Monster Energy Cup Series News (15089)
When asked if he is being overlooked due to his recent finishes, Martin Truex Jr. doesn’t get defensive, flustered, frazzled or angry. Instead, he takes it in stride, knowing there’s more scrutiny that comes with being the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion.
But no matter what others think about his current record, Truex knows where he stands and feels good about the performances of his Furniture Row Racing team.
After winning at California’s Auto Club Speedway in dominating fashion and claiming five straight top five finishes, Truex has experienced bad luck in the past three races with finishes of 37th in Texas, 30th in Bristol and 14th in Richmond.
While running second in Texas, Truex’s race ended early due to heavy contact with the wall after a flat tire on Lap 80. At Bristol, he was collected in a Lap 3 accident.
And last weekend in Richmond, he led a race high of 121 laps and was running a close second with 10 laps to go. But following a caution, a pit stop miscue dropped him out of contention.
“These things happen in racing and honestly as long as we’re happy with our performance and have that confidence I think we’re in a good place,” said Truex, who has captured three poles in the first nine races. “It really doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks. Honestly, we’ve been doing this long enough to know where we stand and what we need to work on and what we need to do. Focusing on yourself is the most important thing.”
Despite his recent troubles, Truex is seventh in the driver point standings.
When Truex gets to Talladega Superspeedway with his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota for Sunday’s Geico 500 he will be looking to not only snap his current three-race jinx, but also a three-race jinx at NASCAR’s longest track (2.66 miles).
Truex has not finished a race at Talladega since the spring of 2016. He suffered a blown engine in the 2016 fall race, which knocked him out of the playoffs, and got collected in multicar wrecks at both races last year. He has had12 DNFs (did not finish) in 26 Cup starts at Talladega.
“Talladega is not the most desirable track if you would like to break a jinx or a hard-luck streak,” Truex said. “But we’ve been doing this long enough and understand what this is all about. The outcome at Talladega is not in your hands. You just try to do the best job you can.
“You try to stay near the front and hope to have a little luck on your side to get to the finish. We just haven’t seen the end of a Talladega race for some time. Looking forward to changing that this weekend in our Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Camry.”
Truex’s career Cup record at Talladega is: 26 starts, two top fives, eight top 10s, one pole, 52 laps led, 19.7 starting average and 21.7 finishing average.
McDowell on Talladega
"Talladega is a race that we circle. David Ragan won there with Front Row Motorsports a few years back, with David Gilliland pushing. So, there’s a lot of pressure going to Talladega. I would love to tell you that that’s a great racetrack for me. But, for whatever reason, I miss all the wrecks at Daytona and I’m in every single one at Talladega. I’m hoping to break that streak because the last few years have been rough there. There’s great opportunity to be up front and steal some stage points, maybe put yourself in position to win a race and get a playoff spot for our Love's Travel Stops team.
"As far as working with a teammate, at Talladega you can be a little more strategic. At Daytona it’s harder because there we were three-wide for a long time, and the leaders were moving lanes. You’re so stacked up, it’s hard to get out of a lane and get into another one. But at Talladega, you can still work your way to the top, get hooked up with a few people, get coordinated. It just feels like you have a little bit more space and a little bit more opportunity to get organized."
McDowell Talladega Stats
14 starts, 1 top-15, 2 top-20s
Best finish: 15th
Bad Boy Mowers will partner with David Ragan at one of NASCAR’s baddest tracks, joining the No. 38 team at Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. The partnership will be the first for the zero-turn mower manufacturer and the 2013 Talladega race winner.
The Batesville, Ark.-based company specializes in zero-turn radius lawn mowers and other commercial and residential lawn care equipment. Launched in 2002, Bad Boy Mowers now offers a full line of equipment built in its Ozark Mountain headquarters and shipped to retailers nationwide in its own fleet of haulers.
“Bad Boy Mowers is the perfect partner to bring on board with our No. 38 team,” Ragan said. “They’re an American business success story with a great product made in the U.S.A. We’re excited to have them for one of our favorite races of the year where we always have fast Fords. The Bad Boy Mowers Ford looks pretty sharp now, and I think it would look even better with confetti on it.”
Ragan knows where Victory Lane is at Talladega Superspeedway. He earned a dramatic win at the 2.66-mile oval in the 2013 Geico 500 – the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory for Front Row Motorsports and Ragan’s second Cup career win. In addition to the win, he has four top-five and nine top-10 finishes at Talladega.
“We are proud to partner with David Ragan and the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports team, an already proven winning combination at Talladega Superspeedway,” said Bad Boy Mowers’ Bill Hurst. “This weekend we are excited that the No. 38 Ford will sport a new design for us and our new Bad Boy Mowers logo on the hood. Good luck to the team and go mow them down, David.”
The Geico 500 is scheduled to air live on FOX, with covering beginning Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
This week’s NFL player draft and Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway are special events for Shannon Myers, the rear tire changer for Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 Haas Automation Demo Day Ford Fusion driven by Clint Bowyer.
The Miami Dolphins drafted Myers in the seventh round of the 1995 draft. After a professional football career hampered by injury, the speedy wide receiver out of NCAA Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina joined the NASCAR circuit in 2001 as a tire changer. Sunday afternoon, he’ll change tires for Bowyer as the veteran driver seeks his second win of the season and his third career NASCAR Cup Series win at Talladega.
The soft spoken Myers knows the importance this week holds for college football players and their families.
“All your life you worked and hoped that one day you would be drafted, and it all comes down to this day,” he said. “I didn’t care who took me. I just wanted to be drafted and get a shot to make the team. You have your family and friends around. They are probably even more excited for you than you are.”
Myers played American Legion baseball the day he was drafted, but after the game joined the well-wishers at his mother’s North Carolina home. With shot nerves from answering plenty of “false-alarm” calls from friends, Myers waited by the telephone and television.
“I went outside by myself so I could get some privacy and got a call from Tom Bratz of the Miami Dolphins,” Myers said. “He asked me, ‘How would you feel about playing for coach Don Shula?’ I said I would be honored. A few minutes later, he called back. He said, ‘Congratulations, son, we just drafted you. You are now a Miami Dolphin.’”
Myers walked back inside the house and gave everyone the thumbs up, cueing smiles and tears of joy. Within minutes, he gave interviews with the Miami media.
“You wait and wonder for so long that day and it’s agony,” said the now 44-year-old Myers, who was the final draft pick of Shula’s NFL Hall of Fame coaching career. “When you get that call, you go from deflated to winning the Super Bowl. It was an eruption.”
Myers learned the plays and caught passes thrown by quarterback Dan Marino. He even spent Thanksgiving at the Hall of Fame quarterback’s house. His tenure with the Dolphins ended with a kidney injury during minicamp, but perseverance led to stints in Oakland, Tampa, Seattle and the New York Jets, along with teams in Canada and Europe.
His travels enabled him to learn from some of the sport’s Super Bowl-winning coaches like Shula, Jimmy Johnson, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, Bill Parcells and Tony Dungy.
He brought lessons from those coaches to NASCAR after following a doctor’s suggestion to enter a pit crew developmental program at Petty Enterprises. He progressed through the NASCAR world changing tires on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2004 Daytona 500-winning pit crew and won two Xfinity Series titles with Martin Truex Jr. He also worked at Michael Waltrip Racing and Wood Brothers Racing in recent years.
“Obviously, you have to have the physical ability but, from those guys, I learned how to be a teammate,” Myers said. “It’s knowing when to speak up, when to take coaching, learning to succeed as a team.”
Myers feels the similarities between football and NASCAR are many.
“When you get to the top of any sport, everything gets faster,” he said. “Failure isn’t an option – you fight through failure, whether it’s in football or running in the top-three at a race. It’s the hours that lead up to kickoff or the drop of the green flag that are the most nerve-wracking. In football, once you take that first hit, it rings that bell inside and you are trained to do your job. In racing, once you hit that first lug nut, you know it’s game time and you get into a grind and training takes over.”
Myers said he expects more professional athletes to join over-the-wall NASCAR pit crews. A few tenths of a second saved in the pits can be the difference between winning and losing races.
“I have to admit I didn’t know what to think about pit-crew guys and NASCAR when I first considered the idea,” he said. “But these guys are the top of the line. To go over the wall and change a tire with 40 cars running inches from you takes incredible concentration. It’s all about training and performance, so it’s not really much different than the NFL.”
Myers and his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team know the risks and rewards of restrictor-plate racing at Talladega and its sister track Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where the difference between victory and defeat is quite small.
“Talladega – it’s been good to us, but I know you have to respect these racetracks and you’ve got to get to the end of them,” said Bowyer, who won at the 2.66-mile oval in 2010 and 2011. “Obviously, you’ve got to have a little bit of luck not to get caught up in things and, more importantly, be careful not to cause them yourself.”
Bowyer plans to drive his No. 14 Haas Automation Demo Day Ford into the SHR history book this weekend. Talladega and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the only two active tracks where SHR has yet to win. History says Bowyer could change that Sunday. In addition to two victories at Talladega, he’s posted six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s.
He’s been part of a dominant four-driver SHR contingent that has won four of the season’s first nine races. Bowyer is third in points and coming off a ninth-place finish at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, where his No. 14 Ford led 45 laps. He has six top-10 finishes in the season’s nine races, including four consecutive top-10s. Those results include Bowyer’s first win at SHR and ninth career victory March 26 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Bowyer thinks a victory party at Talladega would surpass one at just about any other track.
“There are a hell of a lot of fans there,” said Bowyer about Talladega. “It is fun winning in front a packed house like that in the grandstand. When you do a burnout, it’s pretty cool. You look up and see all those fans. This is a track you want to win at.”
Matt Kenseth, pushed out of the Monster Energy Cup Series last year by a lack of sponsorship, will return this season on a limited schedule.
The 2003 champion will make wave with his former team Roush Fenway Racing with his first race of the season scheduled for May 12 at Kansas Speedway, sources say. He will share the NO. 6 Ford with Trevor Bayne, the teams full-time driver since 2015. Jordan Bianchi, who first broke the news said Matt Kenseth would be the primary driver.
Roush Fenway has scheduled what they call as a "Major NASCAR Partner Announcement" involving the team at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Kenseth nor Roush Fenway Racing has yet to comment on the news.
Kenseth, began his NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series career with Roush Fenway Racing driving full-time from 2000 through 2012. During his time with Roush, Kenseth scored 24 out of his 29 wins, including the 2009 and 2012 Daytona 500.
Moving to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013, Kenseth won seven races in his first year with the team and a total of 15 in five years.
Gibbs announced in 2017 that the rising phenom, Erik Jones would take over the NO. 20 Toyota from Kenseth.
Kenseth's most recent victory comes last November at Phoenix International Raceway, ending his second-longest winningest streak of his career.
The good news for Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Quaker State team on an otherwise disappointing night at Richmond Raceway was the team’s ability to fix an ill-handling car and turn it into a fast one.
The bad news is that due to the way the caution flags fell – or didn’t fall - the team wasn’t able to capitalize on the chassis changes dictated by crew chief Greg Erwin or his late-race tactics.
Menard did go from being three laps behind the leaders to just one, but an uncontrolled tire on the team’s final stop negated Erwin’s last move, and Menard wound up 24that the finish. The result dropped him from 16thin the Monster Energy Cup standings to 18thheading into next Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Menard started Saturday night’s 400-lapper at Richmond from the 20thposition. The first two 100-lap Stages ran caution free, which limited Erwin’s chances to tune on the No. 21 Menards/Quaker State Fusion.
Menard managed to stay among the top 25 throughout the race, but fell to three laps behind the leaders.
When the race’s first caution flag for an on-track incident flew with 45 of the race’s scheduled 400 laps remaining, it created an opportunity for Erwin to execute some tactical moves, mostly taking the wave-around, which proved to be successful as Menard was able to hold his position and regain two lost laps despite riding on well-worn tires.
The final strategy call, in which Erwin brought Menard to pit road for fresh tires with 11 laps remaining, didn’t achieve the planned result due to the penalty for the uncontrolled tire, and Menard came home 24th, one lap down.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he was proud of the way Menard, Erwin and the No. 21 team kept working on the Menards/Quaker State Fusion even when a good finish seemed out of reach.
“The first half of the race we didn’t run that well,” Wood said. “The handling of the car was off. It was too tight.
“Then Greg took a big swing at it on a chassis adjustment and pretty much fixed the car.
“It was as fast as anyone after that; it was just too late to gain back everything we’d lost.”
Menard and the Wood Brothers team will be back on track at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend.
While running in the top 12 with less than a 125 laps remaining in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Richmond Raceway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was penalized for a commitment line violation during green flag pit stops ultimately ending his night forcing him to settle with a 23rd- place finish.
“It was a struggle that first run due to being on the tires we qualified on,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “Brian (Pattie) made a really good call during that first stage to keep us on the lead lap. I thought that would keep our race going but then we made that mistake on pit-road with the commitment line violation which really killed our night. I thought our Fifth Third Bank Ford was decent but definitely not our best showing here. Overall we learned some things for next time.”
After advancing to the final round of qualifying, the two-time Xfinity champion lined up in the 12th position but lost a few positions early in the run because of having more laps on his tires due to qualifying. After a strategy call to short pit, Stenhouse Jr. worked his way back up to the 13th position by the first green-checkered flag waved at the end of stage one.
With a caution free stage two, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lost a few positions during the run due to a lack of grip in his Fifth Third Bank Ford to earn a 16th-place finish in stage two.
After a chassis adjustment during the stage break, the Fifth Third Bank Ford found some speed and Stenhouse Jr. was the fastest car on the track maneuvering his way through the field.
With under a 100 laps remaining, his machine suddenly got tight causing Stenhouse to get into the outside wall leading to slight damage to his machine. Under a scheduled green flag pit-stop, the team feverishly worked to pull the fenders during the four tire stop. As he was exiting pit-road and merging into traffic, contact was made with the No. 12 machine causing Stenhouse to spin as well.
With a flurry of late race cautions, Stenhouse took the wave around to get back on the lead lap. As he was battling for position with six laps remaining, the Roush Fenway Racing driver got into the fence once again ultimately ending his day forcing him to settle with a 23rd-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team return to action next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway where he scored his first MENCS win last season. Race coverage starts at 2:00 pm EST on FOX.
Trevor Bayne and the No. 6 AdvoCare team battled through some handling issues but fought back from three laps down to finish 21st in Saturday night’s race at Richmond Raceway.
“We were grinding it out and struggling early to get the car to drive right and just really needed a lot more forward drive,” Bayne said.
Bayne rolled off the grid 21st and immediately reported he was way too free in his Ford Fusion, going a lap down at lap 53. The Knoxville, Tennessee, native would complete stage one in 32nd a lap down. Crew chief Matt Puccia and the team went to work early on the machine, making a plethora of adjustments after the first 100 laps. Bayne rode in 30th at lap 150 before eventually falling three off the pace.
“It was burning the rear tires off way too fast and then about three-quarters of the way through the race we had the one good run where we got the car to hook up and got the rears to stay on longer and I thought we were pretty competitive there, but then the last couple runs they went away again, so we’ve got to go back and figure out what happened and why we’ve struggled for forward drive here the last two races,” Bayne added.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to get that right and we’ll see if we can get better. Overall, we finished on the lead lap, but 21st isn’t where you want to end up at the end of the day.”
Bayne got a lap back at lap 176 and would end stage two in 28th setting up for the final 200 laps. The 2011 Daytona 500 champion found himself 25th with 50 to go, before a series of late-race cautions allowed him to take the wave around and lucky dog, where he would ultimately finish 21st.
Bayne and the No. 6 team return to the track next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway for the Geico 500 Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m. ET on FOX. Race coverage can also be heard on MRN and Sirius XM/Radio NASCAR Channel 90.
Start/Finish: 16th/9th (Running, completed 402 of 402 laps in overtime)
Point Standing: 3rd with 329 points, 86 points out of first
Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):
● Clint Bowyer started 16th and finished fifth.
● Bowyer started slowly, but the No. 14 began moving up as the stage ran without caution.
● Over the final 40 laps, Bowyer’s was the fastest car on the track. He moved to eighth by lap 75.
● Passed two more cars in the closing laps to claim fifth at the stage end.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):
● Bowyer started fifth and finished second.
● Moved to fourth on lap 131 and to third 10 laps later.
● Took over the lead on lap 169. Led 23 laps in a stage that also ran without caution.
● Held the lead until the final laps of the stage when a loose-handling condition kept him from fending off Joey Logano.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400):
● Bowyer started third and finished ninth.
● Moved to second on lap 235 while turning the fastest lap times on the track.
● Took over the lead for a second time in the race on lap 252.
● Made a scheduled pit stop on lap 273 for tires and fuel.
● Several cautions in the final laps led to frenetic racing that damaged Bowyer’s Ford and left him with a ninth-place finish.
● Bowyer finished fifth in Stage 1 to earn six bonus points and second in Stage 2 to earn an additional nine bonus points.
● This was Bowyer’s fourth consecutive top-10 finish.
● Bowyer led three times for 45 laps Saturday night and has now led 260 laps in 2018.
● Kyle Busch won the Richmond 400 to score his 46th career Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his fifth at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .511 of a second.
● There were six caution periods for a total of 46 laps, and there were 16 lead changes among seven drivers.
● Twenty-three of the 39 drivers in the Richmond 400 finished on the lead lap.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Ford Hall of Fans Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We had a really good car; it’s just frustrating there at the end. All hell breaks loose. We lost a couple of spots on pit road, and that gets you back and then you get on the outside and get stuck behind somebody that spun their tires and you knock the front fender in on the 24 because he spun his tires. The next thing you know you’re tenth, thinking, ‘Boy, how did this night go to ruin so fast?’ Then it’s just beating and banging and everybody dive-bombing on the bottom. It’s a shame that a good, positive night ends up being like that, but that’s racing at this place. If we could have maintained that top-two or -three, I think we could have stayed up there.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Geico 500 on Sunday, April 29 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a prerace show at 1:30 p.m.