Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Notes & Quotes: 2015 Axalta 400 at Pocono

Denny Hamlin finished 4th & 9th at Pocono Raceway last season
POCONO SUITS HAMLIN: Only one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) driver has been more successful at Pocono Raceway than Camry driver Denny Hamlin, and Jeff Gordon has been racing at the 2.5-mile triangular track twice as long. Hamlin has four Pocono winner’s trophies – including two in a Camry (August 2009 and June 2010) and two from the first year he visited the Pennsylvania race track in 2006. In 18 Pocono starts, the 34-year-old driver has won almost 25 percent of the races he has entered at the ‘Tricky Triangle,’ and has recorded nine top-five and 12 top-10 finishes at the track, however he’s looking for his first win since the track was repaved in 2012.

CAMRY CHASERS: Three Camry drivers have secured spots in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. With his victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, Carl Edwards joined his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates Matt Kenseth (Bristol) and Hamlin (Martinsville) as Chase eligible drivers with wins this season. Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) drivers Clint Bowyer (17th) and David Ragan (23rd) are also within reach of obtaining one of the top-16 Chase spots with 13 races left until the Chase cut-off.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Camry drivers Matt Kenseth (11th), Denny Hamlin (14th), Carl Edwards (16th) and Clint Bowyer (17th) currently rank in the top-20 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Camry drivers have three wins at the 2.5-mile Pocono race track, including two victories by Hamlin (2009 and 2010) and another by former Toyota driver Joey Logano (June 2012).

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How difficult is it to find a good setup in Pocono?

“It’s one of the most challenging and really the hardest race track on our schedule before they paved it because of how bumpy it was and the multi-groove there and every corner was different. Now it’s just become one of those new asphalt, hard tire race tracks where track position is total key and you have to have the fastest car. Really once you get out front there you can really do some work. It’s just been tougher to pass ever since they repaved and really just try to do your best and qualify as well there as you can because you know that your task will be pretty tough if you qualify bad to get a good finish on Sunday.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What has changed in your performance at Pocono in recent years?

“Pocono used to be a place I didn’t look forward to going to, but lately I’ve been looking forward to it more than I used to. Adam (Stevens) seems to be able to catch on to places pretty quickly, but we also have our teammates to lean on with Denny (Hamlin) being so good there. We’ve used some of the baseline stuff from the 11 car in the past and tweaked it more to my liking. I think the repave set us back a bit – even Denny – but we had two top-10s there a few years ago and would like to turn those into top-fives and maybe have a shot at a win there. So far since I’ve been back this year, Adam, along with everyone on the M&M’s Crispy team and JGR have done a good job of giving me solid race cars and it has given me plenty of confidence, even though the finishes haven’t been as good as how we’ve run. We’ve been a top-five race team the last two weeks and that says a lot about this team and how hard they’ve worked.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What makes Pocono such a challenging race track for you?

“Pocono has always been one of the most challenging race tracks on the circuit for me. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really gotten a great handle on that track yet, but I have some teammates that have run really well there in the past since I believe that both Denny (Hamlin) and Carl (Edwards) have won races. Those guys have run well there, so I try to lean on my teammates as much as possible as we prepare for this weekend in order to constantly improve at Pocono.”

- Toyota Racing

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