Kentucky Quotes and Notes
Denny Hamlin Quotes
How was your visit to Alaska?
“It was a great experience. I had never been to Alaska before, but got a chance to visit the Anchorage hub and there’s 1,300 FedEx employees at that hub and greeted all of them with smiles and they just had a great time. Living in Anchorage, Alaska, they don’t get to see a whole lot of racing, nor do they get to see their driver too often. So it was a very exciting time for them, and at the conclusion of that part of it, we went out in the parking lot and had some fun with some racing dogs and did some dog mushing. It was a lot of fun. Dallas (Seavey, 2012 Iditarod champion) was great to us. It was amazing to hear the conditions they go through, being anywhere from 40 (degrees) above zero to 50, 60 below zero during the Iditarod run, thousand-mile run. It’s amazing to see what they do on that side and what kind of racing they do.”
Who do you think will be the favorites heading into this weekend at Kentucky?
“I really don’t think it favors anyone in particular. I think whoever has been running well in the mile-and-a-half race tracks will continue to run well when we go to Kentucky. I think that the Michael Waltrip cars will be extremely strong. I think our cars will definitely have a shot at it. I think you’ll look at the same cast of characters and you’ll look at the top-10 from this Kentucky weekend when it’s all over and said and done, you’ll see the same names that you see on a week-in, week-out basis. I don’t think with the different tire, different surface you could have a surprise winner. I think the guys that are normally fighting for a win will be doing the same this weekend.”
FedEx Express Notes
Sonoma Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 35th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the road course in Sonoma, Calif., following an on-track incident and broken suspension, forced to retire after 98 of 110 laps in the event won by Clint Bowyer. Hamlin was spun from behind in Turn 11 while running in the eighth position, and fell back to 21st. A few laps later, the upper control arm suspension part on the left-front of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota broke, sending him to the garage for the remainder of the race. Hamlin started 16th on the 1.99-mile, 12-turn circuit, and remained in the top-20 through the first couple runs. Crew chief Darian Grubb called for track bar adjustments on the first two pit stops to help make the car turn better and improve forward bite. Following the second stop, the car came to life, and Hamlin moved up in the running order. The team made its final stop following the race’s first caution on Lap 83. Hamlin restarted 13th and drove up to eighth before the premature end to his day. The finish dropped Hamlin three spots to eighth in the NASCAR standings, now 73 points behind leader Matt Kenseth after 16 of 26 regular season races.
Kentucky Preview: The Series heads to Kentucky Speedway for its second trip to the 1.5-mile oval. Hamlin finished 11th in the inaugural Sprint Cup Series race at the track in 2011, a good result for the FedEx Racing team considering a post-practice engine change and last-place starting position. Hamlin battled throughout the 267-lap event on the 1.5-mile oval, working his way up the field in the early going. Moving into the top-15 by the race’s midpoint, Hamlin pitted under caution on Lap 139 for fuel and more adjustments, and as a result of the ensuing green flag run, the #11 inherited the lead on Lap 194 and led for five circuits before its next stop for service. Hamlin cycled back through in 10th place, and made his final stop with 16 laps remaining. The race’s final caution flag waved on Lap 263 to set up a ‘green-white-checkered’ finish, with Hamlin crossing the stripe in 11th behind winner — and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate — Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch Quotes
Are you looking forward to going back to Kentucky?
“Last year, we were really fast at Kentucky with our M&M’s Camry. We unloaded really well and we were quick. We had that open test day there and we were fast. We were fastest in practice and then qualifying actually got rained out, so it gave us the automatic pole, but I still say we won the pole. It was a great race for us. We started up front, we led some laps and Kurt (Busch) led some laps. It was cool to battle with Kurt for a while. I remember Kurt was up there, (Brad) Keselowski was there, Jimmie Johnson got up there, and David Reutimann finished second there at the end. There were lot of good cars and a lot of really fast guys who we had to deal with and race hard with, and I’d expect the same this year, as well.”
Is it more challenging to only go to Kentucky once a year?
“I think it makes it more challenging. You’ve definitely got to go through your notes and find the things that made you good there and watch the film – no different than a football player studying film to see what he can do to be better. For me, you do some of those same things. Kentucky is a racetrack where we used to only go once with the Nationwide cars, anyway, so I was kind of used to that. I ran the truck, the Nationwide car and the Cup car, so I got a lot more experience on the racetrack through the weekend. Then, during the race, I saw that some of that may have paid off for us in the Cup race.”
Do you think you have less of an advantage this year because some other guys who have run just Sprint Cup at Kentucky have raced there now?
“I think so. While I haven’t probably run the most races at Kentucky, I probably have to have just about as much experience on that track as anyone. I think Joey (Logano) was expected to run well there with his history in the Nationwide Series there, and the way those guys have been running lately has been impressive. Overall, any time you are able to get experience like last year, like the Jeff Gordons and Jimmie Johnsons, guys who haven’t run a race there before, that’s going to add to their knowledge base and what is going to make them better there the next time around. We don’t have the same sort of advantage we felt like we had going into last year.”
How does it feel to know you’ll always be the Inaugural Sprint Cup winner at Kentucky for the rest of your career?
“I think it’s cool. You look at some of the new venues we’ve been to over the years and Jeff Gordon got to win a number of inaugural races, like the Brickyard, Fontana, and Kansas. He was always the guy who was known to figure out places the fastest, but we were able to be the ones to do that last year at Kentucky. There aren’t many opportunities these days to go to a new venue, so for us being able to win the first race there was extra special and, to put that M&M’s car in victory lane. We’d love to be able to come back there with our Red, White, and Blue M&M’s car and still keep us as the only winners there thus far in Sprint Cup.”
What was the key to finding the right setup to win last year at Kentucky?
“I think the biggest thing was just all the on-track time we had to get ready last year. At the same time, we unloaded so close to what we ended up racing, we were able to try a whole lot of things in-between. My experience there, along with Dave’s (Rogers, crew chief) experience there made a huge difference to where we weren’t far off when we unloaded, and it helped us try a bunch of stuff during testing and then practice. The biggest thing that helped us was the open test day on Thursday, with Truck Series activities going on, as well. There was a lot of track time we had that week and, when you come to a new venue, that’s very valuable. Physically, on Thursday of the weekend last year, it was hot. It’s hot in Kentucky in June, so it was no cakewalk. I remember after I won the truck race that night, I was pretty worn out. The cool part about it is, Saturday you can rest a bit and get your body where you need it to be. We ran up front the entire night and didn’t have to fight back in traffic, so the car handled really well.”
Kyle Busch: A Thoroughbred at Kentucky
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 26, 2012) – Kyle Busch is the only driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in the history of Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
Of course, in reality, there’s only been one Sprint Cup race ever contested at the 1.5-mile oval in the Bluegrass State as the series ran its inaugural even there last July.
Regardless of how many Sprint Cup races have been run at Kentucky, Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Red, White and Blue Toyota, has been quite the top-notch thoroughbred in the state perhaps best known for its world-class horse-racing industry. The talented 27-year-old has notched victories at Kentucky in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions – Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck. Add his 2003 ARCA series win at Kentucky and Busch has been victorious in four racing divisions and has made quite a Kentucky home of his own in the Bluegrass State’s second-most-famous victory lane.
At the ripe age of 18, Busch dominated the 2003 ARCA race at Kentucky while competing for Hendrick Motorsports. He led a race-high 91 laps en route to the victory.
He returned to the Bluegrass State the following year and found victory lane again, this time in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at the 1.5-mile oval. In all, Busch has one win, three top-fives, and has led 311 laps in five Nationwide Series starts there.
He also won last year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race to give him three top-10 finishes and 117 laps led in three Truck Series starts at the speedway.
This weekend’s special Red, White and Blue M&M’S paint scheme Busch will pilot in search of his second consecutive Sprint Cup win at Kentucky is in support of the limited-edition Red, White and Blue-only bags of M&M’s now in stores. The new patriotic blend is designed to be the perfect snack during the summer holidays of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. Busch carried the patriotic scheme during his third-place run in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May and will sport it again this weekend in honor of the Fourth of July holiday to be celebrated next week.
In addition to Busch’s stellar career statistics at Kentucky, his crew chief Dave Rogers sports a record that is equally as impressive as his current driver. While Rogers’ bio lists his hometown as Marshfield, Vt., the 38-year-old crew chief absolutely owned Kentucky Speedway in 2008 and 2009 while calling the shots for JGR’s No. 20 Nationwide Series team and driver Joey Logano. In their two Nationwide Series starts together at Kentucky, Logano and Rogers won both races from the pole and led a total of 96 laps. The 2008 victory was not only the first of many for the tandem of Rogers and Logano, it was also Logano’s first career Nationwide Series win in just his third start in the series after the young driver celebrated his 18th birthday just one month prior.
When Busch takes the green flag for Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 in his M&M’s Red, White and Blue colors, he’ll go to the whip once again in hopes of adding to his already stellar record in a multitude of stock-car divisions at the 1.5-mile racetrack. After all, there’s certainly something special about being able to call yourself the top thoroughbred for the second straight year at Kentucky.
Joey Logano Quotes
“I’m really looking forward to Kentucky. I enjoy the track and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of success there over the last couple of years in the Nationwide Series. It’s one of those places that you just take to. Ever since I ran my first Nationwide race there back in 2008, I’ve just had a pretty good knack for Kentucky. Then when the Sprint Cup Series finally came to the track last year, I thought we’d have a pretty good showing considering our track record there and we ran decent and finished in the top-15. But I’m really looking for bigger and better things this time around. The No. 20 Dollar General team has really been on our game the last few weeks and its showing on the track. Starting at Darlington, we’ve really picked up our performance and we’re starting to get the results all of these guys deserve. Now that we are finding ourselves running in the top-10, we need to keep working on it and make those top-10s top-fives. Once we do that, I think we will be a consistent force. I’m also really looking forward to having Dollar General back on board our car. We were able to get Home Depot a Cup win at Pocono and we’ve won three races with Dollar General in the Nationwide Series this year. Now, we just need to get Dollar General a win in the Cup Series. That would be huge for them and that would be huge for us in the point standings. We will just have to see what this weekend holds for us.”
No. 20 Home Depot Toyota News & Notes:
- SOMEONE LOVES KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY: When NASCAR fans in Kentucky and around the country think of Kentucky Speedway, one name normally pops into mind… Joey Logano. Logano’s history at the 1.5-mile track is impressive to say the least. Prior to last year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut event at Kentucky, the NASCAR Nationwide Series ruled the track and Logano ruled the Nationwide Series at Kentucky. In four career NNS starts there, Logano has raced his way to three poles, three victories and four top-10 finishes. The first victory back in 2008 put Logano on the map with both competitors and fans. Coming in just his third-career NNS start, Logano became the youngest NASCAR Nationwide Series winner ever at the age of 18 years and 21 days. Logano came back then and won the race again in 2009, leading just 20 laps and passing teammate Kyle Busch late. Then in 2010, he completed the trifecta, dominating the event by leading 106 laps en route to his third-straight victory. And the Nationwide Series isn’t the only series Logano has won in at Kentucky Speedway. Logano raced at the track back when he was just 12 years old in the Young Lions Nationals for Legends cars on the quarter-mile track that utilizes part of the infield and part of pit road. Despite never being at the track before, Logano won the event, becoming the youngest Young Lions Nationals winner ever. In last season’s Sprint Cup Series debut at Kentucky, Logano qualified 15th and finished 14th.
- MATCHING LAST YEAR’S NUMBERS ALREADY: With last weekend’s 10th-place finish at Sonoma, Logano has now scored six top-10 finishes in 2012, matching his full-season total from last year. Even more impressive is four of those top-10 finishes have come in the last six races, including a win at Pocono Raceway just a couple of weeks ago. Logano was running in the top-five at Michigan just two weeks ago before getting involved in an accident late. That top-10 finish would have given him seven and possibly put him in a position for one of the Wild Card spots. Logano has also led a total of 51 laps this season which is just seven laps shy of his career-high for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, which came last year.
- POINTS UPDATE – STILL IN THE HUNT: Looking at the point standings, Logano still finds himself in a prime position to capture one of the two “wild card” spots for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship and less than 50 points out of the top-10, which would give him an automatic berth. The top 10 drivers will make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and positions 11 and 12 are wild cards and will go to drivers outside the top 10 with the most wins, as long as they are ranked in the top 20 in points. Logano is currently 15th in the point standings but third in the wild card standings as four drivers have earned one win that are ranked outside of the top-10. Logano is just 18 points behind JGR teammate Kyle Busch, who leads the Wild Card standings.
- A CRAZY “OFF” WEEKEND This weekend, fans will see something that they are not accustomed to seeing and something Logano himself isn’t accustomed too. Logano will not race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event this weekend at Kentucky despite the series being at the track in conjunction with the Sprint Cup Series event. Logano has only missed one other companion event this year coming at Las Vegas. The missed event might be a blessing in disguise for the other drivers in the field. Logano has won five NASCAR Nationwide Series events this season and four of the last five he’s competed in. He has also won three of his four career starts at Kentucky in the Nationwide Series.
- THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners Kleenex, Gildan, Colgate, Slim Jim, Degree, Glad, Kraft Singles, Today and Always, STP and Mucinex will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.
- THE RACE: The Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway (Sparta, KY; 1.5-mile oval) is set for Saturday night, June 30 at 6:30 pm ET. The race will be broadcast on TNT (TV) and PRN (radio).