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Bristol Quotes & Notes

 
 
 

Denny Hamlin Quotes

 
What does Bristol Motor Speedway mean to you?
“Bristol is such a special place to every driver. When you pull off Exide Blvd. and see this huge arena where we actually get to race, it’s unbelievable to me. My family attended a lot of races when I was growing up, and Bristol was one of the tracks we had to see. I came here for the first time when I was 13 or 14 years old and it has been special ever since. Pre-race gets your chills going and it’s awesome to hear the rumble of the cars inside the track.”

How special is it to have the race named after former track president Jeff Byrd?
“I have only been around for five or six years, so I didn’t get to know Jeff (Byrd) as well as some of the other drivers, but you can’t say enough about what he did for the track and their fans. He did a lot to make Bristol fun for the competitors, but kept it such a fun experience for the fans. Whenever people ask what track they should go see a race, I always tell them — and I’m sure a lot of drivers do, too — that they have to watch a race at Bristol. Jeff is a big part of that.”

How has the progressive banking changed the racing at Bristol?
“We’ve seen the new race track at Bristol provide great racing and great finishes over the past couple years. It just allows so much more passing. For me, it brings out the best racing. You don’t have to dump a guy if you’re faster than them. One thing that hasn’t changed is the trophy. It has been the same trophy for years, and I love the old-school type trophies. The Bristol trophy has a lot of history to it, and hopefully I can add one to my collection.”

As a basketball fan, who do you think will win the NCAA tournament?
“I am going to have to go with Duke this year. I think they have the coach and the experience to make a deep run in the tournament. It seems like a couple of those guys have been there forever, but that’s what you need when it’s ‘one-and-done.’ All of those guys went through it last year. I’m just surprised that the (Virginia Tech) Hokies didn’t make it. I thought they were in after they beat Duke a couple weeks ago, but I guess not.”
 

Express Notes

 
Las Vegas Recap: Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team posted its best finish of the season with a seventh-place result in the most recent race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 6). A pre-race engine change negated a 17th-place starting position and moved Hamlin to the rear of the field for the green flag, and the team was never able to capitalize on strategy to improve track position. Picking off positions during long green flag runs and tidy work on pit road helped the #11 Toyota move up in the running order during the 267-lap event won by Carl Edwards. The finish moved Hamlin up six spots — from 14th to eighth — in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after three of 36 races, as the team heads east following an off-weekend for a 500-lap race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Hamlin is 18 points behind leader Tony Stewart.

Back at Bristol: Hamlin is making his 11th career Cup Series start at Bristol this weekend in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, looking for that elusive first win on the half-mile, high-banked ‘bullring.’ The 30-year-old has three top-five finishes and five top-10 results in 10 previous trips to the track, including a second-place run in the spring 2009 event. Bad luck has bitten the #11 FedEx team a couple times in previous spring races at Bristol. In 2007, Hamlin led 177 of 504 laps before fuel pickup issues 20 laps from the finish caused intermittent power and a 14th-place result. One year later, Hamlin led 98 laps — including at the start of a ‘green-white-checkered’ overtime finish — when pickup issues arose again and yielded a sixth-place finish. Hamlin finished 19th in the spring 2010 event at Bristol after an early cut tire and contact with the wall caused damage to the #11 machine. A broken drive shaft in the most recent race at Bristol last August relegated the team to a 34th-place finish, 27 laps off the pace after extensive time in the garage for repairs. In total, Hamlin has led 282 laps at Bristol, with an average finish of 14.6.
 
 

Kyle Busch Quotes

 
How satisfying was it to win all three races at Bristol last August?
“It was pretty cool because, when you come so close and then don’t get it, it’s pretty frustrating. In 2009, we won the Truck race and we were leading the Nationwide race and we got crashed out, and then we ended up winning the Cup race. So, it was probably a year delayed. There have been some other times we’ve come close to getting it done at other places, too. It was pretty special. It was cool to be able to put it all together in a complete weekend, with the truck, with the Nationwide car and with the Cup car.”

What is it about Bristol that you’ve figured out?
“It’s just kind of really worked well together. It’s a fun place that you go to that you like going to. You enjoy the race around there. We grew up at the (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) Bullring and stuff like that. Maybe not as banked as Bristol is, but I love going and racing at Winchester (Ind.), Slinger (Wisc.), and Salem (Ind.), where I’ve raced before. Those are all really high-banked racetracks that are a half-mile in distance, or a quarter. They’re really fun to race around and you kind of get a great feel for racing in a bowl. You go down the straightaway and you slam it into the corners and you mash the gas and you kind of sling right back out of the corners. It’s a lot of fun to do that. It’s kind of an art. Some guys are really good at it, and some find a knack that makes them really good at it and make it seem easy. I remember last spring we were horrible there. You can definitely snap that string pretty quickly.”

What is it about Bristol Motor Speedway that makes it so unique and a place that fans love?
“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best racetracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins, and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 43 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time. We have the SAFER barrier on the outside wall taking up a little bit more racing room up off the corners since they’ve run the wall further down the straightaway. But it’s taking up some racing room and it makes the racing even tighter and we are probably going to see some more action.”

You’ve won four Sprint Cup races at Bristol. What is it that makes you so good there?
“I’m not exactly sure what makes me so good at Bristol. I’ve just had a lot of success there, but I’ve also had some misfortune there, too. Ever since I got through my rookie year, I’ve just taken a liking to the place. Of course, I’ve been able to get some help from my brother. He’s always been really, really good there. But when they changed the track to this current surface, I just really took to it right away. I really liked it and I’ve been fast there but, also, I’ve had great racecars from Joe Gibbs Racing. I’ve been able to win the last three Camping World Truck Series races there, too, so it’s just a fun racetrack no matter what series I’m running there. You really have to be on your game because, you make one mistake or someone else makes one mistake, like what happened in the fall Nationwide Series race there in 2009 with a car with a flat tire coming down the track and essentially ending our day, that’s it. Hopefully, we can keep that good luck going there in the Sprint Cup Series this weekend with our M&M’s Toyota.”

How have you had to change your driving style there since the track was resurfaced?
“Your driving style has had to change at Bristol a lot. Bristol used to be a track where you could charge the corners a little bit and get it right in and down to the bottom of the track. You kind of would go through the middle of the corner and then slingshot out on the exits. And now it’s just so smooth that you’re easy in, you’re kind of easy through the center, and easy off. The track is a little slower than I think it was because they reduced some banking in order to put sort of the progressive banking into it to make the outside groove better for the fans.”

What makes you want to race in all three series during the season?
“For me, it’s experience on the racetrack. You’re able to go out there and you’re able to spend the time on that Goodyear tire for that particular race track for that particular week, whether it’s a day race or a night race. You get all that experience in – that’s what I like to do. I learn so many things during the race that I can correlate to my Nationwide car or my Cup car. I like to be able to give that information to Dave (Rogers, crew chief). Another thing, too, is when I’m working with Eric Philips (18 Truck Series crew chief) and with Jason Ratcliff (18 Nationwide crew chief) – they have way different mindsets and thoughts and processes of how to make a vehicle go better and faster than Dave Rogers might have. I can take all that information I learned all the way back and forth across all three and try to increase the level of competition in all of those. My encyclopedia fills up quickly.”
 

Kyle Busch Notes: ‘You Belong at Bristol’

 
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 15, 2011) – Those who have seen the commercials for Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway over the last year are familiar with the tagline, ‘You Belong at Bristol,’ which extolls the virtues of the exciting racing and the overall fan-friendliness to be enjoyed on and around the .533-mile concrete oval, which has long been a fan favorite on the NASCAR circuit.

Much like Bristol’s loyal patrons, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), also considers the half-mile track one of his favorites, and he’s very much looking forward to Sunday’s Jeff Byrd 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race there. Look no further than his recent record at the bullring nestled in the mountains of northeast Tennessee and it’s easy to understand why the talented 25-year-old has proven he belongs there, particularly in victory lane.

Busch didn’t immediately take to Bristol, however. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd. But Busch’s record in his last 10 starts at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” has been nothing short of amazing. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that March 2007 win and, since then, nobody has been better at Bristol than Busch. The Las Vegas native has added three more wins, four top-five finishes and six top-10s in the last seven races contested on the current surface.

While those numbers are impressive, Busch’s most notable Bristol feat occurred in his most recent visit there last August, when he became the first driver in history to win all three of NASCAR’s national touring series events in the same weekend. Busch won the Wednesday-night Camping World Truck Series race, added a win in the Friday-night Nationwide Series race, then wheeled his No. 18 Toyota to victory and into the history books in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race. Busch led four times for a race-high 282 laps in the Sprint Cup race, bringing his weekend total to 514 laps led out of a possible 956.

Busch is also nearing another racing milestone this weekend as he finds himself closing in on the 20,000 career laps led mark across NASCAR’s top three series. His current total is 19,079 career laps led in Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series racing.

With a scheduled 800 total laps of racing on the docket this weekend, Busch can conceivably take a huge chunk out of the 921 laps he needs to lead in in order to reach the magic number of 20,000. At the very least, he’ll be shooting for his fifth Sprint Cup win at the high-banked half-mile oval and look to prove once again why he belongs as Bristol.
 
 

Joey Logano Quotes

 
Logano Quotes on Bristol
“I like Bristol. It’s a fun track. I don’t think you will find a driver or a fan that doesn’t get excited for Bristol. But as for luck, I don’t have any there. Every time I go there now all I want is one uneventful race in the Home Depot Toyota. Hopefully we’ll have an uneventful race this weekend, that’s what I’m looking forward to there. We were doing great for 400 laps in March at Bristol, and then I got a speeding penalty on the only green-flag stop of the day. Fast cars have never been an issue, and we’ve always qualified well which is huge at Bristol, but for some reason I can’t get to the finish without something happening. That’s kind of been the story of this season too, so maybe Bristol is the place that will change all that. Heck, why not?”
 

The Home Depot Team Notes of Interest

 
Joey Logano is looking for his first top-10 finish at Bristol Motor Speedway and is hoping to do just that in the Jeff Byrd 500. Despite having great qualifying efforts at the half-mile track, Logano has been unable to finish on the lead lap in his four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts. Logano’s finishes are attributed to two blown tires (August of 2010), a pit road speeding penalty (March of 2010), an early-race incident (August of 2009) and an engine failure (March of 2009).

About the last race: The Home Depot Toyota was running in the 10th position at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when green-flag stops began on lap 235 of the 267-lap race. Zipadelli made the call for a two-tire stop on lap 241 to gain track position, but the NASCAR Official in the pit told the team there had been a tire violation on the stop and Logano would have to serve a penalty. It dropped Logano from sixth to 23rd and one lap down to the leader.

The Home Depot Team is currently tied for 28th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following the third race of the 2011 season. The team has accumulated 53 points so far this season and sits 38 points out of the series top 10.

Logano will be back running double duty this weekend. Aside from piloting the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the Jeff Byrd 500 on Sunday, Logano will once again race the No. 20 Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Saturday. Logano has two top-10 finishes in the Nationwide Series at Bristol in four starts.

Logano will make two public appearances at the track this weekend to meet and greet with fans. Logano will be at the GameStop display on Friday night for the Food City Race Night from 7 – 8 p.m. at the track, and Sunday morning he will make a stop at to the Toyota Pit Pass Stage at 9:30 a.m.

The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #278 for Logano this weekend in an attempt to turn this 2011 season around. This is the chassis Logano drove to a fourth-place finish at Richmond last fall and to a 17th-place finish at Kansas Speedway. The back-up chassis is #275 that Logano most recently drove to a sixth-place finish at Martinsville Speedway in October.

To access information on The Home Depot Team visit: twitter.com/homedepotracing, twitter.com/jlogano.
 

Brian Scott Quotes

 
How do you feel heading to Bristol this weekend?
“Racing at Bristol is like a knife fight in a phone booth. It’s a race that really gets you going. People always talk about the top speeds we do at places like Daytona and Talladega where we hit 200 mph. But 200 mph at those places feels nothing like the 150 mph or so that we hit at Bristol. Bristol is one of the most physically demanding race tracks we visit.”

How do you grade the 2011 season so far for the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Team?
“If I had to give us a grade it would probably be an average grade. Obviously it hasn’t been what we wanted but it’s not as bad as it could have been. We’ve been fast for the most part everywhere. We just haven’t really produced the finishes that we want. The finishes haven’t been as bad as the potential they had of being at both Phoenix and Las Vegas.

“There is a certain level of this that was to be expected coming into the new season with a new driver, new crew chief, new car – basically a new everything. There are a lot of unknowns so you have to plan for a little bit of that but the team has done a great job. We are looking forward to lowering the numbers in our finish column and start plugging away at this season.”

How much pressure do you put on yourself?
“There is pressure in any professional sport. It’s the nature of the beast. You can’t be a competitor for a living and not deal with pressure. I love it. The more, higher intense pressure situations the better I seem to do and the more fun I have. I love competition. I love pressure. I love for things to be put in my lap and it being up to me to go out there and get the job done.”
 

Shore Lodge Team Notes

 
Brian Scott will make his fourth career Bristol Motor Speedway start this weekend in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Scotts EZ Seed 300 in Bristol, Tenn.

In three previous starts at the half-mile track, Scott’s best finish is 15th place. Scott earned his best Bristol finish during the last Nationwide Series race to take place at Bristol – last August’s rain-shortened event.

In addition to the three starts in the Nationwide Series, Scott has two Bristol starts in the NASCAR Camping World
Truck Series. Scott finished 19th in his first ever Bristol start in 2008 and followed that up one year later with a fifth-place run during the 2009 Truck Series race.

Chassis #116 is the car Scott will race this weekend in Bristol. The car is a brand new chassis for Joe Gibbs Racing.

The backup car for this weekend is Chassis #106 which is also new for 2011. Chassis #106 was used at the test Scott participated in at the Walt Disney World Speedway in January and it has been the backup car for the last two Nationwide Series events.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series enjoyed an early off-weekend along with Sprint Cup Series teams last week. Scott took the time off to relax in Charleston, S.C.

To access information on Brian Scott and No. 11 Team visit: www.joegibbsracing.com and follow twitter.com/bscottracing and twitter.com/joegibbsracing.

Phoenix Quotes & Notes

Hamlin Quotes on Phoenix

What is the key to getting around Phoenix?

“For me, the key to being fast at Phoenix is how you brake getting into the corner. It’s a tricky place to get around, but I have found that if I set my car up good getting into the corner, we get so much more speed getting off the corner and down the straightaways. I really like racing at Phoenix and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it reminds me a lot of the places I raced when I was growing up. I spent my early career running flat tracks in Late Models and this track feels like that to me. It’s flat and requires you to be really good with your setup if you are going to be quick through the corners.”

Will you be sad to see the track repaved after this race?

“I will be disappointed to see the old surface gone. I’m the type of driver that loves worn out race tracks, and Phoenix is one of them. Right now, it’s pretty much a one-groove race track, so passing is tough, but it really puts things in the drivers’ hands. They say they are going to reconfigure the track a little bit to get two grooves of racing, so we’ll have to see when we come back in November. I want to get the last win on the old surface and I think we have a good shot at it.”

FedEx Racing Express Notes

Denny at Daytona: Denny Hamlin was in prime position to make a run at the checkered flag in the Daytona 500 before a lap 198 incident collected the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, causing extensive damage and a 21st-place finish. Hamlin was drafting with Ryan Newman in the outside groove down Daytona’s backstretch when Regan Smith was turned across the track and in the path of Newman and Hamlin. The #11 Camry — which led seven laps late in the race — incurred damage to its nose, and the repairs on pit road put the FedEx team a lap down to the leaders for the two ‘green-white-checkered’ attempts.

Hamlin Headed to Phoenix: Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota head to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend, the one-mile desert oval that caused so much pain and heartbreak one season ago. The #11 team headed to PIR last November holding a 33-point lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings and were the car to beat throughout the race, leading 190 of 312 laps. However, a pit stop for a splash of fuel with 10 laps remaining — when the other race contenders could make it the distance — caused a 12th-place finish, turning a near-insurmountable points lead into a scant 15-point advantage heading to the season-finale in south Florida.

The April race at Phoenix in 2010 brought literal pain to Hamlin, who was just 10 days removed from surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Hamlin turned in a gutsy performance, finishing out the race even after mechanical issues put the #11 car a couple laps down, driving to a 30th-place result.

Hamlin is making his 12th Cup Series start at Phoenix on Sunday, and has five top-five finishes to his credit at the track. His best result of third has come four times, most recently in Nov. 2009. He also recorded third-place runs at April 2008, April 2007 and Nov. 2006. The 30-year-old captured the pole position in his first Cup race at PIR in Nov. 2005 — in just his sixth series start — the year before he earned ‘Rookie of the Year’ honors.

Kyle Busch Quotes on Phoenix

How is your relationship with Dave Rogers heading into your second season with him?

“We both did learn an awful lot last year and we’ve both talked a lot this winter. We spent some time together and we’ve had some good talks and some good opportunities to think about what we want to do and kind of develop our plan and our strategy for moving forward into this year. We’ve gone over most of that and, hopefully, we can put it all into effect here at the beginning of the year and get our momentum rolling and stay strong all throughout the year.”

Is there anything different about your team this year that makes you believe you can win the championship?

“I think the biggest thing that’s different with us is just having a full year under my belt with Dave Rogers (crew chief) and, now, going into the season with that year’s worth of experience of working with Dave and to trying to reach our potential and little bit more this year. Unfortunately we’ve kind of fallen shy of that the past few years. This is the year we’d like to change that around and make it to where we get through the regular season okay and get to the Chase and then, once we get into the Chase, we stay consistent with what we’re doing. Then, if we can make it through without motors blowing up or getting involved in wrecks or something like that, we can have a shot come Homestead.”

How do you feel about heading to Phoenix this week after having a strong Speedweeks?

“I’m glad to go back to a racetrack that drivers matter and car handling matters. You always want to win at Daytona, so don’t get me wrong. But taking everything into account, I’m pleased to get a top-10 finish and start off the season on the right foot as far as the points go. I ran really well at Phoenix in both races last year, but circumstances kept us from winning there last year. The late caution in the spring race hurt us and not being able to stretch out fuel mileage in the fall race obviously hurt us, as well. I’m looking forward to getting back there, for sure, and hoping we can get Combos into victory lane again, as well.”

What does it take to be successful at Phoenix?

“You’ve got to have a good car, but you’ve got to have good brakes. You’ve got to have a good-turning car, and you’ve got to have a good car that can accelerate off of turn two and go fast down the backstretch. There’s a lot involved at Phoenix, but being a day race and being hot and slick, it makes it that much more interesting.”

In addition to two Nationwide Series wins at Phoenix, you also won in your second Sprint Cup start at the mile oval. Do you enjoy racing at Phoenix?

“Phoenix is a pretty neat place. For some reason, I’ve always run well there. I don’t know if it’s that I’m comfortable being back close to home on the West Coast, or what. I always have a little more fan support out there, as well. As for the track itself, you have two distinctly different corners at Phoenix. Turns one and two are different than three and four, and there’s also a kink in the backstretch. Being able to run well there depends on how well you can turn in the center of turns one and two and yet still have a good drive up off the back straightaway because it’s so long and fast. Then, getting into turn three, you really need to rotate. Just past the center of turns three and four, you have a little bit of a kink on the apron, where you need to be able to turn and get a good drive off the corner. It’s really dependent on how I like the car set up so I’m able to make a good lap time. There are plenty of tricks to that place that you need to know to be successful.”

Kyle Busch: Looking for the Right “Combo” at Phoenix

In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the relationship between driver and crew chief may be the single most important element for a team to be successful. The communication between the guy on top of the pit box on race day and the guy behind the wheel of the racecar had better be good – or the results aren’t going to be.

Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team, who’ve combined to win the last five Sprint Cup championships, and Denny Hamlin and Mike Ford of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team, are the latest examples of long-term driver/crew chief combinations that have been successful over the past several years.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Combos Toyota for JGR, and crew chief Dave Rogers are also quickly becoming a potent “combo” since first joining forces at Texas Motor Speedway in November of 2009, where they led the most laps and narrowly missed a win in their first race together.

So far, the Busch-Rogers combo has worked well and has grown stronger despite working together in just 40 Sprint Cup points-paying races. It’s proven to be one of the top driver/crew chief tandems in the sport as it found victory lane three times in 2010 and put the No. 18 team back in the Chase for the Sprint Cup after missing it in 2009. The Busch-Rogers combo will look to add to its victory total this weekend when Combos Camry takes part in Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

The Busch-Rogers combo got off to a strong start this season, leading laps and contending late while finishing a solid eighth in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Busch rolls into the second race of the season at Phoenix seventh in the standings.

Neither the fourth-year JGR driver nor Combos as a primary sponsor are strangers to victory lane at the mile oval in the Arizona desert. Combos was on Busch’s Nationwide Series car last April at Phoenix when he scored the win in dominating fashion.

In 12 Sprint Cup starts at the “Diamond in the Desert,” Busch has one win and seven top-10 finishes, including four in a row from the spring 2007 through fall 2008 events, and he won the pole for the spring 2006 race. The talented 25-year-old from Las Vegas was in position to win both Sprint Cup races at Phoenix in 2010, but late-race pit strategy did not work out either time.

Still, Busch has shown a penchant for winning at Phoenix in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. In 11 Nationwide starts, he has three wins, eight top-10 finishes and three poles to go with his Truck Series win in the fall 2007 race.

So, the question remains: Will the combo of the crafty Rogers and the young Busch result in a new track being added to their list of collaborative wins? It’s certainly tough to look past what has quickly become one of the strongest driver-crew chief combos in NASCAR as, together, they hope to prove their worth as bona fide Sprint Cup title contenders in 2011.

Joey Logano Quotes on Phoenix

“I like Phoenix a lot, aside from Charlotte it is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit.  I’ve had good runs there the last two times in The Home Depot car, but I’ve run really well there in the Nationwide car too.  This is going to be the first real test on the track for the new nose this season.  I don’t think we are expecting too much of a difference but we will find out on Friday.

“The last race in Phoenix was an example of how far this team has come since my rookie year.  We started out in the top 10, but fell back then got blocked in the pits.  My first year and a half we wouldn’t have been able to rally back from that, but in November we did and finished third.  That shows the strength and confidence this Home Depot Team has now.”

The Home Depot Team Notes of Interest

  • Joey Logano will be making his fifth Phoenix International Raceway start as the driver of the Home Depot Toyota.  The one-mile track has been one of Logano’s most consistent tracks on the circuit.  In 2010, he earned top-10 finishes in both events at the desert track including a third-place effort last fall.
  • About last week: Logano and The Home Depot Team were running a clean, smart race in the Daytona 500 despite the new drafting style at the recently paved speedway.  Unfortunately 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 Home Depot’s monthly Kids Workshop will feature the No. 20 car driven by Logano on Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.  Kids Workshops are a FREE family activity, designed for children 5-12, available the first Saturday of every month at all The Home Depot stores.  In addition to instilling safe DIY skills and a sense of accomplishment, each child gets to keep their car, along with a Kids Workshop apron, achievement pin and diploma.
  • Meet Logano! Fans in the Phoenix area can meet Logano at The Home Depot Store down the road from the track on Feb. 24 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. The store is located at 5230 W. Baseline Rd in Laveen, Ariz. There will be photo opportunities with the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota and an autograph signing by Logano.  Wristbands will be distributed starting at 5 p.m. to the first 700 fans.
  • Welcome aboard The Home Depot associates from store #3615 in Cary, N.C.  The store number will ride along with Logano this weekend for the Subway Fresh Fit 500.  Cary is the home to the founder of the popular HowStuffWorks, Inc., Marshall Brain.  Brain started the company with www.howstuffworks.com in 1998 and by 2008 had over 58 million visitors annually.
  • The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #275 this weekend for the race in Phoenix. The team used this chassis five times last season and it has four top-10 finishes.  Logano piloted chassis #275 to a third-place finish at Dover International Speedway, a ninth-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, crossed the stripe 10th at Michigan in August and most recently drove it to a sixth-place run at Martinsville.
  • To access information on The Home Depot Team visit: www.joegibbsracing.com and follow twitter.com/homedepotracing, twitter.com/joegibbsracing and twitter.com/jlogano.

 

Brian Scott Quotes on Phoenix

“I’ve traditionally run well at short tracks and flat tracks, so Phoenix fits my driving style.  Joe Gibbs Racing has a really good track record at Phoenix and that adds to my confidence going into this weekend.  The keys to Phoenix are track position and a decent pit stall.  It’s going to be important to have a good practice and a solid qualifying run.  There has never been a green-flag stop in the Nationwide race at Phoenix because there are so many cautions.  That also means that you usually see some sort of wreck during one of the many restarts, so you want to get up toward the front and stay there to avoid those kinds of situations.”

“This is the last race on this track configuration.  I’m excited about the new track because it will really help from a spotter’s standpoint with the pit road issues and the restarts.  That will make the race easier for them to call, better for the drivers and should result in better racing for the fans.”

“Obviously last week was disappointing.  So we will need to adjust our goals and objectives heading into the next three races.  We need to focus on finishing the race first of all, but getting solid finishes.  What we can’t do is try to overcompensate for Daytona.  We still need to race hard but we need to be smart about it.  We can’t afford to get ourselves in a deeper hole.  If we can get top-10 finishes at Phoenix, Las Vegas and Bristol we can readjust our goals again.”

Shore Lodge Team Notes of Interest

  • Brian Scott will be looking for redemption after a disappointing first race as a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing organization.  Scott was spun on lap 15 at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series last weekend and was forced into the garage for repairs.  Scott started from the 11th position, drafted his way into seventh but finished 34th in his Shore Lodge Toyota after the early race incident.
  • Scott will be making his fourth start at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend in the Nationwide Series.  Scott has top-20 finishes in all of his three starts including an 11th-place run in November of 2010.  In addition to his three starts in the Nationwide Series, he also has three starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series where his best finish of fourth came in 2008.
  • Scott, the runner up for the 2010 Nationwide Series rookie of the year, joins JGR following his first full season in the series where the 23-year-old tallied five top-10 and one top-five finish.  The addition of the No. 11 team gives the JGR organization an opportunity to run for the series championship with the rule change this season. Following Daytona, Scott sits 23rd in the Nationwide driver standings.  He joins teammates Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota and Joey Logano in the No. 20 Toyota this season.
  • Scott’s No. 11 team is headed up by crew chief Kevin Kidd who led Logano to two wins, eight poles and 24 top-10 finishes in just 25 starts last season.  Several member of the No. 20 moved to the No. 11 with Kidd and will support Scott’s efforts this season.
  • Scott, along with several other NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers, will sign for fans at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday from 10:30 – 11:15 a.m. in the fan midway area behind the Bobby Allison grandstand.
  • Former NASCAR Nationwide stand-out Tim Fedewa will be Scott’s “eye in the sky” for the 2011 season. Fedewa will guide Scott and the No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota as they look for victory lane for the first time this season.  Fedewa has four Nationwide Series wins and 66 top-10 finishes on his resume.
  • To access information on Brian Scott and No. 11 Team visit: www.joegibbsracing.com and follow twitter.com/bscottracing and twitter.com/joegibbsracing.

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.”

Denny Hamlin on the Shootout in Daytona

Saturday’s Shootout at Daytona International Speedway will mark Denny Hamlin’s sixth start in the non-points, pre-season exhibition event.  Hamlin earned a lifetime invitation into the race with a Shootout victory in his very first try as a rookie in 2006.  The Chesterfield, Va., native captured a pole at Phoenix in 2005 — a year he made just seven Cup starts — to gain entry into the 2006 Shootout under the old format, an opportunity he took full advantage of.  Driver eligibility for 2011 is based on Chase participants from 2010, past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions, former Shootout winners, points race winners at Daytona and Sprint Cup Series ‘Rookie of the Year’ winners from the previous 10 seasons.  As the 2006 Shootout winner, 2006 ‘Rookie of the Year’ and a 2010 Chase participant, Hamlin is more than qualified to compete Saturday night. Hamlin finished fifth in the 2010 Shootout, behind winner Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.  It marked his best finish in the event since his 2006 victory. Starting order for Saturday’s event will be determined by a blind draw Friday night, with Hamlin’s best “qualifying effort” of fifth coming in 2009.  He started 24th one year ago.  Hamlin has led a total of 20 laps in Shootout competition — 16 in 2006 and four in 2009.

Hamlin Conversation

What are your thoughts heading into the Shootout?

“The Shootout is a fun event and it’s a race that we all want to win. It’s unique because you aren’t worrying about points, about how it’s going to affect your season. You’ll probably see guys try things in the Shootout that you won’t see in the 500 but it’s a short race and the format means that there is nothing to lose at the end. I think that’s what the fans like about this race.   We just go out there and race.”

What is your outlook for the 2011 season?

“I’m ready to go.  I feel as confident as we’ve ever been.  Every year we’ve steadily made a progression towards the top and obviously had a career year last year.  We know we can do it and we can win at all different kinds of race tracks.  For me, I think we have everything in place.  I’m keeping all of my key personnel from what we had last year.  No changes there.  Pit crew is the same.  The driver will be a little bit better.  Everything is in place to hopefully pull out a first one.”

Are you the driver to unseat Jimmie Johnson this year?

“I hope so. This is almost a free year for me. A lot of people are going to expect us to have a bad year coming off such a good year, because the expectations were so high last year.  We came through and succeeded in winning a bunch of races like we said we were.  We were championship contenders — almost won the championship.  And this year, a lot of people expect a letdown year because it’s happened to guys before. For me, I know my passion for racing, and it’s impossible for me to fail in that aspect. Unless something crazy happens, we’re going to be right back in the same position this year as what we were last year.”

How do you feel about the new points system?

“I think (NASCAR) hit it right on the head.  I really don’t think they could’ve made it any simpler for the new race fan coming into the sport or the driver that knows he’s 10 points behind.  He’s got to pass 10 cars.  It makes things so much simpler and for me it’s well understood.  I think it’s going to reward those guys that go out and win during the regular season.  It’s going to give you three bonus points.  That’s three spots — that’s like 15 points going into the Chase versus last year’s 10.  It’s going to pay to win races nowadays.”

Does the new points system change your strategy?

“I think you’re going to have to run it the exact same way. The only difference is that wins are obviously going to pay more points. I like it. Of course, we won a lot of races last year. If we don’t win any going into the Chase this year, I’m not going to like it that much, but it should pay the guy that wins. You should see a battle — a guy that’s giving it all he’s got running second trying to win the race. I think NASCAR set that up for us, teed it up for us, and now it’s up to us to go out there and put on the show.”

How do you put last year behind you to focus on 2011?

“Nothing fuels me more than losing. We’re all competitors and each one of us knows that when you finish second, it’s fuel. It doesn’t matter what sport I’m in — if I lose, I’m going to work to try to be better at it. For racing, it’s my number one passion and my number one focus to try to be the best at. We’ve gotten close to the top, we just need one more position. And I consider anything less than a championship a failure. A lot of guys will say that, but for me, finishing second in points, there’s no other room to go up other than winning a championship. Taking a step back is finishing any worse than I did last year.”