Toyota Racing MENCS Chicagoland Race Recap – 06.30.19

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Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Chicagoland Raceway

Race 17 of 36 – 400.5 miles, 267 laps

June 30, 2019

TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS

1st, Alex Bowman*

2nd, Kyle Larson*

3rd, Joey Logano*

4th, Jimmie Johnson*

5th, Brad Keselowski*

7th, ERIK JONES

9th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.

15th, DENNY HAMLIN

22nd, KYLE BUSCH

27th, MATT DiBENEDETTO

*non-Toyota driver

·         Erik Jones was the highest-finishing Camry driver as he crossed the line in the seventh position. It was Jones’ second straight top-10 finish, and third in the last four races.

·         Martin Truex Jr. finished ninth for his 11th top-10 finish of the season.

TOYOTA QUOTES

ERIK JONES, No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 7th

Solid day. Talk about your finish.

“Yeah, we put it together pretty well. The DeWalt Camry was good, and it was good at the end. I really think we had a top-four car. We just gave up to much on the second-to-last run. We were loose and fell back to 15th and just had to work up from there. It made it kind of difficult to get the track position from there. It just was a little bit tough to pass all day and get up there. The car was good; it had good speed. But good day for us.”

What can you do to build on a top-10 run like this as you try to make the playoffs?
“I think we have to keep improving our stuff. It looks like the Hendrick (Motorsports) cars were really fast this weekend. We’re going to have to keep working to keep up with them. It’s a different kind of race track; Chicago is kind of its own animal. We will keep improving our stuff; we will have to keep working to keep up with them.”

Did the new package create any problems for your team at this track?

“It changes what your mentality is. You have to look at mile-and-a-half races this year rather than last year’s Chicago race. You build your setup around that and figure out how to approach it. It’s tough to do; you don’t know what you’re going to get when you get here as far as trim level and where you need to be on that. I feel like we did a good job; we were close. But there is a little more to be gained.”

How much affect did the weather have?

“It did have more than normal because it was so cool after the rain. We were definitely more built to run in the heat, so cooling down like this changed things. We tried to band-aid it and get it better for the cool temperatures, but it really wasn’t enough, and we had to go back on it. It was tough to get our balance where we wanted it.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 9th

How was the race overall today?

“Fought it hard. We knew at the end of practice that we were a little bit lost on what we needed to do to try to hit the balance today. We were kind of taking a big swing at it and it was not bad. At one point in the race, we were really good, and we were the fastest car and then the next restart, it wouldn’t go because it was on the track so hard. We lost that track position and then we got it back on that really long run. We got all the way to the front and then had a good restart and got to fifth or fourth or something. Then when we had the caution for the 4 (Kevin Harvick) scraping the wall in (turns) one and two, the next restart we got the bottom and it didn’t go so well. I got drug back and I got really tight on that run. We lost all our track position that we worked all day to get at the beginning of that third stage. At the end, just ran out of time. We were fast again. Our car was really sensitive and on edge all day. It would go from too loose to too tight without almost doing anything different from lap to lap. Little bit of a tough day, but we soldiered home to a fifth and a sixth in the stages and ninth at the end. When you have a tough weekend, that’s a good day to get a top-10.”

Do you feel the strength of Hendrick today is just one race or a new trend with this package?

“I think it’s just one race. You look at these things and you come to these tracks now with this package and every track is just so different. I can’t stress it enough how different it is. You only get two 50-minute practices and we came here, and we were totally lost for the first whole practice and then two-thirds of the second practice and it’s like, if we had another 30 minutes, we could have been so much better. It’s one of those things where all these tracks are so different, and they want just a different package all together that the first time here is hard to hit it. Clearly, they (Hendrick Motorsports) hit it out of the park because they were fast right off the truck.”

Did the green race track impact your race setup after the red flag?

“No, I don’t think so. I think the green track was fine. It seemed like it didn’t change a whole lot honestly. I don’t know, whatever they use in these tires these days, it’s really not all that different. There’s still some rubber on the track and believe it or not, there’s almost the same amount after we have a caution and the track gets black as we run, but when we have a caution and we all slow down, the tires pick all that rubber up. It’s almost the exact same scenario as the beginning of the race starting after the rain. I don’t know how they’re doing it or how the tires are, but I think we’ve had less issues with rain in the last year or so than ever so that’s cool.”

What else did you need from the race car today?

“It was just real sensitive. We had runs where we were the fastest car on the track, and we had runs where we were the 15th-fastest car on the track. It was just super-sensitive to any little change or loss of track position. We got in a really good spot there on that one restart. We were up front – I think we were fifth and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) scraped the wall and they brought out the caution. Then the run right after that with the heat cycle on our tires, we got really tight and lost all our track position that we had gained throughout the day. Then at the end we just kind of hung around. We were faster than the guys in front of us, but not fast enough to catch them all and pass them with 40 (laps) to go. Just one of those up-and-down days. We were just average. We’ll go to work and try to get better at this place.”

Did you feel that the Hendrick engines made some gains with their performance today?

“It’s so hard to tell engine-wise. I feel like we’ve been a little off on the straightaways all year long and it shows up qualifying. We qualify 10th to 20th on these types of tracks so we definitely have a little bit to learn there. Not sure, it’s hard to say its engines or body or setup. When our cars go through the corners good, we’re as fast as anyone. I don’t know, there’s so many things you can work on with these cars nowadays, it’s hard to know exactly what to do.”

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