September 21, 2008 - Dover, DE - Toyota scored a pair of NASCAR victories over the weekend at two different tracks, as Kyle Busch won his eighth Nationwide Series (NNS) race of 2008 on Saturday afternoon at Delaware's Dover International Speedway, followed by Mike Skinner's 25th career Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) triumph Saturday evening at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Dover, Michael Waltrip earned the top finish among the 10 Toyota Camrys in the field, crossing the finish line 10th in the No. 55 NAPA Camry in the 400-lap, 400-mile event.
Waltrip started 40th in the 43-car field, but proved to have one of the strongest cars on Dover's ‘Monster Mile.' Quickly moving to the front early in the race, Waltrip and crew chief Bobby Kennedy used good pit strategy and timely adjustments to stay among the top-15 throughout Sunday's event, before a late-race surge to crack the top-10.
"I'm just real proud of my team, said Waltrip, following the race. "To battle all day long and run good -- that's what it's all about. We spent enough Sundays just trying to stay out of the way and it's fun to race. That's why I signed up for this job 25 years ago."
The finish is Waltrip's second top-10 finish of the season, and is the best result for the team since a runner-up run at New Hampshire in June.
Sunday's race wasn't kind to the trio of Toyota drivers competing in the ‘Chase for the Sprint Cup.' Tony Stewart (11th) was the highest-finisher, a solid result after struggling in practice and qualifying 33rd in the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 20 Home Depot Camry. Stewart's JGR teammates -- Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch -- both suffered mechanical issues, finishing 38th and 43rd, respectively.
Camry drivers Dave Blaney (12th), AJ Allmendinger (16th), David Reutimann (17th), Michael McDowell (29th), Brian Vickers (31st) and Ken Schrader (33rd) were also in the field.
With the finish, Stewart remained seventh in the unofficial NSCS point standings, 113 points behind Carl Edwards. Hamlin (11th) and Busch (12th) fell in the standings following Dover.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is at Kansas Speedway, Sept. 28.
Busch extended his own NASCAR record for wins in a season Saturday afternoon, claiming his eighth NNS victory of 2008 and pushing his win total to 19 across all three national series.
The decisive move of the race came when Busch passed Mike Bliss for the lead shortly after a restart on lap 148. The 23-year-old Las Vegas native never looked back, surviving a trio of late-race cautions -- including a ‘green-white-checkered' finish -- en route to victory lane. He crossed the finish line 0.866 seconds ahead of Bliss in the 207-lap, 207-mile race.
"It was a great effort by this whole team," said Busch, following the race. "Joel Weidman, the new crew chief on board this week -- he deserves it. He did a great job calling the race (Saturday). It wasn't easy, but it was a pretty flawless day for us and we made it look easy. I knew it was a good race car. I was just trying to figure out where it would go. It would go anywhere -- high, low, all over the place."
Busch started on the pole in the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 Toyota Camry, and led three times for a race-high 157 laps. It was JGR's 16th NNS win of the season, extending the team's record for series victories in one year. Along with Busch's eight NNS triumphs (seven for JGR), he has recorded eight wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and three in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). JGR has also had NNS victories from Stewart (five), Hamlin (three) and Joey Logano (one) this season.
Hamlin (sixth) and Jason Leffler (seventh) also scored top-10 finishes for Toyota at Dover. A loose wheel early in the race put the No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota two laps down, but Hamlin -- who came in as the two-time defending race winner -- and the team battled back for the impressive finish. For Leffler, it was his 11th top-10 finish of the season.
"It was a good run," said Hamlin, following the race. "We just had a loose wheel there -- a bad rim or something like that at the beginning. I'm not really sure. It just took over half the race to get our lap back. We were two down and had to battle back. It was good once we got back out there, but just got too far behind too early."
Camry drivers Mike Wallace (12th), Logano (14th) and Reutimann (17th) were also in Saturday's field.
Reutimann (sixth) remains the highest Toyota driver ranked in the unofficial NNS point standings following the race at Dover. Busch (seventh), Wallace (eighth) and Leffler (ninth) are also in the top-10 in points after 29 of 35 races.
The next race on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule is at Kansas Speedway, Sept. 27.
Skinner gave NCTS fans a thrilling finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday night when he earned his first victory of the 2008 season. The driver of the No. 5 Toyota Tundra beat Erik Darnell to the finish line by a nose (0.020 seconds) to secure his 25th series victory and ninth win behind the wheel of a Toyota Tundra.
"It's amazing," said Skinner, following the race. "I've been beat many times when I had the fastest truck. Erik Darnell had the fastest truck (Saturday) and we were able to work him hard on the restarts. I knew I had to do something different from what I'd been doing and I thought they were going to line up and freight train me. I said, ‘If they all think I'm going to the bottom, I'm going to the top'."
Fellow Tundra drivers John Andretti (fourth) and Todd Bodine (ninth) also earned top-10 results in a race that saw a race record 12 cautions for 46 laps.
Other Tundra drivers in the field included Brian Scott (14th), Shane Sieg (19th), Scott Speed (21st), David Starr (22nd), Terry Cook (23rd), Johnny Benson (27th), Stacy Compton (28th) and Justin Marks (29th).
Toyota drivers led 89 of 147 laps with Skinner (38 laps), Benson (26 laps), Bodine (20 laps) and Andretti (five laps) each taking turns in front of the field.
Championship points leader Benson cut a tire on lap 64 but was able to maintain the unofficial points lead by one point over defending NCTS champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. Skinner (fifth), Bodine (seventh) and Cook (10th) are also in the top-10 in points following Las Vegas.
The next race on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule is at Talladega Superspeedway, Oct. 4.
Toyota NSCS Driver Finishes at Dover International Speedway
10th, MICHAEL WALTRIP
11th, TONY STEWART
12th, DAVE BLANEY
16th, AJ ALLMENDINGER
17th, DAVID REUTIMANN
29th, MICHAEL McDOWELL
31st, BRIAN VICKERS
33rd, KEN SCHRADER
38th, DENNY HAMLIN
43rd, KYLE BUSCH
Toyota Drivers in NSCS Point Standings -- following Dover International Speedway**
7th, TONY STEWART 5,277 points
11th, DENNY HAMLIN 5,197 points
12th, KYLE BUSCH 5,180 points
17th, BRIAN VICKERS 2,987 points
22nd, DAVID REUTIMANN 2,657 points
29th, MICHAEL WALTRIP 2,266 points
31st, DAVE BLANEY 2,189 points
37th, AJ ALLMENDINGER 1,690 points
39th, MICHAEL McDOWELL 1,466 points
Toyota NNS Driver Finishes at Dover International Speedway
1st, KYLE BUSCH
6th, DENNY HAMLIN
7th, JASON LEFFLER
12th, MIKE WALLACE
14th, JOEY LOGANO
17th, DAVID REUTIMANN
Toyota Drivers in NNS Point Standings -- following Dover International Speedway**
6th, DAVID REUTIMANN 3,676 points
7th, KYLE BUSCH 3,673 points
8th, MIKE WALLACE 3,381 points
9th, JASON LEFFLER 3,348 points
20th, DENNY HAMLIN 2,121 points
27th, JOEY LOGANO 1,698 points
** unofficial point standings
Toyota NCTS Driver Finishes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
1st, MIKE SKINNER
4th, JOHN ANDRETTI
9th, TODD BODINE
14th, BRIAN SCOTT
19th, SHANE SIEG
21st, SCOTT SPEED