The All-Star and Charlotte Truck Race Quotes and Notes
Sprint Cup Series
From Denny Hamlin
What are your goals for the All-Star Race?
“Obviously, the All-Star Race is a great event for the fans and one that the drivers can hang it all on the line. The All-Star Race this year, for me, is another chance to get back into racing shape after missing a month or so. Last weekend at Darlington, it felt good to just be competitive again. Watching the races from the sidelines for really five weeks, it was tough. You know you can change things. You can do things to change your outcome. But you’re not in the race car. My back held up good, but I was more sore in the shoulders and neck, things like that. I have to get back in racing shape. It will take time to get back to where I need to be, and the All-Star Race will help that.”
All-Star Race Preview: Denny Hamlin will climb into the #11 FedEx Express Toyota in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the seventh start for Hamlin in the non-points exhibition event. One year ago, Hamlin started third and led 16 laps in the five segment, 90-lap race, but fell to 20th in the final 10-lap run won by Jimmie Johnson. Hamlin has recorded three top-10 finishes in six previous All-Star races, including career-best fourth-place runs in 2009 and 2010. He has qualified for the All-Star Race in every season after his 2006 rookie campaign (2007-2012) by virtue of race wins. This year’s field will again compete for the $1 million first place prize, with an additional $1 million up for grabs if a driver can win all five segments in the race. Qualifying on Friday night will be comprised of three laps on the track as well as a mandatory four-tire pit stop by the FedEx Racing crew.
Darlington Recap: Hamlin finished second in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in his first full event since suffering a back injury on March 24, crossing the finish line 3.155 seconds behind teammate Matt Kenseth in the #11 Sport Clips Toyota. Hamlin qualified sixth and ran among the leaders throughout the 367-lap event on the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval. Long green flag runs tested the FedEx Racing crew on pit road, and crew chief Darian Grubb made changes to the car to keep up with the track conditions after nightfall. In the end, the car was at its best for the final 30-lap run, with Hamlin following Kenseth to the checkered flag for the 1-2 Joe Gibbs Racing finish. Hamlin moved up four spots to 27th in the NASCAR standings following Darlington, 61 points behind Jeff Burton in 20th after 11 of 26 regular season races.
Kyle Busch Quotes
What driving style does it take to succeed in the All-Star race?
“I think just being aggressive and knowing when to be aggressive and how to be aggressive is the biggest thing. It’s a race where you have to get to the front and you have to get out there and get yourself, more importantly, in clean air in order to keep yourself out front and on your own.”
What skills have you used to find success in the All-Star race?
“I’ve been aggressive and I’ve been maybe too aggressive at points and not aggressive enough at other points. Last year, we just ran a clean race and didn’t really do much aggressive driving or anything and we ended up fourth. Maybe there was a little bit more that needed to be done but, overall, it was a good week there for us last year and also our second-place run in 2011.”
To what do you attribute the early season success for Joe Gibbs Racing? Do you expect much of the same the next two weekends at Charlotte?
“It’s a combination of a lot of hard work by everyone at JGR. It starts with Joe (Gibbs) and our sponsors being able to give those guys the resources they need to have fast racecars. All three teams have been fast this year and I expect, with Denny (Hamlin) back, we should be strong with communication between the three of us. It really comes down to everyone at the shop working hard and working together and they’ve given us cars fast off the truck every week. I think it’s motivated those guys even more and I’m sure we’ll be strong again the next couple of weekends. I’ve never won a Cup race at Charlotte, so it would be pretty awesome if we could be the guys at JGR to keep our momentum up and win one Saturday night with our SNICKERS Bites Camry.”
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.”
What does it mean to be a part of the All-Star Race in this sport?
“It matters, especially with who your fellow competitors are. For us, being an all-star and being in the All-Star Race is one of the most fun things we get to do each year. I’d say the Sprint Unlimited is another one of those and, with the All-Star Race, they are certainly two fun races where we get a chance to go after just a win and bring home the checkered or the wrecker. It’s an exciting night and there’s a lot of energy there. Charlotte does a great job. I think it’s an awesome venue for that race. It gives you the opportunity to run, whether it’s a 40-lap segment, 25-lap segment, 10-lap segment – it gives you the opportunity to run that many qualifying laps in a row. That’s all you’re doing – you’re giving it all you’ve got every single lap. You’re definitely up on top of the wheel and your guys do the best they can to give you a good car and to make it as lightweight as possible and throw away the air conditioning unit and keep all the front fans away from you – no radiator fan. All that stuff, just try to lighten that baby up and make it fast.”
What drivers do you think are best suited for the All-Star Race?
“You look at the guys who are really good who qualify well. I think qualifying well can always lend itself to racing the All-Star Race well because you’re running however many laps that segment is. You’re running that many qualifying laps in a row. You’re just trying to get the most you can out of your car there. It’s sometimes hard to pass because the guy in front of you is trying to get the most out of his car and so are you, so you just can’t get there.”
Kyle Busch: ‘Bring Back the Trophy or the Steering Wheel’
If there was one person who best described the attitude of everyone involved in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, it would be former track President H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, who once called it a race in which the owner of the car tells the driver, “Bring me back the trophy or the steering wheel.”
While it’s uncertain whether team owner Joe Gibbs has said this to Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS Bites Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the talented young driver certainly would be expected to do just that, even without the urging of the man who cuts his paycheck.
Busch locked in his spot for this year’s All-Star event – comprised primarily of 2012 and 2013 Sprint Cup race winners, plus past All-Star Race winners and past series champions – via his one series win in 2012 and two wins in NASCAR’s top series thus far in 2013. This year’s wins came at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in March and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in April.
The Las Vegas native not only has earned the title of All-Star, he’s become one of the dominant forces in the elite Sprint Cup Series. His win at Texas last month was the 26th of his Sprint Cup career, and Busch now has 112 career wins in NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck.
Busch was regarded as a potential star when he entered the Sprint Cup ranks full-time in 2005 as a raw 18-year-old, but he’s quickly transformed that star potential into bonafide all-star status since joining JGR at the beginning of 2008. And he’s continued to shine well into what is now his sixth season with JGR.
As a competitor who has tried to focus on racing smart during points-paying events week in and week out, Busch views Saturday’s non-points-paying All-Star Race as his annual opportunity to throw patience out the window at his own discretion.
Busch will debut a new scheme he hopes to find in victory lane on Saturday night with SNICKERS Bites. The brand new hunger-satisfying innovation that offers the trademark SNICKERS combination of chocolate, peanuts, caramel and nougat shrunk down into small, no fuss, “pop ’em in your mouth” milk chocolate cubes. The unwrapped treats are ideal for sharing, whether while watching a movie, attending a gathering, or for fans cheering Busch to victory lane.
So, as fans keep an eye out for the SNICKERS Bites Toyota come Saturday night, there’s nothing more than money and pride on the line. Whether Busch brings back the trophy or the steering wheel, it’s a safe bet he’ll be exciting to watch.
From Matt Kenseth
“The All-Star Race at Charlotte is a really fun weekend. It seems like that type of race track has been one of our strong suits so far this year with wins at Kansas and Vegas. It’s always a fun week for the crew and it’s great to be home in Charlotte for a few weeks. The fans get the chance to visit all the race shops and check out all the racing action for the two weekends as well. I’m looking forward to a fun night Saturday, and then we’ll prepare for my favorite race of the year next weekend, the Coca-Cola 600.”
From Jason Ratcliffe, Crew Chief
“Our plan for this weekend’s All-Star Race is that we have the opportunity to go out there Saturday night and really have some fun since it’s not a points’ race. It’s a great weekend for all the teams because we get to put the spotlight on crew members since pit stops play a key role in determining the starting line-up. We get to be creative and gamble as well if need be in order to learn what we can, as we prepare for the longest race of the year the following weekend, the Coca-Cola 600. It’s also really nice to be home for two weekends and be able to spend time with family and friends.”
No. 20 Home Depot/Husky Toyota News & Notes:
- KENSETH BY THE NUMBERS: In 12 career All-Star Race starts, Kenseth has begun the race from the pole twice, and has claimed one victory in the non-points event. Kenseth has competed in every All-Star Race since his sophomore season (2001). He has an average finish of 6.3 and has a driver rating of 91.1 in All-Star competition.
- ON A HOT STREAK: After earning their third Sprint Cup Series victory this past weekend at Darlington Raceway, keep an eye on Kenseth and his No. 20 Husky team as they carry their momentum into Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race. Kenseth has earned the All-Star win one time before (2004) and he’ll look to double down in the 90-lap race, which will be run in five total segments — the first four for 20 laps each and the final for 10 laps.
- RACE INFO: The Sprint All-Star Race and Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway (1.5-mile). Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 18th. The races will be broadcast live on SPEED, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.
Camping World Series
From Darrell Wallace Jr.
“I expect a good race. We’ve found some things that we were able to work on at the shop and I think we will go to Charlotte with a better aero package, that was kind of hurting us at Kansas. We tested at Texas and that gave a feel of what Charlotte could feel like. I’m excited. It’s the first time I get to race on my first track, along with pretty much everyone else who calls it their home track. It should be fun. Looking forward to it and with it being the Friday night before the All-Star race, hopefully we’ll have a good crowd.”
“I’ll try to learn as much as I can during practice and with the test on Thursday before the actual race day, which is good. It gets us some seat time and we’ll come up with a game plan from there. I’m excited to have Liberty Tire on board again and hopefully we can finish better than seventh (Kansas Speedway) and get a top five.”
No. 54 Liberty Tire Recycling Toyota Tundra News and Notes:
- HOME SWEET HOME: This weekend 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Contender Darrell Wallace, Jr. will make his first-career start at his home track, Charlotte Motor Speedway. Born in Mobile, Alabama, Wallace moved to Concord, N.C. at the age of two and has called it home ever since. Running the quarter-mile track for the last few years, Wallace has made a name for himself at Charlotte Motor Speedway winning multiple races and hopes to carry his success from the little track to the big track.
- SECOND GO AROUND: Liberty Tire Recycling returns to the No. 54 Toyota Tundra this week as the primary sponsor for Darrell Wallace, Jr. Making their debut at Kansas Speedway, Liberty Tire Recycling was on board for Wallace’s first-career start on a mile-and-a-half track where he started the race from the 15th position, led eight laps and scored a seventh-place finish.
- LET’S CELEBRATE: Friday, May 17, will mark the 10th anniversary of NASCAR Day. Join Darrell Wallace, Jr. and other NASCAR drivers as they celebrate the NASCAR Foundation and their efforts to raise funds and increase volunteerism to support nonprofit charities and charitable causes throughout the nation with an emphasis placed on initiatives that affect the ability of children to live, learn and play. Get your pin today at a Camping World Store or online and show your support on Friday, May 17.
- ALL ABOARD: The No. 54 Liberty Tire Recycling Toyota Tundra will carry an on-board camera for Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway offering in-race footage during the N.C. Education Lottery 200.
- AUTOGRAPH SESSION: Darrell Wallace, Jr. will be at the Toyota Pit Pass display from 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. on Friday, May 17, for an autograph session with fellow NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota drivers. Stop by to meet Wallace and purchase his newest t-shirt available at the Toyota Pit Pass and online at Shop.JoeGibbsRacing.com and at KyleBuschMotorsports.com.
- ROOKIE UPDATE: As a new face in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) this season, follow Rookie of the Year Contender Darrell Wallace, Jr., better known as Bubba Wallace, as he chronicles his journey in the social media world. Follow Wallace on Twitter and Instagram: @BubbaWallace. Be prepared for an exciting year as Wallace makes his way around the NCWTS circuit, and looks to add many first to his growing racing resume.
- ALONG FOR THE RIDE: With his seventh-place finish at Kansas Speedway on April 20, 2013, Darrell Wallace, Jr. remains third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year Standings. Jeb Burton continues to lead the standings, 13 points in front of Wallace.
- TUNE IN ALERT: Tune in each Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. ET to SIRIUS XM NASCAR radio Channel 90 to listen to Darrell Wallace, Jr. as he checks in with Dave Moody and Angie Skinner throughout the season. Follow along as the 2013 Rookie of the Year Contender shares stories from both on and off the race track!
- RACE INFO: The N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is scheduled for Friday, May 17, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Watch and listen live on SpeedTV, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.