TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Post-Race Notes & Quotes
Charlotte Motor Speedway – October 12, 2013
Matt Kenseth was the first Camry driver to the finish line (third) in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Kenseth started 20th and led one lap (of 334) at the 1.5-mile track.
Fellow Camry Chase for the Sprint Cup competitor Kyle Busch (fifth) also tallied a top-five result in the 500-mile event at the Charlotte track.
Denny Hamlin (ninth) also scored a top-10 finish.
In addition to the lap led by Kenseth, Busch led four laps and Clint Bowyer (11th) led one circuit.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Martin Truex Jr. (22nd), Brian Vickers (25th), David Reutimann (26th), Bobby Labonte (28th), Cole Whitt (34th), Travis Kvapil (35th) and Joe Nemechek (39th).
After the fifth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship 10 race playoff, Kenseth leads the series standings by four points over second-place Jimmie Johnson. Busch ranks fifth (-37 points behind first) in the standings and Bowyer is ninth (-63).
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How was your race?
“Our Dollar General Camry was really pretty competitive. We were off at the start of the race. On about the fourth run Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) found some adjustments that really woke it up for me. Felt like we were pretty competitive after that. It was just hard to gauge off of the front few cars because we were just never there. It was pretty competitive — I felt like I got a good restart there on that last one. I just feel bad because Jason put us in a perfect spot to win the race — my pit crew did a good job and I just couldn’t do it.”
How was the team able to give you a top-three car?
“Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) did a great job and so does that whole group. We were real tight early and I couldn’t really go anywhere in traffic. He got it where it was really good — we were just really behind most of the night trying to catch up. It was my fault for qualifying bad to start with. Great job by my team — they had a great pit stop, did everything right and put me in position to try to win the race and at the end I couldn’t get it done. I feel bad about that. I had the best tires and I let Brad (Keselowski) get me and just couldn’t hang on.”
Are you pleased with the finish?
“In the big picture, it was a great night. We have to be able to run in the top-five every night and tonight we definitely had a top-five car all night and it just took all night to get there. We just need to get out of Talladega and then hopefully we can go to Martinsville and qualify a little better and have some better track position to work with.”
How do you see the remainder of the season?
“You never really know — Jimmie (Johnson) has certainly been strong at the plate races. (Kevin) Harvick is always really good there. You never know what’s going to happen at Talladega — glad we’re still in the lead and there’s a lot of racing left to do. We made it through the first half good and maintained a very small lead so that’s better than being behind. We’ll go to Talladega and race hard — hopefully our car will have some speed in there and we’ll be able to hang up front somewhere.”
Was the final caution beneficial?
“At the end of the day, it probably helped us because the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was going to win without the caution and we ended up finishing in front of him. I think that we were going to finish third without the caution. We were third or fourth and catching the 18 (Kyle Busch) and think we would have finished there without the caution — I guess we finished in the same spot, but looking at the points it’s probably better this way.”
Is Charlotte a challenging track to get the setup right?
“This track, especially there is just something — there is a feel that I always look for and when I don’t have it I can’t go very fast and I can’t pass anybody. Until the third adjustment we just couldn’t get it. He (Jason Ratcliff, crew chief) found something that really woke it up and made the car happy and made me happy and we were able to start making some ground. We had it really close. I think the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) had us all night — I’m not sure about the 5 (Kasey Kahne) because I really didn’t get to race with him very much until the end. Other than that, I thought we probably had a third- place car.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
How was the race?
“That’s about as good as we are — is fifth-place. Pretty frustrating. But all in all a great night for the M&M’s Toyota. We certainly got a top-five — which is good. We should be happy about that, but when it’s time for championship time that’s not what you need — we need wins and we can’t win.”
What did you think of the race?
“It’s good to finish in the top-five, but it certainly stinks. We’re not good enough. It’s frustrating, man. I’m beating myself up every week trying to figure out what I got to do to be better, and I don’t know what it is. I work hard through practice. I work hard through the week. I study film. I do everything I need to do — but it’s not paying off. We probably would have run third tonight without that last caution. We would have made up some points on some guys. Instead we got beat by all the guys that we’re racing essentially, except for one. We need to win races and we’re not capable of doing that right now.”
What is it right now keeping you from winning races?
“I think it’s everything. There at the end, I’m sure if Jimmie (Johnson) would have taken two (tires) he would have stormed off and kicked everybody’s butt. They took four, they gambled on the soft side and it bit them a little bit tonight. They lost a point to the 20 (Matt Kenseth), but they were good enough to win. So, they have something to hang their hat on — we don’t.’
What was the issue with the car at the end of the race?
“Fuel pickup. Something stumbling. We had the same thing in the third Chase race back in 2008. So, it doesn’t surprise me something’s back.”
How do you assess tonight?
“They say you need top-fives to win a championship, but when you’re getting beat by the guys in front of you, then we’re just not good enough — flat-out. I don’t know what to do to be better. It’s frustrating, but you know, should be happy with a fifth, but we’re not — I’m not.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 9th
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 Raspberry 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 11th
How was your race?
“Man, when it isn’t your day it just isn’t your day. We should have had a top-five, but something happened under the hood with about 30 (laps) to go and it just killed us. We were looking so good. I nursed it there at the end. Brian (Pattie, crew chief) told me he really wants to race this car in Texas so we did all we could not to wreck the car. If it’s as good at Texas as it was tonight then Texas could be a lot of fun.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 22nd
How strong was your race car?
“We had a top-five car tonight and had someone get into us. It cost us a lot. The NAPA Toyota just got too tight and we had to wait for a caution to get it repaired. Once we did, it was back to running top-five times, but it was to o late to get back onto the lead lap. We tried that’s for sure. We gambled at the end, but with three (laps) to go, we ran out of gas. I want to thank Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and the guys for giving me a good car tonight. We just got ran into and it made for a tough night.”
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 25th
How was your race?
“Man that was a tough night for our Aaron’s Dream Machine. Early in the race it didn’t feel like a race car. It was like there was something broken. But we made a ton of changes and got it running pretty decent there at the end. Wish we could start the race again because I know we would run better.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 26th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Scott Products Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 28th
COLE WHITT, No. 30 Swan Energy Toyota Camry, Swan Racing
Finishing Position: 34th
TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 35th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Calvert’s Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position: 39th