Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14369)

Ryan Blaney will start at the tail of the field on Sunday at Kansas Speedway after his time was disallowed by NASCAR during post-qualifying inspection on Friday.

Blaney originally posted a third-place starting spot in the final round of knockout qualifying. In rounds one and two, the NASCAR Playoff contender sat ninth in round one and fourth in round two.

The No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford sat fourth in the opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice on Friday.

“The rules are pushed to the max in every area, and today the NASCAR officials found something they didn’t like about our car,” said team co-owner Eddie Wood. “We’re not disputing their decision. We’ll own it and move on. We’ll work on our car in Saturday’s practice, line up in the back on Sunday and look forward to watching Ryan drive his way to the front.”

The team enters Kansas sitting two points ahead of Jimmie Johnson in seventh.

Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Omnicraft Auto Parts team will have to come from the rear of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway after their third-place qualifying time was disallowed because the No. 21 Fusion failed a post-qualifying inspection.

Blaney, who enters the final race of the Monster Energy Cup playoff’s Round of 12 in seventh place, had been among the fastest drivers in practice and qualifying on Friday at Kansas.

Now he’ll need all that speed to work his way up from his 40th starting spot in Sunday’s 400 miler.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that in today’s competitive environment, teams tend to take chances when it comes to preparing their cars.
“The rules are pushed to the max in every area, and today the NASCAR officials found something they didn’t like about our car,” Wood said. “We’re not disputing their decision. We’ll own it and move on.
“We’ll work on our car in Saturday’s practice, line up in the back on Sunday and look forward to watching Ryan drive his way to the front.”
Blaney and his Wood Brothers team, participating in the NASCAR playoffs for the first time, enter the final race of the Round of 12 two points ahead of eighth-place Jimmie Johnson and nine ahead of ninth-place Kyle Busch.
The Hollywood Casino 400 is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage on NBCSN.


Martin Truex Jr. will start on the pole at Kansas Speedway in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400. Truex, one of the heavy hitters gunning for this year’s championship, posted a 28.719, 188.029 mph. in the final round of knockout qualifying.

Truex enters Kansas holding his own with an already dominating season. The New Jersey native has six wins, 14 top five and 21 top 10 finishes through 31 races in 2017. The Kansas pole will be Truex’s third of the year.

Kevin Harvick will start second on the leaderboard in the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford. Harvick, entering the Hollywood Casino 400 as the defending race winner, posted a 28.772, 187.682 mph.

The California native comes into the 400-mile race with one victory, 10 top five and 18 top 10 finishes. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran has an average start of 15.4 and an average finish of 10.0 at Kansas.

Ryan Blaney rounded out the top three in round three. Blaney posted a 28.782, 187.617 in the final round of knockout qualifying. The Wood Brothers Racing Ford sat ninth in round one and fourth in round two.

Jimmie Johnson, needing to find a good run on Sunday to earn a spot into the Round of 8, missed advancing into the final round by one spot in 13th. Other drivers Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch also need to have Sunday go their way. They will start fourth and eighth on the leaderboard.

40 drivers appeared on the weekend entry list and there were no DNQs.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400. The event at the 1.5-mile oval will serve as the 32nd stop on the series tour with five races left. Kevin Harvick, who will be piloting the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford, enters the event as the defending race winner.

The entry list for Kansas Speedway features 41 entries. That means one team will not qualify for Sunday’s event. Some of the fresh faces this weekend include 00-Derrike Cope, 15-Reed Sorenson, 23-Corey LaJoie, 51-B.J. McLeod, 55-Gray Goulding, and 83-Brett Moffitt.

Many key playoff drivers enter Kansas Speedway needing a good run in order to advance into the ‘Round of Eight’. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth both come into the 1.5-mile oval outside of the cut line. Busch, a native of Las Vegas, sits seven points out of the box while teammate Matt Kenseth sits eight points behind.

“We’re going to do the same things we’ve always done – same preparation, nothing different. I think we need to go in there and do our best to be prepared and when it comes to race time, try to limit our mistakes,” said Busch. “I think that helped out there over the years and that has turned our team into a contender every time we race there, now. We’ll just do the same things this time around. It’s no different than what we typically do each and every week, though. I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) will have a good M&M’S Halloween Camry and we will keep doing what we’ve been doing well all year long and see where the points fall for us if we can’t get a win.”

“I think the main key to success there is to be fast on both sides of the run.  We’ve been really fast there before on the front side, but then maybe not as strong on the backstretch, while some people can be the other way around, said Kenseth. “I think to get restarted fast is important there in today’s world, but you also have to be versatile enough to move around the race track to be good at the end of the run as well.  Kansas is a place that you really need to be fast enough to pass, restart fast, and be good at the end of the run.  Looking ahead to this being a cut-off race this weekend, I really just take it one race at a time trying to get a win, and if you can’t get that, you just try to run the best you can to collect as many points as possible.”

Ryan Blaney and Jimmie Johnson are the last two drivers inside the cut line. Blaney enters the 400-mile event nine points to the good. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray are the last two drivers in the Round of 12 playoff grid and sit 22 and 29 points back.

One driver looking to play spoiler at Kansas Speedway will be Joey Logano. Despite missing the playoffs this year, Logano is still hungry looking to score a last-minute win of the season.

With 16 starts at the midwest oval, Logano holds two victories, six top five and boasts an average finish of 18.9. Each of these top five finishes came in his last eight races there.

The driver from Connecticut has momentum coming into the weekend after finishing fourth last weekend at Talladega and leading the field for 59 circuits.

If Derrike Cope makes the race in qualifying, he’ll make his 14th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start of the season. Cope will be piloting the No. 00 Chevrolet for StarCom Racing -- marking their debut in the premier racing series.

The driver from Washington State has 422 career starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Since his debut in 1982, Cope has two victories, six top five and 32 top 10 finishes.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. live on NBCSN. The Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Ch. 90 will carry the live radio broadcast.

Roush Fenway Racing carries its ‘Driven for a Cause’ platform, in support of breast cancer awareness, into Kansas Speedway this weekend as Trevor Bayne’s No. 6 AdvoCare Ford and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s No. 17 Fastenal Ford will both sport pink numbers this weekend.

In addition to the pink numbers on the AdvoCare and Fastenal Ford Fusions, all Roush Fenway Fords have sported ‘Driven for a Cause’ pink ribbon decals on the C-Post during the month of October.  Roush Fenway personnel have supported the cause through at track apparel, wearing #DrivenForACause ribbons each weekend.

“The pink numbers on our Fastenal Ford look awesome,” said Stenhouse.  “So many families are impacted by breast cancer, so I’m glad that we can be a part of bringing awareness to this cause.”


Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Michael McDowell are confident returning to Kansas Speedway, where they earned one of their best finishes of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season.

During last weekend’s trip to Talladega Superspeedway, McDowell ran in the top half of the field the majority of the day and ran as high as 2nd place before getting hit during “The Big One”. The damage caused him to earn his second DNF (Did Not Finish) of the 2017 MENCS season.

Though Talladega did not end with the results the team had hoped for, McDowell and LFR are confident in their 1.5-mile success from earlier this season, as they prepare for their return to Kansas this weekend.

During the team’s last trip to Kansas back in May, McDowell was able to overcome early-race adversity and finish 13th, earning LFR’s second best finish of the 2017 MENCS season. The team will once again don the Tommy Williams Drywall paint scheme on the No. 95 Chevrolet SS, just as they did the first time at Kansas earlier this year.

“Kansas was a great race for us earlier this season, and we ended up finishing 13th,” said McDowell. “For a team like us, a single-car team, that’s like a win for sure. We are definitely looking forward to going back, because it’s one of the 1.5-mile tracks that we were really good at this season. Hopefully we will have similar success when we go back this weekend.”

The Hollywood Casino 400 will take place on Sunday, October 22 at 3PM ET. Live race coverage will be on NBCSN, as well as weekend updates provided by @LFR95 on Twitter.


Aric Almirola didn't leave Kansas Speedway the way he wanted in the spring after an accident in the race sidelined him for eight weeks. A track where he and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team have shown speed, Almirola hopes to return to a good finish this weekend. Fully healed from his injury and back at it, he has no hesitation getting back on track.
Almirola has 11 Monster Energy Series starts. He scored three Top-10 finishes with his best of eighth coming in the spring of 2013 and 2014. Almirola also has experience leading the field at Kansas Speedway. In the fall race in 2012, Almirola led 69 laps and was poised for the win when a blown tire ended the team's day early. 
"I always like going to Kansas. It's a track where we've been able to compete up front in the past, so we are always excited to see if we can improve on that. I have no hesitation heading back after the accident here in the spring. It had nothing to do with the track and was just a product of hard racing. I'm fully healed and ready to head back out there. We had a good week last week and really fought for a Top-Five finish. We'll try to use that momentum this week to get a good finish as we near the end of the season."


With five races remaining in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season, Erik Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team return to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400 with a couple of points to prove.

Point No. 1 is that the pre-season goal of winning a race during Jones’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year season is still very much alive and attainable. Despite an early exit last week at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, the Furniture Row Racing team has earned very respectable averages in both starts (15.5) and finishes (16.7) after the first 31 races. Continuing to build on that now solid foundation creates the drive to achieve all they can.

“The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team has been able to learn and get better every week of the season, regardless of some of the results we’ve had,” said Jones. “Sure I’d like to get rid of some of the bad finishes we’ve had but a lot of them were out of our control so there’s really not a lot you can do about it. We keep chipping away at it and I feel confident we’re going to be ready when the opportunity comes our way.”

The second point is that the Furniture Row Racing team has been learning and progressing since the season’s first race at Kansas Speedway in May when they finished 22nd. Handling issues on the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota hampered the team’s efforts throughout the day. Jones, however, showed flashes of promise during the race, finishing ninth in the second stage and running ninth again with 60 laps remaining. A spin and later contact with another car with less than 10 laps remaining resulted in the 22nd-place finish.

“The last time we were at Kansas it was a bit of learning experience,” said Jones. “I said at the time it was something we just had to put behind us and focus on the next race, which was at Charlotte. We ended up getting our best finish of the season to date there (7th) so that showed me early in the season that our team was going to be strong.”

Jones is 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings after 31 races. He trails Joey Logano for 17th place by 45 points. Jones leads the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 256 points, six ahead of Daniel Suarez (250) and 71 ahead of Ty Dillon (185).

The 267-lap, 400-mile Hollywood 400 will consist of three stages of 80/80/107 laps (80/160/267). Sunday’s race will air live beginning at 1 p.m. MT (3 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and MRN. Qualifying (multi-car, three rounds) is scheduled for Friday at 4:15 p.m. MT (6:15 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and MRN.


If Ryan Blaney and his No. 21 Omnicraft team had their pick of race tracks to run the elimination race of the Round of 12 of the Monster Energy Cup playoffs, they’d likely pick Kansas Speedway, the site of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.

Blaney made his Cup debut at Kansas in 2014, driving a Team Penske Ford. Since moving to the Wood Brothers No. 21 the next season, Kansas has statistically been his best track.

He has three finishes of seventh or better in four Kansas starts in the No. 21 Fusion with an average finish of 7.5. He won his first Cup pole there in May, and set a career record for points earned in a single race with 51.

In that Go Bowling 400, he led 83 laps, finished third in Stage One and won Stage Two before finishing fourth at the checkered flag.

Blaney, who will carry the colors of Omnicraft for the second time this season, enters this weekend’s 400-miler seventh in the points standings, two points ahead of eighth-place Jimmie Johnson and nine ahead of ninth-place Kyle Busch. The bottom four drivers in the playoff standings will be eliminated from championship contention after Sunday’s race.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he’s happy to have come this far in the playoffs and hoping to make it to the third round.
Wood said the team will be focusing on earning stage points, beginning with practice and qualifying on Friday. A top starting spot means there are fewer drivers to pass to be among the top 10 and thereby earn points in the first stage.

Stage points have been key to the success Blaney and the No. 21 team have enjoyed throughout the season.
Through Talladega, Blaney has earned 193 stage points. He’s won four stages, plus a win at Pocono Raceway, and scored 17 top-five stage finishes and 36 top-10s.
“We saw how important stage points are last week at Talladega, and it’ll be the same this week at Kansas,” Wood said. “The 18 points Ryan earned in the first two stages at Talladega allowed us to move up four spots in the standings even after wrecking out of the race.”

Wood also said he believes his team’s battle for a spot in the Round of Eight will bring extra attention to Omnicraft, which is Ford Motor Company’s new brand of quality replacement parts for non-Ford and non-Lincoln vehicles.

The Omnicraft brand, which made its debut in January, is Ford’s first new parts brand in 50 years and will give its dealers and the Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers access to quality parts for any vehicle brought in for service.
“One of the perks of being in the playoffs is that it brings more attention to our car and its sponsor, and this weekend’s media coverage will raise awareness for the Omnicraft brand,” Wood said, adding that he’s cautiously optimistic about the upcoming weekend. “Hopefully we can build on our run at Kansas in May and make it to the Round of Eight.”
Qualifying for the Hollywood Casino 400 is set for Friday at 5:15 p.m. (6:15 p.m. Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage on NBCSN.


If Martin Truex Jr. were in need of an elixir to cure any racing woes, Kansas Speedway’s 1.5-mile track would be the perfect remedy for the Furniture Row Racing driver.

Truex does indeed light up when discussing Kansas Speedway, knowing he has a special kinship with the racetrack; it’s also the closest track to Furniture Row Racing’s home base in Denver.

“There’s something about the track’s geometry and my driving style that suit each other,” explained Truex. “Back in 2007 we went there (to Kansas) and I just figured something out about that track late in the race and ended up having the fastest car. Even during the years when our cars didn’t seem to run so well we always for whatever reason were able to go there and run strong. Whether it was the old track, the new track with the repave and now the new track being weathered back in again.”

Though Truex will advance to the next playoff round as a result of winning in Charlotte two weeks ago, he still plans to attack Kansas Speedway’s mile-and-a-half oval with the same intensity that he has demonstrated throughout the season.

“There are seven bonus points up for grabs and we will take as many as we can get,” said Truex. “Hopefully we won’t have to use the banked bonus points next round, but in the event we do, we want to get as many as we can.”

Truex, who will drive the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota in Kansas, enters the Hollywood Casino 400 first in the driver point standings.

A six-time tour winner this season, Truex is looking to add another victory by scoring the double at Kansas. He won the spring race at Kansas and called it a “personal relief” after coming so close to a victory there a number of times.

“It was an awesome feeling,” said Truex about winning at Kansas. “Anytime you have challenges at a certain place and come out on top is very gratifying. I had a number of heartbreakers at that track so to finally get that first win just reminded me how many times we’ve been so close and how good we’ve been there over the years. Because of all that it made the victory that much sweeter.”

So far the entire NASCAR Cup season has been nothing short of sweet for Truex, who leads the series with wins (6), stage wins (19), playoff bonus points (64) and laps led (1977).

Prior to last week’s wreck-fest at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Truex was sitting on an awesome playoff finishing average. In the first four races of the playoffs he collected two wins, a fifth and a fourth for a finishing average of 2.76. At Talladega he was involved in a 16-car race-ending accident with 19 laps remaining and ended up with a 23rd-place finish. His playoff finishing average dropped to 6.8.

“We need to have a strong showing this weekend to go into the next round with some positive momentum,” noted Truex. “It’s nice not to worry about this weekend, but the three races in the next round (Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix) have been getting a lot of my attention lately.”