Toyota Motorsports 2013 NSCS Kobalt Tools 400 Post-Race RecapsPress Release
Kyle Busch earned the first Toyota Camry NSCS victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway (3-9-08). Toyota began competing in the NSCS with the Camry in 2007.
This is Kenseth’s first win since joining Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2013 season, and his 25th career NSCS triumph.
Kenseth became the third driver in NSCS history to win on his birthday, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough and Busch, who also won in a Camry on his birthday at Richmond (5-2-09). Kenseth led twice for 42 laps in the 267 lap race at the 1.5-mile track.
Las Vegas-native Busch finished fourth at his hometown track and led 27 laps. Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. (eighth) also earned a top-10 result in Las Vegas.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Mark Martin (14th), Denny Hamlin (15th), Clint Bowyer (27th), Bobby Labonte (30th), David Stremme (32nd), David Reutimann (34th), Travis Kvapil (39th) and Joe Nemechek (40th).
Four Camry drivers are in the top-10 in the unofficial point standings, including Hamlin (fourth), Martin (sixth), Kenseth (seventh) and Bowyer (ninth).
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 1st
How does it feel to be in victory lane? “Man, this is awesome. I first want to start out by thanking the Lord for giving me this opportunity. I just knew it. I just feel really good about this group. I really feel like this is just the beginning. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) is pretty much the man.”
How nervous were you the last few laps? “I was real nervous. All day he (Kasey Kahne) had the best car. And I told Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) with about 12 (laps) to go — I apologized to him, ‘Like I’m sorry man, I’m beat.’ I was getting too tight and I was killing the right front (tire). I just had to make sure I stayed in front of him. Didn’t have quite the fastest car there at the end, but we had it where it needed to be. Great pit stops. Great pit strategy. We were in the right place at the right time. Took advantage of it today.”
How does it feel to win on your birthday? “I was kind of bummed out about being 29. Since where standing here with a win — I’ll take it.” (NOTE: Kenseth is actually 41 today.)
Were you thankful for being in victory lane or at JGR in your comments after the race? “All of it. I was hoping they went hand in hand. This was a great opportunity for me. I felt, and obviously still feel real good about it. Man, I just feel like it is just the beginning. Jason Ratcliff (crew chief) and this whole Dollar General crew back here — these guys are just awesome. I’m just real proud to be in the seat. Just glad I didn’t mess it up for them today.”
How worried were you about Kasey Kahne during the final few laps? “Thankfully it was out the back window and I told Jason (Ratcliff) I was sorry with about 12 (laps) to go because I thought we were going to lose it. I was getting tight and especially as we caught them lapped. I didn’t think I was going to hold him off. It’s good that we had all this great power under the hood from TRD — I don’t think we could have held him off. I was slow across the middle because I was too tight. Man, that thing was just grunting and pull me off the corner to stay in front of him.”
Are you relieved to get your first win with JGR this early in the season? “Well, I don’t know that it changes a lot. I mean, I’m not a huge goal person, but my goal was to win and to win early. I felt like I just — nobody has put any pressure on my except for myself, but I also know that Coach (Joe Gibbs) hired me to come in there and climb in that car and win races so you certainly want to do that and you don’t want to disappoint people. I’m glad we got a win, but it’s still only week three. I feel like this is the beginning, you know, and have a lot of confidence, had a lot of confidence after our first meeting and decided to go do this and just had a great feeling about it. And I still do. So it’s great to get the win. It’s always great to get a win early in the season, but you certainly don’t want to act like it stops. You want to go to the next one and start thinking — we go on a plane to go home tonight, start thinking about Bristol and what we’re going to try to do there. That’s the great thing about the sport, it never stops, you only get to enjoy it for a couple days. But to answer your question it feels really great to get the win, and hopefully that’ll keep some momentum going for our team.”
Did you have any concerns about the reliability of the Toyota engines leading into this weekend? “No, not really, honestly. Leaving Daytona I was probably one of the only people — I was probably the most enthused person in the organization leaving Daytona I would have to guess. Everything that was in our control we did a good job at. I think we called the race great, had great pit stops, did everything right, we were leading the race, dominated the middle part of the race, had both our teammates second and third behind us. From my standpoint it couldn’t have been any better except to finish. When you’re trying hard, you’re always trying to make the most power to make your car handle the best you can and do all that kind of stuff, every once in a while you’re going to have something happen. And I didn’t mess it up. We were leading, and I would have been more disappointed leading Daytona if I were leading the last lap and finished eighth. I felt good about it. I felt that we did everything we could do, and that was supposed to be kind of funny. If someone wants to laugh that would be okay. But no, I felt okay about it. The stuff runs really, really good, and I knew obviously they knew there was a problem there and they were going to work on it and fix it.”
JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What has it been like so far working with Matt Kenseth and then getting this win here today? “Well, three weeks in, I mean, I knew this day would come, but to do it just in our third race is really special obviously. The hard work that these guys have put in over the winter, we’ve just got a great group here, and we’ve got Matt and we’re going to win a lot of races, I think. He’ll probably get mad at me for saying that because he doesn’t like that. But anyway, like I said, I knew that we would get to victory lane at some point, and to do it this early in the season is great, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
JOE GIBBS, owner, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does this victory mean to JGR? “Well, I think lots of times a victory, the thrill of it, depends on kind of what happens leading up to it. We’ve had a tough couple of weeks, as everybody knows, and so I really appreciate our partner Toyota. In tough times, everybody kind of bands together around our place, and we start fighting and we worked our way out of some tough things. I felt like today we had three good cars, two of them were caught speeding on pit road. I think Denny (Hamlin) got caught so late it was hard for him to get back on sync. But really proud. Obviously Matt (Kenseth) has just been special. I mean, he came over, I think he brings a lot to — I think Denny and Kyle (Busch) both really respect him. I think that’s helped a lot. I think he kind of likes working with them, so we’ve got three guys that really, I think, can get after it and drive a race car. I’m really happy, too, for Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief). If you think about it, he’s been with us quite a while. He’s had a bunch of wins, obviously, in our Nationwide Series, but really proud of him and our team, and of course the one thing we know that’s special about our sport, you’ve got to have a great sponsor or you can’t race. Rick Dreiling and Dollar General has just been absolutely fantastic for us. We think they’re a great partnership, really proud of them, and we’re just — hey, I don’t know what words you want to use, but we’re thrilled.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 4th
How was the battle at the end of the race? “I just hate it for my team. We had by far the best car in practice — I don’t know where that went. Today was a different day. The worst Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing) car ended up winning the race — it’s funny how this game works. Congrats to all Joe Gibbs Racing — that’s great to have Matt Kenseth get his first win for the team. I wish we had more in this M&M’s Camry though to come home with the win, but it was a hard fought battle all day. Kept getting too loose in the runs.”
What happened with the speeding penalty on pit road? “It was the first pit stop, so we had plenty of time to get back up through. Just tried to continue to fight hard all day and come back from being back in traffic. We made the most of the effort with this M&M’s Camry. It was fast, it was really fast yesterday, just wasn’t as fast as it needed to be today on the long runs, unfortunately just kept getting too loose and not being able to keep track position throughout the run after about 10 laps or so.”
Was this a solid effort by your team? “We made a mistake today, I made a mistake today — it wasn’t that solid. It was a good finish — the finish that we need and hopefully we can continue getting a couple more.”
How did the car feel on an intermediate race track? “It was really good. We had a fast race car, like I said. For about 10 laps, the thing was a rocket ship and then it started getting so loose you could barely hold on to it and you try to save those tires and not abuse your stuff and it goes loose, worse. That’s something we definitely need to build on and work on. It’s unfortunate that we’re not in victory lane and our teammate is, but it’s all good for Joe Gibbs Racing.”
Does this finish give you momentum heading to Bristol? “We’ve had a lot of success at Bristol, but not lately. We’ve really hit a road block there for some reason. We have to get back on our horse a little bit and this is a good way to do it. We’ve had a tough start to the year and a good finish here today, but it’s a long year to go and we have an uphill battle to climb, so we’ll just continue to claw out of it.”
Was today’s racing an indication of how intermediate track racing may look like this season? “I think it’s definitely just getting used to this car. This is an entirely different race car than what we’ve ran here in the past. The deck lids are short, so that might be a little bit indicative to somewhat like the Nationwide car was really loose yesterday, too. We might have to start rethinking some of that stuff and getting ahead of the game before we get to too many more of these places.”
What do you take out of this weekend? “We had a good run today. I made a mistake and got us mired back in traffic, but we fought hard and we battled back up through there. The biggest thing we take out is we’ve got to figure out how we can make these race cars last longer on the long runs for me. (Matt) Kenseth there was pretty good and he stayed good throughout the long run, but me — we went to hell in a hand basket there after a minute.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 8th
How was your race? “It’s great to finish a race. The way in which we started, we ran competitively in the top-10 and we finished in the top-10. The NAPA Auto Parts Toyota ran a little too loose on long green flag runs. So, we need to figure out how to get our Toyota to hang on better. But, like I said, after two straight weeks of running well, but not finishing — it’s a relief to get a top-10 in the books. Last year, Bristol was very good to Michael Waltrip Racing, so maybe now it’s finally time to win one of these things.”
MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 14th
How was your day? “It was fun. We had a pretty solid Aaron’s Dream Machine Camry. I didn’t get a good restart on the last one, but the one before I did. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last one — the last one didn’t come out as well for me. Other than that, it was a good solid day by this team and car.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 15th
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 27th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 30th
DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Toyota Camry, Swan Racing Finishing Position: 32nd
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 83 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 34th
TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 39th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 40th
Source: Toyota Racing, Press Release
Article Tags: Jason Ratcliff, JGR, Joe Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kobalt Tools 400, Kyle Busch, Las Vegas (NV), Las Vegas Motor Speedway, LVMS, Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr, Matt Kenseth, Michael Waltrip Racing, MWR, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NSCS, Toyota Racing