Hamlin makes valiant effort in championship run

Crafton claims truck title, Wallace Jr. wins and Kenseth collects checkers

NOVEMBER 16, 2014

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 16, 2014) -- In the final race weekend of the 2014 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Denny Hamlin came up just short of his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) driver’s championship, as well as Toyota’s first championship in NSCS competition. Matt Kenseth picked up the first-place trophy in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race and Darrell Wallace Jr. was the first driver to the finish line in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event -- where Matt Crafton picked up the driver’s championship title.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Hamlin started eighth in the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 11 FedEx Express Camry and led the field five times for 50 laps (of 267) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Sunday evening season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hamlin moved to the front of the field on lap 253 and stayed on the track when others entered the pits for fresh tires. He held onto first-place for seven circuits around the 1.5-mile oval (through lap 259), before being passed by Kevin Harvick, who would go on to lead the last eight laps and claim the checkered flag and the championship.

“It was a championship effort,” said Hamlin, following the race. “It wasn't for a lack of trying. I thought we had a better car than those guys, I just had a bad restart and lost position to the 4 (Kevin Harvick). Darian (Grubb, crew chief) made the decision to leave us out there on tires trying to do something to get that track position back that I lost on the restart -- and it just didn't work out for us. With all of those cautions it just allowed all of those guys to close back up -- and it was kind of all she wrote for us. It's just one of those things. Sometimes the cautions fall your way and sometimes they don't. We had a great car on the long run and really improved on the short run all day. We definitely gave ourselves a shot and things were looking really good for us, but those cautions just really, really hurt us.”

Hamlin ended up seventh on the day, and third in the championship battle behind Harvick and Ryan Newman, who was the race runner-up and also finished second in the championship chase.

“It’s disappointing obviously, especially knowing that for the latter part of the race we had the best car and just we needed -- those cautions at the end just killed us,” Hamlin said. “The guys gave me a car that I was able to drive to the front and contend for a race win. We knew a race win was what it was going to take. We didn't have a short run car and then when we were on older tires at the end compared to those guys we were just a sitting duck. Things didn't work out our way and they very easily could have worked out our way. We did have a championship effort and that's all we can ask for."

In the 267 lap race at the Florida oval, Camry drivers Matt Kenseth (sixth) and Clint Bowyer (eighth) also registered top-10 finishes.

The NSCS will open the 2015 season next February at the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Toyota NSCS Driver Finishing Positions -- at Homestead-Miami Speedway

  • 1st, Kevin Harvick
  • 26th, COLE WHITT
  • 33rd, ALEX BOWMAN
  • 37th, JJ YELEY
  • 39th, KYLE BUSCH

Toyota Drivers in NSCS Point Standings -- following Homestead-Miami Speedway*

  • 3rd, DENNY HAMLIN##, 5,037 points (6 points behind NSCS champion Kevin Harvick)
  • 7th, MATT KENSETH, 2,334 points
  • 10th, KYLE BUSCH, 2,285 points
  • 19th, CLINT BOWYER, 979 points
  • 22nd, BRIAN VICKERS, 921 points
  • 31st, COLE WHITT, 532 points
  • 35th, ALEX BOWMAN, 412 points

*unofficial point standings
##competed in the final round of the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship

2014 Toyota NSCS WINS: 2 -- Busch (1), California (March 23); Hamlin (1), Talladega (May 4)

Overall Toyota NSCS WINS (since 2007): 65

NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS)
In Saturday afternoon’s NNS race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kenseth earned a victory in the series season-finale.

He started third in the JGR No. 20 GameStop Camry and led the field three times for a total of 52 laps (of 206) en route to his lone NNS win of the season. Although Kenseth had just one win during the NNS season, he did have 10 top-five finishes and 15 top-10 results in 19 series starts.

“It’s been a long time since I won a race in anything -- so happy for Kevin (Kidd, crew chief),” said Kenseth, following the race. “He’s been trying to get a win over here for a long time and he’s going onto something different next year. Happy to send him off with a win here -- that was pretty cool. Kyle (Larson) got around me on that second-to-last restart, but when he chose the bottom there and I had Kyle (Busch) behind me -- I knew that we had a shot. I just had to do a better job than I did the time before -- so luckily we got that one last chance to redeem ourselves.”

The JGR No. 54 entry finished second in the NNS owner’s championship standings, 23 points behind the Penske Racing No. 22 enrty. Busch piloted the No. 54 Camry to a second-place finish and led the race twice for five laps around the 1.5-mile Florida oval.

“I can’t thank my team enough and can’t say enough about JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), Adam Stevens (crew chief) and all the guys that do a great job on this car,” said Busch, after the race. “The guys gave me great cars all year long and we ran well and finished well. I think our worst finish besides the speedway race was fourth. Just a valiant effort this season and I can’t say enough about them. It’s a shame we could only come home second, but it’s cool to see a JGR car win and go into the off-season with a win, although we came up short in the owner’s championship.”

Elliott Sadler (ninth) also registered a top-10 finish in his final race driving a Camry for JGR.

Toyota drivers ended the 2014 season with 10 wins, 10 pole positions, 47 top-five finishes and 82 top-10 results. Overall, Camry drivers have 98 wins and 90 pole positions since Toyota began competing in the series in 2007.

Two Camry drivers, Sadler (third) and James Buescher (10th), finished the season among the top-10 in the NNS point standings.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will open the 2015 season next February at Daytona International Speedway.

Toyota NNS Driver Finishing Positions -- at Homestead-Miami Speedway

  • 2nd, KYLE BUSCH
  • 16th, JJ YELEY
  • 22nd, BLAKE KOCH
  • 23rd, MIKE BLISS
  • 26th, ERIC McCLURE
  • 34th, MILKA DUNO
  • 40th, JEFF GREEN

Toyota Drivers in NNS Point Standings – following Homestead-Miami Speedway*

  • 3rd, ELLIOTT SADLER, 1,154 points (59 points behind champion Chase Elliott)
  • 10th, JAMES BUESCHER, 868 points
  • 14th, MIKE BLISS, 779 points
  • 19th, ERIC McCLURE, 521 points
  • 27th, SAM HORNISH JR., 242 points

*unofficial point standings

2014 Toyota NNS WINS:
10 -- Busch (7), Phoenix (March 1), Bristol (March 15), Dover (May 31), Richmond (Sept. 5), Dover (Sept. 27), Kansas (Oct. 4), Texas (Nov. 1); Sadler (1), Talladega (May 3); Hornish (1), Iowa (May 18); Kenseth (1), Homestead (Nov. 15)

Overall Toyota NNS WINS (since 2007): 98

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Wallace was victorious in Friday night’s NCWTS race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, claiming his fourth win of the season in the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) No. 54 Tundra.

Wallace started eighth and led the field four times for 30 laps (of 134) en route to his fifth career victory and first at an intermediate race track. The 21-year-old held off a charging Kyle Larson in the closing laps to pick up the 14th victory of the season for KBM -- a single season series record for wins by one team.

“I told everybody that we wanted it more than anybody else,” said Wallace, following the race. “I saw that trophy coming down the stage at introductions and said that was a cool one -- it’s a unique one. I have all the unique ones so why not add that one to the shelf. I can’t thank these guys enough for their hard work over two years. It’s been fun at KBM. I’m not sure what the future brings for me, but this is one hell of a way to go out. Huge thanks to Toyota, Toyota Care -- my parents. This is cool -- definitely a lot more emotional than Martinsville. We never gave up over two years and came home with five wins and a hell of a season.”

Team owner Kyle Busch drove the KBM No. 51 Tundra to a fourth-place result and was able to secure a third NCWTS owner’s championship in five years for his race team. Busch scored seven victories in his 10 NCWTS starts during the season and shared driving duties with 18-year-old Erik Jones, who visited victory lane three times during the 22-race season.

“It’s a great milestone for us and a great accomplishment just on the fact that it’s what we can race for,” said Busch. “Being able to compete in the Camping World Truck Series, the years that we have, obviously it wouldn’t be possible without our partners like Toyota, Toyota Care and Dollar General this year, and over all of our partners from years past.” The victory was the 18th of the season for Toyota -- matching a single season record for wins by a single manufacturer in the series. Toyota clinched its seventh NCWTS manufacturer’s championship two weeks ago at Texas.

Overall, since the start of the 2004 season, Toyota has recorded 130 victories in the NCWTS. Tundra drivers have now recorded more than nine wins in every NCWTS season, except in 2004 -- Toyota’s inaugural season in the series. Beginning in 2005, Tundra racers have registered nine or more wins in every season -- 2005 (nine wins) 2006 (12), 2007 (13), 2008 (13), 2009 (14), 2010 (15), 2011 (10), 2012 (nine), 2013 (13) and 2014 (18).

Matt Crafton claimed his second NCWTS driver’s championship on Friday and became the first back-to-back champion in series history after finishing ninth. Crafton finished the year 21 points ahead of second-place Ryan Blaney on the strength of two wins and 17 top-10 finishes in 22 starts.

Tundra drivers Timothy Peters (third), Joe Nemechek (eighth) and Johnny Sauter (10th) also finished in the top-10 at the mile-and-a-half Florida oval.

Along with Crafton, Wallace (third), Sauter (fourth), Peters (fifth), German Quiroga (sixth) and Jeb Burton (eighth) also finished in the top-10 in the NCWTS point standings.

The NCWTS will open the 2014 season next February at Daytona International Speedway.

Toyota NCWTS Driver Finishing Positions -- at Homestead-Miami Speedway

  • 4th, KYLE BUSCH
  • 13th, JEB BURTON

Toyota Drivers in NCWTS Final Point Standings – following Homestead-Miami Speedway*

  • 1st, MATT CRAFTON, 833 points (21 points over second-place Ryan Blaney)
  • 3rd, DARRELL WALLACE JR., 799 points
  • 4th, JOHNNY SAUTER, 773 points
  • 5th, TIMOTHY PETERS, 746 points
  • 6th, GERMAN QUIROGA, 683 points
  • 8th, JEB BURTON, 679 points
  • 15th, JOHN WES TOWNLEY, 499 points
  • 18th, ERIK JONES, 426 points

*unofficial point standings

2014 Toyota NCWTS WINS:
18 -- Busch (7) -- Daytona (Feb. 21), Kansas (May 9), Charlotte (May16), Dover (May 30), Kentucky (June 26), Chicagoland (Sept. 13), Texas (Oct. 31); Wallace (4) – Gateway (June 14), Eldora (July 23), Martinsville (Oct. 25), Homestead (Nov. 14); Jones (3) -- Iowa (July 11), Las Vegas (Sept. 27), Phoenix (Nov. 7); Crafton (2) – Martinsville (March 30), Texas (June 6); Sauter (1) -- Michigan (Aug. 16); Peters (1) -- Talladega (Oct. 18)

Overall Toyota NCWTS WINS (since 2004): 130



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