MARTINSVILLE REVIEW: Two Camry drivers earned top-five finishes in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway — Clint Bowyer (second) and Kyle Busch (fifth). Mark Martin (10th) also earned a top-10 result subbing for injured Denny Hamlin. Camry drivers led 153 laps (of 500) with Matt Kenseth pacing the field for 96 laps, Busch out in front for 56 laps and Travis Kvapil leading one lap.
SAUTER SCORES: Tundra driver Johnny Sauter won his second consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race of the year on Saturday at Martinsville. After also finishing first in the season-opener at Daytona in February, the Wisconsin-native became only the second driver in series history to earn back-to-back victories to begin the season, matching Martin’s performance in 2006. Fellow Tundra driver Matt Crafton, Sauter’s teammate at Thorsport Racing, finished second followed by Toyota racers Timothy Peters (fourth), Darrell Wallace Jr. (fifth) and Erik Jones (ninth).
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: The ‘Lone Star state’ is home to Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Texas (TMMTX). The production facility, which is located in San Antonio, opened in November 2006 and produces both the Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks. This October will mark 10 years since the 2003 groundbreaking at the facility, which currently has approximately 2,000 Toyota team members and an additional 2,000 people employed at on-site suppliers.
300 FOR KYLE: Busch will make his 300th career NSCS start at Texas on Saturday. The 27-year-old has been driving full-time in the series since he was 19 and was the 2005 ‘Rookie of the Year’. In 299 career starts, Busch has 25 wins, 97 top-five finishes, 145 top-10 results and 11 poles. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has also enjoyed success in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), earning the series championship in 2009 and combined with his NCWTS results, has 88 total wins in a Toyota (21 NSCS, 43 NNS and 24 NCWTS). In 2011, he became the 10th driver in NASCAR history to lead more than 20,000 total laps among the top-three NASCAR series and has a total of 24,564 laps led in the NSCS, NNS and NCWTS.
TRUCKS AT ‘THE ROCK’: While several Tundra drivers competed in last year’s NCWTS race at Rockingham Speedway, three have competed there in other series. Joey Coulter has three ARCA starts at ‘the Rock’ with a best finish of ninth (2009). Sauter has one NSCS start (2004) at Rockingham and six NNS starts between 2001 and 2004, earning three top-10 results. Wallace finished third in last year’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race, his only start at the speedway.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS):
Through six 2013 races, Kyle Busch is fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings, trailing leader Jimmie Johnson by 28 points … Clint Bowyer (eighth) and Matt Kenseth (10th) also rank
in the top-10 … Denny Hamlin swept 2010 NSCS races at Texas
Toyota drivers have two poles at Texas — David Reutimann (April 2009) and Martin Truex Jr. (April 2012) … Busch has three third-place results at Texas — his best finishes
at the track despite leading 366 laps in the past 10 races driving a Camry at the 1.5-mile oval
Brian Vickers will drive the JGR No. 11 Camry at Texas, replacing injured Hamlin
JTG Daugherty Racing’s Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 47 Camry, is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you approach Texas any differently than other mile-and-a-half race tracks? “Texas is a really fast mile-and-a-half race track. Charlotte has been fast the last few years and Texas has always kind of been that way. The asphalt is getting a little bit older, but for as old as the asphalt is, it’s still really fast for a few laps and it’s still kind of a pain sometimes because it is so aero-dependent — you run the bottom where it’s hard to pass. You’ve got to be able to move around a little bit and run the middle, run the top and show some ability to go all over the race track. Hopefully, Texas will be good to us this time around.”
Are you looking forward to making your 300th career Sprint Cup Series start at Texas? “It’s cool and all — I just always think that the results are never kind of where you want them to be. You always want to win more and you always want a top-five more or a top-10 more or whatever. To be in 300 races, I think that’s pretty cool and it just shows that I’ve been here for a while. Yet there’s still a lot more races to run and a lot more time for me to be here. Just continue on and press forward and hopefully we can be talking about 600 one day.”
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 11 FedEx March of Dimes Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How big is the opportunity to drive the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 FedEx Camry starting at Texas? “It’s a huge opportunity for me. I feel like I’m very fortunate to have both of these opportunities — to be in the 55, which I consider a great car and then to go drive the 11. I welcome the opportunity and the challenge. Obviously, that team and that car have run good for a long time. Darian (Grubb, crew chief) has won championships and he’s a very good crew chief – I’ve known him for a long time, so I look forward to working with him as well and everyone at FedEx. Again, I reiterate it’s very sad how it happened because I’ve been on the receiving end of this. I’m happy to jump in and do the best I can.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Do you look forward to racing at Texas Motor Speedway? “I look forward to Texas — it’s been a good track for me in the past. Obviously, last year we had a great run there in the spring race. We sat on the pole and I think we ran pretty good. I love the race track — it’s old, wore out, it’s got some bumps in it. It’s really, really fast — my kind of race track. It’s sort of like Atlanta — two of my favorites. I always look forward to going to Texas and it will be interesting to see what this new car can do there. Hopefully, we will go there and I will have something good and something we can try to go out there and win a race with.”
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS):
After five 2013 races, Parker Kligerman is eighth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) point standings, trailing leader Sam Hornish Jr. by 56 points
Elliott Sadler (ninth) and Alex Bowman (10th) also rank in the top-10
Busch earned a string of five consecutive NNS race wins at Texas Motor Speedway (April 2008 through April 2010)
In 14 NNS starts at Texas, Busch has led close to half of all the race laps (1,252 of 2,811)
Toyota drivers have four Texas NNS poles — two by Busch (April 2009 and Nov. 2012), and one apiece by Joey Logano (April 2010) and David Reutimann (Nov. 2007)
Sadler has two NNS poles (1998 and 2011) and a runner-up result at Texas (1998)
Kligerman was runner-up in November’s NCWTS race at Texas …Matt Kenseth will return to the No. 18 JGR Camry this weekend
He has two Texas NNS victories (2004 and 2007) and 13 top-10 finishes in 15 starts.
ELLIOTT SADLER, No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you enjoy racing at Texas Motor Speedway? “I do like Texas. We’ll continue to work on our stuff and get it better. Texas has been a good track for me in the past. It’s a fun race track. We have to find the things that we like and want, and we’ll move on from there.”
PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 77 Camp Horsin’ Around Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Are you looking forward to racing at Texas Motor Speedway? “I love Texas. I finished second there two times out of five Truck races. I’ve just been really fast there since the first race I’ve ever done. I had a tremendous amount of success and come up a little short from winning and I want that cowboy hat more than anything. I know Austin (Dillon) and those guys wear those cowboy hats, but I want to win one to wear one. I think this team is proven on mile-and-a-halfs — we have a ton of speed and we can hopefully go out there and compete with those guys and go out there and grab us a cowboy hat.”
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
After two 2013 races, Johnny Sauter leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) standings with 94 points
Matt Crafton (third), Darrell Wallace Jr. (fifth) and Todd Bodine (seventh) also rank in the top-10
Sunday’s race will mark the 225th race for the Tundra since entering the series in 2004
Tundra drivers have won 101 races and 86 pole positions over the last 10 years
Crafton will break a NCWTS record this weekend by making his 297th consecutive career start, surpassing Terry Cook’s record of 296 straight starts.
ERIK JONES, No. 51 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Are you looking forward to racing at Rockingham Speedway? “Rockingham is one of those tracks where it’s got more history than you can really imagine. I wasn’t in a racing family growing up, but I’ve kind of put myself into racing and learning about it. I knew the history Rockingham had growing up and what it really means to everybody, and especially being a track with so much character and age. That’s the kind of tracks I really like. It’s a rough, bumpy track and you just have to get out there and drive the truck. That’s what I really like doing - - getting out and sliding around on those tracks and I think it’s going to be really, really fun getting to go there.”
JOEY COULTER, No. 18 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Do you feel the history of Rockingham Speedway when you arrive at the track? “Absolutely, it’s similar to walking into Daytona or Martinsville or Bristol — it’s just one of those places that when you’re a kid, you always go, ‘Man, I want to race there.’ Especially when I was eight, nine, 10 years old racing go-karts, our Grand National was in the infield at Rockingham so for a while the only experience I had was the little road course and riding down the banking on my bicycle. It’s always been a place that I wanted to go back and race and I kind of felt like a veteran the first time we ran the trucks there because I had run a few ARCA races there already. It’s a great place to race. It puts on a fantastic show and I’m really excited to get there.”