Fresh off Speedweeks, Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Elliott Sadler will be looking to improve on their finishes at Daytona International Speedway – even if it’s only by one spot, as is the case for Hamlin.
Hamlin, in the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, was just one spot away from claiming the Sprint Cup trifecta at Daytona, having won the Sprint Unlimited and his Budweiser Duel qualifying race, but finishing second in the Daytona 500. At Phoenix, Hamlin has one win and nine top 10 finishes in 17 races, with an average finish of 10.9.
Busch, in the No. 18 Skittles Toyota in the Cup Series, has one win and 11 top 10 finishes in 18 career starts at Phoenix, as well as two poles; his average finish is 13.5. He was looking at a top 10 finish at Daytona before being collected in the final turn “big one,” and wound up with a 19th-place finish. Busch had better luck in the Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona, which he won, as well as the Nationwide Series race, where he finished fourth. Busch will look to continue his good start in the Nationwide Series when he starts the No 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry on Saturday; Busch has six wins, 12 top 10s and six poles in 16 starts in the series at Phoenix.
Like Busch, Kenseth will be doing double duty this weekend. In the Cup Series, driving the No. 20 Home Depot/Husky Toyota, Kenseth has one win and nine top 10 finishes, plus a pole, in 23 starts at Phoenix. In the Nationwide Series, where he’ll be driving the No. 20 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota, he has one win and 11 top 10s in 13 starts.
Joining Busch and Kenseth in the Nationwide Series race will be Elliott Sadler in the No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota, as the team goes for its fourth-straight win in the series at Phoenix: Busch swept both races in 2013, while former JGR driver Joey Logano picked up the victory in the fall of 2012. Sadler has one win and four top 10 finishes in 10 starts in the series at Phoenix, and he’s also made 19 Cup Series starts at the track.
Qualifying for the Nationwide Series Blue Jeans Go Green 200 takes place Saturday, March 1st at 10:10 a.m. MT, followed by the green flag at 1:45 p.m. MT. Qualifying for The Profit on CNBC 500 for the Sprint Cup Series takes place at 4:40 p.m. MT on Friday, February 28th, with the race going green on Sunday, March 2nd at 1 p.m. MT. Keep up with the action at joegibbsracing.com.
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