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Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown Proceeds Complete $150,000 Grant Commitment to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Seventh-annual celebrity Late Model race took place on April 24 at South Boston Speedway to benefit the Denny Hamlin Foundation

2015 date set for April 23 at South Boston

RICHMOND, VA (September 5, 2014) – With proceeds from the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown race held last April, Mary Lou Hamlin of the Denny Hamlin Foundation presented a $50,000 check today to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The donation represents the third and final installment of the $150,000 grant commitment made in 2012 to help fund the Denny Hamlin Cystic Fibrosis Research Lab at CHoR and support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-accredited Therapeutics Development Center at VCU.
A sell-out crowd and great racing action once again made the seventh annual Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown a huge success this year. The celebrity-laden Late Model charity race, held April 24 at historic South Boston (Va.) Speedway for the first time, featured the Virginia-bred Hamlin and other stars of NASCAR against many of the area’s top Late Model racers.

“The Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown was a big hit again,” said Hamlin, who last raced at South Boston in 2003. “The crew and fans at South Boston really responded and gave us former SoBo regulars a great welcome back. With such great fan and sponsor support of the event, the Denny Hamlin Foundation is able to advance the great work coming from the Cystic Fibrosis Research Lab, and help move vital Cystic Fibrosis therapies forward to help all individuals with CF.”

While Hamlin was joined by fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and David Ragan, plus former South Boston track champion Timothy Peters, it was Matt Bowling of Ridgeway, Va. who sped past race leader Matt Waltz with five laps to go to take home the checkered flag and the $10,000 winner’s check.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a fatal genetic disease that affects about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. CF causes chronic infections in the lungs and inadequate digestion of nutrients. There is no cure for CF, but medical advances have doubled the life expectancy of children in the last 30 years and increased the overall median age of survival to 40.
CHoR has a large research staff focused on finding a cure for CF and in developing new therapies for CF. As the only CF Foundation-accredited center in the greater Richmond area, CF patients cared for at CHoR have access to the latest therapies and can participate in groundbreaking clinical studies.

“The Denny Hamlin Foundation grant has brought internationally-recognized CF physician scientists to Central Virginia to lecture and collaborate, it has allowed us to test highly innovative research ideas that we hope will lead to new understanding and new therapies for CF, and perhaps most important, it has supported young investigators as they learn to become CF scientists in our labs,” said Bruce Rubin, M.D., professor and chair of the VCU Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of CHoR.

The Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown began in 2008 at Southside Speedway, a local short track near Hamlin’s hometown of Chesterfield, Va., outside of Richmond, before moving to Richmond International Raceway in 2011 to pair up as a doubleheader with the NASCAR K&N Series. For its seventh year in 2014, the race moved just over 100 miles southeast to South Boston Speedway, another Virginia short track with a long history in stock car racing. For 2015, the event returns to South Boston Speedway on Thursday, April 23.

The success of this event was also made possible by the support of sponsors FedEx, Sun Trust, Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing, Sprint, Danville Toyota, Sport Clips, Steel and Stock Car Aluminum, Inc., and the NASCAR Foundation.

The Short Track Showdown is one of two major fundraising events hosted by the Denny Hamlin Foundation this year. The other is Denny & Mark’s ProAm Jam concert and golf event, held Oct. 27-28 at Daniel Island Club in Charleston, SC to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-accredited Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) among other beneficiaries.

Matt Kenseth Launches New Educational Children’s Book Series

Today on National Youth Literacy Day, Matt Kenseth debuted Matt Kenseth’s Race Against Bullying, his first children’s book aimed at educating and empowering children to make good choices if faced with bullying situations. Kenseth, a two-time Daytona 500 Champion and the NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver of the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, released the book with his wife Katie at Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters.

Published by Bendon, Inc., Matt Kenseth’s Race Against Bullying is available today for purchase exclusively at more than 11,300 Dollar General stores nationwide and online at www.dollargeneral.com. It is also the first installment of a four-part series of educational children’s books that Matt and Katie Kenseth championed. The series is designed for family reading for children ages 4 through 8 to become more self-confident and empowered to make good choices.

“As a parent of three small children, it’s natural to worry about the issues they will face while growing up,” said Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. “Both Katie and I believe that openly talking about these issues is the best way to prepare them. This book is designed to help families discuss the effects of bullying with their kids. We believe it’s important our kids not only know how to deal with a bully, but also understand that it’s not OK to act like one.”

“We’re excited to partner with Matt to raise awareness and provide solutions to childhood bullying, especially since it reflects our mission of Serving Others,” said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and CEO. “The project also combines Dollar General’s passion for literacy and reading through the Dollar General Literacy Foundation with the strong representation Matt brings to both Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR.”

According to www.stopbullying.gov, more than 70 percent of students say they have seen bullying in their schools and less than 30 percent of students who are bullied notify an adult. More statistics, further reading about bullying, and ways that adults can help can be found at the stopbullying.gov website.

Kenseth, an avid reader, has helped support literacy programs throughout his career and currently serves as an ambassador for the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Sharing in both Dollar General and Kenseth’s commitment to literacy is long-time Kenseth sponsor CITIZEN Watch, who made a $25,000 donation on Kenseth’s behalf to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation in honor of the book launch.

“Our new brand statement Better Starts Now is about reaching inside yourself to do things better. With the launch of his new book, Matt has shown us that this motto is part of his character both on and off the track,” said Jeffrey Cohen, President of Citizen Watch Company of America. “With statistics showing bullying and harassment becoming an even bigger social problem a book like this is just what is needed to help start the conversation earlier between parents and children. Citizen Watch Company has supported higher education for the past two years as a corporate sponsor of the National Merit Scholarship Foundation and we are proud to expand our educational support with a donation to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation in honor of Matt Kenseth.”

Matt Kenseth’s Race Against Bullying is a 22-page, 10 x 10-inch, soft-cover book, retailing for $3 at more than 11,300 Dollar General stores nationwide and online at www.dollargeneral.com.

Written by Gina Gold, illustrated by Adam Devaney and produced by Judy O Productions, Inc., Matt Kenseth’s Race Against Bullying was created by Matt and Katie Kenseth and is published by Bendon, Inc.

In the first book in the series Matt Kenseth’s Race Against Bullying, a nine year old Matt is confronted by a bully at school. He must go to his parents and friends for help with handling this bully. With their assistance, he is able to discover a variety of ways to successfully deal with bullies in his life.

Race Report: Bristol

Matt Kenseth led Joe Gibbs Racing in tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race from Bristol Motor Speedway with a third-place finish, while separate accidents would leave Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin to finish 36th and 40th respectively.

Matt Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 16th position and worked his way into the top 10 over the course of the opening green flag run prior to a competition caution on lap 60. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff would make the call for a two-tire change on the opening round of pit stops and Kenseth came out in second and became the leader for the ensuing restart after teammate Kyle Busch was ruled too fast entering pit road. The Dollar General Toyota would lead for 40 laps before lapped traffic forced him to give way. He would make a four-tire stop on the next round of stops and restarted eighth. The No. 20 Camry was running seventh at the 300 lap mark. Great work on pit road by the Dollar General crew would allow Kenseth to line up fourth for a restart with 135 laps remaining. He would jump into second a few laps later before the next caution flew. He would restart from the bottom of the track in the second position on lap 382. Kenseth would close in on the leader with 90 laps remaining but lapped traffic would again cut his momentum short allowing the 22 car to get around him as he went to third. The Dollar General team would elect track position following the next caution and Kenseth would restart first with 63 laps to go. He would hold the lead following the drop of the green flag to restart the race, but fresh tires on the 22 and 2 cars proved too strong as he relinquished the lead with 44 to go. He would battle to the checkered flag and go on to finish third.

Kyle Busch started his No. 18 Doublemint Toyota from the fourth position and was strong through the early going as he maneuvered to the front of the field. Busch would take the lead on lap 55 and held it through the opening round of pit stops following a competition caution on lap 60. Although the Doublemint Camry left pit road in the first position NASCAR ruled he was too fast entering pit road. That would force Busch to restart at the back of the field. He would get caught up in the night’s first accident on lap 126 which resulted in heavy damage to the left rear of his car. The No. 18 Camry was able to remain on the track but he would restart the race following repairs two laps down. An extended caution following a lap 160 accident allowed the Doublemint crew to make additional repairs but Busch was now in 35th and three laps off the pace. He would manage to battle before having to take it to the garage to just over 50 to go. He would finish 36th.

Hamlin took the green flag for the start of tonight’s race in the 13th position and patiently worked his way into the top 10 over the course of the opening green flag run prior to a lap 60 competition caution. Hamlin had the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota in the sixth position at lap 100. An accident would bring out a caution followed by a second round of pit stops and a quick two-tire change by the FedEx crew put Hamlin out as the leader for the lap 137 restart. He would hold the lead until lap 160 when the 4 car attempted to slide up the track behind Hamlin and instead caught the left rear of the FedEx Camry causing him to spin down into the inside wall. The contact caused him to ricochet back up the track and into the path of the 88. The final result was heavy damage and a disappointing early end to a promising night. He would go on to finish 40th.

Joey Logano of Penske Racing won the race, followed by Brad Keselowski, Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. There were nine cautions for a total of 64 laps and 16 lead changes among nine different drivers.

Race Report: Michigan

Separate early race accidents spoiled the day for teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, while Denny Hamlin managed to avoid the trouble and led Joe Gibbs Racing with a seventh-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 from Michigan International Speedway.

Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the 21st position and was able to avoid the early wrecks that plagued his teammates. He remained patient and worked his way into the top 15 and was running 12th as the race went past the halfway mark. He would work his way back into the top ten and was running 10th on lap 135. Hamlin would make a scheduled stop on lap 138 and once the field cycled through he was running 11th with 50 laps to go. Hamlin benefited for well-timed caution when he pitted with just over 30 laps remaining and the yellow flag came out. The FedEx Camry was able to restart seventh and raced as high as fifth following two quick restarts that followed. He would go to finish in seventh.

Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 18th position and was patient through the early going racing just outside the top 20 after being shuffled back on the initial green flag for the start of the race. Unfortunately Kenseth would not have the opportunity to make his way toward the front over the course of the 200-lap race because of an accident on lap 22. The 10 car spun in front of the Dollar General Camry forcing Kenseth to check up and that set off a chain reaction and contact from behind caused rear suspension damage that forced the team to make repairs in the garage. He would return 27 laps down to the leader and went on to finish 38th.

Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota from the 24th position but his day took a turn for the worse early on when he got loose on lap 4 and made hard contact into the outside wall. The damage was significant to the Interstate Batteries Camry and Busch immediately drove it straight to the garage. Kyle worked alongside his 18 teammates to make repairs and he would return to the track to complete the race, but was many laps off the pace. He would go on to finish 39th.

The best news of the day is that both Busch and Hamlin officially earned a spot in the Chase, while Kenseth remains in good position as the points leader among those that have yet to win a race thus far this season.

Jeff Gordon won the race, followed by Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Paul Menard and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 37 laps and 20 lead changes among eight different drivers.

Mars Sweetens its NASCAR Sponsorships

Announces Multiyear Renewals with Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch and NASCAR®

Mars announced today that it has signed new multi-year deals with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR), further anchoring its presence in the sport. The new agreement with JGR will extend the winning partnership that has brought the No. 18 M&M’S® Toyota to victory lane 20 times since 2008 and continue with the popular M&M’S® brand as the primary paint scheme in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™.

The renewed contract with the sanctioning body will designate Mars as the Official Chocolate of NASCAR. Mars will continue to leverage its Official status to ensure its various chocolate brands remain a race day staple for millions of racing fans.

“Mars and its iconic brands have been part of NASCAR for decades, and we’re excited to keep that winning tradition going,” said Roy Benin, Chief Consumer Officer at Mars Chocolate North America. “As the sport has grown throughout the years, so has our involvement in it and we’re incredibly proud of the strong partnership we’ve forged with Joe Gibbs Racing and the league.”

“From connecting with fans to engaging our retail partners and creating passion among our associates, our alliances with Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR are tremendously successful,” explained William Clements, Vice President Sponsorships and Sports Marketing at Mars Chocolate North America. “We’re thrilled to extend our partnerships and look forward to celebrating more wins both on and off the track.”

“Mars has been a big part of the Joe Gibbs Racing family and we’re excited to continue what has become a winning relationship,” added Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “Mars has been such an important partner to us throughout the past six plus seasons, and to have them continue their support inspires us as a team to work even harder every day. Everyone at JGR is committed to ensuring they experience the type of success on and off the track deserving of such a great company.”

“Being the M&M’S® driver and representing Mars on and off the track has been one of the proudest accomplishments in my racing career,” said Kyle Busch, driver of the No. M&M’S® 18 Toyota for JGR. “This is great news for everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and our fans, but also shows how dedicated Mars is to our sport. With this news, any trip to Victory Lane will be even sweeter.”

“Mars is one of the most recognizable brands in NASCAR and is among the best-in-class marketers in all of sports,” said Brent Dewar, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer. “More than two decades after entering NASCAR, Mars continues to help make race day more fun and we couldn’t be more proud to see the company continue to re-invest in our sport.”

To learn more about M&M’S® Racing, visit them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MMSRacing.