JGRMX Dominates in Daytona; Mark Martin 2nd in Vegas
Team Interstate Wrap-up for March 10-11, 2012
Team Interstate/JGRMX teammates James “Bubba” Stewart and Davi Millsaps swept the podium at a very muddy Daytona Supercross on Saturday. It was the second win of the season for Stewart and the first podium finish of the year for Millsaps.
“I felt good all day,” said Stewart. “I was fast in practice and we got a start, those Pirelli tires were awesome out there. Once I got out front I pulled a lead and just tried to survive.”
The Daytona Supercross is always a unique stop of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Tour. The course, set up in the Daytona International Speedway infield, is more of a hybrid, part motocross and part supercross. It’s often the toughest track of the season, even in perfect weather. Mother nature made the track rival even the worst outdoor motocross conditions. Rain pounded the track early in the day delaying practice and turning the racing surface into a quagmire.
Despite the conditions, Stewart and Millsaps easily transferred directly to the main event from their respective heat races with Stewart winning his eighth heat race of the season. With the track a muddy mess the start was crucial for the main event. When the gate fell it was Millsaps leading the pack with Stewart in tow. On lap three of 16 (the normal 20-lap main was shortened due to the conditions), Stewart passed Millsaps and the JGRMX/Toyota/Yamaha Team riders maintained first and second to the checkers.
Martin Delivers Solid 2nd in Vegas
The driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) led once for a total of 44 laps, but after surrendering the lead coming off of pit road on lap 146, Martin couldn’t get around eventual race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and brought the white-hot No. 18 Interstate Batteries Camry home in the runner-up spot.
“Thanks to Joe Gibbs and everybody at JGR and Interstate Batteries,” said Martin, who now has six top-two finishes in seven career Nationwide Series starts at Las Vegas. “This Toyota was awesome and they were awesome.”
Martin’s only finish outside the top-two at Las Vegas was a sixth-place effort in March 1998. “I have to admit, I almost wrecked the car five times trying to keep up with [Stenhouse] and finally just had to surrender. I just about wrecked it I don’t know how many times. He was just gone and we have to, unfortunately, settle for second place.”
Martin’s JGR teammate, Brian Scott, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, finished 34th after making contact with the outside SAFER Barrier in turn four, thus ending his day just prior to the race’s halfway point.
Vegas Not Kind to JGR in Cup
Busch, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Ms. Brown/Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for JGR, suffered a mid-race scrape with the wall, coupled with handling and track position woes, that proved too much to overcome and resulted in a disappointing 23rd-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“We started in the back, and we were able to move up through the field at the start with our M&M’s Ms. Brown Camry,” said Busch, who won a Sprint Cup race in 2009 at Las Vegas. “We ended up taking four tires on our second stop when everyone else took two and lost our track position. Then we got into the oil from the 93 car blowing up, and I got into the fence. Between that and not being able to keep up with the way the track changed, we just couldn’t end up recovering from losing the track position. It was just a long and frustrating day for us.”
Tony Stewart won the Kobalt Tools 400 to score his 45th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Las Vegas.
NHRA Gatornationals Postponed
Team Interstate’s Mike Edwards, driver of the Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird, made it through the first two rounds of eliminations Sunday in the ProStock division at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. But rain moved in to postpone the final rounds until Monday.
UPDATE: Edwards won the Wally Monday in Gainesville with a 0.03-second reaction time in the finals. The story, from nhra.com:
In Pro Stock, Edwards used a holeshot start in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to defeat Greg Anderson for his first win of the season and 33rd of his career. Edwards finished in 6.566 at 211.30 but his quicker reaction time allowed him to hold off the quicker but losing performance of Anderson’s Summit Racing Equipment GXP, which finished in 6.538 at 211.69.
“I won on a holeshot, but I really can’t explain it,” Edwards said. “Those guys [Summit teammates Anderson and Jason Line] have been to the final round in all three races, so I knew I had to do something. You can never be late against those guys. You’ve got to go on time. I was very concerned about not having lane choice in the final. I didn’t get down the track in that lane either time in qualifying, but I’m guessing maybe something about the rain helped us with our setup.”
Next week: NASCAR goes to the bullring at Bristol and AMA Supercross goes to Indianapolis. NHRA drag racing resumes March 30 in Las Vegas.