In 2013, it took some getting used to two different things regarding the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
One, it wasn’t Tony Stewart or Joey Logano in the car but it was Matt Kenseth in his first year driving something other than a Blue Oval. And two, it wasn’t orange for most of the year in deference to longtime sponsor The Home Depot, but instead yellow for new primary sponsor Dollar General for 17 of the 36 races.
After a year in which Kenseth and the JGR team gelled almost immediately and won a series-high seven races, Dollar General is upping its support of the team to 27 races as primary sponsor in 2014. Home Depot and Husky had been announced for 21 races, previously, and are expected to continue albeit with now fewer races as primary sponsor.
“Dollar General is excited to build on its successful partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing and sponsor more races with Matt Kenseth and the No. 20 team next year,” Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and CEO said in a release. “NASCAR is key to connecting with our customers, many of whom are loyal race fans, and we look forward to a continued partnership with JGR to further our business.”
Kenseth finished second in this year’s Chase to six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, with only one bad race (Phoenix) in the 10-race Chase.
Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.
Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.
Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.
A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.
A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.
Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.