Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Toyota Notes & Quotes: 2015 Pure Michigan 400

Bigger spoiler being used at Michigan just like at Indy to create more drag.
RACING FOR THE CHASE: Four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races remain before the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins and five Camry drivers currently stand to secure one of 16 entries into the championship hunt. Matt Kenseth (wins at Bristol and Pocono), Carl Edwards (Charlotte) and Denny Hamlin(Martinsville) have each clinched a spot by virtue of regular season race wins. Kyle Busch, despite missing the first 11 races of the season, has won four races (Sonoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis) and climbed his way into the top-30 – a position he will need to maintain to assure his Chase berth. Clint Bowyer has three consecutive top-10 finishes and must maintain or improve his current 14th position in driver standings – of which 10 points separate 11th to 14th place – or win to remain in the Chase field.

MAGIC MICHIGAN MOMENT: Soon after Toyota entered NASCAR competition in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) in 2004, the manufacturer captured its first victory only 13 races into the inaugural season when Travis Kvapil’s Tundra took the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway. Since then, Toyota drivers have captured five driver’s championships – Todd Bodine in 2006 and 2010, Johnny Benson in 2008 and defending back-to-back series champion Matt Crafton (2013 and 2014). Tundra drivers have also won 137 races and six manufacturer’s championships (2006-2010, 2014) since 2004.

JONES JOURNEY: There’s no doubt it has been a magical journey for Michigan-native Erik Jones as he’s ascended the NASCAR ranks in a short time. In less than three years, the now 19-year old has gone from winning his first Snowball Derby to collecting seven NASCAR victories. With five NCWTS wins to his racing resume, including a win at Iowa this season, Jones is currently third in the series point standings and just 16 points out of first. He has also found himself behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Camry in 17 of 19 races this season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) where he has also captured two first-place trophies (Texas and Chicagoland). If that weren’t enough, Jones made his official NSCS debut at Kansas this year subbing for then injured Busch after also pinch hitting for Hamlin after a significant rain delay at Bristol.

GIBBS SEEKING FIRST OHIO WIN: With the NXS making its third appearance at Mid-Ohio, JGR is seeking its first win at the 2.258-mile circuit. In the first two NXS races in Ohio, JGR Camrys tallied four top-10 results, including a best finish of second by Michael McDowell in 2013. The Gibbs organization has six NXS wins in 2015 and the three-Camry team has combine for 11 top-10 results in the last five races. JGR will field Camrys for Daniel Suarez (No. 18), Kenny Habul(No. 20) and Boris Said (No. 54) at Mid-Ohio.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS):
Camry drivers Matt Kenseth (seventh), Denny Hamlin (10th), Clint Bowyer (14th) and Carl Edwards (15th) currently rank in the top-15 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Camry drivers have four NSCS wins at Michigan … Brian Vickers won at the track in August 2009 … Camry driver Hamlinclaimed two Sprint Cup Series wins (June 2010 and 2011) in Michigan, whileBusch has one victory (August 2011) at the two-mile speedway … The Toyota Technical Center (TTC) is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich. … For more than 35 years, TTC has been the driving force behind Toyota’s North American Engineering and Research and Development activities … TTC oversees the design and development of vehicles, including the design of both the 2015 production Camry and Camry race car.

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

What should we expect at Michigan with the new rules package?

“I think it depends a lot on the cautions and if the track widens out much or not. It started to widen out last time we had all of that rain. I thought it was going to be a good race this time around but with this new package it’s hard to tell. They’re very treacherous in traffic at Indy, so this track is much bigger, much wider and it might be better.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What type of racing will be seen at Michigan with the new aero package?
“You will see single car, but if you’re going to be drafting and utilizing the draft and being able to roll out of the throttle and stuff, it’s going to change a lot during the race. It’s going to be quite drastic. From being by yourself in practice to then being in the race, it’s going to be way different. But we saw some of that at Indy – we ran up front. We ran by ourselves in practice and then we kind of ran up front and we ran within some other guys and drafted a little bit and whatnot, so we were able to learn probably what fuel‑mileage numbers look like a little bit there to somewhat prepare ourselves for Michigan.”

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS): Camry drivers Daniel Suarez (seventh) and JJ Yeley (13th) currently rank in the top-15 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) point standings … Over the last 10 years, Boris Said has one victory (2010 in Montreal) and five top-10 results in 21 starts in the NXS, including a fourth-place result at Watkins Glen last weekend.

BORIS SAID, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How does it feel to take the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry to a track like Mid-Ohio that you’re familiar with?

“Watkins Glen was a blast. Man, these Toyota cars are fast and I have to repeat myself – this Joe Gibbs Racing organization is top notch. The way they prepare and approach the whole weekend is really impressive. I’m privileged to have another weekend with the (No.) 54 team and Chris (Gayle, crew chief). Fortunately, Mid-Ohio is a racetrack I have some time on and I’m really excited to get there and go again with hopefully an even better result this week.”

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): Tundra drivers Matt Crafton (second), Erik Jones (third), Johnny Sauter (fourth), Cameron Hayley (fifth), Timothy Peters (eighth) and Ben Kennedy (10th) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) point standings … Tundra drivers have four Michigan victories – Travis Kvapil (2004), Johnny Benson (2006), Aric Almirola (2010) and Johnny Sauter (2014) … Last year, Sauter won after Toyota drivers led 90 laps (of 100) at Michigan … ThorSport Racing is the only NASCAR team based in Ohio and is headquartered in Sandusky … ThorSport has run the full NCWTS schedule since 1998 and currently fields three Tundras – Crafton, Sauter and Hayley.

CAMERON HAYLEY, No. 13 Cabinets by Hayley Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing

How do you approach a track like Michigan that you haven’t raced at before?

“Michigan will be another first for me, but I do know it’s a real fast race track. These trucks are so big and they punch such a big hole in the air that we don’t have the ability to run by ourselves, so drafting will be a huge thing for us. I think it will be a cross-breed between a normal mile-and-a-half and Daytona. Obviously, being a two-mile track, it’s a little bigger than a mile-and-a-half, so it will be wide open and the best truck will be the one that’s aero tight – they will win the race.”

- Toyota Racing

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