Team Interstate Hits Jackpot in Las Vegas
Kenseth wins on birthday; Sadler scores solid Top 5
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry, led Team Interstate by winning the Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, scoring his first victory as a member of Joe Gibbs Racing in just his third start for the team.
Kenseth scored his 25th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his third at Las Vegas. Kenseth celebrated his 41st birthday Sunday and became the third driver in Sprint Cup history to win on his birthday. Cale Yarborough accomplished it twice, while teammate Kyle Busch did it once. The win also marked Toyota’s 50th Sprint Cup victory.
Kenseth’s Team Interstate companions, Busch in the No. 18 Toyota Camry and Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Toyota Camry, finished fourth and 15th, respectively.
Sadler Comes Home 5th in Interstate Colors
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 11 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, earned a fifth-place finish in the Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The top-five finish was the 48th of Sadler’s Nationwide Series career and it came in his milestone 200th start.
From the drop of the green flag, Sadler was able to work his way forward from the 15th position, despite a loose-handling racecar. Crew chief Chris Gayle called for a track bar adjustment, along with routine service of four tires and fuel on the team’s first pit stop. Lightning-quick work by the Interstate Batteries crew advanced Sadler to eighth.
As the race continued under green-flag conditions, Sadler continued to make his presence known, recording lap times equal to and sometimes faster than the race leaders. A strong charge over the final quarter of the event saw Sadler running as high as third at lap 187. While Sadler was able to get to the position, he wasn’t able to hold onto it for the finish.
“I think Chris (Gayle) is learning a lot about me and what we need to do with these cars between practice and the race,” said Sadler, who finished fifth a week ago at Phoenix International Raceway. “He made good adjustments today as the race went on. We’ll continue to learn and move on. But, we’re not going to complain with two top-five finishes this early in the season. I really had a chance at a third-place finish, I just couldn’t get cleared of the No. 6 car (Trevor Bayne). But, we’ll take it and learn.
“I’m just so proud of everybody on this Interstate Batteries team. I really wanted to get that win for these guys. We’ll take a top-five. I think we’ll keep learning and we’ll try to improve on it next week at Bristol.”
Sadler’s JGR teammates – Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 54 Toyota Camry, and Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished second and third, respectively.
Sam Hornish Jr., won the Sam’s Town 300 to score his second career Nationwide Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Las Vegas.
JGRMX: Brayton Falls in Daytona
Team Interstate/JGRMX rider Justin Brayton gave a valiant effort Saturday night, but two crashes in the main event ended his night early. He does not appear to have any serious injury but was bruised and sore. He is expected to race this Saturday night.
Teammate Kyle Chisholm, who is filling in for the injured Josh Grant, was himself injured in last week’s race in St. Louis. He broke his fibula and damaged his ankle, and will undergo surgery this week. He should return to racing in six to eight weeks. Despite their injuries, Grant and Chisholm signed autographs and took pictures with fans.
Grant is scheduled to be on the gate for the start of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship on May 18 at the Hangtown Motocross Classic in Sacramento, Calif.
Next weekend: NASCAR heads to the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” in Bristol, Tenn., Supercross travels to Indianapolis, and the NHRA Pro Stock season resumes in Gainesville, Fla.