August 31, 2008 - Fontana, CA - NASCAR's trip to Auto Club Speedway on Labor Day weekend provided untouchable performances in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) racing. Kyle Busch started from the pole and led all but six laps in Saturday's NNS event, and five Toyota Camrys were among the top-15 finishers in the NSCS 500-mile event won by pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson who led the majority of Sunday's race.
In the Sprint Cup Series race, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver Denny Hamlin finished third for the second consecutive week and helped strengthen his position in the ‘Chase for the Sprint Cup' that will start in two weeks at New Hampshire. The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Camry started 21st but quickly made his way to the front of the field at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway.
"We had a good run," said Virginia-native Hamlin after his race. "It's definitely what we needed. We needed to come out of here with a top-five finish and beat the guys that we were racing in the points. Definitely this is a good finish for us. We had a top-five car really from the get-go, and it's pretty rare that you can have a car that's as consistent from the day to the night – that's what we needed. We're not locked in the ‘Chase', but we are definitely getting closer."
NSCS points leader Busch finished seventh and David Reutimann earned his career-best Cup finish with a ninth-place result.
"I guess it's saying something when you leave here and you're disappointed with a top-10," said Reutimann. "I felt like we were a top-five car. We didn't luck into anything. We just fought hard all night and ended up with a pretty good finish. I enjoyed it -- it was a lot of fun. Its nights like tonight when it doesn't seem all that hard when the cars drive like they do."
Red Bull Racing Team drivers Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger finished 12th and 14th, respectively. Allmendinger began the race from the number two starting position and both drivers competed in the top-10 for a strong portion of the race.
Toyota drivers Tony Stewart (22nd), Dave Blaney (29th), Michael Waltrip (33rd), Mike Skinner (35th) and Ken Schrader (41st) were also in the field.
Busch continues to lead the unofficial NSCS point standings following California, holding a 208-point lead over Carl Edwards. Camry drivers Stewart (eighth), Hamlin (11th) and Vickers (15th) remain in the top-15 in points after 25 of 36 races.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action September 6 at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia.
In Saturday evening's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race, Busch drove his JGR No. 18 Z-Line Designs Camry to victory lane. Busch started from the pole and led 144 of 150 laps on the two-mile Southern California track for Toyota's 16th NNS victory of the season, crossing the finish line ahead of Edwards en route to the checkered flag.
"This thing was flawless, it was just amazing," said Busch, following the race. "I really have to thank all the guys back at the shop. They did such a great job in paying attention to detail and being able to put this car together and making it a phenomenal car to drive. I'm just honored to be a part of this team and to drive the Z-Line Toyota here tonight to victory lane was pretty awesome."
The victory is the seventh of the NNS season for the 23-year-old Las Vegas-native, and his 18th checkered flag across all three of NASCAR's national series (eight in Sprint Cup Series competition and three in the Craftsman Truck Series, in addition to his NNS wins). Busch's Nationwide Series victories have come at a variety of race tracks, including three-straight at Texas, Phoenix and Mexico City in April; Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte in May, and in July at Chicagoland and at O'Reilly Raceway Park outside Indianapolis.
Camry driver Vickers finished third in the No. 32 ABF Freight/Seymour Camry. Vickers started 11th and made his way through the field quickly into the second position early in the race but a loose lug nut forced him back onto pit road for a penalty.
"We had a really good car," said Vickers, following the race. "We were running Kyle (Busch) down and then made a mistake on pit road and it cost us a lot of time on the green flag stop having to come back in like that. We battled the results of that all night trying to come back from that. We had the car good in traffic by the time we would get to the front it was too loose and by the time we readjusted it we ran out of time."
Joey Logano finished sixth in the No. 20 GameStop Toyota for his eighth top-10 finish in 11 career NNS starts. Reutimann also finished in the top-10 with an eighth-place result in the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry.
Camry drivers Mike Wallace (16th), Josh Wise (22nd) and Jason Leffler (26th) were also in the field.
Reutimann remains fourth in the unofficial NNS point standings following California, now trailing leader Clint Bowyer by 410 points. Toyota drivers Busch (seventh), Wallace (eighth) and Leffler (ninth) are all in the top-10 in points after 27 of 35 races.
The next race on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule is September 5 at Richmond.
Toyota NSCS Driver Finishes at Auto Club Speedway 3rd, DENNY HAMLIN 7th, KYLE BUSCH 9th, DAVID REUTIMANN 12th, BRIAN VICKERS 14th, AJ ALLMENDINGER 22nd, TONY STEWART 29th, DAVE BLANEY 33rd, MICHAEL WALTRIP 35th, MIKE SKINNER 41st, KEN SCHRADER Toyota Drivers in NSCS Point Standings – following Auto Club Speedway** 1st, KYLE BUSCH 3,755 points 8th, TONY STEWART 3,110 points 11th, DENNY HAMLIN 3,065 points 15th, BRIAN VICKERS 2,799 points 25th, DAVID REUTIMANN 2,279 points 30th, MICHAEL WALTRIP 1,930 points 32nd, DAVE BLANEY 1,901 points 38th, AJ ALLMENDINGER 1,492 points Toyota NNS Driver Finishes at Auto Club Speedway 1st, KYLE BUSCH 3rd, BRIAN VICKERS 6th, JOEY LOGANO 8th, DAVID REUTIMANN 16th, MIKE WALLACE 22nd, JOSH WISE 26th, JASON LEFFLER Toyota Drivers in NNS Point Standings – following Auto Club Speedway** 4th, DAVID REUTIMANN 3,503 points 7th, KYLE BUSCH 3,344 points 8th, MIKE WALLACE 3,136 points 9th, JASON LEFFLER 3,129 points 22nd, DENNY HAMLIN 2,102 points 31st, JOEY LOGANO 1,430 points ** unofficial point standings
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