Labor Day at Atlanta
Sprint Cup Series
From Denny Hamlin
“Atlanta has been a good track for me over these last few years and we’ve always had a car that can contend for a win. We have come close to getting the win several times, and last year everything from the car to the pit crew fell into the right place and we finally got a win with our Sport Clips Toyota Camry. This season we have definitely struggled, but hopefully we can build off last year’s win and get us a good finish this week and maybe repeat the win from last season.”
No. 11 Sports Clips Toyota Notes
- ON BOARD FOR ROUND TWO: For the second and final time this season, Sport Clips will adorn the No. 11 Toyota Camry piloted by Denny Hamlin in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) for the Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Last season, with Sport Clips on board, Hamlin secured the seventh starting position for the Advocare 500, led a total of 105 laps and earned his first-career win at the 1.54-mile Atlanta –based track. In total, Hamlin has 13 starts at the track with one win, one pole, two top-five finishes, five top-10 finishes, has led a total of 314 laps and completed 4,063 or 4,252 laps attempted (95.6 percent).
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT ATLANTA: Since Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) made its first start at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NSCS, the team has 81-career starts with 10 wins among Denny Hamlin (1), Kyle Busch (1), Tony Stewart (2) and Bobby Labonte (6). The team has earned 25 top-five finishes, 37 top-10 finishes, four pole starting positions, led a total of 2,362 laps and completed 25,237 of 26,181 attempted laps (96.4 percent). The average start for JGR in the NSCS is 17.1 with an average finish of 15.4.
- ARE YOU A FAN: This weekend the No. 11 Sport Clips team will help fulfill the Ultimate Fan Experience for one lucky Sport Clips client who will attend the Atlanta Braves game on Friday night at Turner Field, the Alabama-Virginia Tech game on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome and close out the weekend as a guest of the No. 11 JGR Sport Clips team on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
- RACE INFO: The AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is scheduled for Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Watch and listen live on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and PRN Radio beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Kyle Busch Quotes
What kind of race are you expecting at Atlanta this year?
“I don’t think you’re going to see a race any different than what we’ve seen down in Atlanta the last few years. The racetrack has aged really nicely, where it’s probably aged too much, but you can’t repave Atlanta – that would just be stupid. It’s a place where you can run the bottom all the way from the white line all the way to the wall and anywhere in-between. You have to have a good car there, but it’s a neat racetrack with the way you can race around and move around and not get too comfortable running one lane. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys have brought good cars to the intermediate tracks this year and I’m hoping they give us another good car and we can go for the win with our M&M’s Camry.”
Is your preparation different for a night race?
“For me, yeah, you prepare a little bit differently. It’s a night race, so it’s not so hot. You don’t have to do as much as you might for a day race with cooling and everything inside the car, but it still will be a warm one, for sure. For me, it’s just about the whole week ahead of time. You’ve got to stay hydrated and make sure you keep yourself from cramping up or something like that. With the hot weekends we get out here, that could certainly be a challenging aspect. I’ve done it before and I’ll probably still do it again.”
What are your memories of racing in Atlanta?
“I’ve won a few Truck Series races there. That was fun. I have not won a Nationwide race there. I finished second three or four times, so it’s been an Achilles heel for me, I guess. The Cup races there, I’ve either been really good or mediocre or really bad. There have been times where I’ve been really good throughout the event. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to keep the grip in my car for the long haul, as long you need throughout a run. I’m really fast for the first five, eight laps. But, after that, I seem to slip more than anyone else.”
What does it take to be successful at Atlanta?
“It takes a lot of things. You have to have a lot of grip, you have to have a lot of downforce, you have to have tire management, a great engine, and fuel mileage, too. There are a lot of circumstances it can come down to at the end and what it will boil down to.”
What challenges does the day-to-night format present at Atlanta in the Sprint Cup race?
“Certainly, we practice all during the day, so the daytime practice is good for the beginning of the race. But as the racetrack picks up speed and gets faster throughout the night, of course, the balance can change a little bit. With the speed getting faster, certainly the loads change a little bit for you, so you have to be conscious of that. The crew chiefs are good at what they do and that’s why they get paid the big bucks – to try to figure out what best suits the cars for nighttime, because that’s when the race ends. Certainly, you want to be good at night.”
What did you think of the speed at Atlanta the first time you raced there?
“My first time there was 2003 in a Nationwide Series car and it was definitely fast. It’s all relative. You run the same speed around everybody and it really doesn’t feel that fast, so it feels like you do anywhere else, whether you’re at Las Vegas or Chicago or Kansas or any of those places.”
Kyle Busch: ‘M’-ilestone Weekend in Atlanta?
Kyle Busch returns this weekend to the place where it all began – Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), headed to the fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of 2008 aiming to bring home his first win for two new partners at Atlanta – Mars Chocolate North America and Toyota.
After leading a race-high 173 laps, the Las Vegas native captured his first win for Mars’ SNICKERS brand, and also the first win in NASCAR’s top series for Toyota, which was in its second year of Sprint Cup competition and its first year with JGR, as was Busch.
The win also marked the end to a 147-race drought for JGR’s No. 18 team, as well as Busch’s first of 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins for JGR. Since then, Busch’s has also totaled 99 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three series driving Toyota vehicles in Sprint Cup (23), Nationwide (49), and Camping World Truck (27). Add 21 overall wins prior to joining JGR at the beginning of 2008, and Busch is at 120 combined Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series wins and counting.
With that in mind, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for JGR and his entire team will be rolling up their collective sleeves and getting to work this Labor Day weekend in hopes of reaching Busch’s 100-win milestone for Toyota. They’ll hope to rekindle their 2008 magic at Atlanta as the series returns for Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup race.
Busch heads into Atlanta fifth in the standings and, with his three Sprint Cup wins, he’s all but assured a spot in the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with two races remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. So, with a Chase berth imminent, Busch and his M&M’s team will look to make the necessary gambles to get another win, which would add another three bonus points at the start of NASCAR’s playoffs.
With the Chase just three weekends away, Busch and Company will undoubtedly be feeling just a bit nostalgic, pondering their 2008 weekend at Atlanta as they look to reach yet another milestone, at the place where it all began.
From Matt Kenseth
“Atlanta’s surface is really, really worn out but I think that these new cars are going to be the same and fast there just like everywhere else so far this year. I think you’ll see with new tires, the real fast runs have close to qualifying speeds, but the track is so worn out that a lot of it depends on the tire and the weather conditions. I think you’ll have a lot of fall off, and at the end of the run, everybody will be slipping and sliding. Everyone will be pretty slow, which is really good and it’s really great for racing.”
From Jason Ratcliffe, Crew Chief
“We did the tire confirmation test a few weeks ago at Atlanta for Goodyear, and I think that things went ok. I feel like we had a few questions answered going into the test with the new tire we’re running there this weekend. We were able to learn a little bit about this entirely new tire and what the differences might be in order, to quantify that compared to what we ran there in the past. We didn’t leave Atlanta pounding our chests, but I feel confident going back that we’ll be better than we tested. We left there knowing that we had some work to do before we returned this weekend. I just want to be better than what we tested, but it was really good for us to get some laps there leading into this weekend.”
No. 20 Husky Toyota News & Notes:
- KENSETH BY THE NUMBERS: In 24 Sprint Cup Series career starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Matt Kenseth has an average finish of 12.7, has completed 7,407 of 7,750 (95.6 percent) career laps. Kenseth has earned eight top-five and 14 top-10 finishes at Atlanta earning his best finish of second in March of 2010.
- JOE GIBBS RACING AT ATLANTA: Joe Gibbs Racing has 81 Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway earning 10 wins, 25 top-five, and 37 top-ten finishes. The organization has led for a total of 2,362 laps, has an average start of 17.1, an average finish of 15.4, and has completed 25,237 of 26,181 (96.4 percent) laps at the 1.54-mile track located in Hampton, Georgia.
- KENSETH TIME: This week Citizen Eco-Drive introduces the Matt Kenseth Limited Edition Primo. Each box set features interchangeable genuine leather straps and a unique case back with the signature and racing number of Matt Kenseth, two-time DAYTONA 500® Champion and Citizen Eco-Drive Ambassador. Red accents on the watch are complemented by a checkered flag pattern on the back of the strap and etched on the case. Production limited to 5,000 pieces. For more information go to CitizenWatch.com.
- RACE INFO: Coverage of the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway (2.0-mile) begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 18th. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.