Toyota Post-Race Recap
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
The Clash at Daytona International Speedway
Exhibition Race – 187.5 miles, 75 laps
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Toyota MENCS DRIVER FINISHING POSITIONS at Daytona International Speedway
1st, Joey Logano*
2nd, KYLE BUSCH
3rd, Alex Bowman*
4th, Danica Patrick*
5th, Kevin Harvick*
8th, DANIEL SUAREZ
11th, MATT KENSETH
13th, DENNY HAMLIN
15th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
· Camry driver Kyle Busch (second) was the highest finishing Toyota in Sunday morning’s rain-delayed Clash exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway.
· The four Joe Gibbs Racing Camry drivers led the 17-car field for much of the 75-lap race, but significant movement in the field in the closing laps shuffled the pack of 2018 Camrys at the checkered flag.
· Daniel Suarez (eighth), Matt Kenseth (11th), Denny Hamlin (13th) and Martin Truex Jr. (15th) also competed in Sunday’s race.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
What did you talk to Alex Bowman about on pit road following the race?
“Just that when the 22 (Joey Logano) got so far out in front that he was a lone duck and I feel like if we both could have worked together then we could have tracked them back down and then the three of us could have gone for the win instead of just automatically giving it to the 22. Just trying to see what his (Alex Bowman) mindset was with it all and figure out what got him to that decision. Overall, good day and I need to eliminate some mistakes here for myself on this M&M’s team – the guys did a great job, the guys executed really well. I have a really fast car so I can’t say enough about my guys at Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota – everybody’s done a really good job and we have some good stuff. It’s cool to be able to have the opportunity to race for a win like that, but it kind of snuck away from us there at the end. All in all, real pumped for the opportunity to qualify later and we’ll see where we stack up and get after it next week.”
How much do you look at teammates versus going for the win yourself in the closing laps?
“It’s a race between teammates, for one, to get yourself in position to have the shot, but then after that it’s all about a race for yourself and you have to be greedy and you have to take every chance you can get and go for the win. I just wish we would have had a little different circumstances there, but all in all I can’t be too disappointed to come home with a car in one piece. We have a fast race car and I can’t say enough about the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota and everyone that does such a great job to give us these great cars. This M&M’s Camry was great, just wish we could have run better today.”
How strong was your car in the race?
“The 2018 Camry is awesome. It’s fast and it’s got some good speed in it, it’s fun to drive. It’s going to be a true testament when we get to the downforce tracks and having the reduced downforce of this package this year at those places. So far here for Speedweeks, it’s really good and it’s really fast. I have some cleanup to do on my side to not get a pit road penalty and keep ourselves up front and keep that track position more in the race. We were able to rebound and battle back, fortunately nothing happened to where we were able to get back up there and get ourselves in position and have a shot to win.”
What happened that caused the pit road penalty?
“We practiced it a couple times yesterday and I hit the same marks I did yesterday to try to get to pit road, just overshot it and got on the splitter too hard and it started bouncing. I think it’s because I got to the apron too soon and it’s a lot rougher than the race track is and I just lost traction with the left-front tires and couldn’t get it back. All in all, I learned about that a little bit so maybe we cannot have that happen in the 500. I’m sure we’re going to have some green flag pit stops there and you try not to have those types of mistakes that will eliminate your day.”
Were you able to control the tempo of the race with the four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas up front?
“We did, but then Brad (Keselowski) and the 22 (Joey Logano) got right up through there and chiseled us apart. I think they’re the strongest group right now. I think those two together are stronger than our four together as a matter of fact. If they had more of them, I feel like it would be a really big problem for the rest of the field. Our cars are really fast though, our Toyota Camrys – this new 2018 Camry has some speed. We hope to utilize that coming up in qualifying and show it more next week.”
DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 8th
What did you take away from today’s race that you can use next Sunday in the Daytona 500?
“I really felt like I went to school. I went to school with this race, racing with all of these guys and learning about the aero of the car and how the tires fall off. The fall off is not even close to the XFINITY cars and I learned that today. And how the car works – it works really, really different. There’s nothing similar in a race like this with 75 laps in a pack of 17 cars that I can practice. I think my team did an amazing job. They put me in the front and gave me the opportunity to finish in the top five and we just came a little short I guess.”
What was going through your mind when it got crazy at the end of the race?
“Well, for superspeedways it’s normal most of the drivers don’t trust the rookies and that’s normal. That happened to me a couple years ago when I was in XFINITY and I felt like if I was going to try to do something to block the run that the 22 (Joey Logano) and the 2 (Brad Keselowski) had with a couple laps to go I think they would’ve liked to wreck me so I decided to just stay inline and tried to help the 11 (Denny Hamlin) but they were pretty strong.”
What was your experience in today’s race?
“It was good. Those guys are aggressive and they race hard as soon as they see the green flag. I felt like I learned a lot. I felt like it was a very productive race for me and for my team and hopefully we can put everything we learned on the table for next week.”
How much did the video you’ve studied compare to actually being on the race track?
“Well the fall off is definitely very different. It was a pretty big deal to see how the tires were falling off and then the grip was going away and then you need to drive the car more. That was one of the biggest differences from the XFINITY car and I felt like I got some good information to try to give to my guys and trying to make our 500 car for next weekend better.”
Do you feel you were able to work together well with your teammates?
“I think the plan worked out perfect. Five laps to go we were exactly where we wanted to be. All four or five of us were in the front and were in a perfect spot to try to win this thing. But, I don’t know. There were some other cars and they have plans and they were pretty strong as well so I guess we have to shake what happened exactly here in this race and try to sort it out a little bit and we’ll come back better next week.”
Are you happy to get your Camry to the finish line in one piece?
“I think it was good. It was a good race for me. I learned a lot. The car is in one piece and I feel like I got a lot of good information for next week and so that was the goal and I think we got to that point.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 13th
If you had a chance to do the last few laps over again, what could you have done differently?
“There’s really not much I can do differently at the end. Perhaps staying in the middle lane there through one and two and trying to side draft. He (Brad Keselowski) had help from the 22 (Joey Logano). I was in a bad spot there. He was just coming so much faster than what I was. There’s not much that I could have done to defend. We lined up so well as Toyota teammates throughout the race that once those guys started breaking that up and leap frogging, he (Keselowski) had commitment from the 22 and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and when they were able to back up there that really put us at a speed differential.”
What happened on the last lap?
“The 2 (Brad Keselowski) was coming with a huge run and I tried to do everything I could to block and cover the bottom before he got there but he was coming at such a higher rate of speed I probably didn’t get there in time.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 5-hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Finishing Position: 15th
Are you going to look at your mirror for the Daytona 500 car to improve for next Sunday’s race?
“Oh yeah. Obviously it was giving me trouble all day long and just trying to get in a hole I wasn’t sure if I was clear. I couldn’t see out of my mirror so I just went for it. We were getting late in the race here trying to get track position. But definitely need to work on it. That’s the bad part about not drafting in practice is you don’t really know exactly how your mirrors are and things. We just messed that up a bit and we’ll get it fixed for next week.”
What happened to take you out of the race early?
“Well, I was having trouble with my mirror all day. I just flat cut in front of (Kyle) Larson and spun myself out so it was our own mistake. We didn’t get the mirrors quite right in the car before the race and then just trying to fit in the hole I wasn’t sure I could fit in and trying to get track position towards the end of the race. Completely my fault but glad we didn’t tear up a lot of race cars there.”