All three Joe Gibbs Racing entries will start from inside the top ten when the green flag waves to start the Auto Club 400 Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.
The rains fell early today in Fontana, CA, but when officials were finally able to get the track dry it would be Denny Hamlin leading JGR’s efforts by qualifying his No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota in the second position. Hamlin posted a lap of 39.073 seconds and just narrowly missed the top spot.
“It’s been a good day,” said Hamlin. “Focusing on qualifying and things like that, I’ve really never worked so hard to work on just one lap before as much as I have this week. I’m trying to get better. Last week we had issues at Bristol and that was because we qualified bad. We can’t put ourselves in the middle of the pack every weekend. We’re trying to slowly work to get better at qualifying and I felt like I’m taking steps to do that.”
Meanwhile Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, was just behind his teammate with an impressive lap of 39.102 seconds to earn the third position.
“It was more surprising than anything else,” Logano said of his qualifying lap. “I didn’t think it was that great of a lap. I had a terrible time getting up to speed coming to the green. Thought that kind of set me up for a bad lap. I had a better (turns) one and two than I had in practice — so I’m excited about that. It was good. I’m excited about it.”
Kyle Busch managed an impressive effort despite an accident in the day’s only and abbreviated practice session that forced the team to bring out the backup car. Busch, who had hit a wet spot on the track that would result in contact with the wall, would earn the ninth position for the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota with a lap of 39.241 seconds.
“I just can’t say enough about these guys on this Interstate Batteries Camry this weekend so far,” said Busch. “Just today, I mean we waited (the rain) out. We had the car all ready to go and all of the sudden the first lap out I decided the guys didn’t have enough work today. So, we had to come in and get the backup out and we went through everything trying to make sure we had a good enough car just to get a lap on it at least in practice. Guys did a great job there and hustled along pretty well. Made some changes there for qualifying and got it pretty close to where we needed it. That’s good enough. That’s solid enough that we’ll take that and wherever it winds up and we can race them from there on Sunday.”
Juan Pablo Montoya of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing captured the pole with a lap of 38.992.
Late Model Stock Car Event Scheduled for Thursday, April 28, Following the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Race
Richmond, VA (March 22, 2011)—Richmond International Raceway and Chesterfield, VA native Denny Hamlin are joining forces to run the fourth annual Short Track Showdown to benefit the Denny Hamlin Foundation on Thursday night, April 28 at America’s Premiere Short Track. The event will feature more than eight NASCAR drivers and celebrities battling it out on the ¾-mile track with some of the best local Late Model Stock Car drivers.
Always trying to be on the cutting edge of technology, Richmond International Raceway brought Tuesday’s announcement to fans live on the track’s Facebook page. One of the first times a motorsports facility has delivered a major announcement live on the Internet, fans were even invited to submit questions for Hamlin and Fritz to answer.
“This is a great partnership with our hometown driver, Denny Hamlin,” said Richmond International Raceway President Doug Fritz. “We’re excited to be the new home of the Short Track Showdown and hope to help Denny grow this event into a premiere charity race.”
The addition of the Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway means the race weekend will now feature four events for race fans to enjoy. The charity race will be a one-day show, featuring practice and qualifying prior to the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race. The Short Track Showdown will run immediately following the Blue Ox 100, making for an exciting Thursday at Richmond International Raceway.
“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to run our Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway,” said Hamlin. “The event has grown every year and we’ve been so fortunate to raise support through my foundation for some outstanding organizations. The competition will be intense with several Cup drivers signed on, as well as a few racing celebrities and of course several outstanding local short track drivers. It’s going to be a great night of racing with the opportunity to help a lot of people.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and other NASCAR celebrities currently scheduled to run in the Short Track Showdown include Denny, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Hermie Sadler and Clay Campbell – Martinsville Speedway president.
Proceeds from the Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway will benefit the Denny Hamlin Foundation, a 501 C (3) started to raise funds for individuals and families suffering from cystic fibrosis. The foundation supports organizations like The Children’s Hospital of Richmond, St. Jude’s Hospital and Victory Junction.
Tickets are available now for the excitement on Thursday, April 28th. All seats are general admission and $25. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult. Tickets include the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race and Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown.
If you haven’t purchased your tickets for the Crown Royal Presents The Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday, April 30th, now is the time. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased online at www.rir.com or by calling 866-455-RACE (7223). Don’t miss the return of hometown favorite Denny Hamlin, defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and all of your favorite stars of the Sprint Cup Series.
The weekend also includes the Friday, April 29th BUBBA burger 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race “under the lights.” Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne, Virginia native Elliott Sadler and the full-time Nationwide Series drivers will mix it up with Sprint Cup drivers running double-duty. Tickets start at $30 in advance, and children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission. For tickets and information, log on to www.rir.com or call 866-455-RACE (7223).
About Richmond International Raceway:
Richmond International Raceway, known as America’s Premier Short Track, offers exciting night racing action and a commitment to the fan experience. One of the most popular facilities among drivers and fans in all of motorsports, Richmond International Raceway annually hosts all of its major events—two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, two NASCAR Nationwide Series events and one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race—under the lights on its ¾-mile D-Shaped oval. The unique layout consistently produces the thrill of side-by-side racing, coupled with high enough speeds for a superspeedway feel. Combined with first-class amenities (including the state-of-the-art Video Scoring Tower) and a focus on the fans, guests at Richmond International Raceway can expect to experience what “Racing Perfection” truly is. For tickets to events at Richmond International Raceway, call 866-455-RACE or visit www.rir.com online.Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RIRInsider.
About the Denny Hamlin Foundation:
The Denny Hamlin Foundation was created by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Denny Hamlin to aid in raising awareness and funding for Cystic Fibrosis research and treatment, as well as to support other not for profit corporations that focus on aiding children with debilitating illnesses. You can find the Denny Hamlin Foundation online at www.dennyhamlinfoundation.org and on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/dennyhamlinfoundation.
Griffin, GA (March 9, 2011) – Max Gresham announced today that he will again drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota NASCAR K&N Pro Series entry on a full-time basis in2011.
Last year, Gresham captured two NKNPS events winning at South Boston (VA) Speedway and Iowa Speedway. Additionally, the Griffin, GA native scored a pair of pole positions and finished eighth in the final 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship points standings.
“I am extremely happy to be back with Joe Gibbs Racing and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series again this season,” said Gresham. “I am thrilled to have another opportunity to race with them again. Last year, we had good results winning two races, but that really didn’t show how good of a year we had. We were in a position to win a couple of more races when bad luck or problems not of our own making took us out. Sometimes, you just can’t control things. I definitely think we can do better this year after having that experience last season. We’re looking to have an outstanding year, win a lot of races and contend for the championship.”
The 2011 effort will mark the third year Gresham has been a part of the JGR Driver Development Program. Gresham made his JGR and NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut in 2009 scoring a fifth-place finish in his first event at South Boston. In all, Gresham has 14 career NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts to his credit earning five top-five finishes (35 percent) and six top-10 efforts (42 percent).
“We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a lot of great young drivers entering NASCAR and Max is poised to help us build upon that tradition,” said J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR. “He put up some impressive results last year and we look forward to building on that success this season while competing for the K&N Pros Series East Championship.”
The 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule will consist of 12 events beginning at Greenville Pickens Speedway in Greenville, SC on Saturday, March 26. The series will visit 10 different tracks in 2011 and will feature companion dates to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Richmond (VA) International Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover (DE) International Speedway.
The series will also return to South Boston and Gresham Motorsports Park (Jefferson, GA) as well as make new stops at Bowman Gray Stadium (Winston-Salem, NC), Langley (VA) Speedway and Columbus (OH) Motor Speedway in 2011.
“I’m comfortable with all the tracks that we’ve been to in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and I feel like I can adapt to the new ones without any problems,” Gresham stated. “Last year, just about every track was new for me, so that’s not a big deal anymore. I’m really looking forward to racing at places like Bowman Gray Stadium and Richmond. Both of those tracks have a lot of history and it would be great to add to that by winning there. I’m confident my Joe Gibbs Racing team is going to be prepared to win every race regardless of what track we’re competing at, so I’m looking forward to having a great season.”
For more information about Max Gresham, please access www.MaxGreshamRacing.com. You can also follow Max Gresham on Facebook at Max Gresham’s Fan Page.
Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte surprised everyone in attendance (include owner Joe Gibbs) at the 2011 Media Day stop at Joe Gibbs Racing on Thursday. The event focused on commemorating Joe Gibbs Racing’s 20th Anniversary in NASCAR. At the end of the day, the stage was filled with JGR’s past Champions and current stable of drivers including Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and Brian Scott. Dale Jarrett was unable to attend, but shared a video message for Joe and the audience.
What proved to be most enjoyable about the event (besides seeing JGR’s foundational members on stage together) were the insightful and sometimes hilarious stories shared between Joe, JD, Tony, and Bobby.
Joe Gibbs shared what was probably the funniest story of the afternoon when he recounted trying to track down Tony Stewart to recruit him as a driver.
“Trying to track Tony down was a nightmare. … I chased him from one side of the world to the other. I finally got together with [Tony’s manager] Harry Ranier, and he told me that he had two other partners and he told me how much cash it was going to take to get Tony out of his deal. So I go to meet Harry again later, and I like Harry a lot, I go to hand Harry the check and he says this to me [with a stern look]: “Are you sure you want to do this?”
The whole crowd broke into laughter at Gibbs’ story and then Tony jumped back in replying, “What a coincidence, I remember having to hand you a check for the same thing and you told me the same thing!”
After the laughter subsided Joe said it was one of the best deals ever made.
The friendly jabs didn’t stop there. Later on, a reporter asked Joe how he managed to take when he learned as a successful football coach and apply it to racing. Joe summed up his answer by saying “I’ve found that if you can be successful in football, you’ll be successful in racing, and visa versa.”
Kyle Busch interrupted for clarification, “So Coach, are you saying Joey Logano would make a good quarterback?”
“Yes, Joey could be a quarterback,” replied Joe.
“I was thinking linebacker,” said Joey.
But it was Denny Hamlin who got the last word. “I was thinking, more like a kicker.”
The memorable event kicked off what is sure to be an equally memorable 2011 NASCAR season.
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announces today that Michael McDowell will join their team of drivers for the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season.
McDowell is currently slated to drive in both Nationwide Series races in Iowa for Pizza Ranch behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Camry with the potential to add additional races to his schedule for JGR.
“Anytime you have the opportunity to work with someone with the talent and character of Michael you are excited,” said JGR President J.D. Gibbs. “We are blessed with a great group of drivers across all three of our entries in the Nationwide Series next season.”
Joe Gibbs Racing has experienced tremendous success over the past three seasons in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Last season the No. 18 Toyota team captured the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship behind the strength of Kyle Busch’s amazing record 13 victories despite driving in only 29 events. In 2009 the 18 team captured the combined Driver’s and Owner’s titles as Busch drove the full season. Meanwhile, JGR’s No. 20 Toyota team earned the organization’s first NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship in 2008. All together JGR has won an incredible 49 races in the Nationwide Series over the past three seasons.
“These JGR race teams have an incredible performance history” said McDowell. “This is a great opportunity and I am honored to represent Pizza Ranch in their home state of Iowa and drive the No. 18. I appreciate the confidence Pizza Ranch and JGR have in me and plan to make the best of it. ”
This will mark McDowell’s fifth year racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series after making his debut with three races during the 2007 season. He added two more races in 2008 and competed on a full-time basis in 2009, earning five top-10 and 18 top-20 finishes while starting 34 of the season’s 35 races. Last season he competed in 33 of the 35 races with one top-10 and 10 top-20 finishes. McDowell also competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series where he has made 52 career starts over the course of the past three seasons.
McDowell, 26, and his wife Jami live in Huntersville, NC with their two-year-old son Trace.