Toyota NSCS Charlotte Post-Qualifying Notes & Quotes

41st, JJ YELEY

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 1st
How strong was the car in qualifying?
“It seemed like the guy that was the most consistent was able to win the pole tonight. I think we had a .38 then a .33 and then a .36 so pretty good laps there. I felt pretty good about all of them and Dave (Rogers, crew chief) made some really good adjustments this time — you have to adjust on these things for these qualifying runs. The track changes just a little bit, but the car and the tires change too. I can’t say enough about these guys — everyone on this Doublemint Camry here this weekend. It feels good already and we tested here a few weeks ago and I was really happy with the test. We unloaded today and not so happy about it — just Charlotte. It will be different again tomorrow, you can certainly chalk that up for sure. We’ll see how this weekend goes and hopefully we can come out of here with a solid weekend and out ourselves in the right spot for continuing on in our Chase here.”

What will the team need to work on to make the car better in practice?
“More grip, faster — that’s all it’s got to be. It’s as simple as that, but it’s certainly a lot harder trying to work on it and make it that way. Again, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) — thank those guys and everyone at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). Awesome cars coming out of there right now. We’re working on it and we are getting better. I’ve been saying that if we get one piece of the puzzle each week at a time and we’re going to be hard to beat. We’ll see if we’ve got it all. This is early in the weekend and looks good right now, but still 500 miles to race here Saturday night.”

How much momentum do you have heading into Saturday night’s race?
“So far we’re carrying our momentum through the Chase here so it feels pretty good. It started at Chicago and Loudon and Dover — top-10s in each of those places and Kansas coming home with a top-five and here to Charlotte, one of my favorite places. To come out of here early in the weekend and be on top of the sheets, that feels good. We always want to be there, but it takes a lot of work and a lot of smarts by all these guys on my team. The Doublemint Camry was awesome today and didn’t unload as good as we wanted to, but right there when it mattered most we were pretty good. Excited about that and ready to go for a couple practices tomorrow and get ready for Saturday night.”

What would it mean to win Saturday and move on in the Chase?
“It would be perfect. We would love to have that happen for us and for this team — for Joe Gibbs Racing, for Toyota and put all of us through and not have to worry about Talladega. First things first, you concentrate on having a good race and running a smart 500 miles here and get yourself in the top-10. If you do that, you shoot for a top-five, you do that and then you see if you can race those guys for a win and try to punch that ticket through.”

Is Joe Gibbs Racing a contender for this championship now?
“With the way the eliminations are, yes I would believe we’re edging our way towards the top. Anything can happen in this game. I believe it’s a fickle business so you just have to pick through it all and 500 miles here at Charlotte, we hope to have a good race here. We have had good races here in the past and first things first, you shoot for top-10 and then you shoot for top-five and if you’re in position you try to go after that victory and punch your ticket right on through and get yourself automatically into the eliminator round. That would certainly feel good for everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), everyone on this Doublemint, M&M’s, Snickers Camry and Interstate Batteries as well too. You have to take things one step at a time and right now it’s about practice tomorrow.”

Would you believe earlier this season that your team would be this high in the Chase standings?
“I don’t think we would have. We certainly have been fighting really hard at Joe Gibbs Racing to get ourselves up to running with the level of competition that we’ve been seeing from our competitors. The Penske guys and a couple of the Hendrick cars — it hasn’t been the whole company. The 24 (Jeff Gordon) and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the 22 (Joey Logano) have really been the cars to beat this year. Looking at those four you automatically punch those four all the way through to the end and those are the guys that are going to be racing for the championship. Anything happens and there was a few bad races for a few guys last race in Kansas and for us now it’s just about trying to come out of here with a solid finish at Charlotte and put ourselves in the best position possible that we can head into next week for Talladega.”

Do you believe the team is heading in the right direction at the right time of the season?
“It certainly feels good that we’re heading in the right direction at the right time of the year. It’s all about peaking at the right time and hopefully we haven’t peaked yet and we still have a ways to climb. I feel like we do anyways. We haven’t won. There’s opportunity there. Again, just trying to get ourselves smarter each and every week about making the right decisions and unloading with the right setups in these cars and having the guys back at the shop building us some really good downforce and thanking TRD (Toyota Racing Development) for working on the engine program through this year and getting ourselves in a better spot here the last month or so and feeling good about heading down the straightaways. All the pieces come together and they all come together at the right time and you can do great things. Hopefully there’s still a continuation of that here in the next six weeks.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 3rd
How was the qualifying run?
“It was a good qualifying run really for our team and obviously picked up every session, which is good. Worked on the car and got it better and better. Pretty excited about that lap and obviously keep working. I felt like we were better in race trim than what we were in qualifying. Tomorrow we’ll work on that and that will be our main focus. Try to put ourselves in a good position when we leave this race on Saturday night.”

How do you feel about the progress of Joe Gibbs Racing in recent weeks?
“We’re getting better — we’re definitely not at that peak yet, but we’re getting closer and closer to the field on speed. We did test here and it was a good test. We felt like we were pretty good. Really our mile-and-a-halves have been our strong suit this year. For whatever reason it seems like we’ve really raced well. We haven’t always qualified well, but we’ve really raced well on these types of race tracks. To know that we’ve got a good qualifying spot and we will in turn have a good pit selection tells me that we’re setting ourselves up for a good night on Saturday. Overall with our organization, just continue to get better. Like I said, with this format, it allows those teams that are not hot right away to get hot when it really, really counts here at the end of the season.”

Are you optimistic this momentum with the organization can continue through the Chase?
“We feel better about things obviously, but you’re living week to week now. Your situation changes so much from week to week depending on what your situation is and points and how your day is going that you can go from having a lot of confidence to feeling like you’re going to be left out with one mistake and one race. Obviously I am encouraged about how we are running at some of these tracks that haven’t been our best in the past knowing that we’re getting to those last four race tracks that we feel very, very comfortable with. I’m hoping we continue this trend line up and it’s heading in the right direction, I just hope it keeps going because we’re going to need that little bit of extra speed when we get to these last four.”

BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Starting Position: 8th
How was the car in qualifying?
“My car was really good, we made a lot of improvements. Looking forward to the race Saturday night because I think we have a strong Aaron’s Dream Machine Camry.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 22nd
How did the car feel during qualifying?
“We weren’t very fast and it didn’t feel great. We aren’t really that far off on balance, I just couldn’t get the speed out of it. It’s a long race and they’re all long races — even longer when you start back there.”

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 Pink Lemonade 5-hour ENERGY benefitting LBBC Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Starting Position: 25th
How was the car in qualifying?
“We were tight. Got into (turns) one and two okay, but just way too tight in three and four to get a good lap. We were better than that in practice so we should be fine for the race. Just a few more spots to make up.”

ALEX BOWMAN, No. 23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Starting Position: 33rd

COLE WHITT, No. 26 Moen Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Starting Position: 36th

BRETT MOFFITT, No. 66 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Starting Position: 38th

JJ YELEY, No. 83 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Starting Position: 41st

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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