Dollar General ups its NASCAR sponsorship of Kenseth’s car


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.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.