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Sonoma Race Report

Sonoma Raceway proved to be anything but friendly for Joe Gibbs Racing this Sunday afternoon. Matt Kenseth’s 19th-place finish led the team in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota SaveMart 350, while Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were both dealt multiple setbacks and forced to settle for disappointing 23rd and 35th finishes respectively.

Kenseth started the No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota in sixth and was able to remain in the top-five through the early going, but once pit stops began, so did multiple strategies as teams tried calculate how best to manage fuel mileage on the 1.99-mile road course racetrack. Now shuffled back in the pack, Kenseth found the handling on his No. 20 Camry extremely tight as he raced his way back inside the top 20. The field continued to shuffle through different pit strategies and crew Jason Ratcliff and the Home Depot crew continued to make adjustments to help Kenseth drive back toward the front of the field. What proved to be the final caution of the day came out on lap 82 and the team made the decision to remain out on the track and restart second. Kenseth was able to hold that position through the restart but began sliding back through the field as he went into full fuel saving mode over the final ten or so laps. He would finish back in 19th.
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Infographic: How to Race the Road Course

As Joe Gibbs Racing heads to Sonoma Raceway, there are certain keys to road course racing that they must consider. The tight turns, fuel strategy and brake management all require special consideration, which we explain in this week’s infographic. Also, be sure to check out some fun facts about Sonoma that include sheep and the changes in elevation at the track.
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Heading for Road Course Racing

Sprint Cup Series

 

From Denny Hamlin

How do you approach the season’s first road course race this weekend in Sonoma?
Obviously, you have to approach the road course races a little bit different, in terms of pit strategy on Sunday and what you look for in your car. Sonoma is a very tight, technical track, as opposed to Watkins Glen, and you need to make sure your car can get off the corners. To get a good finish, you need to stay clean throughout the majority of the race, and be aggressive when it’s warranted to get around guys. We have been the victim of some aggressive driving there the past couple of years in Turn 11, so it’s important we stay up front.”
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4th, 6th and 30th at Michigan

Kyle Busch came back from an early penalty on pit road to lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Matt Kenseth also finished in the top ten with a strong sixth-place run, while Denny Hamlin battled an extremely loose racecar all afternoon before settling for a 30th-place finish on the two-mile speedway.
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Off to Michigan

Sprint Cup Series

From Denny Hamlin

Do you think Michigan is a track where the FedEx team can capitalize with a victory?
“Michigan is definitely a place that our FedEx team has had success at in the past, winning a couple races and running up front for the most part. It was a little tough on us last year after the repave, but hopefully we’ll have the speed to contend this weekend. Obviously, we can’t afford to have bad finishes and need to get a win or two, but most importantly, we have to minimize mistakes and finish where we should. If we take care of our business and put ourselves into position to win, that stuff will take care of itself.”
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