On the Road to Richmond
Sprint Cup Series
From Denny Hamlin
How have you seen the Short Track Showdown grow over the last few years?
“The support for the race has been great. It’s an honor to have some of my peers commit to running in the Short Track Showdown, coming to Richmond early and helping a good cause. It’s also very rewarding to give back to the area that I grew up in and see guys that I used to compete with get the chance to race against some of NASCAR’s best at Richmond. I’m bummed that I can’t drive in the race this year, but it’s still an opportunity to raise awareness for a bunch of great charities and put on a great race for the fans.”
FedEx Express Notes
Special Scheme in Richmond: Brian Vickers will drive a special #11 FedEx Delivery Manager Toyota in Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway (RIR). FedEx Delivery Manager, which launched earlier this week, provides delivery options for FedEx residential package recipients to fit their schedule. It offers personalized options that allow customers to request how, when and where they want their packages delivered. FedEx Delivery Manager can be used online, through mobile browsers and with the FedEx app. Vickers has 14 career Cup Series starts at RIR, most recently in September 2011. The 29-year-old has posted three top-10 finishes at the three-quarter-mile track, including a seventh-place result in 2007. Vickers has captured two poles at RIR, in 2004 and 2009.
Short Track Showdown: Despite a back injury that will force Denny Hamlin to sit out this weekend’s racing activities at Richmond, the Chesterfield, Va., native will still play host to his late model charity race, the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown presented by FedEx, Thursday night near his hometown. The race is in its sixth season, and proceeds from the race benefit the Denny Hamlin Foundation. Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart highlight a list of NASCAR stars that will battle against local short track racers in the 75-lap race that is broken into two segments. The race will take the green flag Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast live on MRN radio.
Kansas Recap: Vickers finished 31st in last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, soldiering on after contact with the wall damaged the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry enough to require two extra pit stops for repairs but still running when the checkered flag was waved. Like every other driver, Vickers was racing on a newly-resurfaced Kansas Speedway mile-and-a-half track for the first time in the Gen 6 car. His practice and qualifying sessions had shown consistency and stability so Vickers, again substituting for Denny Hamlin, was optimistic after qualifying in 16th position, with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch starting from pole and fifth on the grid respectively. The first half of the race saw a flurry of cautions providing crew chief Darian Grubb plenty of opportunities to try and loosen up a tight handling car. However, following a green flag pit stop on lap 165 for four tires and a left rear track bar adjustment, Vickers returned to the track for 10 laps, only to bring out a caution after hitting the wall hard coming off turn two with significant harm to the right side of his race car.
Kyle Busch Quotes
Is Richmond a race you always feel confident you can win?
“It always seems to be a race kind of between Denny (Hamlin) and myself. We’ll see how Richmond goes, but I love going to Richmond, for some reason. I’ve just kind of taken to that place. I know what I need in my car to run well there. The guys have done a good job making good adjustments through practice and sometimes we try to dial ourselves out, but we get honed back in on what we know works there. By having a good notebook, I think that really helps. A couple guys have been there testing and what not – the speeds seem to be fast. It should be exciting when we get back there with this new 2013 M&M’s Camry.”
What is it about Richmond that suits your driving style?
“I love Richmond – it’s one of my favorite racetracks and one of my best racetracks. I love being able to go there and, of course, we put on some pretty good races there. We’ve won four in a row with the last four spring races and I would love to make it five this time around. It’s a neat racetrack and it’s certainly an excitement track and there is a lot of action that happens under the lights on Saturday night there.”
Why is Joe Gibbs Racing so strong at Richmond?
“I think a lot of it comes from Denny (Hamlin), being that it’s his home track. I’ve been good there in Hendrick and JGR cars. But Denny and I really feed off each other an awful lot in Richmond. We use each other a ton there just to be sure we can beat the rest of the competition, of course. We do like similar setups there, unlike other mile-and-a-half tracks or two-mile tracks where we don’t run very similar setups. Richmond is one of those places where we both know what it takes to get around and we’re both similar to one another in that we both run well.”
What are the differences you might expect with the NASCAR Gen-6 2013 Toyota Camry at Richmond this weekend?
“I think the new Gen-6 race car with the 2013 Camry that I’m driving be a little bit faster. We’ve seen the testing speeds from Richmond being quicker than in years past and I think that’s just these new cars being a little bit lighter. They are also carrying a little more downforce than what they had in years past. That’s good though and that’s fun when the cars drive well and you can run side-by-side a little bit more and race a little bit more and put on a good show.”
Are you looking forward to running three races at Richmond this weekend?
“I get a chance to start on Thursday in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown – his charity race. It’s just a fun race and you get to go out there and race with the best of the local Late Model racers from across that area and we always seem to put on a pretty good show. I like that race. And then we get to race the Nationwide car on Friday night and the Cup cars on Saturday night, so just a big three-day race weekend for me. I’m used to those, so it shouldn’t be anything different than what I’m accustomed to.”
Do you enjoy the atmosphere at Richmond?
“I think the coolest thing about Richmond is the grandstands being all the way around the racetrack and it’s at the fairgrounds. People love coming there and supporting that racetrack. It’s been around for a long time. It’s a fast racetrack. It’s only three-quarter-mile oval, but it has really high speeds that makes it fun for us drivers and makes excitement that’s fun for a fan. Martinsville is a short track and it’s slow, but Richmond is pretty quick.”
Kyle Busch: Rite of Spring
Every year in late April across the United States, signs of spring begin to appear all around. Flowers and trees start to come into bloom, the grass begins to grow, the weather becomes warmer – and, of course, Kyle Busch posts a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) returns to Richmond for Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 looking for his fifth consecutive spring event win at the .75-mile oval. Last April, the Las Vegas native brought home his fourth straight spring victory at Richmond to go with four runner-up finishes and an amazing 12 top-fives in just 16 career Sprint Cup starts in Virginia’s capital city.
Busch’s average finishing position of just 5.4 is tops among all active drivers at Richmond, including JGR teammate Denny Hamlin, whose average finish there is 8.1. Busch has completed all but one of the 6,410 laps available to him in his 16 career Richmond starts. Of those laps completed, Busch has run in the top-15 for 6,607 (87.5 percent) of them – second-most among active drivers at the track.
While he has always had strong runs at Richmond since joining the Sprint Cup ranks in 2005, Busch’s first Sprint Cup victory didn’t come until May 2009, when he became only the second driver in Sprint Cup history to celebrate a victory on his birthday, a feat first accomplished by Cale Yarborough, who did it twice. Yarborough won on his March 27 birthday at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway in 1977 and at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1983. Since his first Richmond victory in 2009, Busch has finished out of the top-five just once, coming home fifth, second, sixth, and 16th, respectively, in the fall races the past four seasons after winning the spring race each year.
While his May 2 birthday isn’t until five days later this year, the soon-to-be 28-year-old would like nothing more than to add another Richmond win to his resume and celebrate his birthday a little early in victory lane Saturday night in the “Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia” – and, yes, continue this very special rite of spring.
From Matt Kenseth
“You want to win every week, but it’s always an added incentive to win a sponsor’s race with this being the Toyota Owners 400. Richmond has always been one of my favorite tracks but I just always haven’t had the best success there and JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) has a lot of success at Richmond. I feel really good about going there with these new cars, especially with how strong our cars were at Martinsville and Phoenix, so hopefully we’ll run like both of those weekends and be able to contend for a win.”
From Jason Ratcliffe, Crew Chief
“After a great weekend in Kansas, I’m ready to head into Richmond this weekend. I feel like our short track program has been on the right track with how our cars performed at places like Martinsville and Bristol already this season. I really think that we’ve had strong cars and we want to give Matt (Kenseth) everything that he needs in order to go out there and run up front. One aspect that’s important at a track like Richmond is making sure that our Dollar General Toyota has the right amount of grip to help get off the corners quickly since it is a short track and position is so important.”
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News & Notes:
- RICHMOND BY THE NUMBERS: In 26 career starts at Richmond in the Cup Series, Kenseth has earned one win, four top-five, and 10 top-ten finishes at the 0.75-mile track. He’s completed 10,158 of 10,403 (97.6 percent) career laps at RIR and has an average finish of 16.5 in the Sprint Cup Series.
- DG TEAMS SHOW SUPPORT FOR AUTISM AWARENESS: For the month of April, Dollar General and Joe Gibbs Racing will recognize National Autism Awareness Month by sporting the Autism Speaks blue puzzle piece logo on the c-posts of their Dollar General Toyotas. In their efforts to raise awareness, Dollar General is offering customers the opportunity to make donations to Autism Speaks during store check-out throughout the month of April.
- THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners Clorox, Vidal Sassoon, Hamburger Helper, Hefty and Sparkle will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
- RACE INFO: The Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway (0.75-mile) begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 27. The race will be broadcast live on FOX, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.
From Elliott Sadler
“Everyone knows that Richmond is my home track. The coolest thing about racing so close to home is having all of my family and friends there the entire weekend. As a kid, I remember making the trip to Richmond International Raceway to watch my dad’s cars, my uncle race, and even my brother, Hermie, race the late models and the then-Busch Series cars. There are still a lot of friends, neighbors and family that have tickets to come and watch all the events here at Richmond. It’s pretty neat how Southside Virginia has supported the Sadler family throughout the years. It’s a pretty cool feeling to be on one side of the fence as a young fan growing up, and then be on the other side of the fence as a competitor. Richmond is very special to all of us, and it’s hard to believe that I will be making my 20th start at the track I grew up going around. I’m thrilled to be driving for Sports Clips this weekend, and I hope to bring them to Victory Lane for their first race with me in front of my hometown crowd.”
No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota News & Notes:
- LOOKING FOR WIN NO. 1: This weekend when Elliott Sadler climbs behind the wheel of the No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota, he will make his 20th-career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start at his home track of Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (RIR). In his 19 previous starts at the famed short track, Sadler’s best finish is second in 2005. He will be looking to make start number 20 number one with his first win at the track.
- SEASON KICK-OFF: Elliott Sadler will kick off the race season for Sport Clips Racing this weekend carrying their colors on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 Friday night at Richmond International Raceway. Sport Clips will return to the car for six more races this season with Sadler (May 10 – Darlington; July 5 – Daytona; July 13 – New Hampshire; August 3 – Iowa; September 21 – Kentucky; October 5 – Kansas) and two races with Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 Sprint Cup Series team (May 11 – Darlington; August 31 – Atlanta).
- THINK PINK: The Sport Clips Racing driver will sport pink Oakley driving shoes throughout the entire Nationwide Series season to show support for breast cancer awareness and honor his mom, Bell. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, and is now a survivor. This season, he will also wear special pink Oakley driving gloves. Fans will have the opportunity to bid on his race-worn shoes throughout the season, with proceeds going toward breast cancer research and education. For more information, visit www.SadlerFoundation.org.
- BATTER UP: Elliott Sadler will represent Team Dover when he participates in the second annual celebrity softball game between Pocono Raceway and Dover International Speedway on Wednesday, April 24th in Harrisburg, Pa. Fellow Toyota driver Clint Bowyer will serve as the team captain for Team Dover taking on Kevin Harvick and Team Pocono prior to the Harrisburg Senators hosting the Reading Fightin’ Phils. Gates will open at 3:30 p.m. ET.
- POINTS UPDATE: After six races of the 2013 season, Elliott Sadler currently sits seventh in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver Point Standings, 36 points out of first.
- RACE INFO: The ToyotaCare250 at Richmond International Raceway is scheduled for Friday, April 26, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Watch and listen live on ESPNews, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Kyle Busch Quotes
Another win for you and JGR in Texas, what do you expect under the lights again this week at Richmond?
“We definitely have a vibe going and I’d like to keep that up. Richmond is a good track for me, it’s challenging with the changing conditions and practice time in the day versus the race at night. But I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) will have it dialed in. I like racing this track and knowing both Adam and I have had success here, I’m sure it will come together the way we want.”
Adam Stevens, Crew Chief
Richmond is another strong track for Kyle, how will you prepare for this week’s night race?
“Richmond is a very difficult, but fun place to race. The track seems to change a lot through practice and the tires fall off quite a bit. This makes it difficult to make progress with the car during practice unless the driver knows exactly what he wants it to do. We also practice in the morning and race at night, which brings a whole other set of track conditions to deal with.
There are very few pit stops in the race, and long runs are common, so you don’t get many opportunities to work on it. When the dust settles it always seems like the top few cars are door-to-door at the finish line.
Kyle has an excellent track record here. We had a great weekend at Phoenix. We plan on taking what we learned there and applying it this weekend.”
Kyle Busch / No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Team Preview
Richmond International Raceway, ToyotaCare 250
The No. 54 Monster Energy team looks to continue a successful season going into week seven in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, coming off their fourth 2013 win at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. With their last victory, the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team and owner J.D. Gibbs took over first place in the series’ Owner’s Championship points, by 27. This week they look to extend that lead, with what they hope will be their fifth season victory in seven starts together.
Last year at this time Kyle Busch watched with excitement as his own Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 54 Monster Energy team with driver and brother Kurt Busch, crossed the finish line in first place at the spring Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (RIR) event. It was the first victory for the younger Busch’s new Nationwide Series team and ultimately ended up being the only win they would secure all season. This time around Busch will tackle the Virginia short-track driving the same colors, but back as a Monster Energy athlete in the Nationwide Series with his NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner JGR. Busch sees it as his turn now, to notch another win in his belt at the ToyotaCare 250 – one that would register as his fifth career series win on this track.
Busch is no stranger to success on the .75-mile oval, recording eight total wins across the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. In NASCAR’s premiere Series Busch is the defending winner of this spring event and of all four early-season events between 2009 and 2012 at Richmond. Likewise in the Nationwide Series, Busch has posted four victories in the 2009 and 2004 spring events and the 2011 and 2007 fall events. Busch has led a total of 1,663 laps at RIR, boasting 4 poles, 21 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes.
From Brian Vickers
“It’s been quite some time since I’ve raced in the Nationwide Series at Richmond. My last time in a Nationwide car there was in 2007 and it’s been since 2011 for the Cup Series. I’m excited about getting back out there. Richmond is a great racetrack. It’s always fun racing under the lights on a short track, and Richmond always provides some really exciting racing. Joe Gibbs Racing has a great short track program, so our No. 20 Dollar General team should be looking at having a good weekend.”
From Kevin Kidd, Crew Chief
“We are looking forward to getting back on track at Richmond. We felt like we underperformed some at Texas, and while we were fortunate that the points gap closed up, we also felt like we didn’t maximize that opportunity. Richmond will be a great place for us to get back on track.”
“Richmond is a good mix of worn asphalt and tires that wear. It provides for changing conditions as the race goes on and really makes crew chiefs stay on their toes. We ran well there last year in the fall with Bubba Wallace. We feel like our package is pretty good there. We are just hoping to build on what we started last fall with another good run on Friday.”
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News & Notes:
- VIRGINIA NATIVES VENTURE HOME: Brian Vickers’ crew chief Kevin Kidd and mechanic Ryan Martin will both be making visits to their homeland this week. Kidd is a native of Tazewell, Virginia and graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2001. Martin hails from Mechanicsville, Virginia, less than 10 miles from Richmond International Raceway. The Hanover High School alum started his career in motorsports competing in flat track motorcycle races at Amelia Motor Raceway in Amelia, Virginia.
- DG TEAM SHOWS SUPPORT FOR AUTISM AWARENESS: For the month of April, Dollar General and Joe Gibbs Racing will recognize National Autism Awareness Month by sporting the Autism Speaks blue puzzle piece logo on the c-posts of their Dollar General Toyotas. In their efforts to raise awareness, Dollar General is offering customers the opportunity to make donations to Autism Speaks during store check-out throughout the month of April.
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY: Joe Gibbs Racing’s Nationwide Series program has 59 starts with 19 different drivers at Richmond International Raceway. JGR Nationwide Series entries have claimed four wins, 10 top-five finishes and 22 top-10 finishes while leading 653 laps of competition at the 3/4-mile oval. Joe Gibbs Racing’s last Nationwide Series win at Richmond was in September 2011 with driver Kyle Busch.
- THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners Clorox, Amerigas, Republic Plastics, Scrubbing Bubbles, Sun, Hamburger Helper, Pepsi Max, Energizer, Angel Soft, Vidal Sassoon, Friskies, Hefty and Stacker 2 will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
- RACE INFO: The ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, April 26. Watch and listen live on ESPN News, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.