Toyota MENCS Pocono Post-Race Recap

Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Pocono Raceway
Race 21 of 36 – 400 miles, 160 laps
July 29, 2018

TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, KYLE BUSCH
2nd, DANIEL SUÁREZ
3rd, Alex Bowman*
4th, Kevin Harvick*
5th, ERIK JONES
10th, DENNY HAMLIN
15th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
28th, JJ YELEY
29th, JEFFREY EARNHARDT
36th, TIMMY HILL
*non-Toyota driver

TOYOTA DRIVER POINT STANDINGS**
1st, KYLE BUSCH 891 points
2nd, Kevin Harvick* 843 points
3rd, MARTIN TRUEX JR. 762 points
4th, Joey Logano* 690 points
5th, Clint Bowyer* 677 points
9th, DENNY HAMLIN 618 points
14th, ERIK JONES 533 points
20th, DANIEL SUÁREZ 400 points
*non-Toyota driver
**unofficial point standings

· Camry driver Kyle Busch was victorious in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon.

· With his victory, Busch recorded his 49th-career win to tie Tony Stewart for 13th all-time in the MENCS record books.

· The triumph was the seventh in the last nine races for Toyota, as well as the manufacturer’s 11th victory in 21 events this season. The win was the sixth for Busch in 2018.

· Busch led the field twice for a race-high 52 laps (of 164) en route to the checkered flag on the 2.5-mile track.

· Camry driver Daniel Suárez finished second to record his career-best finish.

· Suárez led the field three times for 29 circuits after starting from the pole.

· Camry drivers Erik Jones (fifth) and Denny Hamlin (10th) also tallied top-10 results in Pocono.

· Jones led the field for 11 laps, while Hamlin paced five circuits.

· Busch also won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono on Saturday to record a weekend sweep at the track. In addition, Toyota driver Christopher Bell was victorious at Iowa Speedway on Saturday to give the manufacturer a sweep of all three NASCAR national series races over the weekend.

TOYOTA QUOTES

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

Were you worried about your teammate, Daniel Suárez on those final restarts?

“I was – (Daniel) Suárez , I just can’t say enough about my teammate. What an awesome race. He was probably the third-best car – (Kevin) Harvick was the best car and we were the second-best car and then Suárez was the third-best car. He gave us a run for our money there on those last couple restarts. The last one I spun my tires a little too much and he got a really good run and I think that gave (Erik) Jones an opportunity to make it three-wide down into one and those guys got to racing and just kind of let me get away. Just can’t say enough about Adam Stevens (crew chief) and all my guys. This Caramel Toyota Camry was awesome and had a lot of speed, but we fought it all weekend. Glad to get here and glad to get another win for all the Rowdy Nation fans out there and everybody here at Pocono. We swept the weekend and taking home both eagle trophies this week.”

What does it mean to tie Tony Stewart with 49 career wins?

“That’s awesome and you keep reaching higher up the ladder and you keep reaching milestone drivers and Tony Stewart is one of the all-time best and one of the drivers that I was a fan of as well growing up so it’s awesome to be able to tie him. There are many more that we want to keep tying and getting higher than, but Tony’s a great friend and it’s pretty cool to be able to get that. What’s crazy is how this year keeps going you know – it’s like Harvick gets one, we get one, (Martin) Truex (Jr.) gets one and we’re all back and forth. We answered the point here this weekend without having the fastest car and that’s what matters.”

What has made you so strong at Pocono?

“I don’t know, certainly Adam Stevens (crew chief) and my guys are mightily incredible, we didn’t unload the best I didn’t feel like. I felt like I had a feel here last year and we were way off of that. We worked really hard on trying to get that back and they did such a good job, just a phenomenal time here. M&M’s Caramel and it’s pretty cool to win for them being here and right up the road is where they’re all at in Hackettstown so really thankful for that and of course Toyota and Interstate Batteries, NOS Energy Drink – made by a winner for winners so that’s good for them. Of course Stanley – what about my teammate? Daniel Suárez running second, he gave me a heck of a run and ran me so clean, but he did a great job. I didn’t have a terrible restart on that last one, but not a great one and he was able to keep up with me down into turn one and raced down in there and then I’m not sure what happened after that. I heard three-wide, but we got Stanley on our car and Stanley on their car so cool for them to be up front. And Cessna, Rheem, DVX Eyewear, Black Clover and appreciate the fans and appreciate Rowdy Nation and being able to win here again at Pocono means a lot.”

What got you back to victory lane at Pocono this weekend?

“Just a lot of hard work and a lot of smart people, Adam Stevens (crew chief) mainly and then all my guys that he has that works on these cars and makes them so fast for me. It’s phenomenal to have those guys and this M&M’s Caramel Camry was awesome today, we had some good speed and we raced really well and had great pit stops all day and we were able to keep it up front when we needed it there. I want to thank Interstate Batteries, NOS Energy Drink, Stanley, Cessna, Rheem, DVX Eyewear, Black Clover and of course, Rowdy Nation and all the fans, I appreciate them. Winning here at Pocono is pretty cool.”

How difficult was it to navigate traffic coming from the back of the field?

“We had a little bit of trouble passing guys and being able to get by them, everybody was so equal for probably eight to 15 laps and then after that it seemed like we could start making ground on people. Our car just kept rotating a little bit better than theirs and we were able to get underneath them, but for the first part of a run it was hard to get by them with everyone on equal tires, it was pretty hard. Overall though, once we got out front we knew that if we could get out front we felt like we could keep it out front. Daniel (Suárez) kept up with me there that last run and paced right with me for about those 10 laps and then we started to kind of inch away from him a little bit and that was a cool deal for us.”

What does it mean to tie Tony Stewart with 49 wins and that Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett are next with 50 wins?

“More times than not, when I see you, you let me know about it. You know who all those names are and where all their wins are and everything else. It’s pretty fun and Tony’s (Stewart) a great friend of mine and it means a lot to tie him, he’s a legend in this sport and one of the ones that I looked up to and one of the ones that I was a fan of growing up too and it’s really neat to get to 49 and just think of where we’re going to be when it’s all said and done, hopefully I can get many, many more.”

DANIEL SUÀREZ, No. 19 Stanley Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 2nd

Did you think you had enough to take on Kyle Busch at the end?

“Well, I thought I was a little better than Kyle (Busch) and the 18 guys with new tires with five, seven laps or so, but in the longer runs he was better than me. He was just turning better for whatever reason. I was getting too tight and I was trying to adjust my tools as much as I can to free the car up a little bit, but it wasn’t helping the rotation – what I needed – and every restart I felt like I was decent, but, no, not great. I felt like if I was able to complete the pass by corner one I was going to be able to hold him off, but I just never had the help from behind”

Was it valuable to get this experience today?

“It was good. In the beginning of the race, we were okay and then we lost the balance a little bit and we made some adjustments. We got the better and by then, I thought we were a solid top-three car, top-five car. I felt like in the short run, we were actually the best car out there other than the 18 (Kyle Busch) at least and it’s a little disappointing. It hurts to be close.”

What does it mean to you to have a career-best finish?

“It was good. Definitely helps a lot to have this kind of performance from my race team because as you know, we’ve been struggling lately – the last couple months or so – but very proud of my guys. Like I said on the radio today, second place is good, but I didn’t care if we were second, third or fifth, I really wanted to win. We needed that win, but, you know, that’s part of racing. We will get it one day.”

What were the final restarts like?

“I knew Kyle (Busch) was going to race me very clean and already he knows that I’m going to race him very clean as well. We had a very good race car in the short run with new tires. I felt like actually better than the 18 (Busch) guys. In the longer run, I was just a little bit too tight and I don’t know. I was thinking after cooling off the tires, you know, to get some of that grip back, but I didn’t, so – and those restarts I feel like I did everything I could to get even with him, but I never got help from behind to complete the pass, so it is what it is. We have to keep working to try to have more days like this.”

ERIK JONES, No. 20 Reser’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 5th

Did you consider staying behind the 19 on the final restart rather than go three-wide?

“I think at that point, if I stayed and pushed the 19 (Daniel Suarez), I run the same spot I do now. I mean, if we make the move we did, we at least had a shot and we have a chance to go down there and clear, so we had to do what we had to do to win and that was our one chance in the Reser’s Camry and it just didn’t work out, so still a good, top-five day. We ran up in the top-five all day and just had a good car, so need to probably be a little bit better. I think the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was the class of the field today, but, you know, it was good to run up there in the top-five and lead some laps.”

Were you lacking speed today?

“We tried some different stuff in practice and different springs and it was good in practice. We just never ran more than about nine, 10 laps, so after about 15 it was awfully rough getting through the Tunnel Turn and even through (Turn) 3, so a little bit challenging, but, you know, I think we got some stuff we can work on at least come back. It’s not like I felt like we were tapped out on our speed. I feel like there’s more to gain there in the handling, so that’s a good thing.”

What was preventing you from getting close?

“Yeah, track position a lot of it, you know? I think the 18 (Kyle Busch) was a little better than us, but overall we took a shot at it at the end going three-wide and it just didn’t quite work out. We just couldn’t get clear, so we had a good car. We had probably the second or third-best car I thought. Daniel (Suárez) and I were pretty similar. Daniel was just a little bit ahead of us on track positon all day, so the Reser’s Camry was good. Just not quite where the 18 was and especially not the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was – he was very fast.”

Was there any hectic moments today?

“We stayed out of trouble today, you know, fortunately. Probably the last couple laps there in the Tunnel Turn. The 9 was pretty packed up on me and the 19 (Daniel Suárez) was pretty tight on my door, so that’s a pretty bad aero situation, but we – you know, we ran in the top-five and fortunately didn’t have to put ourselves in any tough spots throughout the day, so, you know, honestly fifth is good. It doesn’t do a lot for us in the gran scheme of things right now for the Playoffs, but it’s a good run for us, good rebound from New Hampshire.”

Why did you short pit?

“Yeah, I mean, it was just to be aggressive, you know? Stage points aren’t going to help us right now – picking up spots and points aren’t going to be anything, you know? It’s going to reset here, so we just needed to try to win the race and get Playoff points and the best strategy for us to do that was to get track position and, you know, you saw that play out a little, led some laps there I believe after the – yeah, when the second stage began, so it was the right strategy. We just didn’t have quite enough car probably to make it all execute there and work out.”

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

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