Interstate Batteries Racing: Texas Advance - Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs
Interstate Batteries Racing Notes
● Texas is Twice as Nice This Weekend. Interstate Batteries, the founding partner at Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is doubling down for the first time ever this weekend in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth by taking over the primary sponsorship of two NASCAR Cup Series entries. The famed Interstate Batteries medallion will adorn the hoods of both the No. 20 JGR Toyota Camry TRD of driver Christopher Bell and the No. 54 JGR Toyota Camry TRD for driver Ty Gibbs.
● No Double Vision Here. While both paint schemes will highlight the Interstate Batteries brand, they will not be without their differences. Bell will sport the 2023 Interstate Batteries scheme that has appeared on each of the JGR cars at various times throughout the season. Gibbs will sport a scheme with a matte-black base and Interstate Batteries branding in green with gold accents.
Christopher Bell, Driver of the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry TRD in the NASCAR Cup Series
● Let the (Second Round) Games Begin. Bell is among the 12 drivers who have advanced to the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, which kicks off this weekend with the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas. The playoff standings have been reset following last weekend’s Round of 16 finale at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, showing Bell in seventh place, five points above the Round of 8 cutline heading into the 30th race of the 2023 season.
● No Red River Rivalry Here. College football season is in full swing and one of the most storied rivalries in the sport is that between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. The Red River Rivalry has been going strong since 1929 and is referred to as such in honor of the “Red River," which runs along much of the border between the states of Texas and Oklahoma. Hailing from Norman, Oklahoma – a mere three hours from Texas Motor Speedway – Bell is considered a bit of a hometown kid when it comes to racing at Texas. That’s something he has in common with his primary sponsor for this weekend’s 400 mile race in the Lone Star State. Interstate Batteries, the outrageously dependable battery brand, is based in Dallas, a few short miles from the Texas oval. This is the fourth of five races at which Bell will pilot the Interstate Batteries-branded Toyota Camry. Interstate Batteries wraps up its 2023 primary role at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway next month with Bell and the No. 20 team.
● Taming Texas. Bell is a five-time NASCAR Cup Series winner and he would like nothing more than to make this weekend’s race at Texas his sixth series win. In four career Cup Series starts at Texas, Bell has earned a pair of third-place finishes – each coming in the track’s fall races in 2020 and 2021. Prior to his Cup Series career, Bell was a regular in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The 2019 season was his last as an Xfinity Series regular – a season in which he scored eight wins, the final of which was at Texas during the track’s fall race. In total, Bell has five starts at Texas in Xfinity Series competition, scoring one win, three top-five finishes and four top-10s.
Ty Gibbs, Driver of the No. 54 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry TRD in the NASCAR Cup Series
● Just a Little Bit Closer. Ty Gibbs makes his 45th career start in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend at Texas. While he is not part of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoff field competing for the season title, he still has plenty for which to race. Sitting at the top of that to-do list is scoring his first career Cup Series win – a feat he came close to achieving during last Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol. To date, Gibbs has a trio of top-five finishes on his 2023 Cup Series racing resume, including his fifth-place finish at Bristol last weekend where he led a total of 102 laps before eventually losing the lead to teammate and eventual race-winner Denny Hamlin with less than 150 laps to go.
● Texas History. The 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval is a track at which Gibbs has pevious Cup Series racing experience. He competed in the 2022 edition of the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400, qualifying 16th, completing every race lap and finishing 20th. In addition to his lone Cup Series start in the Lone Star State, Gibbs participated in a pair of Xfinity Series races – both during the 2022 season in which he won the Xfinity Series championship. The 20-year old’s best Texas effort was a third-place finish he earned during last November’s Xfinity Series race.
Christopher Bell, Driver Q&A
It’s been a full year since the NASCAR Cup Series has raced at Texas. It’s a track that has seemed to be feast or famine for you. What are your expectations as you head into the weekend?
“This Texas race is the first 400-mile race we’ve been in at the track. That will probably drive the intensity and make every lap more important. Last year, we had tire issues that really set us back, but I feel like our intermediate track program should set us up well this weekend. This race is going to be a very important race when it comes to being able to transfer to the next round in the playoffs. After this, we have Talladega and then the road course at Charlotte.”
You’ve had quite the streak in qualifying – earning the top starting spot in each of the first three playoff races. How important is qualifying up front, particularly at a track like Texas?
“Having a good starting spot is important because you start out with great track position. The other part of it is that it usually means you have a pretty good racecar. We put ourselves in good position. I’m really proud of the Camrys that this 20 group have been able to bring to the races since we’ve started the playoffs. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the entire team have been doing a great job of being prepared every week.”
What does it mean to be part of this special sponsorhip program Interstate Batteries is executing this weekend with both you and Ty driving cars with Interstate branding?
“Driving the Interstate Batteries car is kind of a right of passage at JGR – it’s like you are officialy part of the club. It’s a big deal to everyone at Interstate Batteries and everyone at JGR – they are the team’s founding partner. It’s an honor to be able to drive that car and would be even more special to win with it and at Texas.”
Ty Gibbs, Driver Q&A
What are your thoughts about this weekend’s 400-mile race at Texas?
“I enjoy racing at Texas and it’s cool that Interstate Batteries has given me a black car for this event. It’s a big weekend for them with myself, (Christopher) Bell and (Trevor) Bayne all running the Interstate Batteries scheme. They are an important part of Joe Gibbs Racing and the founding sponsor, so hopefully we can give them a great weekend.”
Interstate Batteries is the founding partner at JGR. How special is it to be racing the Interstate Batteries colors at its home track this weekend?
“Norm Miller has been great to JGR all the way back to 1991, when my grandfather started this whole thing. He’s just a great guy, and Lain Hancock is doing a great job, and it’s more than a sponsorship – they’re part of the family. And I hope we can put them in victory lane.”
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