Denny, Kyle and Matt Prepare for Bristol
Denny Hamlin Quotes
What does it mean to come back to Bristol after getting that breakthrough win there last August?
“Our Bristol win last summer was one of the biggest victories of my career. No track ever owes you a win, but throughout my career, we had been close at Bristol before, leading late and having something happen. Last year, our car was so good and we kept making it better and better through the night. I knew I had to get to the lead as soon as possible, because if another caution came out, I would’ve had to restart on the bottom, which would’ve been tough. Bristol is such a historic track and it was great to get our FedEx team into victory lane. Now, I want to do it again.”
FedEx Express Notes
Bristol Preview: The FedEx Racing team heads to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Sunday’s 500-lap race on the 0.533-mile event. Hamlin was victorious the last time NASCAR was at Bristol, leading 70 laps en route to Victory Lane in the night race last August. Hamlin started eighth in that race and used a late-race pass on Edwards for his third win of the 2012 season. Hamlin has 14 career Cup starts at Bristol, recording seven top-10 finishes and leading 352 laps. Hamlin started 20th and finished 20th in the spring race at Bristol one year ago. He had a string of four-straight top-six finishes at Bristol from March 2008 to August 2009.
Las Vegas Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 15th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, unable to overcome a pit road speeding penalty under green flag conditions midway through the 400-mile event won by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth. Hamlin made a pit stop on Lap 116 of the 267-lap race for four tires and fuel after driving from 11th into the top-five, but was too fast entering the pits and was charged with a ‘pass through’ penalty. The penalty dropped Hamlin one lap down and off pit sequence with the lead group. The FedEx Racing team got its lap back under caution on Lap 161 via the free pass, and restarted 17th. After another extended green flag period and yellow flag that saw the leaders come to pit road for service, crew chief Darian Grubb elected to keep Hamlin out to gain track position. He restarted as the leader and settled into the top-five with less than 50 laps remaining. Hamlin made a stop for two tires and fuel from fifth with 42 laps to go, as the team was within its window to make it the distance, while others still had to stop, and the #11 team was hoping the race would stay green to the conclusion. However, a caution came out a short time later, and Hamlin was again trapped a lap down. Using the wave around, Hamlin restarted in 19th and was able to make it up to 15th by the checkered flag. Kenseth won, followed by Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. Hamlin started sixth and ran among the top-10 throughout the first half of the race, battling a loose race car on the slick, bumpy surface. The finish kept Hamlin fourth in the NASCAR standings following Las Vegas, 27 points behind Jimmie Johnson after three of 26 regular season races.
Kyle Busch Quotes
What makes you so good at Bristol Motor Speedway?
“I’m not exactly sure what makes me so good at Bristol. I’ve just had a lot of success there, but I’ve also had some misfortune there, too. Ever since I got through my rookie year, I’ve just taken a liking to the place. Of course, I’ve been able to get some help from my brother (Kurt). He’s always been really, really good there. But, when they changed the track to this current surface, I just really took to it right away. I really liked it and I’ve been fast there, but also I’ve had great racecars from Joe Gibbs Racing. It’s just a fun racetrack no matter what series I’m running there. You really have to be on your game because, you make one mistake, or someone else makes one mistake – like what happened when I got collected in the early wreck last spring – that’s it.”
Does the fourth-place finish last weekend at Las Vegas give you some momentum heading to Bristol?
“We’ve had a lot of success at Bristol, but not last year. We’ve really hit a road block there for some reason, but things are different with the track changes last fall and the fact that we’ll be working with a new car this time around, as well. We have to get back on our horse a little bit and this is a good way to do it. We’ve had a tough start to the year and a good finish at Vegas, but it’s a long year to go and we have an uphill battle to climb, so we’ll just continue to claw out of it.”
What is your most memorable experience at Bristol?
“The one that stands out the most for me is August 2010 – being able to do the sweep. We won the Truck race on Wednesday night, backed it up with the Nationwide race Friday and took home the Cup race on Saturday night.”
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.”
Kyle Busch: The Last Great Colosseum
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 12, 2013) – Built out of concrete and stone, the Roman Colosseum still stands today in the Italian center of Rome as a major tourist attraction visited annually by millions from around the world.
Completed in 80 AD, the amphitheatre seated 50,000 spectators and was used for gladiator contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, and re-enactments of famous battles based on Roman mythology. The Roman Colosseum was considered by many as one of the greatest feats of Roman architecture and engineering.
Built in 1961, the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway is nestled in the hills of East Tennessee and originally seated around 18,000. Over the years, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have fought their own battles on the half-mile bullring and Bristol quickly gained popularity – and seating capacity – as one of the premier stops on the circuit.
In fact, this weekend’s Food City 500 at Bristol will be the 105th Sprint Cup race at a track that now accommodates approximately 160,000 spectators and it, too, features plenty of concrete, albeit as the track’s racing surface.
A large banner at the tunnel entrance to Bristol Motor Speedway reads, “The Last Great Colosseum.” To that end, fans who visit the facility in hopes of watching modern-day gladiators in action, 27-year old Kyle Busch certainly fits the bill as he has put on quite a show there over the years.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has won five Sprint Cup races at Bristol, including four of the last eight. Busch has also recorded seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 16 career Sprint Cup starts in “Thunder Valley”.
While he’s on quite a roll at Bristol, it’s interesting to note Busch didn’t immediately take to the place. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd. But Busch’s record in his last 14 starts at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” has been nothing short of amazing. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol Sprint Cup win 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 has added four more wins and a total of seven top-10s in the last 11 NASCAR races contested on the current surface.
Those numbers are certainly impressive, but 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, followed by the Friday-night Nationwide Series race, and he topped it off by wheeling his No. 18 M&M’s 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 out of a possible 956.
Busch followed that weekend sweep by backing it up when the series returned to Bristol in March 2011. He won the Saturday Nationwide event and his fifth career Sprint Cup race at the track the following day.
Busch is looking to get back on track at Bristol in 2013 after a tough 2012, when he recorded finishes of 32nd and sixth, respectively, in the March and August visits there. If there’s anyone who is hungry to emerge from the “Last Great Colosseum” this weekend with another armful of trophies, it’s the gladiator in the M&M’s uniform.
Matt Kenseth Quotes
“It was pretty exciting to get the win this past weekend, but this week in just another week, and we need to keep plugging away to get the best finishes that we can. I can’t wait to get to Bristol this weekend because I thought that the racing was really competitive last year. It’s another totally different style of race track for us to start of the year with, so I’m really curious to see how we’re going to do, and I’m just ready to get back into the car and get to work this weekend.”
No. 20 Husky Tools Toyota News & Notes:
- Joe Gibbs Racing at Bristol: Joe Gibbs Racing has 86 Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway earning a total of six wins, 17 top-five, and 30 top-ten finishes at the 0.533-mile track. The organization also has led for a total of 3,311 laps and has an average finish of 17.9 during the team’s 20-year history.
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- It’s Bristol Baby: In 26 Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kenseth has completed 12,711 of 13,013 laps (97.7 percent). Kenseth ranks fifth of active series drivers for laps led at Bristol with a total of 922 laps. Kenseth has an average starting position of 17.0 and ranks fifth of active Sprint Cup Series drivers with an average finish of 12.1. Victories in both 2005 and 2006 mark Kenseth’s best finishes at the half-mile high-banked track.
- RACE INFO: The Food City 500 at Bristol (0.533-mile) begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 17th. The race will be broadcast live on FOX, Sirius XM Channel 90 and PRN Radio.