Sunday, February 15, 2015

Toyota Racing Daytona 500 Post-Qualifying Recaps

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, talks to Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, on the grid during qualifying for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (February 14, 2015 - Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs RacingQualified: 3rd

Did the qualifying work out as you expected?
“That worked out exactly as I thought it would. I was trying to back up to zero time, I wanted to be the last one to cross the line so I had points on the race track that I knew I needed to be at and I tried to back up to the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and 48 (Jimmie Johnson) to where they would miss it, but with the draft it picked up the speed and I allowed them to cross the line before it went zero.”

What did you think of the group qualifying for the Daytona 500?
“There’s going to be a lot of unfavorable talk about it for sure. It can get dangerous when different cars are on different agendas and speeds. We’re either going to have to get better and smarter or it will have to change to make it a little bit safer. Other than that, we all knew for months that this was going to be the case. You tried to do the best you could.”

How strong are the Joe Gibbs Racing Camrys for the 150s and the Daytona 500?
“I thought they were very strong. I was in the position that I wanted to be in, just couldn’t allow those guys to get behind me. That really hurt me. Really want to get the front row for Toyota, but we’ll have to wait another year.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs RacingQualified: 4th
How was the qualifying process for Joe Gibbs Racing today?
“It was a really good day for Joe Gibbs Racing and I have to thank everybody at the shop that’s hanging these bodies and doing all this work and everybody at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) for giving us so much power. All four cars are in the race no matter what happens, I believe now. That’s really important for Carl (Edwards) since they don’t have points and they put up that fast time. I thought Denny (Hamlin) and I had a shot at the pole and didn’t think we had enough time to take the green. I was going to back up to Denny and thought we were going to have a shot at sitting on the front row, but I knew the time was going to be real close so I went up there and pushed Kyle (Busch), which hurt my speed, but those guys must have all got the green just in time. Overall, we did the best strategy we could and ended up with a good result.”
What was this qualifying format like today?
“It’s very unpredictable – kind of crazy. You don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s just up to other cars. It worked good for us today and we got in a good situation and our cars had a ton of speed. Even if we weren’t in the very best timing spot, we had enough speed as long as we had a little bit of draft. I thought me and Denny (Hamlin) had a shot at the front row there. We were trying to lay back there and get a big run and just got real afraid of running out of time without taking the green. I had to keep going and try to get back to the line.”

How close were you to the time expiring before you got the green flag?
“It had to be close. They said I was two seconds away. Denny (Hamlin) was behind me so I knew that had to be within tenths of seconds. They had to be cutting it really close, but you had to gamble to do that and get behind and catch the cars in front of you and they knew our cars were quick. If they could get in that draft, it was going to benefit them.”

How strong are the Joe Gibbs Racing Camrys for the 150s and the Daytona 500?
“I feel like all our Camrys have been real competitive since we got here – we’ve got a lot of speed and that’s encouraging, but its speedway racing and anything can happen. We got through the first two processes and now we need to get through the 150s with a good finish and get ready for Sunday.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs RacingQualified: 5th

How were the qualifying runs?
“We had some really good teamwork there with all the Joe Gibbs Racing and the Toyota guys there, especially in the final round. It feels good to have all the JGR cars in good shape going into Thursday. I knew we were really tight on time getting to the line in order for our lap to count, and the guys behind us were even tighter getting there. Our M&M’s Crispy Camry is pretty good and now we can hopefully have a clean Duel race on Thursday and get our car ready for next Sunday.”

CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs RacingQualified: 7th

How nerve-wracking was this qualifying session?
“A lot of nerves and we made the fourth-quickest time overall in the session. That, I believe, locks us into the Daytona 500 no matter what happens in the qualifying races, which is huge. ARRIS took such a huge gamble on us and it’s really cool. We had about four or five meetings about trying to figure out how we were going to do this. I don’t know that the meetings actually helped, but this means a lot for everybody at JGR to support this 19 team so much and to get us locked into the 500.”

What do you think of group qualifying for the Daytona 500?
“As happy as I am now, it’s because of how we did and that’s it. I think it just leaves it up to chance. If it’s exciting for the fans and if it’s good that way then it’s good. For us, this is the most stressful way you can qualify. This is the most stressful race of the year and anything can take you out of it. Just glad that we’re in it with our ARRIS Toyota, this is really cool.”

How will you approach Thursday’s Duel races?
“Now we can be more aggressive because if something were to happen, I keep saying this, but I’m pretty sure we’re locked in. That was a pretty complex chart they gave us, but we can be more aggressive and just hope that we get a good starting spot. We want to start up front, lead as many laps as we can and win the Daytona 500.”

JOHNNY SAUTER, No. 83 Dustless Blasting Toyota Camry, BK RacingQualified: 13th

MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip RacingQualified: 22nd

JJ YELEY, No. 23 Maxim Fantasy App/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK RacingQualified: 23rd

JEB BURTON, No. 26 Download the App Toyota Camry, BK RacingQualified: 40th

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip RacingQualified: 41st

What happened in the accident?
“First of all I wasn’t behind the 44 (Reed Sorenson), he came flying around and came up on the apron, jumped up in front of me and then runs over the 51 (Justin Allgaier), stacks us all up and I run into him. It’s idiotic to be out here doing this anyway. It makes no sense in being able to put on some cute show for whatever the hell this is, then you have a guy out there in desperation doing this crap like this. There’s no reason to be out here. These guys have spent six months working on these cars, busting their asses on these cars to go out there and have some guy out of desperation do that crap, but it ain’t his fault. It’s not, it’s NASCAR’s fault for putting us out here in the middle of this crap for nothing. We used to come down here and worry about who was going to sit on the front row and the pole for the biggest race of the year and now all we do is come down here and worry about how a start-and-park like this out of desperation is going to knock us out of the Daytona 500. We’ve been in meetings for 45 minutes just trying to figure out what in the hell everybody is going to do just so we can make the race. There’s no sense in doing this.”

Is there blame to be placed for the accident?
“It wasn’t his fault, he’s desperate and trying to get into the biggest race of the year. We need to be focused on qualifying and who is going to sit on the pole for the biggest race of the year and the front row just like we always have. There’s no reason to be putting a show on and trying to make something out of something that doesn’t need to be. We put a hell of a show on for the Daytona 500 and unfortunately these guys have worked the last six months for nothing.”

JUSTIN MARKS, No. 29 American Born Moonshine Toyota Camry, RAB RacingQualified: 43rd

MIKE WALLACE, No. 66 Crazy Vapors/X8 Energy Gum Toyota Camry, NEMCO MotorsportsQualified: 48th