Motorsports Brands - Toyota Tidbits -- NSCS Champions Week
CAMRYS ON CUP CIRCUIT: Toyota drivers combined for six wins, 39 top-five finishes and 78 top-10 results in 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races. Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin both claimed wins in 2011, with Busch taking four checkered flags (Bristol, Richmond, Kentucky and Michigan) and Hamlin winning once (Michigan). Kasey Kahne also visited victory lane (Phoenix) driving for the Red Bull Racing Team in 2011. Hamlin and Busch competed in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoff -- Hamlin's sixth-straight Chase and Busch's fifth appearance in the last six years -- and finished the season ninth and 12th in the standings, respectively. Kahne (14th) and Martin Truex Jr. (18th) also finished the season in the top-20 in points.
BUSCH BREAKS RECORDS: The 2011 season was a record-breaking year for Busch. In July, he became the third driver to earn 100 wins across NASCAR's three national touring series -- and he currently has a total of 104 NASCAR victories. He also became the all-time NNS wins leader in August and now has 51 series triumphs. Furthermore, Busch made his 300th start in a Toyota in August and now has 322 combined starts in a Camry and Tundra, trailing David Reutimann (329) for the most starts for the manufacturer. Busch has 83 wins in a Toyota across NASCAR's three series -- the most of any Toyota driver.
NATIONWIDE NUMBERS: Camry drivers totaled 10 wins, 38-top five results and 86 top-10 finishes in 34 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) races in 2011. In 20 NNS starts, Busch totaled eight wins (Phoenix, Bristol, California, Talladega, Darlington, New Hampshire, Bristol and Richmond) and tied Carl Edwards for the most in the series. Busch's JGR teammates Hamlin (Richmond) and Joey Logano (Daytona) each recorded one win during the 2011 NNS season. Camry driver Kenny Wallace was the top-Toyota driver in the final NNS point standings, finishing in seventh-place -- his best showing since 2005.
TUNDRA TALK: Tundra drivers combined for 10 wins, 35 top-five showings and 73 top-10 finishes in 25 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) races in 2011. Busch claimed a series-high six victories (Phoenix, Nashville, Dover, Charlotte, Kentucky and New Hampshire) in 2011, marking his third-straight year leading the series in wins. In 41 starts over the past three seasons, Busch has captured 21 victories. The 2011 campaign also marked the second-straight year for Busch's team, Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), to capture eight wins -- Busch with six victories and both Hamlin (Martinsville) and Kahne (Darlington) won a race in a KBM Tundra. Timothy Peters (Indianapolis) and Michael Waltrip (Daytona) also won races in 2011. Tundra driver Peters finished the season fifth in the driver point standings -- his best career-result -- and Todd Bodine continued a seven year streak in the top-10 in points after ending the year in sixth-place.
HALF DECADE DOWN: The 2011 season marked the Camry's fifth year competing in the NSCS and NNS. In five years in the NSCS, Camry drivers have competed in 179 races and captured 39 wins and 31 pole positions, recorded 167 top-five finishes and 314 top-10s. In five NNS seasons, Camry drivers have participated in 174 events where they've claimed 64 wins, 54 pole positions, 251 top-10 finishes and 497 top-10s. Busch won the 2009 NNS driver's championship -- the Camry's first driver's championship in NASCAR -- and Toyota won three NNS manufacturer's championship (2008-10).
GRESHAM TAKES TITLE: Max Gresham captured the 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) driver's championship when he finished third in the season-finale at Dover. The 18-year old Georgia native claimed two wins and nine top-five finishes in 12 starts and completed every lap run during the year. Gresham's title was the second for JGR in five years -- Logano won the 2007 championship -- and the fourth for Toyota in that span (Ryan Truex, 2009 and 2010).
BACK STORY: Follow Toyota Racing on Twitter (@toyotaracing) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/toyotaracing). Background and images about the Toyota NASCAR program are available at www.toyotamotorsportsmedia.com.
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Toyota drivers increased the number of race tracks where the Camry has visited victory lane in the NSCS to 20 of 23 facilities … The Camry claimed its first win at Kentucky Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway -- leaving only three race tracks where the Camry still seeks a NSCS trophy -- California's Auto Club Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway … Toyota drivers swept the top-three finishing positions for the first time in the NSCS at Richmond in April with Busch (first), Hamlin (second) and Kahne (third) … Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) will run three Camrys in 2012 with drivers Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin joining Martin Truex Jr. … Martin will run a 25- race schedule in the No. 55 MWR Camry and team owner Michael Waltrip will run five races … Camry driver Bobby Labonte returns for a second season at JTG-Daugherty Racing in the No. 47 Camry in 2012 and will work with veteran crew chief Todd Berrier … Berrier has eight career wins as a crew chief and most recently worked with Jeff Burton at Richard Childress Racing during the 2011 season.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How will the Joe Gibbs Racing team improve for the 2012 season?
"I think our cars will get better. I think that they already are getting better. We've seen year over year if something happens in those two months when there's no racing, teams find things and other teams lose things. I've done testing at different race tracks trying to work on our program and getting it better. I am very happy with the direction we are heading. We have improved our position in every Chase race. It's easy when were as bad as the first three races, but two races in we were 60 points behind and since then we lost 20. It's just one of those things where it was not a good Chase for us and I know that next year we're going to have some better race cars to come to the race track with and we've already found some things that I feel like that make me more comfortable in the race car and that will show up next year."
Do you have any plans for the off-season?
"Just relax -- I don't have anything set in stone. I've been on the schedule for the last 10 months. It's time to not have one."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Will fuel injection impact fuel mileage next season?
"I think going to the EFI (electronic fuel injection) is going to change it a little bit. Maybe not as much as we all expected it to be. It's just the engineers are certainly getting better with it. It might not change right away because we don't know everything we need to know about it, but I figure over time it's just like anything else. We'll learn from it, develop with it and get better at it."
Do you have any off-season plans?
"To get away and to have nobody be able to get a hold of me -- that would be nice. We'll see how it goes, you know. The off-season is typically not very off -- you're still working. I've already got a photo shoot and then a commercial shoot two weeks later. And, then it's Christmas and all kinds of other stuff. So, it will be busy -- I'm sure."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing How much did your team improve in the final weeks of the season?
"Really, I think our team has done a nice job all year as far as bringing fast race cars to the race track. There have been some other things that we've missed on -- part failures and making mistakes and things that's really hurt us in the points. But, we've had fast cars all year long. For us this season, it's been a lot of what could've been or what might have been. Going into the off-season, I feel like we know our strengths and our weaknesses and what we need to work on to be better. But, as far as the group of guys I have and the cars that we've been bringing to the race track, we've made huge strides especially at the end of the season here with the mile-and-a-half type tracks where we struggled through the mid part of the season quite a bit. We made huge gains there, so we're excited going into the off -season of what we need to work on and come out of the box strong next year. For us, we just need consistency. We've got the speed, we've got the team to do it, we've got the team to do it and we've got great guys that go over the wall and pit the car. We just need to be smarter, race smarter and make less mistakes next year."
What are your plans for the off-season?
"Relaxing for a few days first. Going to go and do a little fishing down in the (Florida) Keys for a couple days and unwind. We'll go home and have a good Christmas, do a little hunting and a little fishing and this or that. A little bit of everything."
KASEY KAHNE, No. 4 Red Bull Camry, Red Bull Racing Team How was your season with the Red Bull race team?
"It's been a really awesome year for myself. It's been a great season. A lot of fun to work with everybody and they've given all us all a great opportunity. I wish it was halfway through. I wish the season was 50 percent of the way through and we had a lot more to go this year because I feel like right now is by far the best that I've been as a Cup driver and that we've had as a team. Everything put together, I think this h as been our strongest time ever. I've been running really good. The whole Red Bull team has done a great job. I think just winning the race at Phoenix and running good with Red Bull and the team not giving up -- I think that's been my highlight. Just watching how hard everybody has worked and how great of a job they have done as the season came to an end."
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): Kenny Wallace (seventh) was the top Toyota driver in the NNS point standings … Brian Scott (eighth), Michael Annett (ninth) and Steve Wallace (10th) also finished in the top-10 in points … Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 Camry team finished second in the NNS owner championship standings, back three points behind the No. 60 team … Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) announced they will field a NNS team in 2012, in addition to competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
BRIAN SCOTT, No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How was your first season at Joe Gibbs Racing?
"We fought hard ever since Daytona. We didn't have the performance or the results that we wanted until about the middle of the year. This team -- we flipped the switch. Kevin (Kidd, crew chief) and I really got on the same page and we started having good runs. We were a pretty good team the second half of the year. Definitely performed the last quarter of the year with some top-five finishes, and got a pole at Chicago. We're going to focus really on the last part of the year and continue to build and do the things that we started doing at the middle of the year that will make us better to come back in 2012 and be even stronger. I don't see any reason why this team can't make the progress through the off-season and come back with the yellow and black Dollar General car and have a team good enough to run for the championship. I feel like Kevin Kidd and I have a relationship that is on really good terms. We're really communicating well. We're going to continue to work through the off-season just as hard -- if not harder -- than we worked all year. Come back and be a really strong team."
Do you have any off-season plans?
"I'm going to move into my new house. I'm going to spend New Year's down in the Bahamas with the family and come back in January and train real hard for a month to get ready for the season."
MICHAEL ANNETT, No. 62 Pilot/Flying J Toyota Camry, Rusty Wallace Racing What will you work on during the off-season?
"The biggest thing I need to learn is what the crew chief needs, so when I feel something out on the track, I can better pinpoint to him what corner of the car really needs help -- what I'm really feeling. These cars are getting so sensitive to little shock changes and quarter or a half pound of air pressure. If I could pick out the exact corner and use past experiences and be able to say, 'Hey, we did this last time and it really helped I think,' that would definitely make myself a better driver."
Do you have any off-season plans?
"I'm going to travel a little bit. Definitely going home to Iowa for Christmas and get through the holidays and come back to work at the shop and just start making this program a lot better."
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): Timothy Peters (fifth) was the top Toyota driver in the NCWTS points standings … Tundra drivers Todd Bodine (sixth), Brendan Gaughan (12th), David Starr (13th), Miguel Paludo (17th) and Max Papis (18th) also finished in the top-20 in the points … Since entering the NCWTS in 2004, Toyota drivers have tallied 90 victories and 81 pole positions in 200 races … The Tundra recorded its 200th NCWTS start in November (Homestead) … ThorSport announced the team will campaign Tundras in the 2012 season with drivers Dakoda Armstrong, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter in the NCWTS … The team will also field a Camry in the ARCA Racing Series for nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel.
TIMOTHY PETERS, No. 17 Tire Kingdom/Service Central, Red Horse Racing What did you learn in 2011 that will help your team get a running start on 2012?
"We learned a lot of technical information this season, but the main thing for the No. 17 team was just getting all the chemistry right with all the members of our team. I felt like the last few races of the season our team really gelled, I was able to give feedback to Butch (Hylton, crew chief) that he needed so that the truck worked and gave me the feel that I wanted. It seems like every year when you get to Homestead, you wish you had seven or eight more races, you finally find your rhythm and get to running well as the season ends. The best thing is that we finished the season strong and I was able to make it on stage at the banquet for the first time in my career, it just gives you a good feeling when you achieve one goal and only makes you want to set the bar higher for the next year."