Toyota MENCS Kansas Post-Race Recap - 10.22.17


MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

How were you able to win this race?

“Just couldn’t believe some of the things that were happening and thought there was no way that we were going to win that race at some point. That first restart violation really caught me by surprise and that hurt, but that wasn’t the last blow we had to take. There was the loose wheel we had to pit for under green and getting a lap down and being able to stay out through that last stage and get that lap back was crucial, without that, we didn’t have a shot. Then we got back mid-pack and had a couple really good restarts to get some track position and then really fought the car through that part of the race and had to make some big adjustments and I felt like at the end we got dialed in pretty good. I’m pretty happy with that.”

How do you feel about the final three races before Homestead?

“I feel good about all of them, but Martinsville comes first so we’re focused on that one the most. We have the first pit stall already, which is a good start for that. We have to go there and qualify well and hope to race well all day. If we can just continue to not have any major problems, we should be good to get to Miami and then go have some fun there.”


What strategy did you and Cole Pearn employ in the late stages of the race?

“There was no real strategy to it, we stayed out that one time and got track position and then really it was just passing cars. I had a couple really good restarts on the outside making it three wide on the outside going into one and I think I went from 14th to seventh on one of them and up to sixth on the other. Definitely those restarts were huge for us. I’m just really proud of this whole team, everybody here and this whole group – both the 77 and 78 teams, everybody at Furniture Row for coming in there and winning this one for Jim (Watson). Definitely thinking about his family tonight and hopefully they’re hanging on pretty good.”


Talk about this win for you.

“Just can’t say enough about all these guys on this Furniture Row / Bass Pro Toyota. Just really proud of them. Definitely racing with heavy hearts today with losing Jim (Watson) last night. Want to send our condolences to his family and all of his friends. He was a heck of a guy and a great worker and put a lot of speed in these Furniture Row Toyotas, so glad we could get him one here. Excited to get another one here at Kansas. This feels really awesome. It’s really Furniture Row’s home track. It just feels really good to finally get – to finally get another one here. We got that one in the spring after so many heart breaks and then today it looked like it was going to happen and we just persevered.”

Were you channeling Jim Watson during that red flag when you said you were going to win this?

“I sure was. I was channeling something. A lot of it was this team and the fight in us – in all of us. Definitely thinking about Jim and his family as well. It’s crazy how these things work out, but you just got to give your best effort all the time and never give up and just push as hard as you can all the time and that’s what we did today and it worked.”

A lot of ups and downs during the race. Talk about everything you went through during this race.

“I can’t believe how this day went and that’s why you never give up, cause you never know what could happen. Certainly thinking about Ed – or Jim (Watson), I’m sorry, and his family. It’s crazy how things happen like that. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) texted me last night at 11 o’clock, said he was at the hospital and I’m like ‘What are you talking about?’. It’s tragic. He was a huge part of this team, fabricating for both cars at the race track and making sure we get through tech which is quite a challenge at times. Just definitely racing with heavy hearts, we were all talking about him before the race, just wanted to do good for him. I know he’d love to be here celebrating with us. Proud of everybody just for sticking with me and never giving up. Today was definitely a challenge but fast cars prevail I guess and good teams prevail. Just got to thank everybody and again the Watson family, thinking about you guys. You’re in our thoughts. Bass Pro Camry was just amazing today once we got it dialed in at the end, so happy, just happy.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 5th

Did your run today exceed your expectations?

Somewhat, yes. We definitely got our car better from where it was yesterday, but still a little bit off today. Just fought a terminal condition that we just couldn’t fix on pit road, but proud of the whole FedEx Toyota team for giving me something I could battle up front there with a little bit. Just got to get a little faster on the short run and we’ll be fine.”

Short term speed, is that what you guys are lacking?

“Yeah, that’s the biggest thing we need to work on is short run speed. If we can do that, then we could contend, but we’re heading to a mighty good race track for us next week that hopefully we’re able to capitalize.”


KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing 

Finishing Position: 10th

How was your car today and how does it feel to move on to the ‘Round of 8?’

“Our car was really, really awesome and I’m fortunate to be in a good piece with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota – this M&M’s Camry was fast and I thought we had a good shot to go for the win today and got off on tire strategy a little today. (Martin) Truex got by us and he was checking out, but was just going to play it out when we pitted and the rest of those guys pitted, where it would all shake out, but obviously that caution came out and it bit us and got us behind. Fortunately, our situation today was that we had to race guys that ended up crashing out, hate it for them. I would have liked to race it heads up and that might have been a different situation, but all in all we’ll take what was given to us today and we’ll live to see another day and fight again next week going to Martinsville.”

ERIK JONES, No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing

Finishing Position: 35th

What happened to start the accident?

“I just got loose – I started getting free off of two when the 24 (Chase Elliott) starting coming around us and I just lost it. It’s unfortunate, we had a good run going up there in third place and thought we were going to have a top-five day. Wish we could have ran it out, but it’s just an unfortunate ending. A strong day nonetheless and we’ll come back stronger next week for Martinsville.”

Are you okay and what happened in the accident?

“I’m fine. I just lost it. It’s unfortunate and I feel bad for my guys and my team and I also feel bad for the cars that we took out of the race. It’s just a shame, I made the same mistakes here in the spring and this place has just been tough to me. Fortunately we had a fast 5-hour ENERGY Camry and it was up front, we had worked our way back up to that point after having mishaps at the start of the day. Nonetheless, not the ending that we wanted, but hopefully we can come back a little stronger for Martinsville.”


DANIEL SUÁREZ, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joes Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 36th

Are you okay and what happened in the accident?

“I’m fine. You have to thank NASCAR very much for all the work that they do on these race cars to make them very safe because I got hit from everywhere and I hit the 77 (Erik Jones) very, very hard. I’m perfect – the car’s not, but I’m good. Honestly, I don’t really know what happened. I just know that the 77 got very loose somehow and the next thing I saw was his door and my nose. I really couldn’t do anything at that point, but I haven’t seen a replay yet.”


MATT KENSETH, No. 20 DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 37th

What do you think about the call made to take you out of the race and the Playoffs?

“I don’t know what any of the rules are. Seems like we got a lot of stuff that kind of gets, you know, changed so often I honestly can’t keep up with it. My head kind of spins from putting lugnuts out of pit boxes to one to many guys over the wall, you’re not allowed to race anymore. I just don’t get it to be honest with you. I really don’t have a lot good to say right now. I’m more than disappointed. I’m just gonna say thanks to DeWalt. They’ve been a sponsor of mine off and on for twenty years. Awesome guys there. They deserve better than this. We showed some flashes of brilliance this season, been off and on, been fast at times, had great pit stops at times, just haven’t been able to put it all together like a championship team needs to. Unfortunately this is an example of that. I hope that I can do a better job here the next four weeks and hopefully go get a win.”

What happened out there?

“I didn’t see the wreck. We pitted there and kind of got off sequence a little bit from the guys we were racing and trying to get up through there and there was a crash that we just didn’t see and kind of got involved in that wreck.”


What happened on that restart?

“I didn’t see the wreck. I was racing real hard on the bottom, had Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. outside of me and racing the guy in front of me. I never saw the wreck until basically it was too late, so by the time I noticed everybody checking up, I started checking up and I think I got ran over and just spun out. I didn’t see it in time. The guys I was racing I couldn’t see what was going on up there.”

What was your interpretation on NASCAR’s ruling?

“I don’t know a lot about it. Honestly, I’ve never heard of disqualifying somebody from a race if you got one too many guys over the wall or whatever happened there. I don’t really know. I really don’t have a lot of good things to say at the moment, so I’ll probably try not to say much. Pretty disappointing way to end. Can’t even go back on the race track because of the error we made. It’s just – couldn’t be any more disappointed.”





2nd, Kurt Busch*

3rd, Ryan Blaney*

4th, Chase Elliott*









*non-Toyota driver 





1st, MARTIN TRUEX JR.                3,163 points#

2nd, DENNY HAMLIN                    3,138 points#

7th, KYLE BUSCH                             3,110 points#

10th, MATT KENSETH                    3,076 points

19th, ERIK JONES                            757 points

20th, DANIEL SUÁREZ                   709 points

#Playoff contender

**unofficial point standings



  • Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. captured his seventh victory this season with a win at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
  • With his victory at Kansas, Truex became the first driver in NASCAR’s history to win five consecutive 1.5-mile races.
  • Truex (first in points) and fellow Toyota teammates Denny Hamlin (second) and Kyle Busch (seventh) advanced to the Round of 8 in the Playoffs as Matt Kenseth was eliminated following a 37th-place finish.
  • Hamlin (fifth) and Busch (tenth) also finished in the top 10 at Kansas as Busch captured the stage one win and Hamlin captured the stage two win. 
  • Toyota drivers led a combined 209 laps with Busch leading a race-high 112 laps.

Ron Fleshman

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2017, Issue 10, Posted 9:25 PM, 10.22.2017