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
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.
Do you think Talladega owes you a win after leading so many laps at the track?
“You can never expect anything at Talladega other than you are going to need a great car and a good amount of luck. We’ve improved so much here over the years and we now come to Talladega thinking we can run up front and our record here shows that we can. It’s a matter of getting that strategy just right so when the time comes you know you are ready to go. If we can keep our car out of trouble at Talladega, I think we’ll have as good of a chance as anyone to win there.
Was your best chance to win at Talladega last spring?
I think we had a race-winning car there last year and it was frustrating to finish fourth. With the cautions and the restarts at the end we just lost those couple of spots and we couldn’t make our way back to the front. For as good as we ran all day, it was the cautions that killed us and we really just needed one more corner and I think we could have won that race. I couldn’t ask any more from the team, we had a great car. It just came down to where we were when those cautions came out. I know what I need to do this time around.”
Texas Recap: Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team recorded a 15th-place finish Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Hamlin, who swept both races at Texas in 2010, fought a loose race car throughout the 334-lap event, lost a lap to the leaders during a long green flag run in the race’s midpoint and never got a timely caution while in position for the “lucky dog.” Carrying a special FedEx Office/March of Dimes paint scheme, Hamlin was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in the race. The 15th-place result dropped Hamlin one spot to 20th in the NASCAR point standings following Texas, 82 points behind leader Carl Edwards.
Talladega Time: The Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway this weekend for Sunday’s 188-lap event on the 2.66-mile high-banked oval. In 10 career Talladega starts, Hamlin has recorded three top-five and four top-10 finishes. His best result of third came in the spring 2008 event, and he finished in the top-10 in both races at Talladega in 2010 — fourth in the spring and ninth in the fall. The Chesterfield, Va., native has led at least one lap in all 10 of his starts at Talladega, and has led more than 10 laps in six events, including 17 laps one year ago. In total, Hamlin has led 196 laps at NASCAR’s longest track, with an average finish of 18.3.
Special Scheme: The #11 Toyota will carry a special paint scheme for the second consecutive weekend, as the familiar black and blue FedEx Office colors turn blue and white to coincide with the “Print Big, Save Big” sale currently running at all FedEx Office locations.
Kyle Busch Quotes
What are your thoughts going into Talladega this weekend?
“It’s going to be a crapshoot. You have no idea what’s going to happen or how it’s going to happen. For us, what do we worry about going there? We just worry about surviving and trying to survive with our M&M’s Pretzel Camry. Right now, with the way that we saw the race play out in Daytona, we’re expecting the same thing – NASCAR is expecting the same thing and that’s why we had the restrictor-plate change, already. They’re being a little bit proactive in that, and allowing us to get some testing done – some dyno testing with the smaller plate so we can be ready for that aspect. I expect speeds to be higher because we’ll be pushing all the way around. Other than that, it’s just Talladega.”
How do you think the new restrictor-plate size will impact the racing at Talladega?
“I think what they are looking for is just to keep the speeds down, obviously, with how we all figured out how to push draft. They were expecting the speeds. We didn’t push draft all that much last year at Talladega. They’re going to be expecting us to do that. They’re going to be expecting the speeds to be higher. They’re just being a little proactive there. No problem in doing that. I think it’s actually a smart idea rather than changing it on us when we do get to the racetrack. They did a good job. I don’t think it will change much. The racing will stay the same. The push draft will still be there. Essentially, the dynamic of the race like it was in Daytona will be the same in Talladega.”
Who is your favorite drafting partner at Talladega?
“I don’t know, since things were so different at Daytona. I’ve drafted well with a lot of people over the past, but I would say (Juan Pablo) Montoya helped me win the race I won at Talladega a couple of years ago. Jimmie (Johnson) is always pretty good to draft with. My brother (Kurt Busch), as well, but many more than that. It just all depends on which other cars end up working well with your car. Aside from our teammates, we had about another 10 guys who we thought would work with us in our radio at Daytona, so I’ll expect we will figure out what other car works well with our car during practice and during the first part of the race.”
Does being a former race winner at Talladega offer you any sort of advantage over the competition?
“It doesn’t matter at all. It’s such a crapshoot there in the last 20, 30 or 40 laps that you never really know who is going to win, what’s going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from.”
What does it mean to be up toward the lead in points this early in the season?
“It is early, but we’re excited about it. We feel like it’s a great opportunity to be up front and have some good results. Unfortunately, our engine failure at Las Vegas kind of set us back a little bit. We’ve been able to rebound nicely and get back up to the points lead and we’re not too far back headed into this weekend. I feel good with where we’re at. I feel really good with where the cars are at. I think that’s the most important thing. If we can keep building upon this momentum and our recent success, then we can keep that going all year, hopefully.”
Kyle Busch: Rolling the Dice
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 12, 2011) – Las Vegas native Kyle Busch might know a thing or two about “rolling the dice,” but heading into this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, there might be no track on the circuit that’s as much of a “crapshoot” as the mammoth 2.66-mile oval.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Pretzel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has conquered Talladega just once in his career, his lone win coming in April 2008. But, with only three other top-15 finishes and three Talladega outings that ended in an accident for Busch, the talented 25-year-old knows the winner of Sunday’s 499-mile race will need to have a strong car and be lucky in order to survive the seemingly inevitable multicar accident if he is to find victory again at NASCAR’s longest track.
And as if the challenges of the past weren’t enough for teams to navigate, a completely new style of restrictor-plate racing was introduced at this year’s season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway as a new front bumper replaced what was an important but fragile front splitter on Sprint Cup Series cars this year. With that front-end design change came a whole new phenomenon of racing at the restrictor-plate tracks. Until this year, the typical race at Daytona and Talladega would feature lengthy lines of cars that would bunch together, mere inches apart. But the new look to restrictor-plate racing, as seen at Daytona, involves cars running in pairs, almost as if the rear of the lead car is connected to the front bumper of the car following.
It’s a style of racing no driver or team has seen before. And everyone, including Busch and the M&M’s Pretzel team, look to learn more as the two-car draft evolves, and how it might be different this weekend at Talladega than it was in February at Daytona. Furthermore, unlike most everywhere else on the Sprint Cup circuit, the competitors know their fate depends on other drivers, oftentimes not even their teammates, if they want to find success in this new style of restrictor-plate racing.
If Busch has learned anything at the restrictor-plate tracks, it’s that you have to be good to be lucky. He knows he has great equipment underneath him, thanks to the No. 18 M&M’s Pretzel Toyota provided to him by JGR. He also knows he’ll need to slice and dice, and find the right draft partner to help him land on the right number, which first means surviving Talladega, and second, having a chance at repeating his lone triumph there from three years ago.
Joey Logano Quotes
“I’m expecting Talladega to be a lot like Daytona this weekend. Everyone will be pushing each other around the track in the two-car tandems. To be successful at this type of racing you really have to set your car up to be pushed and be able to push the car in front of you. It’s a fine balance.
“At the end of Daytona, I figured some things out so The Home Depot Toyota could push cars longer. I also think everyone learned a lot from Daytona. I’m sure teams have figured out how to keep the engines cooler to push longer without having to switch so much, so I don’t think you will see as many tandems stalling out as often and getting freight trained. The good thing about Talladega is that it’s wider than Daytona, so when you get a run on a group there’s more room to pass them. It should, and hopefully help, eliminate many of the wrecks we saw in Daytona.”
The Home Depot Team Notes of Interest
Joey Logano and The Home Depot Team return to Talladega Superspeedway where Logano has earned three top-10 finishes in just four starts at the Alabama track. The 20-year-old finished fifth in his last race at Talladega in October where the front five cars, including The Home Depot Toyota, broke away from the pack as they took the white flag of the 188-lap event. Instead of seeing how the chess match would play out the caution flag waved ending the race. Logano was unable to make his run at the top spot, but earned the top-five finish.
About last weekend: Logano would prefer to have no luck rather than the hand he’s been dealt for the first part of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Logano and The Home Depot Team were once again caught up in an accident not of their own making early in the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night when the No. 20 car was hit on pit road by David Reutimann. Despite valiant attempts to get back onto the lead lap, the team could not recover from the early race deficit and eventually finished the race in 24th position.
Lights, camera, action! Logano along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart will be at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Tuesday filming an upcoming episode for A&E’s The Glades. The Glades, a one-hour long crime drama, is the highest rated original program for the network.
The Home Depot Team is tied for 27th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following the race at Texas Motor Speedway. Logano is 30 points behind teammate Denny Hamlin who sits 20th in points, and 69 points out of the top10.
Welcome aboard The Home Depot associates from store #2608 from Quincy, Mass. The store number will draft along with Logano this weekend on the rear quarter panel of The Home Depot Toyota.
The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #293 to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the restrictor-plate race. Logano drove this chassis in the season-opening Daytona 500 where the No. 2 car spun late in the race and clipped the right rear of the No. 20 Camry causing extensive damage. Logano came into the pits for repairs and was able to finish in the 23rd position. The back-up chassis is chassis #212 which Logano drove in the 2010 Daytona 500.
Gresham Looking To Take Another Bite Out Of South Boston Speedway
GRIFFIN, GA (April 12, 2011) – Max Gresham is hoping it will be a two bologna burger day at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at South Boston (VA) Speedway Saturday.
“I celebrated with two of them last year, one after I won the pole and one after I won the race,” said Gresham, who wheeled his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to both honors in the 2010 South Boston 150. “They are quite good. Hopefully, I’ll get to have a couple again this year.”
Gresham was just 16 last year when he came to South Boston and turned the ‘SoBo’ pole and victory lane double. His Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was spot on throughout practice during the day and Gresham later captured the top spot in qualifying with a time of 16.089 seconds – a scant one-one thousandths of a second better than his then JGR teammate Brian Moffitt.
The pole position proved to be a huge part of Gresham’s 2010 winning effort and he knows it will again be important to start up front when the 2011 South Boston 150 takes the green flag Saturday evening.
“Qualifying is a big factor at South Boston,” said Gresham. “If you can get out front and control the pace like we did last year, you have a great shot at winning. South Boston eats tires, just like Greenville-Pickens did two weeks ago, so you are going to have to save your tires as best you can and being out front is the best place to do that.”
At the drop of the green flag last year, Gresham made sure he was out front bolting into the lead, a position he would surrender for just four of the 150 circuits. The win was anything but easy, however, as Gresham had to first hold off Moffitt and then a late-race charge by Cole Whitt to earn his first-ever NASCAR K&N Pro Series victory.
“The last 20 laps were really fun,” said Gresham after the race. “I had one double-file
restart at the end of the race that I was
a little worried about. I have to thank Cole for racing me clean.” Gresham will be looking to extend his streak of top-finishes at South Boston to three this Saturday. In addition to last year’s victory, Gresham had a fifth-place finish in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut at South Boston in 2009.
Obviously, there’s something about the venerable four-tenths mile oval that appeals to the young driver.
“South Boston reminds me a lot of the tracks I grew up on racing in Georgia,” said the 17-year-old Griffin resident. “You have a real fast entry into the corner and not much braking at South Boston. I’m used to that kind of track. There are so many similar tracks back home so South Boston feels like home turf to me. I loved it from the first time I went there.”
Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race At South Boston will roll off at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. The event – a one-day show that will also feature practice, qualifying and an autograph session – will include a 150-lap NASCAR Whelan Southern Modified Tour event.
“I think in the long run, consistency is what’s going to pay more than ever for this points system. If you finish (two races) in the high-teens, that’s as good as a win and a 40th-place finish. It’s a little different, for sure. It pays to be consistent, which we feel like we’re a pretty consistent race team throughout the year. Then, at the end of the season when we feel like we need to turn it up, then we feel like we can. It does make you a little scared of those bottom finishes because it’s tough to look at your points day and say you go into a weekend with 400 points and you’ve just spent three days at a race track and you come out three points better than what you started. You might as well have just stayed home. It’s a hard hit when you only get a few points, especially single digits.”
Do you enjoy racing at Auto Club Speedway?
“We haven’t had a ton of success at California, but I like racing there. We have had some bad luck with tires or getting caught in wrecks, and I’m still looking for that first win. It’s big and wide and fast, and a lot of fun for the drivers. It’s a place where you can move around and change your line to try to get your car working the best. You need a lot of horsepower because the straightaways are long, and that place is tough on motors. It’s a little easier now that this race is 400 miles. I’m happy that they shortened it. Hopefully we’ll have a good car for practice and just fine-tune on it for the race.”
Bristol Recap: Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team endured a long day Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, as early contact disrupted the rear alignment of the #11 FedEx Toyota and resulted in a 33rd place finish. A group of cars just in front of Hamlin made contact on Lap 29, and Hamlin spun trying to avoid the wreck, but was hit from behind in the left-rear. What looked like cosmetic damage turned out to be much more severe, as it made the car a handful to drive for the remainder of the 500-lap event. With the finish, Hamlin dropped nine spots to 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, 44 points behind leader Kurt Busch after four of 36 events.
Going Back to Cali: Hamlin is making his 11th career Cup Series start at Auto Club Speedway (ACS) on Sunday in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry. In 10 previous trips to the two-mile speedway in Fontana, Calif., the 30-year-old driver has one top-five and four top-10 results, including a third-place finish in the fall 2008 event. This year marks the first since 2003 that the track is only hosting one Cup Series race. Hamlin finished 29th and eighth in the two events at ACS in 2010. Fuel strategy worked to near-perfection in the spring race last year, but two cut tires in the race’s final 30 laps resulted in the #11 Toyota finishing two laps down to the leaders. Hamlin rebounded in the fall trip to the track, as Hamlin charged from a 34th-place starting position to finish eighth and stay in the Chase hunt. Hamlin started on the pole in the fall 2009 race at Auto Club and was leading the field to the green flag on a lap 190 restart when contact with Juan Pablo Montoya sent Hamlin spinning through the infield grass to make contact with the pit wall. Hamlin has a pair of sixth-place runs at the track — in the fall of 2006 and spring of 2009. In total, Hamlin has led 56 laps with an average finish of 17.2 at Auto Club Speedway.
Kyle Busch Quotes
With a Sprint Cup win at Bristol last weekend under your belt, and with the season-long championship your primary goal, are you more concerned about points or wins as you go forward?
“I think that racing to your potential on most days will get you a win, so you don’t really have to worry about that. It seems like we’re a lot better at a couple of racetracks than maybe some others that we’re working on and getting better at, and one of those coming up is California this weekend. We’re always like a fifth- to ninth-place car. Hopefully, we can get a little bit better than that at California. Michigan is another one. Some of those places where we struggle at a little bit, we’d like to get better, particularly a couple of racetracks in the Chase. Every time we unload, we’re racing for the win. If we can gather the wins up, the points will take care of themselves. If we can finish consistently, points will take care of themselves. It’s a matter of keeping track of your bad days. Our only bad day so far has been due to an engine failure. I have the utmost respect for Mark (Cronquist, JGR head engine builder) and what his guys are doing, what those guys are doing in the engine shop. Vegas is hopefully behind us, now, and we can continue on our good run of strong finishes.”
Do you enjoy racing at California?
“I like California. It’s fun. It’s really wide and it’s kind of flatter than Michigan, so it’s a little harder to kind of get a hold of, but you can really spread out. We’ve been seeing a lot of guys all the way down at the white line. We saw guys all the way up at the wall. It always seems to be a really good race, there. It’s a really fun racetrack. It’s widened out and it’s become where you can race all over it and, with the race being as long as it is, you need to take a lot of time working through traffic and being able to have a good car and all that. It’s the same thing every week. California is just another one of those racetracks that seems to suit Jimmie (Johnson) really, really well. He’s been in contention to win the past seven races there, I think, and he’s probably won four of them. That’s another place we know he’ll be fast. Again, we just hope for a solid day and that our efforts will put us in a good enough position. And if they don’t, then we weren’t good enough.”
Do you think the key for your championship run this year is racing with a little more savvy, like we’ve seen you do at the first four races this year?
“I guess so. We need to keep it going all year long. That’s the most important thing. When it gets hot and slick in the summertime, you get more frustrated that you’re not going forward or you’re kind of stuck running 15th somewhere. Those are the days that savvy really needs to show versus the days you’re running up front, top-five. It’s a little easier. We just keep working on the things that we can do, what we can do better to improve our program and to make it to where we can run competitive top-fives week in and week out. Be a championship contender in order to bring home not only the hardware but the points that will get us into the Chase, then the final stretch to Homestead.”
Are you looking forward to running the Interstate Batteries ‘Hybrid’ Camry scheme this weekend at California?
“I’d say it was pretty good luck out in Phoenix for the Nationwide race, so I hope that continues this weekend. I was calling it my ‘Hybrid’ Camry with the Interstate battery coming out of the hood. It’s always great to have Interstate Batteries a part of our program. Just the relationship with Norm (Miller, Interstate Chairman) means a lot to myself, Samantha (wife), the Gibbs family, and everyone at JGR. We’ve come close to getting them a win at California, so I’m hoping this is the weekend for it.”
How has Auto Club Speedway changed over the last few years, going from a new track to a place that has a lot more character and racing grooves?
“That place is tough. It’s really a hard racetrack to get ahold of, now, especially when it’s hot and the sun is out. There are two completely different types of racing when you run the top versus the bottom groove. You can run from the top to the bottom, but when you run the bottom, you really feel like you’re puttering around the racetrack. You feel like you aren’t making up any time on the bottom. But when you are running the top groove, you feel like you’re getting the job done. The guys who run the bottom have a little bit more patience and handle it better than the guys who are on the gas on top.”
Kyle Busch Notes: ‘‘White-Hot’ and Heading West’
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 22, 2011) – Following his weekend sweep of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series races at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, there’s no driver more “white-hot” than Kyle Busch.
As the Sprint Cup Series heads back to the West Coast for round five of the season, Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), looks to keep his hot streak going in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
The talented 25-year-old will debut the Sprint Cup version of Interstate Batteries’ new “white hot” paint scheme to help celebrate the company’s 20-year partnership with JGR.
While Sunday’s race will be the first of six Sprint Cup races in 2011 for Dallas-based Interstate Batteries, the scheme has already visited victory lane after a dominating performance by Busch in the Nationwide Series Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway last month. The No. 18 Toyota Camry is primarily white with green and black accents, including a distinctive lightning bolt design on the sides. But, perhaps the most talked-about aspect of the new livery is the front of the Camry, which features a stunning illustration of an “Outrageously Dependable” green-top Interstate Battery seemingly bursting out of the hood.
After leading all 200 laps en route to the Nationwide win at Phoenix, Busch dubbed his Interstate ride a “Hybrid” Camry, in reference to the battery emblazoned on the hood of his No. 18 Toyota. It’s a bold look to celebrate the anniversary of what was essentially a bold move 20 years ago by Interstate Batteries chairman Norm Miller.
In the summer of 1991, Joe Gibbs met with Miller in Dallas and pitched him on having Interstate Batteries be the first-ever sponsor for JGR, despite the fact he had no racecars, engines, employees or even a building. Miller was sold on the idea immediately and a highly successful relationship was born. Twenty years later, Interstate Batteries-sponsored JGR cars have now won the 1993 Daytona 500 (Dale Jarrett), the 2000 Brickyard 400 (Bobby Labonte), the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship (Labonte) and 24 Sprint Cup races (21 by Labonte, two by Jarrett, one by Busch).
Busch, of course, is determined to add to the Interstate Batteries’ 20-year legacy with his No. 18 JGR team, and it’s quite clear his sights are focused more than ever on adding another Sprint Cup title to JGR’s already impressive resume. It all continues this weekend in Southern California as Busch and his No. 18 teammates look to remain “white-hot.”
Joey Logano Quotes
Logano Quotes on Auto Club Speedway:
“There is a ton to think about during a race at Auto Club. It’s a pretty cool race track. There is so much room out there to race and you can draft down the straight-aways. It’s starting to wear out so it’s pretty bumpy. But the craziest thing about it by far is the restarts, a good restart is huge. When the flag goes in the air, people are four and five-wide. You can gain and lose five spots before you get through the first turn, not the first lap, but the first turn.”
Logano Quotes on the Season:
“It’s been tough this season. I know the results don’t show it, but I really believe we are running better now than we were last year. Every time I think the bad luck is out of the way, something happens. Last weekend we were down 150 horsepower then the wheel broke. But the good thing is the performance is there and we know what we are capable of doing. We are now to the point where we can’t afford to have another bad race or we will never get the points back. I think with how fast the cars have been we can still make it into the top 10 before Richmond.”
The Home Depot Team Notes of Interest
Joey Logano is searching for that illusive first top-10 finish of the 2011 season and hopes to find it at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. this weekend. Auto Club Speedway has been one of Logano’s most consistent tracks on the circuit. He has four starts at the two-mile track and has completed all but one lap of competition. He has one top-five and two top-10 finishes and an average finishing position of 14th.
About the last race: Logano and The Home Depot Team had another frustrating finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday. Logano consistently improved throughout the 500-lap race, but a right-front tire issue with less than 30 laps to go forced him down pit road under green-flag conditions. The blown tire dropped him from the top 10 to the 23rd position.
The Home Depot Team is currently tied for 29th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following the race at Bristol. The team has accumulated 74 points so far this season and sits 49 points out of the series top 10.
Welcome aboard The Home Depot associates from store #405 from Glendale, Ariz. The store number will ride along with Logano this weekend for the 200-lap race.
Logano will be competing in the Cup Series and Nationwide Series races this weekend. Before climbing behind the wheel of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota on Sunday, Logano will once again race the No. 20 Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Saturday. Logano has one win, four top-five and five top-10 finishes in just five starts in the Nationwide Series at the Fontana, Calif.-based track.
The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #287 for Logano this weekend for the Auto Club 400. The team raced this chassis to a seventh-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and to a fourth-place finish at Texas in November. The back-up chassis is chassis #284 which Logano drove last year at Auto Club Speedway to an 11th-place finish and at Phoenix International Raceway in November to third.
Scott Quotes on the upcoming race at Auto Club Speedway:
“I’m really excited going to California. I feel like it’s one of my better tracks. If you look at last year that was the first place that we had a really strong run. It was the second race of the season and we ran second most of the race behind my now, current teammate of Joey Logano. We had a really good car. I like the place. Really pays off the high line. It’s a difficult line to run, but if you can run it then it pays off. I feel like I’ve got the high line figured out. I feel like I’ve got the race track figured out and I feel like I’m with a team now that has the equipment even more figured out. I think we can be a deadly combination at California.”
What are the benefits to having teammates in NNS that are only focused on wins?
“It’s been a tremendous benefit for me to have teammates like Kyle Busch and Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin – guys that are on the Cup side and going for the wins. How they are approaching practice and how they approach a race is different and more experienced. To see one, for myself what they’re doing and be able to talk to them after the runs. Two, for the team and for Kevin (Kidd, crew chief) to be able to communicate with their crew chiefs and know that if they were going for a championship then we probably wouldn’t do this, but we’re going to roll the dice. It allows different strategies to play out and it allows us to have better information, better data and everything for when we go back to race tracks a second time. We can see what risks worked, what risks they didn’t so then we can create a better game plan.”
How is the relationship with Kevin Kidd?
“Me and Kevin (Kidd, crew chief) are great. I feel like we’re on the same page. I don’t say anything bad behind his back — I don’t know what he says about me when I’m not around. I think we understand each other. I think that we have similar mentalities and I think that we both know what the goals and objectives are week by week. I think that’s all you can really ask for in a crew chief and driver relationship.”
Shore Lodge Team Notes
Brian Scott and the No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota team travel to Auto Club Speedway for this weekend’s Royal Purple 300 in what will be Scott’s fourth career start at the two-mile California track in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.
In three previous starts at Auto Club Speedway, Scott has one top-10 finish. He finished 10th during the spring race in 2010.
During his previous three starts at Auto Club, Scott has completed 454 of the 454 laps that have been run during those three races for a 100 percent lap completion rate.
Last Race: Scott earned a career-best 12th-place Bristol Motor Speedway finish last weekend in the Scotts EZ Seed 300. Scott started the race from the 13th position and avoided the multiple accidents that took place for his third finish of 14th or better in the last three Nationwide Series races.
Scott’s 12th-place finish at Bristol moved him up a position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings to 10th place. He is a mere 17 points out of third place and 35 points behind championship point leader Jason Leffler.
Chassis #119 is the car Scott will race this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. The car is a brand new chassis for Joe Gibbs Racing. The backup car for the race will once again be Chassis #106. This chassis has been the backup for all of the races in 2011 and is also new for this season. The car was used at the test in which Scott participated at the Walt Disney World Speedway in January.