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Southern 500 Recap & Photos

Race recap coming soon.  In the meantime, enjoy these photos from the Southern 500 weekend.

It was yet another eventful night on the challenging track of Darlington Raceway and when it was all over Denny Hamlin would lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a sixth place finish, while Kyle Busch crossed the line in 11th and an accident left Joey Logano in 35th.

Hamlin entered the night seeking to defend his victory from a year ago at the famed track known by many as the Lady in Black. Hamlin started his No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota in the third position after a strong qualifying effort on Friday evening. He would battle tight conditions through much of the first half of the race while racing just inside the top ten. Crew chief Mike Ford would call for changes each time down pit road and his No. 11 Camry began to free up in the corners. The team would take a bigger swing at adjustments on lap 231 and although the stop under caution would cause Hamlin to lose some track position the adjustments appeared to work and it didn’t take long for him to race his way back into the top ten. With about 100 laps remaining Hamlin would report that the car was tight, but conditions were consistent. The team made a decision to come down pit road for fresh tires when a late caution came out and Hamlin managed to race his way to a sixth-place finish. It was Hamlin’s second straight top ten finish after his second-place effort last week in Richmond.

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Busch started the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota in the 14th position but quickly proved to have one of the strongest cars in the field. He climbed into the top-10 by lap 10 and made his way into the top-five by lap 34. He would assume the lead for the first time on lap 125 following a tremendous pit stop by his Doublemint crew and spend the remainder of the first half of the race in the lead position. Unfortunately shortly after lap 200, Busch would radio in to crew chief Dave Rogers to report a vibration in his right rear tire. He would bring his No. 18 Camry down pit road on lap 207 four fresh tires, but the unscheduled stop would cause him to lose a lap to the field. Patience would be the key from there and a caution on lap 238 would give Busch the Lucky Dog and put him back on the lead lap. Busch would restart 21st on lap 242 and drive his way up into 13th by the time the next caution came on lap 281. As the race neared completion it appeared Busch would have the opportunity to earn a remarkable comeback and a top-five finish, but contact with No. 29 of Kevin Harvick forced him to come down pit road one final time for quick repairs of the damage and a new set of tires. The late loss of track position took Busch out of contention for a top-ten finish, although an impressive run over the two-lap green-white-checkered finish allowed him to salvage 11th place.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the 17th position and battled through the early going with changing track conditions that caused the handle on his car to move from tight to loose. Crew chief Greg Zipadelli and the Home Depot crew would make the necessary adjustments to improve the handle on the car and Logano would drive into the top ten by lap 215. Pit strategy would put Logano back in 15th place and while racing his way back into the top ten on lap 238 he would get into the side of the No. 9 car forcing him to spin across the track and into the inside retaining wall. The damage to the No. 20 Camry would be significant causing Logano to pull into the garage for repairs. By the time the crew could make the necessary repairs Logano would finish himself some 40 laps off the pace. He would go on to finish the night 35th.

Regan Smith captured his first career victory, while Carl Edwards finished second, Brad Keselowski was third, Kasey Kahne was fourth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five. There were 11 cautions for a total of 46 laps and 21 lead changes among 12 different drivers over the course of the 370-lap race, which was extended three laps for a green-white-checkered finish.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Dover next Sunday. The FedEx 400 to benefit Autism Speaks in Dover will begin at 1 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at Noon ET.

Kyle Busch Tames Darlington!

Kyle Busch moved within two victories of claiming the All-Time Winningest Driver record in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Friday night by winning the 200-mile race at Darlington Raceway! Denny Hamlin finished second, bringing home a Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2. Brian Scott was involved in a mid-race incident not of his own doing while running in 9th. The violent wreck ended his night, but Brian was able to walk away uninjured.

Enjoy these photos from the event:

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Max Gresham Puts Wraps On Birthday Weekend Tripleheader

GRIFFIN, GA (May 4, 2011) – Three races in four days along a birthday and an anniversary made last weekend one that Max Gresham will never forget.

Gresham competed in the NASCAR K&N event and the Denny Hamlin Short-Track Showdown in Richmond, VA on Thursday before heading to Salem, IN for an ARCA race Sunday. Along the way, Gresham celebrated his 18th birthday and saluted his grandparents 50th-wedding anniversary.

When asked if the whole experience had worn him out right after Sunday’s ARCA race, Gresham responded “no, I’m fine, let’s go again somewhere.”

You couldn’t blame Gresham if he was just at least a little tired.

At Richmond, Gresham spent more than eight hours in a racecar and sped on foot between garage areas throughout the day.

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The results were spectacular as Gresham wheeled the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the pole position, led nearly half the race, and finished fourth in the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event.

“We had an awesome lap to win the pole – two-tenths of a second faster than anyone else,” said Gresham. “It carried over into the race where we led a bunch and were fast over the first 60 laps. We ran in the top two the whole race until the car fell off really bad at the end. The finish definitely helped us in the points. Any top-five finish we can get is going to help us in the points at the end of the season.”

The solid effort jumped Gresham to seventh in the K&N East standings after three races – just 65 markers out of first.

The soon to be Woodward Academy high school graduate had little time to catch his breath as he immediately jumped into the No. 71 FedEx Freight/ARGO Group Toyota for the Hamlin ‘Showdown’ event. The race, which featured top NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott, Michael Waltrip, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Hamlin, saw Gresham rocket from his eighth starting position to swapping the lead several times with Busch, the sport’s current top star at the race’s halfway point.

Gresham saw his shot at winning the race go up in smoke when a crash not of his making while running fourth with less than 10 laps to go saddled him with a 14th-place finish.

“It was great racing Kyle for the lead,” said Gresham. “I absolutely love Richmond. You can really have fun doing the kind of side-by-side racing that Kyle and I did. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted, but our FedEX Freight/ARGO Group Toyota was definitely the fastest car here tonight. I really have to thank Jamie Yelton and Fat Head Racing for that. I had a blast, a really amazing day. I can’t wait to come back here to Richmond and race again.”

After a half-day back in his native Georgia to regroup, Gresham flew to Indiana to make his 2011 ARCA Series debut in the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway. There, Gresham drove to the front by the halfway point of the race and was running fifth with a fresh set of tires waiting for him in the Venturini Motorsports pit box when a tangle with a lapped car severely damaged his No. 25 Gresham & Associates Toyota Camry.

Undaunted, the Venturini crew repaired the car in time to get Gresham back on track for a respectable 15th-place finish.
“We had a good run going and got swept up into somebody else’s mess,” said Gresham. “We led some early in the race. These Venturini Motorsports guys put a great car under me. They set up two great race cars today – one won and the other one should have won. I can’t wait to drive one of their cars again.

“This weekend was good for me,” Gresham concluded. “It showed I could drive three different cars on three different days. Hopefully, I can one day be like Kyle (Busch) and run three different cars every weekend. I can do it physically. Maybe after this weekend, some other people will see that in me.”

Gresham will now hit the testing trail with sessions at Bowman Gray Stadium , the site of an upcoming June 4 NASCAR K&N event, and he will also get some testing in at Michigan Speedway on Wednesday, May 25. The Jackson, MI two-mile oval will be the site of Gresham’s career superspeedway debut as he will wheel the No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota in the ARCA RainEater Wiper Blades 200 on June 17.

Gresham’s next K&N race will be on Saturday, May 21 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA. He and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota are the defending champions of the event.

To see photo galleries of Max Gresham’s weekend at Richmond and Salem, please visit the Images section of www.MaxGresham.com.

Max Gresham post-race videos from Richmond and Salem can be viewed on the YouTube section of www.MaxGresham.com.

You can also follow Max Gresham on Twitter @Max Gresham and on Facebook at Max Gresham Fan Page.

Kyle Busch Wins at Richmond! JGR Sweeps Weekend

Joe Gibbs Racing continued its dominance at Richmond International Raceway tonight with Kyle Busch capturing his second victory of the season, followed closely by Denny Hamlin in second and Joey Logano in 11th.

Click Here to view photos from Richmond

Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Pretzel Candies Toyota in the 20th position and proved strong from the outset once again on the Virginia short track, wasting very little time making his way toward the front. Busch would enter the top ten by lap 31 and was inside the top five just thirty laps later. He was running second when he entered the pits for the first time and great work by the M&Ms crew on the green flag stop gave Busch his first lead on lap 91 once everyone had cycled through the stops. He would swap the top spot several times with his teammate as the race progressed but it was obvious throughout the night that he and his teammate Hamlin were the class of the field as the two battled back and forth at the front of the pack. The night’s final restart would come on lap 313 and an impressive move by Busch to the outside sent him to the front of the field one final time. From there he was able to extend his lead and conserve just enough fuel to capture the checkered flag. It was another dominating performance for Busch and JGR as he would lead a race-high four times for 235 laps en route to victory.

Hamlin entered the night seeking a weekend sweep after winning his own Late Model charity race Thursday night and then dominating the NASCAR Nationwide Series in the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota on Friday. Hamlin wasted no time moving to the front of the field after starting the No. 11 FedEx Freight in the 11th position. He would move into the top five within the first 50 laps and claimed the top spot on lap 73. Although Hamlin would drop back into the fourth position following the race’s first round of green flag pit stops, he managed to settle into the second position behind his teammate Busch through the midpoint of the race. He would retake the top spot on lap 274. Pit sequences would shuffle the field a bit, but it never took long for Hamlin to weave his way back to the front. Hamlin would settle in behind Busch on what turned out to be the final restart of the night on lap 313 and as the two weaved their way through lapped traffic he was unable to challenge his teammate for the win. The FedEx team would settle for an impressive second-place finish after leading three times for a total of 38 laps.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the ninth position and struggled through the early portion of the race to find the proper handle on the car. With few cautions in the first half of the race there was limited time for The Home Depot crew to work on the car. Adjustments by the team at the midpoint of the race made The Home Depot Camry handle better on both the entry and exit of the turns, but he was still unable to drive forward through the field. Logano was running 18th on lap 255 when Jimmie Johnson slid up the track and spun his No. 20 Camry. It took four trips down pit road and outstanding work by the team, but Logano was able to remain on lead lap to restart in the 21st position. A series of cautions allowed the team to continue to work on the handle of his Camry, but a big accident in front of Logano with 100 laps remaining would cause a little further damage despite an impressive display of skills that kept the No. 20 clear of anything major that might have ended his night early. The perseverance shown by The Home Depot crew would pay off as the No. 20 was at its best on the race’s final run to earn an 11th-place finish.

Kasey Kahne finished third behind Busch and Hamlin, while David Ragan was fourth and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 60 laps and 14 lead changes among 10 different drivers over the course of the 400-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Darlington next Saturday night. The race in Darlington will begin at 7:30 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 PM ET.

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