The 2014 Sprint Media Tour came to a conclusion on Thursday at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC. Members of the media were on hand to hear from team owners Joe and JD Gibbs, as well as our drivers and crew chiefs. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Darrell Wallace, Jr., Drew Herring, and Sam Hornish, Jr., met with the media in break-out sessions to answer questions about the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series seasons. Crew chiefs Darian Grubb, Dave Rogers, and Jason Ratcliff were also in attendance.
Matt Kenseth led Joe Gibbs Racing with a 15th-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Meanwhile Denny Hamlin raced to a 20th-place finish while two late race spins left Kyle Busch with a disappointing 31st.
Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 12th position and was able to work through a few early cautions to move his way into the top ten and was running sixth while battling loose conditions especially into turn 3 and upon exit of turn 4. The handling was difficult to pinpoint because the car would also become too tight when attempting to make a pass in traffic. Kenseth would come down pit road under the green flag around lap 50 for adjustments and great work by the Dollar General crew gained him another spot allowing him to run fourth once the field had cycled through stops. He would race his way into third when another caution came out for a wreck on lap 72. Kenseth was running seventh when the race reached the halfway point on lap 100. He was running ninth when another caution came out on lap 136 when the 88 wrecked. He would line up sixth on lap 139 and used an awesome restart to move into third. While battling on another restart on lap 153, he was forced to go four wide and the backend of his Dollar General Camry would get loose causing him to lift off the throttle lose position back to 10th. Another caution on lap 158 would allow Kenseth to come down pit road with many of the other leaders. Several teams made the call for fuel only and the No. 20 would return to the track in 16th for the restart. The handling on his Camry would become extremely loose making it difficult for him to gain additional track position. He would pit a final time and lined up with four fresh tires in the 21st position with 23 to go. He would manage to drive his way back to finish in the top 15.
Michigan International Speedway is one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Check out the Joe Gibbs Racing infographic for this week to learn more about what these speeds will mean for racing.
From Brian Vickers
How do you feel heading to Kansas after the results after the first Cup Series race with JGR?
“I’m looking forward to it. I really am. I think we learned a lot tonight. Texas is the first time that I’ve driven a Cup car, a Gen-6 car on a big track. It was a big learning curve for me. Just learning about these cars and the trend it takes under a green flag run and the difference between practice and race, etc. It was a learning curve. I think obviously working with a new team, being in the Gen-6 car at a mile-and-a-half for the first time for me was a lot to learn. I think we’ll take away from it tonight and go to Kansas and hopefully go after that win.”
How has it been working with JGR on the Cup side?
“It’s been really good. These guys have been great. They’ve been great to work with. Everyone has really welcomed me into the team. Working with Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and all the engineers has been pretty easy. I think at the end of the day we still have to learn what I want out of the race car and I’ve got to learn their cars and I have to communicate that to them. Some of that is just me learning what I need in this car and learning what I need in their cars and some of it is just understanding what that is. We’ll get there.”