July 5, 2008 - Daytona Beach, FL - This holiday weekend's NASCAR races at Daytona International Speedway featured Toyota Camry drivers taking home a pair of first-place trophies. Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race and Denny Hamlin finished first in the Nationwide Series event.
Although Saturday was the day after the Fourth of July, there were still plenty of fireworks during the night's Sprint Cup Series race at the 2.5-mile Daytona oval. Busch avoided all the on-track sparks and continued his winning ways by capturing his sixth checkered flag of the season.
In a race featuring 11 caution periods for 33 laps, Busch avoided all the on-track incidents and guided his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 Interstate Batteries Camry across the finish line first. The 23-year-old driver started ninth and led the race three times for 31 laps (of 162). A late race incident led to a planned green-white-checker finish, but the race actually ended under caution following another accident on the final lap around the Daytona superspeedway.
Busch, who picked up his first-ever NSCS win at Daytona, was able to hold off charging teammates Carl Edwards (second) and Matt Kenseth (third) to claim the victory.
"Man, I can't believe that we're here right now," said Busch, in the winner's circle after the race. "We didn't have the best car tonight, but my crew guys never gave up and we never gave up out there on the race track. We just had to get up to the front. Luckily, we were leading when it meant the most -- when the caution came out. There was just a ton of wrecks behind us and I was glad to have this Interstate Batteries Toyota up front."
"It was a pretty crazy race, that's for sure," added Busch. "Our car was skating around a lot at the beginning of the race and then we had our mishap where we had to go back through traffic. I've really got to thank the 17 (Matt Kenseth) because he gave me a great push at the end and we were able to be ahead when it mattered. I've also got to thank Denny (Hamlin). He was trying to help me there when we got squirrely there in the back and luckily I saved it because it was close."
Busch's JGR teammate Tony Stewart started the race in the No. 20 Home Depot Camry, but he felt sick during the race with flu-like symptoms and turned the car over to J.J. Yeley to finish the race. The No. 20 Camry finished in 20th-place.
Other Camry drivers in the field tonight included Brian Vickers (11th), Dave Blaney (19th), David Reutimann (21st), Michael McDowell (25th), Denny Hamlin (26th), Michael Waltrip (27th) and AJ Allmendinger (42nd).
In addition to his win this evening at Daytona, Busch has recorded Sprint Cup Series wins at Atlanta, Talladega (Ala.), Darlington (S.C.), Dover (Del.) and Sonoma (Calif.). This season, he also has four Nationwide Series victories and a pair of first-place finishes in the Craftsman Truck Series.
Busch continues to lead the unofficial NSCS point standings and now sits 182 points ahead of second-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Other Camry drivers in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS points include Hamlin (seventh), Stewart (12th) and Vickers (16th).
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action on July 12 at Chicagoland Speedway.
There were also many on-track fireworks in the Nationwide Series race Friday evening that featured a green-white-checker finish among four veteran drivers -- Hamlin, Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Clint Bowyer. Camry driver Hamlin managed to hold off his fast-closing JGR teammate Busch to take his Toyota to 'Victory Lane' at the historic oval.
Hamlin, driver of the JGR No. 20 Hardee's/Coca-Cola Camry, started 17th and led the field three times for 29 of the event's 105 laps. The Chesterfield, Virginia-native took the lead on lap 90 and held off all challengers en route to capturing the checkered flag.
It was Toyota's 13th NNS win of the season and Hamlin's third NNS victory of the year. The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Camry and crew chief Dave Rogers have now won nine of the season's first 19 NNS races. Along with Hamlin's victory Saturday night, he has one other win in the No. 20 Camry. JGR drivers Tony Stewart (five wins), Busch (one win) and Joey Logano (one win) have also registered wins in the No. 20 car.
"To do this -- it just means a lot," said Hamlin, after the race. "This is our final ride in the No. 20 car and it feels good to do this in my last ride. I have to thank Kyle (Busch) for sticking with me right there at the end. The only way we weren't going to win is if he actually went for the win. As long as he stuck on our rear bumper, there was no way we weren't going to have a one-two finish."
Unable to catch Hamlin, Busch made sure that JGR scored another NNS victory.
"On the green-white-checker restart the 5 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) really, really hung back on us and we kind of hung back on Denny," said Busch. "But, when we got a little run down the back straightaway, I just pulled in line and did what a teammate would do. I'm glad we were able to get a Joe Gibbs Racing car into 'Victory Lane.' I wish it was us, but that 20 car is awfully hard to beat."
Following Hamlin and Busch to the finish line were Toyota drivers David Reutimann (14th), Mike Wallace (22nd), Jason Leffler (23rd) and Brian Vickers (37th).
Reutimann now sits fourth in the unofficial NNS point standings following Daytona. Other Camry drivers in the top-15 in the point standings include Busch (seventh), Wallace (eighth) and Leffler (11th).
The NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to action at Chicagoland Speedway, July 11.
Toyota NSCS Driver Finishes at Daytona International Speedway 1st, KYLE BUSCH 11th, BRIAN VICKERS 19th, DAVE BLANEY 20th, TONY STEWART (J.J. YELEY – substitute driver) 21st, DAVID REUTIMANN 25th, MICHAEL MCDOWELL 26th, DENNY HAMLIN 27th, MICHAEL WALTRIP 42nd, AJ ALLMENDINGER Toyota Drivers in NSCS Point Standings -- following Daytona International Speedway** 1st, KYLE BUSCH 2,686 points 7th, DENNY HAMLIN 2,240 points 12th, TONY STEWART 2,145 points 16th, BRIAN VICKERS 2,033 points 27th, DAVID REUTIMANN 1,596 points 29th, MICHAEL WALTRIP 1,508 points 31st, DAVE BLANEY 1,469 points 38th, J.J. YELEY 1,047 points 39th, MICHAEL MCDOWELL 921 points 40th, AJ ALLMENDINGER 727 points ** unofficial point standings Toyota NNS Driver Finishes at Daytona International Speedway 1st, DENNY HAMLIN 2nd, KYLE BUSCH 14th, DAVID REUTIMANN 22nd, MIKE WALLACE 23rd, JASON LEFFLER 37th, BRIAN VICKERS Toyota Drivers in NNS Point Standings -- following Daytona International Speedway** 4th, DAVID REUTIMANN 2,588 points 7th, KYLE BUSCH 2,438 points 8th, MIKE WALLACE 2,273 points 11th, JASON LEFFLER 2,129 points 20th, DENNY HAMLIN 1,525 points 27th, TONY STEWART 1,196 points ** unofficial point standings
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