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Southern 500 Recap & Photos

Race recap coming soon.  In the meantime, enjoy these photos from the Southern 500 weekend.

It was yet another eventful night on the challenging track of Darlington Raceway and when it was all over Denny Hamlin would lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a sixth place finish, while Kyle Busch crossed the line in 11th and an accident left Joey Logano in 35th.

Hamlin entered the night seeking to defend his victory from a year ago at the famed track known by many as the Lady in Black. Hamlin started his No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota in the third position after a strong qualifying effort on Friday evening. He would battle tight conditions through much of the first half of the race while racing just inside the top ten. Crew chief Mike Ford would call for changes each time down pit road and his No. 11 Camry began to free up in the corners. The team would take a bigger swing at adjustments on lap 231 and although the stop under caution would cause Hamlin to lose some track position the adjustments appeared to work and it didn’t take long for him to race his way back into the top ten. With about 100 laps remaining Hamlin would report that the car was tight, but conditions were consistent. The team made a decision to come down pit road for fresh tires when a late caution came out and Hamlin managed to race his way to a sixth-place finish. It was Hamlin’s second straight top ten finish after his second-place effort last week in Richmond.

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Busch started the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota in the 14th position but quickly proved to have one of the strongest cars in the field. He climbed into the top-10 by lap 10 and made his way into the top-five by lap 34. He would assume the lead for the first time on lap 125 following a tremendous pit stop by his Doublemint crew and spend the remainder of the first half of the race in the lead position. Unfortunately shortly after lap 200, Busch would radio in to crew chief Dave Rogers to report a vibration in his right rear tire. He would bring his No. 18 Camry down pit road on lap 207 four fresh tires, but the unscheduled stop would cause him to lose a lap to the field. Patience would be the key from there and a caution on lap 238 would give Busch the Lucky Dog and put him back on the lead lap. Busch would restart 21st on lap 242 and drive his way up into 13th by the time the next caution came on lap 281. As the race neared completion it appeared Busch would have the opportunity to earn a remarkable comeback and a top-five finish, but contact with No. 29 of Kevin Harvick forced him to come down pit road one final time for quick repairs of the damage and a new set of tires. The late loss of track position took Busch out of contention for a top-ten finish, although an impressive run over the two-lap green-white-checkered finish allowed him to salvage 11th place.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the 17th position and battled through the early going with changing track conditions that caused the handle on his car to move from tight to loose. Crew chief Greg Zipadelli and the Home Depot crew would make the necessary adjustments to improve the handle on the car and Logano would drive into the top ten by lap 215. Pit strategy would put Logano back in 15th place and while racing his way back into the top ten on lap 238 he would get into the side of the No. 9 car forcing him to spin across the track and into the inside retaining wall. The damage to the No. 20 Camry would be significant causing Logano to pull into the garage for repairs. By the time the crew could make the necessary repairs Logano would finish himself some 40 laps off the pace. He would go on to finish the night 35th.

Regan Smith captured his first career victory, while Carl Edwards finished second, Brad Keselowski was third, Kasey Kahne was fourth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five. There were 11 cautions for a total of 46 laps and 21 lead changes among 12 different drivers over the course of the 370-lap race, which was extended three laps for a green-white-checkered finish.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Dover next Sunday. The FedEx 400 to benefit Autism Speaks in Dover will begin at 1 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at Noon ET.

Kyle Busch Tames Darlington!

Kyle Busch moved within two victories of claiming the All-Time Winningest Driver record in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Friday night by winning the 200-mile race at Darlington Raceway! Denny Hamlin finished second, bringing home a Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2. Brian Scott was involved in a mid-race incident not of his own doing while running in 9th. The violent wreck ended his night, but Brian was able to walk away uninjured.

Enjoy these photos from the event:

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Kyle Busch Wins at Richmond! JGR Sweeps Weekend

Joe Gibbs Racing continued its dominance at Richmond International Raceway tonight with Kyle Busch capturing his second victory of the season, followed closely by Denny Hamlin in second and Joey Logano in 11th.

Click Here to view photos from Richmond

Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Pretzel Candies Toyota in the 20th position and proved strong from the outset once again on the Virginia short track, wasting very little time making his way toward the front. Busch would enter the top ten by lap 31 and was inside the top five just thirty laps later. He was running second when he entered the pits for the first time and great work by the M&Ms crew on the green flag stop gave Busch his first lead on lap 91 once everyone had cycled through the stops. He would swap the top spot several times with his teammate as the race progressed but it was obvious throughout the night that he and his teammate Hamlin were the class of the field as the two battled back and forth at the front of the pack. The night’s final restart would come on lap 313 and an impressive move by Busch to the outside sent him to the front of the field one final time. From there he was able to extend his lead and conserve just enough fuel to capture the checkered flag. It was another dominating performance for Busch and JGR as he would lead a race-high four times for 235 laps en route to victory.

Hamlin entered the night seeking a weekend sweep after winning his own Late Model charity race Thursday night and then dominating the NASCAR Nationwide Series in the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota on Friday. Hamlin wasted no time moving to the front of the field after starting the No. 11 FedEx Freight in the 11th position. He would move into the top five within the first 50 laps and claimed the top spot on lap 73. Although Hamlin would drop back into the fourth position following the race’s first round of green flag pit stops, he managed to settle into the second position behind his teammate Busch through the midpoint of the race. He would retake the top spot on lap 274. Pit sequences would shuffle the field a bit, but it never took long for Hamlin to weave his way back to the front. Hamlin would settle in behind Busch on what turned out to be the final restart of the night on lap 313 and as the two weaved their way through lapped traffic he was unable to challenge his teammate for the win. The FedEx team would settle for an impressive second-place finish after leading three times for a total of 38 laps.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the ninth position and struggled through the early portion of the race to find the proper handle on the car. With few cautions in the first half of the race there was limited time for The Home Depot crew to work on the car. Adjustments by the team at the midpoint of the race made The Home Depot Camry handle better on both the entry and exit of the turns, but he was still unable to drive forward through the field. Logano was running 18th on lap 255 when Jimmie Johnson slid up the track and spun his No. 20 Camry. It took four trips down pit road and outstanding work by the team, but Logano was able to remain on lead lap to restart in the 21st position. A series of cautions allowed the team to continue to work on the handle of his Camry, but a big accident in front of Logano with 100 laps remaining would cause a little further damage despite an impressive display of skills that kept the No. 20 clear of anything major that might have ended his night early. The perseverance shown by The Home Depot crew would pay off as the No. 20 was at its best on the race’s final run to earn an 11th-place finish.

Kasey Kahne finished third behind Busch and Hamlin, while David Ragan was fourth and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 60 laps and 14 lead changes among 10 different drivers over the course of the 400-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Darlington next Saturday night. The race in Darlington will begin at 7:30 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 PM ET.

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Gresham Notches Top Finish In SOBO

NASCAR K&N Clash

 

SOUTH BOSTON, VA (April 18, 2011) – There’s something about South Boston Speedway that brings out the best in Max Gresham.

“I really don’t know what it is about South Boston that I like,” said Gresham after wheeling his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Toyota to a third-place finish in the South Boston 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event Sunday afternoon. “I like the feel that it gives me. I can really abuse the track. It reminds me of some of the places I have raced on back home in Georgia. You are always going to drive well at the places you like. I’m three-for-three with top-five finishes here, so there’s obviously there’s something about this place that agrees with me.”


Gresham made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut at the tiny four-tenths-mile Virginia oval in 2009 finishing fifth. Last year, the 17-year-old JGR development driver won his first-ever NASCAR K&N race at ‘SOBO.’ His third-place run Sunday now gives him a 3.0 finishing average at the track in just three NASCAR K&N events.

Sunday’s solid finish took a little extra work as Gresham had to overcome an early qualifying draw sent him out fifth in the time trial session. His lap of 16.040 seconds (89.776 miles per hour average) was still good enough for seventh in the 32-car starting field.

Gresham quickly showed he was one of the top contenders for the win working his way to fifth within the first five laps telling his JGR crew that his Toyota Camry was ‘on rails’ over the team radio.

By Lap 100, Gresham was in fourth place trailing leaders Brett Moffitt, Sergio Pena and Matt DiBenedetto. Over the next 40 laps, Gresham nipped at the heels of DiBenedetto and Pena for position while Moffitt apparently checked out for his second NKNPSE win in a row.

Then on Lap 141, Moffitt crashed after tangling with a lapped car forcing the field to a red flag condition. When the race got back underway with just four circuits remaining, Gresham was third and poised to make a run at the win.

The soon-to-be Woodward Academy high school graduate wasted little time muscling his way inside of DiBendetto for second on the restart. While the pair raced side-by-side over the final laps, Pena slipped away leaving the two black and orange Toyotas to battle for the runner-up spot.


At the finish, it was Pena by four car lengths with Gresham and DiBenedetto in apparent dead heat for second. Initially, Gresham was declared the runner up, but later NASCAR changed the final finishing order giving placing Gresham third.

“We ran good, in the top-five all day long,” Gresham stated. “We had a chance to win, but we brought the car home in one piece instead. I think I could have won, but there was no reason to wreck two other cars just to try to win. I’m happy with where we finished and I’m pleased that our car is in one piece. It won’t take much work for my guys to turn it around.”

The good finish – coming on the heels of a disappointing 21st-place effort when tire issues in the final 10 laps ruined a possible top-five run in the season-opening race at Greenville, SC two weeks ago – boosted Gresham back into 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship hunt.

Gresham is now ninth in the standings with 265 points, just 66 markers out of first.

“Today was my mom’s birthday,” said Gresham in Sunday’s post race interview. “I really wanted to have a good day for her and I was really happy that she was here today. I was also racing in memory of my good friend Beau Slocumb. He passed away after his long battle with cancer last week. He’s in a better place now.”

Sunday’s South Boston 150 will be telecast on a tape delayed basis on Thursday, May 12 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

Gresham will get additional ‘TV time’ the next time he hits the track when he competes in the Fourth-Annual Denny Hamlin Short-Track Showdown on Thursday, April 28. Before the live event on SPEED rolls off, Gresham will wheel his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at RIR.
For more information about Max Gresham, please access www.MaxGresham.com. You can also follow Max Gresham on Twitter @Max Gresham and on Facebook at Max Gresham Fan Page.

Additional information about the Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR K&N Pro Series effort can be viewed atwww.JoeGibbsRacing.com.
For information about sponsorship of or partnering with Max Gresham’s 2011 NASCAR racing efforts, please contact J.R. Longley at

Talladega Tandemanium

The two-car draft was back Sunday afternoon at the Talladega Superspeedway. Along with it came the unique challenges it presents to drivers as they try to push their drafting partners to the front with limited visibility and the risk of hitting them off-center and spinning them out. Throughout the day, all three Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas took their turn at the front of the pack as they worked together in the draft.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota in the 29th position, but quickly made it to the front early in the day. As was the case for many drivers, Hamlin would charge to the front, then drop to the rear as other cars found momentum in the two-car tandem draft. He found himself working with the No. 39 car for much of the race, which proved successful until the No. 39 had trouble late in the event. Hamlin avoided several incidents, but received minor damage to his car in the final incident of the day with roughly 15 laps to go. The FedEx Office crew was able to repair the car sufficiently for the final run at the win. With four laps remaining, Hamlin was hooked with JGR teammate Joey Logano in 12th place, but lost the draft when he got out of the throttle to avoid the No. 34 car who almost spun ahead of him. Hamlin would end up 23rd. The finish enabled Hamlin to gain three spots in the point standings, moving to 17th.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Pretzel Candies Toyota in the 34th position and made it clear that he had a car capable of running up front and winning the race. Busch led several laps and spent many more pushing other cars to the first position. On lap 140 misfortunes struck Busch while he was being pushed by teammate Joey Logano. As Busch and Logano shot to the high side in tandem to pass another pair of drivers, their bumpers made contact off of center sending the No. 18 car spinning into traffic in the low line and eventually into the wall down the backstretch. The incident is often unavoidable given the type of racing seen at restrictor plate races with the current rule package. Neither driver considered the other to be at fault. The crew was able to make enough repairs to the car to return to the race for a few laps before finally settling for a 35th place finish. His troubles relegated him to 6th place in the series point standings.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the 36th position and was able to clinch his first top-10 finish of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Logano showed patience and skill on Sunday. At times he would suggest to his veteran drafting partners that they hold steady together at the back of the pack to avoid the mayhem of the lead group. Other times during the race, Logano charged to the front, leading laps and gaining one bonus point in his Race to the Chase. Near the end of the race, Logano had positioned himself perfectly to make a charge for the win with teammate Denny Hamlin. However, when Hamlin became disconnected from the draft, Logano’s momentum was interrupted and he was forced to pair with the No. 34 car. When the checkered flag flew Logano was in 10th and had gained four spots in the point standings to 24th.

In one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history Jimmie Johnson captured the victory, while Clint Bowyer was second, Jeff Gordon third, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fourth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five. There were 6 cautions for a total of 24 laps and 88 lead changes among 24 different drivers over the course of the 188-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take a week off to celebrate the Easter holiday, before returning to Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night, April 30. The race in Richmond will begin at 7:30 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 PM ET. The NASCAR Nationwide Series will run next week in Nashville on Saturday, April 23 at 3 PM televised live on ESPN starting at 2 PM.