Do you always feel the excitement of racing at your home track?
“It never goes away – it’s still the race I look forward to the most. For me, having my charity race as part of Richmond week makes it all that more special. Getting a couple wins here was really important to me and this team and we absolutely want to come back and do it again. We feel like this track is a place where we can run up front every time we come here and I know we all would be disappointed to come here and not perform at the level we expect to. This team could use a solid weekend, and I can’t think of a better track to come to for just that.” Read more
Joe Gibbs Racing Headquarters One of Premier Shops in NASCAR
If you’re driving on Interstate 77 north of Charlotte, N.C., and exit onto Gilead Road (Exit 23, as the locals call it), when you head west, you’ll see a shopping center on the right and Presbyterian Hospital on the left. Just past the hospital on the left is an entrance for Huntersville Business Park. Once you turn onto Reece Boulevard and head south for bit, you’ll travel just slightly to the right on Reece Boulevard West.
Travel less than a mile, just past Julian Clark Avenue, and you’ll see nestled in a beautiful wooded area the 240,000-square-foot headquarters of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). If you drove past it and didn’t see the sign out front, you would never know the building housed one of premier teams in NASCAR. The massive building looks like it could house a Fortune 500 company or serve as a medical complex.
And that’s exactly how Todd Meredith, vice president of operations for JGR, envisioned things in 1997 when he began scouting locations for JGR’s third and final headquarters.
“We wanted something that looked nice and was in a pleasant environment, so when we brought corporations in to talk about sponsorship, it didn’t look like an industrial park,” said Meredith, who has been with JGR since 1991. “We wanted something a little bit nicer that looked like a business park.”
But the look of the building was far from the reason to pull up stakes and move to the current shop. After spending its first three seasons in a shop on Harris Boulevard in north Charlotte, JGR built its second headquarters in Twin Lakes Business Park, also in north Charlotte, just north of Harris Boulevard, and moved there in November 1994.
“We pretty much outgrew our second shop the day we moved into it,” Meredith said. “But, once we decided to do the 20 car, we knew we had to move.”
From 1992 through 1998, JGR fielded only the No. 18 Interstate Batteries entry, first for Dale Jarrett and then for Bobby Labonte, who took over for Jarrett in 1995. With space already tight in the shop and multi-car teams becoming more and more common in NASCAR, JGR officials began the process of adding a second car while also looking for a new place to call home.
By the time Tony Stewart was announced as the driver of JGR’s second car, the No. 20 Home Depot machine, the organization was just three months away from moving to its current location in Huntersville.
And what a challenge it was.
Meredith spent months searching parcels of land that would house the new shop before settling on Huntersville – the last piece of land he looked at during the process. He was then heavily involved with the design process, along with architects from LS3P Associates Ltd. Meredith was there when Shelco Inc., which constructed the building, broke ground in late 1997, and then oversaw the move from the old shop to the new shop in December 1998.
“It’s a huge challenge and a lot of hard work,” Meredith said. “The year we moved to the current shop, I worked seven months without a day off, and then worked all day Thanksgiving day just because it was so much work to get moved in. You don’t have a lot of downtime to get ready for the next season, so you have to do it quickly.”
When employees moved in, they were greeted by a 130,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art complex which gave them all the tools – and more importantly – space to work in.
“It was a massive ‘wow’ factor,” said Jimmy Makar, vice president of racing operations for JGR and Labonte’s crew chief at the time of the move. “Even when we were building it, you couldn’t believe the size of it. Everyone was just really proud of the place that Joe had built for us. It was like buying a new home. Everyone was just proud and happy to have a place like our shop to come to everyday to go to work.”
Labonte was equally impressed.
“I thought the other shop was pretty big,” Labonte said. “Of course, there were only 18 people working there. Fortunately, I was able to be involved and I wanted to be involved. I’ll never forget looking at the plans for that shop in Todd’s office, and then we went over the woods where the shop is now. It was me, Joe (Gibbs), J.D. (Gibbs), Jimmy (Makar), Todd (Meredith) and Mac (Steve McMillan, facilities supervisor) and I remember just thinking, ‘There’s a lot of woods here.’ So, for me to have walked through the woods and see the plans from Todd and get the updates throughout the process from Todd and Mac – to then see it finished was an incredible feeling.”
In 2005, JGR added a third entity to its stable – the No. 11 FedEx team. In turn, JGR officials constructed a 110,000-square-foot addition to the shop to bring the total square-footage to 240,000.
“One of the things we did originally with the shop was design it so we could grow,” Makar said. “Nobody knew at that time how quickly the sport was going to grow and what we were going to need. The seven-post room was planned for even before we built it. The ground was going to be laid and the foundation was laid for that. The engine room was designed for expansion. The machine shop, which was originally in the engine room and something that we thought we weren’t going to outgrow, turned out to grow out of its area, so we moved that to what used to be the fabrication room. But, we had the ability and we had rooms to grow into. We have had, and still have, the ability to expand and change as we need to, and that’s what’s great about our shop.”
Even more than a decade after the shop opened, Meredith and Makar can’t believe how far JGR has come in 20 years.
“There’s no doubt about that,” Makar said. “The industry has grown leaps and bounds since the early ’90s and the shops are much more phenomenal than they were back then. To have even been able to envision a shop of this size and magnatiude, with the amount of people we have working and the technology we have within the walls – it’s something you never would’ve thought about. You never would’ve dreamed that you’d be doing the things we’re able to do at our shop.”
“It’s been quite a ride,” Meredith said. “It’s obviously slowed down in the last three years, but for the first 17 years it was just everything you could do to keep up. You couldn’t hire enough people, you couldn’t buy enough space and you couldn’t buy enough equipment. It was just all you could do to keep up. And there are days I walk around and am still amazed at how far we’ve come.”
And Meredith, like everyone at JGR, knows the gamble by Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries, to align with JGR in 1991, paved the way for the team’s success.
“Obviously, without Interstate Batteries, we wouldn’t be here today,” Meredith said. “They’ve been with us for all 20 seasons and they’re a huge part of history and our culture. Norm Miller is a huge friend to all of us. He’s not just a sponsor. It’s a deeper relationship than that. When you see Norm, you give him a hug, and he and Joe are very good friends. They’re just a huge part of our history.”
Max Gresham To Haul The Freight For FedEx In Denny Hamlin Short-Track Showdown At Richmond
Max Gresham hopes he can absolutely, positively haul the freight as part of Team FedEx for Denny Hamlin’s Fourth-Annual Short-Track Showdown at Richmond (VA) International Raceway on Thursday, April 28.
Gresham will join NASCAR Sprint Cup star Hamlin, NASCAR Nationwide Series great Curtis Markham, and NASCAR K&N Pro Series rival Darrell Wallace, Jr. as one of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers sponsored by FedEx in the race.
“It’s going to be awesome to have FedEx on board and be part of Team FedEx for this race,” said Gresham, who will pilot the No. 71 FedEx Freight Late Model Stock Car in the event. “It’s going to be a big night for everyone, especially the fans and all the charities that benefit from the Denny Hamlin Foundation.”
Meanwhile, Hamlin will race the FedEx Express colors in the race while Markham will be decked out with a FedEx Office paint job. Wallace, Jr. will complete the quartet of FedEx supported cars in the charity event with FedEx Ground decals.
FedEx Corporation provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx employs more than 275,000 employees and contractors worldwide. FedEx Corporation provides strategic direction and consolidated financial reporting for the operating companies that compete collectively under the FedEx name worldwide: FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, FedEx Office, FedEx Custom Critical, FedEx Trade Networks, FedEx SupplyChain and FedEx Services.
The Fourth Annual Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown will feature to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Joey Logano and 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne. All the competitors – including Gresham – will be driving Late Model Stock Cars in the event.
“This is a really big deal for me,” said Gresham, who will also drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota stocker in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series Blue Ox 100 at Richmond earlier in the day. “I get to race with all the big names in NASCAR before my 18th birthday. To get a head start and be able to race against those guys is going to be great. I’m looking forward to going to Richmond International Raceway and running a Late Model there. It’s going to be real fast. It’s going to wide open and I am really looking forward to it.”
Hamlin’s Short-Track Showdown will benefit The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Richmond, VA, Victory Junction Gang Camp and the NASCAR Foundation.
The Fourth-Annual Denny Hamlin Short-Track Showdown from Richmond will be telecast live on SPEED at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, April 28.
You are now two races away from tying Mark Martin for the career lead in Nationwide Series victories. What does that mean for you?
“All in all, the Mark Martin record – it’s two away, it’s three away from being my own. When and where that happens, we’re not going to pick a date. It’s too hard to do that. We have Darlington coming up, we’ve got Dover, and we’re not going to do Richmond. There’s definitely some good opportunity here to win three more races before June, or right into June. If everything goes right, then maybe we could do that. If it comes through this year, great. If not, then we’ll just wait and try to do it next year.”
What are your overall thoughts heading into Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Nashville Superspeedway?
“The racetrack is real finicky. It’s a fun place. It’s a mile-and-a-third, and yet it almost feels more like a short track. You’ve got really long straightaways, really fast speeds and you get down in the corner and you have to use a lot of brake, but yet there’s a lot of grip because of the concrete surface and the tire that Goodyear brings there. So, with the trucks and the Nationwide cars being there on the same weekend, I like it because it gives you a little bit. It’s kind of like a Nationwide-Cup weekend, I guess. You get a little bit more track time and that kind of gives you maybe a little bit of an advantage. I enjoy the back-and-forth stuff. And Nashville, being a standalone, non-Cup weekend, seems to be a little bit more relaxing and a little bit easier. I’m looking forward to going to Nashville.”
Kyle Busch: Two to Tie, Three to Win
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 19, 2011) – After last week’s improbable victory in the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Kyle Busch finds himself just two Nationwide wins away from tying the legendary Mark Martin for the lead in career wins in NASCAR’s second-highest division as the series heads to Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway for Saturday’s Nashville 300.
Martin has 49 Nationwide Series victories in his illustrious career, but Busch, driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), inched closer last week with a wild win that put his total at 47 trips to victory lane.
The fact Busch was even running at the end of last Saturday’s race at Talladega was a shock, for it appeared that his day was over after being involved in a multi-car accident on lap 89. His No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota was a mangled mess, so much so that he was ready to take his car to the garage so his crew could load it up and get a head start on the trip home.
But crew chief Jason Ratcliff had other ideas. The veteran race-caller brought Busch to pit road, where a swarm of JGR crewmen went to work on repairing the Z-Line Designs Camry. Quick and tenacious effort during a series of stops allowed Busch to rejoin the field without losing a lap. And, with 32 laps remaining in a car seemingly held together with duct tape and sheer will, Busch rallied his way to the front with JGR teammate Joey Logano pushing him from behind.
With a shove from Logano on the last lap, Busch took the lead down the backstretch of the 2.66-mile oval and kept it in the right place at the right time when a melee erupted behind him that sent Mike Wallace’s car airborne. With NASCAR having already attempted two green-white-checkered finishes, this caution provided the third and final strike. The race ended under caution with the field frozen just before entering turns three and four. Busch was clearly the leader when the caution flag waved, and after leading only three laps on three separate occasions – all before lap 36 – Busch was the leader on the lap that mattered most, allowing him to secure his fourth Nationwide win of the season and his second Nationwide win in a restrictor-plate race.
Busch not only moved closer to Martin, but also crossed another track off his Nationwide Series win list. There are 23 tracks throughout North America that will host a Nationwide race during the 2011 season. After scoring his first series victory at Talladega, Busch now has won at all but six of them.
Busch has never competed at one of those other six tracks – Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. – and is not scheduled to do so this season. And he only ran the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course in Montreal once, when he finished 10th in 2009. That leaves Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Atlanta Motor Speedway as circuits he has competed at more than once yet not scored a Nationwide Series victory.
This week at Nashville, Busch will look to score his second Nationwide win at the 1.33-mile oval, as he took the checkered flag there in June 2009. Ratcliff was on top of the No. 18 pit box that night and would love nothing more than to gain a second win at a circuit he considers a “home” track.
After nine years working in various forms of racing around Texas, Ratcliff’s breakthrough came in 1995, when he joined Sadler Racing in Nashville, Tenn., as a mechanic and rear tire changer for drivers Chuck Bown and Gary Bradberry in the Nationwide Series.
After two years with Sadler Racing, Ratcliff left the team and spent the 1997 and 1998 seasons at LAR Motorsports, headquartered in Columbia, Tenn., where he was chief mechanic for Casey Atwood and Jeff Purvis over the two-year span. Ratcliff left Tennessee following the 1998 season and spent 1999 to 2004 at Kentucky-based Brewco Motorsports, serving as a crew chief for Atwood, Jamie McMurray and David Green. He then moved to North Carolina and began his career with JGR.
Despite having left more than 10 years ago, Ratcliff has several ties to the Nashville area as his parents and his sister live there.
And he’d love nothing more than to get a victory in front of family and friends, while helping his driver and friend inch closer to a record.
Joey Logano Quotes
“More than anything, I really need to thank Harvest Investments and Harvest-Properties.com for coming aboard to sponsor the event. That is huge, because this team has been running good all year long and to let the owner’s championship points lead slip away because we didn’t have sponsorship would have been tough to swallow. Times are tough now and everyone is having trouble finding sponsorships, so to be able to have a company step up at the last minute because they want to see this team continue and chase that title is huge. So I can’t thank Harvest Investments and Harvest-Properties.com enough. Hopefully, we can repay them for doing this with a win and an even bigger points lead.
“I’m excited to go to Nashville because I’ve always run well there, but more than anything, I’m excited for the guys on the team. They were really bummed at not going to Nashville, especially after the way we’ve been improving week-to-week with a pretty much brand new team. After Talladega, when we looked at the points and saw we had increased the points lead, it was a downer. Then, when things came along, I told them ‘let’s get it done.’ So this is a big shot in the arm for those guys and might just give them the added push to get this No. 20 Toyota back into Victory Lane.
“I love Nashville. It’s just a great place to go. I really wish the Cup cars would race there, but since they don’t, I would hate to miss a race there in the Nationwide deal. I won my first pole there and one of my Nationwide wins came at Nashville, so it’s pretty special to me. I’ve already got one of those guitars, but I’m ready for another one. And we’ve run well there every year we’ve been there. My first year, we got wrecked, but we were running in the top-five when we did. And last year, we were one of the cars to beat, but pit strategy came back and bit us. So the results might not show how strong we are, but it’s probably one of my better tracks. That makes me even more confident going into the weekend as well.”
Harvest Investments Toyota News and Notes
LAST MINUTE CHANGE… HERE COMES JOEY & THE NO. 20 TEAM: Due to a lack of sponsorship, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and driver Joey Logano were not originally scheduled to run this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. However, a number of factors following this past Saturday’s event at Talladega Superspeedway changed that. First, with Logano’s second-place finish at Talladega, the No. 20 JGR team extended its points lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner’s standings to 13 points over its JGR teammates, the No. 18 team. Second, a new sponsor jumped on board Sunday evening to make the trip possible. Harvest Investments, LLC & Harvest-Properties.com have signed on with Joe Gibbs Racing for a one-race sponsorship to allow the No. 20 team and Logano to head to Nashville to continue the strong start to the season and continue the chance to run for the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship, which Joe Gibbs Racing has won three years in a row (No. 20 team in 2008, No. 18 team in 2009 & 2010). The team was originally scheduled to run the first seven races, with Nashville being the first without sponsorship and not on the schedule. Now, with Nashville back on the schedule, the team will run through Dover. As of now, the team doesn’t have sponsorship for Iowa, but is still looking for interested companies.
THANKS HARVEST INVESTMENTS: Harvest Investments, LLC and Harvest-Properties.com will serve at Logano’s primary sponsor for this weekend’s event at Nashville Superspeedway. “Loyalty goes both directions and this is our way of showing our appreciation to Joey and the entire Logano family for their continued support in Harvest Investments,” said founder Mark Paley. Harvest Investments was established in 1992 to acquire and manage multi-family apartment properties as a means of generating significant cash flow, a consistent return on capital and long-term capital appreciation. Harvest Investments main office is located in Wethersfield, CT. For more information about Harvest Investments, call (860) 529-5158. Harvest-Properties.com is where coming home is the best part of the day. Harvest-Properties.com offers lovely and affordable housing with locations throughout the United States, offering efficient, one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom apartment homes. Harvest-Properties.com can assist anyone in finding the perfect place to call home. For more, visit www.harvest-properties.com.
FROM TIME OFF TO OVERTIME FOR NO. 20 TEAM: Members of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team had a number of different plans for the coming Easter weekend. Some were going to local racetracks to check out the action. Others were going to take a vacation during one of their few off weekends. Others were going to spend time with family. However, when word came down Sunday that the team would now be competing at Nashville Superspeedway instead of taking the race off due to a lack of sponsorship, the team got right to work. Starting Sunday afternoon, the team had to start preparing a car that had just been sitting in the shop previously in an effort to get it ready to head to Nashville on Wednesday evening. The team had to go over the car, scale it, set it up and decal it all in just a few days.
CHASSIS: The JGR team will take chassis #20113 to Nashville this weekend. The chassis was built new at the JGR shops this past off-season and was run for the first time earlier this year at Phoenix. In that race, Logano qualified the car third and finished sixth.
STAT OF THE WEEK:1.3 In three-career starts at Nashville Superspeedway, Logano has a career-average starting position of 1.3 and Logano has never started worse than second at the track. Those stats include two poles, coming in 2008 and 2010. His pole in 2008 marked his first-career NASCAR Nationwide Series pole, coming in just his second-career start.
Brian Scott Quotes
On His 50th Career Start…
“It hasn’t felt like I’ve made 50 starts in the series but I am at the point now where I am starting to go back to tracks for a second third or even a fourth time so it’s definitely nice to be going back to these tracks with more experience. I feel like I’m able to get up to speed even quicker just from getting more seat time. Nashville is where I made my first career start in the Nationwide Series so hopefully we can get a better finish.
“I love racing at Nashville. Nashville was a great track for me in the Truck Series – I finished second there in the Trucks and it’s just a track I feel really confident about visiting. For some reason I’ve always done better at the concrete tracks. I’ve won at Dover in the trucks and I feel like I adapt well at Bristol. Nashville is definitely a track where I feel like I could get my first win. Hopefully we will have a good car and will at least get a good top-five finish or even a win.”
No.11 Shore Lodge Team Notes of Interest
Brian Scott and the No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota team head to the “Music City” for this weekend’s Nashville 300 at Nashville Superspeedway. This weekend’s race in Nashville is the first “stand alone” event for the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2011.
This weekend’s 300-mile race at Nashville Superspeedway marks an anniversary for Scott. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver made his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series start at the 1.33-mile track on April 11, 2009.
In addition to Nashville being the track at which Scott made his Nationwide Series debut, it also becomes the track at which the Boise, Id.-native will be making his 50th career start in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.
Scott has three previous starts in Nationwide Series competition at Nashville Superspeedway. He earned his best Nashville finish during the 2010 spring race in which he scored a 15th-place finish after starting the event from the 13th position. Scott started the 2010 fall race at Nashville from the 19th position but was scored with a 28th-place finish after the engine on his car expired with just 30 laps remaining.
Scott also has two career starts in Truck Series competition at Nashville with his best effort being a second-place finish during the 2009 Truck Series race.
Last Race: Scott earned an 11th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway during last weekend’s Aaron’s 312. Scott scored an 11th-place finish despite minor damage sustained on the No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota during an incident just past the halfway point of the race.
Scott’s 11th-place finish at Talladega maintained his eighth-place position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings. The finish did allow him to close ground on the championship point leader. He sits a mere 27 points behind leader Jason Leffler.
Chassis #116 is the car Scott will race this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. Chassis #116 is the same car Scott raced to a 12th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway last month. Chassis #106 will serve as the backup. This car has not yet been raced in 2011.