Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Toyota drivers at Kentucky

BRIAN VICKERS: Brian Vickers should be a popular man at Kentucky Speedway this weekend. Vickers’ No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota will carry a special paint scheme during Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race honoring the University of Louisville’s men’s national championship basketball team.

At last year’s Kentucky race, MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip drove an Aaron’s/ University of Kentucky themed paint scheme. At the May 5 Talladega race, Aaron’s and Michael Waltrip Racing honored the University of Alabama’s BCS National Championship football team. It marked the fourth consecutive year Aaron’s honored Alabama or Auburn University championship football teams with a special paint scheme.

BRIAN VICKERS: “I'm a basketball fan. I love a lot of sports. I enjoy watching a good basketball game. By no means would I consider myself a basketball player, but I played a little bit when I was young, and I realized very quickly that I was not very good at it, and I moved on to racing. But I do enjoy getting out and shooting some. For me, whether it's basketball or racing, I think watching athletes at their best perform at that level is just a special thing to see. Obviously, to have those guys on the car—a team that competes at the highest level and wins championships is incredible. They’re a great basketball team, and we're so thrilled to have them on the car and so proud, especially Michael. Obviously for Michael it's a special thing going to Kentucky, his home state. I love going there, as well, and I'm very proud to have them on the car and what they represent. Hopefully we can go win the race.”

VICKERS ON KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY: “Part of what makes our sport so amazing is from an aerial shot some people would say  ‘Gosh, Kentucky is just like Charlotte’ but no, are you kidding me? It's not even close. You can't even run a single piece of the setup the same, and the roughness and the characteristics of the track. It all changes. Every track is unique and has its own character, and that's part of why we have so many different winners, guys and crew chiefs and engineers that adapt to certain services better than others and they figure out a package for that weekend that just maybe gets through those bumps a little bit better than the next guy, and I think that's what makes it a great sport.”

CLINT BOWYER: Clint Bowyer drove a Camry off Toyota’s production line at Georgetown, Ky. in February — now he’d like to drive a Camry into victory lane at nearby Kentucky Speedway. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver will pilot the No. 15 30th Camry Anniversary Toyota Camry in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race. The best-selling passenger cars are built in Georgetown, Ky. about 45 miles from the track. Carrying the Toyota banner is important to Bowyer who opened his own dealership in Emporia, Kansas in April.

BOWYER ON DRIVING A CAMRY OFF THE PRODUCTION LINE: “It was really cool to be able to drive a Camry off the line. Somebody does that every 55 seconds and that is mind-boggling. Not only that, those are already bought cars. Those are pre-ordered cars that are already spoken for. That is what’s insane, every 55 seconds somebody is signing their name to a brand new Camry somewhere in the United States and it all happens right there in that plant. Honestly, mind-boggling to see how extravagant the whole process is.”

ON TOYOTA TEAM MEMBERS WORKING ON THE PRODUCTION LINE: “We love them.  That was an eye-opener for all of us. Of course, we’re proud of our brand, but being able to see what all goes into one of those Camrys being built makes us even prouder.”

ON KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY: “I haven’t had the best luck so far in Kentucky, and I’m hoping to see that change this weekend. It’s a challenging track as far as a mile-and-a-half goes because the racing surface is so unique. The track has a rough surface, but still has quite a bit of grip. We see more tire fall off there, so guys really have to work on their cars throughout the race and tire management will be huge. It also tends to be very hot and the track temperatures make a big difference.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: If momentum matters in racing then No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. will be a favorite in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway which happens to fall on his 33rd birthday. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver led 51 of 110 laps at Sonoma Raceway last weekend on his way to winning by 8.133 seconds. It marked the Mayetta, N.J. native’s second career Cup victory and first with MWR. The victory moved him to 10th in the standings and solidified his chances to put the NAPA Toyota in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup for a second consecutive year.

Truex now sets his sights on the 1.5-mile oval in Sparta, Ky. where his Chad Johnston-led team has excelled in 2013. Only Kasey Kahne has scored more points on the 1.5-mile ovals in NASCAR’s new Gen-6 cars this season.

TRUEX ON WINNING: “Man, this has been an incredible week so far. I woke up Monday morning and checked my phone to make sure it really happened. It is so nice to know that when I set foot on the grounds of Kentucky Speedway, no one will be asking me a question that involves the number 219. I can’t even begin to tell you the feeling that I had when I crossed the finish line. I was a mess. Every thing I could think of … all the days that were bad. All the days that we were leading to only have it taken away at the end. It is such a proud moment for me and to get NAPA AUTO PARTS into victory lane is a very gratifying moment in my career. I sure hope we can do it a bunch more times this year.”

TRUEX ON ENTERING KENTUCKY 10TH IN POINTS: “My philosophy remains the same. I am not thinking about points until after the race at Richmond. I stopped focusing on it and landed in victory lane. It’s amazing to think that we are in the position we are in. It’s been a rollercoaster of a season and if we can keep the bad luck from biting us, I think we will be in good shape.”

TRUEX ON KENTUCKY AND UPCOMING TRACKS: “Kentucky should be a good race for us. We had a really good run there last year. We finished eighth. Our 1.5-mile program has been really impressive this year. Daytona is a crap shoot. I love New Hampshire. Honestly, I think we can go anywhere and run well. I think our worst run of the year was a few weeks ago at Pocono. But we still felt like we could have left the place with a top-10 finish. Heck, if we can win at Sonoma, we can win anywhere as far as I am concerned.”

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