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May 16, 2013 - 07:17 AM
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2013 Charlotte (All-Star): Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Tidbits
Posted by: newsla on May 16, 2013 - 07:13 AM
2013 Charlotte (All-Star): Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Tidbits


MAGIC FOR MATT: Camry driver Matt Kenseth was victorious in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at South Carolina's Darlington Raceway -- his third win of the 2013 season. Kenseth was previously triumphant at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March and Kansas Speedway in April. He raced with the top-five much of the 500-mile event on the historic 1.366-mile race track and led the field three times for 17 laps (of 367), including the final 13 circuits. This is Kenseth's first NSCS victory at the historic track and his 27th career series win. The win also marked the fifth for Toyota in the first 11 races of the 2013 NSCS season. Toyota driver Denny Hamlin returned to his seat after a month-long hiatus following an injury at California in March to finish runner-up to his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate -- his best performance of the year. The third JGR entry driven by Kyle Busch led a race-high 265 laps, but a cut tire in the closing laps resulted in a sixth-place finish.


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SWEET SWEEP: Camry driver Busch claimed the victory in Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Darlington Raceway to continue a streak of success by JGR in the Palmetto State. Busch started from the pole and led a race- high 107 laps (of 147) to claim the fourth consecutive victory for JGR at the egg-shaped oval track. The win was also the fifth NNS victory for a Camry at Darlington, and the result gave JGR wins in seven of the last eight Nationwide Series events at the track. In addition to Busch's win, three other JGR drivers finished in the top-five overall at Darlington. Elliott Sadler (second) and Brian Vickers (third) followed Busch to the finish line, while Kenseth claimed a fifth-place result. The top- three finish by JGR marks the second time the organization has scored a one-two-three result after previously accomplishing the feat at Dover International Speedway in June 2012.

SHINING STARS: Five Camry drivers are scheduled to compete in Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- Clint Bowyer, Busch, Hamlin, Kenseth and Mark Martin. Busch finished fourth in last year's All-Star race after starting from the pole in his JGR No. 18 Camry. Previously, Martin Truex Jr. (2010) and AJ Allmendinger (2008) qualified in a Camry for the All-Star race with wins in the Showdown portion of the event. Camry drivers Bobby Labonte and Truex will be among those looking to win the Showdown race and advance into this year's All-Star race Saturday night.

HAPPY TO BE HOME: For so many NASCAR Sprint Cup teams, the race weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway allow 'home field advantage,' where team members and drivers are able to not only sleep in their own beds, but also enjoy extra time with their families at the race track. Two Toyota teams, Joe Gibbs Racing (Huntersville, N.C.) and Michael Waltrip Racing (Cornelius, N.C.), are both based north of the speedway, while JTG-Daugherty Racing (Harrisburg, N.C.) is based within 10 miles of the speedway.

CATWALK FOR A CAUSE: Toyota will serve as the presenting sponsor of the annual 'Catwalk for a Cause' charity event, which will take place on Wednesday, May 15 at Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) in Cornelius, N.C. The event benefits Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte and the 'Martin Truex Jr. Special Needs Fund,' which was created at the hospital in 2011. The New York-style runway show features the hottest designer labels for spring and will be highlighted when the benefitting children walk the Catwalk to raise money for their own cause. Fans can participate through an online auction by visiting the NASCAR Foundation website and clicking on the 'Take Action' tab at the top of the page.

CHAMPION TURNED ROOKIE: Three-time NASCAR Mexico Series Champion German Quiroga is competing in the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) in the No. 77 NET10 Tundra for Red Horse Racing. Quiroga is contending for the Rookie of the Year award. The 32-year-old Mexico City-native has a total of 10 career NCWTS starts with his best finish of eighth coming at Talladega Superspeedway last fall driving a Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Through 11 races in 2013, Matt Kenseth (third), Clint Bowyer (fifth) and Kyle Busch (eighth) currently rank in the top-12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Camry drivers have led 2,073 laps (of 3,549) in NSCS competition -- more than 58 percent of the total laps this year … Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have led 1,677 laps (of 3.549) in NSCS competition -- more than 47 percent of the total laps this year and more than the other two manufacturers in the series combined.

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Home Depot/Husky Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Do you have a game plan for the All-Star race?

"I've got to be real honest, I haven't spent one ounce of time thinking about it yet with everything we've had going on around here. I've put a little thought into Charlotte, but more the 600 I guess than the All-Star Race. But it's always fun to go there. It's fun to get the team involved and do pit stops and do all that stuff and just go out there and have fun on Saturday night."

Are you worried the team is peaking too early this season?

"No. I mean, I'm not a big believer in that. I think the goal of a race team and an organization is to never peak, I think it's to continue to keep getting better. That's one thing I've seen over there pretty much from day one. They're not standing still. They're always trying to build a better car. TRD (Toyota Racing Development) is trying to build a better engine. We're always trying to do that, working on the future. I think that's how racing is. I really feel like with this team, driving this car, I feel like the sky's the limit. This stuff has been incredibly fast. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and I had a special bond right away, with the whole team. Gosh, I couldn't feel much better about our year so far."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Snickers Bites Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Do you look forward to the All-Star race?

"The All-Star Race is fun. It's just no holds barred. Go for everything, go for broke and see what you get. Literally, it's going for broke because you either come home with a million bucks or you're broke, so it's a great race just for the fans I think and for the drivers because there's a no points race. You get to go out there and put everything on the line."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

How excited are you for this year's 'Catwalk for a Cause' event?

"It's very exciting for us not only because this is our fourth year, but just how much it's grown in four years. The first year we had it at a country club and there were 40 or 50 people there. This year we're having it at Michael Waltrip Racing where there's going to be 500-plus. It's obviously a very unique event and the reason it's gotten big is because Sherry (Pollex) and our foundation director and the people that have helped us -- our volunteers and our staff have done a great job putting it together. Our sponsors have supported us 100 percent -- we're very excited to have Toyota on board this year as the presenting sponsor. It's just a unique event that everyone that has ever came to it has said, 'This is so much fun, nobody does anything like it and this is the coolest thing I think I've ever been to.' To be able to help Levine's with the fund that we started is amazing. It's going to raise a ton of money. Our goal is to blow it out of the water and everything shows that we're going to do that. Just excited about it and so proud of everybody for all their hard work for what they've been able to do for my foundation. Just looking forward to getting there and having some fun with everybody."

How rewarding is it to see the benefits from the money raised at the event?

"It really hits home when you meet the families and you meet the parents and you meet the people that it helps. A lot of charities donate to the hospital, but this is different -- this is for the families that can't afford to get their kids or whoever is part of the family to the hospital to get the treatment. The treatment is free, but there are some people that can't even afford to get their kids there. This is kind of a special fund, it's different and it's something you don't see done a lot. I feel really good about being able to do something different and just being able to help."

NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): After nine races in 2013, Elliott Sadler (third), Brian Vickers (fifth), Parker Kligerman (seventh) and Alex Bowman (ninth) rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) point standings … Toyota drivers have led 857 laps (of 1,677) this year -- more than 51 percent of this season's NNS laps … The NNS will enjoy a weekend off before returning to action on Saturday, May 25 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): After four races this season, Matt Crafton leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) standings by 13 points over his teammate Johnny Sauter in second-place … Darrell Wallace Jr. (eighth) and Joey Coulter (ninth) also rank in the top-10 …ThorSport Racing has tallied three wins in four races to start the season … Johnny Sauter won at Daytona International Speedway and Martinsville Speedway in February and April, respectively … Matt Crafton was victorious at Kansas Speedway in April.

TIMOTHY PETERS, No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing

What did you learn at the Texas Motor Speedway test to prepare for Charlotte?

"I'm really encouraged about what we found chassis-wise while we were at Texas. We found a really great balance that was comfortable to my driving style. It was great to get a jump start on how to keep up with the track changes. Texas is a very temperature sensitive track and Charlotte is the same. Having practice during the day and racing at night you have to be prepared to make the right adjustments at the right time."

GERMAN QUIROGA, No. 77 NET10 Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing

What are you looking forward to about racing at Charlotte for the first time?

"Racing in Charlotte is going to be a great experience, not only because it is going to be my first time here but because I feel it is now like my home track. Each time you feel at home you try to do the best that you can, also I will have the support of new friends that I have met here so having them at the track is going to be special."

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