Toyota and Chevy notes and quotes heading into Sunday's Atlanta race
TOYOTA SWEEP IN BRISTOL: Toyota drivers claimed a weekend sweep at Tennessee's Bristol Motor Speedway by recording wins in all three NASCAR races at the half-mile track. Camry driver Denny Hamlin captured the victory in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race and his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Joey Logano was victorious in Friday evening's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) event -- his sixth NNS win of 2012. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race on Wednesday night, Timothy Peters led every lap (204) to claim his second win of 2012 and extend his series points lead -- and he also led a Tundra trifecta to the finish, as Parker Kligerman took second-place and Ross Chastain finished third.
BUMP AND RUN: Toyota driver Hamlin claimed his third NSCS victory of the season in the 500-lap race at Bristol. The Virginia-native led five times for 70 laps on the half-mile track and used a late-race bump on leader Carl Edwards to make the pass for the lead. Hamlin led the final 38 circuits en route to the victory. In addition to Hamlin, three other Camry drivers led laps at Bristol -- Logano (139), Martin Truex Jr. (44) and Brian Vickers (one). In the 250-mile race, Vickers took fourth and Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Logano finished sixth through eighth, respectively.
HOME OF CAMRY HISTORY: Busch guided the Toyota Camry to its first points win in the NSCS race at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) in March 2008. Busch's Camry led a race-high 173 laps (of 325) at Atlanta , including the final 40 circuits. Busch went on to win eight NSCS races in 2008, his first season with JGR. Since capturing its first NSCS points win in 2008, the Camry has gone on to capture 45 victories in 204 NSCS starts.
PACING THE FIELD: In 12 NCWTS races at AMS, Tundra drivers have captured six pole positions, including Toyota's first-ever pole in the NCWTS in 2004. David Reutimann claimed the historic pole for Toyota at Atlanta in March and went on to finish third in the track's first NCWTS race. Mike Skinner claimed three pole positions (2005-2007) in a Tundra at Atlanta, and Busch (2009) and Todd Bodine (2006) have each claimed one pole.
TRIPLE HEADER: Toyota driver Busch will make his first NCWTS start of the 2012 season at AMS and will compete in all three NASCAR national touring series races at the track -- Busch's first triple header of his 2012 campaign. In seven NCWTS starts in Atlanta, Busch has four wins and six top-five finishes. The Las Vegas-native also has one NSCS win in Atlanta (2008) and four runner-up finishes in the NNS at AMS.
RACING FOR AWARENESS: Nine women affiliated with the Toyota Racing program are involved in 'Racing For Awareness', a friendly competition that includes driver wives, girlfriends, mothers and sisters creating a T-shirt design in support of breast cancer awareness. The winning design will be selected by fan votes and will be announced during the Charlotte race weekend in October, with the winning T-shirt made available for purchase. Proceeds from the contest will be given to Charlotte-based charity, Carolina Breast Friends, and fans can visit www.toyotaracing.com/RacingForAwareness to see the designs, cast their vote and also enter to win weekly prizes through Oct. 4, 2012 at 12 PM (ET).
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): After 24 races, Martin Truex Jr. is sixth in the series point standings, trailing leader Greg Biffle by 52 points … Clint Bowyer (sixth) and Denny Hamlin (eighth) also rank in the top-10 … Busch sits second, while Joey Logano ranks sixth, among 'wild card' candidates for the Chase championship playoff … Two 'wild card' entries will make the Chase … Truex will make his 250th career NSCS start this weekend in Atlanta … … Camry driver Joey Logano also raced Legends cars at Atlanta when living in Alpharetta, Ga., during his formidable racing years … Logano still holds the record for the most-consecutive feature wins at AMS with 14.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What's your outlook for the next two weeks and the Chase?
"It's tough to not always keep an eye on the competition, but as long as we focus on getting me the best cars possible we are going to be fine. You almost have to keep the blinders on once the Chase starts. You don't battle with yourself, but you know the racing is going to be different these next two weeks -- it's going to be about `winning for us. If we are going to try new setups, I' m all for it, because right now we need as many bonus points as possible. We see how tight this field is and I'm looking at the Chase field saying, 'Gosh, every single one of them can make a run and win this championship.' So, it's going to be about who manages the Chase the best and I think that we have a great shot at that."
TRAVIS PASTRANA, No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota Camry, RAB Racing
What are you expectations for the Atlanta Nationwide race?
"I know Atlanta is a very fast race track and a big challenge to guys with years of experience. We have gotten better each time we have shown up to the race track and I am pretty confident we will show up strong this weekend. My goal is always to finish every lap and get the most out of every race. However, I feel that we can finish in the top-10 this weekend -- it's a challenging goal for me and my race team, but I think we are good enough to do it."
Chevy notes — Atlanta Motor Speedway
CHEVROLET ON THE TRACK—ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY:
Chevrolet drivers have won 37 of 104 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Wins by active drivers are:
— Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, has five (5) victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway (’95, ’98, ’99, ’03 & ’11)
— Kurt Busch, No. 51 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, has three (3) wins at AMS (’02, ‘09 & ’10)
— Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, has three (3) trophies from Atlanta Motor Speedway (’04 & ’07 – TWICE)
— Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, has gone to victory lane three (3) times at Atlanta Motor Speedway
— Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, has two (2) victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway (’06 &’09)
— Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, has one win at AMS (’04)
— Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet, has visited victory lane at AMS once (’01)
— A Chevrolet driver has won two (2) of the last five (5) races at Atlanta Motor Speedway
— A Chevrolet driver has sat on the pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway 22 times
— Team Chevy drivers have scored 174 top-five and 344 top-10 finishes at AMS
— A Chevrolet has led 11,589 laps (35.0% of possible 33,079 laps) at Atlanta Motor Speedway
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – 2nd IN STANDINGS:
“It does. This car especially slides a lot so the tire and the surface with all the sliding it wears the tires out quickly. I typically do well on those types of tracks. It has taken us a little time to sort out the COT (Car of Tomorrow) there and I feel like I have been a lot more competitive over the last trip or two. I’m excited to go back I think we will have a good shot at winning. It’s a unique track that challenges you honestly every foot around the race track.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET – 3rd IN STANDINGS:
“I really like racing at Atlanta. It’s a fun race track; it’s incredibly fast, and we’ve run well there. The track is wide so you can find a groove that works for you. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do down there.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET – 9th IN STANDINGS:
"Atlanta (Motor Speedway) has been a pretty good track for the Rheem team. We had a runner-up finish recently, where we dominated the race all day. It came down to a late-race restart and we lost it in the last five or six laps. We did a tire test at the track several years ago, found some things that worked from the driver side and it's been a good track for us ever since."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 10th IN STANDINGS:
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET – 11th IN STANDINGS:
“Atlanta is my favorite track on the circuit. It’s wide and fast, so we can race a lot of different lines. We have a good history here, and I expect a good weekend with a Hendrick Motorsports car under me.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – 14th IN STANDINGS:
"I expect the track to be a lot faster at night, but I think we will still be able to race high, low and everywhere in between. I think one of the reasons so many drivers and teams love this place is the track has a lot of grip, a lot of banking and it is a very fast race track - especially when looking at the qualifying speeds. It's very fast during the race but it has a lot of fall off, so tire wear is significant and the balance of the car changes throughout a run."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET – 15th IN STANDINGS:
“Atlanta is fast, especially when the conditions are right. You have to hit your marks. It’s bumpy enough that those bumps can spit you right out. Getting into turn one and the middle of three and four, you’ve got catch everything just right. It’s kind of like surfing or wakeboarding – you’ve got to catch the wave’s right and, obviously, put the car in the right spot to do the right things with the gas and the steering wheel. I think it’s the combination of the tire grip we have, initially, and it’s a wide-open racetrack. There’s plenty of room to race there. It’s one of the best racetracks we go to for three- and four-wide racing in the corners. With Atlanta being a one-off race, it has a different feel to it now and a different feel to it than a lot of tracks we go to. But, in the end, we are there to do the same job, and that’s to win.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 QUAKER STATE/MENARDS CHEVROLET – 17th IN STANDINGS:
“Atlanta (Motor Speedway) is one of my favorite tracks. It races really well and it’s a lot of fun, especially with it being a night race now. The race track itself with the old pavement that is hard on tires makes it a lot of fun. It’s kind of a throw-back track that we all enjoy going to.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET – 19th IN STANDINGS:
“I hope that we don’t have to dodge rain drops all weekend. It sounds like we may have some of the outskirts of Isaac while we are in Atlanta. First and foremost though, I just hope that all of the people in the storm’s path are safe. Atlanta is a really fast track and our guys have been working hard on our intermediate track program, so I hope that we can see some of the results of that effort this weekend. Atlanta is also a really busy weekend for me with several obligations with Coca-Cola, being based right there. We will get meet with a lot of their customers and executives over the weekend. One of the really cool things that I will get to do this weekend is on Friday with Chevrolet when we meet with several breast cancer survivors and give them the thrill of a ride-along around the track. I met a lot of these women last year for this event and they are so excited to be there and we really had a fun time together.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 20th IN STANDINGS:
"Atlanta Motor Speedway is so slick. It is the slickest race track in the world. It reminds me so much of the old Darlington Raceway. It's just so rough and slick, an unbelievably difficult track. You would think that on those kinds of conditions that the racing would get away, but it doesn't. There always seems to be good finishes there."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 21st IN STANDINGS:
“Atlanta is a fun track. It’s one of the tracks I’d enjoy racing there twice a year like we did before. It’s a cool place that has no grip. It is probably the oldest asphalt we go to, or it feels like the oldest. To tell you the truth, it’s a fast track and a place you can run the high groove at. The Target team has had some pretty good results there so I’m looking forward to going back.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – 23rd IN STANDINGS:
"This will be the first 1.5-mile track with Todd Berrier as our crew chief. I've been upbeat about our potential and going to Atlanta hasn't changed my optimism. Our performance has picked up considerably and we would like to leave Atlanta with a top-10 or top-five finish. Tire management and tire strategy will be important in Atlanta since the track surface there is a little rougher. As I've been saying each week, if we can avoid accidents and mistakes, we should then be in good position at the checkered flag."
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET – 25th IN STANDINGS:
“I think one of the biggest things that can be tough at Atlanta is getting your car to handle in turns three and four. It’s very specific. You really need the car to hook at the bottom of three and four, particularly when you’re on fresh tires. If you have a car that can run the bottom close to wide open in three and four, then that’s when you can do to separate yourself to be a race-winning contender.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY CHEVROLET -
“I’ve heard lots of great things about Atlanta. It’s good racing. The tires definitely go off with the surface, and the line moves around a lot. I’ve heard a lot of really good things about it. For me it’s going to be a big weekend not only from the standpoint that there’s Cup and Nationwide, but it’s a big Coca-Cola weekend so I’ll be really busy. I think nothing is better than going to a new track and having lots of track time.”