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Team Interstate Overcomes Tough Times at Texas

April 16th, 2012 by

Team Interstate Wrap-up for April 13-15, 2012

Kyle Busch comes in for a pit stop early in Saturday's race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch comes in for a pit stop early in Saturday's race at Texas Motor Speedway. Copyright 2012 Autostock Images

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), fought handling woes for the first half of the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

But despite fighting handling issues and some bad luck on pit road, which resulted in some mediocre track position, Busch managed to recover from falling as far back as 23rd to rally for a respectable 11th-place finish.

“That position ended up being even more important than usual tonight because of the long green flag runs we had,” said Busch, who moved up two spots to 14th in the Sprint Cup standings. “We just couldn’t find the right handle on the car all night long with our Interstate Batteries Camry. We started off the race tight and kept working on it, but having the car a little snug was the only way I could drive it. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) kept working on it, and it wasn’t bad at the end. But we had that long green flag run to finish the race, so we never had a chance to get any track position once we got our car handling better.”

Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller with driver Kyle Busch

Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller with driver Kyle Busch. Copyright 2012 Autostock Images

During a race that saw just an event-record two caution periods, bad luck on the lap 144 pit stop spelled trouble for the Interstate Batteries team. During the stop, the air hose became stuck under the right front of the racecar after the jack was let down on the right side. This forced the jack man to return to the right side of the car and jack up the car to pull out the hose. Under green flag conditions, this cost the No. 18 team precious time on pit road and dropped it to 23rd-place.

But with the bad news of the long pit stop, the good news was that the handling on Busch’s Interstate Batteries Toyota was greatly improved. Las Vegas native Busch went to work for the rest of the race, making it up to 17th by lap 186 and 13th by lap 241. Unfortunately for Busch, even though he was one of the few able to pass, he never gained any significant track position because the race went a whopping 234 straight green flag laps all the way to the finish.

Busch’s JGR teammates – Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished 12th and 19th, respectively.

Greg Biffle won the Samsung Mobile 500 to score his 17th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second at Texas.

With round seven of 36 complete, Hamlin continues to lead the Team Interstate contingent in the championship point standings, as he gained one spot up to sixth. Logano remains in 13th, and Busch gained two spots to 14th.

JGRMX: Millsaps Climbs to 2nd in Standings

JGRMX/Team Interstate rider Davi Millsaps didn’t have the finish he wanted in round 14 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series in New Orleans, but he still climbed in the standings. Millsaps went down early in his heat race, forcing him to qualify through the dreaded last-chance qualifier (LCQ) that takes only the top-two finishers. Millsaps, battered with a sore knee and ribs, rose to the occasion and won the LCQ, securing a spot in the main event.

At the start of the main, Millsaps was involved in a first-turn crash, causing him to begin the race at the rear of the 20-rider field. Determined, Millsaps re-mounted and began charging through the pack. By the halfway mark, he had soldiered on to eighth. When the checkers flew, Millsaps claimed sixth for the night, and second place in series points with three rounds to go.

Teammate James Stewart missed the race due to a fracture in his hand sustained two weeks ago at Indianapolis. Stewart will have the injury re-evaluated by his doctor before returning to racing.

Mike Edwards and guests

Mike Edwards meets with fans at the 4Wide Nationals in Charlotte. Via mikeedwardsmotorsports.com

NHRA ProStock: Four-Wide Proves Challenging

Team Interstate’s Mike Edwards turned in a respectable effort in the 4Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, N.C. Edwards drove his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries Pontiac to the No. 5 spot with a run of 6.520 seconds at 212.19 mph and was in the top five during three of the four qualifying sessions.

From the No. 5 position, Edwards opened competition in the unique four-wide format against Erica Enders, Grace Howell and Steve Kent. With the top two advancing, Edwards used a better light and a 6.598-second run to advance with Enders to the next frame.

Edwards and Enders were joined by top qualifier Jason Line and Jeg Coughlin. Edwards’ weekend was over at the hit of the throttle as the car lost power, and he could only watch as Line and Enders advanced.

“Overall, it was not a bad weekend for us,” Edwards said. “The four-wide style is always a challenge because it is so different than anything else we do. It’s OK for one weekend, but I’m looking forward to getting back to two lanes in Houston.”

Next Week: NASCAR goes to Kansas Motor Speedway and AMA Supercross visits Seattle. NHRA drag racing resumes April 27-29 in Houston.

By James Pecht (177 Posts)

James Pecht writes about franchising, battery technology, tips, racing and company culture for Interstate Batteries.


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