Toyota Motorsports Charlotte 300 race report
Denny Hamlin (second) was the highest finishing Camry driver in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Camry drivers Kyle Busch (third) and Joey Logano (sixth) also recorded top-10 finishes on the 1.5-mile track.
Logano led three times for a total of 26 laps (of 200) after starting from the pole at the North Carolina race track. Camry driver Jason Bowles also led one lap in the event.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Mike Bliss (12th), Tayler Malsam (20th), Travis Pastrana (24th), Joe Nemechek (29th), Brian Scott (31st), Jeff Green (32nd), Jason Bowles (33rd) and Kevin Lepage (43rd).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 2nd How was your race today? "It's a good points day -- the owner's points for these guys. Just fought this car all day long. Fought everything about it -- the entry, the center and the exit and the motor. Just didn't have that great of a car. We were able to get it good enough at the end to run those guys down. Proud of our effort. This is a great run for this Sport Clips Toyota. I want to get these guys a win. I keep talking about it because we keep finishing second, but eventually we'll knock down the door."
What happened with the motor? "I complained about the motor early -- just didn't feel like it ran at the end of the straightaway for some odd reason. I've been wondering where our speed was all weekend. We tried to change the carburetors and that didn't fix it. Just got stuck 14th or so for a while until we got the handling until it was at least drivable and then we were able to make our move to the front. We were good on long runs -- just didn't have a lot of front line speed. I have to get better at our race day adjustments -- I just feel like I'm sending our crew chief off in the wrong direction at the start of these races."
How do you recover and prepare for tomorrow's 600-mile race? "There's certain meals you can take that keep fluids in your body a little bit better. There's different fluids you can take that keeps your hydration level up. I've been testing stuff like that for the last three or four years -- taking my heart rate from like 160 on average during a race to like 130 just trying different fluids and different meals. We've scienced that out a little bit and I feel like I have a good team around me to help with the hydration stuff. All is good as far as that's concerned."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports Finishing Position: 3rd Does this finish help the confidence of your race team? "It was a really good race for us -- coming home third is pretty good for our Monster Energy Camry. The guys have worked really hard at trying to make our program better and getting it to where it needs to be. I thought we were gaining on the 22 (Brad Keselowski) there and then all of the sudden my right front (tire) went away. I just used it too hard and pushed it too much there. It was a solid effort -- can't say enough about Mike Beam (crew chief) and all these guys. They have done a nice job at getting these cars better and better each and every week. This is a top-three for us at a mile-and-a-half, so can't be too mad about that."
How did your car handle? "Our Monster Energy Camry was fast and through the early stages of the race it just seemed like we'd really struggle with too tight up off the corners and as the run would go along it would really get bad. The last run of the race, we came down pit road for fuel only there after we had just taken rights (tires) so our lefts were pretty old and we made some adjustments -- track bar and wedge and really seemed to work for us. Brought the car to running up front like that and had some faster lap times and kept the right front tire on it longer at least and we could run with the leader. I just wasted too much time with Kasey Kahne there -- he was running me hard and trying to hold us off there at the end for the start of the last run. The leader got too far away and cut about half the distance out and was never able to close much more than that. I just burned the right front off like I had all race long. At least it was later in this run. We're making gains on it. We'll just keep working hard and getting it to where we need to be."
Do you think you could have gone as far as the 22 car on fuel? "No, there's no way our stuff would have done that. That's definitely different, but I guess anything is possible sometimes. Maybe they saved really hard under cautions and everything. I don't think we could have pushed it like that."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 18 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 6th What happened with your tire strategy? "It didn't play out the way it was supposed to. It didn't play out right according to a sixth-place finish. We we're just talking -- maybe had a third-place car. It's just we tried to -- we tried a little different strategy and when you're up front there it's kind of hard to know what everyone else is doing. We did fuel only and then we -- if the run went more than 10 laps, we would have been alright. It went 10 laps, so then we took four tires and we went back to 12th or 15th or whatever it was. We had to work our way back up, so just needed a longer race to recover from what we screwed up with in the beginning. Overall got a pole today, so that's good. Just wish we were a little bit faster. We weren't quite quick enough to win the race anyways, but I feel like we had a third place car for sure."
Are you pleased with your finish? "We'll still take it for sure, but I just felt like we were faster than that. We knew we were a third-place car all day. We led some laps -- we were up front there for a while. Just strategy got us. We had the wrong strategy. It bit us and we went back to 15th and we had to work our way back up there with only 50 (laps) to go -- didn't have enough time. It felt like a long enough race, but didn't have time still. It's hard to recover in short Nationwide races. If you make a mistake, you can't recover quick enough -- there's not enough time. It's kind of part of our sport."
MIKE BLISS, No. 44 Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports Finishing Position: 12th
TAYLER MALSAM, No. 19 G-Oil Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports Finishing Position: 20th
TRAVIS PASTRANA, No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota Camry, RAB Racing with Brack Maggard Finishing Position: 24th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 29th
BRIAN SCOTT, No. 11 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 31st How was your race car before the accident? "We had a really strong Dollar General Camry today. We just got our last pit stop done and we were good on fuel. I was trying to get everything I could on the restart, but they just didn't do a very good job cleaning the track. I saw the oil right before I hit it. As soon as I hit it the car just went sideways on me and washed out. Unfortunately, we wrecked a fast race car. We had a car capable of running in the top-five and maybe with one more adjustment and a set of tires we could have contended for a win. Now we're done."
JEFF GREEN, No. 14 Hefty/Reynolds Wrap Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports Finishing Position: 32nd
JASON BOWLES, No. 81 American Majority Toyota Camry, MacDonald Motorsports Finishing Position: 33rd
KEVIN LEPAGE, No. 10 Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports
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