Denny Hamlin was the top Toyota finisher with a runner-up result in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. Hamlin started on the pole and led three laps around the Upstate New York road course. Along with Hamlin, all six Toyota Camry TRD’s finished inside the top-12 today with Christopher Bell (third) and Ty Gibbs (fifth) earning top-five results. Martin Truex Jr. (sixth), Tyler Reddick (eighth) and Bubba Wallace (12th) rounded out the top-12 finishes for Toyota in Watkins Glen.
With the finish, Truex continues to lead the NCS championship standings heading into the final race of the regular season at Daytona International Speedway, with Hamlin sitting 39 points behind Truex.
Toyota Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Watkins Glen International
Race 25 of 36 – 220.5 miles, 90 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, William Byron*
2nd, DENNY HAMLIN
3rd, CHRISTOPHER BELL
4th, AJ Allmendinger*
5th, TY GIBBS
6th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
8th, TYLER REDDICK
12th, BUBBA WALLACE
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Mavis Tires & Brakes Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
Was it difficult trying to get to the back end of the 24 there toward the end of the race?
“Yeah, I mean, it’s just a little bit each lap. I don’t want to make a mistake because most times I make mistakes and give up all my track position. So, it’s a really tough balance between trying to be aggressive and stay on him versus just making sure I don’t make a mistake. It’s a tough spot to be in, but certainly I wanted to give it my all there and I felt like that was a run about what we were capable of.”
Are you happy with your day?
“Yeah, I’m happy with my day. It takes me a while to get going. With (Michael) McDowell there at the beginning, he’s ready and he’s on kill and I’m kind of working my way into it and I just hate I lost the lead. I just looked at the 24’s back bumper the rest of the day. It was a fun race. I appreciate all the Mavis guys here and Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing for giving me a good car and giving me the tools I need to get better.”
Do you think you can catch Martin Truex Jr. for the regular season championship?
“It’s doable. You’ve got to have things go your way. Yeah, if we can talk NASCAR into those 25 points they took away earlier in the season we’d really make it interesting.”
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 DEWALT Concrete Total Solutions Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
What more did you need at the end of today’s race?
“I don’t know. I thought I had what I needed at the end. Just a little bit better starting position. It’s crazy – 90 laps and it comes down to that. We were just all very equally matched, and the road course races have been like that pretty much all season long. Whenever nobody makes mistakes you’ve got to be in front of them.”
Are you happy with your finish today?
“I’m happy that we finished third. The regular season points battle is super, super tight and the guy we’re trying to pass is sitting on the front stretch. He showed up and won the race. I’m really proud of this 20 group. They made some awesome changes overnight and overall, this DEWALT Camry was super fast all weekend long. It’s crazy to say that 90 laps and I feel like we lost because we didn’t qualify better yesterday. When people don’t make mistakes it’s hard to pass them.”
What does a day like today do for you mentally?
“It’s just very, very nice to finally get a couple races put together without any incident. I was probably happier with Indy last week finishing ninth than I was today. Just because Indy was the first race in a long time that us as a group were able to put a whole day together without making a mistake. I know that we have all the pieces, and I’ve been saying it for a long time, but they haven’t come together yet and when they do – we’re close – whenever they do come together, we’ll be right there at the front.”
TY GIBBS, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
How was your race today?
“I felt like I didn’t perform there as good as I needed to and need to do a better job to get back up and go race for the win there. I felt like I was faster than the guys in front of us and I didn’t do a good job getting through them. I’ve got to study on something here and get past these guys. My car was really good. My Monster Energy Toyota Camry was really fast, I just didn’t do a good job today.”
What is your mindset going into Daytona on the Playoff bubble?
“I don’t really know what mindset to have going there. Just stay clean and try to make it to the end and have a good finish.”
BUBBA WALLACE, No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota Camry TRD, 23XI Racing
Finishing Position: 12th
What went well for you in today’s race?
“Just executing really. Thanks to (William) Bryon for winning that. Didn’t have a new winner. I’m proud of myself. That’s the first time I felt proud of myself at a road course race. I just executed and didn’t lose focus — maybe one time. And, that’s the difference maker. You’ve got to stay on it at these places. Just hats off to my team for sticking with me and believing in me on these road courses. I know we still have one more to go, but we wanted to maintain our gap and not lose too many and we gained. Hats off to everybody on the effort we put in. Thanks to Toyota for believing in me, McDonalds and all of our partners involved. Just a great day for the 23 team. Now, we get to go in Daytona stressful as hell, but it takes a little bit of the edge off for sure.”
How does knowing you can focus and get a good road course result help you in the future?
“Shout out to Scott Dixon. I actually talked to him this morning about the mental piece of it. It’s hard when you come into a road course race, and you tell yourself that every time. He basically told me to shut the hell up and that I’m here for a reason and to trust in myself and believe in myself and this is what can happen. I don’t think I had one lap where I said I was going to suck, so it was good.”
Toyota Racing PR