March 2, 2008 - Las Vegas, NV - Toyota teams were not big winners at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races at the one-and-a-half-mile oval located north of the city. Carl Edwards was the first driver to cross the finish line on Sunday, winning his second consecutive race.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, were the top finishing Camrys in Sunday's 267-lap, 400-mile race.
Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Camry, ended the day in ninth-place after starting 27th on the grid. "It was a tough day," said Hamlin, after the race. We got our car good towards the quarter part of the race, but we had no track position. We put ourselves up front, but it was in the lap down line. We could not seem to get our car going enough to get back on the lead lap. Finally, when we got it (back on the lead lap), we tried to make the best of it."
Busch, a Las Vegas native, started from the pole, led the race three times for a total of 56 laps, and crossed the finish line 11th.
"We started out good and fell a little behind with track position," said Busch, driver of the No. 18 M & M's Camry. "Then we finally had a leak in the left rear tire and had to come in and put on four tires. We lost all our track position and couldn't fight back."
Hamlin's and Busch's teammate Tony Stewart, who was piloting Joe Gibbs racing entries in both weekend races, survived a pair of accidents during the weekend -- one in Saturday afternoon's Nationwide race and another in Sunday's Sprint Cup event.
"That's the hardest one I've taken in a long time," said Stewart, following his accident during Sunday's race. "It just blew a right front (tire) I guess and went straight into the wall. It didn't try to turn or anything -- it was a real tight part of the corner. It hit so hard it got my lower back sore and made my legs feel about half-numb. Yesterday's (Saturday) hurt and it didn't help anything hitting again today."
Camry drivers following Hamlin and Busch to the finish line were Brian Vickers (23rd), Dave Blaney (26th), J.J. Yeley (27th), Mike Skinner (30th), Michael Waltrip (31st), David Reutimann (37th), Dale Jarrett (39th), and Stewart (43rd).
Busch, who had led the unofficial series point standings following the California race, fell to second in the standings, 21 points behind Edwards who now leads the chase for the championship.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is March 9 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Las Vegas, a Toyota driver started from the pole and Camry racers led more than half the laps at the Las Vegas oval -- but weren't around to cross the finish line first. Vickers, Stewart and Busch all spent time at the front of the field, but Mike Wallace was the top-Toyota to the checkered flag with a seventh-place result.
Vickers, driver of the Braun Racing No. 32 Dollar General Camry, captured the pole position and led eight laps early in the race before contact with the wall eliminated him from the event after 61 trips around the Nevada track.
Stewart and Busch, teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, also spent time at the front of the field. Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Old Spice Camry, started fourth and led the race two times for a total 61 laps before retiring from the race after 137 laps following contact with David Reutimann in turn four. Busch, who had to start at the rear of the grid after switching to his back-up car, worked his way through the field and led 18 laps -- before a tire problem resulted in contact with the turn three wall.
All three drivers -- Stewart (27th), Busch (31st) and Vickers (36th) -- finished back in the field.
While other Camry drivers were having their troubles, Wallace was able to survive the on-track mayhem of 13 caution flags in just his third race in a Camry. "It was a very good day," said Wallace, after the race. "Finishing seventh may not be a big deal to a lot of people, but I haven't had a top-10 in a year -- so that was a big deal. The car, for the first part of the race, was a little pushy loose. Then, we got it tuned up and about halfway through (the race) that thing took off. It didn't seem like we had anything for the 5 car (race-winner Mark Martin) or anything like that, but I think we could have got a few more spots if we had some more laps"
Reutimann completed 152 laps to finish 25th, and Jason Leffler got caught in an early accident early and was 39th.
The next race on the NASCAR Nationwide Series takes place at Atlanta Motor Speedway, March 8.
Toyota NSCS Driver Finishes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway 9th, DENNY HAMLIN 11th, KYLE BUSCH 24th, BRIAN VICKERS 26th, DAVE BLANEY 27th, J.J. YELEY 30th, MIKE SKINNER 31st, MICHAEL WALTRIP 37th, DAVID REUTIMANN 39th, DALE JARRETT 43rd, TONY STEWART Toyota Drivers in NSCS Point Standings -- following Las Vegas Motor Speedway** 2nd, KYLE BUSCH 470 points 11th, TONY STEWART 355 points 13th, BRIAN VICKERS 348 points 20th, DENNY HAMLIN 295 points 29th, DAVID REUTIMANN 255 points 31st, J.J. YELEY 248 points 32nd, DALE JARRETT 230 points 33rd, MICHAEL WALTRIP 230 points 35th, DAVE BLANEY 212 points 45th, MIKE SKINNER 73 points Toyota NNS Driver Finishing Positions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway 7th, MIKE WALLACE 25th, DAVID REUTIMANN 27th, TONY STEWART 31st, KYLE BUSCH 36th, BRIAN VICKERS 39th, JASON LEFFLER Toyota Drivers in NNS Point Standings -- following Las Vegas Motor Speedway** 1st, TONY STEWART 472 points 2nd, KYLE BUSCH 430 points 7th, DAVID REUTIMANN 369 points 8th, MIKE WALLACE 357 points 17th, JASON LEFFLER 282 points 26th, BRIAN VICKERS 225 points 40th, DENNY HAMLIN 147 points 50th, MICHAEL McDOWELL 82 points ** unofficial point standings
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