Toyota Racing NCS Post-Race Recap -- Sonoma 6.6.21
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing--Finishing Position: 3rd--Where were they just a little bit stronger than you today?--“I think just a little bit everywhere. Right-handers, I just couldn’t lean on the left rear like I needed too. I didn’t quite have the drive off. Moreso than that, I didn’t have the short-run speed. I think the really long runs was really our only chance there. All of those cautions at the end killed any chance we had. I’m proud of the guys on the Bass Pro Toyota, JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), TRD, everybody that makes this possible. Just not quite good enough. The Hendrick cars are really strong right now. They are really fast. They are making a lot of grip. They are making our job tough. We definitely needed long runs at the end, not all of those cautions.”
Did you have anything for Kyle Larson today?
“No. Our only hope was for it really to go green the rest of the race there in that third stage once we both pitted and we were one-two. He (Kyle Larson) drove by me and he was just super fast for 10 laps. Our only chance was if the race would have gone green from there and I still don’t even know. He was really fast for 15 laps then obviously once we started getting all those cautions, we were toast. Definitely not what we needed.”
Why do you think Kyle Larson was so much faster, did he turn on the afterburners?
“I don’t know if it was afterburners, but it’s a good team and a good driver. Not making any mistakes and doing everything right and whatever it takes. He’s (Kyle Larson) always been good here. Obviously, all the poles he’s gotten, he’s never had a car that could stay under him all day long. I’m not surprised he won. He did a hell of a job.”
What do you think it’s like for Kyle Larson to be shining with an organization?
“I’m sure he’s (Kyle Larson) on top of the world and all the stuff he went through to get in a better position and be winning a lot more races, I would say it worked out pretty well for him.”
Do you feel Joe Gibbs Racing needs to fill the gap with Hendrick to make a run in the Playoffs?
“They’re (Hendrick Motorsports) definitely really strong and we definitely have some work to do to catch them. That being said, there’s always a chance. We’ve got a great team and great cars and we have some time to get with it and hopefully make some gains. When the Playoffs start, a lot of weird things can happen and you have to take what you can get. Luckily for us, we have some good tracks in the Playoffs, which is always good. They’re definitely strong and we definitey need to keep working on it.”
Was it difficult to come here with no practice and no qualifying?
“It’s not bad. When you’re starting 19th at a track where track position matters, you’re like, ‘Damn, I wish we were qualifying.’ As far as like being comfortable going on the race track and racing without practice, we’ve been doing this for awhile now. Aside from maybe the guys that haven’t been here before, I think everybody was okay with it.”
Did you have anything for Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott on the final restart?
“No, the restarts were not my thing. My only chance was really long runs and as I’ve been saying, once we started getting those cautions there in stage three, we were up against an uphill battle. We needed it to go green from there. We were out front one-two, I was saving a little bit to see if he would come back to me at the end of the race. Aside from that, they were just really fast. We couldn’t run with them.”
How good was your car in the early stages of the race?
“Our Bass Pro Toyota was pretty good and I was pretty happy with it all day long. We just lacked a little bit of speed to the 5 (Kyle Larson) there on the short runs really mostly and then at the end, even the 9 (Chase Elliott) got going really good on the short runs. All those cautions and short runs were really bad for us. It takes my car three or four laps to really come in good. That’s all we were having there at the end. I couldn’t do anything with the 9, which I thought we were a little bit better than the 9 and the 5 was just super strong. Our only chance was going to be a really, really long run if we got one and we didn’t get one.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Sport Clips Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
Why did you not want to see the late caution, didn’t you need fuel?
“I don’t think we needed fuel. I never heard anything about needing fuel. I just thought that our car was a little bit better long run car than the 22 (Joey Logano) was and the 22 had older tires so I didn’t want to see a yellow kind of be an equalizer and get everybody back even.”
What was the ‘anything for Kurt’ comment about during the race?
“Just inside joke. Essentially, it’s the drinking word of the day.”
Where do you think Joe Gibbs Racing is currently considering how dominant Hendrick Motorsports has been in recent weeks?
“We’re number two, right. I feel like that’s where we’re at. Those guys, we know they’ve got a good road course program, we saw the 9 (Chase Elliott) finish second again today. If the 5 (Kyle Larson) wasn’t even here, he would have won. The 5 got just super fast. I don’t know where he’s at, but different zip code from all of us. The 5 was on his own level and the 9 and the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) seem to be equal, we were a little off the 19, I don’t know why. We were just overall too loose all day.”
Do you feel like you’re going to fight this same issue at the future road courses?
“So far we’ve fought different issues at every road course so I can’t answer that question. I don’t know if the Hendrick cars run the same setup every week, but we keep making little tweaks and we keep chasing different demons. We’re right there, we’ve got good, fast cars. Toyota, JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), everybody is doing a really good job. We just definitely don’t have the overall pace to the 5 (Kyle Larson) for sure.”
Where do you think the communication is right now between yourself and Ben Beshore (crew chief)?
“I don’t think there’s anything missing in that department right now. We went to the sim this week and we tried a few different things here and there and we thought a couple things were a little bit better and we tried those here today and they didn’t correlate the same, sim to track. That was not good. But we were really, really similar to the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) and it seemed like we were pretty equal to them. That was just all we had. Overall, we were a top contender of a Gibbs car today so that’s all we can ask for.”
Did the low downforce make a difference today?
“It definitely did. The tire fall off was a lot greater so the pace would fall off more. I don’t know if the racing was really different. Carousel was definitely a handful – getting in there and just being loose or tight or washing out and trying to keep it out of the dirt.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 8th
How was your race today?
“I got a lot of damage early on, but we never really had anything for the 5 (Kyle Larson). We ran down the 9 (Chase Elliott) after the first 10 laps but then we got off sequence and got in the mid-20s and got a bunch of damage. Our FedEx Toyota wasn’t just as fast after that. To get back into the top-10 with a car as torn up as that, I guess that’s an okay day.”
BUBBA WALLACE, No. 23 DoorDash Toyota Camry, 23XI Racing
Finishing Position: 14th
Battled back from going down a lap with a flat tire, and drove it back to the top-15. How was the race from your seat?
“It was a hard fought day. Shout out to Chris Cook (road course instructor). We came out here two weeks and ran a TA2 car and really just gained a ton of confidence with being on road course. I had a lot of fun. I was able to bring it over today. I just felt comfortable. We’ve still got some room to go. We’ve still got to figure out what we need in our Toyota Camry to make me a little bit better, but when they are telling me that I’m better than 10 cars on a road course, it’s a pretty damn good day. It was a good day for our DoorDash team. We will go on to Texas.”
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Kyle Larson*
2nd, Chase Elliott*
3rd, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
4th, Joey Logano*
5th, KYLE BUSCH
8th, DENNY HAMLIN
14th, BUBBA WALLACE
24th, CHRISTOPHER BELL
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.