Kyle Busch earned his first pole position of the season and will lead the field to the green in Sunday’s Cup Series race at ISM Raceway, a track he’s won the last two races at. All three Toyota Playoff drivers will start the 312 lap race from the first two rows.
Toyota Racing Post-Qualifying Report
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
ISM Raceway – November 9, 2019
TOYOTA STARTING POSITIONS
1st, KYLE BUSCH
2nd, Joey Logano*
3rd, DENNY HAMLIN
4th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
5th, Kyle Larson*
9th, ERIK JONES
16th, MATT DiBENEDETTO
38th, JOEY GASE
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 1st
How does starting on the pole help your quest to make the Championship 4?
“It’s obviously a really good starting spot for us and track position is a big deal here. Obviously, it gives us number one pit selection as well, so lots of things that can certainly help us to fire off here to start. Those guys behind us, we know are going to be awfully hungry as well. We just have to see how the race plays out. It puts us in the best possible spot to start off and we’ve got 312 laps to figure it out.”
Why was this the first mock run in practive you’ve made this season?
“Honestly, you would have to ask Adam (Stevens, crew chief). I would assume just trying to figure everything out, trying to get a little acclimated to that fast of a lap time and what it takes to make that fast of a lap time. Then also for the guys to adjust on just a few things to make sure our balance was good for qualifying to get the best spot possible. I could say that we made or kind of attemped qualifying runs at speedway races – you try to set your heights and everything for that as well too. That doesn’t matter anyways because we’re always about 30th. Better day today.”
Do you feel traffic will be a factor during the race?
“No question, traffic is a big deal. We saw it yesterday in practice. There were times yesterday where I would get stuck behind a couple guys I was following. (Joey) Logano fired off in practice right behind us in the first session and was really good and caught up to us and got by us. He starts right there with us, but I think our car is way better than it was when we unloaded. We made some good adjustments through practice and got the M&M’s Camry hopefully tuned up.”
Do you have concerns about possibly being the second place car starting in Homestead after the pole car didn’t get started in the Truck race last night and there was a penalty?
“I guess you always have those scenarios. You try to do the best job you can and be as clean as you can and focus on what you need to do. Playing games is not necessarily one of my strong suits so we just try to go out there and do our job.”
What does it say that this is your first pole this season?
“A couple years ago, we had the most poles when speed in your race car was what it was for the weekend and now you have no idea what speed is in your race car until you get in the races. I think the short tracks though are a little more towards a true tell as to what’s going to happen. The mile-and-a-half stuff is not even close. Good to get a pole obviously and have one in another season and be able to keep going.”
Do you think the penalty issued to Bubba Wallace today will impact what drivers do with a flat tire?
How do you feel about green-white-checkered restarts at ISM Raceway compared to other tracks?
“I think every place is different and I can go down all sorts of different scenarios based off what track you’re at. Here at Phoenix, if you can get a good launch out of the restart zone and get yourself clear by turn one, I would say you have a pretty good opportunity of the race being over. Speedway races, they can end that way too, but they can also develop energy runs from behind and guys can catch up and make moves. Like we saw at Kansas for instance, Denny (Hamlin) was on the inside, I was on the outside and I didn’t get enough push from behind to stay alongside Denny and Denny got clear and it was over by turn one. Nothing else was going to happen. I think that’s kind of what you see with this package a little bit.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 3rd
How was your car earlier in practice?
“Pretty straight forward. We made a mock (qualifying) run in first practice and I think we were second. I think I’m happy somewhere in the top six is a good goal.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 4th
How do you feel about your starting position?
“It will be a good starting spot for sure. I felt okay about our car yesterday. Thought we made some gains on it, and made some more changes on it last night. We’ll see what we can come up with. Looking forward to it.”
Are you sending Blake home?
“Yeah, Blake (Harris, car chief) went home to get some work done. He’s getting the Homestead car prepped up and getting it ready.”
Is that something your team felt was worth it?
“Blake (Harris, car chief) was here for practice and stuff yesterday, got all his stuff done. From here, we could substitute someone, we couldn’t really substitute somebody for him yesterday. He was a big part of our team. Obviously, that’s why he is going back to work on our car.”
ERIK JONES, No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 9th
What can you do to ensure more longevity in the Playoffs next season?
“Just consistency. We had such a good run going into the Playoffs, winning Darlington. When the Playoffs started, we just had a lot of issues. Eliminating those and not making mistakes is the big thing for next year. Honestly, some of it has been our own doing, and some of it has been circumstantial and race track situations, cautions coming out at the wrong time, people wrecking and getting wrecked. You have to do what you can to prevent that, but at the same time, you have to have some things go your way. It’s just going to take a good year. I think next year, we’re in a spot to run really well. We’ll be on the same rules package and have some notes to go on. Hopefully, we can put the whole year together.”
Does this aero package suit your driving style?
“I don’t know, as a driver you kind of take every race car to it’s capability. I don’t know that it’s suited or doesn’t suit it. It’s just something different. It’s a different driving style than the old package, but I wouldn’t say it does or doesn’t suit it, just different.”
MATT DiBENEDETTO, No. 95 Dumont Jets Toyota Camry, Leavine Family Racing
Starting Position: 16th
How was the car in qualifying?
“Fast, but couldn’t drive it. Thought we would have had a shot at qualiyfing up front or at least contending for the pole until I hit my first corner and realized I was an eight out of 10 loose.”
What are your expectations for the race?
“I think we have a really good race car and just missed it in qualifying really bad. I was pretty disappointed. As far as the race car, it was really good and I would say I would be disappointed if we don’t run in the top-10 all day.”
Toyota Racing PR