Yeah, a lot of things are different, but for some reason, man, I'm telling you, I don't know what it was, but there was a funk last year. My wife could tell you just that. We tried so hard to change the things that we were doing. But there was a stretch there where we thought, finally okay, things are headed in the right direction. We had four top fives in a row. We head to Charlotte, and boom right after that, three DNFs in a row. It's like oh, my gosh. Here we go. Then you'd have a good run, and two bad runs, then a good run, and a bad run. You could never make up that ground that you kept losing with the bad races.
So, you know, running the KBM stuff last year a start-up team was tough in the beginning. We were a little slow, but we made a lot of strides throughout the year. I thought we were very competitive at the end of the season. We could have won four or five races, it's just every scenario worked itself against me, even on the Cup side too. Dave and I had, I don't know, what, six, six of the last ten races we had a legitimate shot to win and look what happens. Stupid stuff that's out of your control sometimes.
You think back to Phoenix, I think we led the most laps. And Homestead, we led the most laps. Us and Truex were up battling against the lead and up against the wall the whole day and didn't put a mark on the car. Then pit strategy comes into play, and we're three laps short on fuels, just can't make it. Dover was another one. Just there was a funk. I'm glad the monkey is off our back. We're riding a wave right now that's 30-feet tall and ready to keep riding.
You alluded to the new surface at Kansas a few minutes ago. That's a place you've really not had your best performances. Can you talk about this role that you're on, how much confidence that gives you, taking the new Gen-6 car to this new track?
Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I thought we were running decent there last year. We were eighth or ninth. Actually, I was leading, and I spun myself out while I was leading so, that was dumb. So hopefully we have a good car like that this time around. I don't make a mistake like that. But, you know, Kansas is newly repaved. It's got a winter on it now, so we'll see how that changes things. But I still expect it to be fast. It's a place that you want to run well at because it is a Chase race. So we've got to develop our notes in Kansas next weekend, and fortunately I've got a really good teammate in Matt Kenseth. He and I have been working really well this year. I haven't mentioned him at all tonight, but his team and our team have been really, really good with one another. Unfortunately, Denny's not with us right now at this point where we're not being able to use the 11 car's notes much because we're kind of driver of the week over there. But it feels really good to have good chemistry between all three.
They've won the last two races there.
Yeah, yes. Okay. So I need to talk to him. I definitely do. That would be good for me.
Dave, these 1.5 mile tracks are engine killers and yet Toyota has won here and Vegas, also at California. Has that been an area of special focus for your team and Toyota as far as development?
Well, Toyota has done a phenomenal job of developing motor package. It's interesting, like Kyle said. At the end of last year we had a shot at winning a lot of races and just came up a little short for one reason or another. We were testing yesterday. Kyle hasn't said anything about motor all year. We were testing the other day and he was like, wow, what motor is in this? This is terrible compared to what I'm used to. I said that's your motor from last winter. That just shows how much progress Toyota and TRD have made in building these motors. They really went to work hard over the winter. They are putting out a lot of power right now, and it shows up at places like California. We had a good speed at Vegas, came up short. Matt got the win. We had a really good speed at California and good speed here. You can't overlook the motor department. The folks in California are doing a great job for us right now.
Kyle, you've kind of smacked the wall just a little bit there at one point. You may have had contact with Blaney coming down pit road. Is that just par for the course in winning a race?
Yeah, they can't always be pretty. But, man, the turn four deal just took an awful set through the exit of the corner. It started to slide a little bit like it was getting loose and I just corrected just miniscule and thing took off to the right. So I was way out of the gas. I was just trying not to flat side it, and unfortunately it just nicked the bumper. I don't think it hurt too bad. But it shifted the tail some. It took me a few laps to feel it out and figure out what was really going on. It felt like I made it looser in and looser off which we had battled with all day.
There on that pit stop deal, the previous stop, actually the green flag stop, the #7 was in front of me on that one as well. I came in and followed him on that one, and I felt like I lost too much time on it.