Michigan Quotes and Notes
Denny Hamlin Quotes
What are your thoughts heading into the return trip to Michigan this weekend?
“It’s important for our FedEx team to get a good solid finish this weekend in Michigan. We have had some bad luck and gotten taken out a few times in the last few weeks, and with only four races to go before the Chase, hopefully we have that behind us. I know that this team is strong enough to contend for the championship, it’s now just a matter of putting all that together each and every week. Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and the guys have been bringing really fast race cars to the track. Hopefully we can get a couple more good runs in the next few weeks to solidify our spot in the top-10 in points so our two wins count once the Chase comes.”
FedEx Express Notes
Watkins Glen Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 34th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, suffering a blown engine in the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota after 57 of 90 laps at the 2.4-mile road course event won by Marcos Ambrose. Hamlin started 23rd and steadily worked his way up through the field in the opening 30-lap stint. The team was hoping to make the scheduled distance in just two pit stops, and crew chief Darian Grubb called for a spring rubber adjustment during the team’s first stop to help a tight condition on the right-hand turns. The car came to life during the race’s midpoint, with Hamlin moving into the top-10 just before his second stop. However, the engine let go in the #11 machine and forced the team to retire from the race. The finish dropped Hamlin two spots to 10th in the NASCAR standings following Watkins Glen, 84 points behind new leader Jimmie Johnson after 22 of 26 regular season races.
Michigan Preview: The Series returns to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday for its second 400-mile race of the season at the two-mile track. In the June event at MIS, Hamlin finished 34th, forced to retire earlier following an on-track incident on Lap 132 (of 200) and subsequent fire under the #11 FedEx Office Toyota. The incident occurred on the first lap of a restart, when cars were four-wide into Turn 3 and Hamlin was nudged from behind in the left-rear by another competitor, sending him spinning into the infield grass that caused left-side damage to his race car. As Hamlin drove to pit road for repairs, a fire erupted underneath the car, and he stopped before safely climbing out. Hamlin owns a pair of victories at Michigan, winning back-to-back June events in 2010 and 2011. The 31-year-old Virginia native has seven top-10 results in 13 events at the track.
Kyle Busch Quotes
Most drivers really seem to enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway. Why is that?
“Regardless of new pavement or not, it’s wide-open racing and you can run from top to bottom. The biggest thing used to be to find grip there. But with the new surface, there is a ton of grip now. Before, you had grip for maybe five laps, and then you’d just be out to lunch. But now the tire wear is all out the window, and the racetrack is going to be very fast. And the wide racetrack is good. That’s what makes Michigan so exciting and so fun. That’s the biggest deal about it. For me, coming to Michigan, I tend to run well there. For whatever reason, I haven’t had too many great finishes to show for it until last year, and then we had a great year there and got our first win last August.”
You got to participate in the tire test at Michigan the day after the Brickyard 400. How do you feel about your car after the test?
“I felt like we were pretty good. Even though we had an extra day of testing in June, we didn’t get to race for the win because of one of our engine issues. We ended up fixing the car and getting it back out there, so we tried some things that we brought back to use in the test and that we could bring back to race this weekend. We didn’t qualify well in June, which is something you would like to do on a repave. We were able to move on up through the field, but we ended up with our engine issue and never got to see how good we really were. I’m looking forward to going back there with our Interstate Batteries Camry and, hopefully, we learned enough in June and in the test that will help us have a shot at the win.”
Do you feel you can pick up another win before the Chase?
I thought that maybe it was going to be last weekend, but that wasn’t meant to be. Yeah, we still have some good tracks coming up. Hopefully, we can get our Interstate Batteries Camry to victory lane this weekend. If we do that, we’ll have that second win for the wild card and we’ll go on into the last three races and see if we can’t either keep ourselves in front of the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and the 39 (Ryan Newman) in points, in case one of them does get another win, or maybe even get ourselves another win.”
How many wins will it take to lock up a position in the Chase?
“Hard to say exactly, but I think three wins would be a lock. But, you can have two and just try to keep yourselves in front of the guys who do have one win, in case they do get a win. Like right now, us having one win, Jeff Gordon having one win – that’s who I feel like we’re really racing, is the 24 car. If we pass him back in points, obviously that will get us back in the Chase. He runs really, really well at Atlanta and he also runs well at Bristol, too. There’s an opportunity there for him to get another win, which would make it two. If he gets two and we’re in front of him in points with only one win, then he’s in and we’re out. If we have two, I think we’ll be OK.”
Kyle Busch: Yes, Michigan
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 15, 2012) – “Yes, Michigan” became a famous tourism slogan when the Great Lakes State produced a commercial around the theme in 1986 for its 150th birthday.
Fast-forward to some 26 years later and Michigan’s tourism board, Travel Michigan, has flourished with its most recent memorable campaign, “Pure Michigan,” which also happens to be the title sponsor of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
What does this have to do with Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR)? Well, the talented 27-year-old hopes he’ll be saying, “Yes, Michigan,” by weekend’s end and that his chances of making this year’s edition of the 10-race, 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship are much more solidified.
After a heartbreaking end to last weekend’s race on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, where Busch got spun from behind while leading on the last lap, the Las Vegas native is looking ahead to Sunday’s 400-miler on the Michigan oval, for which he is the defending race-winner. He’s currently in a five-driver battle for two precious wild-card berths into this year’s Chase with four events remaining before the Chase starts Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. The top-10 drivers in the point standings are locked into the Chase. Kasey Kahne currently holds the 11th-place wild-card spot thanks to his two victories this season, the most of any driver outside the top-10. Ryan Newman assumed the 12th-place wild-card spot last weekend by virtue of his April 1 victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway combined with his 13th position in the standings, which is higher than his fellow single-race winners in the top-20 in points –Busch, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose and Joey Logano.
Busch’s win in the Pure Michigan 400 last August was his first Sprint Cup win at the 2-mile oval. He also finished third in the June 2011 race, and led a total of 81 laps in the two events last year. By contrast, in his previous 12 Sprint Cup starts at Michigan, he had no wins, one top-five finish and led a total of 88 laps. So, recent history certainly bodes well for Busch’s outlook this weekend.
Including this weekend’s race at Michigan, Busch’s record at the four tracks that comprise the remainder of the Sprint Cup “regular season” is quite impressive. He has a whopping 11 career wins at those four tracks with at least one race win at each. Busch has five career wins at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and four wins at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway to go with his one win apiece at Michigan and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
So, as Busch heads back to Michigan for the second of two Sprint Cup stops this season, he’ll hope to resurrect the old “Yes, Michigan” tagline as his fate with regard to the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship stays very much alive.
Joey Logano Quotes
“I feel like Michigan kind of owes me one after the race there in June. We had a great weekend and we had a great Home Depot Toyota. We won the Nationwide Series race and learned a lot from that, then applied some of that to our Cup car and we had one of the fastest cars there when the race went green. I don’t know if we would have won the race, because Dale Jr. was really fast, but we easily had a top-five car if not a car that could have finished in the top-three. We just had some bad luck trying to pass a car that was up in the front and out of pit sequence and probably shouldn’t have been there. We just get loose and that was that. It was really frustrating and I want to go back and prove that the Home Depot car will be just as fast this time around.”
“We learned a lot at the tire test after Indy. The tire that Goodyear brought was better and will be a good race tire. The track had slowed down and we will just have to see how it is this weekend especially with the temperatures that could be in Michigan. Even in August, it can be really hot or it can be really comfortable and cool. No matter what though, we know the speeds won’t be as high as they were back in June which gave us all of the tire issues. And not only the tire, but we learned a lot of other stuff about the car and a couple of new things that we want to try when we go back. We are at the point to where we need to start taking some chances, start thinking outside the box and going for wins to try and get one of these final Wild Card spots. So we are going to do everything we can to be fast and to try and win the race. That is all that matters right about now. We just need to win.”
No. 20 Home Depot Toyota News & Notes:
- PAYBACK COMING FOR MICHIGAN: The last time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visited the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway, Joey Logano was coming off of his win at Pocono Raceway and was looking to possibly make it two in a row. And with the tire issues the series experienced during the weekend putting a lot of teams behind the eight ball, Logano and the No. 20 Home Depot team looked to have it figured out, running in the top-five for much of the early portion of the race. However, after having to come in to pit following a tire issue of his own, Logano had to fight his way from the back of the pack. Logano was running 10th following a restart when he jumped to the inside of a much slower car coming out of turn two. The move got Logano’s Home Depot Toyota loose. Logano tried to correct the car but it was too late. His No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing machine slammed into the outside wall and was then hit by several other cars. The resulting damage was too much to continue and Logano retired from the event in the 35th position.
- WILL TESTING PAY OFF?: Logano and the No. 20 Home Depot team were one of several teams that took part in Goodyear’s open tire test at Michigan International Speedway following the recent Sprint Cup Series event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2-mile speedway was repaved before the race in June and tire issues forced the series to hold a tire test at the track to come up with a new Goodyear compound. Logano was fast at Michigan in June and the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota were equally as fast at the test this past Monday, although no “official times” were kept. However, speeds at the test were down some 10mph to where the teams practiced and qualified back in the June race.
- JUST WIN BABY WIN: IWith Logano’s disappointing 32nd place finish at Watkins Glen International this past weekend due to a broken shock mount, the 22-year-old heads into Michigan and the remainder of the Sprint Cup Series “regular season” 18th in the point standings and with one thing on his mind: winning. With several drivers looking for one of the two final Wild Card spots, Logano and his team knows that the only way he can make it into NASCAR’s “post season” is to win at least one race, if not two in the next four events. Of the upcoming tracks left before the Chase starts (Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond), Logano has earned top-five and top-10 finishes at both Michigan and Richmond.
- WEEKEND APPEARANCES: Joey will make an appearance at his merchandise trailer on Sunday morning before the start of the Pure Michigan 400 to sign autographs for the fans. The exact times for the appearance have not yet been determined, but will be posted on his official website (joeylogano.com) and on Joey’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
- RACE INFO: The Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway (Brooklyn, MI; 2-mile oval) is set for Sunday, August 19th at 12pm ET. The race will be broadcast on ESPN (TV) and MRN (radio).