Fontana Quotes & Notes
Denny Hamlin Quotes
Does the new points system magnify a bad day?
“I think in the long run, consistency is what’s going to pay more than ever for this points system. If you finish (two races) in the high-teens, that’s as good as a win and a 40th-place finish. It’s a little different, for sure. It pays to be consistent, which we feel like we’re a pretty consistent race team throughout the year. Then, at the end of the season when we feel like we need to turn it up, then we feel like we can. It does make you a little scared of those bottom finishes because it’s tough to look at your points day and say you go into a weekend with 400 points and you’ve just spent three days at a race track and you come out three points better than what you started. You might as well have just stayed home. It’s a hard hit when you only get a few points, especially single digits.”
Do you enjoy racing at Auto Club Speedway?
“We haven’t had a ton of success at California, but I like racing there. We have had some bad luck with tires or getting caught in wrecks, and I’m still looking for that first win. It’s big and wide and fast, and a lot of fun for the drivers. It’s a place where you can move around and change your line to try to get your car working the best. You need a lot of horsepower because the straightaways are long, and that place is tough on motors. It’s a little easier now that this race is 400 miles. I’m happy that they shortened it. Hopefully we’ll have a good car for practice and just fine-tune on it for the race.”
Bristol Recap: Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team endured a long day Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, as early contact disrupted the rear alignment of the #11 FedEx Toyota and resulted in a 33rd place finish. A group of cars just in front of Hamlin made contact on Lap 29, and Hamlin spun trying to avoid the wreck, but was hit from behind in the left-rear. What looked like cosmetic damage turned out to be much more severe, as it made the car a handful to drive for the remainder of the 500-lap event. With the finish, Hamlin dropped nine spots to 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, 44 points behind leader Kurt Busch after four of 36 events.
Going Back to Cali: Hamlin is making his 11th career Cup Series start at Auto Club Speedway (ACS) on Sunday in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry. In 10 previous trips to the two-mile speedway in Fontana, Calif., the 30-year-old driver has one top-five and four top-10 results, including a third-place finish in the fall 2008 event. This year marks the first since 2003 that the track is only hosting one Cup Series race. Hamlin finished 29th and eighth in the two events at ACS in 2010. Fuel strategy worked to near-perfection in the spring race last year, but two cut tires in the race’s final 30 laps resulted in the #11 Toyota finishing two laps down to the leaders. Hamlin rebounded in the fall trip to the track, as Hamlin charged from a 34th-place starting position to finish eighth and stay in the Chase hunt. Hamlin started on the pole in the fall 2009 race at Auto Club and was leading the field to the green flag on a lap 190 restart when contact with Juan Pablo Montoya sent Hamlin spinning through the infield grass to make contact with the pit wall. Hamlin has a pair of sixth-place runs at the track — in the fall of 2006 and spring of 2009. In total, Hamlin has led 56 laps with an average finish of 17.2 at Auto Club Speedway.
Kyle Busch Quotes
With a Sprint Cup win at Bristol last weekend under your belt, and with the season-long championship your primary goal, are you more concerned about points or wins as you go forward?
“I think that racing to your potential on most days will get you a win, so you don’t really have to worry about that. It seems like we’re a lot better at a couple of racetracks than maybe some others that we’re working on and getting better at, and one of those coming up is California this weekend. We’re always like a fifth- to ninth-place car. Hopefully, we can get a little bit better than that at California. Michigan is another one. Some of those places where we struggle at a little bit, we’d like to get better, particularly a couple of racetracks in the Chase. Every time we unload, we’re racing for the win. If we can gather the wins up, the points will take care of themselves. If we can finish consistently, points will take care of themselves. It’s a matter of keeping track of your bad days. Our only bad day so far has been due to an engine failure. I have the utmost respect for Mark (Cronquist, JGR head engine builder) and what his guys are doing, what those guys are doing in the engine shop. Vegas is hopefully behind us, now, and we can continue on our good run of strong finishes.”
Do you enjoy racing at California?
“I like California. It’s fun. It’s really wide and it’s kind of flatter than Michigan, so it’s a little harder to kind of get a hold of, but you can really spread out. We’ve been seeing a lot of guys all the way down at the white line. We saw guys all the way up at the wall. It always seems to be a really good race, there. It’s a really fun racetrack. It’s widened out and it’s become where you can race all over it and, with the race being as long as it is, you need to take a lot of time working through traffic and being able to have a good car and all that. It’s the same thing every week. California is just another one of those racetracks that seems to suit Jimmie (Johnson) really, really well. He’s been in contention to win the past seven races there, I think, and he’s probably won four of them. That’s another place we know he’ll be fast. Again, we just hope for a solid day and that our efforts will put us in a good enough position. And if they don’t, then we weren’t good enough.”
Do you think the key for your championship run this year is racing with a little more savvy, like we’ve seen you do at the first four races this year?
“I guess so. We need to keep it going all year long. That’s the most important thing. When it gets hot and slick in the summertime, you get more frustrated that you’re not going forward or you’re kind of stuck running 15th somewhere. Those are the days that savvy really needs to show versus the days you’re running up front, top-five. It’s a little easier. We just keep working on the things that we can do, what we can do better to improve our program and to make it to where we can run competitive top-fives week in and week out. Be a championship contender in order to bring home not only the hardware but the points that will get us into the Chase, then the final stretch to Homestead.”
Are you looking forward to running the Interstate Batteries ‘Hybrid’ Camry scheme this weekend at California?
“I’d say it was pretty good luck out in Phoenix for the Nationwide race, so I hope that continues this weekend. I was calling it my ‘Hybrid’ Camry with the Interstate battery coming out of the hood. It’s always great to have Interstate Batteries a part of our program. Just the relationship with Norm (Miller, Interstate Chairman) means a lot to myself, Samantha (wife), the Gibbs family, and everyone at JGR. We’ve come close to getting them a win at California, so I’m hoping this is the weekend for it.”
How has Auto Club Speedway changed over the last few years, going from a new track to a place that has a lot more character and racing grooves?
“That place is tough. It’s really a hard racetrack to get ahold of, now, especially when it’s hot and the sun is out. There are two completely different types of racing when you run the top versus the bottom groove. You can run from the top to the bottom, but when you run the bottom, you really feel like you’re puttering around the racetrack. You feel like you aren’t making up any time on the bottom. But when you are running the top groove, you feel like you’re getting the job done. The guys who run the bottom have a little bit more patience and handle it better than the guys who are on the gas on top.”
Kyle Busch Notes: ‘‘White-Hot’ and Heading West’
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 22, 2011) – Following his weekend sweep of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series races at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, there’s no driver more “white-hot” than Kyle Busch.
As the Sprint Cup Series heads back to the West Coast for round five of the season, Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), looks to keep his hot streak going in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
The talented 25-year-old will debut the Sprint Cup version of Interstate Batteries’ new “white hot” paint scheme to help celebrate the company’s 20-year partnership with JGR.
While Sunday’s race will be the first of six Sprint Cup races in 2011 for Dallas-based Interstate Batteries, the scheme has already visited victory lane after a dominating performance by Busch in the Nationwide Series Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway last month. The No. 18 Toyota Camry is primarily white with green and black accents, including a distinctive lightning bolt design on the sides. But, perhaps the most talked-about aspect of the new livery is the front of the Camry, which features a stunning illustration of an “Outrageously Dependable” green-top Interstate Battery seemingly bursting out of the hood.
After leading all 200 laps en route to the Nationwide win at Phoenix, Busch dubbed his Interstate ride a “Hybrid” Camry, in reference to the battery emblazoned on the hood of his No. 18 Toyota. It’s a bold look to celebrate the anniversary of what was essentially a bold move 20 years ago by Interstate Batteries chairman Norm Miller.
In the summer of 1991, Joe Gibbs met with Miller in Dallas and pitched him on having Interstate Batteries be the first-ever sponsor for JGR, despite the fact he had no racecars, engines, employees or even a building. Miller was sold on the idea immediately and a highly successful relationship was born. Twenty years later, Interstate Batteries-sponsored JGR cars have now won the 1993 Daytona 500 (Dale Jarrett), the 2000 Brickyard 400 (Bobby Labonte), the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship (Labonte) and 24 Sprint Cup races (21 by Labonte, two by Jarrett, one by Busch).
Busch, of course, is determined to add to the Interstate Batteries’ 20-year legacy with his No. 18 JGR team, and it’s quite clear his sights are focused more than ever on adding another Sprint Cup title to JGR’s already impressive resume. It all continues this weekend in Southern California as Busch and his No. 18 teammates look to remain “white-hot.”
Joey Logano Quotes
Logano Quotes on Auto Club Speedway:
“There is a ton to think about during a race at Auto Club. It’s a pretty cool race track. There is so much room out there to race and you can draft down the straight-aways. It’s starting to wear out so it’s pretty bumpy. But the craziest thing about it by far is the restarts, a good restart is huge. When the flag goes in the air, people are four and five-wide. You can gain and lose five spots before you get through the first turn, not the first lap, but the first turn.”
Logano Quotes on the Season:
“It’s been tough this season. I know the results don’t show it, but I really believe we are running better now than we were last year. Every time I think the bad luck is out of the way, something happens. Last weekend we were down 150 horsepower then the wheel broke. But the good thing is the performance is there and we know what we are capable of doing. We are now to the point where we can’t afford to have another bad race or we will never get the points back. I think with how fast the cars have been we can still make it into the top 10 before Richmond.”
The Home Depot Team Notes of Interest
- Joey Logano is searching for that illusive first top-10 finish of the 2011 season and hopes to find it at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. this weekend. Auto Club Speedway has been one of Logano’s most consistent tracks on the circuit. He has four starts at the two-mile track and has completed all but one lap of competition. He has one top-five and two top-10 finishes and an average finishing position of 14th.
- About the last race: Logano and The Home Depot Team had another frustrating finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday. Logano consistently improved throughout the 500-lap race, but a right-front tire issue with less than 30 laps to go forced him down pit road under green-flag conditions. The blown tire dropped him from the top 10 to the 23rd position.
- The Home Depot Team is currently tied for 29th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following the race at Bristol. The team has accumulated 74 points so far this season and sits 49 points out of the series top 10.
- Welcome aboard The Home Depot associates from store #405 from Glendale, Ariz. The store number will ride along with Logano this weekend for the 200-lap race.
- Logano will be competing in the Cup Series and Nationwide Series races this weekend. Before climbing behind the wheel of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota on Sunday, Logano will once again race the No. 20 Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Saturday. Logano has one win, four top-five and five top-10 finishes in just five starts in the Nationwide Series at the Fontana, Calif.-based track.
- The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #287 for Logano this weekend for the Auto Club 400. The team raced this chassis to a seventh-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and to a fourth-place finish at Texas in November. The back-up chassis is chassis #284 which Logano drove last year at Auto Club Speedway to an 11th-place finish and at Phoenix International Raceway in November to third.
Brian Scott Quotes
Scott Quotes on the upcoming race at Auto Club Speedway:
“I’m really excited going to California. I feel like it’s one of my better tracks. If you look at last year that was the first place that we had a really strong run. It was the second race of the season and we ran second most of the race behind my now, current teammate of Joey Logano. We had a really good car. I like the place. Really pays off the high line. It’s a difficult line to run, but if you can run it then it pays off. I feel like I’ve got the high line figured out. I feel like I’ve got the race track figured out and I feel like I’m with a team now that has the equipment even more figured out. I think we can be a deadly combination at California.”
What are the benefits to having teammates in NNS that are only focused on wins?
“It’s been a tremendous benefit for me to have teammates like Kyle Busch and Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin – guys that are on the Cup side and going for the wins. How they are approaching practice and how they approach a race is different and more experienced. To see one, for myself what they’re doing and be able to talk to them after the runs. Two, for the team and for Kevin (Kidd, crew chief) to be able to communicate with their crew chiefs and know that if they were going for a championship then we probably wouldn’t do this, but we’re going to roll the dice. It allows different strategies to play out and it allows us to have better information, better data and everything for when we go back to race tracks a second time. We can see what risks worked, what risks they didn’t so then we can create a better game plan.”
How is the relationship with Kevin Kidd?
“Me and Kevin (Kidd, crew chief) are great. I feel like we’re on the same page. I don’t say anything bad behind his back — I don’t know what he says about me when I’m not around. I think we understand each other. I think that we have similar mentalities and I think that we both know what the goals and objectives are week by week. I think that’s all you can really ask for in a crew chief and driver relationship.”
Shore Lodge Team Notes
Brian Scott and the No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota team travel to Auto Club Speedway for this weekend’s Royal Purple 300 in what will be Scott’s fourth career start at the two-mile California track in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.
In three previous starts at Auto Club Speedway, Scott has one top-10 finish. He finished 10th during the spring race in 2010.
During his previous three starts at Auto Club, Scott has completed 454 of the 454 laps that have been run during those three races for a 100 percent lap completion rate.
Last Race: Scott earned a career-best 12th-place Bristol Motor Speedway finish last weekend in the Scotts EZ Seed 300. Scott started the race from the 13th position and avoided the multiple accidents that took place for his third finish of 14th or better in the last three Nationwide Series races.
Scott’s 12th-place finish at Bristol moved him up a position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings to 10th place. He is a mere 17 points out of third place and 35 points behind championship point leader Jason Leffler.
Chassis #119 is the car Scott will race this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. The car is a brand new chassis for Joe Gibbs Racing. The backup car for the race will once again be Chassis #106. This chassis has been the backup for all of the races in 2011 and is also new for this season. The car was used at the test in which Scott participated at the Walt Disney World Speedway in January.