Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13610)

Bosch Automotive Aftermarket NA contributed $2,000 in donations to its sponsored teams’ specified charities through the Giving Track program in the month of May. Through the Giving Track program, Bosch contributes $1,000 to a team-specified charity each time one of its sponsored drivers scores a 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™ victory. To date, Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have earned $2,000 and $1,000 in Giving Track contributions, respectively.

Contributions were secured by Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon:

· Kyle Busch’s victory on May 20 at the NASCAR All-Star Race earned $1,000 for the Kyle Busch Foundation, which is committed to empowering children, families and communities to overcome hardship by providing essential tools to allow them to live their best lives possible.
· Austin Dillon’s win on May 28 at the Coca-Cola 600 earned $1,000 for the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, which discovers and shares the best ways to prevent and treat severe injuries in children.

“In addition to providing the quality parts and services our sponsored teams depend on, Bosch is proud to support their charities of choice through Giving Track,” said Tony Pauly, director of advertising and brand management for Robert Bosch LLC, Automotive Aftermarket NA. “From empowering families to overcome adversity, to identifying and treating injuries face by children, these drivers support causes important to them and touch the entire community at the same time.”

Bosch involvement in motorsports dates back to the early 1900’s, and it has been equipping NASCAR teams with parts and technical advice since 1991. In 2012, when NASCAR made the move from carbureted engines to more efficient fuel injected engines, Bosch became the sport’s exclusive oxygen sensor supplier. Bosch is now the technical partner for gasoline components including oxygen sensors, fuel injectors and fuel pumps.


When Eddie and Len Wood head west this weekend for the races at Sonoma Raceway, they’ll travel by jet airplane.

But on that flight their minds likely will wander back to the days when they drove the team hauler to road course races at another California track, Riverside International Raceway.

Back in the day, Eddie and Len Wood, now the co-owners of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney, made that long trek in the company of some older members of the team, like their father Glen Wood, uncle Leonard Wood or a crewmember like Kenny Martin.
“We always had someone older with us,” Eddie Wood said. “It sounds like a lot of work to drive that far, but it really wasn’t. Those trips were some of our favorite times in the sport. It was like a game figuring out how long it would take us to get to the next town.”
The Wood Brothers enjoyed great success at Riverside, winning eight times – four with David Pearson, three with Dan Gurney and another in 1967 with Parnelli Jones in a No. 115 Ford that was initially entered by Bill Stroppe but prepared and serviced by the Wood Brothers.
They also have had some strong runs at Sonoma, including a runner-up finish in 2005 with Ricky Rudd driving.
For that race, the Motorcraft team and then-crew chief Michael “Fatback” McSwain used the same chassis that Rudd had driven to victory at Sonoma three years earlier while driving for Robert Yates.
Len Wood recalled that the car had been cut down to the frame and stored at Yates’ shop. But McSwain and Rudd liked it, so the Woods purchased the chassis, and the team built it into a road-racing car.

 “The seat was moved to the right, and a lot of other changes were made to adapt it to road courses,” Len Wood said.
Rudd qualified 20th, but the car proved to be much better than that in the race.
As the laps wound down, McSwain, considered by many to be one of the best strategists during his time in the business, made a decision to call Rudd to pit road for fresh tires and fuel as soon as he was in a window to make it to the end of the race.
As other drivers stopped, Rudd cycled into the lead.
He held the top spot for 18 laps before Tony Stewart, riding on fresher rubber, passed him for the win with 11 laps to go.
McSwain said the decision to pit was easy for him.
“It was a gamble, but I wasn’t scared to take it,” he said. “Some crew chiefs worry that they might lose their jobs by taking gambles. But I was more worried about winning than I was about my job.”
McSwain also pointed out that even though the runner-up finish was due in large part to strategy, there was more to it than that.

 “It wasn’t like we had a 40th-place car and lucked into a good finish,” he said. “The car was good all day.”
Eddie Wood said that McSwain had a knack for making good strategy calls and for being able to communicate well with his drivers.

Now the Wood Brothers are racing at Sonoma with a young Blaney at the wheel of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion and with Jeremy Bullins on the pit box as crew chief.
Although Blaney has run just two times on road courses, once each at Sonoma and Watkins Glen last year, he has a road-course win in the Camping World Truck Series at Bowmanville, Ont., and two top-three finishes in Xfinity Series races on road courses at Mid-Ohio and Road America.

“It’ll be Ryan’s second Cup race at Sonoma, and he has some other road-course races under his belt,” Wood said. “I feel pretty good about the weekend.”
Qualifying for Sunday’s 110-lap race is set for Saturday at 11:45 p.m. (2:45 Eastern Time) and the race is scheduled to start just after noon (3 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage on FS1.


Set to make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) debut this weekend at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, veteran road racer Josh Bilicki will have plenty of support when he takes the green flag in Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350.

Officials from Rick Ware Racing announced today that The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, and Marriott Companies have both pledged their support for Bilicki and will adorn the team’s No. 51 Chevrolet SS for the 110-lap race.

The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView™ digital agriculture platform helps farmers sustainably increase their productivity with digital tools. The platform is now on more than 100 million crop acres across the United States, Canada and Brazil, with more than 100,000 U.S. farmers engaging in Climate's digital tools.

Backed by the most powerful data science engine and most extensive field research network in the agriculture industry, the Climate FieldView platform delivers customized insights that help farmers make data-driven decisions with confidence to maximize yield potential, improve efficiency and manage risk.

“We are more than thrilled to support Josh Bilicki and Rick Ware Racing for this exciting event,” said Christy Toedebusch, senior director of brand marketing for The Climate Corporation. “The Climate Corporation team, alongside many of our Climate FieldView farmer customers, will be cheering Josh on. We hope he takes the checkered flag!”

Additionally, Marriott Companies, a longtime support of Bilicki in other forms of Motorsports has leaped about the opportunity to make their NASCAR debut and will serve as a major associate for the 16th Cup race of the season.

Marriott Companies is a drywall distributor, commercial masonry, and concrete contractor located in Southeastern Wisconsin.  Founder Jim Marriott, who started his career as an apprentice in the masonry field, built the business from the ground up.

Today, Marriott is one of the largest and most successful drywall, masonry, and concrete companies in the area – thanks in large part to Marriott’s team of highly skilled and dedicated leaders who share a common goal – deliver the absolute best quality for their clients.

“I am proud to have Josh and Rick Ware Racing representing Marriott Companies of Milwaukee,” said Marriott Companies president Jim Marriott. “I hope Josh can showcase his true racing talent, and deliver a great finish for all of the Marriott Companies employees, customers and friends.”

Before leaping to the NASCAR XFINITY Series last season with Obaika Racing, Bilicki honed his skills on road courses throughout the country successfully building a resume in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), TA2 Series, NASA Pro Racing, among others.

Now, thanks to the support of the Climate FieldView platform and Marriott Companies, Bilicki will compete in his biggest challenge yet against some of the best race car drivers in the world at the sport’s pinnacle level.

It’s starting to set in.

“I’m very excited to bring two companies to the NASCAR industry – Marriott Companies and The Climate Corporation,” offered Bilicki. “Jim Marriott and Marriott Companies have been a supporter of mine for many years, so it means a lot to have him help me take this next step in my racing career. 

“The Climate FieldView platform is a relatively new software tool for farmers, so I think that fits very well with the NASCAR fan base.”

Outside of racing, Bilicki is an avid road racing instructor at Road America.

Rick Ware Racing will compete in their 13th Cup Series race of the season and the first of two road courses in 2017 on Sunday, Jun. 25. The event will be broadcasted live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), the Performance Racing Network (PRN) and SiriusXM Satellite Radio beginning at 12:00 p.m. PT (3:00 p.m. ET).


By now most of us have read or heard of “The Article” from USA Today that was written following Sunday’s Firekeepers 400 at Michigan in which Kyle Larson was dubbed the “Poster Boy”. While I disagree with this assertion of the article there are parts in the article that have been attacked through social media, and that is where I have to agree with the article in some form.

Is it possible to disagree with parts of an article but agree with others, sure there is, this is a prime example. However this week the entirety of the article has been attacked with outrage but offered no constructive conversation or solution to any of the charges laid forth.

So let’s start with some of the facts stated. There is an identity crisis within NASCAR, one of which rivalries are not being developed both on and off the track.

Today we see drivers hanging out, partying together, working out and going on bike rides both while at the track on weekends and during the off-week. They working together on multiple business projects as partners or golf and play basketball during the week.

All of this has developed a friendlier atmosphere in which drivers and teams regardless of affiliation are more apt to go and have a conversation post-race than to engage in an on/off-track rivalry.

Even Brian France has addressed the situation saying that NASCAR is a contact sport on multiple occasions, however we are seeing less and less of that occurring.

As for the fans in the stands and start times this is obvious a very complex issue all and into itself.

Let’s address the ticket situation first, this past week at Michigan there were reportedly 45 – 50,000 in the stands for a track that seats 71,000. This is already after removing stands in recent years and not counting infield, suites and others possibly at the track.

Each and every track is under the same pressure, in a world of increasing entertainment opportunities; they fight for that ever shrinking entertainment dollar.  But the problem goes way beyond the track itself, in many aspects beyond their control. Somewhat two fold here which also in part is due to the start times which I will address in a moment.

As a matter of practice most venues market to what they believe is their optimal base, fans within a day’s drive or approximately 300 miles from the venue. Anyone outside of that scope will more likely be looking for and needing accommodations in the form of hotels, motels, camping at the track or surrounding area.

Accommodations are the single most expensive part of the weekend. Going to an event at a track such as Martinsville, Bristol, Dover or New Hampshire fans will find hotel prices sky rocket on weekends or having to drive up to an hour plus to find reasonable rates.

This is something tracks have attempted to address over the years with little to no success in many cases with many of these weekends pushing very high triple-digit weekend rates and mandatory minimum stays.

One such attempt recently is NASCAR as the sanctioning body is partnering with Hotels for Hope as a way to help in the search for hotels but also as a way to help the NASCAR Foundation.

For the start times, this was addressed not only in the article but across social media this weekend including references from FOX own staff.

This including several pit reporters questioning the late start times and even Mike Joy a lead booth announcer with other industry insiders saying late start times were tried nearly years ago and never moved the needle in terms of ratings to quote Joy himself on Twitter.

Joy further went on to explain that the late start times were reducing the effectiveness of the optimal ticket sales radius in a conversation with ESPN’s Bob Pockrass.

While this was done to help out those on the west coast, even Indy Car driver Graham Rahal questioned the late times in response to a tweet from Dale Jr.

Wholesale these are two issues that we will need to come to grips on and find an even balance on, not everyone will be happy, which is always going to be true.

The solution to this is going to be moderately earlier races in the day with a somewhat standard start time to allow fan attending to plan and make their way back home from Sunday events to go to work on Monday, later races ensure lower ticket sale and smaller optimal sales radius.

Sure, there will be those who will always choose to take that next day off, but with the economy and work environment ever shrinking its prudent NASCAR and stakeholders remain focused on those attending events weekly.

In turn this also helps TV, the later the race in the day the more people who tune out. Putting a race in the middle of the afternoon on the east coast during the summer, most fans have moved on and going other places.

Give them the earlier race to watch and their afternoons back to enjoy other entertainment it’s a win-win for all.

In all as a sport we attacked the article when in reality we always ask for solutions. It’s time to get back to looking for those solutions.

Michael McDowell will be returning to his roots at Sonoma Raceway for the first road course race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cups Series (MENCS) season.

McDowell, who cut his teeth road racing, started racing go-karts at a young age before graduating to open-wheel racing. He secured a championship for Formula Renault USA in 2002, and earned the Rookie of the Year award in the Star Mazda Series in 2003. He went on to win the championship in the Star Mazda Series the next year with seven wins and six poles.

It wasn’t until 2008 that McDowell jumped into the driver’s seat of a MENCS and NASCAR XFINITY Series car. This week McDowell is looking forward to a strong run at Sonoma, as he and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) have secured five Top-25 finishes in a row.

“Sonoma is a track I have a lot of experience on,” said McDowell. “I grew up racing around the California area, so it’s kind of like another home race for me. We’ve got a lot of friends and family that will be there.

It should be a good race – road courses typically are for us. Everything has to happen just perfectly in order for a good outcome. I’m pretty confident in all of our guys, and I think it will be a good weekend.”

McDowell’s last stint on a road course was the Road America 180, where he captured his first NASCAR XFINITY Series win during the 2016 season.

LFR is also excited to announce the return of K-LOVE as the primary sponsor of their No. 95 Chevrolet SS for the second time this year.

K-LOVE joined LFR earlier in the season for the Daytona 500, the MENCS season opener, where McDowell earned a Top-15 finish.

The Toyota / Save Mart 350 will take place on Sunday, June 25 at 3PM ET. Live race coverage will be provided by FS1. Race fans can follow LFR on Twitter @LFR95 for race weekend updates.


Erik Jones has taken advantage of the latest in technology to prepare for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 as well as a two-day side trip to Utah.

The NASCAR Cup Series rookie driver has never driven a lap on the 10-turn, 1.99-mile Sonoma Raceway road course nor driven a lap in a Cup car on a road course. So last Tuesday the driver of the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota did the next best thing by spending most of the morning on a race simulator to gain some experience that he believes will pay big dividends over the weekend.

“I don’t do a ton of work on the simulator but I did spend about four hours there making laps and learning everything I could,” said Jones. “I think it’s helpful. It gives you a visual of the track and a few marks and a few shift points and stuff. I won’t totally rely on the information but, for a road course, it’s pretty accurate. It will definitely give me some kind of mark or point to go off of when I get in there and do the real thing.”

The Furniture Row Racing driver does have five road course starts in NASCAR’s national series: one win (2015) and a third-place finish (2014) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Canadian Tire Park in Ontario, Canada; one start each in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series at Watkins Glen International (finished 12th), Mid-Ohio (finished sixth) and Road America (finished 21st).

Jones, along with Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex, Jr., their crew chiefs Chris Gayle and Cole Pearn, and fellow Toyota driver Daniel Suarez, stopped in Utah for two days on the way to Sonoma to spend time with members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard and Speedskating teams on behalf of Toyota.

They spent Tuesday training with members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams at the Center of Excellence in Park City. The Toyota team members and members of the media participated in workouts and simulator exercises. Jones was a quick study on the alpine simulator, especially considering he has never skied, virtually or in the real world.

“It was great to see the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team athletes and the dedication they have to be successful at the highest level of the sport,” said Jones. “We got to participate in a few of their routines and I definitely liked the downhill ski simulator the best. I’ve never skied before so it took a little getting used to but I got the hang of it and would love to try it again.”

Wednesday will be spent at the U.S. Ski Jump training facility in Park City and the Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City with the U.S. Speedskating team. Toyota is the Official Automotive and Mobility Partner of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team.

The Byron, Mich., native is currently 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 15 races. He is eight points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for 15th place and 52 behind Joey Logano for 10th.

The 110-lap, 350-kilometer Toyota/Save Mart 350 will consist of three stages of 25/25/60 laps (laps 26/50/110). Sunday’s race will air live beginning at 1 p.m. MT (3 p.m. ET) on Fox Sports 1, SiriusXM 90 and PRN. Qualifying (multi-car, three rounds) is scheduled for Saturday at 12:45 p.m. MT (2:45 p.m. ET) on FS1.


Kevin Harvick will drive the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for the third time this year as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the first of two road-course races on the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule – Sunday’s Save Mart 350k at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

The demands on both man and machine throughout a road-course race can test even the most talented drivers and sophisticated mechanical equipment. Thankfully, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion has an equally impressive partner in Mobil 1, which is known for standing up to the toughest challenges.

Mobil 1 is the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR” and the Mobil brand of lubricant products are the “Official Lubricants of NASCAR.” Mobil 1 engine oils have long been the lubricant of choice for race teams competing in the most demanding and popular motorsports series around the globe.

The history of Mobil 1 in motorsports dates back to rally competition during the early 1970s. However, its involvement in racing became more official in 1978 through sponsorship of the Williams Formula One team and the 1987 sponsorship of Rusty Wallace’s No. 27 car in NASCAR.

From that time, the presence of Mobil 1 on racetracks and circuits has grown by global proportions. Today, Mobil 1 is relied upon for its ability to deliver exceptional engine performance and protection even under some of the most extreme conditions. Automotive technicians, racecar drivers, team owners and the world’s leading automotive manufacturers can all testify to the advanced technology delivered by Mobil 1 lubricants.

This weekend will be the third of six races with Mobil 1 as the primary partner on the No. 4 Ford in 2017. Mobil 1 also appeared on the No. 4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March and again at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May. It will appear as the primary partner of the No. 4 Ford for three additional races starting July 31 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, followed by appearances Sept. 24 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Nov. 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Harvick, ranked fourth in Cup Series points, also knows how to stand up to the demands of road-course racing. While he is still searching for his first trip to victory lane at Sonoma in the NASCAR Cup Series, he first visited victory lane at Sonoma in the K&N Pro Series West in 1998, when he started third and beat Brandon Ash to the finish line by .154 of a second, leading only the last lap of the race.

Harvick is slated to make his first K&N Pro Series West appearance since 2007 and his first West Series appearance at Sonoma since 1998 this weekend, when he drives the No. 4 Fields, Inc. Ford for Jefferson Pitts Racing.

The Bakersfield, California native recorded his best Cup Series finish at Sonoma in 2007, when he finished second to Juan Pablo Montoya by 4.097 seconds. He finished third at Sonoma in 2003 and 2010, and fourth in 2015.

Harvick scored his only Cup Series road-course win at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in 2006, when he led 28 laps and beat SHR co-owner Tony Stewart to the finish line by .892 of a second. However, he scored back-to-back road-course wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2007 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal and Watkins Glen.

This weekend, Harvick is looking to match his road-course prowess with that of Mobil 1’s to score his first NASCAR Cup Series victory of 2017 at the 10-turn, 1.99 mile Sonoma circuit to secure his spot in the Cup Series playoffs.


Cassill on Sonoma

"I enjoy going to Sonoma. That's a good race track for us. We've got Love's on board, and they've had David Gilliland in their car in the past, and he's a phenomenal road racer, particularly at Sonoma. So I'll have to see what I can learn from our data from what he's done there in the past.

"Sonoma's always been challenging for me. But last year, I felt like we raced significantly better than we qualified. Some of the cars that I couldn't keep up with in practice and qualifying, I was right with them during the race. So, I'll be doing a lot of preparation ahead of time to make sure I'm where I need to be when we get there on Friday."


Ragan on Sonoma

"Road racing has been a lot of fun for me the last couple years. It's one of those deals where something clicks in your brain, and you're able to have a good car and qualify well and run a little better than you have in the past. And that happened to me during the 2014 or 2015 seasons. Things just started coming together for me a little better on road courses, being able to qualify and race in the top 10, top 15. Sonoma's a very technical track, but it's rewarding when you get into a rhythm and have some fun. 

"It's a marquee event for us and we take a lot of pride in it. If I make good decisions during the race, we can have a good finish in our Shriners Hospitals for Children Ford. We're visiting the kids at the Sacramento hospital on Thursday and we're going to have a patient from the hospital at the race on Sunday, so it will be a big weekend for us."

Meet David
Sunday, June 25, 8:40am - Fanatics Trackside Superstore (Sonoma Raceway Infield)


Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers Racing Team will be back to their Motorcraft/Quick Lane livery when they head to Sonoma Raceway in northern California for Sunday’s Save Mart 350 road race.

Blaney celebrated his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in Pocono with a Michigan paint scheme dedicated to Omnicraft, Ford Motor Company’s new all-makes, all-models replacement parts brand. This week, clad again in the red and white of Motorcraft, he returns to the challenging twists and turns of Sonoma where he started 26th and finished 23rd a year ago.

This week’s race in wine country will only be Blaney’s second race at the famed road course on Sears Point. The Wood Brothers have had 20 more attempts at Sonoma than their driver, posting their best finish in 2005, a second place with Ricky Rudd behind the wheel. The Woods have a total of four top-10 finishes at Sonoma.

The action gets underway at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Friday with practice that can be seen on FS1.

RYAN BLANEY On Sonoma Raceway:

“Sonoma was probably one of the toughest race tracks for me to get ahold of. It’s a really difficult road course, but I had a lot of fun there. It’s one of the most difficult places to try to be smooth but we’ll try to get better at that this year. Hopefully we can go back and try to get better at that race track.”

On the Track’s S Turns:

“The S’s are very hard to get through. It’s a big kind of momentum area. It’s different than the front part of the race track where it’s heavy braking and kind of hilly. Then you get to the S’s and there’s not a lot of braking you’re just trying to be smooth through there and carry as much speed as possible and use the curves to your advantage. That’s something that I struggled with a good bit in my first race there last year.”

Ford Performance PR

A marketing partnership between Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) teams Rick Ware Racing (RWR) and Premium Motorsports will allow veteran short track racer Tommy Regan to make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma (Calf.) Raceway.

Regan, a part-time competitor in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) brings a new marketing partner and reasonable expectations aboard the No. 55 Chevrolet for the 110-lap road course event.

Born in Pleasanton, Calif, not far from Sonoma, Regan will be returning to his home turf to kick off the next chapter in his NASCAR career and fulfilling his lifelong dream of competing in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

Thanks to RWR, Jay Robinson of Premium Motorsports and new marketing partner Oscaro, Regan is determined to make an entrance.

Oscaro is the leading automotive online retailer satisfying millions of customers worldwide. Oscaro combines exceptional customer support with a rich catalog with over 1 million OE quality parts from premium parts manufacturers.

Founded in 2001, Oscaro has since grown into a multinational company with close to 1,000 employees.

Capri Tools which offers deep selection of precision torque tools and torque screwdriver for professionals in the Automotive, Aerospace, Industrial, Oil and Gas industry will serve as an associate marketing partner for the 16th race of the year.

“I’m very humbled by this opportunity to compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with Rick Ware Racing and Premium Motorsports this weekend, said Regan. “Our goal is simple. Go to Sonoma, be as competitive as possible and have a solid showing for everyone at Oscaro and Capri Tools.”

Rick Ware Racing will compete in their 13th MENCS race of the season and the first of two road courses in 2017 on Sunday, Jun. 25. The event will be broadcasted live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), the Performance Racing Network (PRN) and SiriusXM Satellite Radio beginning at 12:00 p.m. PT (3:00 p.m. ET).