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KENSETH EARNS FIRST VICTORY OF THE 2015 SEASON

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 19, 2015) – Camry driver Matt Kenseth earned his first victory of the 2015 season and second for Toyota in Sunday night’s rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Camry driver Daniel Suarez earned his career-best NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) race finish of second in Saturday afternoon’s race.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Kenseth claimed the victory for Toyota in Sunday night’s rain-delayed NSCS race at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway. The victory was the seventh for Toyota and fourth for Kenseth at the half-mile bullring, now the most for him at any NSCS race track.

With this win, Kenseth and the No. 20 Dollar General Camry team are locked into the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship battle. Kenseth started from the pole and led 47 laps (of 511) in the race which endured a 90-minute rain delay to start and then three red flags. The victory was Kenseth’s 32nd of his NSCS career and 67th for Toyota since joining the series in 2007.

Camry Xfinity Series driver Erik Jones made his career-first NSCS start in tonight’s race subbing for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Denny Hamlin after Hamlin suffered neck pain during the first 22 laps of the race.

Fellow Camry driver and Kenseth’s JGR teammate Carl Edwards (24th) led 86 laps of the race and was in position for a top-three finish, but an accident in the closing laps resulted in him finishing outside the top-20.

The NSCS returns to action at Richmond International Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400 on Saturday, April 25.

Select Toyota NSCS Driver Quotes:
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
What does this win mean?
“It means a lot. I have a great race team. Last year was tough and not winning again this year so far has been tough. We’ve been putting ourselves in position. Really need to thank Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and all these guys – our pit stops have been great. I haven’t been doing as great and the cars haven’t been as good, but these guys have been really doing it. I want to thank everyone at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Dollar General, I think they stuck it out all day in the rain to watch this thing like the fans and all our sponsors – Dollar General, DeWalt, Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Gatorade, Citizen Watch, Wiley X, Reser’s and Cessna, they’re great partners and I’m proud to be standing here representing them. And, Steve (Byrnes), because I am his favorite driver. He doesn’t tell many people that, but I am his favorite driver.”

How happy are you to end the streak since your last race win?
“Now it’s zero starting next week – I’m proud of that. I was getting tired of that stat of not winning. I want to thank Dollar General and all these guys behind me and all the fans for sticking it out today. We had a pretty good car today and had a lot of speed on Friday. We had really good short run speed today, which the way the race played out – we lucked out that we had a good short run car and not such a good long run car. Everything kind of fell into place today and it feels good.”

How worried were you in the closing laps?
“Honestly, starting on the outside, with 22 to go I was getting a little nervous – Carl (Edwards) was better than me on the long run all day and I thought in 22 laps he was going to wear me down and pass me because we were real tight at that time and then we got the quick caution and I felt better about it. As long as we didn’t have to run more than six or seven laps then I thought maybe we could hold on.”

JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How difficult was it to stay focused through the delays and length of the race?
“Well, it was pretty easy to keep it together from where I was sitting. Matt (Kenseth), when you ask him that same question, he did a phenomenal job, as always, especially here at Bristol. This place is unbelievable. I get out of breath just watching him go around here. Great night, obviously. A few hours ago I was thinking we were going to do this deal tomorrow, to get it all tonight, all 500 laps and end up in victory lane, of course you mentioned how does it feel to get back to victory lane, it’s always great. Even if we were there last week, it never gets old. But with the new format, to get a win under our belt and we can look at the season a little differently now, knowing that we’re in the Chase, so I’m really excited. These guys have been working hard. Everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing has been working hard and I think that shows. I think we’ve turned the corner, and we’ve got a great season ahead of us.”

CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Comcast Business Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 24th
How do you feel about the race overall and what happened in the accident?
“The whole night went really well and we had a very fast car – the Comcast Business Toyota was really good. Congrats to Matt (Kenseth), that’s huge for him to get the win. I was racing really aggressively there at the end and the car was sticking and everything was going great and then I drove into turn one and that was the first time I lifted off throttle and I just pitched sideways. I was in deep trouble – I drove it way too deep to be this far sideways. It’s 100 percent my fault. My guys did a great job and we just have to keep digging. The cars are getting faster and faster. The outcome was not what we wanted and I made a big mistake, but it was just a fun race. There were times in the middle of that race where I was just laughing – this was so much fun racing through traffic. I had a good time.”

Were you surprised we were able to race the entire distance with the weather in the area?
“I applaud NASCAR for getting this in. The whole idea with the Air Titans – that speeds everything up and they did a great job. They were patient and did a great job getting this race in today for the fans.”

ERIK JONES, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 26th
What was your first Cup experience like tonight?
“Obviously, it was a huge learning experience overall. The FedEx Camry was pretty good, but it just took me so long – really up until the red flag and kind of sitting and thinking about it and really figuring out what I had and what I had to do different from the Xfinity cars was just huge. I learned a ton. I wish we could start the night over and do it all again. It was an interesting situation for sure. I never turned a lap in one of these cars until the green flag dropped. It was interesting and I learned a ton. I can’t wait to try it again.”

When did you get the call to come to Bristol?
“I was sitting on my couch back in North Carolina thinking about when I was going to get my nap in during the race in the middle and then I got a text from one of the crew members and they let me know that I might need to be on standby. Right then I started packing a bag. I called my dad and said, ‘Hey, I think I might be getting to run a Cup race tonight.’ He was like, ‘Okay, cool keep me updated.’ Took off right from there and flew here and helicoptered in and got in and drove.”

How big was the issue with the steering wheel?
“I didn’t get any time to get fitted in the car properly, but fortunately me and Denny (Hamlin) are pretty much the same size. Overall, we didn’t have to change too much. The steering wheel was a little too close and just a different steering wheel than what I would normally run. That made it just tough to physically turn the wheel. It wasn’t a huge deal, actually 500 laps went by pretty fast. Just a huge learning experience overall and pretty pumped that I got the opportunity.”

Were you nervous to make the start tonight?
“A 35-minute flight up and I guess that was the only time I really had to really reflect on what I was about to do. There were a few moments where I didn’t feel nervous, but my stomach felt nervous. I didn’t have a lot of time really to even think about it.”

Was the team ever able to fix the steering wheel to fit you better?
“We thought at the red flag that I would be able to swap out and hopefully change the positioning of it, but unfortunately I didn’t get to because it was so short and I didn’t even get out of the car. Just kind of dealt with it and moved my hands around and figured it out.”

Were you pleased with your performance in the race?
“I was happy with it – I think we came home 26th. I wish we could have stayed on the lead lap or a lap down or two laps down and picked up a few more spots. We got caught up in the middle of three and four there in the back of the 17 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) and that kind of hurt us getting stuck in the pits. Before that, I was learning a ton and I was pretty happy with it up to that point.”

What were you able to learn from tonight’s race?
“That’s tough – honestly they drive so much different than the Xfinity cars, especially with this rules package that they actually drive better. The extra speed is such an adjustment from lift points to throttle pick up points and everything else. You have to really adjust yourself. It took me a good half to three-quarters of the race to really get a feel for it and I’m still not there. I’m still trying to figure out timing and passing cars and not getting hung up behind the car because I picked up throttle too soon. It was interesting to feel the differences and I hope we get to try it again.”

Did you play with the in-car adjustability?
“I played with it a little bit, but I never made any huge swings. Half a tenth – small adjustments. I played with it a little bit and it was interesting. It was kind of cool.”

Was it difficult to run a longer race than you are used to in the Xfinity Series?
“Actually I feel fine. My arms got a little tired at one point, which had to do with the steering wheel position and stuff. Other than that, I felt fine. Actually we have some better cooling systems in these Camrys than we do on the Xfinity side so it kept me a little cooler.”

Do you expect to get to race the No. 18 Camry this season?
“I don’t know. Obviously this was far from planned, but if I do great and I would love the opportunity to get a full weekend of practice and really dial the car in for myself and be comfortable overall. I’d love to try it and I really think we could run top-15, top-10 and obviously a place like Bristol makes it tougher anyway. If I do, great, but I have a ton of races already in the Xfinity and trucks so we’ll have to see where it goes.”

DAVID RAGAN, No. 18 Snickers Xtreme Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 41st
What happened in the accident that took you out of the race?
“Sometimes when you race back there with the squirrels, you find a nut sometimes. That’s just Bristol. You’re racing hard and the 26 (Jeb Burton) was a little slower and I know Jimmie (Johnson) is probably a little impatient trying to get back to the front. I see he just touched him there and as soon as my spotter said they were wrecking, I’m all into the 48 (Johnson). That’s just one of those things you have at short track racing. I really hate that about the Snickers Xtreme Camry. Our guys had worked hard and we had a pit road problem – lost a couple laps, but we were still out there trying to get the best finish we could. It’s unfortunate and hopefully we can tune on it and go out and make some laps, get some points and head to Richmond.”

What did you see from your perspective between the 48 and the 26?
“I saw Jimmie (Johnson) get into the 26 (Jeb Burton) car and it seemed like Jimmie just checked up a little bit more than I anticipated and I kind of saw it unfolding, but as soon as Jimmie and those guys checked up I tried to, but I just didn’t have anywhere to go. That’s unfortunate and that’s one of those things you have here at Bristol. Everybody’s fighting for one spot, one groove, one lane and you have some goers and comers and the 48 (Johnson) was trying to go. Our car was pretty good. We’d had a pit road penalty and got some laps down, but all in all it’s just Bristol – wrong place at the wrong time.”

JEB BURTON, No. 26 Maxim.com Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 42nd
What happened between yourself and Jimmie Johnson?
“We were just on our own lap and felt like our car was getting better throughout the night. There’s nowhere to go here. You’re holding up lead lap cars and you’re trying to get out of the way – I guess Jimmie (Johnson) just got tight coming off (turn) four and got into me. I thought I had it saved and it ended our night.”

Had you been racing with Jimmie Johnson for several laps?
“He (Jimmie Johnson) was behind me for a couple laps and I knew he needed to go. Once he got to my door I was going to let him go. You just can’t move over because you’ll lose too much time and go a lap down.”

Toyota NSCS Driver Finishing Positions — at Bristol Motor Speedway
1st, MATT KENSETH
12th, CLINT BOWYER
17th, BRETT MOFFITT
21st, MATT DIBENEDETTO
24th, CARL EDWARDS
26th, ERIK JONES (subbing for DENNY HAMLIN)
32nd, JJ YELEY
41st, DAVID RAGAN
42nd, JEB BURTON

2015 Toyota NSCS WINS: 2          Hamlin – 1 (Martinsville – 3.29.15); Kenseth – 1 (Bristol – 4.19.15)

Overall Toyota NSCS WINS (since 2007): 67

NASCAR XFINITY Series
Suarez recorded his career-best NXS finish in Saturday afternoon’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway when he crossed the finish line second behind race-winner Joey Logano.

Fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones started from the pole — his third consecutive this season — and drove his Camry to a fourth-place result.

The NXS returns to action at Richmond International Raceway for the Toyota Care 250 on Friday, April 24.

Select Toyota NXS Driver Quotes:
DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 18 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
How do you feel about finishing second at Bristol?
“I just can’t believe it. I can’t explain to you in words right now what I’m feeling in Spanish or English. I can’t thank enough my team – Joe Gibbs Racing, ARRIS, Toyota and everyone who makes this possible. This is unbelievable, this feeling. We work hard and sometimes it’s hard like last weekend in Texas – we were strong and hit the wall and finished 18th. Today we were fast all day long and we ended up in the second spot so that’s great.”

How were you able to continue to improve during the race?
“That’s the most important thing to not give up and keep fighting. All day long we had a good car. We improved the car at every single stop and that’s the most important thing is to learn, to improve and to be honest my team at Joe Gibbs Racing with the ARRIS Toyota, everyone is doing an amazing job. They are having a lot of patience with me as a rookie and it’s been a good day. I’m very happy.”

What advice has Kyle Busch been giving you?
“A little bit of everything. We’ve been talking a lot since I started racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), but since Texas I started talking a little bit more with him about the race track and what’s going on and what to do. A little bit of everything for advice from him. It’s been a huge change since Texas. Maybe Texas we didn’t have the result, but we showed we had the speed. I believe everything that we’ve been building the last few weeks is getting better and better.”

What has the adjustment to the NXS been like this season?
“It’s just the learning process. Last year I was just racing in the NASCAR Mexico Series and that is Late Models and I was racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East so it’s a big jump and it’s a lot to learn about race tracks, about the race car, about the team. It’s been a long year so far – learning a lot and learning about the team and spending a lot of time at the shop. To be honest, in Daytona I was kind of disappointed with myself because I was pretty off from everyone else. Just keep working and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing has been super good with me, having a lot of patience and supported me a lot in my rookie racing career. We are going to make a lot of mistakes and if we can make that amount of mistakes smaller and smaller then we’re going to be better and better. The goal for us is to try to finish races and finish in the top-10 more often and more often. We can’t think about championships, we just need to think to improve and to learn and to finish in the top-10 every weekend.”

Did you ever expect that a second place finish was possible in your first NXS race at Bristol?
“To be honest, with a top-10 I was happy. This second-place is just unbelievable. I really feel super happy for my team and I believe we are building a lot of confidence and we are building on that – learning. I just can’t explain with words what I’m feeling right now, but I’m very happy.”

Where do you feel the team is overall?
“We still have a lot of work to do, but definitely all that hard work and work at the shop checking notes and videos – Kyle Busch has been helping me a lot. I think everything that we’ve been doing since the end of 2014 is paying off slowly. I’m super happy with the performance of today. We were still a little bit off, but as a rookie I try hard and I believe we’re on the right track.”

When you moved to second-place did you think you had something for Joey Logano?
“At one point in that 40-lap run I was thinking, ‘Man, maybe I can take it.’ I just started thinking about the big picture and it looked like at one point of that run that maybe for 20 laps or after 10 laps, we were a little bit faster than him (Joey Logano). Later in the run we started getting a little too tight in the center so we killed a little of the momentum of the corner and it looked like he kept the same speed. Maybe he wasn’t super faster than us, but he was a little bit faster. Really he had a lot of experience and he was able to pass traffic a little faster and with more confidence than me and in that point he made a good gap between us.”

Has your communication with the team improved and how much did the K&N races at Bristol help you today?
“Definitely, when I moved to the United States three years ago I didn’t speak English at all so definitely every race we have been improving and improving. Right now I feel very comfortable, almost like Spanish. That’s a very cool thing that my mind is slowly thinking now in English instead of thinking in Spanish and then translating everything to English. That takes time. On the race track we don’t have that time. The K&N car is definitely different, but sometimes when you know the race track a little bit then you have a little more confidence and at least you know where the bump is and what the line to run is. It’s just more confidence to know what to expect out of the race track. My first time ever here in a race at Bristol, it was a big day and long weekend because we struggled a lot. It was something super different than what I’d raced before. To be my third time here in Bristol and my first time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, I believe that my confidence and I knew a little bit about the race track. Everything is different, the race car is different, and the line that we race in K&N is different as well. We normally race the bottom and the middle, we never ran the top. It’s been good to be racing in the K&N because it’s been teaching me a lot of things about the smaller race track and I also want to thank Kyle Busch. Even when he’s not at the race track he’s been helping me a lot the last few races with advice and a lot of details about the race track and I believe that has been helping me a lot in the last few races to improve and to know a little more about the race track because most of the race tracks that we have been to in 2015, I’ve never been before. That has been very helpful for me.”

ERIK JONES, No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
How was the Camry in the race?
“It wasn’t bad. We had a good GameStop Camry. Had good speed this morning and I don’t know if the track tightened up or what, but it’s just so hard to pass here being single file on the top like that. Overall it’s not a bad day. We got it better and thought we were a top-three car at end, but the restarts didn’t work out our way. We’ll get it better and we’ll come back in the fall and have something a little better.”

How strong was the Camry early in the race?
“We had a great race car and we had good speed. The GameStop Camry didn’t have track position at the end of the day and it burned us when I missed a shift on the start and that was all my fault and put ourselves in a hole. It’s just so tough here. You ride around single file on the top and you can’t pass. It makes for a long day for sure when you’re trying to make some spots up. We battled hard and we made good adjustments, got the car better. We’ll work on it a little more and bring it back in the fall.”

Toyota NXS Driver Finishing Positions — at Bristol Motor Speedway
1st, Joey Logano
2nd, DANIEL SUAREZ
4th, ERIK JONES
18th, DAVID STARR
19th, CALE CONLEY
22nd, BLAKE KOCH
26th, ERIC MCCLURE
31st, DENNY HAMLIN
33rd, JJ YELEY
34th, TIMMY HILL
39th, JEFF GREEN

2015 Toyota NXS WINS: 1         Jones – 1 (Texas – 4.10.15)

Overall Toyota NXS WINS (since 2007): 99


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