Bristol Quotes and Notes
Denny Hamlin Quotes
Do you think Bristol owes you a victory after coming so close in the past?
“Coming so close before has really only made us want to win one of these Bristol races more than ever. There is no doubt that winning at Bristol would be special and I know I speak for the entire team when I say leaving here with a trophy is something everyone in racing wants to accomplish in their career. We’ve felt like we’ve had the car on a couple of occasions but had some bad luck in terms of parts going bad at the worst possible times. Twice we ran almost 500 laps around Bristol to get in position to win only to have things go wrong at the very end. This team regroups and works even harder because we know we can run well at Bristol.”
FedEx Express Notes
Michigan Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 11th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, battling track position throughout the 201-lap event on the two-mile track won by Greg Biffle. Hamlin restarted 10th for the two-lap ‘green-white-checkered’ finish but was unable to make up any ground, settling for a hard-fought 11th-place run in the season’s 23rd race. Hamlin started 21st in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota and quickly moved up into the top-15 in the early going. A caution near the race’s midpoint saw Hamlin sustain minimal right-front damage. He came to the pits for repairs, but had to restart back in 28th. A caution shortly after allowed Hamlin to move up as the leaders pit, and a long green-flag run shuffle the #11 car to the lead for a lap prior to the race’s final caution period. The finish kept Hamlin 10th in the NASCAR standings following Michigan, 96 points behind leader Biffle after 23 of 26 regular season races.
Back to Bristol: The Series heads back to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s 500-lap event at the ‘Concrete Coliseum.’ Hamlin is making his 14th career start at the half-mile track, recording six top-10 finishes in 13 career Bristol races, including a runner-up result in the Spring 2009 event. In the March race at Bristol earlier this year, Hamlin finished 20th, fighting track position in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry throughout the 500-lap event won by Brad Keselowski. A right-front wheel left loose during a key green flag pit stop near the race’s halfway point forced a second stop, where the #11 Toyota lost two laps to the leaders. Hamlin and crew chief Darian Grubb did all they could to work strategy for the remainder of the race, but eventually settled for 20th.
Kyle Busch Quotes
How will the changes being made to Bristol Motor Speedway impact the racing?
“That’s a tough situation for Bruton (Smith, track owner), for the guys up there at Bristol – for anybody. It’s too bad to see them change a perfectly good racetrack that promotes good side-by-side racing for a lot of the event. I don’t put the blame on the racetrack at all. I think we’ve had some really good races there since it’s been repaved that way. Last fall, Joey (Logano) and I raced each other side-by-side for the last 15 laps before we were banging doors in (turns) three and four coming to the checkered. In 2008, Carl Edwards and I were running into each other and everything else there. There’s been a lot of good racing at Bristol. It’s not the ‘move the guy out of the way, spin somebody out,’ atmosphere anymore and, if fans want to see wrecks, then I guess we have to wreck more. It’s actually good for us drivers to not have to have those things and not have that kind of drama that we have to deal with, but if the fans need that in order to buy tickets, then I guess we’ve got to do what we need to do. I haven’t won the last two races there, but the last couple tire compounds we had before that were really good. You could race on the bottom, you could turn on the bottom, and you could still have good forward bite up off the corners. I felt like the Goodyear guys maybe changed the way the race played out a little bit in changing the tire. They really didn’t expect that or want that, but that’s how I feel about it.”
Is it the racetrack, in particular, that allows you to be so successful at Bristol, of late?
“We kind of upset the apple cart last fall – we just didn’t have a very good weekend there. With the Truck race, we kind of got crashed out. The Nationwide race – I barely beat Joey (Logano), which was good – we won. Then the Cup race, we just made so many changes to the car based on how the Nationwide car ran that it threw us for a loop. In the spring, we never got the chance to get going since we ended up in a wreck early in the race. I like going to Bristol. It’s always fun. What set in there to allow me to run as well as I do? I’ve got no idea. It just kind of clicked. I think I missed a little bit of some of that stuff last fall, just not having the car set up right and trying too many different things that we’re not quite used to. We ventured from the path a little bit and it seems like, when you can get a good setup somewhere, you ought to stick with it and try to just fine-tune on it a little bit instead of saying, ‘This isn’t working this time or it’s not working on this tire.’ The track, most of the time, will influence how your setup should be, not the tire. We’ll see if the changes throws us for a loop or not.”
What is the most challenging aspect of Bristol?
“I think the most challenging aspect of Bristol is just how difficult it is to transition through from the straightaways to the corners, back to the straightaways and have your car set up in order to do all that. Sometimes you can be really loose getting in, or you can be really tight in the middle – you just seem to never be able to get a good-flowing car that works well there. Drivers have to do a lot of manipulation with the racetrack with their car in order to try to make the best of it.”
How have you figured out the best way to get around Bristol Motor Speedway?
“It has just kind of really worked well together. It’s a fun place that you go to that you like going to. You enjoy the race around there. We grew up at the ‘Bullring’ (in Las Vegas) and stuff like that. Maybe not as banked as Bristol is, but I love going and racing at Winchester (Ind.) and at Slinger (Wis.), Salem (Ind.) – those are all really high-banked racetracks that are a half-mile in distance, or a quarter. They’re really fun to race around and you kind of get a great feel for racing in a bowl. You go down the straightaway and you slam it into the corners and you mash the gas and you kind of sling right back out of the corners. It’s a lot of fun to do that. It’s kind of an art. Some guys are really good at it, and some find a knack that makes them really good at it and makes it seem easy. I remember, last spring we were horrible there. You can definitely snap that string pretty quickly.”
What makes Bristol Motor Speedway so unique and a place that fans love?
“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best racetracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins, and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 43 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time.”
Kyle Busch: Knowns and Unknowns at Bristol
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 21, 2012) – As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads back to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night race, Kyle Busch is facing some knowns and plenty of unknowns in the racing mecca known as “Thunder Valley.”
The obvious known is that the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has a stellar record at the .533-mile high-banked bullring, with five Sprint Cup wins to his credit in 15 career starts there.
While his Bristol dominance has been well documented in recent years, there are plenty of unknowns that lie ahead on Saturday night. For starters, since the March 18 Food City 500, the Bristol track has undergone another round of changes. For starters, the top groove of the racing surface has been changed to eliminate the progressive banking incorporated during the previous track resurfacing project in 2007. How drastic will the changes be? That’s a huge unknown until practice commences at noon Friday.
The next unknown for the Las Vegas native is his position in the Sprint Cup standings as the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup locks in after the next three events. Busch sits 14th in the standings but is just 11 points behind Ryan Newman, who holds the second of two Chase wild card positions. Busch and Newman both have one win and another win by Busch in the next three races could essentially lock him into NASCAR’s postseason. If not, Busch will hope to have strong finishes and leapfrog Newman for the final Chase spot by virtue of a higher position in the points. Meanwhile, Busch must also keep his and Newman’s fellow single-win drivers this season –Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, and Marcos Ambrose – behind him in the standings.
Despite the surface changes at Bristol, Busch hopes many of the same principles apply that led him to his five Sprint Cup wins there, including four in the last seven races.
While Busch is on quite a roll at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” it’s interesting to note he didn’t immediately take to the place and has been able to adapt to past changes there. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd. But Busch’s record in his last 11 Bristol starts has been nothing short of amazing. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Sprint Cup win there in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, since then, nobody has been better at the concrete short track than Busch. He added four more wins, five top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the last 10 Sprint Cup races contested there.
Those numbers are certainly impressive, and Busch’s most notable Bristol feat occurred in August 2010, when he became the first driver in history to win all three of NASCAR’s national touring series events in the same weekend. He won the Wednesday-night Camping World Truck Series race, then the Friday-night Nationwide race, and he topped it off by wheeling his No. 18 Toyota to victory and into the history books in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race. Busch led four times for a race-high 282 laps in the latter event, bringing his weekend total to 514 laps led of a possible 956.
So while there are both knowns and unknowns on tap for Busch this weekend, it’s a safe bet that Busch and the No. 18 M&M’s team will be right in the thick of things on Saturday night.
Joey Logano Quotes
“There are a lot of unknowns going back to Bristol this weekend. With the changes they made to the track, I don’t think anyone really knows what it will hold. A lot of us have talked to some of the guys that went and tested there and they said there is no upper groove anymore, which should make for a different type of race. Bristol had gotten to the point to where you could race two- and even three-wide and have a good race and not touch the car outside of inside of you. Now, with the changes, it will be interesting to see how the race plays out. I don’t think we are really going to know until we see the Truck and Nationwide races there this weekend. You really won’t even be able to tell much in practice. So I think fans will see a different race for sure.”
“I’m pretty excited about going back to Bristol and be in the Dollar General Toyota on both Friday night and Saturday night. And I’m looking forward to going back because a lot like Pocono to some extent and Michigan, we will be going back and Jason (Ratcliff) has a full race weekend of his own notes and thoughts to go off of. That is always helpful when a crew chief has his own ideas to go off of rather than just old race notes. I feel like that will allow us a better starting spot before we even get to the track and to work from there. I’m really looking forward to going back to some of these tracks for a second time this year and seeing what kind of improvements we can make from the start of the season.”
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News & Notes:
- DOUBLE DOLLAR GENERAL ON THE HIGH BANKS: As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series return to companion events this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, fans will see a lot of black and yellow cars streaking around the famous half-mile oval. Joey Logano will return to the wheel of the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota this Saturday night in the Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol and will double up by also competing with a Dollar General Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Bristol on Friday night. In fact, it will be the first time all year long that Logano has ran the Dollar General colors in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series on the same weekend. Logano has found some success with Dollar General this season, picking up three wins for the sponsor in the Nationwide Series.
- JUST WIN BABY WIN… AGAIN: Logano went into last weekend’s Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway with some high hopes. And after finding himself third in Saturday’s “happy hour” practice and in the top-10 just two laps into the race on Sunday, things were looking good. However, a loose car and a tap from behind by another driver sent Logano into the wall and his hopes of picking up win number two this season down the drain. So this weekend, with just three races remaining before the start of the Chase, Logano will have another chance to grab an elusive win and get himself locked into the 10-race Sprint Cup Series Championship “playoff.”
- BRISTOL THE SIGHT OF ANOTHER RECORD HELD BY JOEY: While Logano’s career stats at Bristol show zero wins and zero top-fives, it’s a track that the 22-year-old enjoys and normally runs well at. It also holds a special place in Logano’s career-highlights resume. Logano won the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway in the spring 2010 race and, in the process, became the youngest driver to ever win a Sprint Cup Series pole at 19 years, nine months and 23 days, eclipsing the previous record that was held by JGR teammate Kyle Busch. In fact, of all the tracks on the Sprint Cup Series schedule, Bristol is his best at average starting position. Logano has qualified first, third, eighth and ninth (twice) over the course of his career at Bristol. His career-best finish is a 13th, which came in the fall race last season.
- SECOND VISITS ARE IMPORTANT TO LOGANO & RATCLIFF: While Jason Ractliff’s resume is quite stout, especially when it comes to accolades in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the crew chief still remains a “rookie” when it comes to the Sprint Cup Series. As the season began, Ratcliff and Logano had to rely on past notes to get a baseline for the cars heading into tracks for the first time working as a pair. However now as the season wears on, Logano and Ratcliff can now start looking at their own notes, formulated while working together, to get their No. 20 Dollar General Toyota even better. Not counting Daytona, Bristol will be just the third race where the two will now visit a track for a second time. Already, Logano and Ratcliff were able to go off of old notes learned together at Pocono and Michigan, both of which proved beneficial.
- THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners Glad, First Quality, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Angel Soft, Arrid, Powerade, Reach and Gillette will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.
- THE RACE: The IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (Bristol, TN; .533-mile oval) is set for Saturday, August 25th. Watch and listen live on ABC, Sirius XM Channel 90 and PRN Radio starting at 7:00 p.m. ET.