Martin Truex Jr. (third), Kyle Busch (fourth), Denny Hamlin (fifth) and Christopher Bell (seventh) put all four Joe Gibbs Racing Camrys inside the top-seven finishers in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) race at Watkins Glen International. Hamlin is tied for the lead in the regular season points championship with race winner Kyle Larson with three races remaining before the Playoffs begin.
Toyota Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Watkins Glen International
Race 23 of 36 – 90 laps, 220.500 miles
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Kyle Larson*
2nd, Chase Elliott*
3th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
4th, KYLE BUSCH
5th, DENNY HAMLIN
7th, CHRISTOPHER BELL
23rd, BUBBA WALLACE
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How much of a battle was it for this third-place finish?
“It was quite a battle. James (Small, crew chief) did a great job with our Reser’s Fine Foods Camry to get track position to put us where we needed to be. We didn’t quite have the speed on the longer runs to take advantage of that track position. We tried hard and thanks to everybody for working hard. We’re a little behind those two (Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott) right now on road courses, they’re really, really fast. I just had to burn my tires off to try to stay with them and then in 20 laps they’re gone. Heck of a fight, but we’ll take a third or a podium as they say in road course racing and go to work and try to get better.”
What did you need to beat Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott today?
“A little bit of everything. Honestly, I felt like through the esses and through the carousel, off the carousel was my weakest point. Just couldn’t quite turn as good as them in turn two and then turn three I would get loose and couldn’t get the power down at all off the carousel. Just a little bit of everything. When I asked it to turn, they would out-turn me and when I ask it to go, they’re out-going me. Nonetheless, all the guys did a great job. We had a replacement or fill-in tire changer on the front and he did a good job so thanks to him. Overall, it was a solid day for our Reser’s Fine Foods Camry. Thanks to Toyota, TRD and everybody that works with us to make the cars better. Just need to find some more. We were second to those two guys at Sonoma as well. I think the 20 (Christopher Bell) had a good car as well, but those two (Larson and Elliott) were just strong. I don’t know exactly how we’re going to get there, but we’re going to keep working.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
How was the track for you today?
“Slick. We just didn’t quite have what we needed. That was not fun. The guys gave me a pretty decent Snickers Camry. Just not quite where we needed it and not quite good enough. Just couldn’t really hang on during the long runs. We’d lose too much time off the corners and be too slick. Fought hard all day. A lot of green flag action today and a lot of long runs. As much as I workout, I’m out of shape.”
How do you feel about your finish today?
“Not as good as we wanted. We didn’t quite have the car we needed. It was just all on top of the race track. We haven’t been here in a few years and the track fall off to the grip fall off with the tire being too hard – we kind of missed all of that for the package that we needed, but I’m good here and the cars are good here. We kind of overcame the downfall of what we had for car setup, but can’t blame anybody. Got to go to work, figure it out and make it better for what’s going to be here next year.”
Was this the most challenging road course race of the season thus far?
“It was for us. The car being really up on top of the race track just sliding all around and you’re trying to keep it under control and keep it under you so you don’t spin or don’t wreck or whatever. We just kind of missed it today. It was a lot of work and driving the hell out of it. Overall, we know we’ve got good stuff and we know we always run well here, but we hadn’t been here in two years, the asphalt is older, same tire and really hard tire – wrong tire for this track. Just made for a challenging day.”
You seemed very hot when you got out of the race car, was it hot today inside the car?
“I’m not hot, it wasn’t hot. I’m not even really sweating all that much. It’s just I’m sore. Everything from being tensed up all day and all we had were the three competition cautions and that was it. The rest was all green flag runs and it was hard, it was long.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
How will you approach the next three races being tied with Kyle Larson for the regular season championship?
“It’s going to be a battle all the way to the end I think. Really proud of our effort today. We passed, had to be the most cars. We were really, really fast all day. Proud of this whole FedEx Express team. We’ve come a long way on the road courses. I thought we had equal pace with the 5 (Kyle Larson), especially on the long run. Obviously, we made an extra stop there for whatever reason. It’s an encouraging day when we can be as competitive as what we were.”
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 STANLEY Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 7th
What is your take on that contact in turn one with Kyle Larson?
“I haven’t seen it so I don’t know if I crowded him (Kyle Larson) at all, but he shouldn’t have been in there in the first place. He didn’t really have a run coming off of (turn) seven. We were all packed up. I was faster than the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) but never could make a run on him to get by him, and same thing with him. It’s very disappointing. Our STANLEY/Pristine Auction Camry was extremely fast and definitely capable of winning the race today. Extremely frustrating, but a lot more racing to go.”
How did you feel about the race today overall?
“Just pretty disappointed. Our STANLEY/Pristine Auction Camry was every bit as capable of winning the race and finished seventh. Very happy that we’ve turned a corner and now we’re frustrated with seventh. It should have been a lot more today.”
When did you become so good at road racing?
“I don’t know, I guess just more experience and getting more laps on it and having really fast Camrys to drive. In this sport, you’re only as good as your race car and I’ve had really fast race cars he last couple of weeks.”
How does this race set you up for Indy next week?
“It should be good. Indy, we have practice so have a little more time to tune on it and make it better, but been really proud of Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and this 20 group to give us really fast Camrys and I expect that to be similar next week.”
Toyota Racing PR