Two Toyota Camrys started the Auto Club 500 in the top-15, with Dave Blaney qualifying 14th and Brian Vickers starting in the 15th position.
Vickers ran in the top-10 for the better part of the 500-mile, 250-lap race and finished 10th in his first race of the season.
This was the first top-10 finish for a Toyota Camry in NASCAR Nextel Cup competition. This was the first top-10 finish for Team Red Bull in NASCAR Nextel Cup competition.
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Team Red Bull:
On his top-10 finish in the Auto Club 500: “We got into the top five and I felt like we could be even better. We tried some things on the car and it went the wrong direction for a bit. We got it fixed back there at the end and we just ran out of time for track position. You get up there and you want more, you always want a little bit more, but you have to step back and look at circumstances. With this being our first race, other than the Bud Shootout, it’s not bad.”
On learning during his first race of the season: “I think everybody learned a lot. We messed up a little bit on the last pit stop, but those guys did a tremendous job. I’m real proud of them. We didn’t have any problems with the car. We learned a lot about the set up and what we can do moving forward. I think all in all, it was a great run.”
On getting a lot of owner points with this finish: “It definitely helps. Everybody did such a good job – Team Red Bull and Toyota – everybody involved, this is really our first intermediate track for us and for Toyota. To come out of it with a top-10 – I don’t think it could have been any better.”
Do you think you have a top three car?: “We potentially had one, but we didn’t have one there at the end. If we would have hit our adjustements just right, maybe. For us to be able to run today we would have had to have a different setup and I don’t know if that is something we could make on pit road. To get from a top-10 to a winning car. I think a top-five would have been reasonable if we would have hit everything right.”
On not pitting at the end of the race: “We weren’t that good on new tires compared to everyone around us. I was kind of struggling on that a little bit trying to decide to pit or not. There were so many lapped cars between me and the guys behind me that I couldn’t really tell if they were coming or not. Half of them came and half of them didn’t, at least a couple of them stayed out behind me trying to get track position like we were.”
On what this finish means for Toyota: “I think this finish means a lot for Toyota. Everybody knows we have work to do. We didn’t win the race today but we did have a good solid run. I’m really proud of everyone at TRD and Toyota. They’ve had a lot of help with this program, with Red Bull, but there’s still room for improvement – there’s always room for improvement.”
On Team Red Bull and Toyota being new to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: “I think this finish says a lot about the whole group, not just Team Red Bull, not just the No. 83, about Toyota, about Red Bull. To be a new team in such a competitive series and come in our first race and get a top-10 – I’m so proud of everyone. I think everyone is stoked about the situation. We got a top-10, now we want a top-5. We have to maintain our goals. I don’t think we can leap frog everything right yet. I think our goal is to go to the next race and focus on making the race. Hopefully we can come out of it just like we did today. Until we get in the top 35 (in points), that has to be our goal – we can’t forget that.”
On the excitement of finishing with a top-10: “It definitely feels good. On the one hand, given the situation at Daytona and that this is a new team, new manufacturer, I know everybody just wants to jump up and down. The fact is we are all racers and we finished nine spots worse than we wanted to. It’s kind of like a tough balance. At the end of the day, everyone is going to be happy.”
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing:
On what caused him to retire from the race on lap 112: “It was some kind of motor problem. Although you have to be encouraged by the performance the car was really fast. That was a shame, we had a top-10 car – that’s where it had been running all day. We were fourth, fifth or sixth a lot of the time. It was good. There were only a few guys that were a little better. It was going to be a promising day for the CAT car. I don’t know what happened.”
BILL DAVIS, Owner of Bill Davis Racing:
On the performance of the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota today: “Evidently, we had a bearing problem in the engine. Really a shame , I guess. We sure have had a lot of engine problems so far, but we’ll get it fixed. We had a great car, a top-five car that raced with the 20 (Tony Stewart) and 24 (Jeff Gordon) and those guys all day. We had something there going on – it was a really, really fast car. Certainly a top-10 if not a top-five. We’ll just go home and learn from our mistakes and what we’ve done wrong here and get back on track.”