MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 29, 2015) – Camry driver Denny Hamlin collected the checkered flag in Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway – the first victory for Toyota this season in NSCS competition. Tundra drivers also earned six top-10 finishes in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the half-mile speedway.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Hamlin claimed the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) victory of 2015 for Toyota in Sunday afternoon’s race at Martinsville. The victory was the fifth for both Toyota and Hamlin at the half-mile Virginia short track.
With this win, the Chesterfield, Va.-native and the No. 11 FedEx Camry team are locked into the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship battle. Hamlin started 15th and led 91 laps (of 500) en route to the 66th Camry NSCS win since Toyota joined the series in 2007.
Fellow Camry drivers and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth (fourth) and David Ragan (fifth) also earned top-five finishes at Martinsville.
The NSCS takes next weekend off and then returns to action at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 11.
Select Toyota NSCS Driver Quotes:
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How were you able to hold off Brad Keselowski in the closing laps?
“Just great race cars and part of a great organization that gives me cars that we’re able to do it. I feel like I missed out on so many grandfather clocks here because of mechanical issues and such. We just weren’t going to be denied today and hat’s off to Brad (Keselowski). He had an option and he took the latter – thank him for that. I’m proud of the whole FedEx team – we’re going to the Greenbrier and celebrate after this win.”
How was the handling on the car?
“Every time we got to the lead our car just got so loose that it was very hard for me to hang onto it. The success that I’ve had at this race track comes from watching guys like Bugs Hairfield, Roy Hendrick, Ray Hendrick, Eddie Johnson and those guys that I idolized growing up racing late models and showed me the way to short track racing. This win is for guys like that.”
How strong was the car?
“We had a very fast car, but obviously some pit road issues, but we overcame it. We got luckily on the inside line on that last restart and that was the key for us to win. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys gave me a car I could win with and we got it done.”
How hard were you trying to get off pit road to restart on the inside lane?
“Tried, but sometimes it messes you up when guys have penalties. It’s hard to play that game, but we did on the last stop and luckily it paid off for us.”
How special is this win with the news about J.D. Gibbs this week?
“No doubt – J.D. (Gibbs) is the one that gave me my start 10 years ago and can’t be prouder to put Gibbs Racing back in victory lane. They’ve been with me for so long and believe in me, this is what happens.”
How big is this win for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota?
“It’s a big win for Gibbs and Toyota. It’s been roughly a year for both of us, and really myself. We’re just not used to not having success, and especially with the resources that we have. Boss man over here expects a lot from us and we expect to be in victory lane and be up front. You know, even though it doesn’t cure things, it makes things better, and what this does for our race team in particular is that we’ve got some kinks in our team right now, but like Dave (Rogers, crew chief) says, this allows you ?? this buys you months of time to get everything worked out and get all the kinks worked out because we know we can go on a championship run, and knowing that this racetrack holds the key to that top four getting into Homestead, I like our chances. I told you last year, get us to that Eliminator Round, whatever that was, and we were going to be tough, and with the package that Dave gave us this weekend and the entire Gibbs team obviously, we’re excited to come back here and be part of a championship. But it doesn’t come easy. You don’t just rest on your laurels. We had the longest competition meeting I’ve ever been a part of this past weekend. Joe (Gibbs) raised his voice, which doesn’t happen very often, told us to get off our tails and go to work, and we all did it, and great result for this race team. Sometimes you need a leader like that to kind of put things in perspective. Not that people weren’t working hard, but it just takes that extra 10 percent out of everyone to get to that next level, and I’m very proud of the speed that we’ve shown with our 11 team so far this year. We’ve run top 5 every single week except for Phoenix, and we’re going to work on that. We’re excited. We’re excited about what we’ve got going on and what’s to come for us.”
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How important is this win for the team?
“It’s a big deal. We get the monkey off our back early, build some confidence with this race team. It’s a new race, got a lot of new faces on the team, guys from the Truck Series, guys from the XFINITY Series, a bunch of new faces, and Denny (Hamlin) and I are rekindling our relationship, so a lot of learning to do, and a win leading into an off weekend where we can talk about it, enjoy it, dissect what we did good, what we did bad and get better, it’s just a great opportunity for this race team right now, and I’m really excited about it.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
How strong was the car in the race?
“I thought we had a top-three car. In the long run and at the end of the race I thought we actually had the best car – me and Denny (Hamlin). Then on that last restart, that recent set of tires just didn’t agree with it – didn’t have any grip and couldn’t go anywhere. Just kind of hanging on, which is unfortunate. The crew guys put us out in the lead and gave us a great opportunity again this week. I feel like I didn’t get it done, but did the best we could with what we had there at the end.”
Are you happy with the finish?
“It’s hard to be disappointed with a fourth at Martinsville. Really happy that Denny (Hamlin) is in victory lane. He is one of the biggest reasons I can actually run in the top-10. Good for him and a great teammate – glad for him. I was disappointed there at the end, we just couldn’t go on that short run and just kept dropping back. The run before I couldn’t go on a real short run, but we were better on the long run and thought we were going to have a shot at them. Then after that last caution I just couldn’t get going.”
DAVID RAGAN, No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
How does it feel to get this strong of a finish since joining the team?
“I feel like we’ve under-performed the last three or four weeks. A lot of it has been just mistakes on my behalf, mistakes on the team’s behalf and we’ve been really good. We’ve had some good speed and we’ve had top-10 cars, but we just haven’t been able to have a good, entire weekend. Finally, we put together a good race where we weren’t very good Friday and Saturday. We put together a good race today and that’s what’s the most important.”
What came together for this finish?
“You have to qualify well, you have to communicate well on Saturdays and you have to have mistake-free races on Sunday. We just haven’t put together a full, entire weekend and I think that just shows that we’ve had the speed and we’re capable of doing it, we just have to get the job done. We were very close to not coming away with a good finish today. We had some damage early that we had to repair, but good strategy and it was fun to drive this Toyota. I had a lot of fun wheeling this thing and thinking about Joe Gibbs and J.D. (Gibbs) today. It’s awesome to see Denny (Hamlin) in victory lane. This team has been working hard and it would be great if we could get one soon.”
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 13th
How important was this finish after the challenges in handling all weekend?
“We worked hard all weekend for that finish. I’m real proud of Brian Pattie and the guys. We just missed getting a top-10 finish for the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota. I just got too loose at the end but proud of our effort. Congrats to Toyota on the win.”
Toyota NSCS Driver Finishing Positions — at Martinsville Speedway
1st, DENNY HAMLIN
4th, MATT KENSETH
5th, DAVID RAGAN
13th, CLINT BOWYER
17th, CARL EDWARDS
26th, JJ YELEY
28th, BRETT MOFFITT
29th, JEB BURTON
31st, MATT DIBENEDETTO
Toyota Drivers in NSCS Point Standings — following Martinsville Speedway*
8th, DENNY HAMLIN 172 points (91 points behind leader Kevin Harvick)
12th, MATT KENSETH 168 points
13th, DAVID RAGAN 163 points
18th, CARL EDWARDS 148 points
19th, CLINT BOWYER 146 points
30th, BRETT MOFFITT 94 points
*unofficial point standings
2015 Toyota NSCS WINS: 1 Hamlin – 1 (Martinsville – 3.29.15)
Overall Toyota NSCS WINS (since 2007): 66
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Matt Crafton (second) was the highest-finishing Tundra in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway. Defending race-winner and series champion Crafton led six times for a total of 100 laps (of 258). In addition to Crafton, Tundra driver Erik Jones also led two laps at the half-mile Virginia oval.
Tundra drivers Jones (third), Johnny Sauter (fourth), Daniel Suarez (sixth), Matt Tifft (ninth) and Justin Boston (10th) also finished in the top-10.
The NCWTS will return to action in a month at Kansas Speedway on Friday, May 8.
Select Toyota NCWTS Driver Quotes:
MATT CRAFTON, No. 88 Hormel/Menards Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
How strong was the truck in the race?
“This Menards Toyota Tundra was good. It took a few laps to get going. I had the lead early and there towards the end the 4 (Erik Jones) and the 29 (Joey Logano) got by me. I was just not that good on the short run, but it would keep coming to me and coming to me. I never touched the 29 earlier whenever I passed him and then he just kept putting the bumper to me and I was like, ‘well, it’s the race for the lead here,’ and I wasn’t going to move him. We got in there side by side and I got a little bit loose in there and the 00 (Cole Custer) came in there and just pounded us. It’s racing I guess.”
What happened in the closing laps?
“I felt like the first half of the race I raced everybody clean. The 29 (Joey Logano), I passed him earlier and didn’t put a mark on him and whenever he got back to me later on, he was beating my bumper off. Inside of 10 (laps) to go, I said that it was every man for himself at that point. I wasn’t going to wreck him, but I was definitely going to put a bumper to him here and there, but I definitely wasn’t going to wreck him. Then the 00 (Cole Custer) just came in there and pile drove us both. It’s racing.”
Did you expect the final restart to be chaos?
“The 29 (Joey Logano) got a huge – he lagged back big, big on us getting into the restart area and I knew it was going to be big because I saw him coming with that run and I couldn’t do anything about it at that point. I knew if I shut the door we were all going to get wrecked.”
ERIK JONES, No. 4 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 3rd
Were you surprised at the bumping in the closing laps?
“He (Joey Logano) had to do what he had to do to win. I wish I could have raced the 88 (Matt Crafton) for it, I was looking forward to having a shot at it. Figured he (Logano) was probably going to do that. Thankfully it worked out and we were able to drop in third. The tires are just killed on this thing and we got too loose the last run. Good day overall for us in our Toyota Tundra and just hopefully we can go on to Kansas and pick up a win for this season. Feel pretty good about it.”
What did you learn in today’s race?
“A lot about Martinsville – I feel a lot better about coming back to this place now. We came here with a new package, a little bit different from what we’ve run the past couple years with me. It worked pretty well and I was real happy with it. Kind of have a better idea of what we need to do through the race now adjustment-wise and looking forward to getting back in the fall and taking another stab at it.”
JOHNNY SAUTER, No. 98 Smokey Mountain/Curb Records Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
How was the race?
“It ended really well. Obviously we didn’t run like we have in the past. Our Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Toyota was decent. I just started out really, really tight at the beginning of a run and like lap 15 of a run it’s like somebody flipped a switch and it was so loose I couldn’t drive it. Clearly we had a balance problem, I don’t know what it is. Nonetheless, we finished fourth and we survived. When you’re not the fastest truck here, you have to kind of change your approach and try to survive and that’s all we did today.”
Does your experience help on a day like this?
“Experience is good in a lot of ways and in a lot of ways it’s bad. I don’t believe in all that stuff about rookies and this and that. I think if you’re in a good truck or a fast truck, you’ll run well and if you have some decent sense about you. Having said all that, being a veteran sometimes you have preconceived notions on how things should be or how you should run. Having said all that, I don’t know – what a crazy race though. They were knocking and beating and banging up there. I didn’t get to see a lot of it because I was trying to get up there. It was a good day.”
CAMERON HAYLEY, No. 13 Cabinets by Hayley/Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing:
Finishing Position: 11th
What happened on the final restart?
“We got dive-bombed on that last restart three times being on the outside and then we hit the wall at the end. Everyone says Martinsville is frustrating, but until you race here you really don’t know how hard it is to finish 11th after running in the top-five all day. I’m so disappointed, but we had a good Tundra all day.”
Toyota NCWTS Driver Finishing Positions — at Martinsville Speedway
1st, Joey Logano
2nd, MATT CRAFTON
3rd, ERIK JONES
4th, JOHNNY SAUTER
6th, DANIEL SUAREZ
9th, MATT TIFFT
10th, JUSTIN BOSTON
11th, CAMERON HAYLEY
17th, GRAY GAULDING
18th, TIMOTHY PETERS
19th, BEN KENNEDY
Toyota Drivers in NCWTS Point Standings — following Martinsville Speedway*
1st, MATT CRAFTON 128 points (2 points ahead of second-place Tyler Reddick)
3rd, ERIK JONES 122 points
4th, JOHNNY SAUTER 112 points
8th, CAMERON HAYLEY 84 points
10th, BEN KENNEDY 83 points
11th, TIMOTHY PETERS 81 points
13th, JUSTIN BOSTON 77 points
*unofficial point standings
2015 Toyota NXS WINS: 0
Overall Toyota NXS WINS (since 2007): 98