Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13445)

 

 

Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team took another big step in their building process by winning the pole for Saturday’s GoBowling.com 400 at Kansas Speedway.

It was Blaney’s first career Cup pole, and it came in his 65th race. It was the 117th pole for his Wood Brothers team, which has now won poles with 12 drivers, including team founder Glen Wood, who won the team’s first pole at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 12, 1958, and went on to win the team’s next five poles and 14 altogether. The most recent pole winner before Blaney was Ricky Rudd, who earned the pole at Talladega Superspeedway on April 25, 2004.

Blaney, who has qualified on the outside pole three times this season, said it was “really nice” to finally earn the top starting spot.
 
“We have been second three times this year and they have all been really close,” he said. “It is nice to be on the other side of it. I can’t be more proud of everyone on the 21 team.”
 
One of the keys to his success on Friday at Kansas – and in earlier qualifying sessions this season - was his team’s ability to make the car faster for each of the three rounds of knockout qualifying.
 
In qualifying, Blaney was sixth fastest in the first round with a lap at 188.798 miles per hour and fourth best in the second round with a lap at 189.480 mph. The he ran a lap at 189.600 mph to take the pole.
 
“We got better and better each round,” Blaney said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
  
On Friday, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team was among the leaders in practice as well, posting the second-fastest lap in opening practice and the fourth-best in the final Happy Hour practice.
Blaney explained that his team has improved since last year due in large part to hard work over the off-season and a lot of support from Ford Motor Co.
 
“Ford and everybody have made a big dedication to our team, really all the Ford teams,” he said.

“They have stepped up. I think you see it this year, not only in qualifying but racing as well.
 
“That is what it boils down to. It is nice to be part of a team that is so hardworking and dedicated to be faster every week. It feels nice as a driver.”
 
Starting just behind Blaney are three other Ford drivers in the top six - outside pole-sitter Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch.
 
Blaney said that while he’s especially proud of the pole, Saturday’s race is another matter altogether.
 
“Obviously they are two completely separate things, and you can’t set your hopes too high from getting the pole or starting well,” he said. “The race will be completely different when it cools down tomorrow night. Race trim will be completely different, but I thought our race trim car [in practice] was pretty good to where we can make minor adjustments on it.”
 
Blaney also said that he and crew chief Jeremy Bullins have a fair amount of experience at Kansas, where they both made their Cup debut in 2014.
 
“I feel like we have good notes here from previous years to look back on and adjust accordingly to what we need,” he said. “That is another thing we have done well this year. We have qualified well but we can adjust from practice to the race to be able to run up front and make minor adjustments instead of throwing everything at it.
 
“I think we have a decent shot at it. I just can’t really tell you right now. I will let you know about Lap 30 tomorrow.”
  
The GoBowling.com 400 is scheduled to start just after 6:30 p.m. Saturday (7:30 Eastern Time) with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1.

WBR PR

KANSAS CITY, KS - Ryan Blaney scored his first career pole in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas Speedway. A lap of 28.481 seconds, 189.600 mph was what got the job done for the driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Ford.

Blaney ended the first round sixth on the board with 28.602 seconds, 188.798 MPH. The 23-year-old then moved up to fourth in the second round with 28.499-second, 189.480-MPH run.

“I didn’t know during the first rounds if we would have enough,” Blaney said after the qualifying session. “The (No.) 18 (Busch) and (No.) 4 were really fast. We got our car better and better each round and that is what you want.”

In Blaney’s second full-time MENCS campaign, he and the No. 21 team have turned things around. He attributes it to their hard work during the offseason. “Ford and everybody have made a big dedication to our team,” Blaney said. “They have stepped up. I think you see it this year, not only in qualifying but racing as well. It’s nice to be a part of a team that is so hardworking and dedicated to be faster every week. It feels nice as a driver.”

Joining Blaney on the front row will be Joey Logano, who posted his eighth top-10 start of the 2017 MENCS season and 10th in 16 races here at Kansas. The driver of the No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford ended the first qualifying round in the eighth-place position with 28.664 seconds, 188.390 MPH. In round two, Logano finished third with a time and speed of 28.499, 189.480. A time of 28.490 seconds and a speed of 189.540 MPH are what got him the second front-row starting position.

Logano knows it could have been better. “I can think of a couple spots when I dissect it where we could have had more speed,” he said after the run. “The greedy side of me wants the pole so bad but the realistic side says we made huge improvements from practice so I’m proud of that.”

Martin Truex Jr. will start third in tomorrow’s race after a lap and speed of 28.541 seconds, 189.201 MPH. The driver of the No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota ended round one with 28.703 seconds, 188.134 MPH. In round two, Truex Jr. improved to sixth with 28.526 seconds, 189.301 MPH.

“This place has been good and bad,” Truex Jr. said following qualifying. “We’ve led a lot of laps here and had a really good track record running well and haven’t been able to win yet. Hopefully the blue (Auto-Owners Insurance, paint scheme) colors bring us some good luck this weekend.”

Kyle Busch led round one with a lap and speed of 29.373 seconds and 190.322 MPH as well as round two in the No. 18 M&M's Red Nose Toyota. His second-round lap-and-speed combo was 28.331 seconds, 190.604 MPH. 

While there will be no drivers going home, a total of 11 had inspection issues and did not put down a qualifying lap.

The Go Bowling 400 begins tomorrow night at 6:30 PM CT (track time) on FS1, MRN and Sirius XM Channel 90.

 

QUALIFYING RESULTS

Round 1

1. Kyle Busch

2. Kevin Harvick

3. Aric Amirola

4. Kyle Larson

5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

6. Ryan Blaney

7. Kurt Busch

8. Joey Logano

9. Martin Truex Jr.

10. Jamie McMurray

Round 2

1. Kyle Busch

2. Kevin Harvick

3. Joey Logano

4. Ryan Blaney

5. Kyle Larson

6. Martin Truex Jr.

7. Chase Elliott

8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

9. Kurt Busch

10. Jamie McMurray

Round 3 & Top 10 Starters

1. Ryan Blaney

2. Joey Logano

3. Martin Truex J.

4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

5. Kyle Busch

6. Kurt Busch

7. Denny Hamlin

8. Kevin Harvick

9. Kyle Larson

10. Chase Elliott

Two drivers found themselves into trouble in the opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice for Saturday’s Go Bowling 400. The incidents involved Erik Jones on the frontstretch and Michael McDowell with an engine failure.

The No. 77 5-hour Energy Toyota team repaired the side skirts and will not go to their backup car.

“Well I was just a little bit free and I moved up a little bit in (turns) three and four to try to keep the lap time in it and it started getting away from me some and eventually just had to kind of give up on it,” said Jones after the incident. “It’s already getting too free and there was kind of no coming back. So just gave up, spun out and you know after that luckily we didn’t really catch the grass too bad and didn’t get too much damage. We’ll get if fixed up and get back out for second practice.”

Jones, who made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2015 at Kansas, sits 19th in points going into this weekend’s event. Through 10 races in 2017, the Michigan native holds one top 10 finish.

Michael McDowell blew an engine during the opening practice session that ended the practice about three minutes early. The No. 95 Tommy Williams Drywall Chevrolet crew was forced to make an engine change following the incident.

“I’m not really sure, something broke, something big,” said McDowell. “It was just a little vibration and then the motor blew right there. I’m not sure what happened if a belt came off or something like that, but we have a really good TWD Chevy, it was really fast there on that long run.  We didn’t make it out that first part of practice and we weren’t able to put up a big lap, but this car is really good.  So, we will swap the motor out, we will be fine.”

NASCAR veterans Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kyle Larson also had close calls during the practice session.

KANSAS CITY, KS - The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series motors into the Midwest and the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway for race No. 11, the Go Bowling 400. The asphalt surface with a banking of 17-20 degrees in the turns and, nine to 11 degrees in the front stretch and five degrees in the backstretch has been in existence since 2001 and witnessed a repave following the 2012 STP 400.

The race will consist of 267 laps and three stages. Stage one will end on lap 80 while stage two will finish on lap 160. The final 107 laps will make up the final stage.

Kyle Busch, the defending race winner who led 69 laps to earn the checkered flag, has yet to make a trip to Victory Lane in 2017. A year ago, he entered Kansas with wins at the Texas and Martinsville spring races already under his belt. So far this season, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Red Nose Toyota has led a total of 462 laps in 10 races. Busch has also scored three top fives and four top 10’s.

After struggling at this facility in the past, and then finally winning a year ago, Busch is ready to return.

“We seem to have gotten a hold of this place,” he said at a charity event at the track a day ago. “Hopefully we don’t screw that up this time around and can continue our strong runs and our fast pace of being able to have a shot to win.”

Along with the spring race this weekend, the speedway also is home to one of the MENCS playoff races in the fall. According to Busch, there is a difference in the way the track handles during the May and October events.

“For me, it behaved a lot different this year,” he explained. “(During) the night race, it seemed like you had grip the entire run. You could really abuse the car and abuse the tires and everything just kind of stayed with you. In the fall race, when it was sunny and warmer out, you really had to take care of your tires and kind of keep the heat out of them so you weren’t sliding around as much and then falling back on the longer run.”

While Busch is yet to get a race win, he does have a stage win.

Kyle Larson is currently the points leader. The driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet has one win to his credit at Auto Club Speedway. After last week’s GEICO 500 at Talladega where he finished 12th, he has accumulated a total of 428 points this season as well as two stage wins.

Martin Truex Jr. narrowly missed winning last year’s Go Bowling 400. He led a dominating 172 laps before a loose wheel dampened his chances. One would think that the he driver of the No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota would be nervous looking at a track of missed opportunities. However, that is not the case for the Mayetta, NJ native driving for Colorado’s Furniture Row Racing.

“I get excited to come here,” Truex Jr. said earlier this morning. The only time that you go to a racetrack that you’ve had success at that you feel confident that you can be competitive or have a shot at winning no matter what the results have been, I think you have that confidence as a driver that you get excited to go there and hopefully be able to turn it around.”

Home-state favorite Clint Bowyer is another to watch out for. After a less-than-deal season a year ago, the driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford has seen improvement since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. In 10 races already, the Emporia, Kan. native has netted two top-five finishes along with four top-10’s.

It has been 159 races since Bowyer has won but that is not something he is thinking about.

“I never think about how long it has been,” he said before the first MENCS practice session. “I think about how you are going to get it done. The biggest thing is that you are lined back up with an organization ready to do that. Each and every week, you go to the race track knowing you have a chance to win the race.”

Coverage of the Go Bowling 400 will start at 6:30 PM CT (track time) on FS1, MRN and Sirius XM Channel 90.

As a nod to DEW Nation, who loves mixing DEW flavors to create one-of-a-kind drink concoctions, Mtn Dew is teaming up with decade-long partner Dale Earnhardt Jr. during his final racing season to introduce Mtn Dew® DEW-S-A – a new soda created from a combination of three fan favorites: Mtn Dew® Code Red®, Mtn Dew White Out® and Mtn Dew Voltage®. The result of the bold new Mtn Dew DEW-S-A is a united blast of flavor, guaranteed to give DEW Nation a red, white and blue way to enjoy summer.

“We’re excited to celebrate America and bring a brand new, limited-edition flavor to DEW Nation with Mtn Dew DEW-S-A – the perfect fan-inspired flavor for the summer,” said Chauncey Hamlett, senior director of marketing, Mountain Dew. “We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mtn Dew DEW-S-A than with our decade-long partner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who brings the perfect blend of professionalism, humor and fun to every project, this one especially.”

The star-spangled launch of Mtn Dew DEW-S-A will feature a comedic take on a late-night TV infomercial starring “pitchman” Earnhardt – and a fully functioning call-in number – 1-877-DEWSA-88 – for fans to hear from NASCAR’s 14-time most popular driver and to purchase the product, while supplies last. Fans can check out the infomercial here and continue to follow @MountainDew on Twitter for more content featuring Earnhardt.

The fun continues at Kansas Speedway on May 13 with a two-minute, in-show feature, a 30-second TV commercial and a special Mtn Dew DEW-S-A paintout on Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet SS. Red, white and blue in-store displays across the country will feature the same bold star-spangled graphics, but will be easier for fans to see than the paintout on Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports car as it zooms by at nearly 200 mph.

“It’s awesome that Mtn Dew listened to the fans who were already creating the red, white and blue DEW-S-A mix,” Earnhardt said. “I had a blast filming the infomercial with the DEW team and hope my ‘pitchman skills’ will help fill coolers across the country with DEW-S-A this summer.”

Mtn Dew DEW-S-A is available now through August at retailers across the country in both 20 oz. bottles and 12-packs of 12 oz. cans, with 100 calories per 12 ounces. To join the conversation, follow @MountainDew on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat and use the hashtag #DEWSA, or visit http://www.mountaindew.com/products/dew-s-a.

PepsiCo PR

The Go Bowling 400 is just the 11th race of Erik Jones’ NASCAR Cup Series rookie season but two years have already passed since the Furniture Row Racing driver made his first start in stock car racing’s top series at Kansas Speedway.

The 20-year-old Byron, Mich., native was just 18 on May 9, 2015, when he substituted for the injured Kyle Busch in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota Camry. Jones qualified a very respectable 12th, led lap 82 and was running fourth with fewer than 75 laps remaining when he crashed in Turn 4. He was able to return to the action but finished 25 laps down in the 40th position.

“That first NASCAR Cup Series race was an interesting experience,” said Jones. “It came about very quickly. I didn’t even know I was going to be running the car at Kansas Speedway until maybe two weeks before so I didn’t really have a lot of time to prepare. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It let me be wide open and go into it with a clear head to do the best I could. It ended up being a good experience and I learned a lot. We had a really fast car that day and it’s a weekend I won’t ever forget.”

Jones has two other starts at the 1.5-mile tri-oval in Kansas City, Kan. He qualified on the pole and finished 11th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on May 8, 2015, and last October 15 started second and finished 15th in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

Furniture Row Racing’s No. 77 5-hour ENERGY team participated in a Goodyear Tire test May 9-10 at Kentucky Speedway. The two-day test on the 1.5-mile tri-oval in Sparta, Ky., was in preparation for July 8 Quaker State 400 NASCAR Cup Series race but also provided insight for this week’s race.

“This week’s test at Kentucky Speedway was really good for the 5-hour ENERGY team,” continued Jones. “We learned some things that we think will benefit us this weekend as well as the upcoming one-and-a-half-mile tracks like Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was nice to get some data on a repaved track like what Kansas Speedway is as well, so we the goal is to use that information to get our season going back in the right direction.”

Jones is currently 20th in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series driver standings. His 200 points places him five behind Matt Kenseth for 19th and 27 behind Kurt Busch for 15th.

Jones is third in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, one point behind Ty Dillon and nine behind Toyota Racing teammate Daniel Suarez.

The 267-lap, 400.5-mile Go Bowling 400 will consist of three stages of 80/80/107 laps (laps 80/160/267). In each of the first two stages, drivers finishing in the top-10 will receive championship points (10 to 1) with the winner receiving one playoff point. The overall race winner will earn 40 championship points and five playoff points. Playoff points accumulated during the season will carry through the first three of the four playoff rounds.

Saturday’s race will air live beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on the Fox network, SiriusXM 90 and MRN.  Qualifying (single-vehicle, two rounds) is scheduled for Friday at 6:45 p.m. ET on FS1.

FRR PR

Just days after a dramatic win at Talladega Superspeedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing have announced a multi-race partnership with Little HUG Fruit Barrels. The iconic barrel-shaped fruit drink will serve as a primary partner for two races with Stenhouse and the No. 17 team in June at the Monster Mile of Dover and the Tricky Triangle of Pocono.

“This is even more great news,” said Stenhouse, who scored his first NASCAR premiere Series win on Sunday at Talladega. “I loved the Little HUG fruit barrels growing up, and it was a good day when mom would put one of those in our lunches. It will be a lot of fun reaching for one to cool down at the track on a hot summer day.

“It’s been a crazy week for sure,” added Stenhouse. “But, part of our success is a strong partner base that has remained loyal to myself, Roush Fenway and our 17 team.  We are very pleased to have Little HUG join that group, and we can’t wait to get them on the track and hopefully we’ll put the 17 back in victory lane soon.”

“We are so excited to partner with Ricky for the upcoming June races and watch some awesome racing in the Little HUG No. 17,” said Ilene Bergenfeld, CMO Harvest Hill Beverage Company.  “Ricky and the whole No. 17 team have been amazing ambassadors of our sister brands SunnyD, Juicy Juice and now Little HUG.  The whole Little HUG team looks forward to giving Ricky lots of Little HUGs in Victory Lane!”

Stenhouse is currently 12th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings. His win from the pole last weekend, qualified him for the NASCAR All-Star race in May and next season’s Clash in Daytona.

Little HUG will make its debut at the track at Dover International Speedway on June 4 and will ride again with Stenhouse the following week at Pocono Raceway on June 11.

RFR PR

 

Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) are excited to get back to 1.5-mile racing, something they have struggled with up until the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season.

After a solid superspeedway run at Talladega last weekend ended in McDowell getting swept up in “The Big One,” he and LFR are looking to improve on their already consistently strong 1.5-mile package that has worked well for the team.

McDowell and LFR earned a Top-20 finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and a Top-25 finish at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season.

McDowell and LFR are also excited to bring Tommy Williams Drywall (TWD) back on board as a primary sponsor for the No. 95 Chevrolet SS this week at Kansas Speedway for the first time this season. His best finish at Kansas is 22nd.

"In Kansas, we are going to take the same package we thought worked really well in Texas," said McDowell. "Both tracks are smooth and have new asphalt. Obviously, Kansas has a few years on it now since it was repaved, but it's very similar to Texas as far as ride and all that goes. We were super good in Texas and had a lot of speed. We feel really good about our mile and a half package, which has really been our weak link and a struggle for us up until this year.

We’ve also got TWD back on our car this week for Kansas, which I am really looking forward to. I am extremely thankful to all our partners that are helping us out this season."

McDowell and LFR will be back on track for the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, May 13 at 7:30PM ET, where the No. 95 TWD Chevrolet SS will be under the lights at Kansas for the first time this season.

LFR PR

Cole Whitt, driver of the RTIC Coolers No. 72 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) entry will compete this weekend at Kansas Speedway. Having seven previous MENCS starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Whitt has completed a total of 1788 laps. Coming off of a 16th place finish at Talladega Superspeedway, Whitt and the No. 72 RTIC Coolers team are steadily building momentum and head to Kansas with optimism of securing a solid finish.
 
RTIC Coolers will serve as the primary sponsor for Whitt and the No. 72 at Kansas Speedway. Preparing to launch a new series of items, RTIC Coolers offers a wide variety of rotomolded coolers and drinkware. Visit their website www.rticcoolers.com for the current line and upcoming details of new items.
 
TriStar Motorsports has recorded four MENCS starts and last competed at Kansas in 2013 with Mike Bliss.
 
The Go Bowling 400 is scheduled for Sunday, May 13, at 7:30pm ET, airing live on FS1.
 
Tristar PR