Charlotte Quotes and Notes
Denny Hamlin Quotes
Heading towards the halfway point of the Chase, where do you put the FedEx team’s chances?
“I think our FedEx team is in pretty good shape. Obviously, we gave a few points away at Chicago and Dover, but we’re still in striking distance. We were able to avoid trouble at Talladega and get a decent finish, and I think we have a good shot of competing for the win almost everywhere we go from here on out. We have wins at five of the last six tracks, and finished second at Charlotte earlier this year. Hopefully we can do one spot better than that Saturday night.”
FedEx Express Notes
Talladega Recap: Denny Hamlin avoided a last-lap wreck and piloted the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota to a 14th place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. With the result, Hamlin remains third in the Chase for the Sprint Cup points standings, 23 markers behind Brad Keselowski after four of 10 playoff races. The No. 17 of Matt Kenseth crossed the finish line ahead of the pack to claim the checkered flag. Jeff Gordon finished in second place, with Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch finishing third. David Ragan and Regan Smith rounded out the top five finishers. The FedEx team’s race strategy going into Talladega was to avoid the dangers of the middle of the pack and sit back and wait for a window of opportunity to move up the field. Hamlin started the day 23rd, but moved toward the back of the pack by the first caution flag of the day on lap 17. Biding his time at the back throughout the 188-lap event, Hamlin came to the pits to top-off fuel as a few drivers remained on the track to push their fuel mileage after a caution with six laps remaining. Green flag racing returned for a two-lap fight to the finish. The tight pack shootout that ensued led to a wreck that claimed 25 cars in turns three and four as the field headed to the finish line.
Charlotte Preview The Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s 500-mile event at the 1.5-mile quad oval. Hamlin is making his 15th career Cup Series start at Charlotte this weekend, owning seven top-10 finishes in 14 previous events, including a runner-up result in this year’s Coca-Cola 600. Starting from the eighth position, Hamlin spent the first half of the race in the back of the top-10. The crew made several adjustments to try to free up the car, and while the handling improved slightly, the team was still looking to gain valuable track position for the final 100 laps of the race. The opportunity presented itself during a caution with 80 laps to go. Crew chief Darian Grubb made the call to keep the car on the track when the majority of lead lap cars headed to pit road for a pair of tires. The decision paid off and sent Hamlin to the front of the pack coming out of the restart. Hamlin would lead twice for a total of 13 laps before giving way to eventual race winner Kasey Kahne.
Kyle Busch Quotes
What are the challenges of racing at Charlotte?
“I think the biggest challenge about Charlotte is how much the track changes from practice. You practice all during the day and then you go into night racing. You’ve got to know what kind of adjustments to make to your car and how well you can race at night. Typically, you go back to your night notes. For us, we’ve run well there in the past and like going there. It’s a fun place to race and adds to the excitement of spending some time at home.”
You’ve said in the past that Charlotte is your favorite track. Is there any particular reason why?
“Charlotte is my favorite racetrack for a lot of reasons. Just growing up watching races on TV, I loved watching the All-Star Race under the lights and the 600 with all the sparks flying and all the guys going after hard-fought, hard-racing wins. The Nationwide Series has been good to me there. The Truck Series has been pretty good to me there, too. But a Cup Series win has eluded me there. We’re definitely getting closer than I was back when I first started racing at Charlotte. I think I have something like 10 top-10 finishes in my last 12 races going into this weekend, so I hope my luck is turning around a bit and I can finally get that Sprint Cup win there with our M&M’s Camry. We’ve been very close the last couple of years.”
You’ve won at 16 different racetracks but you badly want to win at Charlotte, someday. Would you consider winning the October race at Charlotte to also be a feather in your cap?
“Winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, since it is my favorite track, would be really special since I’ve been able to win there in other series and have been close a lot in the Cup car. It seems like the month of May at Charlotte just hasn’t liked me too much. We got to win in the Truck Series race in the spring, so I’m hoping we can change that this weekend and get a fall Sprint Cup win. There are plenty of other tracks we need to win at, too, but there’s no doubt it would be big.”
Do you enjoy the night race at Charlotte?
“Charlotte is always fun because it’s cool for us. It’s my favorite track, but it’s cool for a lot of teams because it’s kind of – quote-unquote – close to home. I like going there. It makes things interesting with the night race. Practicing during the day and racing at night and the cooler temperatures and everything. You’ve got to put your best foot forward and work as hard as you can.”
What’s the biggest difference from the spring race to the fall race at Charlotte?
“It’s a little bit warmer in the spring and summer months – in the May months versus where we are now in October. It’s still one of those neat facilities we get to go to two or three times – if you count the All-Star race – in the year. I like going there. It’s close to home for everybody, so it’s not too far out of bed.”
Kyle Busch: Hoping To Go from Position Two to ‘Won’ at Charlotte
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 8, 2012) – For the second straight year in October 2011, Kyle Busch led the most laps in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, but both times he ended up being the bridesmaid instead of the bride.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is determined to prove the third time is the charm, and he hopes to so in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte.
In his 16 previous Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte the past eight-plus seasons, Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success on the 1.5-mile oval known as the “Beast of the Southeast.” He’s riding a streak of 10 top-10 finishes in the last 12 points-paying races there dating back to October 2006. In addition to solid Sprint Cup finishes, Busch has captured six NASCAR Nationwide Series wins, including four of the last nine (May 2004, 2005 and 2008, October 2008 and 2009, and May 2010) and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins (2005, 2006, 2010, and 2011).
Of course, while eight Sprint Cup top-10s and 10 combined Nationwide and Truck Series wins at Charlotte are certainly something to be proud of for Busch, he’s still looking for his first Sprint Cup win at what he routinely calls his favorite track on the circuit.
Each of the past two seasons, Busch finally appeared headed for his breakthrough Sprint Cup win at Charlotte. In October 2010, Busch led a race-high 217 laps but had to settle for a second-place finish behind Jamie McMurray. One year ago this weekend, he again looked to be the class of the field but, after leading a race-high 111 laps, Busch was again forced to settle for a second-place finish, this time behind his 2013 JGR teammate Matt Kenseth.
So with two runner-up finishes the past two seasons, Busch and his M&M’s team are looking to turn those seconds into a long-awaited win in the NASCAR mecca of Charlotte.
Joey Logano Quotes
“I’m excited to get back to Charlotte. I mean, there is something about racing at home and then getting to spend the night in your own bed at your own house. Plus, when you get to the track, you get to see a lot of people. Sometimes it can be distracting because there are so many people that come to the race, but you really appreciate it because the guys that come are a lot of the guys that work in the shop and put in all of the hours to make your cars fast. The fans see us, our pit crews and even the mechanics that come to the race every weekend, but they don’t think of the 100s of guys that are back in the shop each and every week that work on these cars for us. So when they get to come to the track and come to the pits or even just sit in the stands, you want to run as good as you can because they don’t get to see you very often.”
“Charlotte has always been one of my better 1.5-mile tracks on the schedule. I don’t know what it is about the place, but I love it. The track always changes so much during the race, so you have to really stay on top on things to keep your car handling. And track position is important at almost any track any more, but it’s always been even more important at Charlotte. The race has a chance to get strung out and that is when you want to always have the best track position possible. We learned a lot at the first Charlotte race and at a lot of the 1.5-milers since then, so I think we will unload and be a lot more competitive this weekend.”
No. 20 Home Depot Toyota News & Notes:
- FRUSTRATING AND FAST CAR IN ‘DEGA: Coming into last weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, Joey Logano was the only non-Chase driver to have three-straight top-10 finishes to start the Chase. And coming into Talladega, one of his best tracks on the circuit, Logano had an easy chance to continue that streak. However, as is typical in Talladega, sometimes it’s things beyond your control that have the biggest effect on your day and such was the case for Logano. The 22-year-old got some damage when an out-of-control car wrecked into him early in the event. The damage wasn’t terminal, but Logano fell a couple of laps off the pace trying to get it fixed. Despite being able to race with the pack and make moves that would have put him in the top-five had he been on the lead lap, Logano had to ride around all day searching for the free-pass. Unfortunately a lack of cautions kept him from getting back on the lead lap and coming home with a 32nd-place finish.
- DOVER OR CHARLOTTE???: People ask Logano, and all racecar drivers, all the time “what’s your favorite racetrack.” Every one of them normally has an answer. And Logano’s answer has always been Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, after Logano’s recent sweep of Nationwide Series races and two straight top-10 finishes in the Sprint Cup Series, his answer started to switch to Dover International Speedway. But deep down, Logano loves Charlotte. Joey has an average finish of 10.3 in seven-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts (points paying races) at Charlotte, which leads all active drivers. In those seven starts, he’s earned two top-fives (third in 2011 Coke 600, fifth in fall 2009 event) and four top-10s. So despite what he says, Charlotte Motor Speedway, statistically at least, is Logano’s favorite racetrack.
- HOME SWEET HOME: As is no different then any other weekend when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway, Logano and the rest of the NASCAR drivers will be quite busy during Charlotte race week. Logano will be filming a couple of videos and doing a couple of photo shoots while still at home during the week. He will also participate in the annual Joe Gibbs Racing FanFest on Friday, October 12th. FanFest will be held from 9 am to 2 pm at the JGR headquarters in Huntersville, NC. Logano, along with teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will be available to sign autographs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. JGR Fall FanFest promises to provide entertainment and fun for every race fan. The event will include the Home Depot Kids Workshop, a raffle with various autographed memorabilia as well as baskets stuffed with NASCAR-related items, live music provided by Dollar General’s house band “The Discounts”, an Interstate Batteries bounce house, a remote control car racing track sponsored by Food Lion, Toyota’s Pit Pass transporter, M&M’s race simulator, appearances by Miss Sprint Cup, a car and motorcycle show and several other family-friendly attractions. Tours of the race shop floor will be available every thirty minutes; starting at 9 a.m. and will run until 12 p.m. All entertainment and driver autographs are provided at no cost to fans; food and drinks will also be available for purchase.
- WEEKEND APPEARANCES: In addition to his autograph signing at JGR FanFest, Logano will be making several public appearances during the Charlotte race weekend. Logano will be at the Toyota Pit Pass on Friday afternoon from 1:30 – 2 pm. He will also participate in the Speedway Children’s Charities Track Walk at Charlotte Saturday at 1 pm. He is also scheduled to make an appearance at his merchandise hauler at 3:50 pm. All of Logano’s weekend and public appearances can be found on his official website, www.joeylogano.com.
- RACE INFO: The Bank of American 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Concord, NC; 1.5-mile oval) is set for Saturday night, October 13 at 7 pm ET. The race will be broadcast on ABC (TV) and PRN (radio).