Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (17702)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: First Data 500

The Place: Martinsville Speedway

The Date: Sunday, October 27

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 263 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 130),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 260), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 263)

2018 Race Winner: Joey Logano

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: O'Reilly Auto Parts 300

The Place: Texas Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, November 2

The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 300 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

2018 Race Winner: Cole Custer

 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series 

Next Race: NASCAR Hall of Fame 200

The Place: Martinsville Speedway

The Date: Saturday, October 26

The Time: 1:30 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 1 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 105.2 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 50),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 100), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

2018 Winner: Johnny Sauter

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

 

Team Penske gears up for Martinsville Speedway

Team Penske has won three of the past five races – including the last two – at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, home to Sunday’s First Data 500 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) Monster Energy NACAR Cup Series Playoff race.

 

Penske’s Brad Keselowski has won two of those Martinsville races – including one of the most dominating victories in the 141-race history at the famous half-mile paperclip-shaped track. He led 446-of-500 laps en route to the March trophy. Only four other times has a race winner led more. And while Keselowski has fallen out of championship contention – missing the Playoff cutoff by a mere three points last week – certainly his two Playoff-eligible teammates – Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney – can take some positive energy from the Penske organization’s performance at Martinsville.

 

Logano, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, is the defending Martinsville Playoff race winner, leading 309 laps en route to the victory last October.

In the last five Martinsville races, at least two Team Penske drivers have finished among the top 10.

 

In March, Keselowski won the race and Blaney finished fourth. In this race last year, Logano won and Keselowski finished fifth. In Spring 2018, Blaney was third, Logano placed sixth and Keselowski finished 10th. In the 2017 Playoff race, Keselowski was fourth and Blaney was eighth. Keselowski won the Spring 2017 race and Logano was fourth.

 

Only five-time Martinsville winner Denny Hamlin (9.6) has a better average finish than Keselowski’s 11.3. Logano (13.4) and Blaney (14.0) are third and fourth best, respectively, among the eight Playoff drivers in that important statistic.

 

Logano, 29, has nine top-10 finishes in 21 Martinsville starts, including the 2018 Playoff win. He’s started from the pole position a series-best five times among active drivers – including this March – and has four top-10 finishes in the last six races.

 

Blaney, 25, has three top-10 finishes in seven Martinsville starts, including a fourth this March. He’s finished in the top-10 in three of the last four races including a career-best of third in 2018.

 

Kyle Busch could use a rally

It’s been 18 races since Kyle Busch last held a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series trophy, but the four-race winner this season arrives at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway as the series championship leader again – four points up on six-race winner, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. and nine-points ahead of Sunday’s Kansas winner, another JGR teammate, five-race winner Denny Hamlin.

 

For most people in the garage and in the grandstands, Busch heads into this final three-race stretch to determine the Championship 4 drivers, a competitor “on the verge” of winning. Certainly, his past performance at these three upcoming tracks would confirm that.

 

Busch is the only driver among the eight with multiple Cup Series wins at all three venues – Martinsville (two), Texas (three) and ISM Raceway in Phoenix (three). For good measure and further consideration, Busch has won an additional nine times at Texas and 11 times at Phoenix in the Xfinity Series giving him double-digit trophies from those tracks.

 

At this week’s Martinsville half-miler, Busch has wins in Spring 2016 and in the 2017 Playoff race. He was runner-up three more times, including both spring races in 2017 and 2018. Most telling, perhaps, is that of his 17 top-10 finishes – 16 of them are top fives. When he’s on, he’s on.

 

He’s finished fifth or better in the last eight Martinsville races – including two victories and two second-place finishes. He led a race-best 274 laps and finished runner-up to Brad Keselowski in 2017. In the last seven races, Busch has led 937 laps – 65.8 percent of his 1,424 lap-total at Martinsville. Seven times he’s led at least 100 laps in a race. His average finish (12.0) is second only to five-time Martinsville winner Hamlin among the Playoff-eligible drivers.

 

“I really look forward to this round,’’ Busch said. “I feel like it’s our best round. We run well at all three of those places and we’ve won a few at Texas, we won Martinsville twice and Phoenix has been getting better for us too, winning the last two races there.

 

“We just need to continue to execute and do a good job and make sure that we mind our Ps and Qs.’’

 

Hamlin’s time to shine

Denny Hamlin earned his fifth win of the season Sunday at Kansas Speedway and he’s already turning in career statistical numbers, such as his 17 top fives and counting total. But there’s a stat he would like to own, and it comes with a trophy too – Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion.

 

The 38-year-old Virginian is undeniably the prince of the Martinsville short track among his eight remaining Playoff competitors. His five wins at the half-miler are most among the Playoff field. Only seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson’s nine Martinsville victories are more than Hamlin’s among this week’s entrants.

 

From 2009-10. Hamlin won three consecutive races at the historic half-miler – a feat done by only a handful of drivers, all champions: Richard Petty (1968-69), Cale Yarborough (1976-77), Darrell Waltrip (1988-89), Rusty Wallace (1994-95) and Jimmie Johnson (2006-07). Fred Lorenzen holds the all-time mark of four straight Martinsville wins between 1963-65.

 

In addition to his trophies, Hamlin has finished runner-up three times and third place on three more occasions. He’s led 100 laps or more five times at Martinsville. Statistically, when Hamlin’s good, he’s great. He led 502 of his 1,001 career laps out front at Martinsville in just two races – 296 laps in a runner-up finish in Spring 2009 and 206 laps in his Fall 2009 victory.

 

He has five top-10 finishes in the last seven Martinsville races and the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was runner-up to Joey Logano in last year’s Playoff race. He was fifth in March and boasts the best average finish (9.6) among Playoff drivers. His 20 top 10s at Martinsville are best among Playoff competitors and second only to Johnson’s 24 in this week’s starting field.

 

Truex still looking for first win at Martinsville

The season’s most prolific winner, six-time race winner Martin Truex Jr. goes into Martinsville (Va.) Speedway still looking for his first career victory at the notoriously finicky half-miler.

 

He has five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 27 starts. And his recent work has been his best. He has finished eighth or better in seven of the last nine races – including the last four. He was runner-up to Kyle Busch in 2017 and went on to win his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship. He was third in the 2018 Playoff race and finished eighth this March.

 

Truex trails his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch by only four points in the championship standings heading into Martinsville.

 

“We know what we need to do,’’ Truex said. “Now it’s just a matter of going out and doing it. I know [crew chief] Cole [Pearn] and the guys have a good plan every week, so I’m confident we can do that. We have been fast, ran up front and led laps at all of these tracks in this round.

 

“All eight [playoff] guys would love to go into Martinsville this week and win the race to move on. That’s our goal, but we also feel good about the other tracks too.’’

 

And, he added, “We’ve got a great team. We just have to go out and execute.’’

 

CHASE-ING

Chase Elliott pulled off one of the most dramatic Playoff-extending performances of the season on Sunday in Kansas, racing to a runner-up finish to Denny Hamlin, which along with some poor luck from fellow contender Brad Keselowski, propelled him forward in the championship hunt.

 

As the standings are reset to reflect bonus points, Elliott vaults from just earning a spot among the Top eight (three points over Keselowski) to now being ranked sixth among the eight drivers. And Elliott has reason to be optimistic about optimizing his chances.

 

Elliott has four top-10 finishes in eight Martinsville Speedway races, including a pair of top-five runs. His best showing came this March when he was runner-up to race winner Brad Keselowski and led 49 laps on the evening.

 

He’s finished in the top 10 in the last three races at The Paperclip. And just for good measure, he does own a Martinsville trophy. He won the 2017 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race from the pole position, leading a race-best 92-of-250 laps.

 

This season, on tracks less than one mile in length, Elliott has a pair of top-five finishes (runner-up at Martinsville in March and fifth at Bristol, Tenn. in September.). He’s finished 15th or better in all five previous short track races and won the pole position for the April Bristol race.

 

Harvick ready to step up

Kevin Harvick is a three-race winner in 2019 and a former Monster Energy Series champion (2014), but he is adamant his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team will keep its eyes forward.

 

He advances to the Round of 8 for the sixth consecutive season and arrives at Martinsville Speedway a former winner (2011) – one of only four current Playoff drivers that has won a series trophy on the challenging venue.

 

Harvick would like, however, to claim another and ensure his position in the Championship 4 round for the third straight season. He starts this penultimate round of the Playoffs ranked fifth – one position behind where he will need to be to earn that championship opportunity Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

He has seven top-10 finishes in the 11 Martinsville races he’s competed in for Stewart-Haas Racing, bested by a pair of fifth-place finishes in the 2017 Playoff race and the 2018 Spring race.

 

He’s been among the top 10 in the last four races, but hasn’t led a lap at Martinsville since March 2016. His average finish of 15.1 is sixth best of the remaining eight title contenders.

 

Harvick has reason to be confident, however. He’s finished seventh or better in three of the five previous short track races and is averaging a 13.8-place finish at short tracks this year He is a two-time Bristol, Tenn. winner and a three-time Richmond, Va. winner so this style of competition suits the 2014 Cup champion.

 

The Standard: Jimmie Johnson

Although seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is ineligible for the series championship for the first time in his certain NASCAR Hall of Fame career, he does have plenty of motivation to play spoiler this weekend at Martinsville.

 

Johnson is enduring his longest career winless streak – his last victory was June 4, 2017 at Dover, Del. – but this week he will be competing at a venue where he is the winningest active driver and on the verge of making more NASCAR history.

 

The driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet can become only the third driver in NASCAR history to have earned 10 or more wins at more than one track. He is an 11-time winner at Dover and has nine victories already at Martinsville Speedway.

 

Only NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip have won 10 or more races at more than one race track. Petty won 15 times at Martinsville; 15 times at North Wilkesboro, N.C.; 13 races at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, 11 races at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway and 10 times at Daytona International Speedway

 

Waltrip won 12 times at Bristol, Tenn., 11 times at Martinsville, Va. and 10 times at North Wilkesboro.

 

Johnson is easily the most successful driver at Martinsville this weekend with a series-best 19 top fives and 24 top 10s to go with his nine wins. He’s led a series-best 2,962 laps. Thirteen times he’s led at least 100 laps in a Martinsville race. Four times he’s led at least 200 laps and twice he’s led at least 300 laps.

 

He’s one of only seven drivers to ever win three consecutive races at Martinsville (2006-07) and from 2006-2009, he won five-of-six races. Not bad for a driver who finished 35th in his first start at the track.

 

His last top-10 finish at Martinsville was a victory in the 2016 Playoffs, when he went on to win the series championship.

 

Johnson currently holds a 15-point advantage over Stewart-Haas Racing’s Daniel Suarez for 17th position in the championship standings – tops among those who did not qualify for the Playoffs.

 

Sunoco Rookie Race

With only four races remaining in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, the competition for Sunoco Rookie of the Year is as close as it’s been.

 

JTG-Daugherty Racing driver Ryan Preece leads Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric by a mere six points going into Sunday’s race at Martinsville.

 

Hemric earned his first career series pole last weekend at Kansas Speedway but was collected in a crash and finished the day 31st. He has a season best showing of fifth at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in May and is ranked 25th in the standings. He’s led 22 laps in seven races, including a season high of seven laps at Charlotte in May.

 

Preece finished 12th-place at Kansas – his third consecutive top-20 run. His best finish of the year is third-place in that same May Talladega race. He’s led one lap – at Daytona in July.

 

Hemric was 27th at Martinsville earlier this season and Preece was 16th.

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

 

Up Next for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs: Texas Motor Speedway

Following some great action at Kansas Speedway, the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads into the final off-week of the season to prepare for Texas Motor Speedway and the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 on Nov. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Just two races remain (Texas and Phoenix) in the Playoff’s Round of 8 to decide who makes it to the Championship 4 round at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

Texas Motor Speedway has hosted the fifth race of the seven-event NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs since its inception in 2016. Three different drivers have won the Texas Xfinity Playoff race but only one was an Xfinity Series Playoff driver. The first two years of the event, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers took home the checkered flags – Kyle Larson (2016) and Erik Jones (2017). But last season, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer won the Texas Playoff race and guaranteed his spot in the Championship 4; ultimately finishing runner-up to Tyler Reddick in the points. 

 

In total, Texas Motor Speedway has held 37 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, producing 23 different pole winners and 18 different race winners. Kyle Busch leads the series in poles (four) and wins (nine) at the 1.5-mile track.

  

Berserk Big 3 has Xfinity Playoff competition tensions running-high

With the close action on the track and heated exchanges on pit road, tensions have run high following the epic NASCAR Xfinity Series race last weekend at Kansas Speedway. Now the series has a weekend to cool off, but don’t expect the exceptional competition to slow when they return next week at Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (Nov. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

“I thought we had a shot to win. Just, a lot of things went wrong (at Kansas),” said Cole Custer. “I went up just to yell at him (Tyler Reddick). But when I put my arm on his shoulder, he went berserk. So, I guess, you don’t want to do that to Tyler.”

 

The two drivers (Reddick & Custer) made contact in the closing laps at Kansas last weekend, Reddick finished second while Custer fell to an 11th-place finish. Christopher Bell rebounded from an accident on Lap 185 to finish 12th.

 

“Not the end of the race that our guys are looking for,” said Reddick. “But I think a lot of Cole and his driving ability and a lot of that team. It’s just the heat of the moment. We’re pissed off. I’m sure we’ll talk about it here soon. Maybe today, tomorrow. Who knows, maybe have a beer over it. We’ll talk about it then.”

The Big 3 are now separated by just 12 points with two races left in the Round of 8 to decide who will move on to the Championship 4 in Miami. Christopher Bell holds the Playoff standings lead with 3,106 points; followed by Cole Custer (-11) in second and Tyler Reddick (-12) in third.

 

Who can catch the Big 3 in the Xfinity Playoffs at Texas?

The Big 3 are currently 1-2-3 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings 35 points up on fourth place Justin Allgaier; which has many posing the question, ‘Who can catch them?’. Just two races left in the Xfinity Playoff’s Round of 8 to decide who moves on to Miami.

 

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

Allgaier is currently in the fourth and final Championship 4 transfer spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff standings; 35 points behind third place Tyler Reddick and only two points up on fifth place rookie, Chase Briscoe. In 30 starts this season, he has put up 15 top fives, 22 top 10s and an average finish of 9.2.

 

Stats at Texas:

Playoff Rank

Driver

Starts

Poles

Wins

Top Fives

Top 10s

DNFs

Avg Start

Avg Finish

4

Justin Allgaier

18

0

0

1

8

1

13.6

13.1

 

Chase Briscoe (No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi Ford)

Briscoe is currently fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff standings the first spot outside the Championship 4 cutoff – just two points behind fourth place Justin Allgaier. In 30 starts this season, Briscoe has posted one win (Iowa), 12 top fives, 24 top 10s and an average finish of 7.9.

 

Stats at Texas:

Playoff Rank

Driver

Starts

Poles

Wins

Top Fives

Top 10s

DNFs

Avg Start

Avg Finish

5

Chase Briscoe

2

0

0

1

1

0

18.0

7.5

 

 

Michael Annett (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

Annett resides in the sixth position in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff standings following Kansas; 12 points back from his JR Motorsports teammate in fourth, Justin Allgaier. In 30 starts this season, Annett has gathered one win (Daytona), six top fives, 18 top 10s and an average finish of 10.0. 

 

Stats at Texas:

Playoff Rank

Driver

Starts

Poles

Wins

Top Fives

Top 10s

DNFs

Avg Start

Avg Finish

6

Michael Annett

14

0

0

0

2

1

23.9

15.3

 

Noah Gragson (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

Gragson finds himself seventh in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff standings following Kansas, 17 points behind his fourth place JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier. In 30 starts this season he has collected eight top fives, 20 top 10s and an average finish of 8.8.

 

Stats at Texas:

Playoff Rank

Driver

Starts

Poles

Wins

Top Fives

Top 10s

DNFs

Avg Start

Avg Finish

7

Noah Gragson

1

0

0

0

0

0

16.0

13.0

 

Austin Cindric (No. 22 Team Penske Ford)

Cindric is currently in the eighth and final position in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff’s Round of 8 standings following an incident at Kansas on Lap 71 that relegated him to a 25th-place finish. As a result, the Team Penske standout dropped four spots in the Playoff standings and now has a 30 point mountain to climb over the next two races to make his way into the Championship 4. In 30 starts this season, Cindric has posted two wins (Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio), 13 top fives, 21 top 10s and an average finish of 9.3. 

 

Stats at Texas:

Playoff Rank

Driver

Starts

Poles

Wins

Top Fives

Top 10s

DNFs

Avg Start

Avg Finish

8

Austin Cindric

3

0

0

1

2

0

11.0

7.7

 

 

New winners are the norm in Xfinity

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones became the latest winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with his victory last weekend at Kansas, and the second first-time winner of the season joining Austin Cindric (Watkins Glen & Mid-Ohio). If you don’t know, new winners are the norm in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Every season since its inception in 1982 has seen at least one new winner, totaling 160 different drivers. In fact, over the last 10 seasons (2011-2019) the series has produced 32 different new winners (list is below in chronological order from most recent):

 

Rank

First-Time Winners

Track

Date

Rank

First-Time Winners

Track

Date

1

Brandon Jones

Kansas

10/19/2019

17

Erik Jones

Texas

4/10/2015

2

Michael Annett

Daytona

2/16/2019

18

Ryan Reed

Daytona

2/21/2015

3

John H. Nemechek

Kansas

10/20/2018

19

Chris Buescher

Mid-Ohio

8/16/2014

4

Chase Briscoe

Charlotte RC

9/29/2018

20

Ty Dillon

Indianapolis

7/26/2014

5

Ross Chastain

Las Vegas

9/15/2018

21

Brendan Gaughan

Road America

6/21/2014

6

Spencer Gallagher

Talladega

4/28/2018

22

Chase Elliott

Texas

4/4/2014

7

Cole Custer

Homestead

11/18/2017

23

Kyle Larson

Auto Club

3/22/2014

8

Christopher Bell

Kansas

10/21/2017

24

Ryan Blaney

Kentucky

9/21/2013

9

Alex Bowman

Charlotte

10/7/2017

25

AJ Allmendinger

Road America

6/22/2013

10

Tyler Reddick

Kentucky

9/23/2017

26

Regan Smith

Homestead

11/17/2012

11

Jeremy Clements

Road America

8/27/2017

27

Austin Dillon

Kentucky

6/29/2012

12

Ryan Preece

Iowa

7/29/2017

28

Nelson Piquet Jr

Road America

6/23/2012

13

William Byron

Iowa

6/24/2017

29

James Buescher

Daytona

2/25/2012

14

Michael McDowell

Road America

8/27/2016

30

Sam Hornish Jr

Phoenix

11/12/2011

15

Justin Marks

Mid-Ohio

8/13/2016

31

Trevor Bayne

Texas

11/5/2011

16

Daniel Suarez

Michigan

6/11/2016

32

Ricky Stenhouse Jr

Iowa

5/22/2011

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update: Just two Xfinity rookies remain eligible for the end of the season honors as only Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi’s Chase Briscoe and JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson have advanced to the Round of 8 in the Playoffs. Briscoe currently holds a 37 point lead on Gragson heading into Texas.

 

Xfinity Manufacturers’ Standings Update: Chevrolet (eight wins) currently holds the lead in the NASCAR Xfinity Series manufacturer standings following Kansas with 1,076 points; just 14 points up on second place Ford (10 wins) and 20 points up on third place Toyota (12 wins).

 

 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

 

Back to “The Paperclip”

The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series makes its return trip to Martinsville Speedway for the second race in the Round of 6 in the Playoffs. Kyle Busch took the checkered flag in the first race there earlier this year.

 

Three former Martinsville race winners are entered in Saturday’s showdown – but only one is a championship contender.

 

Johnny Sauter leads the field – and drivers overall – with four wins (Fall 2018, Fall 2016, Spring 2013, Spring 2011) at the half-mile circuit and will be looking to play the spoiler as he was eliminated from the Playoffs after the opening round.

 

His ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton is still in championship contention and has a pair of wins himself (Fall 2015, Spring 2014) at Martinsville. 

 

John Hunter Nemechek, who is declared for points in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, won at Martinsville in the spring of last year. He is scheduled to drive the NEMCO Motorsport’s No. 8 this weekend.

 

The race on Saturday is scheduled for 200 laps with stage breaks at 50 and 100 laps.

 

The Championship 4 grid is still blank

With non-Playoff contender Spencer Boyd taking the win in the opening race of the Round of 6, that means all four spots in the championship battle at Homestead-Miami Speedway are still up for grabs with Martinsville and ISM Raceway looming.

 

Defending champion Brett Moffitt sits in the best position – holding a 45-point advantage over fifth-place Tyler Ankrum, one spot outside the Championship 4 cutoff.

 

After that, however, the cushion diminishes significantly – making each of the next two races especially important.

 

Stewart Friesen is in second, 22 points ahead of Ankrum, while Austin Hill is third – 12 points ahead of the cutoff. And just one point separates Matt Crafton in the fourth and final championship-contending slot from Ankrum.

 

And despite a late-race crash from the lead at Talladega, Ross Chastain is only two points behind Crafton.

 

How they have fared at Martinsville

With the points standings so tightly bunched after the opening race of the second round of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs, the six drivers still in championship contention have their sights set on the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Here’s a breakdown of the Martinsville track record for each of the six drivers, in order of points standing:

 

Brett Moffitt – No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet: The leader of the points has competed four times at Martinsville, never finishing worse than sixth – which he did in his first trip to the track in the spring of 2017. Since then he put up finishes of third and second last year and was third again earlier this season on the half-mile circuit. Moffitt also competed in two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville during his Sunoco Rookie of the Year season in that series.

 

Stewart Friesen – No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Chevrolet: Friesen, an ace on the dirt short tracks, has raced five times at Martinsville, putting up mixed results. He’s had two finishes of 20th or worse alongside a pair of top 10s (sixth in the fall of 2017 and fifth earlier this season). Friesen started from the pole in the spring race this year.

 

Austin Hill – No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota: In eight starts at "The Paperclip," Hill has managed just two top-10 finishes – 10th in the fall of 2016 and ninth in the spring race last year. He has posted an average finish of 16.2 at Martinsville.

 

Matt Crafton – No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford: Crafton is the lone remaining Playoff contender who has recorded a win at Martinsville – in fact, he has two – in the spring of 2014 en route to his second series championship and then in the fall of 2015. In 35 starts at Martinsville, Crafton has recorded nine top-five and 20 top-10 results, as well as an impressive average finish of 10.2. He’s suffered only two DNFs there, both a result of mechanical issues.

 

Tyler Ankrum – No. 17 DGR-Crosley Toyota: Ankrum has the smallest sample size at Martinsville out of the Playoff drivers, having competed in just two races at the short track. He finished 18th last fall and was 19th earlier this season.

 

Ross Chastain – No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet: Chastain has made seven starts at Martinsville, posting a 12.7 average finish at the track. His best finish, and his lone top-five result, came earlier this year when he crossed the line fourth. He also had three top 10s, two of them coming in the most recent two races. Chastain has also competed in three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville.

 

The remaining Round of 6 tracks

After opening with the high-speed, high-banked, 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway the Gander Trucks head to the much shorter and flatter 0.52-mile Martinsville Speedway this Saturday after taking a week off.

 

With two races to go to determine the four drivers who will race for the championship in Miami, here’s a look at the two tracks remaining in the Round of 6:

 

Martinsville Speedway – Saturday, October 26: Martinsville, affectionately known as "The Paperclip" due to its shape, is a .52-mile short track. It has 12 degrees of banking in the turns and is perfectly flat in the straights. Each straightaway is 800 feet long. The race will be 105.2 miles (200 laps) long. Johnny Sauter won this race last year while Kyle Busch won the spring race this season. Matt Crafton has two wins at Martinsville (Spring, 2014; Fall, 2015) and is the only remaining Playoff contender with a win at "The Paperclip."

 

ISM Raceway – Friday, November 8: ISM Raceway, located near Phoenix, Arizona, is a one-mile track that was recently reconfigured (prior to the 2018 fall race) to move the start/finish line to the former backstretch, just before the dog leg. The banking in Turns 1 and 2 are 11 degrees while it’s nine degrees in Turns 3 and 4. The frontstretch is 1,179 feet long and banked at three degrees and the backstretch is 1,551 feet long and has nine degrees of banking. Brett Moffitt won this race last year. He is the only remaining Playoff contender with a victory at the track.

 

Look for Tanner Gray to make a fast start

If it appears the No. 15 DGR-Crosley Toyota has considerable straightaway speed, there’s a reason for it.

 

The driver behind the wheel is the 2018 NHRA Pro Stock champion.

 

Tanner Gray will be making his NASCAR national series debut on the half-mile Martinsville short track, a mere eight months after making his first stock car start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series at New Smyrna Speedway during Speedweeks.

 

And if there’s anything that the 20-year-old Gray has shown in his short racing career, it’s that he adapts quickly. He started in the NHRA Pro Stock division in 2017 and became the youngest NHRA national event winner in April of that year. He then won the championship in 2018, his second year in the division.

 

After making his stock car debut in February, Gray then earned his first pole and first victory while making left turns in just his third race – at another Virginia track, South Boston Speedway, that is just shy of Martinsville in length.

 

Gray is scheduled to finish up the 2019 schedule in DGR-Crosley Toyotas, running at Martinsville, ISM Raceway and Miami.

 

K&N Pro Series East champ to make second Gander Truck start

After winning the 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship and rookie of the year on the strength of four wins, Sam Mayer is set to take on his second NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race.

 

The 16-year old will be behind the wheel of the No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet this weekend once again, having made his NASCAR national series debut earlier this year at Bristol. He started 18th and finished 21stt after being involved in a crash just shy of the finish.

 

This year in the K&N Pro Series East, Mayer swept the series’ pair of visits to Bristol, won the Iowa stop in July and concluded the season in Victory Lane at Dover. And he was extremely consistent while driving for GMS Racing – finishing in the top-five in 11 of the 12 races this season. His worst finish this season was an 11th-place result in the second stop at South Boston.

 

Mayer also made eight ARCA Menards Series starts this season, finishing in the top five in seven of those efforts. That included a second-place finish in his second start at Salem Speedway.

 

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts  

Six drivers from the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – Niece Motorsport’s driver Ross Chastain, ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton, Hattori Racing Enterprises driver Austin Hill, GMS Racing’s Brett Moffitt, Young’s Motorsports driver Spencer Boyd and DGR-Crosley driver Tyler Ankrum - will participate in the media breakout sessions this weekend at Martinsville Speedway as they prepare for the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 this Saturday, October 26, at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

 

Austin Hill (No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota Tundra)

Birthdate: April 21, 1994

Driver’s Age: 25

Hometown: Winston, Georgia

Hobbies: Hunting, spending time with family and boating

Team: Hattori Racing Enterprises

Crew Chief: Scott Zipadelli

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Scored first three career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series wins in 2019 (Daytona, Michigan, Las Vegas).
  • Finished 11th in 2018 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship points, his first full season.
  • In 2017, he joined Young’s Motorsports and made 12 starts finishing a then career-best 23rd in the final standings.
  • In 2016, he posted his first top-10 finish in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (Martinsville).
  • In 2014, he made his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Heads to Martinsville Speedway seeded third in the Gander Trucks Playoffs Round of 6 standings; 33 points behind standings leader Brett Moffitt
  • This is his first career Gander Trucks Playoff appearance. 
  • Through 20 races this season, Hill has put up three wins (Daytona, Michigan, Las Vegas), six top fives, 12 top 10s and two poles (Chicago, Pocono).
  • Has led 153 of 2,911 laps completed.
  • 2019 average starting position, 8.8 and average finishing position, 12.5

Martinsville Speedway Performance:

  • Has eight starts at Martinsville, posting two top-10 finishes (2016, 2018). 

 

Tyler Ankrum (No. 17 DGR-Crosley Toyota Tundra)

Birthdate: March 6, 2001

Driver’s Age: 18

Hometown: San Bernardino, California

Team: DGR-Crosley

Crew Chief: Kevin Manion

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Clinched the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors by becoming the only rookie to make the Playoffs.
  • Due to age restrictions, Ankrum missed the first three races of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season before turning 18-years old in March.
  • Made NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut on Oct. 27, 2018 at Martinsville Speedway driving for DGR-Crosley; he started 19th and finished 18th.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Heads to Martinsville ranked fifth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff standings with 3,040 points, 45 points behind the Playoff standings leader Brett Moffitt and just one point behind fourth-place Matt Crafton in the final Championship 4 slot.
  • Through the first 20 races of the season Ankrum has only competed in 17 of the events due to being too young to compete at the beginning of the season.
  • In his 17 starts this season, he has posted one win (Kentucky), three top fives and eight top 10s. 
  • Has led 58 of 2,168 laps completed.
  • 2019 average starting position, 11.3 and average finishing position, 13.7

Martinsville Speedway Performance:

  • Has made two series starts at Martinsville including his series debut, posting two top-20 finishes (2018, 2019). 

 

Brett Moffitt (No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: August 7, 1992

Driver’s Age: 27

Hometown: Grimes, Iowa

Team: GMS Racing

Crew Chief: Jerry Baxter

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Last season, Moffitt drove Hattori Racing Enterprise’s No. 16 Toyota to six wins, leading the way for the first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship for both Moffitt and HRE.
  • Won his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race in 2016, taking home the checkers at Michigan for Red Horse Racing.
  • Made the most of his six NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts in 2016, with three top-three finishes and four top 10s.
  • In 2013, entered the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series scene with a pair of starts (Kentucky and Michigan).

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently the top seed in the Round of 6 with 3,085 points – 23 points ahead of second place Stewart Friesen and 45 points up on fifth place Tyler Ankrum.
  • In 20 starts this season he has posted four victories (Iowa, Chicago, Bristol and CTMP), 12 top fives and 15 top 10s with an average starting position of 4.2 and finish of 8.0.
  • Has led 369 of the 2,911 laps completed this season.

Martinsville Speedway Performance:

  • Moffitt has four starts at Martinsville - recording three top-five and four top-10 finishes.
  • Finished third at the famed short track in the spring and runner-up in this race last season.

 

Ross Chastain (No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: December 4, 1992

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Alva, Florida

Hobbies: Farming watermelons

Team: Niece Motorsports

Crew Chief: Phil Gould

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Chastain has raced part-time over nine seasons competing in 79 series races, recording three wins (Kansas, Gateway, Pocono – all in 2019), 13 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes.
  • In 2012, he ran his only full-time season in the Gander Trucks. He tallied a top five and four top 10s.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Seeded sixth in the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs, 46 points behind Playoff standings leader Brett Moffitt and just two points behind of fourth place Matt Crafton. 
  • This is Chastain’s first career Gander Trucks Playoff appearance. 
  • Through 20 this season, Chastain has posted three wins (Kansas, Gateway, Pocono), eight top fives, 16 top 10s and a pole (Michigan).
  • Has led 487 of 2,819 laps completed
  • 2019 average starting position, 10.8 and average finishing position, 9.2.

Martinsville Speedway Performance:

  • Has made seven series starts at Martinsville posting one top-five and three top-10 finishes.
  • Has an average start of 15.6 and average finish of 12.7.

 

Matt Crafton (No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford F-150)

Birthdate: July 11, 1976

Driver’s Age: 42

Hometown: Tulare, California

Hobbies: Riding Glamis dunes in sand rails, karting

Team: ThorSport Racing

Crew Chief: Carl Joiner Jr.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he finished sixth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings, his 12th consecutive season inside the top 10 in points. He also clinched his third-straight Playoff berth based on points performance but was eliminated in the Round of 6.
  • In 2017, he finished fourth in the Gander Trucks championship point standings making the Championship 4 for the second straight season.
  • In 2016, he scored a berth in the inaugural NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs and made it into the Championship 4 but ultimately finished runner-up in the final standings.
  • In 2015, he led series with career-best six wins, finishing third in the championship point standings.
  • In 2013 and 2014, he became the first driver in NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series history to win back-to-back championships.
  • In 2008, he earned his first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series win at Charlotte.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently fourth in the Gander Trucks Playoff standings; 44 points behind the series standings leader Brett Moffitt and just one point up on fifth place Tyler Ankrum. 
  • This is Crafton’s fourth consecutive career Gander Trucks Playoff appearance. 
  • Through 20 races this season, Crafton has posted six top fives, 16 top 10s and three poles (Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega).
  • Has led 35 of 2,814 laps completed
  • 2019 average starting position, 7.3 and average finishing position, 8.6.

Martinsville Speedway Performance:

  • Crafton has made 35 series starts at Martinsville posting two wins (2014, 2015), nine top-five and 20 top-10 finishes. 
  • Has led 385 laps at the famed short track
  • Average starting position of 11.6 and average finish of 10.6.

 

Spencer Boyd (No. 20 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: June 26, 1995

Driver’s Age: 24

Hometown: Creve Coeur, Missouri

Team: Young’s Motorsports

Crew Chief: Buddy Sisco

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Captured his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory at Talladega in 2019
  • Boyd made his series debut at Martinsville in 2016 for Mike Mittler and MB Motorsports.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Won his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway this season.
  • Through 17 starts this season, Boyd has posted one win (Talladega), two top fives and two top 10s.
  • 2019 average starting position, 22.8 and average finishing position, 19.0.

Martinsville Speedway Performance:

  • Has made two series starts at Martinsville posting a best finish of 27 earlier this season.
  • Made his series debut at Martinsville in 2016.

NASCAR PR

For the sixth consecutive year, Kevin Harvick has made it to the final eight of the NASCAR playoffs and, for the fifth time in six seasons, he’s looking to make the final four.

 

Harvick is hoping he can heat things up by scoring a win in Sunday’s Round of 8 opener at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and locking himself into the Nov. 17 winner-take-all Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

The driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has one win, five top-three finishes, 18 top-10s and has led a total of 628 laps in his 36 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville. His average start there is 14.0, his average finish is 15.1 and he has a lap-completion rate of 98.1 percent – 17,696 of the 18,039 laps available.

 

His only Martinsville Cup Series win came in April 2011, when he started ninth and led only six laps en route to the victory.

 

While he’s looking for his second Cup Series win at Martinsville, his sponsor, Hunt Brothers Pizza, is looking for its first at the .526-mile, paperclip-shaped oval.

 

Hunt Brothers Pizza has sponsored Harvick in NASCAR for 10 years and last visited victory lane with him when he won last year’s Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 

Harvick has also won two NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races with Hunt Brothers as a sponsor at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, both in 2011.

 

Sunday’s event at Martinsville is the third and final race of 2019 in which Hunt Brothers Pizza is sponsoring. The company also sponsored him in the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race in 2014 and 2015, which were conducted at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Harvick finished second in both races.

 

With more than 7,800 locations in 30 states, Hunt Brothers Pizza is the nation’s largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry. Hunt Brothers Pizza offers original and thin crust pizzas available as a grab-and-go Hunk, perfect for today’s on-the-go lifestyle, or as a customizable whole pizza that is an exceptional value with “All Toppings No Extra Charge.” Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Hunt Brothers Pizza is family owned and operated with more than 25 years of experience serving great pizza to convenience store shoppers through its store partners.

 

Harvick, Hunt Brothers Pizza and the rest of the No. 4 team are hoping they can “cook up” a victory this week – and lock themselves into the final four.

TSC PR

Hertz (NYSE: HTZ), one of the world’s largest vehicle rental companies, has extended its sponsorship of 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team of driver William Byron.

As part of the new two-year agreement that runs through 2021, Hertz will continue as a primary sponsor of Byron’s No. 24 team in four points-paying Cup Series races annually and as a full-season associate-level partner. In 2020, the company’s primary events will be Auto Club Speedway and ISM Raceway in March along with the October playoff races at Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway.

“We are excited to continue our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and look forward to building upon this winning partnership,” said Hertz senior vice president Jayesh Patel. “William Byron is a great competitor, and we’re proud to support him and his No. 24 team.”

Hertz began its sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 24 team in May 2018 and has heavily leveraged the partnership, including collaborating to introduce an exclusive line of Hertz-Hendrick Motorsports custom Camaro rental cars that pay tribute to Byron’s No. 24 car. Byron’s 2020 No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet paint scheme (pictured above), which is a reversed version of the custom Camaro design, was unveiled this morning in Charlotte during a promotional event for the Hertz-Hendrick Motorsports custom Camaro rental program. The new No. 24 team livery will debut this season at ISM Raceway on Nov. 10.

“We’re thrilled to see our partnership with Hertz continue,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “From offering a special line of Camaros to rewarding high-performing employees with NASCAR experiences, Hertz has done a wonderful job with the program. In only his second year, William has shown he can run up front on any type of racetrack. The future of the No. 24 team is very bright, and we look forward to sharing that future with everyone at Hertz.”

Byron, 21, followed his 2018 NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year season by earning his first career playoff berth in 2019. Through 32 of 36 races this year, he has posted five pole positions, which tie him for the series lead, and set personal bests in nearly all statistical categories, including top-five finishes (4), top-10s (12) and laps led (225).

“I’m really excited to continue building on our relationship with Hertz,” Byron said. “They came on board the No. 24 during my rookie season and have continued their awesome support as we’ve grown as a team. We’ve done a lot in a short amount of time, but there’s so much more to accomplish. I can’t wait to put the new No. 24 Hertz paint scheme on the racetrack and see what else we can do together.”

Hendrick Motorsports PR

Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) make the relatively short jaunt north to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500. Suárez will return to the red-and-black Haas Automation livery after driving his ARRIS Ford Mustang last weekend at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.


At Kansas, Suárez qualified the ARRIS Mustang eighth, making him the highest qualifying SHR entry. He led nine laps and ran in the top-10 for a majority of the day but finished 32nd at the 1.5-mile track after late-race accident.
 

The Mexico native has two career top-10 finishes in his five starts at the half-mile, paperclip-shaped Virginia short track. In this year’s March race, he started ninth and finished 10th. He has an average starting position there of 14.8 and an average finishing position of 16.8.
 

Additionally, Suárez has four Martinsville starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors NASCAR Truck Series, which he used to gain experience for his Cup Series endeavor as the Xfinity Series does not race at the venue. In the Truck Series, he has three top-10 starts, including one outside pole position, and two top-10 results, earning him an average starting position of 6.2 and an average finishing position of 11.5.
 

Haas Automation, founded in 1983 by SHR co-owner Gene Haas, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.
 

SHR has accumulated four wins at Martinsville, the most recent by Clint Bowyer in March 2018. In total, the Kannapolis, North Carolina-based team has 10 top-five finishes and 28 top-10s in 66 starts there.
 

At tracks 1 mile in length or less, Suárez has five top-10 finishes and 22 laps led, with an average starting position of 18.5 and an average finishing position of 14.6.
 

Fans have the chance to bid on Suárez’s Kansas race-worn helmet visor benefiting the Jimmie Johnson Foundation to help raise funds for K-12 public education programs. Fans can vote here until noon EDT Friday.
 

The Virginia track is the shortest of the season for the Cup Series at .526 of a mile, and the second-to-last short track remaining on the calendar for the 2019 season. Should Suárez score the win Sunday, he’ll take home the unique Martinsville grandfather clock trophy.
 

The Haas Automation driver is 18th in the standings with 757 points and has three top-fives and 10 top-10s this season, along with 141 laps led. He has an average start of 14.5 and an average finish of 16.5. He earned his second career Cup Series pole, first with the No. 41 team, in July at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

TSC PR

Following last Sunday’s thrilling double-overtime finish at Kansas Speedway, NBC Sports’ travels to Martinsville Speedway this weekend for the first race of the Round of 8 in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with charged-up live coverage this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

The Round of 8 is set for Martinsville after Denny Hamlin’s win and a nail-biting second-place finish by Chase Elliott in Kansas that kept his title hopes alive. Kyle Busch leads all Playoff drivers with 4,046 points, followed by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. (4,042) and Denny Hamlin (4,037). Reigning Cup Series Champion Joey Logano is fourth (4,030). Kevin Harvick leads the group of four drivers currently under the Championship cut line (4,028). Martinsville will give the Playoff drivers a chance to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami with a win.

2019 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES PLAYOFF DRIVERS & STANDINGS:

Position Driver Points +/-
1 Kyle Busch 4,046 +18
2 Martin Truex Jr. 4,042 +14
3 Denny Hamlin 4,037 +9
4 Joey Logano 4,030 +2
CHAMPIONSHIP 4 CUT LINE
5 Kevin Harvick 4,028 -2
6 Chase Elliott 4,024 -6
7 Kyle Larson 4,011 -19
8 Ryan Blaney 4,009 -2

NASCAR CUP SERIES RACING FROM MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY – SUNDAY AT 3 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBC Sports kicks off its NASCAR coverage from Martinsville this Saturday at 9 a.m. ET with the first practice on CNBC. Final practice will begin at 12 p.m. ET on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app and will be joined by NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. ET. Cup Series coverage resumes later that afternoon with qualifying at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Sunday’s race-day coverage from Martinsville on NBCSN begins at 1:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR America Pre-Race show and Countdown to Green at 2:30 p.m. ET from the Peacock Pit Box on NBCSN. Live coverage of the First Data 500 follows at 3 p.m. ET.

NBC Sports’ lead race announcer Rick Allen will call the action alongside Daytona 500 winning crew chief Steve Letarte. 21-time Cup Series winner Jeff Burton and two-time Daytona 500 Champion Dale Earnhardt Jr will provide commentary from a second booth.

NBC Sports’ NASCAR pre-race host Krista Voda, auto racing icon Kyle Petty, and NBC analyst and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett will host NASCAR America Pre-Race and Countdown to Green as well as post-race coverage. Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns, Marty Snider, Parker Kligerman and Rutledge Wood will provide commentary and interviews from pit-road and grandstands. Coverage will continue with the post-race show at 6:45 p.m. Victory Lap will close out race-day coverage at 7:30 p.m. ET hosted by Danielle Trotta with AJ Allmendinger.

THE KING JOINS TONIGHT’S THE DALE JR. DOWNLOAD AT 5 P.M. AND 9 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

Today’s episode of The Dale Jr. Download will feature an interview with “The King,” Richard Petty, and will air at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Petty will discuss his illustrious career, the origins of the iconic “Petty Blue” color, his first encounter with fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, and much more. Click here to watch a preview of today’s episode.

Produced on-site at Dirty Mo Media Studios in Mooresville, N.C., The Dale Jr. Download on NBCSN takes viewers couch-side for the taping of the motorsports icon’s weekly podcast, featuring unparalleled perspective, candid commentary, and insight that fans have come to expect from Dale Jr.

NBC SPORTS’ NASCAR COVERAGE FROM KANSAS DELIVERS 20% VIEWERSHIP INCREASE; LARGEST SINCE CURRENT RIGHTS AGREEMENT BEGAN IN 2015

NBC Sports’ coverage of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on NBC averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 3.322 million viewers – up 20% vs. 2018 – delivering NBC Sports’ largest NASCAR year-over-year viewership increase since its current rights agreement began in 2015, according to Fast National data by the Nielsen Company and streaming data by Adobe Analytics.

The 20% year-over-year viewership increase for Sunday’s race on NBC also marks the largest viewership increase for a NASCAR Cup Series race in eight years*, when ESPN’s coverage of the 2011 Championship race at Homestead was up 21% vs 2010. Excluding this year’s weather-impacted races at Daytona and Talladega, NBC Sports’ 2019 NASCAR Cup Series coverage has averaged a TAD of 2.545 million viewers, up 4% vs. the comparable races in 2018 (2.457 million). Click here for more info.

In addition, NBC Sports wrapped up its inaugural season as the exclusive home of IMSA with significant viewership gains. NBC Sports tallied 199,000 viewers across its 16 IMSA races this season, up 55% from last year’s coverage across FOX Sports networks (FOX/FS1/FS2; 128,000 viewers). Coverage on NBCSN and CNBC averaged 173,000 viewers, up 84% vs. last year’s IMSA coverage on FS1/FS2 (94,000 viewers). Coverage on NBCSN delivered 187,000 viewers, up +35% from FS1’s coverage last year (139,000 viewers) and up +99% from FS1/FS2’s average (94,000 viewers).

NASCAR AMERICA MOTORMOUTHS - WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY AT 5 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBC Sports will present a pair of NASCAR America Motormouths episodes this Wednesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, allowing fans to call in to the show, ask questions and share their thoughts on the latest stories in NASCAR.

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing joins NASCAR America Motormouths tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET along with hosts Rutledge Wood and Kyle Petty. Former NASCAR race director David Hoots and Ty Dillon, driver of the No. 13 Chevy Camaro for Germain Racing, will join Thursday’s program with Marty Snider and AJ Allmendinger.

THREE WINNERS IN THE ‘PICK ‘EM’ JACKPOT IN KANSAS SPLITTING THE $20,000 PRIZE – RESETS TO $10,000 FOR MARTINSVILLE

A record 77,000 fans played the NASCAR Pick ‘Em free-to-play game on the NBC Sports Predictor app this past weekend at Kansas, and three fans recorded perfect scores for their picks to split the $20,000 jackpot. The jackpot will reset to $10,000 this weekend in Martinsville.  

  • For each race stage, pick the driver that will have the best finish from a group of four drivers.
  • Then, out of the entire field, pick which drivers will finish the race in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place – in exact order.

NEARLY 15 HOURS OF MECUM AUCTIONS COVERAGE FROM CHICAGO THIS WEEKEND ON NBCSN

More than 1,000 vehicles will cross the auction block at this week’s Mecum Auto Auctions event at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL. Among the highlighted vehicles is the 1947 Delahaye 135, a design that earned the name of Narval, or “narwhal,” for its prominent front treatment like the whale that shares the same name.

Scott Hoke will host coverage on-site in Chicago, alongside analysts John Kraman and Stephen Cox, and reporters Bill Stephens and Katie Osborne.

Following is this week’s Mecum Auto Auctions: Chicago schedule on NBCSN:

DATE COVERAGE TIME (ET) NETWORK
Thur., Oct 24 Mecum Auto Auctions: Chicago 2 p.m. NBCSN
Fri., Oct 25 Mecum Auto Auctions: Chicago 12 p.m. NBCSN
  Mecum Auto Auctions: Chicago* 5:30 p.m. NBCSN
  Mecum Auto Auctions: Chicago* 9:30 p.m. NBCSN
  Mecum Auto Auctions: Chicago* 11:30 p.m. NBCSN
Sat., Oct 26 Mecum Auto Auctions: Chicago* 3 p.m. NBCSN
  Mecum Auto Auctions: Chicago* 5:30 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., Oct 27 Mecum Auto Auctions: Chicago* 9 p.m. NBCSN

*delayed coverage

Following is this week’s NASCAR programming across NBC Sports:

DATE COVERAGE TIME (ET) NETWORK
Tuesday, Oct.22 The Dale Jr. Download w/ Richard Petty 5 p.m. NBCSN
  The Dale Jr. Download w/ Richard Petty (Encore) 9 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, Oct. 23 NASCAR America Motormouths w/ Aric Almirola 5 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday, Oct. 24 NASCAR America Motormouths w/ Ty Dillon 5 p.m. NBCSN
Saturday, Oct. 26 NASCAR Cup Series First Practice – Martinsville 9 a.m. CNBC
  NASCAR Cup Series Final Practice – Martinsville 12 p.m. Streaming
  NASCAR Cup Series Final Practice – Martinsville 12:30 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – Martinsville 4:30 p.m. NBCSN
Sunday, Oct. 27 NASCAR America Pre-Race 1:30 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Countdown to Green 2:30 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Race – Martinsville 3 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Post-Race Show 6:45 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Victory Lap 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

 

NBC SPORTS’ NASCAR COVERAGE

The official home of the NASCAR Playoffs, NBC Sports will present the final 20 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, and select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events in 2019. NBC Sports’ NASCAR programming also includes NBCSN’s daily motorsports show NASCAR America, coverage of NASCAR’s Awards Ceremonies, the annual NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as well as original programming specials.

NBC Sports PR

With Halloween right around the corner, Kyle Busch and the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will race Sunday afternoon at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway once again sporting the colorful candymaker’s  special Halloween scheme to celebrate M&M’S Halloween fun packs.

 

Along with his favorite chocolate candies, Busch is looking for something else to add to his Halloween treat bag following Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville, and that’s the traditional Martinsville grandfather clock trophy for winning at NASCAR’s shortest track. While the clock may be way too big for his treat bag, a win would be quite the treat as it would automatically qualify him for the season-ending Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway three weeks hence. Busch knows the feeling well as he won at Martinsville last October, qualifying him for the winner-take-all Homestead playoff finale and allowing him and his team to focus on it a few weeks early.

 

The spooky-looking M&M’S scheme will race four days before Halloween at a place that used to challenge Busch at the start of his career, and early on in his 12-year tenure with JGR. Busch finished outside the top-10 in three of his first four Martinsville races with JGR in 2008 and 2009. Since then, Busch has scored eight straight top-five finishes there and he hopes a ninth straight top-five Sunday will boost his championship hopes.

 

The beginning of the recent success at Martinsville for Busch and the M&M’s team came with the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion’s first career win at the paperclip-shaped oval in April 2016. Not only did he bring home his first Martinsville clock, he did it in dominating fashion, leading five times for a race-high 352 laps en route to victory lane. His win at Martinsville in October 2017 came late in the race.

 

With just four races left in the season, and with the series kicking off the Round of 8 of the 2019 playoffs at Martinsville this weekend, Busch knows a repeat performance from 2017 would be just the ticket in his efforts to bring home his second Cup Series championship for the M&M’S Halloween team.

 

All season long, Busch and his team have never backed down from a challenge. He was able to advance through the first two playoff rounds, most recently with a solid third-place finish in Sunday’s Round of 12 finale at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Now that he’s made it to the final eight, Busch knows he and his team have some work to do to make it to the championship race at Homestead.

 

So as the season heads into the homestretch, Busch and the M&M’S Halloween team know that, when it comes to being championship-eligible at Homestead, they’ll hope to take advantage of the confidence built since 2015 at Martinsville. Since he already conquered the .526-mile short track in Southern Virginia twice in recent years, Busch hopes in addition to an M&M’S treat and the traditional Grandfather clock to add to his treat bag, a punched ticket to the championship race in Homestead will be waiting for him at the end of Sunday’s 500-lap marathon, as well.

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Ryan Newman’s No. 6 Ford Mustang will pay homage to another legendary American vehicle this weekend when the NASCAR Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway, carrying the iconic Blue Bird School Bus colors.

“As a parent, I was interested to learn about what ROUSH CleanTech is doing to help make school buses safer, more economical and environmentally friendly,” said Newman. “The Blue Bird paint scheme reflects the familiar yellow bus that we all grew up riding to school and I think the fans are going to love it when they see it on the track in Martinsville.”

The paint scheme will celebrate Blue Bird and ROUSH CleanTech delivering their 15,000th propane school bus this week. The buses will be delivered to the Newport News Public Schools district in Virginia.

ROUSH and Blue Bird have been partners since 2012. The Ford engine with a ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel system used to equip the Blue Bird Propane Vision buses are averaging 65 percent lower emissions than the current EPA and CARB standards. On average, propane autogas costs up to 50 percent less than diesel, allowing school districts to use those savings for other areas in need of funding.

This will be the second time Blue Bird has appeared on one of Jack Roush’s Fords, as Ricky Stenhouse took the company to victory lane in his own No. 6 Mustang in September 2012 at Chicagoland Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series takes to the track at Martinsville Speedway for the First Data 500 at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 27. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN, and can be heard on SiriusXM Chanel 90.

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Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this weekend with only four races to go in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season. 

 

Almirola drove to a ninth-place finish in his most recent start at the .526-mile paper clip last March while earning a total of 13 bonus points. His top-10 effort was his first at Martinsville since 2014 and his first at SHR.

 

“We had a great weekend in Martinsville earlier this year,” Almirola said.  “Our car was fast, but we got tangled with the 18 car in Stage 2 that knocked us back to 12th, and we had to fight hard to get back to where we were. I’m excited to hopefully bring back that same speed to advance in the points. No matter what the situation is, we as racers always love going to short tracks. It’s what we grew up doing and it puts the outcome in the driver’s hands more than the superspeedway races. You can’t pass much there, so it’s extremely important that you stay mentally and physically focused throughout the entire run.”

 

In 21 career starts at Martinsville’s half-mile oval, the 35-year-old Almirola has four top-10 finishes, one top-five and has led 56 laps. His two Martinsville starts with SHR proved to be competitive, cracking the top-10 for the SHR organization, which has four victories, 10 top-five finishes and 27 top-10s and has led 720 laps in 64 starts there.

 

After 32 races this season, Almirola has one pole, two top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and has led 118 laps. That adds to a career total of two wins, two poles, 17 top-five finishes, 60 top-10s and 475 laps led in 311 starts.

 

“It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for us,” he said. “We started the season so strong, then hit a rough patch in the middle of the season. We almost advanced to the Round of 12 (of the playoffs), too. It just shows you how competitive this series is. We’ll continue to learn and shoot for more consistency.”

 

Last weekend at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Almirola piloted the No. 10 Smithfield/Hy-Vee Ford Mustang in and around the top-10 until contact with the wall and a cut tire knocked him three laps down to finish 23rd. 

 

As the season comes to a close, Almirola sits 13th in the season standings with 2,148 points, 17 behind 12th-place Alex Bowman.

 

Sunday’s 400-mile race at Martinsville marks the 29th points-paying event during which the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang this year. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, based in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its eighth season with Almirola and its second with SHR. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.

 

Fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Tune in this weekend for full access to Almirola’s playoff media day, NASCAR Burnout Boulevard and the Vegas race weekend. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

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Ty Dillon and Germain Racing have had a strong season and they continue to build momentum as the season nears its end. Coming off of a top-10 finish at Talladega a week ago, the GEICO team looked to attack Kansas Speedway, a challenging intermediate track. Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race would see Dillon and company overcome a late-race tire issue to rebound and post a 22nd place finish.
 
When Germain Racing visited Kansas Speedway in April, they qualified 36th, but their visit this weekend yielded a significant improvement. Dillon and his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 would start Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 from 24th, netting a 12-position improvement over the spring race.
Bright sunshine and cool temperatures provided perfect conditions when the green flag turned the NASCAR Cup Series field loose for 267-laps of racing. Starting 24th, Dillon wheeled the GEICO Camaro around the 1.5-mile facility looking to gain ground. He experienced handling issues early in the race, but crew chief, Matt Borland, made changes to the GEICO Camaro that would help Dillon hold his ground throughout the event.
 
Despite lacking grip, Dillon was on the gas and running down the cars in front of him. On lap 208 of a scheduled 267, he reported a tire issue and would be forced to visit pit road under green flag conditions. Despite going three laps down to the field in the process, Dillon was seemingly unfazed as he discussed a potential strategy with Borland over the team's radio frequency. Borland sharpened his pencil and crafted a plan that saw Dillon recover a head-turning two-laps and charge back to a 22nd place finish when the checkered flag waved after overtime. Dillon's result was a six-position improvement over the team's finish at Kansas in April.
 
"Kansas hasn't been our best track these last couple of years, but to come home with a 22nd-place finish is a solid day for our team," Dillon said after climbing from his car. "The GEICO Camaro ZL1 was just lacking overall grip and speed throughout the race, but Matt (Borland, crew chief) kept trying to make the car handle better on each stop. Late in the race, I thought I had a flat or corded tire and from that point on, the car was very unpredictable. One corner it would be tight and then the next it would be loose. My Germain Racing team never gave up and we are looking forward to going to Martinsville next weekend." 
 
Race number 33 of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season will see Germain Racing visit the famed 'Paperclip' for some exciting, door-to-door short-track racing.
 
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 will hit the track at Martinsville Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Saturday, October 26th, at 9:05 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 4:35 PM (ET).
                                                     
The First Data 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is on Sunday, October 27th, and it will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 3 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
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Clint Bowyer has an interesting plan for the future of Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

 

“If I could do anything in this sport,” said a probably joking Bowyer. “I would remove that track from Virginia and take it with us to every place we race throughout the country. We need more short tracks, and places just like Martinsville are exactly the ticket.”

 

The 40-year-old Bowyer, who grew up on Kansas short tracks, loves the rustic nature of the track that’s hosted 141 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races since 1949 and whose fans mix with drivers in the infield and sit close to the action in the grandstands. Plus, it’s only a 90-minute drive from his farm in Mocksville, North Carolina. 

 

“I love getting up on a cold morning in October and driving my truck to Martinsville,” Bowyer said. “That’s old-school racing. When the cars aren’t running, you can hear the fans talking in the grandstands. You are right out there with everybody.”

 

The NASCAR Cup Series holds its 33rd race of the season and first of the three-race Round of 8 of this year’s playoffs Sunday on the flat, half-mile track in Southern Virginia. Although he fell out of the playoffs at the Round of 12 finale last weekend at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Bowyer still has a lot of racing left at the final four stops of the 2019 Cup Series tour.

 

He’s 11th in points and looking to climb into the top 10 and getting a jump on the 2020 season. Bowyer and Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) announced Thursday that Bowyer will continue to drive the No. 14 Ford Mustang in 2020, just as he has since replacing three-time champion Tony Stewart before the 2017 season.

 

“I race because I love to do it and I love to come back here and everything else,” Bowyer said. “There is a lot of pride to be a part of a sport like this, something you grew up doing since you were a little boy. A great deal of pride that goes into being a part of this. As far as the aspect of doing it another year, yes, that is great and according to plan. We kind of look at Martinsville as the first race in our bid to make the playoffs and go on to a championship in 2020. We feel confident we’ll be part of the playoffs again and return to victory lane. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I wanted to be and I can’t wait to get going on 2020, but let’s finish this year out right, and there’s no better place for me to do that than at Martinsville.”

 

Bowyer arrives at Martinsville after finishing eighth in his home state of Kansas. The finish left him 21 points short of transferring to the Round of 8. Even outside the playoffs, Bowyer said winning a race is enough motivation for any driver the rest of this season.  

 

“I want another one of those grandfather clocks at the house,” he said, referring to the unique “trophy” awarded to race winners at Martinsville. “Each of us is here to win. That’s what the fans pay to watch and we’ll all be digging to win Sunday.”

 

Bowyer’s best Martinsville moment came in March 2018, when he dominated the 500-lap race leading 215 laps on his way to winning his 10th of 11 career victories. Bowyer celebrated by drinking Busch beer with race fans in the stands that afternoon, as well as having his young family join him in victory lane.

 

Bowyer will pilot the No. 14 BlueDEF® Ford at Martinsville this weekend. BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is one of the key elements in the process used by diesel engine builders to meet environmental regulations. DEF is not a fuel or fuel additive. Instead, when injected into the exhaust stream and passed over a catalyst, DEF helps convert harmful gasses into nitrogen gas and water vapor – two harmless and natural components of the air we breathe.

 

The Martinsville race will mark the third of three primary races this season for Bowyer with Old World Industries, the parent company of the PEAK and BlueDEF® brands. PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze served as the No. 14 sponsor in May at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and PEAK Lighting adorned the No. 14 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August.

 

PEAK’s legacy in motorsports spans 40 years and includes leading drivers such as Dale Earnhardt, Michael Waltrip and Kyle Petty. Besides Bowyer’s No. 14 car, PEAK is a partner with the Haas F1 team with drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series, Clint Bowyer Racing’s two Dirt Late Models, and drag racing’s winningest driver John Force.

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NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, the National FFA Organization and DEKALB® brand corn team up to help students cross their “finish line” with the new Left Turns for Learning agricultural scholarship. Driver Clint Bowyer completed 267 laps during the Kansas Speedway NASCAR race on October 20 to fund a $10,138 FFA scholarship.

Local FFA students from Bowyer’s hometown area were invited to an exclusive experience at the race. Students were able to participate in the DEKALB Champions of Yield festivities, including a trivia game with driver Clint Bowyer.

“With the cost of education, the Left Turns for Learning scholarship provides kids additional opportunities they normally wouldn’t have,” said Southern Lyon County FFA advisor Staci Garriott. “Clint is a local in the area, and he does phenomenal work supporting his hometown community. It’s exciting for the kids to meet and interact with him at the race. He continues to do great things for the kids, and this is evident with his involvement in this scholarship program.”

“There’s nothing better than taking the No. 14 DEKALB Ford Mustang to the track to directly benefit ag students,” said Bowyer. “DEKALB is a consistently high-performing brand, so it’s an honor to work with category leaders dedicated to performance, technology and helping current and future farmers succeed.”

The Left Turns for Learning Scholarship was created by DEKALB and Asgrow to help students achieve their goals and advance the agriculture industry by focusing on performance. The scholarship amount was determined by the number of laps Bowyer completed with the No. 14 DEKALB Ford Mustang.

“We’re really excited to partner with the National FFA and Clint to invest in the future of ag,” said Pete Uitenbroek, DEKALB Asgrow Brand Marketing Lead. “For one selected student, this scholarship not only helps them reach their “finish line,” but also illustrates how superior performance is driven by innovation, perseverance and the team supporting you.”

Eligible FFA high school seniors and college freshmen, sophomores or juniors pursuing an ag-related degree can apply for the scholarship November 1, 2019 through January 15, 2020 by visiting the National FFA website at FFA.org/scholarships*. The scholarship winner will be notified by FFA in April 2020.

Visit DEKALBAsgrow.com/LeftTurns for more info and follow the conversation with #LeftTurns4Learning #GoClintGo.

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