● Outrageously Dependable: Interstate Batteries – one of the most tenured team sponsors in NASCAR history – began its 32nd season as the founding sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) with an expanded presence that features the brand’s iconic green livery across all four of JGR’s NASCAR Cup Series entries. So far this season, Interstate has adorned the No. 20 of Bell at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, served as co-primary sponsor for Ty Gibbs in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, and on Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota at Circuit of Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas in March. Interstate returned to Gibbs’ No. 54 Toyota at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in April and will adorn his car four more times this season – June 25 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway, July 2 at the inaugural Chicago Street Race, Sept. 24 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, and Oct. 8 on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. Bell returned to the Interstate Batteries machine last weekend, where he finished 12th in the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. After the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, Bell will return to Interstate Batteries colors at Texas in September and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in October.
● The Fund and Interstate Batteries: Interstate Batteries has partnered with Semper Fi & America’s Fund (The Fund) to help with funding adaptive vehicles for wounded service veterans which allow them to drive again, as well as assisting with vehicle maintenance and repairs. The Fund supports all branches of the military. Currently, the VA allots a one-time $24,000 grant to veterans who need adapted vehicles. The cost for adapting vehicles can run from $20,000 to $80,000 and they may get 10 to 12 years out of one vehicle before they are back to square one. This is the first time Interstate Batteries has run a military-themed/supported paint scheme and, in addition to the scheme, Interstate has made a monetary donation and is raising awareness in the hopes of driving donations to this very worthy cause Donations can be made at TheFund.org/Interstate. In addition to Interstate’s donation, The Fund appears on the hood of the No. 20 JGR Toyota Camry TRD for the Coca-Cola 600, and Interstate Batteries will be hosting guests from The Fund, including a handful of veterans who have benefitted from The Fund and its important work.
● Along with the previously announced partnership with The Fund, Interstate Batteries launched a crowdfunding campaign and hopes to help drive awareness for the ongoing needs of military families. Augmenting those efforts is the plan to feature the aforementioned military-themed paint scheme during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. For more information about Semper Fi & America’s Fund and the transportation program, visit TheFund.org.
● Bell has one top-five finish and two top-10s in four career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Charlotte, with the best finish coming in last year’s Coca-Cola 600 on the 1.5-mile oval. Bell’s average Charlotte oval finish is 14.8.
● As part of #NASCARSalutes and the
600 Miles of Remembrance initiative during the Coca
Cola 600, the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Camry will be honoring CW5 Ret. U.S. Army, William F. Sonny Hinchman, who died on July 17, 2009, near Baghdad, Iraq, in a MD-530 helicopter crash while working in support of the U.S. State Department. CW5 Hinchman was born Nov. 11, 1966, in Linton, Indiana, to Walter Jerry and Nina R. (Bosell) Hinchman. He had six brothers and sisters and graduated from Worthington-Jefferson High School in 1984 and joined the U.S. Army as a Warrant Officer Candidate. Upon completion of flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, Hinchman began a 25-year career as an Army aviator. Over the course of his career, Hinchman had multiple tours to Iraq and other locations throughout the globe while serving in numerous aviation combat units, including Task Force 160, the Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
● Roval Master: While Bell is looking for his first Coca-Cola 600 win in his fifth start on the Charlotte oval this weekend, he has already conquered the Charlotte Roval, having earned the victory in last October’s Bank of America ROVAL 400k on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course within the Charlotte Motor Speedway grounds.
Interstate Batteries Stands the Test of Time: Former JGR and Interstate Batteries driver Bobby Labonte created some special memories for sponsor and team during the 1995 edition of NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600. In his first season with JGR, Labonte led 85 of the 400 laps enroute to his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series victory. Labonte went on to win 21 total races and the 2000 Cup Series championship in what became a NASCAR Hall of Fame career. Each of Labonte’s 21 wins came with Interstate Batteries adorning his car for JGR.
● Bell heads to NASCAR’s longest race second in the driver standings with 402 points, 37 out of the lead.
What are your expectations for the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend?
“My expectations for Charlotte are to compete for stage wins and race wins. It’s a very long and unique race because there are four stages, so there’s an opportunity to score more points, more so than a normal weekend. It’s definitely a race if you are fast and competitive, which we should be – you set yourself up to have a great points day with our Interstate Batteries Camry.”
With the race being so long, do you have to manage the Coca-Cola 600 any differently than other races?
“Not really. It is a long race in terms of miles, but the race is 400 laps and we run 400 laps at multiple tracks. We don’t treat it any differently. It’s just another race as far as that goes and we expect to go out there and run up front and be competitive. Really excited to have Interstate Batteries back on board this weekend. We have a really cool-looking, military-themed camouflage car, which is a result of their partnership with Semper Fi and America’s Fund. They do a lot of great work for finding adaptive vehicles for wounded veterans. It’s a lot of important work and I’m hoping we can make them proud at the end of the night on Sunday.”
Each year, NASCAR puts the focus on honoring fallen soldiers and their families during Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte. What does it mean to you to be a part of that as a driver?
“Memorial Day weekend is always a huge weekend for honoring our country’s military, past and present. The Coca-Cola 600 has become an iconic event that I think a lot of people tune in to. It would be great to have a great showing during one of our biggest races of the year, on a huge weekend for our country. I know there will be a lot of military families on hand at the race and I’m honored to not only have Semper Fi & America’s Fund ride along on our Interstate Batteries Camry, but also to have Chief Warrant Officer 5 Hinchman, whose name will be riding along with us on the windshield of our car, as well. It’s a special weekend for our country and I’m glad to be a part of all they do to honor the military families this weekend.”