|Matt Kenseth won at Richmond last fall.|
SHOUT OUT TOYOTA OWNERS: The 2016 Toyota Owners 400 race weekend at Richmond International Raceway marks the fourth year Toyota has partnered with the track to sponsor the NSCS and NXS events in Virginia’s capital city. Toyota partnered with Richmond to create the Toyota Owners 400 to salute all the Toyota owners across the country for purchasing their Toyota vehicles, and also to thank NASCAR fans for their support. The manufacturer also serves as the title sponsor for Saturday’s Toyota Care 250 NXS race. In addition, fans can visit Toyota PitPass, Toyota Owner’s Hub and Toyota ‘Thrill Ride’ in the vendor midway, as well as the newly created ‘Toyota Green Space,’ where fans can picnic and relax in a landscaped, green area. The Camry Hybrid will pace both races this weekend at Richmond.
TOYOTA WIN TOTALS AT RIR: Toyota drivers have combined to win 15 NSCS and NXS races at Richmond since entering series competition with the Camry in 2007. In the Cup Series, four Camry drivers have combined for eight victories, including four-consecutive spring race wins at Richmond byBusch (2009 – 2012), Denny Hamlin has two victories (2009 and 2010) andMatt Kenseth most-recently won at Richmond in September 2015. Former Camry Cup driver Clint Bowyer also registered a win for Toyota at Richmond in September 2013. Camry drivers have seven wins in the NXS at Richmond with triumphs by Busch (three), Hamlin (three) and one by former Toyota driver Kurt Busch.
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Camry drivers Carl Edwards (second), Kyle Busch (fifth), Denny Hamlin (ninth) and Martin Truex Jr. (10th) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Camry drivers have won three-consecutive NSCS races and four-of-eight events in 2016 … Denny Hamlin is native of nearby Chesterfield, Virginia and has two NSCS wins, as well as three NASCAR XFINITY Series wins at Richmond … TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) president David Wilson is a graduate of Virginia Tech … Brad Donaghy, the front tire carrier on the No. 18 Camry, hails from Orange County, Virginia.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Are you looking forward to the switch to a day race at Richmond?
“I’m excited about it. Day races always make for great racing. The hotter the temperature is the more (tire) fall off. Really extremely pleased so far with what we’ve seen with the aero package and really the tire that’s gone with it. The aero has gotten all of the credit for the great racing this year and the great finishes, but that aero has allowed Goodyear to make some adjustments and give us a tire that we’ve been looking for for a long time. It’s really been a collaboration of both and that’s why you’ve seen such great finishes so far and I would think that will stay the same when we get to Richmond, especially now that we have a day race. It goes back to the old days. I remember coming here many times as a fan and it used to be a day race, so I’m looking forward to it. I love day races and obviously it’s going to be a pretty exciting one because I feel like our FedEx team has a good chance to win.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does it take to be successful at Richmond?
“Richmond is getting a little trickier it seems like just with the asphalt kind of getting older and the way the cars are. The consensus at Richmond is of course just trying to get your car to turn, but also having really good forward bite. You have to be able to get off the corners at Richmond. You have to have good brakes as well and be able to turn the center. All of it correlates. Everything you want as a racecar driver, you’ve got to have most all of it and if you don’t then you better hope you have more forward bite than the rest of them. That’s sort of the equation of Richmond – it’s a fun place to race, it’s really cool. As a driver, you wish it could widen out and give you more options of being able to run around in different grooves, but it hasn’t shown us that the last couple years. We had a good run there last fall, but this is the first planned day race we’ve had since I started driving, so that will make it interesting. They ran during the day in the spring last year because of rain, but I was out of that race, so I’m sure Adam (Stevens, crew chief) will go back over his notes from that race to see what we can learn there. We’re hoping to get our Banfield Pet Hospital Camry back to form there from a couple of years ago.”
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 XFINITY Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What did you hear about the Richmond International Raceway tire test?
“During the test, I heard that the track widened out a little bit, so I’m really excited about the possibility of three different grooves. Richmond can be a lot of fun when the groove widens out. I’ve had a lot of really great races there as a driver. The Joe Gibbs Racing team has been stellar there over the years. We’ve been running really well as a group. Every week we’ve been having fast cars. We’re excited to go battle again and have a good time.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing?
What are your thoughts on racing during the day at Richmond?
“In the past when we’ve come to Richmond, we did all of our practice and qualifying during the day and then we’d race at night. With it now being a day race, at least now we’ll be racing in more similar conditions to what we practiced in. I think that our JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) group as a whole has started off the year strong as well and all of our cars have been really competitive. Richmond was good for us the last time we raced there, so you always hope that it will be a good weekend when you come back, but you never really know. It seems that we always have a new tire every time that we go to Richmond, so that’s always a variable and racing in the day is obviously different as well, but we’ll hope to head back and be competitive.”
NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS): Camry drivers Daniel Suarez (first) and Erik Jones (second) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) point standings … Camry drivers have won two-straight NXS events and five-of-seven races to start 2016 … Jones became the first NXS driver to qualify for the new NXS Chase with his win at Bristol.
ERIK JONES, No. 20 Hisense Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Are you looking forward to getting back on the race track after your win at Bristol last weekend?
“Coming off the win last weekend at Bristol, I’m ready to get to Richmond – another short track that I enjoy racing. Last week was such a great race for this 20 team. We worked on our Camry all weekend and to end that way it was really cool and then to win the ‘Dash 4 Cash’ was another great bonus. This week we have the momentum on our side and with the win and being locked in the Chase, we can go out and take a few more chances to put ourselves in contention for a win. We’ll have Hisense back on the car this week and last year they were able to get to Victory Lane with Denny (Hamlin) at Richmond, so hopefully we can get them another win and the second of the year for this Hisense team.”