EDITORS NOTE: Race winner Denny Hamlin and second place Kyle Busch were both disqualified in post-race inspection
Denny Hamlin drove his Toyota Camry TRD to his third win of the 2022 season and 49th of his career in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) race at Pocono Raceway. Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch led a significant portion of the race before following Hamlin to the checkered flag with a second-place finish. Toyota drivers Christopher Bell (sixth), Martin Truex Jr. (ninth) and Bubba Wallace (10th) also scored top-10 finishes. Ty Gibbs made his first career NCS start in Sunday’s race and finished in the 18th position subbing for Kurt Busch, who was not medically cleared to compete after a qualifying accident on Saturday.
Toyota Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Race 21 of 36 – 400 miles, 160 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, DENNY HAMLIN
2nd, KYLE BUSCH
3rd, Chase Elliott*
4th, Tyler Reddick*
5th, Daniel Suarez*
6th, CHRISTOPHER BELL
9th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
10th, BUBBA WALLACE
18th, TY GIBBS
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
With a spin on Saturday, the lap 1 contact today, a spin in stage 2 and the fuel concerns – how did you overcome all of that to get to victory lane for the seventh time at Pocono?
“It’s the team. They were able to come back with a great strategy there to get us back upfront from the mistake I made.”
Was the contact with Ross Chastain straight payback?
“I mean, what did you want me to do? What did you expect me to do? We got position on him, and he just ran out of race track.”
Is it now over between you and Ross Chastain in your book?
“We’re just going to keep racing hard until we get the respect back from these guys. It’s not just that, we’ve been wrecked four times. Twice while leading in the last 10 months and I’m at the end of it.”
This is win 49 and it ties you with your former teammate Tony Stewart. Did you ever believe you’d be at this point?
“No, never. I just wanted to be a local short track racer in Virginia. That’s all I really cared about, but I was able to get a great break from JD Gibbs and that’s why I’m driving the No. 11 for Joe Gibbs Racing. I’ve just got to say thank you so much to Toyota, FedEx, Shady Rays, the Jordan Brand, Coca Cola, Sport Clips – everyone who makes this possible. It feels good to win here at Pocono.”
How have you been able to win seven Cup races at Pocono?
“I’ve been blessed to be with a great race team my entire career and that’s carried me a long way. But today was definitely a team thing. This guy right here, Chris Gabehart (crew chief), just made some great strategy calls to make up the positions that I lost when I spun out. Wow, just a great team effort.”
What happened in the accident with you and Ross Chastain?
“We drove in deep and he (Ross Chastain) drove in deep and I’m not even sure if we made contact, maybe we did. He ended up running out of race track. He knew I was going to race him hard, what else do you want me to do after the wrecks that I’ve had and that’s what we did today.”
Is there a scorecard among drivers in these scenarios?
“You just race people the way you get raced in the end. It was egged on my his car owner on Twitter and said he can’t wait so it just fired me up over those incidents. We’re just going to continue to race hard and I’m going to race him the same way.”
What happened when you spun out in the opening laps?
“The resin didn’t match up with the tire heat that I had in the race car so it just slid across the race track. It certainly caught me by surprise and then it caught Kyle Busch by surprise on the next restart. Have to thank our sponsors, Sport Clips, FedEx, Toyota, TRD, Logitech, Shady Rays, Coca-Cola – I couldn’t do it without those names and they’ve been with me a long time. Relationships is what makes all this happen.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
What did you need to catch your teammate in the closing laps?
“The second-to-last run there where we had the 1 (Ross Chastain) car there trailing us, he was a little better than us. It’s hard to pass, but having the car trending loose on me, we made an adjustment for that with as many laps as there was going to be to go with that last pit stop, but we just over did it I guess and missed it on that last run unfortunately. I was just way too tight and didn’t have the roll speed that I needed through the corners. The guys did a great job and bust their tails for me every week and do a really great job for me on this M&M’s Camry. Appreciate all of them and their support and what they do. Obviously, wish we had a little bit more today and of course with the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 race, it would have been nice to honor all the associates that were here in attendance to give them something to celebrate with us in victory lane. Just one spot short in qualifying and one spot short in the race. “
How much did the track change during the race and did you notice the change?
“I noticed that and maybe that was something I missed, but I just felt like as I ran, I lost grip and I think the race track was losing the spray, the additive that was down on the race track. So just losing grip there and trying to keep up with the race track you’re just trying to add grip to your car. That’s hard to do.”
What more did you need to beat Denny Hamlin today?
“We were trending loose there in that run where the 1 (Ross Chastain) car was trailing me and keeping up with me, so I figured that was our hindrance. We snuck it up a little bit and overjumped it too far and was way tight that whole last run. When the 1 and the 11 (Denny Hamlin) were out in front of us I was falling back from those guys. We were lucky to get a couple cautions there, lucky to keep pace like we did there at the end to the 11. We didn’t have a shot there, we were just too tight. Didn’t adjust right or didn’t call something right there, but thanks to all of my guys. Appreciate them and all of the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing for what they do. All of the hard work on the Toyota Camry I get to drive. M&M’s being the Fan Appreciation 400 – this was something special we wanted to go out and honor all of our associates and honor all of them. Came up one spot short in qualifying and one spot short in the race. It’s definitely frustrating. Hate it for all of them too. We’ll go to next week I guess.”
What can you learn from a day like today?
“If we left it alone there was too many laps to go. We would’ve trended loose and probably lost it loose. So, I don’t know. We need to go back to the setup sheets and look and see what was different for the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and their adjustments that allowed them to be that much better at the end. But, man, we’re talking half tenths. It’s all so close. Here at a race track like Pocono, if you’re not a half a second faster than the guy in front of you anyway, you’re going to have a hard time passing him regardless. Even if we would’ve had a tenth or a tenth and a half better than them at the end of the race and ran up to him and caught to him, I don’t know that I would’ve been able to maneuver around him.”
TY GIBBS, No. 45 McDonalds Toyota Camry TRD, 23XI Racing
Finishing Position: 18th
Can you describe this day for you and what it’s meant?
“First of all, I want to say thank you to God for giving me this opportunity. Thank you to Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. Everybody at 23XI. The most important thing right now is about Kurt’s health and hopefully he can get back in this seat. He drives way better than me so he deserves this. He’s been awesome. He’s helped me out so much. I want to say thank you to him. We had a fast McDonald’s Camry TRD. I had a great time so Michael (Jordan), if you’re watching I want to say thank you. It’s a big pleasure to wear this on my shoulder and on my shoes. I had a great time and I learned a lot so it was awesome. Thank you to Monster Energy.”
What was the biggest surprise being in the Cup car for the first time?
“Just the dirty air and how bad that affects you. Just being able to make sure I was getting out far enough. I was a little bit tight all day, so just trying to get front turn and trying to get more center turn which would help me. It was a learning day. I felt like I learned a lot. I’m very thankful. It was close to almost a top 15. It was fun racing with Brad (Keselowski). Never thought I’d race with these guys. It was just cool being next to them on the track. So, to 10-year-old Ty that means a lot. I don’t think I would ever expect that.”