Sunday.”
NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS): Camry drivers Daniel Suarez (seventh) and JJ Yeley (13th) currently rank in the top-15 in the NXS point standings … Suarez leads the NXS Rookie of the Year standings by 31 points over Darrell Wallace Jr. … The NXS has two off weekends before next competing at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 7.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): Tundra drivers Erik Jones (first), Matt Crafton (second), Johnny Sauter (fourth), Timothy Peters (sixth), Cameron Hayley (seventh) and Ben Kennedy (ninth) are in the top-10 in the NCWTS point standings … Jones holds a four point lead over Crafton with five races remaining on the NCWTS schedule … Jones has tallied 10 consecutive top-10 finishes in the NCWTS … With five races remaining on the NCWTS schedule, Toyota leads the NCWTS manufacturer standings by 47 points.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 54 JBL Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
How have you prepared for your first NASCAR superspeedway race?
“I’m really looking forward to running at Talladega. I’ve been running a lot of restrictor-plate races on iRacing so hopefully that will translate to the real thing. It’s going to be a huge learning experience for me, which I’m excited about. I know I have a lot to learn at Talladega and that will be fun. I’ll practice drafting as much as the guys will let me and do my best to finish all the laps and stay out of trouble.”
ERIK JONES, No. 4 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
How do you approach Talladega with the points lead?
“The biggest thing we’ve done there in the past that has worked out well has just been staying on the bottom and staying out of trouble and trying to stay up front and stay out of trouble. We did a good job last year of staying out of trouble and getting a top-10 finish out of it. Hopefully this year we can do the same. As long as we can bring home a top 10, lead a lap or two and get some good points out of it that would be a good day for us.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
> Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Camry
> Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Camry
> Kyle Busch, No. 18 Camry
> Carl Edwards, No. 19 Camry
> Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Camry
> JJ Yeley, No. 23 Camry
> Jeb Burton, No. 26 Camry
> David Ragan, No. 55 Camry
> Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Camry
> Michael Waltrip, No. 98 Camry
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
> Erik Jones, No. 4 Tundra
> Ben Kennedy, No. 11 Tundra
> Cameron Hayley, No. 13 Tundra
> Timothy Peters, No. 17 Tundra
> Matt Tifft, No. 51 Tundra
> Christopher Bell, No. 54 Tundra
> Matt Crafton, No. 88 Tundra
> Johnny Sauter, No. 98 Tundra