Toyotas 1-2-3 in final practice before qualifying

Toyota ran 1-2-3 in final NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at Kansas Speedway ahead of qualifying – up next. However, Jimmie Johnson had some possible engine issues.

DOUG DUCHARDT, GENERAL MANAGER HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, ON JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS ISSUE DURING FINAL PRACTICE

WHAT HAPPENED?
“It appears the No. 48 got into a similar condition that the No. 5 (Kasey Kahne) got into at Phoenix; and when it did that, it pumped some oil up into the intake manifold and that’s where the smoke came from. Based on the experience we had with Kasey’s engine in Phoenix, we felt comfortable checking the engine over, running it, getting the oil out of the top of the engine, and sending him back out. Jimmie went back out during practice. We will continue to monitor, and we have no plans on changing the engine at this time."

CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Stanley Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How do you expect the new package to perform in the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway?

“First off, who doesn’t like to go bowling? That’s pretty cool. Bowled my best game ever the other day – it was great. The cars are really fast and even with this lower downforce package we’re making a ton of speed, but the best thing and I think it’s going to – I think it bodes well for the race – is that the line is moving. The Goodyear tires are leaving a bunch of rubber on the track. I think the track is going to change a lot through the race. I think we’ll be running – I was already running the second groove in practice. It’s pretty early to be doing that, so I really think it’s going to be good. We haven’t made a long run yet, so I don’t know exactly how much the tires fall off and the times fall off, but our Stanley Toyota is very fast. It’s really good."

Have you noticed the downforce is coming back at all after eight races with the new package?

“We are always going to push to get every bit we can as race teams and NASCAR is probably going to have to stay ahead of us in that respect, so yeah. No matter what rules package we have we’re going to go as fast as we can, get all the downforce we can and we’re going to keep innovating all the time, so yeah that is a factor."

Should NASCAR continue to reduce downforce?

“As far as I’m concerned, you can cut the spoilers completely off the cars and get rid of the splitters and the less we have the better and I think I really – I cannot thank NASCAR enough for making these changes. We went through all those tests last year, tried everything, NASCAR came back with the lower downforce package and I think it’s really paid off. It’s been a lot of fun to drive and even if right now – there’s so many variables that come into play and, yes, we’re running well and our JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) Toyotas are fast and everything, but even without that the racing is more fun, so I’m sure NASCAR understands that and I’m sure they’re going to keep working to keep it that way."

What’s it like to be seeking your first Cup win at Kansas?

“I was talking about that this morning. There is no bigger win – there would be no bigger win for me. This would be as big as the Daytona 500 or the Brickyard 400 for me, so it really means a lot and we’ve got the team to do it right now. I look at this as an opportunity to make that dream come true. Somebody told me Clint (Bowyer) was running the Truck race, so I hadn’t thought of that. I should maybe think about doing more of that. That Truck win here was so spectacular. That’s the only time I’ve ever heard the crowd in the vehicle while the truck was still running and I tell people that story – I pulled down to do the back flip and I thought, ‘Man, there’s something wrong with this engine. Something’s not right,’ and I shut it off and I realized that was the crowd and that really means a lot to me. I feel like I have a lot of support here and I’m sure Clint feels the same way. It’s really cool to race here."

Do we need to make changes at Talladega to keep cars from getting airborne?

“There’s so many variables that make Talladega what it is and I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what the right thing to do is. It does seem pretty silly to wreck that many cars, but everybody is trying to do the best they can. NASCAR’s trying to keep it as safe as they can by keeping the speeds down. That in turn puts us in a pack and then all of us drivers are going to actually fight for every possible advantage we can get and it was just that perfect storm of cars that were extremely easy to drive there – a ton of grip. They were just slow enough that we could run three or four wide and then that’s going to lead to accidents. That’s what it is. I don’t know about the change in the schedule. I don’t – you never know how these things are going to work out. I don’t know how it will affect things."

What do you know about Bobby Pierce?

“I raced one night – the first night I ran in Moberly, Missouri, I ran a B-Mod and we won the B-Mod feature and then Bob Pierce, his father, won the A-Modified race in a car that he built and I had never seen a modified go that fast. He just spanked the entire field, so I’ve always looked to that family as racers and innovators and then to see what Bobby (Pierce) did at Eldora (Speedway) was amazing and I think it’s really cool that Mike Mittler is still doing what he does and that’s going to the race track, putting his heart and soul into it and giving guys opportunities. I mean, that’s as cool as it gets, so I really think a lot of Mike Mittler and what he does for the sport."

Does losing an off weekend in the 2017 schedule impact you much?

“Really from a driver’s standpoint, we’ve got it made. We’ve got the airplane, we’ve got the motorhome – we’ve got it pretty easy. It’s really the guys that have to deal with the grind. It’s an eight day a week job for them. I haven’t looked at the schedule and I haven’t talked to the guys, but at some point in this sport, you can just see it. If you take a snapshot or a time lapse photo of the guys in the garage all throughout the year, they just get worn down. I feel for those guys, but we’ve got it easy. It doesn’t matter."

What does it take for a driver like Kyle Busch to win on so many race tracks?

“That’s spectacular and for a long time – and obviously Kyle (Busch) and I still race really hard and I think that’s obvious – but for a long time, racing against him and not being a teammate, I didn’t understand how good Kyle is. But seeing it first hand, watching him come back last year after that injury which for anyone that would have been devastating. And I think – I think if you go back and watch the tape, the way he got out of the car and just pointed to his feet, ‘Hey, they’re broken,’ I think from then all the way up until the championship, I think he exhibited a lot of toughness. It was very impressive. I didn’t realize he had won on that many tracks, but, I mean, nobody will argue – Kyle Busch is one of the greatest drivers in this sport and it’s cool to be able to talk to him on Tuesday and talk to him at the race track and understand his perspective. I think it’s only going to help me."

Do you expect NASCAR to react to the incidents at Talladega?

“I don’t know. It’s NASCAR’s job to put on the show and they write the rules and I can tell you I’ve sat through numerous safety meetings and private meetings and NASCAR does care about the safety of the sport, so – and not just the drivers, they care about everybody involved. I’m sure they’ll look at it. I am sure they will try to come up with something. At some point, that many wrecks and that much risk is – if you can do something about it, you’re obligated to and I feel like NASCAR is going to. I think – I’m guessing that we’ll see something. We’ll see some sort of change."

Does it change your opinion knowing everyone walked away from their incidents?

“Just because it works out a certain way doesn’t mean that it can’t work out a different way, so I’d go by (Chris) Buescher flipping down the back straightaway and I just – I mean, he was flipping the entire time I was going by and I thought, ‘Man, I hope nobody hits him in the roll cage,’ and I went and looked at his car afterwards and those are very risky situations and they happen an awful lot at that race track, so I think it’s pretty obvious and like I said I’m sure NASCAR will address it to make it as safe as they can."

What do you think of the new All-Star race format?

“The way that that race is going to play out – the way the All-Star race is going to play out is – it’s going to be determined by whether or not we can race side-by-side and get close and whether or not the tires fall off, lap times fall off. Charlotte is so fast and the surface is so nice and Goodyear has done such a good job with the tire that it’s historically been a tough place to pass, so I guess for me I look forward to that race being one where we can really mix it up and race close and I hope that’s the way it is. If that’s the way it is, all the format changes in the world are just – that’s just going to make it more fun of a game, but really it will come down to the racing on the race track. Now at the end do you have to pit if you’re in the top-nine or 11 or whatever? You have to? So really the question is will tires be beneficially or not and if they’re beneficially, hey great, but if they’re not it’s going to be – you really think about it logically, I guess it might be a genius idea because if tires aren’t beneficially then they’re making go behind – the faster cars go behind the guys that aren’t fast, but I don’t know. You just hope it doesn’t evolve into something where everybody’s racing really hard for 10th or 11th because they know they don’t want to pit and with this lower downforce package and with the way the tires have been. I think that we’ll most likely have a tire that – I hope we do – where pitting is good, but truly that’s the first I’ve thought about it. I might be completely wrong on all that stuff."

How has the low downforce package evolved?

“What are the speeds right now versus what we ran last – with the other package last year – do you know? I don’t know for a fact if we’re faster or slower – or, I’m sorry, I don’t know how much slower we are. I assuming we’re a little slower, but I don’t know to what degree and then the other thing is I haven’t made a long run yet, so I don’t know how much the tires are going to fall off. I think really what I’m seeing right now is that in practice I got to run – I ran all the way up to the second groove, kind of almost two-and-a-half grooves up and it was – the groove was moving and I think that that’s going to be as big of a factor as the downforce because even if you have – you’re running in disturbed air and if you can move over and run in cleaner air, you can make something happen, so hopefully it’s good, but these cars we’re still going very fast and we’re still relying on downforce, so I think it’s just a constant push and I think – but, like I said, I think we’re going the right direction. For me, I’ve had more fun racing this year than I’ve had in a long time and I think the racing has been better."

Can you talk about the recent Twitter picture from Kyle Busch?

“Mars sends a really nice box of chocolates to the winner of each race and they sent me a congratulatory box of chocolates and Kyle (Busch) and I had talked in the morning and I saw him in the shop, so went over there and asked him if he’d sign the box and he did and he laughed and we took a picture and I thought that was pretty neat. I think we’re good. I think if he’s chasing me down on the last lap at Richmond next time, I better watch out, but that’s racing. I think it’s good."

Do you know anything about the tires for Charlotte Motor Speedway?

“I have no clue. I didn’t know this place was going to do what it’s doing right now. Until we showed up, I didn’t know it would lay down rubber and the groove would move around. I mean, it’s going to be – the one thing that will be interesting is through that night if you have to pit that much and get tires, you have a really good database to go off of to know what you want to do and know where you stand. It could be complete chaos which is probably going to be fun."

Results

Pos Driver Speed Time Behind Gap Laps
1 Martin Truex Jr 187.696 28.770 Leader Leader 21
2 Matt Kenseth 187.617 28.782 0.012 0.012 44
3 Denny Hamlin 187.357 28.822 0.052 0.040 43
4 Jimmie Johnson 187.285 28.833 0.063 0.011 7
5 Kyle Busch 187.214 28.844 0.074 0.011 43
6 Ryan Newman 187.000 28.877 0.107 0.033 23
7 Aric Almirola 186.981 28.880 0.110 0.003 24
8 Austin Dillon 186.935 28.887 0.117 0.007 30
9 Trevor Bayne 186.761 28.914 0.144 0.027 26
10 Kyle Larson 186.696 28.924 0.154 0.010 26
11 Chase Elliott # 186.638 28.933 0.163 0.009 24
12 Carl Edwards 186.451 28.962 0.192 0.029 28
13 Brad Keselowski 186.413 28.968 0.198 0.006 37
14 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 186.368 28.975 0.205 0.007 32
15 Ryan Blaney # 186.310 28.984 0.214 0.009 21
16 Joey Logano 186.290 28.987 0.217 0.003 41
17 Kurt Busch 186.072 29.021 0.251 0.034 50
18 Greg Biffle 186.021 29.029 0.259 0.008 35
19 Brian Scott # 185.938 29.042 0.272 0.013 29
20 Dale Earnhardt Jr 185.899 29.048 0.278 0.006 11
21 Casey Mears 185.236 29.152 0.382 0.104 11
22 Jamie McMurray 185.192 29.159 0.389 0.007 32
23 Tony Stewart 185.185 29.160 0.390 0.001 25
24 AJ Allmendinger 185.153 29.165 0.395 0.005 28
25 Paul Menard 185.115 29.171 0.401 0.006 30
26 Chris Buescher # 185.001 29.189 0.419 0.018 33
27 Danica Patrick 184.875 29.209 0.439 0.020 23
28 Regan Smith 184.615 29.250 0.480 0.041 24
29 Michael McDowell 184.571 29.257 0.487 0.007 23
30 Kevin Harvick 184.055 29.339 0.569 0.082 43
31 Landon Cassill 183.905 29.363 0.593 0.024 24
32 Clint Bowyer 183.780 29.383 0.613 0.020 25
33 Michael Annett 181.751 29.711 0.941 0.328 19
34 Matt DiBenedetto 181.598 29.736 0.966 0.025 26
35 Josh Wise 179.820 30.030 1.260 0.294 8
36 Kasey Kahne 179.474 30.088 1.318 0.058 29
37 David Ragan 178.571 30.240 1.470 0.152 27
38 Joey Gase(i) 178.542 30.245 1.475 0.005 12
39 Cole Whitt 177.696 30.389 1.619 0.144 19
40 Reed Sorenson 174.616 30.925 2.155 0.536 20

Leave a Reply