The Team Heads to Pocono and Iowa
Sprint Cup Series
From Denny Hamlin
What is the key to success at Pocono?
“Since the track was repaved, it has changed a little bit, but you really have to get your car working in all three corners to make speed at Pocono. The front straightaway is long, so your car really has to be setup well for Turn 3. It’s going to be really fast in these new cars, and I’m looking forward to going out there Sunday to put on a good show for the fans. We were certainly disappointed with the way Dover ended for us, and now it’s up to our FedEx team to dig down and capitalize on some of our better tracks coming up.”
FedEx Express Notes
Pocono Preview: The Series shifts to Pocono Raceway for Sunday’s 400-mile event on the 2.5-mile triangular track. Hamlin has four wins and eight top-five finishes in 14 career starts at the ‘Tricky Triangle,’ and is one of his best tracks on the circuit. Adapting quickly to the three unique turns, Hamlin swept both Pocono races from the pole in his 2006 rookie season, and won back-to-back races at the track in the summer of 2009 and spring 2010. The 32-year-old Virginia native has started inside the top-seven in 12 of his 14 Pocono starts, including the last eight in a row, boasting a 5.6 average starting position. He has led at least one lap in all but three Pocono starts, leading 663 of 2,568 total laps at the track (25.8 percent). In the race one year ago, Hamlin qualified third and finished fifth in the #11 FedEx Toyota.
FedEx 400 Recap: Denny Hamlin started from the pole, led three times for 41 laps and was running among the top-five with less than 25 laps remaining in Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks NASCAR race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway when a flat right-front tire on the #11 FedEx Freight/Autism Speaks Toyota sent Hamlin hard into the outside wall in Turn 1 and delivered the FedEx Racing team a disappointing 34th-place finish. Tony Stewart was victorious in the race, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. Hamlin was in contention for his first Cup Series win at the ‘Monster Mile’ throughout the 400-lap event on the one-mile concrete oval. Battling a tight condition for the first half of the race, the #11 machine came to life just past the halfway mark, and was the fastest car on the track. Hamlin was leading with less than 100 laps remaining and stayed out front until the second-to-last caution on Lap 318. He pitted for right-side tires and fuel, setting into fifth after the restart before the impact with the wall on Lap 378. The finish dropped Hamlin two spots to 26th in the NASCAR standings following Dover, 73 points behind 20th position after 13 of 26 regular season races.
Kyle Busch Quotes
What are your thoughts on the shorter distance at Pocono?
“I think that’s a positive change. You know, certainly sometimes I felt like it may be a bit long there or drawn out. Now it might add less of a lull during the middle part of the race. So, you’ll have the beginning and people trying to make moves and get themselves in position. Then you’ll have guys working it and getting themselves in position for the final pit stop and the final run, thereafter. Hopefully, we’ll finally get that win at Pocono with our M&M’s Camry.”
Until the last three seasons, Pocono seemed to be a place you struggled. What changed there to help you be in contention for wins, of late?
“Pocono used to be a place I didn’t look forward to going to but, lately, I’ve been looking forward to it because of Dave Rogers (crew chief). I struggled there and Dave does a really good job of working with our teammates. With Denny (Hamlin) being so good there, we used some of the baseline stuff from the 11 car and tweaked it more to my liking. Denny is still way better than I am there, but Dave, along with everyone on the M&M’s team and JGR, have done a good job of giving me solid racecars and it’s given me more confidence there. We really didn’t get to race the full distance either time there because of mechanical issues, so I’m hoping to get a full race in and see what we are capable of in the second year with this surface.”
How did you like the job they did repaving the track at Pocono?
“The pavement job was great. They did a really nice job. They took out a lot of bumps. There are still a few little bumps in it, which is fine. It’s only going to get worse over time, which is fine. It gives the track character.”
Did the repaving of the track at Pocono improve the racing last year?
“I thought the racing there was kind of the same, not much different. It was a little bit harder to pass because it seems like, when you’re out front in clean air, you have so much more of an advantage than being back in traffic than what it used to be – slightly, not much. To me, it was always a hard, tricky place, but it’s actually finally started becoming a two-lane racetrack in turn three. You could run the bottom and you could run the top with what we call ‘the grip strip.’ Now, it’s all grip, so it’s all back to the bottom again and you can’t really make much time up on the outside anymore.”
Pocono is the most unique track on the circuit with three distinct corners. What’s the most difficult part of the track for you?
“The hardest part of the track, for me, is probably turn one, and then turn two is the second-hardest, and then turn three is the third-hardest. Turn three, last year, because of the patch they laid down. We couldn’t go down low and get underneath somebody and get a run on them because, when you come off the corner, you’re 8- to 10-mph slower than the guy on your outside, and they’re just going to blow right by you going down the straightaway.”
Since the track is unique, where is the best place to make a pass at Pocono?
“Most of your passing is going to be done probably through turn one and off of turn one and getting into turn two, if somebody can get a good run off of turn two, get back up high and get in line to get on that patch getting into turn three. Besides that, in turn one, we just can’t get the cars to turn down there because there’s so much load on the bump stops from going 210 mph down the front straightaway and then trying to slow it down to about a ‘buck-40’ (140 mph). Turn two is kind of bumpy and kind of rough. There are different areas where you’ve got to maneuver through the tunnel turn to get your car right. If you miss it just by a little bit, you tend to knock the wall down off the corner, so it’s tight.”
Kyle Busch: A Party Is Always ‘Better with M’
As a winner of 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races thus far in his young career, Kyle Busch certainly knows how to throw a party, particularly in victory lane.
One track where he hasn’t celebrated as a Sprint Cup winner with confetti, champagne and, of course, milk chocolate M&M’s is Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the site of Sunday’s appropriately named Party in the Poconos 400. This weekend, Busch looks to make the Party in the Poconos “Better with M,” calling upon his sponsor M&M’s latest integrated marketing campaign, which showcases how M&M’S irresistible chocolate makes moments more fun and delicious.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has won at 17 of the 23 tracks at which the Sprint Cup Series competes. The only six tracks Busch has failed to reach victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series are: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and, of course, Pocono.
Busch makes it no secret that Pocono has given him fits over the years as he has five top-10 finishes in 16 previous starts there, along with eight finishes of 22nd or worse. But, three of his top-five finishes have come during his last six outings at the 2.5-mile triangle, and some of his best finishes have come since he joined JGR at the start of the 2008 season.
The Las Vegas native is coming off a solid fourth-place effort last weekend at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, a finish that helped him jump up two spots to ninth in the Sprint Cup standings. Pocono often signifies the start of the summer stretch for teams solidifying their spot in the standings as the cutoff for the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship comes just 13 races from now.
While Busch is currently in position for a Chase berth, he knows that a solid summer stretch, along with adding to his two wins already this season, will be exactly what it takes to return to NASCAR’s all-important postseason.
So, as the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains for Sunday’s Party in the Poconos 400, Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers and the entire M&M’s team will hope they can find a new place to party – victory lane at Pocono, which is “Better with M,” as in the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota.
From Matt Kenseth
“I’m looking forward to going to Pocono this weekend. This will be the second year on the new surface, so I’m sure the pavement has aged a little bit since we last raced there. JGR has had success there and the No. 20 team won this race last year, so I’m looking forward to getting back on to the track, especially after last weekend at Dover. I wasn’t a huge fan of Pocono before the repave because it was a really rough surface, and it seemed tough for us to get a handle on our car, but I ran much better there after it was paved. We ran really well last year and were even able to lead some laps before getting wrecked, but I really have run better at Pocono lately, and hopefully we’ll have another good run.”
From Jason Ratcliffe, Crew Chief
“We were fortunate enough to have won this race last year at Pocono with our No. 20 team, but then didn’t finish as well as we had hoped in the August race. In going back to Pocono this time, I think the biggest unknown is that the track seemed to age quite a bit from the first race to the second race last year after the repave, and I think we’ll see an even bigger change this year. The things that I feel we had figured out about Pocono last year, I’m not sure how much they’ll apply going into this weekend. It’s a track where we’ve run well at in the past, so I’m hopeful we’ll have good results on Sunday. I’m looking forward to the race this weekend and I really like the track. Pocono is the first place that I was fortunate enough to go to Victory Lane on the Cup side, so it’s a special place for me.”
No. 20 Husky Toyota News & Notes:
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT POCONO: Joe Gibbs Racing has 86 Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono Raceway and has earned nine wins, 23 top-five, and 38 top-ten finishes. The organization has led for a total of 1,068 laps, has an average finish of 15.9, and completed 15,571 of 16,466 (94.6 percent) laps.
- KENSETH BY THE NUMBERS: In 26 Sprint Cup Series career starts at Pocono Raceway, Matt Kenseth has an average finish of 14.3, has completed 4,896 of 4,947 (99.0 percent) career laps, and has led for a total of 54 laps (15 of those laps came in 2012 after the track was repaved.) Kenseth has earned three top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at the 2.5-mile track.
- NO. 20 TEAM LOOKS TO DEFEND THEIR WIN: Even though Kenseth is new to the No. 20 this season, his team found success at Pocono in 2012 after earning the pole and claiming victory in the Pocono 400 last June. The win was crew chief Jason Ratcliff’s first Sprint Cup Series visit to Victory Lane and was JGR’s ninth series victory at Pocono’s “Tricky Triangle.”
- RACE INFO: Coverage of the Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway (2.5-mile) begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 9th. The race will be broadcast live on TNT, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.
From Elliott Sadler
“We’ve had a tough few weeks, but I think heading to Iowa Speedway, we are looking to pick up some momentum. Historically, we’ve been really good here. I’ve only made four starts at the track, but I think it really fits my driving style. In the past three races, we’ve won the pole all three times and won here in August. Our worst finish is fifth here, so I’m really looking forward to picking up where we left off at Iowa Speedway.”
No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota
HEADING TO THE HAWKEYE STATE: The No. 11 OneMain Financial team and Elliott Sadler head to Iowa Speedway this weekend to participate in the NASCAR Nationwide Series DuPont Pioneer 250. Sadler has only four Nationwide Series starts at the 0.875-mile track, however, he has earned three pole awards, four top-five finishes and one win from the August 2012 race. He has led 100 laps at the track, as well as completed 100 percent of laps run.
LAST TIME AROUND: In the spring 2012 event at Iowa Speedway, Sadler grabbed his third-career pole at the Newton, Iowa track. The Emporia, Va., driver competed toward the front for the entire race, bringing home a second-place finish. In the August 2012 event at the track, Sadler nabbed his fourth win of the 2012 season.
CMT AWARDS Prior to heading to Iowa, Sadler will join Nationwide Insurance at the CMT Awards and Country Music Awards Fest in Nashville, Tenn. The driver will judge the Nationwide Insurance Jingle Contest, sign autographs at several booths including the GAC TV, CMA and History Channel Cross Country Cookout Tour Display. For more on Sadler’s appearances, visit OneMainRacing.com.
SUPPORTING THE REAL HEROS: The OneMain Financial team will continue to support the troops while in Iowa with the Real Heroes Program. The No. 11 team will host military members and their families at Nationwide Series races throughout the summer. Fans will also have the opportunity to send thanks to the troops at participating OneMain Financial branches, and through social media. For more information, visit OneMainRacing.com and utilize #RealHeroes.
TO THE POINT: Sadler sits in the seventh position in the Nationwide Series driver championship point standings, 64 points behind the leader with 21 races remaining in the 2013 season.
LAST RACE – DOVER: Starting from the 18th position at Dover International Speedway, Sadler and the No. 11 OneMain Financial team fought not only the Monster Mile, but also a loose-handling Toyota. Near the mid-way point of the 100-lap race, the No. 11 got too loose, sending Sadler down the track into the inside wall. The Joe Gibbs Racing crew worked hard to repair the Toyota, but ended the day in the 28th position.
THINK PINK: The OneMain Financial 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 OneMainRacing.com.
MEET SADLER: Sadler will participate in the Nationwide Series autograph session at Iowa Speedway on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. local time under the Turn 4 Grandstands. For more information, visit IowaSpeeway.com.
From Brian Vickers
“This will be my first time racing at Iowa Speedway. I tested there once, but it’s been awhile. I was really impressed with the track when I was there. It’s an amazing facility. It’s a fun track to drive, has multiple grooves. Until you get into the race it’s hard to say if me not racing there before will be an issue. I’m confident in Kevin (Kidd) and my team and look forward to getting out there in a Nationwide car this weekend.”
From Kevin Kidd, Crew Chief
“We love it when we go to Iowa. The enthusiasm of the surrounding area and the crowd turnout are spectacular. I really like the racetrack as well. It has a very nice design, which allows for higher speed short track-style racing. It’s almost perfect for our cars. Iowa is similar to Richmond and typically the setups transfer from one to another. However, you have to negotiate the bumps at Iowa unlike Richmond. It’s our first non-companion race of the season, so we are really excited to go out there and shoot for the win.”
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News & Notes:
- VICKERS TO MAKE FIRST CAREER IOWA SPEEDWAY START: Following a strong second-place finish at Dover International Speedway last weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brian Vickers heads to the first non-companion Nationwide Series event of the season positioned third in the point standings. While Vickers has 268 career Sprint Cup Series starts and 129 career Nationwide Series starts, this weekend will be the veteran driver’s first time racing at Iowa Speedway. On Saturday, the 29-year-old will be one of only seven drivers who have never competed at the Newton, Iowa track. Vickers and points leader Regan Smith are the only two full-time Nationwide Series drivers making their first career Iowa Speedway start on Saturday.
- DG LITERACY FOUNDATION CONTINUES TO GIVE BACK: This year, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and the organization recently announced their contributions towards continued funding for adult, family and summer literacy programs. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation recently awarded over $6 million in grants to more than 725 schools, nonprofits and literacy organizations. Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $81 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 4.7 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy or continued education.
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT IOWA SPEEDWAY: Since the series’ inaugural race at Iowa Speedway in 2009, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Nationwide Series program has had 16 starts at the .875-mile track. In those 16 starts, JGR entries have captured one win, three top-five finishes, nine top-10 finishes and one pole with seven different drivers. Joe Gibbs Racing has led 404 laps at Iowa Speedway and completed 3,982 of 4,000 (99.6 percent) laps contested.
- THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners Capri Sun, Renuzit, STP, Gildan, Glad, Cottonelle, Nestle Drumstick, Sundown Naturals, Oreo, Mucinex, Slim Jim and Hellmann’s will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Iowa Speedway.
- RACE INFO: The Nationwide Series DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa Speedway kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 9. Watch and listen live on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.
From Drew Herring
You’ve driven Iowa before with JGR’s Nationwide Series program, but what excites you about this opportunity?
“I’m really looking forward to working with Adam and all the guys on the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota this weekend. Each time I’ve had the opportunity to run a JGR car it has been with Adam as crew chief, so there is a certain comfort level that helps when getting to the track and knowing that we already have a communication line set up. Adam is really good about helping me get reacclimated in the car and up to speed quickly. We’ve worked together twice before at Iowa, so we both know what we are looking for and what we want out of the car. Those types of things are invaluable when having limited seat time. Adam and his team’s record speak for itself over the last couple of years, and anytime you get to work with those guys it’s a huge opportunity and a blessing.”
This team has visited victory lane six times in 11 starts this year, do you think you can help the team reach their seventh?
“Getting behind the wheel of the No.54 definitely comes with added pressure because they have already won 6 races with Kyle this year and everyone knows those are big shoes to feel. I know I have the people and equipment to go and have a good race. All of those guys want to win and so do I. But the only pressure I am feeling is the pressure that I put on myself to make sure that I perform to the best of my abilities and do the best job that I can for Monster Energy, JGR, and the guys on the No. 54. I plan on taking that pressure and turning it into fuel and motivation to go and perform 100% to the best of my ability. Realistically with the runs we’ve had in the past together, I would be disappointed with anything less than a top five, but ultimately I feel if I hold up my end, there is no reason why we can’t go and contend for the win.”
From Adam Stevens, Crew Chief
Drew talks highly of his relationship with you and his hopes for the run this weekend. Do you share his excitement?
“I love working with Drew. He is an exceptional talent. We only got him to the track one time last year, that was second Kentucky, and he scored us a solid fourth-place finish. We raced together a few times in 2011 racking up quite a few top 10’s. Iowa is a tough place though. It’s a little bumpy and quite fast. You never know what kind of weather you are going to get out there, so the track conditions are a bit of an unknown. The obstacle this weekend is that we only get one set of tires for practice and Drew hasn’t raced since Kentucky last September. So we will have to spend a couple runs just making laps, getting him comfortable again, before we can start tuning on our car. Drew and I are used to this, so it won’t hold us back. I think with Drew’s ability and the depth of this race team that a top five is a reasonable goal.”
Drew Herring Pilots First of Two Races in No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota
This week the No. 54 Monster Energy seat will see a new driver when 26-year-old Drew Herring tackles the first of two-scheduled races, both 2013 Iowa events, in the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) winning Camry. Herring, a familiar face at JGR, along with the six-time 2013 winners look forward to week 12 running the DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton. Despite the team’s fifth-place finish last week at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the Joe Gibbs Racing group and owner J.D. Gibbs maintained first place in the series’ Owner’s Championship points. This week they look to extend that lead with the help of Herring, who while young, has good statistics as a driver in Iowa.
In 2010 Benson, N.C. native Herring began his NASCAR Nationwide Series career at Baker Curb Racing with his debut race at Iowa Speedway. He accomplished a 15th-place finish in that inaugural series run and then continued the year with two top-20 finishes in four series starts.
The next year Herring connected with Joe Gibbs Racing and finished 12th or better in all four of his Nationwide Series starts. In the spring 2011 race, Herring started from the pole position, since the No. 20 team was leading the Owner’s Point Standings at the time, and qualifying was rained out. He led 39 laps that event and finished 12th. Overall in 2011, Herring improved his statistics by achieving two top-10 finishes in four starts and completing all 929 event laps.
2012 brought continued growth for Herring when he made his first start in the No. 18 JGR entry at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where he qualified fourth, led two laps and brought home a fourth-place finish. This was also the year when Herring made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut with Kyle Busch Motorsports, back at Iowa Speedway for the fall race. His first foray into truck racing accomplished a 17th-place start, 19 laps led and a seventh-place finish.
In addition to filling test session duties for both Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports now, Herring is also a shop employee within JGR, where he works the CNC machine making internal parts for the race team and learning more about each team member’s role. His goal has been to make himself available for any driving opportunities and this year he’ll compete in three Nationwide Series events with the high-performing JGR Nationwide shop.
Since the Series’ inaugural Iowa race in 2009, JGR’s Nationwide Series program has conducted 16 starts, one win, three top-five finishes, nine top-10 finishes and one pole across seven different drivers. Those drivers have led a combined 404 laps at the .875-mile track and completed 3,982 of 4,000 (99.6%) event circuits. If Herring has his way, more race laps led will be had, adding to the team’s stat box and Herring hopes he’s just the man to do it.
Camping World Series
From Darrell Wallace Jr.
“I’m excited to have ToyotaCare back on board our Toyota Tundra this weekend at Texas. We went and tested about a month ago and we came back pretty happy with the results and I’m excited to get there and race on Friday night under the lights; that’ll be fun. We have to redeem ourselves from these past few races where we didn’t get the results we wanted. Hopefully we can get the win. We’re so close and I’m feeling pretty confident about the upcoming races.”
From Jerry Baxter, Crew Chief
“We’re taking the same truck that we raced at Charlotte a few weeks ago. It got into a little accident at the end of the race, so the whole company, the body hanger area, everybody has been working really hard to rebuild it because it was really fast at Charlotte. So we are going to Texas with that Tundra this weekend and we think it’s in great shape. This will be Darrell’s fourth time on a mile-and-a-half track now after running Kansas Speedway, testing at Texas Motor Speedway and running at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He should be pretty confident, especially after last week at Dover and what he was able to accomplish.”
No. 54 ToyotaCare Toyota Tundra Preview
- WELCOME TO THE LONE STAR STATE: Darrell Wallace, Jr. heads to Texas Motor Speedway for his second trip of the year, this time looking to make his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start on the 1.5-mile Texas track piloting the No. 54 ToyotaCare Toyota Tundra. Wallace made a trip to the Lone Star State earlier this year for a test at Texas Motor Speedway to prepare for the NCWTS many stops at 1.5-mile tracks this season. Of the 1.5-mile tracks the NCWTS has run so far this season, Wallace has earned a seventh-place finish at Kansas Speedway followed by a strong run at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he was running third before a late-race accident relegated him to a 27th-place finish.
- AUTOGRAPH SESSION: Darrell Wallace, Jr. will join fellow NASCAR Camping World Truck Series stars on Friday, June 7 from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. at Texas Motor Speedway for an autograph session. The autograph session will be located next to the Hospitality Village located outside turn one. Stop by to meet Wallace and the drivers of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
- ROOKIE UPDATE: Following his 10th-place finish at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on May 31, 2013, Darrell Wallace, Jr. remains third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings. Jeb Burton and Ryan Blaney currently lead the standings, 18 points in front of Wallace.
- ALONG FOR THE RIDE: 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.
- 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 WinStar World Casino 400K at Texas Motor Speedway is scheduled for Friday, June 7, 2013 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Watch and listen live on SpeedTV, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.