Conway, Z-Line and Staples Look to Keep Momentum Going as No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Busch Series Team Heads to NHIS LOUDON, N.H. (June 27, 2007) -- Kevin Conway has watched the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Chevrolet score NASCAR Busch Series...
Conway, Z-Line and Staples Look to Keep Momentum Going as No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Busch Series Team Heads to NHIS
LOUDON, N.H. (June 27, 2007) -- Kevin Conway has watched the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Chevrolet score NASCAR Busch Series finishes of second and fourth over the past two weekends, and now he's ready to get himself and sponsor Z-Line Designs a piece of the action as the series heads to New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) in Loudon for Saturday's Camping World 200.
Conway will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs/Staples Chevrolet for the fourth time this season as he makes his first career trip to the 1.058-mile oval. The 28-year-old racer showed flashes of brilliance in his three previous race appearances this season on the high-banked concrete ovals at Bristol (Tenn.), Dover (Del.) and Nashville (Tenn.). This weekend, he's hoping his first outing of the season on an asphalt track yields the result he and his No. 18 JGR team know they're capable of obtaining.
Their hopes are buoyed by the performances of the No. 18 team and JGR development driver Brad Coleman at Kentucky and Milwaukee. Conway was atop the spotter stand two weekends ago at Kentucky Speedway, helping guide the young Coleman to a runner-up finish for the No. 18's best result thus far in 2007. Last weekend when the Busch Series was at The Milwaukee Mile, Conway was at the Northern California home of Z-Line founder and president Jim Sexton. The two watched on TV as Coleman brought home a fourth-place finish in the No. 18 car, while the JGR tandem of Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin co-drove to victory in the No. 20 Chevrolet.
With Framingham, Mass.-based Staples office superstores on board with Conway and the Z-Line Designs Chevrolet at NHIS this weekend, all in the No. 18 camp plan on riding their recent wave of momentum, even though they'll be facing their stiffest competition in almost a month after a three-race stretch of standalone Busch Series events. As the series is back running with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at NHIS, Conway knows full well there will be an influx of Cup drivers to contend with in addition to the hotly competitive lineup of Busch Series regulars in Saturday's race.
In back-to-back weekends at Dover and Nashville earlier this month, Conway clocked laps times comparable to the race leaders while fighting various handling and other maladies in the No. 18 Chevrolet. A shock absorber issue set him back early at Dover, and a late-race run-in with a Nextel Cup regular cost him a lead-lap finish at Nashville with a race car that, again, clocked some of the fastest race laps on the timesheets. All of that certainly leaves Conway nothing but motivated to produce the results he envisioned when the marketing major from Lynchburg, Va., formulated the deal that got Z-Line Designs -- the relatively unknown leader in the ready-to-assemble home and office furniture marketplace -- together with Joe Gibbs Racing this past offseason.
As Conway negotiates the tricky NHIS oval this weekend, he'll do so while flying the colors of the national Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. The charitable organization has grown to be synonymous with Z-Line's sponsorship in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in recent years, as well as the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Chevrolet in NASCAR. The No. 19 Z-Line Designs Lexus Riley campaigned by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in the Rolex Series features drivers Rob Finlay and Michael Valiente, who last weekend at Mid-Ohio scored their third seventh-place finish of the season and second in a row.
Practice and qualifying for Saturday's Camping World 200 begins Friday morning with qualifying Saturday at 10:05 a.m. EDT, followed by the race at 3 p.m. EDT. SPEED-TV will provide live coverage of qualifying at 10 a.m. Saturday while the ABC network's live race broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m.
Kevin Conway -- Driver, No. 18 Z-Line Designs NASCAR Busch Series Chevrolet at New Hampshire International Speedway
Things appear to be going well with Joe Gibbs Racing's Busch Series program. What are your expectations heading to New Hampshire this weekend?
"It seemed like earlier in the season everyone had their share of struggles for various reasons, even though we qualified respectably and had fast cars on race days. In the last few weeks, it looks like all of that is behind them because good things are happening. I'm looking at this weekend as my chance to finally turn things around for myself and for Z-Line and Staples. We had an eventful beginning together at Bristol. We had the shock issue that set us back at Dover, even though we came back and ran several of the fastest laps of the race while we were laps down. And we tried some strategy at Nashville that backfired a little bit when a caution came out at the wrong time, and then we got wrecked while racing to get ourselves back on the lead lap. We were joking around the other day that Brad (Coleman) has really set the bar high for us. We're definitely looking forward to clearing it."
You've never been to New Hampshire. What do you know about the track and what advice have you gotten from others who have raced there before?
"The good thing is that JGR has an excellent handle on its flat-track package, like we saw at Milwaukee, and even at Loudon in recent years on the Busch and Cup side. It'll be a whole new experience for me. Denny (Hamlin) told me to just drive to the ice cream stand in (Turn) 1 and turn in, then drive to the 2-marker in (Turn) 3 and turn in. Funny thing: when I got on the simulator after that, there's really an ice cream stand that shows up on the screen. So I'll drive to the ice cream and go left. Seriously, the key will be to make sure we get the car to carry as much momentum through the center of the turns without being too tight on exit. The straightaways are long, so if you can get on the gas a car-length before everybody else, you'll be able to make better time on the straights. I'll keep working on the simulator and doing everything I can to maximize my ability to learn the track before I get there. I think having 15 to 20 Cup drivers there this weekend will go a long way toward showing me the fastest way around that track. I'm really looking forward to it."