Toyota MENCS Phoenix Post-Race Recap 11.12.2017

TOYOTA QUOTES

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Circle K Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

What are the emotions you’re feeling after winning this race?

“I don’t know what to say except thank the Lord. It’s been an amazing journey and I know I’m a big baby right now. Just have one race left and everybody dreams about going out a winner. We won today and nobody can take that away from us. That was a heck of a battle with Chase (Elliott) there. I have to thank Circle K, Toyota, DeWalt and all our partners. Thanks to JGR, it’s been a great five years. It’s been quite the journey in this 20.”

 

How special is this victory?

“I didn’t hear a word you said, but you’re going to be really sticky on the flight home. What a storybook ending, I wasn’t sure that I was ready for this and to move onto something next year, but honestly God made the decision for me – he put me here for a reason and he’s taking me out for a reason. It’s been an incredible journey and there’s no way you could write it any better than this. I’m kind of at a loss for words, just appreciate JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), Toyota, TRD, DeWalt, Circle K, Tide – we have great partners and I’ve really enjoyed the journey. I’m looking forward to next week.”

How critical was it to get around Denny Hamlin on pit road?

“I didn’t know if we were ever going to get to victory lane again, we’ve been on a year-and-a-half losing streak. Without my over-the-wall guys today, we wouldn’t have won. They gave me an incredible stop and we beat Denny (Hamlin) off pit road and that was a pivotal moment of the race.”

Can you put this win into words regarding the emotion you’re feeling?

“It’s hard to describe and the only bad thing about this deal is that Katie (Kenseth) and the kids aren’t here. Other than that, it couldn’t be any better of a day than this. It’s been quite the journey from my first race of my career to my last race next weekend. Nothing feels better than a win.”

 

What are your thoughts and emotions after this win?

“Yeah, it’s really not describable. With only two left, I didn’t think we were probably had a good chance of getting back to victory lane. It’s been I don’t know how many races – somebody’s probably going to tell me tonight – but it’s been at least 50 or 60, so it’s been a long time. We’ve had a lot of close ones. Just felt like it was never meant to be and today it was meant to be.”

What made the difference and enabled you to win?

“Well, kept doing them cycles and short runs and we were a little too tight all day, but we were really pretty happy with it and when we got in front, we were just too loose and I got loose on that restart and Chase (Elliott) got by me and as soon as he got by me, it actually made my car better and I saw him get loose and starting to slip, so I knew we were going to have a heck of a race.”

How much sweeter is this win given the circumstances?

“It couldn’t be any sweeter. I just don’t know how else to explain it, you know? You always feel like you can get the job done, but, you know, if you’ve got a big enough sample size of numbers, numbers don’t really lie, so we needed to go out and get the job done and get us a win and we were able to do that today, so we’ve got one more race left and, like I said, great way to go out.”

What would it mean to get your 40th-career win next weekend?

“You know, I’ve got to be honest with you, I never dreamed I’d win one of these races, so obviously I’ve been so incredibly blessed throughout my whole career and I’ve had so many great people work with me – great sponsors, crew chiefs, car owners. I’ve raced against great drivers, so, you know – but last year, we won a couple races and I usually never look at stats and I saw Mark (Martin) had 40 and I was like, ‘I just want to get 40 so I can tie my hero Mark’.”

 

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing

Finishing Position: 3rd

How was your race today?

“Uneventful. Yeah, we had a really good Auto-Owners Camry today and just really proud of the guys – Cole (Pearn, crew chief), Jazzy and everybody – we’ve kind of struggled with this place the last couple trips and came here with a new idea, a new setup and just stuck with our game plan all weekend long and we were right there all day. Had a sniff of the lead a couple times, just couldn’t quite get it and then, you know, going for second on the last lap was fun, so all in all it was an awesome day for us and good momentum heading to Homestead (Miami Speedway).”

Did you have a Camry that could contend for a win?

“We were right there all day long. Had a sniff of the lead a couple times – just couldn’t quite get it – but I’ve got to say I’m so proud of Matt (Kenseth) and his team and the year they’ve had and really the position they’re in right now. To go out and win that race was unbelievable, so I was really, really happy for him, happy to see that and had a blast racing with him today and he did an awesome job.”

 

Do you feel like this is a career year for you and things are coming together?

“Yeah, I mean, you know, just as a group we’re making smart decision and we’re coming to the race track prepared. Obviously, we have great race cars and I think the difference is just our guys and the decisions we make, the way we work together and, you know, we all came up with this idea to come here and we figured out together the things to work on, the areas we needed to work on, what we needed to go to get better and we came up with a setup and we tweaked on it all weekend long and we were one of the best cars all day, so I’m just really proud of the effort and the communication and the teamwork and just everything that my team gives me and so excited to go to Homestead (Miami Speedway) and continue what we’ve been doing.”

Is there a way to describe your excitement for the finale?

“I’m ready to go there right now, so let’s just load up on the plane and go race Monday, but – yeah, I mean, we’ve got some work to do this week, but I’m definitely excited about it. I think Cole (Pearn, crew chief) feels good. We had a good test down there and, you know, I’m definitely excited. We’ll see what we can do. We’ll give it our best shot no matter what and see where it all falls.”

Are you guys the team to beat?

“Oh yeah. No doubt about it.”

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

Finishing Position: 4th

How was your race?

“A good day for us The 5-hour ENERGY Camry was good. Definitely had the speed to run up front and contend for the win – so thank to TRD for that – but I just didn’t really execute 100 percent on the last restart to really give myself the shot I needed. Kind of a bummer, but overall really strong day for us – another day we needed. It had been a minute since we had really ran in the top-five competitively and had a shot and that is what we did today. Nice to get back on track. Nice momentum for next week and hopefully being able to close the season out with a win.”

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

Finishing Position: 7th

How was your afternoon at Phoenix?

“Uck, that was nasty. I don’t know what happened, you know? We had a really, really great race car yesterday in practice and thought our M&M’s Caramel Camry was going to be up front for the lead, but unfortunately all the things that we did overnight just weren’t the right way and (Martin) Truex (Jr.) was asking me and he says, ‘Hey, did you find’ – before the race, you know – he says, ‘Hey did you find that box of center turn overnight,’ and I said after the race I just told him, I said, ‘ I already shipped it down to Homestead (Miami Speedway) for next week,’ so hopefully that means something for us next week and not necessarily this week, but strong comeback. Great to get a top-10 at least, you know? That was a pretty dismal performance for our fans, so apologize for that, but, you know, better days are ahead next week”

How did you race go?

“Yuck. It was just – that was a nasty race for us. That didn’t feel very good, so it kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but all in all we knew that we had more important things to worry about and that’s next weekend, although we came in here and we tried to run well and I thought our practice speeds yesterday – our car, everything drove really, really great. The M&M’s Caramel Camry was fast and all the guys at TRD and Toyota and everybody has been giving us good stuff and I thought we had a shot to go for the win and the way our comments were between myself and Matt Kenseth yesterday it’s just like our cars flip flopped, you know? So not sure, but overall just real proud of the effort and these guys obviously do a great job each and every week and we were able to salvage a seventh out of that, so it could have been a heck of a lot worse, but proud of my guys and, you know, brighter days are ahead. We’ve got more important things to worry about next week.”

 

What is your advantage going into Homestead-Miami Speedway and do you feel you have any momentum?

“I started eight and finished seventh – there’s momentum in that, c’mon. Yeah, I got one. It wasn’t pretty getting it, but we got one. You know, as far as momentum goes, obviously we had a dismal week last week – we had two tires flat under yellows that kind of hurt us and put us behind all day. We had a really fast car I thought. We should have finished probably about fourth, fifth, something like that, so if you call that a fifth and today a seventh, we’re moving forward with that. That’s all we had for them these two weeks, so, you know, we’ll concentrate on what we need to do in Homestead (Miami Speedway) and hopefully have a really good piece down there and make sure that we can go race for this championship. That’s what it’s all about.”

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

Finishing Position:  35th

How would you describe the way that you were raced by Chase Elliott?

“We had a fast car all day. We did essentially our job all day long. We put ourselves in good position. Things just didn’t work there at the end.”

Were you hoping your apology would prevent something like this?

“I mean, each person had their own opinion of how they do things and it just proved to the people that thought I was a bad guy that he would do the exact same thing in the same circumstances, so, I mean, you know, it’s just part of racing. I got into him and he chose to retaliate, so I’m in the garage and that’s the way it is. We did a great job all day. This is the best car I’ve had in a very long time. We just got behind on the pit stops and then that just gave those guys an opportunity to get close.”

Do you blame yourself and Martinsville Speedway for not being in the Championship 4?

“Not really. I mean, no. I won’t, but we’ll do the best we can to go out there and win Homestead (Miami Speedway) and make sure our competition doesn’t.”

What ended your day?

“We got ran into the fence by the 24 (Chase Elliott) when we running up front all day. We had a bad pit stop and then we didn’t really make any adjustments. Our car got really tight and we were just battling all we could to keep our track position. We weren’t and we allowed out competition to get close to us.”

Does this animosity end here today?

“We’re just going to keep racing as hard as we can every week and try to go out there and win Homestead (Miami Speedway) and make sure our competition doesn’t.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Circle K Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What are your thoughts and emotions after this win?

“Yeah, it’s really not describable. With only two left, I didn’t think we were probably had a good chance of getting back to victory lane. It’s been I don’t know how many races – somebody’s probably going to tell me tonight – but it’s been at least 50 or 60, so it’s been a long time. We’ve had a lot of close ones. Just felt like it was never meant to be and today it was meant to be.”

What made the difference and enabled you to win?

“Well, kept doing them cycles and short runs and we were a little too tight all day, but we were really pretty happy with it and when we got in front, we were just too loose and I got loose on that restart and Chase (Elliott) got by me and as soon as he got by me, it actually made my car better and I saw him get loose and starting to slip, so I knew we were going to have a heck of a race.”

How much sweeter is this win given the circumstances?

“It couldn’t be any sweeter. I just don’t know how else to explain it, you know? You always feel like you can get the job done, but, you know, if you’ve got a big enough sample size of numbers, numbers don’t really lie, so we needed to go out and get the job done and get us a win and we were able to do that today, so we’ve got one more race left and, like I said, great way to go out.”

What would it mean to get your 40th-career win next weekend?

“You know, I’ve got to be honest with you, I never dreamed I’d win one of these races, so obviously I’ve been so incredibly blessed throughout my whole career and I’ve had so many great people work with me – great sponsors, crew chiefs, car owners. I’ve raced against great drivers, so, you know – but last year, we won a couple races and I usually never look at stats and I saw Mark (Martin) had 40 and I was like, ‘I just want to get 40 so I can tie my hero Mark’.”

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 11, Posted 9:57 PM, 11.12.2017