Ready for Darlington
Sprint Cup Series
From Denny Hamlin
“Last week was all about just going through the motions and getting the process of making a comeback — getting that started. We executed that and now this week in Darlington it’s about completing all the laps and being there at the end to have a shot at the win. We know what we have to do if we want to make the Chase, and this week is the first step, first race in that comeback. I’m ready to get to Darlington in the No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota and compete for the win Saturday night.”
No. 11 Sports Clips Toyota News and Notes
- BACK ON POINT: This weekend Denny Hamlin is expected to return to the No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota for his first full race since being sidelined after a late-race accident at Auto Club (Calif.) on March 24, 2013. Hamlin returned to the driver’s seat last weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, but made a driver switch under the first caution.
- LOOKING FOR NO. 1: Denny Hamlin will make his eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) start at the track ‘Too Tough Too Tame’ on Saturday night when he climbs back into the No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota. In his previous seven NSCS starts at the 1.366-mile asphalt track, Hamlin has scored one win (2010) with three top-five and six top-10 finishes. His worst finish in seven starts is 13th in 2009. Last year Hamlin finished second in the Bojangles’ 500 driving a retro Sport Clips paint scheme honoring Cale Yarborough and his induction in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This year Hamlin is back looking to finish one position stronger and earn his first win of the 2013 season for the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team.
- VFW SPORT CLIPS HELP A HERO 200: This weekend Sport Clips Haircuts and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) continue their longtime partnership to sponsor the Friday night NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on May 10, 2013. The NASCAR partnership between Sport Clips and VFW will help to raise awareness about the struggles many military families are facing and the VFW’s mission to support active-duty military, veterans and their families. As the “Official Haircutter” of the VFW, Sport Clips has donated almost $2 million since 2007 through its annual “Help a Hero” campaign. Since its initial contribution of $80,000 in 2007, Sport Clips’ Help a Hero program has made possible over 2 million calls home between U.S. service members and their loved ones through the VFW’s Operation Uplink Free Call Days program. Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Elliott Sadler will pilot the No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota during Friday night’s VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 Nationwide Series race.
- NNS GRAND MARSHAL: Sport Clips Founder and CEO Gordon Logan along with VFW Foundation Manager Richard Freiburghouse will serve as the Co-Grand Marshals for the Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Friday, May 10, 2013.
- RACE INFO: The Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway is scheduled for Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 6:45 p.m. ET. Watch and listen live on Fox, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Kyle Busch Quotes
What are your thoughts heading back to Darlington this weekend?
“Going back to Darlington, it’s a place that’s really tough, really challenging. I won there the first year it was repaved, and it’s been really fast. Last couple of years there, we had a really good car. We ended up with a solid finish with our Doublemint Camry there last year and, after the three week stretch we’ve had, I hope we can bring home a solid finish this weekend. But, I’m looking forward to going back there and seeing what Darlington has got in store for us again. I’m hearing that the track color has changed a little bit more with another year for the surface to mature, so maybe the grip level is not going to be old Darlington, but something similar.”
What makes Darlington a track that is too tough to tame?
“It’s a very narrow and challenging racetrack, especially for the speeds that we carry around there, now. We’re looking forward to the challenge with our Doublemint Camry this weekend. You’ve really got to be able to get as close as you can to the wall in order to carry your momentum through the corners because you’ve got to make the straightaways as long as you can. The track is very narrow on entries and exits, so you’re always trying to round the place as much as you can. It’s very one-groovish. You can’t really run side-by-side there. Any time you get alongside somebody, you basically have to let them go. It’s a very big give-and-take-type track. It’s a lot harder to pass now, with the fresh asphalt, than it used to be. It’s really aero-sensitive now, to where it used to be more about mechanical grip and getting your car to handle well and handle over the bumps well and keep the tires on it. Now you’re restricted off the car in front of you and are trying to find some air, basically.”
What do drivers mean when they say you have to “race the track” at Darlington?
“You can’t really pass there. It’s so difficult. So you run your laps until you get to a pit stop and try to get your guys to have a good stop for you so you can jump a couple of guys. Pit stops become really important there, and track position and trying to stay up front.”
You have eight career Sprint Cup-Nationwide weekend sweeps, two of which have come this year. How much do you feel like the experience from the Nationwide Series race helps you the next day for the Sprint Cup race?
“The Nationwide Series certainly helps me for the Sprint Cup race the next day. I feel like it helps me, anyway, just being able to get that extra seat time, being able to get that feel of what the racetrack transitions like and what the car does throughout the run and everything, and where you have to move around to. I did a lot of things at Fontana and Texas the next day that I did in the Nationwide race. But people can say, ‘Oh, well, it’s just as easy to watch the race on TV and watch what the winner does.’ But I don’t really want to sit there for three hours and watch it. I’d rather be out there feeling everything and participating in it, and of course it’s always cool when you can win both races. But we’re trying to put everything together, and this year I feel like it’s a little bit better bonus for me to race Joe Gibbs Racing cars on Saturday as it is on Sunday.”
Being a former winner, what does it take to win at Darlington?
“I won the first year there with the new car and I think it was just because everyone was new to the car. I’m hoping that gives us an advantage with this new Gen-6 2013 Toyota Camry since we’ve been fast pretty much everywhere we’ve gone so far. In 2009, a lot of people got a lot smarter. And for us, we fell a little bit behind. You just have to bide your time, and I wasn’t very good at that in 2009, but much better the last three years or so. You’ve got to make sure you keep working on your car and be very patient and be there toward the end.”
Kyle Busch: Looking to ‘Double Up’ at Darlington
Kyle Busch has proven he knows a thing or two about doubling up on a race weekend.
So it might be appropriate that the driver of the No. 18 Doublemint® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will have the iconic Doublemint gum brand adorn his racecar as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to historic Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for Saturday night’s Bojangles Southern 500.
Busch has already recorded two Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series “doubles” thus far in 2013. Those Sprint Cup and Nationwide wins on the same weekends at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in March, and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in April upped his total to eight career Sprint Cup-Nationwide doubles.
Las Vegas native Busch conquered Darlington – the “Track Too Tough To Tame” – in May 2008, scoring his first victory at the 1.33-mile, egg-shaped oval and earning the distinction of being the youngest Sprint Cup winner in the storied history of Darlington, at 23 years of age. While not on the same weekend, Busch also has one Nationwide Series win at Darlington, scoring that one in May 2011.
This weekend’s event will mark the first of four races in 2012 that Doublemint will serve as primary sponsor for Busch, as the iconic chewing gum brand’s mint paint scheme will also adorn Busch’s No. 18 Toyota at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in June, Atlanta Motor Speedway in August, and the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., in September.
Busch would like nothing more than to kick off the Doublemint slate of races with a win as the brand nears its 100th anniversary next year. So as he wheels his No. 18 Doublemint® Toyota Camry around the Darlington oval this weekend, Busch will focus on “doubling up” for the ninth time in his career while at the same time doubling his win total at the always-challenging racetrack that’s also known as “The Lady in Black.”
From Matt Kenseth
“Darlington is certainly on my list of places I’d like to win at because of the Southern 500. To me, it’s one of the most prestigious and historic places on the circuit, which makes it a race that everyone wants to win. Darlington is a really narrow track and a uniquely-shaped track. It’s hard enough to drive around there by yourself without putting your car into the fence, let alone where there’s 42 other cars racing alongside you trying to pass. Darlington is a place that we only get to race at once a year, so any opportunity you have to race there is something that I always look forward to.”
From Jason Ratcliffe, Crew Chief
“I love Darlington and night racing. I think it’s a track that Matt (Kenseth) seems to be fond of as well, so I’m looking forward to it. Our No. 20 car ran well there last year, and I think our intermediate program has been pretty good for us with Vegas and Kansas, so I’m really anticipating this weekend. I think that Darlington fits into that intermediate track category, even though it’s very unique, it’s a high-speed almost mile-and-a-half track. It’s close to home and it’s just one of my favorite tracks. Some of the best tracks on the circuit in my opinion are places that you have to race hard, but at the same time, where you need to race the racetrack. It’s all about surviving the intensity at a place like that.”
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News & Notes:
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT DARLINGTON: Joe Gibbs Racing has 62 Sprint Cup Series starts at Darlington Raceway and has earned three wins, 14 top-five, and 34 top-ten finishes. The organization has led for a total of 861 laps, has an average start of 16.0, an average finish of 12.5, and completed 20,436 of 20,902 (97.8 percent) laps.
- KENSETH BY THE NUMBERS: In 19 Sprint Cup Series career starts at Darlington Raceway, Matt Kenseth has an average finish of 17.5, has completed 6,249 of 6,474 (96.5 percent) career laps, and has led for a total of 154 laps. Kenseth’s best finish at Darlington is third which he earned in 2006.
- DARLINGTON DOUBLE DUTY: Kenseth returns to compete in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series events at Darlington Raceway this weekend. Kenseth has won three times at “the Lady in Black” in the Nationwide Series, but is still looking for his first win in the Sprint Cup Series at the historic South Carolina track. Kenseth will pilot the No. 18 GameStop/Injustice: Gods Among Us Toyota in Friday’s VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200.
- RACE INFO: The Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile) begins at 6:45 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 11th. The race will be broadcast live on FOX, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.
From Elliott Sadler
“Darlington is always one of my favorite weekends of the year. That track has so much history, and racing under the lights just creates even more enthusiasm and energy from the fans. There are a lot of memories for me there — good and bad. I earned my first-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole at Darlington in 2003, and a pole early in my career in the Nationwide Series in 1997. Last season, we were leading and running a really good race, but got wrecked on the restart. This Sports Clips team is determined, and I know we will be ready to unload quickly and try to bring home a victory at the track tagged “Too Tough to Tame.”
“It’s really great to be able to work with a sponsor like Sports Clips who is so dedicated to the military and their families. It is something that is near to my heart, and I am so thankful for all of the brave men and women that put their lives on the line to give us the opportunity to live in this great country. They fight every day to give me the chance to race every weekend and do what I love. It’s so cool that Sports Clips has donated almost $2 million to VFW’s Operation Uplink free call days program to provide a way to thank some of the military members out there battling for our country. Their bravery is not measurable, and for Sports Clips and VFW to develop this program to salute the troops is great.”
No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota News & Notes:
- TAMING THE LADY IN BLACK: Heading to the historic asphalt track of Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Elliott Sadler will make his second start of the season for Sport Clips driving the No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 under the lights Friday night, May 10. Sadler has nine previous starts in the Nationwide Series at the track known as being ‘Too Tough Too Tame,’ with a best finish of third in 2011.
- JGR STRONG AT DARLINGTON RACEWAY: In the last three NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) races at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has walked away with 1-2 finishes and has won six of the last seven events held at the 1.366-mile oval dating back to 2006. The only race not won by a JGR driver since 2006 was the 2009 event where Matt Kenseth, now in his first year with JGR, recorded his third NNS win at the famed track.
- VFW SPORT CLIPS HELP A HERO 200: This weekend Sport Clips Haircuts and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) continue their longtime partnership to sponsor the Friday night NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on May 10, 2013. The NASCAR partnership between Sport Clips and VFW will help to raise awareness about the struggles many military families are facing and the VFW’s mission to support active-duty military, veterans and their families. As the “Official Haircutter” of the VFW, Sport Clips has donated almost $ 2 million since 2007 through its annual “Help a Hero” campaign. Since its initial contribution of $80,000 in 2007, Sport Clips’ Help a Hero program has made possible over 2 million calls home between U.S. service members and their loved ones through the VFW’s Operation Uplink Free Call Days program.
- GRAND MARSHAL: Sport Clips Founder and CEO Gordon Logan along with VFW Foundation Manager Richard Freiburghouse will serve as the Co-Grand Marshals for the Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Friday, May 10, 2013.
- THINK PINK: Elliott Sadler 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 SadlerFoundation.org.
- POINTS UPDATE: After eight races of the 2013 season, Elliott Sadler is currently tied for fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver Point Standings, 47 points out of first. The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Sport Clips team sits eighth in the Owner’s Point Standings, 56 points out of first.
- RACE INFO: The VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway is scheduled for Friday, May 10, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Watch and listen live on ESPN 2, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.
From Matt Kenseth
“I’m looking forward to running at Darlington this weekend because it’s one of the most historic tracks on the circuit and we only get to go there once a year. I’m happy to be in this weekend’s Nationwide Series event because that’s an extra opportunity to have time on that track. I think that anytime you get to race at Darlington, no matter the series, it’s always something to look forward to. The JGR cars are usually strong everywhere, but hopefully this is a great weekend at Darlington because the organization has had such a strong performance record there over the last several years.”
No. 18 GameStop/Injustice: Gods Among Us Toyota News & Notes:
- JGR AT DARLINGTON: Joe Gibbs Racing has 35 Nationwide Series starts at Darlington Raceway including seven wins, 13 top-five, and 21 top-ten finishes. The organization has led for a total of 655 laps and has an average start of 14.2 and an average finish of 11.6 at the 1.366-mile track.
- THE MISSING PIECE: In six of the last seven Nationwide Series races at Darlington, Joe Gibbs Racing has earned the win except for 2009. The winner of the Nationwide Series race that year was none other than Matt Kenseth, so the question is, has JGR acquired the final piece of the winning puzzle for this season at “The Lady in Black?”
- THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 18 TOYOTA: What if our greatest heroes became our greatest threat? Injustice: Gods Among Us introduces a bold new franchise to the fighting game genre from NetherRealm Studios, creators of the definitive fighting game Mortal Kombat. Featuring DC Comics icons such Batman, Cyborg, The Flash, Harley Quinn, Nightwing, Solomon Grundy, Superman and Wonder Woman, the latest title from the award-winning studio presents a deep original story. Heroes and villains will engage in epic battles on a massive scale in a world where the line between good and evil has been blurred. Injustice: Gods Among Us is available now for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii-U and on Apple products.
- CHARACTERS AMONG US: The Injustice Season Pass is now available on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Buy it now to secure four characters for the price of three as well as the bonus Flashpoint skin pack. Characters will be added into the game and the first downloadable character, Lobo, will be released in May.
- RACE INFO: The VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, May 10, 2013. The race will be broadcast on ESPN and MRN Radio.
From Brian Vickers
“Darlington is one of my favorite tracks, if not my favorite. It’s a challenge and it’s unlike any other track on the circuit. With the two distinct corners, each lap can present a challenge, especially when you get in to lapped traffic.You have to be on your game the whole time and know the limits. And with fast speeds and tight racing, you can easily push it over the limits. I’m really looking forward to getting back to Darlington. It’s been quite a while since I won there, and it would be great to do it again this weekend.”
From Kevin Kidd, Crew Chief
“My first win as a crew chief came at Darlington, so I have fond memories of that place. One of the coolest experiences of my life was at Darlington when I was a boy, coming back from the beach. My father stopped at the track and we got out and walked what was turn one then, now turn three. It’s a very special place for me.”
“Darlington is now getting its grey back. Since the repave, the asphalt has been good and the tires don’t wear much. Each year we go back, it gets a little more worn out. I think it’s just slowly getting back to where tire strategies will play a role. It will be nice to go to Darlington with a veteran driver. It’s such a tough racetrack because you run so close to the wall with little margin for error.”
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News & Notes:
- DARLINGTON BRINGS BACK MEMORIES FOR KIDD: Darlington Raceway is a very special place for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kevin Kidd. In his first year as the crew chief of JGR’s No. 20 Nationwide Series team, Kidd reached a milestone in his career by notching his first win as a crew chief. In May 2010, Kidd led driver Denny Hamlin and the No. 20 team to Victory Lane at Darlington Raceway. The Tazewell, Va.-native now calls the shots for Nationwide Series Championship contender Brian Vickers and the No. 20 Dollar General team.
- VICKERS A FORMER DARLINGTON WINNER: In 2003, Vickers first full season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, he “tamed” one of the toughest tracks on the circuit – Darlington Raceway. His win at Darlington was one of three victories en route to winning the 2003 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship. Ten years later, Vickers is back in the hunt. Heading into this weekend’s event at Darlington Raceway, Vickers is positioned eighth in the Nationwide Series Championship point standings.
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT DARLINGTON: Joe Gibbs Racing has proved their knack for the Lady in Black with six wins at Darlington Raceway in the last seven years. The organization has 32 Nationwide Series starts at the South Carolina-track with seven wins, 13 top-five finishes, 21 top-10 finishes and five poles. In their first ever Nationwide Series start at the track “Too Tough to Tame”, the team raced their way into Victory Lane with driver Bobby Labonte.
- DG HOPES FOR RETURN TO VICTORY LANE AT DARLINGTON: Last year’s Nationwide Series event at Darlington Raceway was one of the highlights of Dollar General’s first season with Joe Gibbs Racing. Joey Logano drove his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota to Victory Lane at Darlington, earning the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based discount retailer their first of four Nationwide Series wins with Joe Gibbs Racing. Matt Kenseth gave Dollar General their first-ever Sprint Cup Series win earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners Stacker 2, Amerigas, Republic Plastics, Scrubbing Bubbles, Sun, Clorox, Pepsi Max, Hefty, Alpo, Betty Crocker, Energizer, Sparkle and Downy will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Darlington Raceway.
- RACE INFO: The Nationwide Series VFW Sports Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, May 10. Watch and listen live on ESPN2, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.