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Denny Hamlin wins the Sprint Unlimited!

Denny Hamlin continued Joe Gibbs Racing’s winning ways from the 2015 season with a trip to victory lane in tonight’s Sprint Unlimited, NASCAR’s annual all-star race to open the new season.

Tonight’s race was split into two segments with an opening 25-lap run and a final 50-lap battle to the checkered flag. Hamlin’s win was his third in the annual event and it was JGR’s fourth win in the last five years. Meanwhile Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch were caught up in accidents that ended their night prior to the checkered flag. Kenseth finished 12th, Edwards 16th, and Busch 17th.

Hamlin started from the 15th position on the grid and was content to ride in the back of the pack in hopes of avoiding any early-race accidents. The strategy didn’t work out quite as planned however when the 17 car spun down into the FedEx Express machine on lap 14 causing right side damage. But first-year crew chief Mike Wheeler showed no panic and the FedEx team was able to make the necessary repairs to keep Hamlin on the lead lap. Hamlin would go on to lead a race high five times for 36 laps and won a tight battle over a final green white checkered two-lap finish to earn the win.

Hamlin’s teammates were also strong on the 2.5-mile superspeedway tonight. In fact, all four JGR Camrys could be found at the front of the field and racing in the top seven late in the race. Unfortunately the 2 car would set off a major accident in the final laps when he turned the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota which creating a chain reaction that also collected Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S Toyota. Meanwhile Kenseth was hoping to put the No, 20 Dollar General Toyota in victory lane for a second consecutive year, but he would get caught in the night’s final accident when the 78 car spun down in front of his path. He would go on to be scored in 12th.

The starting front row for the Daytona 500 will be decided Sunday during a qualifying session at 1:30 PM. The rest of the line up for the Daytona 500 will be decided by a pair of Duel races on Thursday evening. Sunday’s qualifying session will be broadcast live on Fox at 1:30 PM, while the Duel races can be seen on Fox Sports 1 starting at 7 PM on Thursday.

The Great American Race will once again provide the official start to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season when Fox broadcasts the Daytona 500 live from Daytona International Speedway next Sunday, February 21 at 1 PM ET. The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

Kyle Busch and NOS Energy Drink Together Again

Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced today a partnership with NOS Energy Drink, as primary sponsor of the team’s No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Camry in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch, the all-time race winning driver in the history of the XFINITY Series with 76 wins, will drive his first NOS program race at Atlanta (G.A.) Motor Speedway and in subsequent races that total 16 XFINITY Series events this season.

To kick off the 2016 race schedule at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Joe Gibbs Racing and NOS Energy Drink are excited to announce they are also bringing back another champion for the XFINITY series program start, longtime race winner and past Joe Gibbs Racing veteran racecar driver Bobby Labonte.

“We’ve always sought out the most determined, fearless and committed athletes to represent our company and brands,” said Vice President of Sports Marketing, Mitch Covington. He commented further, “With Kyle (Busch) in the seat most of the year and a strong Daytona start with Bobby (Labonte), we have every reason to believe our program will win.”

The NOS Energy Drink brand is no stranger to victory lane with Busch. A partnership between the two earlier in his career afforded them much success together. Between 2011 and 2008 (Busch’s first season with Joe Gibbs Racing) the orange and blue NOS colors were represented across 25 races in the XFINITY Series when Busch earned seven victories and three pole-position wins to further their brand exposure. Also in 2008 Busch represented the NOS Energy Drink colors with one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry, in which he earned a second-place result.

Newly minted 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Busch remarked, “I’m pumped to be back with NOS Energy Drink, a brand that supported me initially when I came to Joe Gibbs Racing. We had a lot of success together and I can’t wait to win with them again!”

In 311 starts over 13 seasons, Busch has proven himself to be the winningest competitor in the history of NASCAR’s XFINITY Series. In addition to 76 career wins, the 30-year old has recorded 186 top-five finishes, 48 pole-qualifying wins and 15,766 laps led. In 2010 Busch made series history with a record 13-win race season. Past XFINITY Series Championships for Kyle include a Driver’s Championship in 2009 and Owner’s Championships in 2010 and 2008 –- all with Busch’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series team owner Joe Gibbs Racing.

Labonte proved to be a strong selection to kick off the NOS Energy Drink program for the first race of the season as he rejoins Joe Gibbs Racing while they celebrate their 25th year of NASCAR racing. “I’m excited about the opportunity to drive for JGR again. I didn’t think this would ever happen and when Joe called me about the program, it was a ‘no-brainer.’ Great race team, great cars, the opportunity is a good one. There would be nothing better than to hang a flag in this building too,” said Labonte of the Daytona opportunity in front of him with the No. 18 JGR XFINITY Series team.

A Texas native, Labonte was an early driver of the No. 18 with JGR and earned them 21 victories and a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in 2000. Labonte is also a NASCAR Champion in the XFINITY Series (1991) and the IROC Series (2001) and has victories recorded in all three of NASCAR’s premier racing series. 2016 marks Labonte’s 30th consecutive year as a professional racecar driver.

The No. 18 team’s goal will again be to capture an Owner’s Championship in the XFINITY Series. With Busch and Labonte confirmed and the recent announcement of Matt Tifft as driver of the No. 18 for races later in the schedule, crew chief Chris Gayle is eager to attack that goal. Gayle remarks, “Owners points matter and it’s important for us to keep striving for that team goal. Looking forward to having NOS Energy Drink back with us and hopefully we are able to give them more trips to victory lane.”

Joe Gibbs Racing and NOS Energy Drink are two brands at the top of the field in their respective industries. With this partnership, the two have positioned themselves for great success together in 2016.

NOS Energy Drink will be featured on the No. 18 XFINITY Series Camry for 18 total races this season: Daytona International Speedway (February 20, Labonte); Atlanta Motor Speedway (February 27, Busch); Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 5, Busch); Phoenix International Raceway (March 12, Busch); Auto Club Speedway (March 19, Busch); Texas Motor Speedway (April 8, Busch); Bristol Motor Speedway (April 16, Busch); Talladega Superspeedway (April 30, TBD driver); Pocono Raceway (June 4, Busch); Michigan International Speedway (June 11, Busch); Kentucky Speedway (July 8, Busch); Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23, Busch); Watkins Glen International (August 6, Busch); Richmond International Raceway (September 9, Busch); Chicagoland Speedeway (September 17, Busch); Dover International Speedway (October 1, Busch); Kansas Speedway (October 15, Busch); Phoenix International Raceway (November 12, Busch).

Matt Tifft Grabs 13-Race Opportunity

JGR Confirms 2016 No. 18 XFINITY Series Schedule for Rookie Driver

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (February 5, 2016) – “Names are Made Here” in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and young Ohio-native Matt Tifft will be doing just that in 2016 with a 13-race schedule behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota Camry.

The 19-year old driver has 16-career starts in NASCAR’s top-three racing series over the last two seasons, while running a limited schedule in both the XFINITY Series and in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In these early stages of his career Tifft has successfully earned six top-10 finishes in the Camping World Tuck Series and a top-10 result from 2015 in the XFINITY Series. Additionally Tifft has raced competitively in NASCAR’s K&N Pro West, K&N Pro East and ARCA Series, as well as the X-1R Pro Cup Series.

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