Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Race 3 of 36 – 400 miles, 267 laps
March 3, 2018
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Kevin Harvick*
2nd, KYLE BUSCH
3rd, Kyle Larson*
4th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
5th, Ryan Blaney*
8th, ERIK JONES
17th, DENNY HAMLIN
26th, DANIEL SUÁREZ
33rd, GRAY GAULDING
TOYOTA DRIVER POINT STANDINGS**
1st, Kevin Harvick* 135 points
4th, MARTIN TRUEX JR. 115 points
5th, KYLE BUSCH 104 points
8th, DENNY HAMLIN 97 points
19th, ERIK JONES 64 points
27th, DANIEL SUÁREZ 38 points
**unofficial point standings
· Kyle Busch (second) was Toyota’s highest-finishing Camry in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
· The Las Vegas native led 10 laps (of 267) and earned his second top-10 finish of the year.
· Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. (fourth) recorded his second straight top-five result of the season.
· Erik Jones rounds out the top-10 for Toyota with an eighth-place finish.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
What was your race like at Las Vegas?
“Our M&M’s Camry was really strong there the last 100 laps of the race. Early on, just having to start the race on our qualifiers (tires) was really bad for us and then we over tightened and over adjusted for the second run. From there we were making small tweaks to it to get it back. It was rolling fast the last 100 laps or so. A lot of those guys would go and short pit on the long side of it and I think that helped us too getting back up through those guys, too. The M&M’s Caramel Camry was good and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys did a great job this weekend. We came here and prepared well. They did a good job through practice getting us a great race car. There was no catching that 4 (Kevin Harvick), he was on rails today and lights out. I don’t know what we need to do to catch up and get better like those guys, but certainly we have some work to do, especially here at Vegas and some other places we go to maybe we’ll get closer. It was a great day for us and we’ll go to Phoenix.”
What did you need to contend for the win in Las Vegas?
“Just needed to be closer to the car to see if I had a chance to race him (Kevin Harvick) through traffic. We were just so far back, by the time he’d get through traffic, I’d get the traffic and I’d get held up and he’d drive away. We were kind of accordioning back and forth that last two runs of the race. Overall, a great M&M’s Caramel Camry. The guys did a great job bringing a really great car. I wouldn’t say we were far off, it was just the tires from qualifying. We were really, really loose to start the race and we adjusted on it and got better and a lot closer as the day went.”
Is there any consolation in a second-place finish?
“Definitely, second is fine if you get your butt beat as bad as we got our butt beat. We’ll take that finish. It was a win for the field as the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was a class of his own. Our guys did a great job. We worked really hard to fix the balance of our car today and had a good race car in practice yesterday. Real proud of Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the boys. Seems like we are able to do those things, I just don’t remember the last time I had as dominant of a car as the 4 car the last couple of weeks. We just have to go to work and try to figure it out and fix it and get ourselves to that level.”
Are you concerned with Kevin Harvick’s performance so far this year?
“It’s early, this is only race three – we aren’t worried yet. Show me that race 26 through 36.”
What do you take from this race for September when you return to Vegas?
“Definitely take some notes. It was a great run for us. Really fine tuning and figuring out what the race track needed in order to get better throughout the race was a good thing for us.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
How was the race?
“It was up and down for sure, it was a battle. We battled the car, battled track position a lot and had some trouble in the pits here and there. All in all, good solid day. We started fourth and finished fourth, it sounds easy, but there was a lot going on in between there that we had to overcome. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I’m proud of everybody. Still trying to figure it out and we’ll just keep working forward here.”
Do you feel other teams are farther ahead right now with performance?
“I don’t know if they’ve picked it up quicker than we have or the rules have benefited their body style more than it did ours. We had to change some things from how we did them last year and it appears those guys are really quick right now. We have to hand it to them, they did their homework and they’re really fast and they’re doing a good job. I’m not going to be the one that sits here and says there’s an unfair advantage because I haven’t figured that out yet. We’re going to go back to work and we’ve got some things coming that we’ve been working on. We’re right there, we just can’t get the balance of our car where we need it. Just been struggling with getting it to turn good enough these last two weeks and when we get that figured out we’ll be right there with them.”
Did you feel you had a car capable of running with Kevin Harvick?
“At the beginning I was running similar lap times, maybe not as quick, but I could see them up there and I wasn’t happy with my car at that point. Just have to keep chipping away at it and need to get better. Like I said, my hats off to them and they did their homework over the winter and came out swinging so we have work to do.”
Are you concerned about how strong other teams have been in these first three races?
“It’s a marathon and it’s a grind, honestly it really matters where you’re at when those last 10 races start and I’ve learned that over the past few years. Obviously you want to run good, be consistent and get stage points and all those things, but just being consistent and continuing to work on our cars – we’ll get there. Hopefully we’ll get a few wins along the way, but we know when it really matters is later in the season.”
Are you disappointed with the way the race turned out?
“I’m not disappointed with fourth, it was a battle today and we fought hard. With two top-fives in the last two weeks, it’s decent, but it’s not what we want. We know what we need to work on and we’ll get to working on them.”
Did the low number of cautions have an impact on the racing today?
“I think it’s more than that, I think it’s that the track was slick today and the groove was really wide with guys able to run all over it. That usually lends itself to less cautions when guys can move around and do those types of things. The other thing was that it was really difficult to pass, it was tough to get close enough to somebody. Even if you wanted to spin somebody out or get them loose going into the corner, it was tough to get close enough to them. Felt like that part of it was possibly a little worse than last year and I don’t know if some of the splitter rules that have been changed have made it worse. Definitely felt like a lot of guys struggled in traffic more than normal. Some of it may be the new tire and some of it may be just the way that the rubber was laid down because it was really, really slick out there. We’ll just have to see what happens as we race some more races and see how it all plays out. Like I said, just one of those days where we got what we could and it was just an okay day.”
ERIK JONES, No. 20 SportClips Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 8th
How was your race?
“It was a decent day for us. This SportClips Camry was really fast. Just never had the track position we needed or wanted to run up front. Good to get a top-10 and good to get us more points to get us back in a good points spot after Daytona and starting out behind. We’ll be going to Phoenix and will keep going after it.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 17th
How was your car overall and where were the struggles you needed to overcome?
“We were pretty good and had a top-five car. We just sped on pit road under green, got a lap down and then just had struggles with a pit gun and lost some spots there. Then a caution comes back out and somebody else gets the ‘lucky dog’ – every time I was in the ‘lucky dog’ position and I needed to get the caution to get back on the lead lap we didn’t get it. I felt like we had a strong car and then we dropped a cylinder there with about 30 (laps) to go and ended up seven cylinders. All in all, it was a tough weekend, but I know we have a car a lot better and that will perform pretty well in the race.”
Toyota Racing PR