Joe Gibbs Racing press release
Interstate Batteries Goes Full Circle on the No. 20
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 26, 2011) – Joey Logano was less than a year old when Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller and Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) kicked off what has grown to become one of the longest-running and most successful partnerships in all of NASCAR back in 1991.
As Interstate and JGR celebrate their 20th anniversary together in 2011, perhaps it’s only fitting that the familiar green, white and black paint scheme first made famous by legendary driving greats Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte on JGR’s No. 18 racecars finally adorns JGR’s No. 20 racing machine for the first time in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition before season’s end.
While Logano’s JGR teammate Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Toyota Camry have carried the flag for Interstate during the last four Sprint Cup Series seasons, it’ll be Logano’s turn to represent the longtime JGR sponsor for the first time during Sunday’s TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway behind the wheel of the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry.
And, Logano would love nothing more than to become the fourth driver in history to find his way to victory lane in a Sprint Cup points-paying race wearing Interstate colors. All of Labonte’s 21 career Sprint Cup victories came while driving for JGR and Interstate from 1995 to 2005. Jarrett did it twice during his tenure with JGR from 1992 to 1994. Most recently, Busch has driven Interstate to a pair of Sprint Cup victories since joining JGR in 2008 and has added a pair of NASCAR Nationwide Series wins for the sponsor. Even Logano’s other Sprint Cup Series teammate Denny Hamlin has raced Interstate-sponsored racecars for JGR in Nationwide Series events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the last three seasons.
Fittingly enough, Logano’s chance to shine wearing Interstate green, white and black comes at one of his best racetracks over the course of his first three-plus seasons on the Sprint Cup Series tour. He has an average finish of 13.0 in his first five appearances at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped Martinsville oval, bettered only by his average finish of 8.2 after six starts at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
A year ago last March, he qualified 17th but worked his way to the front of the pack – not at all an easy task on the Southern Virginia short track – and helped secure a 1-2 finish for JGR, following the race-winning Hamlin across the finish line by .67 of a second. Considering Hamlin has come to be known as the Master of Martinsville with an amazing four wins and eight top-five finishes in 12 career starts there, the runner-up finish was an admirable achievement for the young Logano.
Moreover, Logano followed up his runner-up finish with a sixth-place run last October, then qualified on the second row this past April but had to overcome a mid-race spin while trying to avoid an accident and salvaged a still-respectable 13th-place finish.
With Interstate Batteries on-board for the first time this weekend, Logano hopes to continue his momentum on NASCAR’s shortest racetrack while adding another successful chapter to an already long and storied racing history for the venerable sponsor.
JOEY LOGANO, Driver of the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Your general thoughts going back to Martinsville?
“I like Martinsville after going there several times, now. I think I’ve figured something out as far as getting around the place, and I finished second there last fall. I’ve run well there and I’ve always had fast cars. Obviously, it’s one of those places where anything can happen, short-track racing like that. But I enjoy it, I love it, and I think it’s fun. It’s one of the most fun racetracks we go to, so I’m looking forward to going back there.”
What’s the biggest key to getting around there? Is it rhythm? Is it the ability to get off the corner?
“I think it’s a little bit of both. I’ve had cars that are really good off the corner but are tight in the center, and they were equally as slow as a car that turns in the center but is loose off the corner. So, you’ve got to have both, for sure. Obviously, brakes are a big thing there, too, keeping your bead temps cool, not blowing beads out. You’ve got to have your car good, equal in center (of the corner) and exit.”
Any particular concerns about the schedule the way you will be just practicing on Friday and then just qualifying on Saturday?
“It’s okay, although I’d rather it be normal because it gives you something to do on Saturday since there’s no Nationwide race, there. We’ll have a good amount of practice on Friday and we’ll get to make some qualifying runs. And then we’ll go out and make two laps on Saturday, after which I don’t know what I’m going to do (laughs).”
You were less than a year old when Joe Gibbs Racing and Interstate Batteries started racing together back in 1991. What is it like to be driving for Interstate this weekend and representing (Interstate Batteries Chairman) Norm Miller?
“I think it’s awesome. I like Norm. I think he’s an awesome guy. To be able to drive his car is pretty neat. They’ve been with Gibbs for a long time and there have been some great drivers who have driven with Interstate on the car. So, to finally get to drive it is going to be a real treat. I’m looking forward to it, for sure. Like I said, Norm is awesome, so to be able to be a part of it is going to be good times.”
GREG ZIPADELLI, Crew Chief of the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
How challenging of a place is Martinsville to set up for?
“It’s a place that rubbers up over the course of the weekend. Your car will turn and get around the corner better later in the weekend than it will when we first get there, when it’ll be slick. It’ll change through the course of the weekend, especially the way the schedule is with all our practice on Friday. It’s a fun racetrack and I love going to short tracks. It’s old-school racing. There’ll be some rubbing. I look forward to going back. We’ve run decently there, so it should be exciting.”
You’ve got Interstate Batteries on the car this weekend and the first time for you as a primary sponsor. What does Interstate mean to you and to JGR over the years?
“It’s cool to have Interstate on our car. They’ve been involved with us since day one and they’ve been a big part of why Joe Gibbs Racing exists today and where we’re at. They’ve spent a lot of money with our company advertising their products so it’s neat that we haven’t run their paint scheme before. It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”