Kansas Quotes and Notes
Denny Hamlin Quotes
How do you think the Kansas Speedway repave is going to affect the race on Sunday?
“As we have seen with all the repaved race tracks, the grip level and speeds are way up and there isn’t much tire wear. Luckily we’ll be out there to test a couple days to lay some rubber on the track, and hopefully a couple grooves will develop that we can use in the race. It’ll take a little bit to get used to the new surface, but I’m confident that Darian (Grubb) and the guys will prepare a fast FedEx Camry this weekend. We’re still in the thick of the Chase with five races to go, and we have some good tracks coming up for us.”
FedEx Express Notes
Charlotte Recap: Denny Hamlin finished second to race winner Clint Bowyer in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota to close the gap on points leader Brad Keselowski as the 2012 Chase for the championship reached the halfway mark. Hamlin was able to stretch his fuel the distance with just one pit stop over the final 110 laps to take the checkered flag just 0.417 seconds behind Bowyer after the majority of lead lap cars were forced to make two stops. Hamlin started ninth in the 334-lap event at the 1.5-mile oval, quickly working to the front in the early going. After a handful of early cautions, the #11 machine settled into the top-three for the second-third of the race, leading twice for 36 laps. The final caution came on Lap 224 shortly after many cars had made green flag pit stops, and crew chief Darian Grubb brought Hamlin back down pit road — giving up third-place in the process — in order to get the team close to its fuel window for one more stop and hope the remainder of the race was run under green flag conditions. The finish kept Hamlin third in the Chase standings following Charlotte, 15 markers behind Keselowski after five of 10 playoff races. Jimmie Johnson is third, eight points ahead of Hamlin.
Kansas Preview The Series heads to Kansas Speedway for Sunday’s 500-mile event at the 1.5-mile quad oval. In the spring race at the track, Hamlin passed Martin Truex Jr. with 31 laps remaining and held him off en route to the checkered flag in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, winning his second race of the 2012 season. The decisive move came in Turn 3 on Lap 237 shortly after the final round of green flag pit stops at the 1.5-mile speedway, when Hamlin dove to the inside of Truex Jr. and cleared him off of Turn 4 to capture his 19th career Cup Series victory. Hamlin started fourth and never ran outside the top-10 during the 267-lap event. Hamlin owns three top-five finishes in nine career Kansas starts, including a fourth-place result in the 2009 Chase event. He made his first-career Cup Series start in Oct. 2005 at the track, starting seventh and finishing 32nd.
Kyle Busch Quotes
What changes have you seen over the years at Kansas Speedway?
“Kansas is a typical cookie-cutter-type racetrack that we always call a mile-and-a-half that has that layout. I had a chance to test some with the 20 team (Joey Logano) when Joey had to go to an appearance while the tire testing was happening there. Typically, when we repave these places, you’re always stuck to the bottom. It’s the fastest way around – the shortest way around. There are definitely some things about it that are different than other racetracks we go to, but I think with the new repave, it feels much more like Chicago to me, a place we ran well at a few weeks ago, so it makes me hopeful for this weekend with our M&M’s Halloween Camry. All of these 1.5-mile tracks might look alike, but they all drive differently and that’s what the drivers like. We don’t want to see a Charlotte, a Texas and an Atlanta all the same. They’re all so different. But yet, from the naked eye looking from above, they’re all laid out the same. So, you would think they drive the same. But, they’re completely different.”
Why has Kansas been so difficult for you over the years?
“It’s not that you might not like a track or might not like a race or something like that. It’s just a matter of trying to figure it out. Once you kind of get it figured out or get the right situations kind of lined up, you can have a shot. I look at this place a lot like Michigan. That’s a place where I struggled for a long time, but we finally were able to break through there for a win last year. Of course, just like Michigan, as soon as I figure it out, they are going to repave it just like they did at Kansas. We had a top-10 finish there in the spring, which wasn’t bad, but we never really had the old surface figured out.”
Beginning in 2001, Kansas Speedway hosted just one Sprint Cup race a year until last year, when the series visited the track twice. You’ve only run 10 races there total. Does that make a difference with how much track time you’ve had there?
“I think we need to be better than I have run there before. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and all the guys in the shop have worked really hard to be as prepared as possible for Kansas and there’s a little bit of an unknown factor since it’s the first race there on the new surface. We ran much better at Chicago than we ever have before, so were capable of doing it. The banking is just a little bit different but, other than that, it’s really similar. This weekend would be a great time to get it figured out and, hopefully, have a good solid top-five day for M&M’s and Toyota.”
Are there more goals for your team this year before the season is over?
“There’s really nothing in ’12 that we’ve got left to accomplish besides win. We’ve come really close here the last five weeks and we’ve been, besides an issue at New Hampshire, as good or better than most of the guys in the Chase, so that’s encouraging. We’ll try to do that and get what we can for our M&M’s team and get into victory lane before the year’s out. Other than that, our push right now is our new cars. We’ve got to start working on those and building those. We’ve had a couple of tests for the 2013 car. A lot of body changes are going to happen and chassis changes, as well, with NASCAR making the cars lighter for next year. We’ve got to go ahead and get started on that. Beyond what else there is to work on – you have to just start out the year better. We had a few dismal runs early in the year and then we had our May stretch during which we ran in the top-five five weeks in a row. From there, all hell broke loose. We’ll hopefully have better luck than that next year, but that doesn’t mean we won’t give our best effort each week for the rest of this year. We’ve proved we can do that the last five races with our results.”
Kyle Busch: Paving the Way to First Kansas Win
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2012) – As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the newly repaved and slightly reconfigured Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, count Kyle Busch among the drivers hoping the fresh asphalt will create some fresh results in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.
The 1.5-mile oval built in 2001, which previously featured a constant 15 degrees of banking in the turns, underwent a massive renovation project since the most recent Sprint Cup race there in April. The changes included repaving of the existing track surface, reconfiguration of the oval, and the addition of a new infield road course. The new configuration also changed the oval’s geometry to now feature variable banking of 17 to 20 degrees in the turns.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), might welcome the drastic change to the track surface as much as anyone. With an average finish of just 20.0 in his previous 10 visits to Kansas in a Sprint Cup car, which includes just two top-10 finishes, Busch feels there is nowhere to go but up.
But, as is the case at most racetracks that host NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series events, Busch has tasted success at Kansas in NASCAR’s second tier of competition, scoring a victory in 2007, a runner-up finish in 2009, and a pair of third-place runs in 2006 and 2010. The best he has to show for his 10 visits on the Sprint Cup side, however, is a seventh-place finish in 2006.
With the track freshly paved and reconfigured, the Las Vegas native hopes to finally taste success at the 1.5-mile oval just a stone’s throw west of the Missouri-Kansas state line. Sporting a special M&M’s Halloween “Fun Packs” paint scheme on his No. 18 Toyota, Busch will be chasing a long-awaited first victory at Kansas with a vengeance as he and his team try to put their past struggles there far behind them.
Joey Logano Quotes
“I feel like we are really running pretty good right now and I feel like we can keep that up heading into Kansas. We have finished in the top-10 in every race in the Chase so far other than Talladega and I think had we not got caught up in that first wreck we would have been able to finish in the top-10 that day too. I think we should be riding a streak of five-straight top-10s right about now. Now, as a team we need to take the next step and take those top-10s and turn them into top-fives. I think we can do that this weekend in Kansas for sure.”
“We have seemed to really benefit this year when we have had a couple of extra days worth of practice. In Pocono, we were able to grab the pole and win. At Michigan, we were fast but we got wrecked by someone during the race while running in the top-10. So I am kind of expecting the same things this weekend. We have a lot of practice on the new pavement on Wednesday and Thursday and we even have some extra time on Thursday with the Nationwide cars. I even got a chance to do the tire test here a few weeks ago, so I think by the time the race comes around, I will almost have as many laps on this new surface as I did on the old one.”
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News & Notes:
- ANOTHER TOP-10 FINISH IN THE CHASE: Last weekend, Joey Logano finished ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The result marked Logano’s fourth top-10 finish in the first five Chase races in the 2012 season. Logano has now grabbed top-10 finishes in five of his last eight Sprint Cup Series races dating back to Bristol Motor Speedway, where Logano led 139 laps and finished eighth.
- PENULTIMATE DOLLAR GENERAL WEEKEND: The black and yellow colors of Dollar General return to the side of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing this weekend in Kansas Speedway, the next to last race with the DG colors on the car this season. It’s been a successful year with Dollar General as a sponsor with Joe Gibbs Racing and Logano. The 22-year-old has captured four wins in the NASCAR Nationwide Series flying the black and yellow DG colors. On the Cup side, Logano has grabbed one top-five and four top-10 finishes while driving the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota. Dollar General will race with Logano in Kansas this weekend and then will make their final appearance of the season in the next to last race of the year, coming in just a few weeks at Phoenix International Raceway.
- TESTING COULD HELP KANSAS STATS: With the recent repave at Kansas Speedway, Logano hopes the extra track time with Wednesday’s and Thursday’s testing will help his Kansas stat line. The 1.5-mile oval hasn’t been the kindest to Logano over the years. In six-career starts at the track, Logano has yet to record a top-10 finish. His best-ever result came in the spring race earlier this year at the track when he came home with a 15th-place finish. Qualifying has not been an issue as much for Logano at Kansas. In his six-career starts at the track, he has qualified in the top-five on three different occasions, including a third-place qualifying effort in the spring race earlier this year. He also has starts of fourth and fifth at the track. And not only will Logano have two days of testing on Wednesday and Thursday to help him out before the race weekend, but he also was one of a handful of drivers that participated in the Goodyear tire test at Kansas a couple of months ago.
- CAREER BEST IN ONE CATEGORY: One thing Logano has worked hard to improve on in 2012 has been his qualifying effort. And a quick look at Logano’s career stats will show that the hard work has paid off. This season, Logano is averaging a 12.4 starting position in the first 31 races. Of those 31 starts, Logano has started in the top-10 a total of 13 times. He has one pole, coming in the June race at Pocono Raceway. Logano’s previous best qualifying season-average was 16.2, coming in 2010.
- THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners Tylenol, Powerade, Glad, First Quality, Pop-Tarts, Quilted Northern Ultra Plush, Arm & Hammer and Gillette Venus will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
- THE RACE: The Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (Kansas City, KS; 1.5 -mile oval) is set for Sunday, October 21. Watch and listen live on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio starting at 1:00 p.m. ET.