In Sunday afternoon's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, Toyota Camry drivers Jeremy Mayfield and David Reutimann both competed in the top-20 throughout the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway with Reutimann running as high as third late in the race.
Mayfield started 18th in the No. 36 360 OTC Camry for Bill Davis Racing and drafted with the lead pack throughout the 192-lap event. Today's race ended under caution due to a multi-car accident on the back straightaway on the first lap of a "green-white-checkered" situation -- freezing the field with Mayfield in 23rd.
"It felt good to be pretty competitive today in the Camry and come home with a decent finish here at Talladega," said Mayfield following the race. "I got hung out a few times during the race, but that's what happens here on restrictor plate tracks. Our team is learning together as the season goes along and obviously it feels good to make the show and run fairly well. I was just glad to be here racing today."
Reutimann fell victim to "lady luck" Sunday afternoon, as a blown engine kept the No. 00 Domino's Camry from a top-10 finish. Reutimann spent the balance of the race running in the top-20 and worked his way up to third before a late-race restart. Reutimann was forced to pull out of line with smoke emanating from his machine -- relegating the team to a 32nd-place finish.
"I'm so bummed out," said Reutimann in the garage. "I had a chance to run pretty good today, I thought. That stuff happens and I'm just disappointed for the whole team. The way we ran out there today had nothing to do with the driver -- it had everything to do with the car this team built. I hated to oil the track down like that, but I couldn't see to get down to the bottom of the track, all I was doing was looking out at the wall."
Reutimann also felt like today's performance at the front of the field was a good indication of Toyota's speedway program following the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.
"Toyota worked really hard on their plate program from Daytona and they've made it better," said Reutimann. "I'm proud of everybody at TRD and within Toyota's organization -- I'm not disappointed with that at all. Today was just a situation where stuff breaks no matter how hard you work on it. We'll regroup and we still have a good speedway car for Daytona so we'll go from there."
Dale Jarrett finished 40th in the No. 44 UPS Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing after an ignition problem ended his day early.
Toyota drivers Michael Waltrip (No. 55 NAPA Camry), Brian Vickers (No. 83 Red Bull Camry), AJ Allmendinger (No. 84 Red Bull Camry), and Dave Blaney (No. 22 Caterpillar Camry) failed to qualify for the race.
The next race on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule is at Richmond International Raceway (May 5).
In Saturday afternoon's Busch Series race at Talladega, a record number of lead changes (36) led to a last-lap pass giving Bobby Labonte the win by .052 seconds over teammate, Tony Stewart in the Aaron's 312.
Toyota Camry drivers David Reutimann (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry), Dave Blaney (No. 10 Hass Avocados from Mexico Camry) and Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Camry) fell victim to circumstance Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway, each getting caught up in separate on-track incidents.
Reutimann was the highest finishing Camry with a 24th-place finish, but was running in the top-15 throughout the day – and led two laps – before a crash with four laps remaining in the event left the Michael Waltrip Racing Camry mangled.
"All I've heard is that the No. 41 car got into the back of the No. 66 car and turned him across the race track," said Reutimann following the race. "And all I know is the No. 66 turned sharp left in front of me like something along those lines happened. It's unfortunate because I thought we were going to be okay. We were having a pretty good race even with that deal early in the race when we got the nose knocked in on the car. We had to work on that a little, but we really thought we were going to be able to pull off a pretty good finish."
Blaney and Leffler started second and third, respectively, but were hung out early in the race and shuffled back in the running order. Shortly after the start of the race, Leffler was turned into the wall causing heavy right side damage. The Braun Racing team worked feverishly to repair the machine, and Leffler went on to finish 35th.
"We just got hit from behind there early in the race and it put us into the outside wall," said Leffler. "We had quite a bit of damage to the front of our Great Clips Toyota Camry and it tore up some of our suspension that we had to get fixed. The rest of the race we just rode around trying to miss the wrecks and gain as many points as possible. I hate it for Toyota, Great Clips and our whole Braun Racing team because we really had a great car for today's race and everybody was pumped up with our third place starting position. But those are the types of things that happen at Talladega and we'll regroup and head to Richmond."
Blaney was also involved in an on-track incident causing heavy front damage to his Camry. His Braun Racing team was forced to the garage to repair a broken radiator. Blaney would be forced to settle for a 32nd place finish.
The next race on the NASCAR Busch Series schedule is at Richmond International Raceway (May 4).
In Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway, Erik Darnell won his first career NCTS race, leading three times for a total of 92 laps, and crossed the finish line 10.440 seconds ahead of second-place Rick Crawford.
Mike Skinner in the No. 5 Toyota Tundra showed championship form by leading the first 59 laps after starting the 167 lap race from the pole, his third consecutive pole (Atlanta, Martinsville, and Kansas). A costly green flag pit stop cycled Skinner out of the lead and deep into the field. The Bill Davis Racing team worked hard to bring home a fifth-place finish and maintain the series points lead by 108 over fellow Tundra driver, Todd Bodine.
"I really don't know what happened there -- at the start our truck was awesome," said Skinner, following the race. "We made a small little adjustment and we were 50-degrees loose after that. Then we had a bad pit stop back there and we never recovered. With this deal you just have to stay on top of your game. It's a little bit disappointing because I thought we had the truck to beat. We got out of whack a little bit and got a weird set of tires. I'm real proud of Jeff Hensley (Crew Chief) and this race team. We came here to run in the top-10 and we got a top-five."
Toward the end of the race, Jack Sprague in the No. 60 Con-Way Freight Tundra passed Skinner to bring home a third-place finish. Sprague felt a few more laps might have allowed him to close on second place and possibly the race leader.
"It was a great day for the Con-Way Freight Toyota," said Sprague following the race. "I'd like to thank TRD, Tony Furr (Crew Chief) and all the guys; they brought me great stuff again. It would take me a little bit to get going on the restarts and I needed the long green runs, so I wish I had about two more laps there at the end. I don't know that I had anything for the 99. Tony said we were a little bit faster at the end, but it would just take me so long to get rolling. The guys did a great job today."
Six Tundras finished the race in the top-10. Those drivers included Sprague (third), Johnny Benson (fourth), Skinner (fifth), Todd Bodine (seventh), Aaron Fike (eighth) and Terry Cook (ninth).
The next race on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule is at Lowe's Motor Speedway (May 18).
Toyota NNCS Finishing Positions at Talladega Superspeedway 23rd, JEREMY MAYFIELD 32nd, DAVID REUTIMANN 40th, DALE JARRETT DNQ, DAVE BLANEY DNQ, AJ ALLMENDINGER DNQ, BRIAN VICKERS DNQ, MICHAEL WALTRIP Toyota Drivers in the NNCS Point Standings following Talladega Superspeedway race** 37th, DALE JARRETT 591 Points 38th, DAVE BLANEY 523 Points 41st, BRIAN VICKERS 425 Points 43rd, DAVID REUTIMANN 348 Points 48th, JEREMY MAYFIELD 203 Points 50th, AJ ALLMENDINGER 92 Points **Unofficial Point Standings Toyota NBS Finishing Positions at Talladega Superspeedway 24th, DAVID REUTIMANN 32nd, DAVE BLANEY 35th, JASON LEFFLER Toyota Drivers in the NBS Point Standings following Talladega Superspeedway race** 3rd, DAVE BLANEY 1168 Points 4th, DAVID REUTIMANN 1130 Points 16th, JASON LEFFLER 910 Points **Unofficial Point Standings Toyota NCTS Finishing Positions at Kansas Speedway 3rd, JACK SPRAGUE 4th, JOHNNY BENSON 5th, MIKE SKINNER 7th, TODD BODINE 8th, AARON FIKE 9th, TERRY COOK 12th, TED MUSGRAVE 17th, JOSH WISE 23rd, TYLER WALKER Toyota Drivers in the NCTS Point Standings following Kansas Speedway race** 1st, MIKE SKINNER 905 Points 2nd, TODD BODINE 797 Points 5th, JACK SPRAGUE 734 Points 6th, TED MUSGRAVE 727 Points 7th, JOHNNY BENSON 703 Points 11th, AARON FIKE 644 Points 16th, TERRY COOK 523 Points 20th, TYLER WALKER 467 Points 27th, AJ ALLMENDINGER 375 Points 39th, JOSH WISE 112 Points **Unofficial Point Standings
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