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No. 2: Darrell Wallace Jr. Wins at Martinsville

“We Came. We Saw. We Conquered.” @bubbawallace

It was history in the making as Darrell Wallace Jr. crossed the finish line at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with tears in his eyes. The 20-year-old driver’s first-place finish was not only a personal victory, but also a victory for the whole sport. Darrell became the second African American driver to win a NASCAR National Series race in the history of the sport.

“I’m speechless right now,” Darrell said. “I couldn’t even hold it together coming off (turn) four with the checkered. I still can’t.”

Darrell dominated the Saturday evening race at Martinsville leading 96 laps and winning a final restart with five laps to go to bring home the checkered flag. It was his 19th start in his rookie season as a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver for Kyle Busch Motorsports, and his first win in a NASCAR National Series.

A win was certainly pending for the young driver, but had kept eluding him. Darrell was confident, however, as he went into the weekend race at Martinsville. He had come close to winning several times before, but costly wrecks had ruined those opportunities. At Martinsville, he was not going to try to win. He knew he was going to win before the green flag dropped.

“I had so much confidence coming into this race,” Darrell said. “I told my guys that I did, and I told everybody that asked if I was going to win I said, ‘Hell yeah’ every time. So, it was no maybe we’re going to try, this one was for sure and we capitalized.”
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No. 3: Kyle Busch and Interstate Batteries Win at Texas

Impeccable driving and a lightning-fast pit crew sent Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries team to victory lane in a thrilling first-time hometown triumph for Dallas-based Interstate Batteries chairman Norm Miller. Busch dominated Interstate Battery’s backyard track in Fort Worth with his win at the NRA 500 Sprint Cup race in April.

“For Interstate Batteries and Norm Miller to be in victory lane in Texas, there’s nothing better than putting them right here,” said Busch. “We’ve been trying for a long time and fortunately we finally got it done.”

More than 20 years ago, Miller agreed to a risky partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing, a time when Joe Gibbs said all he had was a dream—no manufacturers, no building, not even a driver.

But Miller saw promise in the dream and Interstate Batteries became a founding, full-time sponsor of JGR. Since then, they have been a huge part of JGR history and culture said Todd Meredith, vice president of operations for JGR. Miller is not just a sponsor, he is “a huge friend to all of us,” said Meredith.

“It means so much to have a guy like that on your side,” Busch said.

And it meant a lot for Miller and Interstate Batteries to have a driver like Busch bring them to victory lane for the first time at their home track. It was a momentous and record-setting weekend for Busch, too. Breaking the track qualifying record at 27.509 seconds, 196.299 mph, Busch took the pole position in his 300th start. It was his 26th career Cup win and his first at the 1.5-mile Texas track. He became the first driver to sweep the weekend and have wins in all three series at Texas. Busch also set a NASCAR record in winning both races in the same weekend for the seventh time of his career.
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No. 4: Denny Hamlin Wins at Homestead

Salvage. Redemption. Struggle. Semblance of hope. Solace of Victory. Remnants of pride and confidence. Finally.

These words peppered news headlines following the last race of the 2013 Sprint Cup season in describing the experience and outcome for driver Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 FedEx team. It had been a tough season for Hamlin and his team, but they couldn’t have asked for a better antidote than the sweetness of Homestead’s victory lane.

“As bad as the year is, we can take a little solace in this finish,” said Hamlin. “It gets your spirits down, but then to come here and back it up with a win is special.”

In just the fifth race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Hamlin collided with former teammate Joey Logano and suffered a fractured back that took him out for another four and a half races. The rest of the season looked bleak for Hamlin as he was doled out a mean helping of bad luck, acquiring eight DNFs and sinking to 23rd in points ranking.

“When you’ve had a year like we’ve had, you just wonder ‘Hey, how can I get back to the top five,” Hamlin said. “And when will I ever win a race again?”

With no victories in over a year, this would be the first winless season for Hamlin in his eight-year career at NASCAR’s highest level. Despite what he called the “small victories” he hit with just a few weeks to go, Hamlin was counting down the laps for the disheartening season to come to an end.

But something clicked on that Sunday in Miami.
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Top 5 Joe Gibbs Racing Moments of 2013

Get ready to count down the Top-5 Joe Gibbs Racing Moments of 2013! It was arguably one of the best NASCAR seasons in JGR history. We’ve selected the Top-5 Moments based on the following criteria:

Momentum Builder: This category ranks an event based on how much momentum it created and how much success it led to.

Display of Strength: Did the moment make a statement? Did it show some muscle and instill fear in the competition? If it did, it will score well in this category.

History-Maker: Did the event have historical significance (for JGR or NASCAR as a whole) that will be remembered for many years to come?

Feel-Good Story: Some moments tug at your heart-strings and are compelling because of the back-story associated with them. If a 2013 moment did this, it will excel in this category.

Agree or disagree with our choices? Let us know why in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter. What were your Top-5 JGR Moments of 2013?

No. 5: 1,2,3,5 in Darlington!

Our Top-5 Moments of 2013 kicks off with the only visit to NASCAR’s oldest track – Darlington Raceway. Our four NASCAR Nationwide Series teams took to the difficult track on a hot evening in May and earned one of the best finishes in JGR history.

Finishing first is hard enough, but placing four cars in the Top-5 at the end of the race is a rare feat. Not only does each driver have to be on his game at one of NASCAR’s most challenging tracks, his crew chief, pit crew, and race car must perform flawlessly as well.

Kyle Busch won the race in the No.54 Monster Energy Toyota and would complete the season with an incredible 12 wins overall. Elliott Sadler scored the best finish of the season by crossing the line in second-place in his No.11 SportClips Toyota. Brian Vickers brought the Dollar General Toyota home in third, and Matt Kenseth rounded out the Top-5, placing fifth in his No.20 GameStop Racing Toyota.

JGR Finishes 1,2,3,5 in NW at Darlington. Momentum-Builder: 5; Display of Strength: 8; History-Maker: 3; Feel-Good Story: 5

No. 4: Denny Hamlin Wins at Homestead >

Denny Hamlin Wins at Homestead!

Joe Gibbs Racing completed one of the organization’s strongest seasons ever with a win by Denny Hamlin in today’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The victory was the first of 2013 for Hamlin and gave JGR 12 wins this season, which is the most in the organization’s 22 years of racing.

Matt Kenseth, who entered the day in second-place 28 points behind Jimmie Johnson in the Championship standings, started on the pole and led the most laps before capturing a strong second-place finish to his teammate. Kyle Busch also spent the majority of his day racing inside the top ten before taking the checkered flag in seventh.

Kenseth finishes the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in second place, 19 points behind Jimmie Johnson, while Busch finishes the season a career-best fourth in the standings.
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