|Matt Kenseth is +850 to win Clash at Daytona.|
Interstate Batteries, founding partner for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has been here for years – more than 25 years to be exact. This weekend, the brand will kick off its 26th season with JGR as part of Saturday night’s Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. It will be the first time in 12 years that the brand will be part of the event that serves as the unofficial season opener to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
And the company is doing it in a big way, serving as the primary sponsor of the No. 20 JGR Toyota Camry entry and driver Matt Kenseth.
As the “Official Battery of JGR,” Interstate Batteries has been powering the championship-winning organization since 1992. The brand has been a sponsor on the No. 18 JGR Toyota with driver Kyle Busch for select Cup Series races during the last nine NASCAR seasons but has not made a start in the annual Clash at Daytona since 2005. Prior to that, the brand had appeared on the No. 18 JGR entry with 2000 Cup Series champ Bobby Labonte, who made 10 straight starts in the Clash from 1994 to 2005 as the driver of the Interstate Batteries car.
While Interstate Batteries is making its return to the Clash this weekend, Kenseth is aiming to improve upon an already impressive resume at the “World Center of Racing.”
The winner of the 2015 edition of the Clash, Kenseth will make his 11th start in the non-points event Saturday night when he jumps behind the wheel of the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota. When the 2003 Cup Series Champ scored the victory in the Clash two years ago, he did so in fairly convincing fashion, leading 21 of the 75 laps run after starting 16th. In addition to the win, Kenseth’s stats in the Clash feature three top-five finishes and six top-10s with 53 laps led and an average finish of 9.5.
And while he only has one win in the Clash, Kenseth is no stranger to victory lane at Daytona.
He is a two-time winner of the iconic Daytona 500, winning the 2009 and 2012 editions of the Great American Race. In 34 career starts during points-paying races at the superspeedway, the Wisconsin-native has led at least one lap in 19 different races for a total of 362 laps led. In addition to the two Daytona 500 wins, Kenseth’s record at Daytona includes six top-fives and 14 top-10 finishes.
The 2017 season is Kenseth’s 18th as a full-time driver in NASCAR’s elite series. Like Interstate Batteries, he’s been here for years and his goals are the same – to score wins and be in the hunt for a Cup Series championship when the season ends in November. That effort begins in earnest this weekend at Daytona.
MATT KENSETH, Driver of the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Interstate Batteries is the founding partner for Joe Gibbs Racing but the brand hasn’t been a part of the Clash in more than 10 years. How special is it to be able to race the Interstate colors this weekend?
“Obviously, it’s an honor to have Intestate Batteries on the car this weekend. One of the things you learn when you work for Joe Gibbs Racing is how important Interstate Batteries is to the team. Coach Joe is very proud of that sponsorship, the relationship and the fact that they have been together since the very beginning. Probably one of the more interesting things about the partnership is the relationship between Coach and Norm Miller. It really goes beyond a regular business arrangement.”
This will be your 11th start in the Clash at Daytona. What does it mean to be a part of that event?
“As a kid, I always remember watching the Clash because it was the first racing thing that came on TV in Wisconsin over the winter. There was always snow on the ground up there, of course, but that was always the first race to come on the TV, and that got me excited for the race season. To me, Daytona Beach looked like it was a million miles away and I always looked forward to watching that race every year.”
How does the Clash impact the overall experience that is Speedweeks at Daytona?
“The Clash is such a fun way to kick off Speedweeks and it has been one of my favorite races to watch. The racing season always starts in such a unique way down in Daytona with the Clash, and then how we set the starting line-up for the Daytona 500. We end up getting a lot of practice in, as well as some racing scenarios, before we even get to the 500. The Clash allows teams to go out there and just fight for a win to start off the year. Since it’s a non-points race, you can typically take a bit more risk. It’s a chance to try out different lines and moves, as well as a chance to learn how our new Camrys will handle in race conditions. It’s a fun race because everyone is just racing to grab a win.
- True Speed Communication for Interstate Batteries Racing/Joe Gibbs Racing