Matt Kenseth wasted no time in finding victory lane in 2015 with a win in last night’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. Carl Edwards was impressive in his debut with Joe Gibbs Racing earning a third-place finish, while Kyle Busch finished ninth and Denny Hamlin was scored in 19th after being involved in an accident that ended his night early.
Kenseth started 16th following a random draw on Friday afternoon that determined the starting lineup for the 75-lap race. He would move to the front of the field early to lead for the first time on lap 10. On the night, he would lead four different times for a total of 21 laps. He would take the lead back from his teammate Carl Edwards on lap 70 and held the top spot to the finish earning a trip to victory lane in his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota.
Edwards started from the 14th position and spent the opening segment toward the back of the field hoping to avoid an early big wreck. As the race went on Edwards maneuvered toward the front of the field and was inside the top five for the final 20 laps of the night. The No. 19 ARRIS Toyota would lead briefly on lap 69, but teammate Matt Kenseth would regain the top spot on the next lap and Edwards would go on to finish the race in third.
Busch started eighth and also spent the early portion of the night running toward the back of the pack in hopes of avoiding an early accident. The strategy paid off for nearly the entire opening 25-lap segment but he would receive front end damage on a lap 46 accident. Although his team was able to make repairs on pit road to the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota and maintain a spot on the lead lap, Busch wasn’t able to work his way back toward the front of the field and had to settle for a ninth-place finish.
Hamlin would get caught in the night’s big accident when he was sent into the grass on lap 46 attempting to avoid several other cars wrecking. The front end of the No. 11 FedEx Express lifted in the air but fortunately the car never went completely airborne and Hamlin would come to a rest. The damage was too severe to continue however and his night would be over. He would be scored in 19th.
The starting front row for the Daytona 500 will be decided today during a qualifying session at 1 PM. The rest of the line-up for the Daytona 500 will be decided by a pair of Duel races on Thursday evening. Today’s qualifying session will be broadcast live on Fox at 1 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 22 at 1 PM ET. The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.
Matt Kenseth Will be Exclusive to the Reser’s No. 20 Toyota for NASCAR’s XFINITY Series races
Reser’s Fine Foods and Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announce today that Reser’s Fine Foods will return in 2015 to sponsor Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Reser’s Fine Foods will appear on JGR’s No. 20 Toyota five times during the 2015 season, starting with the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, February 28.
“Sponsoring NASCAR continues to give us the opportunity to engage with our consumers,” states Brenda Killingsworth, trade marketing manager for Reser’s. “From sampling product on the track, to creative promotions in retail stores across the country, our partnership with JGR provides a tremendous marketing platform to support our business.”
In 2014, Matt Kenseth earned one win, 10 top-five, and 15 top-ten finishes in the series. Kenseth will return in 2015 to pilot the Reser’s Toyota for five races and will be paired with Michael Wheeler, who makes his debut in the role of crew chief after several years as an engineer on JGR’s No. 11 Sprint Cup Series team. Kenseth raced in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series in 2013 for 16 starts, in what many viewed as a transition year with a new race team for the veteran driver. In 2013, Kenseth and his Reser’s team earned two victories, including Reser’s first win as a primary sponsor at Kansas Speedway, seven top-five, and 14 top-ten finishes during the season.
“I’m excited to work with Reser’s again this year,” said Matt Kenseth, “It has been a lot of fun representing their deli salad and baked side dish brands over the last few seasons, and I’m happy to know that we’ll be working together again. We were able to grab them a big win along the way, but I’d like to add to that total for them this year.”
The No. 20 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota will appear in five races in 2015. The race schedule for the No. 20 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota is as follows:
|February 28||Atlanta Motor Speedway|
|March 14||Phoenix International Raceway|
|May 30||Dover International Speedway|
|September 19||Chicagoland Speedway/td>|
|October 17||Kansas Speedway|
19-Year-Old to Be the First Coughlin to Race at World Center of Racing
For drivers in drag racing it’s Pomona, California. For many open wheel competitors it’s Indianapolis, Indiana. In stock car racing, it’s Daytona. The “it” in those places refers a place that everyone desires to be and when you make it there, you’ve accomplished something than many often do not.
Cody Coughlin is paving a new avenue for the family of racers. The 19-year-old has shed the drag racing lure and will now be the first Coughlin to compete at Daytona Int’l Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing development driver will challenge his competitors in the ARCA Racing Series event at “World Center of Racing,” the Lucas Oil 200 on Saturday, February 14th.
“It’s special to me because this is the pinnacle of the career I have chosen and I am very excited to take my next step,” said Coughlin. “I expect and hope to be fast and competitive there and everywhere else we race at this year. Dave (Leiner, Crew Chief) and Kevin (Hamlin) agree that we should be able to reach great heights.”
The Daytona race will mark the start of his second season competing in the ARCA Racing Series for Venturini Motorsports. Last year, Coughlin made 11 starts with three top-five and eight top-ten finishes.
The driver from Delaware, Ohio was able to take his first laps around Daytona this past December during a two-day test session. He was on top or near the top of the speed charts in all individual sessions.
One of the goals during the December test was for Coughlin to get some seat time in the draft around Daytona. This race is not decided solely on horsepower, but also a chess match where strategy could come into play towards the finish.
“We are going down there open-minded and see how the flow of things are and come up with our strategy,” Coughlin explained. “We used a basic strategy during our test session and I was able to catch on to it real quick.”
A victory at Daytona would be a great start for the 2015 season and that is their focus heading down for the season opener.
“We are going down there to win and it’s hard to justify anything else; that is why we race,” Coughlin said. “We have to look at our situation for each weekend; how the car runs and assess how we performed for our situations. But, the most important thing is winning and we are going to try and get us some this year. I know we can.”
Coughlin comes in to the 2015 season with great support from his Team JEGS crew that includes Team Manager Kevin Hamlin, Spotter Scott Wimmer, Super Late Model Crew Chief Nick Easton and crew member Dave Holt. Dave Leiner will lead the Venturini Motorsports crew for his ARCA Racing Series events this year.
He also continues to receive great support from his family that includes his parents, John & Di and his sister, Kennedi.
Along with his passion for racing, he is more passionate about his faith in God.
“My parents raised me in a faithful environment and I definitely realize the blessings that God has given to all of us. He has led us down a great path and our faith continues to be rewarded with unique opportunities like we all will experience at Daytona.”
Coughlin will be on track at Daytona starting on Thursday, February 12th with practice from 4:00 -6:00pm. Final practice is scheduled for Friday, February 13th from 9:30 -10:30am. Qualifying is scheduled for 3:30pm.
On Saturday, February 14th, fans will have an opportunity to meet Cody during the ARCA Racing All Access/Open Garage for Fans from 12:30pm until 2:00pm.
The green flag for the Lucas Oil 200 is scheduled to wave at 4:15pm on Saturday afternoon.