|Brian Vickers returns to action this weekend in Las Vegas|
BACK BEHIND THE WHEEL: Camry driver Brian Vickers will make his first start of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS). Vickers underwent open-heart surgery in December and was forced to miss the first two races of the 2015 season. The Thomasville, North Carolina-native will pilot the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry this weekend after Brett Moffitt piloted the team to an eighth-place finish last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: Camry driver Matt Kenseth finished the 2013 season second in the championship point standings in his first year driving the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Camry and Kenseth now returns to Las Vegas where he won the first of a series-best seven races that season. The 2003 champion recorded the LVMS victory on his birthday, making him one of three drivers to win a race on his birthday. The 2013 Las Vegas win was also the 50th by Camry drivers in the NSCS.
REDESIGNED TO RACE: When the 2015 NASCAR season opened at Daytona International Speedway, the Toyota Camrys competing on track were the first of NASCAR's current generation vehicles to be upgraded. Because the Toyota Camry production model received an upgrade for 2015, the change necessitated a redesign for the Camry race car to maintain continuity between the production model and racing program. Engineers from TRD (Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A.) and Calty Design, an arm of Toyota's global design network, worked to update the Camry race car to reflect the production model, yet incorporate performance enhancements into the new Camry. The redesigned 2015 Camry competes in both the NSCS and NXS.
NOTES & QUOTES
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Camry drivers Clint Bowyer (10th), Carl Edwards (14th) and David Ragan (15th) currently rank in the top-15 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Camry drivers have scored two wins at the 1.5-mile speedway with Las Vegas-native Kyle Busch in 2009 and Matt Kenseth in 2013… Kenseth has the most laps led at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a Camry with 515.
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How were you able to think about racing when you were faced with heart surgery?
"Your first question is 'Am I going to live,' once I knew that then I had to decide about racing. Maybe, if I had already won a championship and done everything I wanted to do in racing I would have given serious thought to walking away, but I really want to win races and a championship. There's more to do and I didn't want to someday look back and regret not coming back. And, I'm not going to lie, I enjoy going 200 mph. Overcoming problems like this is just what you have to do in life. There's a lot of people battling things tougher than what I have battled."
|David Ragan makes his 2nd start subbing for Kyle Busch.|
DAVID RAGAN, No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your thoughts heading to Las Vegas this weekend?
"Las Vegas is a great track, especially since the reconfiguration several years back. It's got a lot of grip and it's a fast track. We've run well out there a couple of times so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do with a new team to me and our M&M's Crispy Camry. It's another one of these fast mile-and-a-half tracks that makes up a lot of our schedule. Hopefully we can take some things that we learned at Atlanta and apply them to Vegas. There are some similar characteristics. Just being the second race for me and getting comfortable with these guys and understanding their process, it will be good. I'm sure it will be good for Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and our engineers to have a normal week around the shop to prepare and not have to worry about seats and travel and who's driving the car. Las Vegas is a great race track – the grooves widen out and you can run two and three wide around there and it has a lot of speed."
|Matt Kenseth celebrating his 2013 win at Las Vegas|
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 DEWALT Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your expectations for Las Vegas?
"The track surface at Vegas has gotten really rough over the last four or five years. I think that getting through the bumps there, especially in turn one, and being able to carry a lot of speed is important. Being able to get through those bumps fast, keeping your car turning, and being stable are the keys to a successful day at Vegas lately. The hardest things about Vegas are those bumps honestly. Turns three and four are pretty smooth so you can get your balance to work well there, but getting through the bumps in turns one and two fast enough, while still keeping a decent platform and keeping the tires on the ground is a bit of a challenge. I'm really excited for our first weekend with DEWALT aboard the car. They've been such a tremendous sponsor for me in my career that it's really special to be partnered with their brand again."
Do things feel different with a four-car team and Kyle Busch being out?
"It's changed a little bit, but we haven't really been able to do very much and then Kyle (Busch) got hurt, so it's obviously really, really different with Carl (Edwards) who wasn't there last year and David wasn't there. It's just kind of me and Denny (Hamlin) and getting those guys going, so it's a lot different from that aspect. The mix of Denny, Kyle and I – I thought that was really, really good and something I didn't take for granted. I knew it was going to be different throwing Carl in there and when you take Kyle out, it certainly makes it a lot different."
|Carl Edwards has two Sprint Cup wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, most recently in 2011.|
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Comcast Business Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you enjoy racing at Las Vegas given the success you've had there in the past?
"Everybody likes going to Vegas, it's a fun race track and a fun place. It's another mile-and-a-half and that's the bread and butter – the mile-and-a-halves are the tracks that you have to run well at. It will give us an opportunity to keep building on what we've been working on with our new team. I've had a bunch of success there and I really like that track. Hopefully we can turn all of that into a win."
NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS): Camry driver David Starr (sixth) currently ranks in the top-10 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) point standings … Denny Hamlin will pilot the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Las Vegas NXS race subbing for Kyle Busch who was injured in the season-opening NXS race at Daytona … LVMS is one of three tracks Toyota drivers are still searching for a NXS win — the others are Mid-Ohio and Atlanta
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): Tundra drivers Matt Crafton (second), Erik Jones (third), Johnny Sauter (fourth) and Ben Kennedy (seventh) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) point standings … Kennedy's pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway marked the 100th pole for Tundra in the series since Toyota began competing in 2004 … The NCWTS will enjoy three weekends off before returning to action at Virginia's Martinsville Speedway on March 28.
TOYOTA DRIVER ROSTER – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NSCS and NXS)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Camry
Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Camry
David Ragan, No. 18 Camry
Carl Edwards, No. 19 Camry
Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Camry
JJ Yeley, No. 23 Camry
Jeb Burton, No. 26 Camry
Reed Sorenson, No. 29 Camry
Brian Vickers, No. 55 Camry
Matt Dibenedetto, No. 83 Camry
NASCAR XFINITY Series
Blake Koch, No. 8 Camry
Jeff Green, No. 10 Camry
Derek White, No. 13 Camry
Cale Conley, No. 14 Camry
Daniel Suarez, No. 18 Camry
Mike Bliss, No. 19 Camry
Erik Jones, No. 20 Camry
Eric McClure, No. 24 Camry
JJ Yeley, No. 28 Camry
David Starr, No. 44 Camry
Denny Hamlin, No. 54 Camry