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How Many Lug Nuts Per Year?

Between live race pit stops and practice, how many lug nuts do you think our organization goes through in a year? Remember, that includes Sprint Cup and Nationwide races.

The answer? In 2010 we went through just over 90,000 lug nuts. We use new ones for every stop, including practice stops. That’s a lot of lug nuts.

Hamlin [Almost] Wins Shootout; Kyle & Joey Wreck Out

The new surface at Daytona International Speedway might have changed the style of racing slightly, but tonight’s Budweiser Shootout certainly proved that heart stopping excitement will remain the primary attribute of the famed racetrack.

On a night that saw a record number of lead changes and lap speeds well over 200 mph much of the night, all three Joe Gibbs Racing entries proved strong and worth of victory, but with the strategy favoring two-car drafts it came down to picking the right moment to make a run to the front of the field and of course, having enough good fortune to avoid the wrecks. Denny Hamlin appeared to have it done it all correctly to earn the victory, but unfortunately a drive below the double yellow lines to the checkered flag was ruled illegal by NASCAR and took the victory away from Hamlin. Meanwhile his two teammates were unable the wrecks, with Joey Logano falling victim to an accident on lap 27 and teammate Kyle Busch getting taken out on lap 36.

The Budweiser Shootout is a non-points event that has become a pre-season tradition in NASCAR since 1979. The 75-lap event is run in two segments this year. First a 25-lap run that is followed by a 10-minute trip to pit road for teams to make adjustments to the cars. Once restarted it is a 50-lap run to the finish that has become famous for exciting racing and tonight was no exception.

Hamlin proved to have the best luck of the three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers when it came to selecting his starting position for tonight’s Shootout as he pulled the fourth spot for No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota. That allowed Hamlin to team up with Tony Stewart in a two-car draft that spent much of the first 25-lap segment at the front of the field. With car shuffling in and out of the lead thanks to two-car draft runs, Hamlin would end the first segment back in the 14th position. Hamlin would deftly avoid the accidents that captured both Logano and Busch and would wait until about 20 to go to make his move to the front in a two-car draft with Ryan Newman. Hamlin would keep Newman in the lead for several laps as the race neared its conclusion. As they came around turn four for the final time Hamlin pulled down below Newman and passed him on the inside for what appeared to a photo finish victory just edging out Kurt Busch who had closed on the leaders from the outside. Unfortunately NASCAR ruled that Hamlin had driven below the track’s double yellow lines in an effort to win the race without wrecking Newman. The ruling penalized Hamlin back to the rear of the lead lap cars and a 12th-place finish, while handing the victory to Kurt Busch.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota in 21st position but found his way to the front of the field midway through the opening segment of racing. Busch would take the lead on lap 18 after pairing up with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on a run to the front, but as the cars swapped position quickly he would find himself in the eighth position following the first 25-lap segment. Ten laps into the second segment Busch would get bumped from behind by Mark Martin and the two would spin across the track into the grass making contact with each other. The No. 18 M&Ms crew worked to make repairs, but ultimately Busch would be forced to take his Camry back to the garage and end his night early in 16th place.

Meanwhile Joey Logano started the night in the 22nd position in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, but quickly proved to have a car capable of running to the front of the field. Logano would partner with five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson during the first 25-lap segment and the two flirted with the lead but ended the opening portion of the race in the fifth spot. Unfortunately Logano would not receive the opportunity to go for the win in the end as his night ended early when he was an innocent victim

in a wreck started just in front of him on lap 27 by Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He would end the night in 18th place.

Kurt Busch of Penske Racing captured the victory.

The starting front row for the Daytona 500 will be decided Sunday 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 afternoon. Tomorrow’s qualifying session will be broadcast live on Fox at 1 PM, while the Duel races can be seen starting at 2 PM on Thursday.

The Great American Race will once again provide the official start to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season when Fox broadcast the Daytona 500 live from Daytona International Speedway next Sunday, February 20 at 1 PM. The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 128.

Kyle Busch on The Shootout

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 9, 2011) – Kyle Busch and the M&M’s team are shooting for several firsts as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season warms up with Saturday night’s non-points-paying Shootout, continues through next week’s Duels, and begins in earnest with the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Feb. 20.

For starters, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will be seeking something he badly wants to add to his resume: his first win in NASCAR’s biggest race – the Daytona 500 – and in the process bring M&M’s and Toyota their first victory in the Great American Race.

[singlepic id=76 w=320 h=240 float=left]And while the talented 25-year-old will enter his seventh full season as a Sprint Cup competitor, this season will be his first as a married man as he wed longtime girlfriend Samantha Sarcinella on New Year’s Eve in Chicago.

Finally, Busch’s primary backer M&M’s will debut the company’s first-ever dedicated NASCAR commercial during the Daytona 500 telecast. Filmed at the close of last season at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., the spot features on-track action, as well as the wildly popular “spokescandies” Red and Yellow starring alongside M&M’s driver, Busch. The TV ad will also debut the new M&M’s NASCAR advertising theme for 2011 – “M&M’s Makes Race Day More Fun” – which will play out in a variety of ways during the season.

In addition to M&M’s, Busch always has another very important thing on his mind that can make his race day more fun – winning. Nobody visited victory lane more times across NASCAR’s top three series in 2010 than the Las Vegas native.

Busch made 81 total NASCAR starts in 2010 – 36 in the Sprint Cup Series, 29 in the Nationwide Series, and 16 in the Camping World Truck Series, the latter of which he served as driver-owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports during its inaugural season. He won 24 races in all – three in Sprint Cup, a record-smashing 13 in Nationwide, and eight in the Truck Series – for an incredible winning percentage of nearly 30 percent. Coupled with his 21 overall wins in 2008 and 20 in 2009, Busch has recorded an astounding 65 NASCAR victories over the past three seasons.

But for all of that winning across NASCAR’s top three national series the past three seasons, Busch and second-year M&M’s Toyota crew chief Dave Rogers know full well that the focus of everything they do in 2011 needs to be on winning the Sprint Cup championship. The crown jewels of Busch’s title chase are three races he’s dreamed his whole racing career of adding to his winning resume – the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the aforementioned Daytona 500.

So, as Busch heads to Daytona to kick off this year’s Speedweeks, he is as determined as ever to take the Daytona 500’s Harley J. Earl Trophy back to his home in Mooresville, N.C., and lay the ultimate groundwork for a championship run in 2011.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

What is your level of excitement heading into 2011?

[singlepic id=65 w=320 h=240 float=left]“I feel pretty good about it. I’m pretty confident with the guys and with the team and with the cars and everything we have with the 18 team. Toyota has come a long way and, hopefully, we can make up some more ground this year at being able to compete for the championship. Denny (Hamlin, teammate) running the way he did last year was really great for Joe Gibbs Racing, being able to be in contention until the last race. Overall, we’re all pumped up and ready to go. You sit around all winter long and you think about when the season’s going to start and it turns around and it’s here, already.”

How much ground is there to make up for you this year?

“I think anything you don’t capitalize on and any races you don’t win, any championship you don’t win, there’s obviously ground to be made up. There’s ground to be made up somewhere. With us, we just need to put the total package together and be able to go out there and reach our potential to be able to win.”

Have you pinpointed areas where you and your team can improve for 2011?

“I think we need to be better at preventing some things. Whether it’s car problems or myself losing my temper or maybe just working with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) a little better. Communication and being able to talk goes a long way in this sport now. It seems like it’s that way more than ever. It used to just be laid on the crew chief: ‘Bring me a good car and I’ll win the race.’ Now, you have to work on making a good car. The competition is so close.”

Do you feel like you are able to win a Sprint Cup championship?

“I would certainly hope so. I feel like there are a lot of ways that people try to sidetrack you, but you have to forget about that stuff and know what’s important. What’s important first and foremost is family, with what’s at home, and then, of course, you look at your career and your business and what happens here at Joe Gibbs Racing – making the most of the effort for Toyota and M&M’s. With that, we try to look forward at making the most of this year and try to bring home a championship for JGR in their 20th year.”

What type of goals do you have for race wins in your career?

“I haven’t achieved any of my race win goals that I’ve wanted to achieve since I’ve come here. I’ve achieved everything else under the sun that I’ve never thought about achieving. The ones that I really want, like the (Daytona) 500, like the (Brickyard) 400, like the (Coca-Cola) 600 – a Charlotte Cup win at all – an All-Star race, the championship, all that stuff. I haven’t gotten any of that. I’m hoping one of these days I’ll have the opportunity to win those. I don’t think it’s at the point, yet, where you’re worried about it. But when you get to be probably about 35, then you’re like, ‘Man, I only have five more chances to get some of these because they only come once a year.’  Hopefully, by then, I can have some of that knocked out.”

What does it mean for you to be the first NASCAR driver M&M’s has featured in a commercial spot?

“It’s great to be involved with the characters and I’m excited to be a part of the first M&M’S commercial about the racing program. This has been a neat experience and I’m hoping everyone likes it. It’s a little difficult to act with the characters because it’s almost like talking to nobody, but you have an idea of what the final spot will look like and you know what the characters are all about, so that makes it easier.”