Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16162)

Though the first eight races of the playoffs have not been smooth sailing for Martin Truex Jr. he still remains in strong contention to be one of the four drivers battling for the season championship in the Nov. 18th finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

With two spots still open for the Championship 4, Truex will know his fate following Sunday’s race at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. He enters NASCAR’s penultimate race fourth in the playoff transfer standings with a 25-point cushion above the cutline. He is also only three points behind third-place driver Kyle Busch.

To say that Truex’s playoff run has been a roller coaster of sorts would be an understatement. Twice he saw victory snatched away by being taken out near the finish line. He has also been involved in late-race accidents, and the past two weeks he had to start at the rear of the field due to an inspection issue at Martinsville and engine change at Texas. And there have been pit road hiccups, including a penalty for speeding, driving through pit boxes and an uncontrolled tire.

“No doubt, we’ve had too many unforced errors,” said Truex the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion. “That needs to stop and hopefully it will be this weekend when it does. I feel good about where we’re at going into Phoenix. I am also well aware there are a number of different scenarios that could help us or hurt us. Heck, you could have a good day in Phoenix and not make the final four, and on the other hand, you could have a bad day and still make the final four.

“It’s confusing and complicated and what we need to do is just worry about ourselves, not make any stupid mistakes, be prepared for different situations and try to get every possible point in our No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota.”

Truex posted top-five finishes in his last two visits to Phoenix – third in last year’s fall race and fifth in this year’s spring race. He also captured the pole in the spring race.

But Sunday’s race at the 1-mile oval will have a different look with a new configuration.

“It will be interesting to see how it plays out, it’s a lot different,” Truex said about the new ISM Raceway configuration. “Particularly on restarts if it gets three, four or five-wide on that dogleg. “It will be different, we will just have to see how different and see how it plays out. The other thing that will be different is qualifying and the way the dogleg comes into play. The way you get your momentum on the opposite side of the track.”

Truex’s career record at Phoenix includes 25 starts, three top fives, nine top 10s, two poles and 104 laps led. His average starting position is 12.5 and average finish is 16.5.


The United States Air Force will once again be the primary partner of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team this upcoming Veteran's Day weekend. The popular Air Force scheme will be driven by Bubba Wallace during Sunday's Can-Am 500 at the ISM Raceway located just outside Phoenix, Arizona.

The Air Force has partnered with Richard Petty Motorsports for 10 consecutive seasons and has a tradition of featuring their scheme on the track during the most patriotic times of the year. Wallace Jr. raced the Air Force colors during the July 4 race weekend at the Daytona International Speedway and finished 14th.

Air Force Recruiting Service, charged with the mission to inspire, engage and recruit future Airmen, is proud to partner with Richard Petty Motorsports and Wallace Jr. to build awareness about opportunities in the Air Force.

Recently, Wallace Jr. was invited to 9th Air Force, Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to fly in an F-16 with the 77th Fighter Squadron known as the "Gamblers." Wallace Jr. went through flight training before taking to the sky with Maj. Gen. Scott Zobrist, 9th Air Force Commander, and rookie pilot, Captain Jack Howard. Wallace Jr. participated in flight drills and experienced over 9Gs of force while in the air.

"It's amazing what these pilots of our U.S. Air Force can do," explained Wallace Jr. "We may take for granted what they are doing overseas or on different missions, but it's pretty special the talent they have. It gives me an appreciation of the work they do to protect our freedom. It makes me proud to race and represent the U.S. Air Force on the track, too."

Wallace Jr. has already visited four different U.S. Air Force bases in his first year with the partnership. He has visited Airmen at Randolph in San Antonio, Texas, Seymour Johnson in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Wright-Patterson in Daytona, Ohio, and at Shaw, participating in different drills at each base. In addition, Wallace Jr. and "The King" Richard Petty meet young men and women of the Air Force each weekend.

"It's a special relationship that the Air Force has with Richard Petty Motorsports, and I'm glad to be a part of it," added Wallace Jr. "I'm able to learn what the Air Force and its mission is all about, meet our Airmen and Generals and just say 'thanks' for their service. We're just trying to get more people, young people engaged and learn about the Air Force. The experiences I've had this year, they do really amazing things and it's something every young person should explore."

Wallace Jr. will go to ISM Raceway with multiple Top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Camping World and XFINITY Series. The Can-Am 500 will be televised nationally this Sunday, November 11 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC. The race will be broadcast on MRN and SIRUS/XM radio Channel 90. You can also stream the race online on the NBC Sports app.


Kurt Busch is fifth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings and, if certain things happen, he can advance to the winner-take-all Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano are locked in via their wins at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Busch is 28 points behind his brother Kyle Busch, who’s third in the standings, and 25 behind defending-champ Martin Truex Jr., who currently holds down the fourth and final cutoff position. So if Kurt Busch has a great day and his little brother and Truex both struggle Sunday at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, he could advance to the Championship 4.


A mathematics professor at Brown University could figure out all the different point scenarios Busch would need to advance. But the 2004 Cup Series champion seems to prefer a much simpler method – one with a guarantee.


Win at Phoenix in Sunday’s Can-Am 500k and he’s automatically in the Championship 4. Or simply, “Win and In.”


Getting the opportunity to race at the mile oval in the desert west of Phoenix – the same track where he once cheered for many of his racing heroes – was a dream come true for Busch. Racing at the track was like a home game for Busch, who also attended college for several semesters at the University of Arizona, just down the road in Tucson, before making it in NASCAR’s big leagues.


While he was coming up through the ranks, Busch made a number of race starts at Phoenix, competing in the likes of NASCAR’s Southwest Series tour. Then, in 2000, Busch took to the track for the first time as a competitor in NASCAR’s top touring series, competing in both the Camping World Truck Series race in March, in which he finished fourth, and then in the Cup Series race in November later that same season, when he finished 29th.


Since his first NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix, it has been a track where Busch has performed consistently. Busch has one win, seven top-five finishes and 18 top-10s there. Additionally, the 40-year-old driver has led 751 laps, has an average starting position of 12.5, an average finish of 13.6, and has completed 99.6 percent – 9,634 of 9,675 – of the laps he’s contested there.


This weekend’s event is also the first at what can be considered the new ISM Raceway. The start-finish line was moved to what used to be turn two and the original grandstands were torn down and the garages were replaced.  


So if Busch can score the victory at the “new” ISM Raceway, he will punch his ticket to the Championship 4.



A week ago, Ty Dillon turned in a top-15 at Martinsville Speedway and looked to continue his strong finish to the year upon when he arrived in the Lone Star State. His aim was true and the young gun would two-step out of Texas with another strong result as the sun begins to set on the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
While the season has presented its challenges, Germain Racing has been able to turn the tide and right the course heading into the final races.
When Ty Dillon slid behind the wheel of his No. 13 GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 on Sunday, he would start the race from the 24th position, just behind seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson. Two days earlier, Germain Racing advanced to the second round of qualifying and showed speed, leaving the team hopeful heading into the Texas 500.
Bright sunshine and perfect temperatures accompanied the on-track racing action when the green flag turned the field loose on Sunday afternoon. Dillon started 24th, but quickly gained positions as he hustled his GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 into the top-20 on the opening lap.
Dillon was pleased with his racecar from the onset and seemed to be able to pedal around the 1.5-mile oval of Texas Motor Speedway with relative ease. Crew chief, Matt Borland, would execute a strategy that would see Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Military machine cruise all the way up to the top-five as the race approached the halfway point.
The Germain Racing pit crew performed expeditiously on pit road and even gained positions on stops throughout the day. As the race began to wind down, the caution flags would not fall in Dillon's favor, betraying the otherwise successful strategy executed by the team. Despite being handed a result that was not an accurate interpretation of their day, Dillon and the GEICO Military team still managed to turn in a 22nd place finish when the checkers flew from the flag stand as the sun gave way to dusk in Fort Worth, Texas.
"This weekend overall was solid for us. We had good practice sessions, advanced to the second round of qualifying and then had a decent car during the race," Dillon said. "Our GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 was really good in the beginning and it got even better as the run went on. The strategy and cautions didn't fall our way, but I'm proud of my guys because that was our best mile and a half race all year. With two races to go, our Germain Racing team will keep pushing forward to finish strong."
Just two races remain on the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series schedule as Germain Racing packs up and heads west to Phoenix, Arizona. Dillon and his Camaro ZL1 will continue to carry the GEICO Military livery to honor Veterans Day and our nation's military service members.  
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 will hit the track at ISM Raceway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, November 9th, at 1:35 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 7 PM (ET).
The Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is on Sunday, November 11th, and it will be televised live on NBC beginning at 2:30 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

Roush Fenway Racing has been recognized for outstanding achievement by the prestigious MarCom Awards, taking home three Platinum Awards for its work in 2018. The team won top prizes in the Social Media Campaign category for its launch of the Oscar Mayer NASCAR program, in the Communication Plan category for its #DoYouKnowJack campaign highlighting team owner Jack Roush’s NASCAR Hall of Fame candidacy and in the Social Campaign category for its content series promoting John Deere’s return to the sport.

“We are pleased to see our marketing efforts recognized by the MarCom Awards panel,” said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. “It’s a major emphasis of our marketing and communication groups to design and implement creative platforms for our partners and to demonstrate the role our race team can play in authentically promoting their brands. In a competitive market such as ours, we understand that brands have choices as to where they invest their marketing dollars, and we are especially proud of our continued ability to generate unique programs that deliver visibility and engagement for our partners.”

MarCom Awards is an international creative competition that recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communications professionals. The awards received over 6,500 entries this year, with only 17 percent awarded Platinum status by earning the highest distinction as ‘the most outstanding entries in the competition.’ Platinum Winners are recognized for ‘their excellence in terms of quality, creativity and resourcefulness.’

The Oscar Mayer program launch featured creative video assets as a collaboration between Roush Fenway and the brand. Utilizing the famed Oscar Mayer jingle and Wienermobile, the team played up the fun partnership to its audience across multiple social media platforms. Social media posts surrounding Oscar Mayer’s sponsorship of Matt Kenseth in the Southern 500 race at Darlington Raceway reached over 8.5 million people in just over two weeks.

#DoYouKnowJack was a hashtag born to highlight legendary team owner Jack Roush’s accomplishments in NASCAR as a part of the Hall of Fame nomination process. The team utilized the hashtag and surrounding campaign materials to urge fans and media members to vote for Roush. The campaign culminated with #DoYouKnowJack embellished on the hood of Matt Kenseth’s No. 6 Ford Fusion as he took the pole award for May’s NASCAR All-Star Race. The campaign reached an online audience of over 3.2 million people leading into Roush’s ultimate induction into the Hall of Fame class of 2019.

In bringing the iconic John Deere brand back to NASCAR, the team developed a multi-faceted content campaign highlighting the features of John Deere equipment, as well as playing on the lifestyle branding the company enjoys among the NASCAR audience. Running through two consecutive races, and activating socially for several months, the campaign generated over 360 million impressions on social and online media platforms,

Roush Fenway Racing has now won a total of eight MarCom Platinum Awards since 2011, when it took home its first Platinum for the famed ‘Ricky vs. Trevor’ campaign. The team also brought home Platinum Awards for its ‘Let Ricky Race’ campaign in 2013, as well as the #RFRTruckin campaign and Social ‘Jack’ Icon branding platform in 2016 and the #DrivenForACause awareness platform in 2017. The team has also won Gold Awards for #RaceWithRicky, ’25 Winning Years’, ‘RFRDriven’ and the Pillow Pets NASCAR Launch. Roush Fenway has also taken home prizes from the PR News Platinum Awards, Social Media Icon Awards and Hermes Awards.

MarCom Awards is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The international organization consists of several thousand creative professionals. The Association oversees awards and recognition programs, provides judges and sets standards for excellence. Judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent exceeds a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry.

MarCom entries come from corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, PR firms, design shops, production companies and freelancers. The competition has grown to one of the largest of its kind, with winners ranging in size from individual communicators to media conglomerates and Fortune 500 companies.


Kevin Harvick won at Texas Motor Speedway and is locked into the Championship 4 for the fourth time in the last five years. Two Ford Performance drivers have secured positions to run for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami in two weeks. This marked Harvick’s eighth win in the 2018 season and 45th of his Cup Series career.

“What a great weekend for Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford Performance,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “Congratulations to Kevin, Cole, Gene, Tony, and the entire SHR crew. Kevin and the team executed from start to finish today and Cole drove a remarkable Xfinity race on Saturday. The team at Roush Yates Engines is proud to be part of these teams and we are working hard for wins every weekend for Ford Performance.”

The Ford Fusions started the weekend out strong, sweeping pole qualifying 1-5 with Ryan Blaney recording his third pole of the season, followed by SHR teammates Clint Bowyer in second, Harvick third and Aric Almirola in fourth while fellow Ford Performance teammate Brad Keselowski started fifth.

The AAA Texas 500 came down to a two-lap sprint between Ford teammates Harvick and Blaney. Harvick had led 171 laps, when the eighth caution of the race came out, with just six laps to go in the race, moving it into overtime. The No. 4 and the No. 12 lined up side-by-side, with Harvick taking the outside. Harvick made a power move, off the top, to blast by Blaney to take the lead and the checkered flag. The No. 4 proved to be the car to beat by winning Stage 1, Stage 2, and leading a race high 177 laps.

“It was a big day for all of us,” commented Harvick in Victory Lane. “For me on the restarts and to win the race on the restart late at the end. The guys on pit road had a solid day and gained spots on pit road and Rodney made great calls. All around, just a great day of execution.”

The race ended with a 1-2-3 Ford Performance finish with Blaney coming in second and Joey Logano finishing a solid third. Stewart-Haas teammates Kurt Busch and Almirola came in seventh and eighth respectively.

As the Ford Performance Playoff drivers move onto Phoenix they line up in the standings as follows: P1 Harvick, P2 Logano, P5 Busch, P7 Almirola, and P8 Bowyer.

On Saturday, Cole Custer won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race of the 2018 season at Texas Motor Speedway and automatically advanced into the Xfinity Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami.

The O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge saw a record 13 race cautions for the series at the Texas Motor Speedway. The final caution came out at a perfect time for the No. 00, setting up a two-lap shootout for the checkered flag, with Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric. Custer battled door to door and held off Reddick for the victory. Custer led 16 laps out of the 200-lap race.

“I can’t believe it,” Custer stated in Victory Lane. “The 1 {Elliott Sadler} is the best pusher in the series and I hated that I didn’t have him behind me. We did all we could. I drove it in deeper than I have all weekend and it worked out. I am pumped for Autodesk, their first time on the car. Gene Haas, I wouldn’t be here without him and Haas Automation. I am pumped. We are going to Homestead, and I think we have a great shot of winning.”

Custer now leads the Xfinity Playoff standings, being the first driver to secure a spot in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami.

Going into the final qualifying race before Homestead-Miami the MENCS and NXS teams head out west to Phoenix, ISM Raceway this weekend.


Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Cardell team turned in a solid performance in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, running in the top 10 in the early stages of the race then battling back from a late pit-road penalty to finish 13th.

Menard started the 500-miler from the 11th position but was running seventh after just 10 laps. He remained inside the top 10 for the remainder of the first 85-lap stage and ended the segment in eighth place, earning three bonus points.
Menard ran just outside the top 10 for most of the race’s final segment but after serving a penalty for an uncontrolled tire on his final pit stop, he lined up in 17th position for an overtime run to the checkered flag.
His late-race charge saw him regain four positions on the final lap to wind up 13th at the finish.
It was his 13th finish of 13th or better this season, and it allowed him to move up one spot in the points standings to 19th, and he is now just four points behind 18th-place Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with two races left to run.
“We had a really good car all race long, but we struggled some on pit road,” Eddie Wood said. “Paul did a great job gaining spots there at the end, so we ended the day on a positive note and gained a spot in the standings.”
Menard and the No. 21 team return to the track next weekend at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.


Race Winner:       Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85):

Kurt Busch began Stage 1 in seventh and finished it in the second position, earning nine bonus points.

The No. 41 State Water Heaters Ford Fusion was in sixth when the competition caution came out on lap 30.

● Busch said the car was a bit tight, especially in turns one and two. He pitted on lap 32 for two tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.

● After pitting, Busch restarted second.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170):

Busch started Stage 2 in second place and ended it in eighth, earning three bonus points.

The No. 41 State Water Heaters Ford Fusion pitted on lap 88 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.

● Busch was second when he pitted on lap 150 for four tires and fuel.


Final Stage Recap (Laps 171-337):

Busch started the final stage third and ended it in the seventh position.

The No. 41 State Water Heaters Ford Fusion pitted on lap 172 for right-side tires and fuel.

● Busch was in eighth place when a caution came out and he pitted on lap 227 for four tires, fuel and a wedge and tire pressure adjustment.

● On lap 282, Busch pitted for four tires and fuel.

● Busch remained in the top-10 for the rest of the race and finished seventh.



● Kevin Harvick won the AAA Texas 500 to score his 45th career victory, his eighth of the 2018 season and his second at Texas.

● This was Busch’s 21st top-10 finish of 2018 and his 19th top-10 in 32 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Texas.

● Busch finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points and eighth in Stage 2 to earn three more bonus points.

● Ford took five of the top-10 positions, including the top-three.

● There were eight caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Only 17 of the 40 drivers in the AAA Texas 500 finished on the lead lap.


Kurt Busch, Driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“I just didn’t get the restarts nailed at the end. I was on the loose side. We thought we were going to be loose, but each restart just got worse and worse and we had no right-rear grip. I don’t know what really leads to that other than just heat cycles on the tires. We are in a good position. There are a lot of other people I would like to be right here. We just didn’t have the speed the 4 (Harvick) car had today, and hopefully we will get it next week.”


Playoff Standings: (with one race to go before the Championship 4):

1.       Kevin Harvick (4,143) 1 win

2.       Kyle Busch (4,128) +28

3.       Martin Truex Jr. (4,125) +25

4.       Joey Logano (4,119) 1 win

5.       Kurt Busch (4,100) -25

6.       Chase Elliott (4,086) -39

7.       Aric Almirola (4,068) -57

8.       Clint Bowyer (4,052) -73

SHR is the only team to feature all four of its drivers in the Round of 8.


Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Can-Am 500k on Sunday, Nov. 11 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. It is the penultimate race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race to make the Championship 4. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EST with live coverage on NBC beginning at 1:30 p.m.



Race Winner:      Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)


Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 85):

Bowyer started second and finished 30th.

Bowyer and Denny Hamlin made contact on the opening lap, forcing both to pit road for repairs and dropping Bowyer two laps behind the leaders.

● Bowyer reported his car was loose in the corners.

Crew made significant handling changes but could not improve Bowyer’s lap times.


Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 170):

Bowyer started 30th and finished 29th.

Crew continued to work to improve the No. 14’s handling, but Bowyer said it was loose in and tight in the middle.

Team stretched his fuel mileage at the end of the stage hoping for a caution that never came.


Stage 3 Recap (Ended at Lap 337):

Bowyer started 29th and finished 26th.

Bowyer reported smoke in his car throughout the race, likely caused by the early damage.

No.14 team took the wave-around and gambled on a caution but had to pit under green on lap 244.

Bowyer dropped to four laps behind the leader, but he regained a lap in the closing moments.



● Kevin Harvick’s victory in the AAA Texas 500 marked the 58th overall win for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). It was the organization’s 51st points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and its third victory at Texas.

● Harvick’s win marked SHR’s series-leading 12th points-paying victory 34 races into the 2018 season. SHR also won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.

● This was SHR’s 15th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when Kurt Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.

● Harvick’s triumph delivered the 107th points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 676th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.

● This was Ford’s 14th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Texas, the most all-time among manufacturers.

● Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was .447 of a second.

● Ford took five of the top-10 positions, including the top-three.

● There were eight caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Only 17 of the 40 drivers in the AAA Texas 500 finished on the lead lap.


Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil Delvac 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“That stinks. First corner of the race. I’m sick. It wasn’t what we were hoping for today. We were having to turn right to get into the corner and were ploughing in the middle. I think something was going on with the car when it was getting in the corner. We’ll go to Phoenix and try to win. This isn’t over yet.”


Playoff Standings: (with one race to go before the Championship 4):

1.       Kevin Harvick (4,143) 1 win

2.       Kyle Busch (4,128) +28

3.       Martin Truex Jr. (4,125) +25

4.       Joey Logano (4,119) 1 win

5.       Kurt Busch (4,100) -25

6.       Chase Elliott (4,086) -39

7.       Aric Almirola (4,068) -57

8.       Clint Bowyer (4,052) -73

●  SHR is the only team to feature all four of its drivers in the Round of 8.


Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Can-Am 500k on Sunday, Nov. 11 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. It is the penultimate race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race to make the Championship 4. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EST with live coverage on NBC beginning at 1:30 p.m.



Race Winner:     Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85):

Aric Almirola was sent to the rear of the 40-car field for an unapproved body modification after inspection.

● The Round of 8 contender was able to work his way up to 10th to finish the stage.

● He raced his way into the top-20 by lap 26 and was inside of the top-10 by lap 53.

● The No. 10 Smithfield Ford Spirals team executed an excellent stop at the end of the stage, earning two spots on pit road prior to Stage 2.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170):

Almirola started Stage 2 in eighth and ended it in sixth.

● The Tampa native started Stage 2 strong but began to battle a “tight and chattering” condition shortly into the run.

● The Smithfield Spirals team pitted for a scheduled green-flag stop on lap 134 for four tires, fuel and adjustments. As the field cycled through stops, Almirola was running in the sixth spot.

● After Stage 2 Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments to help with lateral grip.


Final Stage Recap (Laps 171-337):

Almirola started the final stage ninth and ended it in the eighth position.

● With less than 100 laps to go, Almirola raced his way inside of the top-five.

● The Smithfield Spirals Ford team was the first out of all the playoff contenders inside the top-10 to make a scheduled, green-flag stop on the lap-278 cycle. The crew serviced the No. 10 with four tires, fuel and light handling adjustments to assist the balance.

● With just over 30 laps remaining, Almirola was shuffled back a few spots after restarting third and ultimately finished eighth.



● This was Almirola’s 15th top-10 finish of 2018.

● Almirola earned his second top-10 in 16 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Texas.

● Almirola finished 10th in Stage 1 to earn one bonus point and sixth in Stage 2 to earn five more bonus points.

● This was Kevin Harvick’s series-leading eighth victory of 2018 and his second victory in 32 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Texas.

● Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was .447 of a second.

● Ford took five of the top-10 positions, including the top-three.

● There were eight caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Only 17 of the 40 drivers in the AAA Texas 500 finished on the lead lap.


Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Spirals Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We were a third-place car, and that restart there where we finally were in position we fought all day from the back and started at the tail and worked diligently all day to get up to the front and finally got ourselves in position to at least have a shot and race with those guys. The 22 just went down in turn three and put it right on my door and about wrecked us both. I am not sure. I will have to talk to him. He just continues to make things harder on himself. If that is the way he wants to race me when he is already locked into Homestead and we are out here fighting for our lives, that is fine. When Homestead comes around, if I am not in, he will know it.”


Playoff Standings: (with one race to go before the Championship 4):

1.      Kevin Harvick (4,143) 1 win

2.      Kyle Busch (4,128) +28

3.      Martin Truex Jr. (4,125) +25

4.      Joey Logano (4,119) 1 win

5.      Kurt Busch (4,100) -25

6.      Chase Elliott (4,086) -39

7.      Aric Almirola (4,068) -57

8.      Clint Bowyer (4,052) -73

SHR is the only team to feature all four of its drivers in the Round of 8.


Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Can-Am 500k on Sunday, Nov. 11 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. It is the penultimate race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race to make the Championship 4. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EST with live coverage on NBC beginning at 1:30 p.m.



This time, there was no late-race glitch to interrupt Kevin Harvick’s domination of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

Streaking away from pole winner Ryan Blaney during an overtime restart on Lap 336, Harvick won Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway with the utmost of authority, sweeping the stages and leading a race-high 177 laps on the way to his series-best eighth victory of the season and a guaranteed spot in the Nov. 18 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The victory was Harvick’s first since Michigan in August, and it broke a streak of bad luck during which the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford led laps but failed to find Victory Lane, thanks to mechanical issues or pit road mistakes.

“We've been working day after day to make speed,” said Harvick, who won for the second time at Texas and the 45th time in his career, 17th most all-time. “This place has been really good to me. We finally knocked that barrier down (with a win in last year’s Playoff race at TMS).

“The expectations are to win. Like I told you guys before the race, we don't race for points. We race for wins. We don't count our fingers and our toes trying to figure out how to make it in (to the Championship 4 race). Today we earned our way in, and we're going to race again next week (at Phoenix) and try to win another race and then see what we can do at Homestead.”

Harvick joins Martinsville winner Joey Logano, last Sunday’s Martinsville winner in the title race. Logano ran third at Texas after leading 54 laps, second only to Harvick.

The only stress for Harvick was lane choice for the overtime. On the previous restart on Lap 311 of a scheduled 334, following caution for Matt DiBenedetto’s hard crash into the inside wall on the backstretch, Harvick picked the inside lane, and Blaney cleared him off Turn 2.

It took Harvick seven laps of chasing to regain the lead, but in the two-lap overtime, he didn’t have the luxury of time to mount a pursuit. So Harvick picked the top lane for the first time and roared around Blaney in Turn 1.

Then Harvick was off into the Texas sunset.

“That last restart I knew I needed to pick the top,” Harvick said. “I wanted to be on the bottom to be safe, because the top got such a good side-draft getting into Turn 1 and the outside groove got rubbered up. I thought if I could keep him from finishing the corner, I could drive back by him. It all worked out.”

Blaney got a shove from fifth-place finisher Kyle Larson on the final restart, but it wasn’t enough.

“The 42 (Larson) gave me a heck of a push, but I didn't quite get far enough ahead of the 4 into (Turn) 1,” Blaney said. “We went in side‑by‑side. If I sailed off in there as fast as he did, I would have got loose, wrecked us both.

“You kind of knew you were beat getting into 1 when you're there, because you know the guy on the outside is going to pin you. I figured when he took the top, it was going to take a really good push and position into 1 to have a prayer at it. Just didn't happen.”

Harvick was the only one of so-called Big Three to avoid trouble on Sunday.

Kyle Busch drew an early speeding penalty entering pit road and later had to make an unscheduled pit stop because of a loose wheel. He finished 17th, the last driver on the lead lap.

Martin Truex Jr. came to pit road early on Lap 247 to correct a loose left front wheel and in the process drove through too many pit boxes entering his stall. Two laps down after a pass-through penalty, Truex rallied to finish ninth.

Nevertheless, with the Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix looming, Busch holds a 28-point edge over his brother Kurt Busch, who is fifth in the Playoff standings after running seventh on Sunday. Truex is 25 points ahead of Kurt Busch, who likely will need a victory at Phoenix to advance to the Championship 4.

The same is true for sixth-place Texas finisher Chase Elliott (39 points below the cut line). Aric Almirola (eighth Sunday) and Clint Bowyer (26th, after contact with Denny Hamlin’s Toyota on Lap 1) are both in must-win situations.

Erik jones ran fourth for the third time in the last five races.