Friday, August 21, 2015

Toyota Notes & Quotes: 2015 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol

Toyota has won six of past eight Cup races.
DEFENDING WINNER: Toyota driver Matt Kenseth won from the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway in April to capture his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win at the track in a Camry. Kenseth started from the pole and led 47 laps (of 511) en route to his fourth career Cup win at the 0.533-mile track, his most NSCS victories at any one facility. Since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in 2013, Kenseth has two wins and a third-place finish in five appearances at Bristol – and he has nine top-10 results in his last 11 NSCS races at the track.

BULLY AT THE BULL RING: As good as Kenseth is at Bristol, Camry driver Kyle Busch can argue he’s the best at the ‘World’s Fastest Half-Mile.’ Busch has a combined 16 wins at Bristol across NASCAR’s three national touring series – five NSCS wins, seven NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) triumphs and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victories – with all but two behind the wheel of a Toyota race vehicle. In 2010, Busch became the only driver in NASCAR history to sweep all three NASCAR national touring races at a track in a single race weekend at Bristol.

LUCKY 7s: Toyota drivers have 21 NASCAR wins at Bristol – seven in each NASCAR national touring series. In the NSCS, Busch (four wins), Kenseth (two) and Denny Hamlin (one) have combined for seven victories. In the NXS, Busch has a pair of three-peats at the track (2010-11, 2013-14) and Joey Logano piloted a Camry to victory lane in 2012. In the NCWTS, Busch (four), Johnny Benson (one), Timothy Peters (one) and Mike Skinner (one) have all won at the facility.

VETERAN PRESCENSE: Three veteran Tundra drivers should be considered favorites for solid finishes when the Truck Series returns to Bristol Motor Speedway for a midweek race. Among drivers with more than three starts at Bristol, ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter have the highest average finish at the short track – 10.2 and 10.9, respectively. Crafton, the two-time NCTWS defending champion, has seven top-10 results at Bristol, including a second-place finish, but has never led a lap at the track. Peters is one of three active drivers with a victory at Bristol (2012) and has led 349 laps at the track – nearly three times as many as any other active NCWTS driver.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Camry drivers Matt Kenseth (seventh), Denny Hamlin (ninth), Carl Edwards (14th) and Clint Bowyer (15th) currently rank in the top-15 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Kyle Busch (29th) is also in the top-30 in the driver point standings, making him Chase eligible … Kenseth won last week’s NSCS race at Michigan International Speedway … The victory was Kenseth’s third of the season, including victories at Bristol and Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway …Darian Grubb, crew chief on the No. 19 Stanley Camry, and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) president David Wilson are graduates of Virginia Tech (VT) .. VT is scheduled to compete in a college football game against the University of Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016 … Camry drivers have won six of the last eight NSCS races with four wins by Busch (Sonoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indy) and two by Kenseth (Pocono and Michigan).

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

What is the key to getting around Bristol Motor Speedway?

“Bristol is a fast track that changes a lot throughout the race and it’s hard to pass as well. The main key to Bristol is to be out front after your last pit stop and then trying to make sure you stay there. One of the toughest things to keep in mind at Bristol is patience. The top lane ends up being so much faster than the other lanes that when you’re all stuck on the top and you’re faster than someone else, you need to be able to time your moves and make your passes at the right places. If you make a pass in the wrong place, you can quickly get stuck on the bottom, which can be frustrating to have to fight to get back on that preferred high line.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What is the biggest change with Joe Gibbs Racing this season?

“I think it’s a lot of things really, to be honest with you. I think it’s the new aero package that we have this year on everybody’s car, but it benefited us at the Toyota camp a little bit more. I think our engine shop has definitely done a good job over the off-season adapting to this new engine change and it’s just a matter of everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing – the engineering group and everything coming up with some fresh ideas over the off-season to try. We came out of the box – I wasn’t there – but we came out of the box strong. They went to Vegas and Denny (Hamlin) ran in the top-five and they went to California and I think Matt (Kenseth) would have won if it wasn’t for the rear end axle breaking on pit road. Everybody just seemed to be really working well this year and having some good, solid runs even before I got back. Since I’ve gotten back in the race car at Charlotte in May, it just definitely seemed like that next level has kind of taken off for us at Joe Gibbs Racing. I don’t know why, but I felt like getting back in – obviously, I needed to make up my points deficit and everything and I needed to run real well and run strong – we’ve really been able to do that and we’ve capitalized on some good days. We had some bad days, but we’ve definitely capitalized on some of those good days in winning four races. It’s just a matter now of hoping to continue this wave, this ride all the way through the next 13 weeks.”

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS): Camry drivers Daniel Suarez (seventh) and JJ Yeley (12th) currently rank in the top-15 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) point standings … Kyle Busch will compete in all three Bristol events, while Denny Hamlin will race in the NSCS and NXS … Suarez will run double-duty at Bristol in both the NXS and NCWTS.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): Tundra drivers Matt Crafton (second), Erik Jones (third), Johnny Sauter (fourth), Cameron Hayley (fifth), Timothy Peters (seventh) and Ben Kennedy (10th) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) point standings…Erik Jones will make his first start at Bristol in the NCWTS on Wednesday evening, but the 19-year old driver has previously made two NXS starts at the half-mile track scoring one top-five result, two top-10s and a pole … Jones also made his NSCS ‘debut’ when he substitute drove for Denny Hamlin at Bristol in April … Jones took over the No. 11 Camry during a rain delay when Hamlin suffered from neck spasms in the April NSCS race.

ERIK JONES, No. 4 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

How do you contend with a proven champion like Matt Crafton?

“It’s not easy. At the beginning of the year, I thought we would have been on sheer speed good enough to beat him (Matt Crafton) on the track. Unfortunately, as the year has went on with mishaps and things not going our way, we’ve had the speed, but not really the finishes and he’s so consistent every week that those poor finishes or mistakes are amplified, especially in a points situation. I think the biggest thing for us now is kind of maximizing our bad days than our good days. We have really good stuff and we’re able to go out and run out front, but on those days when we aren’t any good, we have to go out and make sure we don’t make any mistakes and are in a place like Eldora – we did a really good job of being there and being consistent at the end of the race where we finished ahead of the 88 (Crafton). Any week we can finish ahead of him, that’s obviously a good point’s week for us. That’s the biggest thing, some weekends it’s not going to be there to win as much as we’d love to win, it’s just not going to play out and we need to make the best of those days it’s not going to play out.”

- Toyota Racing

No comments: