There isn’t much better than watching a Camry Chaser dominate the competition. *sigh* With the Toyota competitors dishing it out, our lives just get a bit more interesting…especially with the addition of super-fast, super-entertaining races!
Over the weekend at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway, the two Camry Chase drivers in the ‘Eliminator’ round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) championship playoffs earned top-10 finishes and Tundra driver Darrell Wallace Jr. earned his third victory of the season in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event with a special paint scheme to honor NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott on his Tundra.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
In Sunday’s NSCS race at Martinsville, Matt Kenseth (sixth), Clint Bowyer (seventh) and Denny Hamlin (eighth) earned top-10 finishes at the half-mile Virginia short track. Kenseth (fourth) and his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Hamlin (fifth) are now in the top-five in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship point standings following the first of three races of the ‘Eliminator’ round.
Kenseth started from the third position and led two laps (of 500), but battled the handling in his JGR No. 20 Camry throughout the race.
“It was a long day,” said Kenseth, following the race. “I’m glad we got that finish even though we’ve got the car all banged up and all the extra stuff going on. At the end of the day I’m glad we got the finish, but it was a rough day. We didn’t run the way we wanted to run today. We still finished respectably with all the stuff that happened. Like I said, we didn’t run great today, but they made some good calls and did the right things at the end and finished strong.”
A late-race caution brought the field to the final restart with five laps remaining in the race. While most of the top competitors made their way to pit road for four fresh tires, a handful of cars stayed on the track to attempt to improve their finishing positions. Hamlin, who spent 68 laps at the front of the field, restarted in the sixth position after his pit stop, but was mired behind slower cars and ultimately finished eighth.
“It’s hard because you’ve got guys that go laps down in the course of the race and get enough lucky dogs and then 50 laps on their tires and they want to stay out,” said Hamlin, following the race. “Just bottle necks the field up and we all got the short end of last restart stick again. We’re running better than what we’re finishing. Other guys like (Ryan) Newman are finishing better than they’re running.”
Camry drivers Kyle Busch (11th) and Cole Whitt (18th) also earned top-20 results at Martinsville.
The Sprint Cup Series returns to action next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, Nov. 2.
Toyota NSCS Driver Finishing Positions — at Martinsville Speedway
1st, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6th, MATT KENSETH
7th, CLINT BOWYER
8th, DENNY HAMLIN
11th, KYLE BUSCH
18th, COLE WHITT
26th, MIKE WALLACE
27th, BRIAN VICKERS
29th, ALEX BOWMAN
39th, JJ YELEY
43rd, CLAY ROGERS
Toyota Drivers in NSCS Point Standings — following at Martinsville Speedway*
4th, MATT KENSETH##…4,039 points (5 points behind first-place Jeff Gordon)
5th, DENNY HAMLIN##…4,037 points
9th, KYLE BUSCH…2,230 points
18th, CLINT BOWYER…923 points
22nd, BRIAN VICKERS…847 points
31st, COLE WHITT…494 points
35th, ALEX BOWMAN…387 points
##competing in the ‘Eliminator’ Round of the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship
2014 Toyota NSCS WINS: 2 — Busch (1), California (March 23); Hamlin (1), Talladega (May 4)
Overall Toyota NSCS WINS (since 2007): 65
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Tundra driver Wallace captured the checkered flag in Saturday afternoon’s NCWTS race at Martinsville Speedway driving his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra with a special paint scheme to honor NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott.
Wallace, who earned his first career NCWTS win at Martinsville a year ago, started from the pole and led four times for a race-high 97 laps (of 200) on the half-mile short track en route to his third victory of the 2014 season and fourth of his career. While every win has meant a lot to Wallace, having a tribute to Scott on his Tundra made this win even sweeter.
“This is a touch sweeter having the tribute truck — the No. 34 Wendell Scott Hall of Fame inductee on our Toyota Tundra — you couldn’t ask for a better weekend,” said Wallace, following the race. “Qualified on the pole, had a great clean race for the most part and we were able to come away with another clock. Having the Wendell Scott family here, having my family here, having my Mom here, my girlfriend here and getting them their first win — this is special. Special for myself, my family, my team, sponsors and everybody involved. The whole sport of NASCAR — this is a big moment and excited to see what the future holds.”
The victory marks the 15th for Toyota this season equaling the most wins in a single season for Tundra drivers dating back to 2010. Wallace’s win was also the 12th Tundra victory at the Virginia short track making Toyota the winningest manufacturer in the NCWTS at the speedway.
Tundra drivers Timothy Peters (second), Matt Crafton (third), Erik Jones (fourth), Johnny Sauter (seventh) and German Quiroga (10th) also earned top-10s Saturday afternoon.
Crafton leads the unofficial NCWTS point standings by 18 points over Ryan Blaney. Tundra drivers Wallace (third), Sauter (fourth), Peters (fifth), Quiroga (sixth) and Jeb Burton (ninth) also rank in the top-10 in the standings with three races remaining in the 2014 season.
The next NCWTS race on the schedule is Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, Oct. 31.
Toyota NCWTS Driver Finishing Positions — at Martinsville Speedway
1st, DARRELL WALLACE JR.
2nd, TIMOTHY PETERS
3rd, MATT CRAFTON
4th, ERIK JONES
7th, JOHNNY SAUTER
10th, GERMAN QUIROGA
12th, JEB BURTON
13th, JOHN H. NEMECHEK
17th, PEYTON SELLERS
33rd, JOHN WES TOWNLEY
Toyota Drivers in NCWTS Point Standings — following Martinsville Speedway*
1st, MATT CRAFTON…716 points
3rd, DARRELL WALLACE JR. 694 points
4th, JOHNNY SAUTER…676 points
5th, TIMOTHY PETERS…639 points
6th, GERMAN QUIROGA…608 points
9th, JEB BURTON…587 points
13th, JOHN WES TOWNLEY…455 points
*unofficial point standings
2014 Toyota NCWTS WINS: 15 — Busch (6) — Daytona (Feb. 21), Kansas (May 9), Charlotte (May16), Dover (May 30), Kentucky (June 26), Chicagoland (Sept. 13); Crafton (2) –Martinsville (March 30), Texas (June 6); Jones (2) — Iowa (July 11), Las Vegas (Sept. 27); Wallace (3) — Gateway (June 14), Eldora (July 23); Martinsville (Oct. 25); Sauter (1) — Michigan (Aug. 16); Peters (1) — Talladega (Oct. 18)