HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 14, 2011) – Joe Gibbs Racing, Inc. announced today that Kelly Bires will drive two races for its No. 18 NASCAR Nationwide Series team as part of a partnership with International Comfort Products, LLC (“ICP”), a leader in the heating and cooling systems industry, with its brands Arcoaire®, Comfortmaker®, Day & Night®, Heil®, Keeprite®, and Tempstar® brands.
Bires will be behind the wheel of JGR’s No. 18 Toyota on April 29 at Richmond International Raceway and June 4 at Chicagoland Speedway.
“We look forward to having Kelly and ICP on board with us in Richmond and Chicago,” said J.D. Gibbs, President of Joe Gibbs Racing. “Kelly is a driver with a bright future in our sport and the 18 team is excited to have him on board as they compete for their third straight Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship.”
Bires is in his fifth season driving in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with three top-five and 12 top-ten finishes in 82 career starts. He has made four starts so far in 2011. Bires has five career starts in Richmond with a best finish of 11th in 2009 and has made three career starts in Chicago with a best finish of 12th during the 2008 season.
“This is exactly the type of partnership ICP needs to build its relationships with our dealers,” Brian Cash, Marketing Manager, with ICP explained. “Kelly is a terrific young man and fantastic shoe in the car. Like our dealers, he has earned his way through every step of his career; we feel he represents our company and our customers well. ICP was founded on a standard of excellence and Kelly shares those same values with us.”
This is Bires fourth year of involvement with ICP and also marks the reunion of ICP with Crew Chief Jason Ratcliff. “Jason was the crew chief for Casey Atwood in 1999, our first year of involvement in NASCAR.” stated Edward Winston, Area Sales Manager with ICP, “Jason brought us to the winner circle back then, hopefully we will be back there again!.
“I’m thrilled to continue the partnership with ICP and have this opportunity to race for JGR,” said Bires. “ICP and its dealers have stuck with me through the tough times and I am really looking forward to a good run with the No. 18 team. Obviously this team has experienced a lot of success over the past few years and it’s exciting to have a chance to contribute to their season.”
About International Comfort Products, LLC
International Comfort Products, LLC, is a leading North American manufacturer of quality residential and light commercial gas furnaces, split-system air conditioners, package air conditioners, split-system heat pumps, package heat pumps, package gas/electric combination units and oil furnaces. Major brands include Heil®, Tempstar®, Comfortmaker®, Arcoaire®, KeepRite® and Day & Night™.
For more information about ICP and its products and services, visit www.icpusa.com.
Do you think Talladega owes you a win after leading so many laps at the track?
“You can never expect anything at Talladega other than you are going to need a great car and a good amount of luck. We’ve improved so much here over the years and we now come to Talladega thinking we can run up front and our record here shows that we can. It’s a matter of getting that strategy just right so when the time comes you know you are ready to go. If we can keep our car out of trouble at Talladega, I think we’ll have as good of a chance as anyone to win there.
Was your best chance to win at Talladega last spring?
I think we had a race-winning car there last year and it was frustrating to finish fourth. With the cautions and the restarts at the end we just lost those couple of spots and we couldn’t make our way back to the front. For as good as we ran all day, it was the cautions that killed us and we really just needed one more corner and I think we could have won that race. I couldn’t ask any more from the team, we had a great car. It just came down to where we were when those cautions came out. I know what I need to do this time around.”
Texas Recap: Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team recorded a 15th-place finish Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Hamlin, who swept both races at Texas in 2010, fought a loose race car throughout the 334-lap event, lost a lap to the leaders during a long green flag run in the race’s midpoint and never got a timely caution while in position for the “lucky dog.” Carrying a special FedEx Office/March of Dimes paint scheme, Hamlin was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in the race. The 15th-place result dropped Hamlin one spot to 20th in the NASCAR point standings following Texas, 82 points behind leader Carl Edwards.
Talladega Time: The Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway this weekend for Sunday’s 188-lap event on the 2.66-mile high-banked oval. In 10 career Talladega starts, Hamlin has recorded three top-five and four top-10 finishes. His best result of third came in the spring 2008 event, and he finished in the top-10 in both races at Talladega in 2010 — fourth in the spring and ninth in the fall. The Chesterfield, Va., native has led at least one lap in all 10 of his starts at Talladega, and has led more than 10 laps in six events, including 17 laps one year ago. In total, Hamlin has led 196 laps at NASCAR’s longest track, with an average finish of 18.3.
Special Scheme: The #11 Toyota will carry a special paint scheme for the second consecutive weekend, as the familiar black and blue FedEx Office colors turn blue and white to coincide with the “Print Big, Save Big” sale currently running at all FedEx Office locations.
Kyle Busch Quotes
What are your thoughts going into Talladega this weekend?
“It’s going to be a crapshoot. You have no idea what’s going to happen or how it’s going to happen. For us, what do we worry about going there? We just worry about surviving and trying to survive with our M&M’s Pretzel Camry. Right now, with the way that we saw the race play out in Daytona, we’re expecting the same thing – NASCAR is expecting the same thing and that’s why we had the restrictor-plate change, already. They’re being a little bit proactive in that, and allowing us to get some testing done – some dyno testing with the smaller plate so we can be ready for that aspect. I expect speeds to be higher because we’ll be pushing all the way around. Other than that, it’s just Talladega.”
How do you think the new restrictor-plate size will impact the racing at Talladega?
“I think what they are looking for is just to keep the speeds down, obviously, with how we all figured out how to push draft. They were expecting the speeds. We didn’t push draft all that much last year at Talladega. They’re going to be expecting us to do that. They’re going to be expecting the speeds to be higher. They’re just being a little proactive there. No problem in doing that. I think it’s actually a smart idea rather than changing it on us when we do get to the racetrack. They did a good job. I don’t think it will change much. The racing will stay the same. The push draft will still be there. Essentially, the dynamic of the race like it was in Daytona will be the same in Talladega.”
Who is your favorite drafting partner at Talladega?
“I don’t know, since things were so different at Daytona. I’ve drafted well with a lot of people over the past, but I would say (Juan Pablo) Montoya helped me win the race I won at Talladega a couple of years ago. Jimmie (Johnson) is always pretty good to draft with. My brother (Kurt Busch), as well, but many more than that. It just all depends on which other cars end up working well with your car. Aside from our teammates, we had about another 10 guys who we thought would work with us in our radio at Daytona, so I’ll expect we will figure out what other car works well with our car during practice and during the first part of the race.”
Does being a former race winner at Talladega offer you any sort of advantage over the competition?
“It doesn’t matter at all. It’s such a crapshoot there in the last 20, 30 or 40 laps that you never really know who is going to win, what’s going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from.”
What does it mean to be up toward the lead in points this early in the season?
“It is early, but we’re excited about it. We feel like it’s a great opportunity to be up front and have some good results. Unfortunately, our engine failure at Las Vegas kind of set us back a little bit. We’ve been able to rebound nicely and get back up to the points lead and we’re not too far back headed into this weekend. I feel good with where we’re at. I feel really good with where the cars are at. I think that’s the most important thing. If we can keep building upon this momentum and our recent success, then we can keep that going all year, hopefully.”
Kyle Busch: Rolling the Dice
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 12, 2011) – Las Vegas native Kyle Busch might know a thing or two about “rolling the dice,” but heading into this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, there might be no track on the circuit that’s as much of a “crapshoot” as the mammoth 2.66-mile oval.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Pretzel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has conquered Talladega just once in his career, his lone win coming in April 2008. But, with only three other top-15 finishes and three Talladega outings that ended in an accident for Busch, the talented 25-year-old knows the winner of Sunday’s 499-mile race will need to have a strong car and be lucky in order to survive the seemingly inevitable multicar accident if he is to find victory again at NASCAR’s longest track.
And as if the challenges of the past weren’t enough for teams to navigate, a completely new style of restrictor-plate racing was introduced at this year’s season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway as a new front bumper replaced what was an important but fragile front splitter on Sprint Cup Series cars this year. With that front-end design change came a whole new phenomenon of racing at the restrictor-plate tracks. Until this year, the typical race at Daytona and Talladega would feature lengthy lines of cars that would bunch together, mere inches apart. But the new look to restrictor-plate racing, as seen at Daytona, involves cars running in pairs, almost as if the rear of the lead car is connected to the front bumper of the car following.
It’s a style of racing no driver or team has seen before. And everyone, including Busch and the M&M’s Pretzel team, look to learn more as the two-car draft evolves, and how it might be different this weekend at Talladega than it was in February at Daytona. Furthermore, unlike most everywhere else on the Sprint Cup circuit, the competitors know their fate depends on other drivers, oftentimes not even their teammates, if they want to find success in this new style of restrictor-plate racing.
If Busch has learned anything at the restrictor-plate tracks, it’s that you have to be good to be lucky. He knows he has great equipment underneath him, thanks to the No. 18 M&M’s Pretzel Toyota provided to him by JGR. He also knows he’ll need to slice and dice, and find the right draft partner to help him land on the right number, which first means surviving Talladega, and second, having a chance at repeating his lone triumph there from three years ago.
Joey Logano Quotes
“I’m expecting Talladega to be a lot like Daytona this weekend. Everyone will be pushing each other around the track in the two-car tandems. To be successful at this type of racing you really have to set your car up to be pushed and be able to push the car in front of you. It’s a fine balance.
“At the end of Daytona, I figured some things out so The Home Depot Toyota could push cars longer. I also think everyone learned a lot from Daytona. I’m sure teams have figured out how to keep the engines cooler to push longer without having to switch so much, so I don’t think you will see as many tandems stalling out as often and getting freight trained. The good thing about Talladega is that it’s wider than Daytona, so when you get a run on a group there’s more room to pass them. It should, and hopefully help, eliminate many of the wrecks we saw in Daytona.”
The Home Depot Team Notes of Interest
Joey Logano and The Home Depot Team return to Talladega Superspeedway where Logano has earned three top-10 finishes in just four starts at the Alabama track. The 20-year-old finished fifth in his last race at Talladega in October where the front five cars, including The Home Depot Toyota, broke away from the pack as they took the white flag of the 188-lap event. Instead of seeing how the chess match would play out the caution flag waved ending the race. Logano was unable to make his run at the top spot, but earned the top-five finish.
About last weekend: Logano would prefer to have no luck rather than the hand he’s been dealt for the first part of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Logano and The Home Depot Team were once again caught up in an accident not of their own making early in the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night when the No. 20 car was hit on pit road by David Reutimann. Despite valiant attempts to get back onto the lead lap, the team could not recover from the early race deficit and eventually finished the race in 24th position.
Lights, camera, action! Logano along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart will be at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Tuesday filming an upcoming episode for A&E’s The Glades. The Glades, a one-hour long crime drama, is the highest rated original program for the network.
The Home Depot Team is tied for 27th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following the race at Texas Motor Speedway. Logano is 30 points behind teammate Denny Hamlin who sits 20th in points, and 69 points out of the top10.
Welcome aboard The Home Depot associates from store #2608 from Quincy, Mass. The store number will draft along with Logano this weekend on the rear quarter panel of The Home Depot Toyota.
The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #293 to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the restrictor-plate race. Logano drove this chassis in the season-opening Daytona 500 where the No. 2 car spun late in the race and clipped the right rear of the No. 20 Camry causing extensive damage. Logano came into the pits for repairs and was able to finish in the 23rd position. The back-up chassis is chassis #212 which Logano drove in the 2010 Daytona 500.
Gresham Looking To Take Another Bite Out Of South Boston Speedway
GRIFFIN, GA (April 12, 2011) – Max Gresham is hoping it will be a two bologna burger day at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at South Boston (VA) Speedway Saturday.
“I celebrated with two of them last year, one after I won the pole and one after I won the race,” said Gresham, who wheeled his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to both honors in the 2010 South Boston 150. “They are quite good. Hopefully, I’ll get to have a couple again this year.”
Gresham was just 16 last year when he came to South Boston and turned the ‘SoBo’ pole and victory lane double. His Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was spot on throughout practice during the day and Gresham later captured the top spot in qualifying with a time of 16.089 seconds – a scant one-one thousandths of a second better than his then JGR teammate Brian Moffitt.
The pole position proved to be a huge part of Gresham’s 2010 winning effort and he knows it will again be important to start up front when the 2011 South Boston 150 takes the green flag Saturday evening.
“Qualifying is a big factor at South Boston,” said Gresham. “If you can get out front and control the pace like we did last year, you have a great shot at winning. South Boston eats tires, just like Greenville-Pickens did two weeks ago, so you are going to have to save your tires as best you can and being out front is the best place to do that.”
At the drop of the green flag last year, Gresham made sure he was out front bolting into the lead, a position he would surrender for just four of the 150 circuits. The win was anything but easy, however, as Gresham had to first hold off Moffitt and then a late-race charge by Cole Whitt to earn his first-ever NASCAR K&N Pro Series victory.
“The last 20 laps were really fun,” said Gresham after the race. “I had one double-file
restart at the end of the race that I was
a little worried about. I have to thank Cole for racing me clean.” Gresham will be looking to extend his streak of top-finishes at South Boston to three this Saturday. In addition to last year’s victory, Gresham had a fifth-place finish in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut at South Boston in 2009.
Obviously, there’s something about the venerable four-tenths mile oval that appeals to the young driver.
“South Boston reminds me a lot of the tracks I grew up on racing in Georgia,” said the 17-year-old Griffin resident. “You have a real fast entry into the corner and not much braking at South Boston. I’m used to that kind of track. There are so many similar tracks back home so South Boston feels like home turf to me. I loved it from the first time I went there.”
Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race At South Boston will roll off at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. The event – a one-day show that will also feature practice, qualifying and an autograph session – will include a 150-lap NASCAR Whelan Southern Modified Tour event.
It was a strange night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway with long green flag runs dictating strategy. In the end, Denny Hamlin would lead the Joe Gibbs Racing team with a 15th-place finish, while teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano finished 16th and 24th respectively.
Hamlin was running a special March of Dimes paint scheme on the No. 11 FedEx Toyota and started the night in the 23rd position. He was able to make his way forward and a two-tire stop on lap 115 allowed him to jump all the way into the top-five. However the experiment didn’t work all that well thanks to another long green flag run. Long green flag runs would mark this race however and as he battled to find the proper handle on his No. 11 Camry Hamlin would drop a lap off the pace, Despite his best efforts and those of his team, the long green flag runs would make it difficult to pick up the lucky dog or take a wave around and Hamlin was unable to get back on the lead lap. He was forced to settle for a 15th-place finish.
Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the 11th position and quickly raced his way into the top ten. Crew chief Dave Rogers and the Interstate Batteries crew continued to make adjustments to the No. 18 Camry to keep up with the changing track conditions as the day turned into night. The adjustments appeared to be working as Busch had raced his way into the third position and appeared set to compete for the win as the laps dwindled down. Unfortunately not long after a green flag pit stop on lap 251, Busch was forced to come back down pit road because of a left rear tire vibration. That unscheduled pit stop put the 18 team a lap off the leaders and back in the 17th position. Although the 18 team remained on the track for as long as they could hoping for a caution that would put them back on the lead lap – the caution would never come. Busch would have to settle for a frustrating 16th-place finish despite having a solid car throughout the race.
Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the eighth position and while he was set to battle inside the top ten on the track, it was his competition on pit road that ultimately would set him back. Logano was blocked in his pit stall on the first round of stops causing him to fall back to 21st for the race’s first restart. Then big trouble would come on the next round of pit stops when David Reutimann made a hard right turn out of his stall and directly into the left front end of the No. 20 Camry. The contact caused extensive damage and unfortunately there were very few cautions to allow The Home Depot team the time make the needed repairs. With long green flag runs between the cautions Logano would ultimately fall two laps behind the pace. Despite all the problems however, Logano and the Home Depot team continued to work through the adversity to salvage a 24th-place finish.
Matt Kenseth captured the victory, while Clint Bowyer was second, Carl Edwards third, Greg Biffle fourth and Paul Menard rounded out the top five. There were only five cautions for a total of 24 laps and 31 lead changes among 13 different drivers over the course of the 334-lap race.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to the circuits biggest track next Sunday, April 17 at the 2.66-mile oval of Talladega Superspeedway. The race will begin at 1 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at Noon ET. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.
For Joey Logano and Brian Scott, the race at Texas on Friday night was fairly routine with Logano finishing 4th and Scott in 10th. Kyle Busch was running in second place and gaining on leader Carl Edwards when a lapped car lost a right front tire just as Kyle was passing him on the outside. The slower car shot to the right in front of Kyle, who was unable to avoid contact and damage that ultimately ended his night with a 34th place finish.