Toyota NASCAR Notes & Quotes

Matt Kenseth en route to victory in August of 2013


TOYOTA TALLY IN TENNESSEE: In Toyota's 11 years of NASCAR competition, Camry and Tundra drivers have made 20 total visits to victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway. Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) drivers have accumulated six wins at the half-mile Tennessee track dating back to 2009 when Kyle Busch swept both NSCS races that season, and he also claimed the trophy in 2010 and 2011. Matt Kenseth drove his Camry to victory lane at Bristol in August 2013, while his teammate Denny Hamlin won the August 2012 event. In the NXS, Busch has been nothing short of dominant, earning six-of-seven Camry NXS wins at Bristol, including three straight from August 2010 to August 2011, and he more recently won three straight from March 2013 through last year's spring race. In the NCWTS, Tundra drivers have collected a total of seven Bristol victories, dating back to Mike Skinner in 2005 and most recently with Busch in August 2013 – winning all but three-of-the-last 10 events.

JOY FOR JONES: Erik Jones claimed his first-career NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) victory and the first for Toyota in 2015 in Friday night's race at Texas Motor Speedway. Jones led 79 laps (of 200) after starting from the pole position at the 1.5-mile track. The victory was the 99th overall NXS win for Toyota since entering the series in 2007. The 18-year old driver now has three top-five finishes in the last three NXS races – also finishing third in California and fifth in Phoenix – and six top-10 finishes in only nine career series starts. The young driver has one prior start at the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway, which came last August in the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 20 Camry that he will pilot again this weekend. Jones started sixth that evening and claimed an eighth place finish. In addition, he's racing full-time for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) championship, currently third in the standings, just six points from the lead.

Carl Edwards celebrates his win in last season's spring Bristol race

BANKED BACK FLIP: Toyota driver Carl Edwards enters this weekend's NSCS race at Bristol as the defending race-winner as Edwards makes his first visit to Bristol behind the wheel of a Camry. Edwards has celebrated three-career NSCS victories at Bristol with his famed back flip on the Tennessee high banks. In addition to his NSCS wins at the speedway, Edwards has also earned a single NXS and NCWTS victory at the track making him one-of-four drivers to win at Bristol in all three of NASCAR's national touring series – other drivers include Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Camry drivers Denny Hamlin (eighth), David Ragan (10th), Matt Kenseth (12th), Carl Edwards (14th) and Clint Bowyer (18th) currently rank in the top-20 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Both Darian Grubb, crew chief on the No. 19 ARRIS Camry, and TRD President David Wilson are graduates of Virginia Tech, who is scheduled to compete in a college football game against the University of Tennessee at Bristol in 2016.

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What does it take to have a good car at Bristol?

"To have a good race car at Bristol, you need to have your car turning well and have rear grip, so it's not much different from other tracks honestly. At Bristol though, you need to be fast on the top and still be reasonable enough on the bottom where you can make passes. I think it's going to be tougher to pass at Bristol this year with less power, so you're going to need to be handling really well and cars will need to be exceptional to make any passes on the bottom lane."

CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Comcast Business Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How will the added SAFER barrier at Bristol affect the racing?

"When they first did the SAFER barrier, that affected things quite a bit or at least we thought it would. Really the race gets going and everybody finds the line and it wasn't that big of a factor. I'm not even sure where they added them. So now they just go down the straightaways on the bottom and top? That's great, so now it will just be narrower. That place is so fast and so narrow already. I don't think it will make much of a difference. I do applaud them, all the track owners in NASCAR for doing that. Really there should be no place that there isn't a SAFER barrier if they can afford it and it sounds like that's what we're moving to."

Clint Bowyer

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Are you concerned with the added SAFER barriers at Bristol changing the racing line?

"The neat thing is it's the same for everybody. I guess I'll just follow the guy. I won't be the first one on the race track. If he smokes the wall, I'll pull it down three feet and not hit the wall. That's a big topic in our sport right now. We've come so far and learned so much in the safety aspects of this sport. It's unfortunate what happened to Kyle (Busch), but fortunately he lived through that. I'm telling you, that was a hard hit and in all fairness it doesn't matter if that was SAFER barrier or not – that was a scary crash. There's no excuse in today's day and age that we've learned those things to put in place. Certainly at Bristol, you think it's a short track and not near as big of a hit as you can have at Daytona, but it is. All the tracks in NASCAR are working to do all they can do."

David Ragan

DAVID RAGAN, No. 18 Snickers Xtreme Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Have you spoken with Kyle Busch about racing at Bristol?

"I've done a good bit. I speak to Kyle (Busch) once or twice a week – some by text, some by phone – and he can certainly give you some good tips. But the team has a lot of good information on trends from the beginning of a run to the end of a run, qualifying, how the track changes throughout a weekend, but there's also a lot of other moving targets. He's been at the team debrief the last several weeks, now, which is also helpful to me and the guys. You've got a new tire this year, you've got a new engine package, a new downforce package, so there are a lot of different things. But every race you run, you make some mental notes. Sometimes drivers can remember better than others. I try to write some stuff down so I don't forget, but you look back at those notes and everybody sees and feels and hears different things. Yeah, Kyle can definitely help out some and so can Matt (Kenseth) and Carl (Edwards), Denny (Hamlin) – they're great guys – but spotters can help, crew chiefs can help and so I definitely lean on everyone to try to see what they've had in their experience here that makes them good."

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS): Camry drivers Daniel Suarez (10th), David Starr (11th) and JJ Yeley (14th) currently rank in the top-15 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) point standings … Denny Hamlin will make his fourth-of-five scheduled starts in the Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 54 Camry in Bristol.

ERIK JONES, No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What were your feelings as you earned your first NXS race win?

"It was just surreal. It had to be one of the biggest wins in my career by far to race against Cup guys and being able to go out and get a win. I knew we had a fast Camry. I never go into a race thinking we can't win, but it's still far-fetched to think – man, it's amazing. I watched the other guys do it, win races as young guys and I want to be that guy."

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): Tundra driver Matt Crafton, the two-time defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) champion, leads the series point standings after three races … Erik Jones (third), Johnny Sauter (fourth), Cameron Hayley (ninth) and Ben Kennedy (10th) also currently rank in the top-10 in the NCWTS point standings … The NCWTS takes the month of April off before returning to action at Kansas Speedway on May 8.

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