Daytona: Take Two
Sprint Cup Series
From Denny Hamlin
The FedEx team ran well at Daytona earlier this year, do you expect to maintain that momentum in the July race?
“The Toyotas ran well at Daytona in February and we’re hoping to build off of that this weekend. We ran up front for much of the race in the 500 and were able to even lead some laps. We feel like we have as good of a shot at winning this as anyone out there. Obviously we’re closing in on the Chase and we have to respond to that pressure with a strong finish this weekend. Our goal is to be up there towards the end and hope we can move ourselves into a position to compete for the win.”
FedEx Express Notes
Daytona Preview: The Series heads back to the ‘World Center of Racing’ at Daytona International Speedway. Hamlin is making his eighth start in the July Daytona race with much anticipation after a strong run in the 2013 Daytona 500 that included 33 laps led. Hamlin’s last run in the Coke Zero 400 ended in a 14-car wreck, relegating the 32-year-old Virginia native to a 25th-place finish. Hamlin’s best finish in the summer at Daytona came in 2009 with a third-place finish and leading 63 laps on the day.
Kentucky Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 35th in a rain delayed Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth. Hamlin qualified sixth in the FedEx Office Toyota Camry and moved to fourth before a mandatory caution period at lap 30. On the restart, the #11 car suffered a broken valve stem on the right front tire, causing a caution period due to the debris from the blown tire. Crew Chief Darian Grubb had the FedEx crew put on four new tires, added a round of wedge and sent him back on the track, the last car on the lead lap. By lap 48, Hamlin had moved up to 27th when the race was red flagged after a seven car accident. When the race returned to green, Hamlin restarted 19th and began steadily charging through the field, his pit crew loosening the car on every stop until lap 149, when, while running fifth, a tire failure sent him into the wall. The damage to the right front of the FedEx Office Camry was serious enough to the end the team’s day.
Kyle Busch Quotes
How would you assess your season and where your team is at with nine races before the Chase starts?
“It seems like we’ve had really good finishes or not-so-good finishes. If we haven’t had something go wrong, like a wreck or a mechanical problem, I don’t think I’ve finished worse than sixth. So we just have to keep focusing on not making mistakes, and I know this team is capable of knocking off top-fives like we did at Kentucky last week. We’re a top-five team right now and we need to keep working hard with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys to keep bringing fast cars to the track and bring home solid finishes the next several weeks. Daytona is a different animal. We ran really well there in February but, obviously, had the engine trouble that knocked us out. I think we will have another strong car and you just hope you can stay out of a wreck and we can bring home a win, or at least another good finish with our Interstate All Battery Center Camry.”
Is Daytona still a special racetrack for you?
“Daytona is cool – a lot more in February than in the summer just because it is the Daytona 500 versus the Coke Zero 400. For us, you still want to win everywhere you go, every single week. To win at Daytona is always cool. It’s definitely special. It’s the birthplace of NASCAR – the superspeedway aspect of it. I definitely love going there. It’s hot, it’s slick, and you can make the most out of yourself as a driver and what you’ve got in the car. We won there in 2008, and I’m hoping we can get a win with our Interstate All Battery Center Camry this weekend.”
As you head to the third restrictor-plate race of the year this weekend, how do you assess your performances on those tracks?
“On the plus side, we’ve qualified better on the plate tracks this year, and that’s because of a lot of hard work by everyone at JGR and for TRD (Toyota Racing Development) on getting us the stuff we need to do better on single-car runs. Our plate stuff in the draft has always been good, and we’ve had good cars both races this year. I made a mistake at Talladega and it cost us, along with several other guys. These cars are so sensitive to contact on the straightaway, much different than our last car, so you try and not make those same mistakes again if you can.”
What are some of the things, handling-wise, you’ve seen with this new 2013 Toyota Camry Gen-6 car that is different than your previous racecars?
“Handling is starting to come back more in play at Daytona because the pavement is wearing a bit. If you can get your car handling, driving, feeling good, you’ll be able to be one of the guys up front. I feel that’s where we were at in Daytona in February. Some guys were a little squirrelly, moving around a little bit more than I’d like to see, I’m sure more than they’d like to feel. Come race time, if we’re able to get more racing going on, more side‑by‑side action going on, two‑lane, three‑lane stuff going, you’ll see handling playing more of a role. And you might see more separation between some more cars which, if that’s the case, it’s a double‑edged sword. You’ll see it single-file out again because there’s not enough cars to make a pack. These teams have learned so much more about this car than when we first started out here in February. It was practically a blank sheet of paper. I think we’ll see these cars handling better as these teams have learned so much more and are a lot smarter than we were back then. It’s a continuous process and I’m sure there are some things that will be different this weekend because of that, not to mention the fact that it will be much warmer and slicker out there.”
Kyle Busch: ‘Charging’ Toward the Chase
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule reaches the halfway point, and with just nine races remaining before the 12-driver field is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Kyle Busch is making a “charge.”
Coming off Sunday’s fifth-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, his eighth top-five of the season, Busch now finds himself with two wins and is seventh in the standings.
The driver of the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) looks to continue his “charge” as the first half of the season concludes and the run-up to the Chase commences with Saturday night’s traditional midsummer Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Busch & Company will roll into Daytona with a different look gracing the No. 18 Toyota this weekend – the metallic and reflective green-and-gold scheme for Interstate All Battery Center stores. The Interstate All Battery Center colors this weekend come as the company continues its franchise expansion throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Recognized as a top-50 franchisor by Franchise Business Review, All Battery Center stores provide “Every Battery for Every Need,” with more than 16,000 portal power solutions.
Interstate Batteries colors are already two-for-two this season with Busch’s wins at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Needless to say, Busch and the No. 18 team look to continue that streak Saturday night at Daytona.
Busch is certainly no stranger to victory lane in the Coke Zero 400, having won the July 2008 race behind the wheel of – yes – the Interstate Batteries Toyota. The Las Vegas native has fared much better in his summer races at Daytona during his career as the track is much more slick thanks to Florida’s July heat. He has recorded four top-five finishes in his eight July starts there.
With all of that in mind, Busch heads back to Daytona this weekend sporting different colors and hoping for some good fortune in a restrictor-plate style of racing where a driver not only has to be good, but have good fortune to go along with it. He would like nothing more than to start July in the best way possible – by bringing the Interstate All Battery Centers green-and-gold paint scheme to victory lane Saturday night as the No. 18 team continues its “charge” toward the Chase.
From Matt Kenseth
“Daytona is always a special place and it’s always fun to go there. Obviously, it’s where we kick off the season with the biggest race of the year, at the most famous stock car track in the world. I’m looking forward to Saturday night because we were leading the Daytona 500 when we broke, so hopefully we can go back and have that same kind of performance and speed that we had back in February. The goal is to have our Husky Toyota in the front when it counts Saturday night and crossing the finish line up front.”
From Jason Ratcliffe, Crew Chief
“I really think that we’ve done well at the superspeedways already this year. We’ve been fortunate enough to lead some laps, and most fortunate, to bring home the same car that we started the race with all in one piece. We still have that same superspeedway car and we’re going to continue to race it until we either destroy it, or if it finally gets us a trophy. This weekend’s Husky Toyota was the same car we ran at Daytona as well as Talladega. It came home clean in both races, knock on wood, so we’d be crazy to let it sit back here at the shop. We plan on using the same overall package that we used back in February and go from there this weekend.”
No. 20 Husky Toyota News & Notes:
- KENSETH BY THE NUMBERS: In 27 Sprint Cup Series career starts at Daytona, Matt Kenseth has an average finish of 17.0, has completed 4,378 of 4,785 (91.5 percent) career laps, and has led for a total of 308 laps. He has earned two wins, six top-five and 13 top-10 finishes at the 2.5-mile track. Kenseth earned the pole and went on to finish third in 2012’s Coke Zero 400.
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT DAYTONA Joe Gibbs Racing has 90 Sprint Cup Series starts at Daytona and has earned four wins, 20 top-five, and 30 top-ten finishes. The organization has led for a total of 1,198 laps, has an average start of 15.6, an average finish of 20.0, and completed 14,539 of 16,003 (90.9 percent) laps.
- KENSETH’S DOUBLE-DUTY: In addition to competing in Saturday’s Coke Zero 400, Kenseth will also pilot the No. 18 GameStop/Nyko Toyota in Friday’s Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Friday’s start at Daytona will mark Kenseth’s first July Nationwide Series race at the 2.5-mile track since July of 2009.
- RACE INFO: The Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway (2.5-mile) begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 6. The race will be broadcast live on TNT, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.
From Elliott Sadler
“The summer race at Daytona International Speedway is always one that we have circled on our calendars. Races at Daytona are always exciting, but when you mix in the heat of summer and the thrill of racing under the lights, you can’t beat it. Superspeedway races are always a crapshoot, so we just have to stay out of trouble and work with our teammates. In the spring, my JGR teammate Brian Vickers and I worked really well together for the first part of the race, so I’m really looking forward to getting after it again with this Sport Clips team.”
“We are about halfway through the Nationwide Series season, but I’ve been in the championship battle for the past two years, and I know we still have a lot of racing ahead of us. Coming to a new team this season, it takes time to get in a groove, to learn a new car, a new team and develop a good communication system. This No. 11 team has definitely had its ups and downs, but I think going into this weekend in Daytona we are hitting our stride. I am so proud of the way this team has handled adversity so far this season. We have not given up, and I think that just proves we are in it to win races and ultimately win the championship.”
No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota Preview
- READY FOR ROUND TWO: This weekend Elliott Sadler and the No. 11 Sport Clips team return to Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for the second race of the year at the famed superspeedway, marking the 2013 season’s halfway point. Early this year in the season opener and his first-career start with Joe Gibbs Racing, Sadler started the DRIVE4COPD 300 from the sixth position and recorded a 15th-place finish. In total Sadler has made eight previous Nationwide Series starts at the high-banked 2.5-mile track, compiling one top-five and three top-10 finishes with one pole. His best finish is third in the 2012 season opener.
- DASH 4 CASH: With his second-place finish last weekend at Kentucky Speedway, Elliott Sadler qualified for the first of four Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash races kicking off this week at Daytona International Speedway. In addition to aiming for the win Friday night in the Subway Firecracker 250, Sadler will have his eyes on collecting the $100,000 bonus as the top finisher in the Dash 4 Cash program. Sadler will be competing against teammate Brian Vickers, as well as Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson to be the top finisher among the four drivers. The top finisher will earn the $100,000 bonus and qualify for round two of the Dash 4 Cash program set to take place next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
- 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 www.SadlerFoundation.org.
- POINTS UPDATE: After 15 races of the 2013 season, Elliott Sadler is currently fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver Point Standings, 19 points out of first. The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Sport Clips team sits sixth in the Owner’s Point Standings, 104 points out of first.
- RACE INFO: The Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway is scheduled for Friday, July 5, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Watch and listen live on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.
- KENSETH’S DOUBLE-DUTY: In addition to competing in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400, Kenseth will also pilot the No. 18 GameStop/Nyko Toyota in Friday’s Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Friday’s start at Daytona will mark Kenseth’s first July Nationwide Series race at the 2.5-mile track since July of 2009.
- KENSETH BY THE NUMBERS: In 12 Nationwide Series career starts at Daytona, Matt Kenseth has an average start of 11.8 and an average finish of 6.8 at the 2.5-mile historic speedway. Kenseth has completed 1,422 of 1,422 (100.0 percent) career laps, and has led for a total of 68 laps. He has earned one win, seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT DAYTONA: Joe Gibbs Racing has 54 Nationwide Series starts at Daytona earning three wins, 15 top-five, and 22 top-ten finishes. The organization has led for a total of 429 laps, has an average start of 10.8, an average finish of 17.0, and completed 5,607 of 6,079 (92.2 percent) laps.
- THIS WEEKEND ON THE NO. 18 TOYOTA: Nyko is proud to sponsor Matt Kenseth and the No. 18 GameStop Car at Daytona with the PlayPad Pro controller for Android. The PlayPad is a full sized console-like controller that is specially designed to work with almost all Android phones and tablets. Connect wirelessly and play 100’s of Android games with the comfort and precision of a controller. Available now at GameStop! Find out more information at Nyko.com, like us on Facebook.com/nykotech or follow us on Twitter @nykotech.
- RACE INFO: The Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America begins at 5 PM ET on Saturday, June 22, 2013. The race will be broadcast on ESPN and MRN Radio.
- DASH 4 CASH AT DAYTONA: Brian Vickers’ fourth-place finish at Kentucky Speedway last week qualified him for the first of four Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash races which will take place at Daytona International Speedway this weekend. Vickers will not only be competing for the win in Friday night’s Firecracker 250, but he will also be contending for a $100,000 bonus courtesy of the Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash program. The Dash 4 Cash at Daytona places Vickers up against Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson and his teammate Elliott Sadler for the bonus, and the highest finisher of those four will be taking home the $100,000 check and automatically moving on to the next Dash 4 Cash race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13.
- DOLLAR GENERAL DOMINATES AT KENTUCKY: The Dollar General Racing program collected their second Sprint Cup Series win of the season at Kentucky Speedway last week with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth. Dollar General’s first-ever victory in the Sprint Cup Series was claimed by Kenseth and the No. 20 team at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 10. Following Daytona, there will be three Dollar General Camrys out on the track next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Vickers will be behind the wheel of his familiar yellow and black No. 20 car in the Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire, while Kenseth will pilot his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series race and a No. 18 DG Camry in the Nationwide Series event.
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT DAYTONA: In 54 Nationwide Series starts at Daytona International Speedway, Joe Gibbs Racing has three wins, 15 top-five finishes, 22 top-10 finishes and six poles awards. In those 54 starts, Joe Gibbs Racing entries have led a total of 429 laps. The organization’s most recent Nationwide Series win at Daytona was with driver Joey Logano in 2011. Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin earned Joe Gibbs Racing their other two Nationwide Series victories at Daytona.
- THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners Renuzit, Hellmann’s, Capri Sun, Finish, Sundown Naturals, Colgate, Slim Jim, Gildan, Nestle Drumstick, Oreo and Cottonelle will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
- RACE INFO: The Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, July 5. Watch and listen live on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.
From Matt Kenseth
“Daytona is always a special place and it’s always fun to go there. Obviously, it’s where we kick off the season with the biggest race of the year, at the most famous stock car track in the world, and it is a place I look forward to racing at. I felt like our Nationwide Series race back in February was a little bit of a struggle, but I’m looking forward to going back and improving upon where we started out together in our first outing with the No. 18 team. The style of racing is different for Friday’s race, so we really need to make sure that we keep a drafting partner since it is focused on the tandem draft.”
From Matt Lucas, Crew Chief
“It’s been a month since we’ve had Matt (Kenseth) in the car with us, so it’s almost like starting over a little bit since we aren’t running a full schedule. It’ll be good because it’s the first track that we’re racing at for the second time together this season, so at least we have a little bit of history now of what to expect and what Matt likes in his car at a superspeedway. He’s a great superspeedway racer and our plan is to draft with our teammates since it is a tandem-style draft. I thought that we were pretty good back in February until we lost our drafting partner, but we were able to run up front, so the goal is to unload the same basic package and then find speed from there.”
No. 18 GameStop/Nyko Toyota Preview
From Brian Vickers
“Being a part of the Dash 4 Cash has added an extra element of excitement to Daytona this week. Nationwide Insurance has put together a spectacular program for the drivers and teams and really highlighted our series by adding in the Dash 4 Cash. It’s great for our sport. I’m thrilled that I’m going to be a part of it this week. Daytona is a tough place for this, because you can never predict what kind of finish you’ll have. It will be a race within a race, so to speak, between the four of us – me, Elliott (Sadler), Austin (Dillon) and Kyle (Larson). Not only will we be going for the win, but we’ll be battling it out for the $100,000 Nationwide Dash 4 Cash bonus. Hopefully our Dollar General team can get both of those on Friday night.”
From Kevin Kidd, Crew Chief
“Speedway racing is always a crapshoot. You hope to be in good position at the end of the race to pull off a good finish. The race seems to be all about setting yourself up for the final lap. Keeping water in the cooling system and temperatures down will be a key part of the race. NASCAR has made an effort to reduce the tandem drafting for this race, but I expect that tandem will still be the way to go.”
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News and Notes
From Kyle Busch
What do you expect from Daytona this week in the Nationwide Series?
“The first thing we have to do is finish. Unfortunately we didn’t have that opportunity in February and I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) has built us a brand new race car for this one, so I look forward to returning and hopefully completing what we couldn’t before. The JGR cars have what it takes to get there, we just need to put ourselves in the right position there at the end.”
From Adam Stevens, Crew Chief
Your last visit to Daytona ended early, have you been waiting to get back there and prove your superspeedway program?
“We have had fast cars at both superspeedway races this year but nothing to show for it. We killed our car at Talladega coming to the white flag so we had to build a new car for this race. Kyle is a great plate racer and this team has a good track record on the superspeedway tracks so we are looking forward to a good run. The recent plate races have come down to who makes the right moves in the final lap or two. All you can do is help put the team in a good position for the last couple laps and hope for the best.”
Kyle Busch / No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Team Preview
Remembering this year’s February Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway event, the No. 54 Monster Energy team unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to battle for the checkered flag, when their day ended early from an engine failure. Five months later the young team is not only eager to finish what they started at season start, on the 2.5-mile superspeedway, but they’ve proven they can take it all the way, already earning six victories and 12 top-five finishes through 15 races this year. The reunited duo of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and Kyle Busch has proven to be effective.
Busch has earned two points-race victories over his career on the famed Florida track, notching victories in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2007. Over 41 events raced in all three of NASCAR’s top series at Daytona, Busch has earned 15 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes with no pole-starting positions, but 583 laps led, 272 of those in the Nationwide Series alone, recording Busch as the series leader in laps led.
Joe Gibbs Racing has competed in 54 races in the Nationwide Series at Daytona and posted three wins, 15 top-five finishes, 22 top-10 finishes, five poles and 429 laps led. After securing victories in both 2008 events then recently in 2011, with former driver Joey Logano, the JGR contingency looks forward to another shot at visiting the superspeedway’s famous victory lane – this time with the series’ winningest driver, Busch, their Monster Energy athlete.