Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16679)

No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang driver Clint Bowyer and his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team judge their success on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series each weekend based on the scoring sheet after every practice, qualifying session and the race.

 

But this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Bowyer and his friends at Rush Truck Centers add an additional measurement to determine the weekend’s success – technician recruits.

 

Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner on the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived in 2017 and has been with the SHR organization since 2010. The San Antonio-based company with more than 120 locations and 7,000 employees has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states.

 

According to Rush Truck Centers, the trucking industry is expected to need 200,000 diesel technicians over the next 10 years to keep up with maintenance demands. To help meet the demand, Rush will host a display in the fan midway this weekend where its recruiters will discuss with fans and prospective applicants the work its technicians do on the trucks, as well advantages of joining the company. A Rush Truck Centers truck and Bowyer’s No. 14 car will also be at the display.

 

Bowyer will visit the display twice and talk about technician careers.

 

“We want to get the word out that Rush, as well as the entire trucking industry, needs technicians,” said Bowyer, who now owns the car dealership where he once worked as a paint and body specialist. “Rush Truck Centers is a leader in the trucking industry and the largest commercial dealership network in North America. They want to train these folks and give them good jobs. I’ve been around a lot of them in the last few years and it’s a hell of a career.”

It’s diesel truck weekend on the No. 14 at Texas as Cummins makes its first appearance in 2019. While Cummins is a corporation of complementary business segments that designs, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions, it is best known for its diesel truck engines.

 

Cummins and Rush Truck Centers help SHR get its racecars to the track each weekend. SHR’s Peterbilt Model 389 haulers are equipped with Cummins engines and RushCare Telematics and supported by the RushCare team, which monitors and reports critical fault codes, vehicle performance and driver habits. This ensures the haulers remain in peak condition while traveling thousands of miles from race to race each season.

 

Cummins’ lineage dates back to the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911, when company founder Clessie Cummins was on the pit crew of the race-winning Marmon Wasp of driver Ray Harroun. Since its founding in 1919, the company now employs approximately 58,600 people and serves customers in about 190 countries and territories through a network of some 500 company-owned and independent distributor locations and approximately 7,500 dealer locations. It’s also headquartered in Columbus, Indiana – SHR co-owner Tony Stewart’s hometown.

 

“Cummins joined us last year and I told them they put me under a lot of pressure,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “Tony cares deeply about all our partners at SHR but Cummins, being from his hometown, means if we don’t run well we’ll doubly hear about it.”

 

Bowyer arrives at the ultra-fast 1.5-mile Texas oval 13th in points after a seventh-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway Sunday. He’s posted three-top five finishes and 11 top-10s in 26 career races at Texas and qualified in the top-three in three of the last four Cup Series races. He’s even won at Texas, taking home the trophy in the 2006 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race.

 

“There’s no time like this weekend to finally breathe through there in the Cup Series,” Bowyer said. “I want (Texas track president) Eddie (Gossage) to hand me that trophy after the race.”

TSC PR

Brad Keselowski won his second race at Martinsville Speedway, leading a race high 446 laps in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series STP 500. The No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang powered by the Ford FR9 engine, recorded their 40th MENCS win as Team Penske with Roush Yates Engines since 2013. Ford Performance now has 30 career MENCS wins at the famed “Paperclip”.

“Congratulations Brad, Roger, and Team Penske on their win at Martinsville,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “Brad and his team were well prepared, and he showcased his driving talent while leading 446 laps in his Ford Mustang. Ford Performance continues to provide the technology and resources to keep our cars running up front.”

“The car was really good – this Ford Mustang,” said Brad Keselowski from Victory Lane. “You know, Ford worked really hard in the offs-season to build these cars and make them real strong and so far, so good. It’s just a great day for our team, awesome execution on pit road and big credit to Doug Yates and all the engine guys. Those guys work really hard and it’s just one of those days you dream of as a race car driver, where you’ve got a great car.”

After a strong qualifying performance on Saturday, by the Ford Mustangs, No. 22 Joey Logano started from the pole position while No. 10 Aric Almirola from Stewart-Haas Racing P2, No. 2 Keselowski P3, and No. 4 Kevin Harvick from Stewart-Haas Racing in P4.

Joey Logano led the first five laps while Keselowski took the lead and remained out front for the next 319 laps which included 2 stage wins. Keselowski regained the lead on lap 374 and never looked back. Keselowski worked through race traffic throughout the 500-lap event to take the checkered flag .594 seconds in front of Chase Elliott, marking the third consecutive Ford Performance win at Martinsville.

Ford Performance teammates led a race high 451 laps out of the 500-lap race; Brad Keselowski 446 laps and Joey Logano with 5 laps.

It was a great day for Ford Performance racing with six Ford Mustangs finishing in the top-10; Team Penske teammates, Keselowski P1, No. 12 Blaney in P4, Stewart-Haas Racing teammates No. 4 Harvick P6, No. 14 Clint Bowyer in P7, and Aric Almirola in P9, and Daniel Suarez P10.

NASCAR heads to the longhorn state, to the Texas Motor Speedway. Reference the full 2019 schedule on www.roushyates.com.

RYE PR

Chase Elliott may have been disappointed with a runner-up finish in the season’s short track opener at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday because he obviously wanted to win and for much of the race, felt capable of it.

Regardless, his showing was actually a boost of confidence for his Hendrick Motorsports team and may be a timely harbinger of good finishes to come for the sport’s reigning Most Popular Driver.

Even if it was hard to reconcile the competitive near-miss, Elliott was able to seize on the progress.

It’s hard to believe, but Elliott’s finish at Martinsville was the first top-five for the championship winning four-car Hendrick Motorsports organization since the 23-year old won at Kansas last Fall – his third career victory and third of 2018. His 49 laps led Sunday at Martinsville are the first laps out front for him this year and were second only to a dominant Brad Keselowski, whose 446 laps led marks the most ever in a race since Kyle Petty led 484 laps in a 1992 win at Rockingham Speedway.

“It’s really tough. Our NAPA Camaro was good, I felt we were about as even with him as we could be," Elliott said on pit road following the race. “I felt like when he did get the lead, there was a little advantage to being out front, being able to work traffic your way and kind of play off it and what not.

“I tried to move up there at the end and I don’t know if I could have got to him. Maybe if I moved up a little sooner, maybe. But I tried to get him there in [Turn] 3.

“I was pretty well content on moving him out of the way. But maybe next time."

Until that next time Elliott can find some solace in that first, best run of 2019. The runner-up finish was good enough to move Elliott into the championship top-10 for the first time this season – all positive vibes heading to Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 (at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The 1.5-mile Fort Worth high banks have been good to Elliott. He scored his very first NASCAR national series victory at Texas back in 2014 – a convincing win in the Xfinity Series and an exclamation point toward what would be his first NASCAR championship.

In fact, Elliott has five top-10 finishes in six Xfinity Series races at Texas and five top-10 finishes in six Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races there. His only non top-10 in a Cup race? An 11th-place finish in this race last year.

His average finish in the Monster Energy Series at Texas is an impressive 7.2 average – his best work on any track on the circuit that’s hosted more than one race. And it’s an especially good sign, considering Elliott’s qualifying efforts there (a 19.7 average).

And at the very least, his work in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Martinsville this weekend should provide some momentum. It marked the first time Elliott has led a race since Phoenix (16 laps) of last year. He’s led laps in only two of the last 10 races dating back to the 2018 season.

Certainly the one driver who bettered Elliott on Sunday took note.

“You know, I think the stats maybe look a little bit more dominant than I think it really was," Keselowski said. “I thought Chase was probably the best car most of the day today and he passed me there with 150 or so to go. I thought that might be the end of our day, but I was able to learn a few things from him and kind of dissect his strengths and weaknesses and make some adjustments of our own and come back out and be a little bit better for it.

“I feel like last Fall we were probably even a little faster than we were today and we lost some spots on that last [pit] stop and it cost us a win, where today it was the opposite of that. We were able to keep our track position, and that was so, so key to being able to win today because I think Chase, if he’d been out front that run, he would have drove away from the field with what I saw from his car."

All positive signs for Elliott, who heads to a venue where he is statistically strong and fortified with a positive history.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. battled through 500 grueling laps at Martinsville Speedway to finish 25th in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at the half-mile track.

The two-time Xfinity Series Champion started the race from the 24th position in his Fastenal Ford Mustang and immediately began working his way forward. By the first caution of the race on lap 65, Stenhouse had navigated to the 19th spot. It was then that crew chief Brian Pattie brought the Ford Mustang down pit road for the first pit stop of the day.

The handling of the Fastenal Mustang soon began to deteriorate, with Stenhouse complaining of a tight-handling race car. The Mississippian began to fade backwards in the pack, ultimately giving way to the leaders and falling one lap down just before the end of the first stage. As the first car not on the lead lap, Stenhouse received the lucky dog and would restart for the second stage from the 25th position, but on the lead lap.

Stenhouse struggled to improve his position from that point on, and the handling of his car continued to present issues for the team. He would lose a lap again to the leaders before the end of the second stage at lap 260, taking the green-white checkered flag 26th.

A stellar pit stop from the Fastenal crew put Stenhouse back into the lucky dog position, but an extended green flag run left him unable to capitalize on the free pass. He would ultimately fall a second lap down to the leaders and finish the 500 lap race 25th.

Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 31. Race coverage begins at 3:00 p.m. on FOX. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90. 

RFR PR

An ill-handling car forced Ryan Newman to a 23rd-place finish at Martinsville Speedway Sunday afternoon in his Acorns Ford Mustang.

Newman rolled off the grid 20th but battled loose conditions early on and never recovered in the 500-lap event. By the point of the first yellow flag at lap 67, Newman ran 25th and had just went a lap down to the leaders, but was awarded the free pass. After restarting 24th, he went on to finish in that spot at the end of the 130-lap opening stage, reporting his car was too sensitive.

Following adjustments on the No. 6 Ford, the 2008 Daytona 500 Champion lined back up 23rd for the second segment and battled up to 19th by lap 153. The remainder of the stage would run caution-free, putting Newman a lap behind in 24th by lap 260.

He went on to restart the final stage in 26th one lap down, and following another long green-flag run he went two down, but took the wave around at lap 312. With 150 to go Newman ran 25th before eventually going on to record a 23rd-place result.

Newman and the No. 6 team return to action next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Race coverage begins Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM Channel 90.

RFR PR

Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol fumarate dihydrate) Team Show Short Track Prowess at Martinsville Speedway
 

11th 
 
 
 29th
 
 18th
"We had our work cut out for us today. It makes for a sleepless Saturday night when you qualify far back in the field at Martinsville Speedway, but it sure makes for a fun Sunday afternoon. We had a solid No. 3 Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol fumarate dihydrate) Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 during the first run and methodically passed cars one by one. It was wild. We made it far enough up front to earn stage points at the end of Stage 1. It was difficult to keep up with changing track positions throughout the race but we made a solid day out of starting deep in the field. I hope everyone at AstraZeneca enjoyed the race. I'm really pumped about the direction this team is headed and can't wait for Texas Motor Speedway next week."  
-Austin Dillon
Martinsville Speedway Race Serves as a Learning Experience for Rookie Daniel Hemric and The Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Chevrolet Team 
 

27th 
 
 
28th
 
28th
"This weekend certainly did not go as planned, but it was not for a lack of effort on the part of Luke Lambert and the guys that work on this No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. This was my first time here since 2016 in the Truck Series, so there was a bit of a learning curve but we showed some speed in final practice on Friday. We struggled in qualifying but were able to move forward once the race went green. It just seemed like we could not catch a break today. We missed the free pass by one position a couple of times and the cautions didn't fall where we needed them. We had to pit under green for a loose wheel late in the race, then again for a flat right front tire with less than 20 laps to go. Things didn't go as planned, but we kept the car out of trouble and learned a lot for when we come back to Martinsville Speedway later in the year." 
 
-Daniel Hemric

RCR PR

A most memorable weekend of racing at Martinsville Speedway for the Wood Brothers and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team ended Sunday afternoon with a 15th-place finish by Paul Menard in the team’s No. 21 Ford Mustang.

With the return of NASCAR to Martinsville for the first time since the passing of team founder Glenn Wood, the racing community paid its respects to Wood, who died Jan. 18 at the age of 93.
 
On Friday, more than 1,000 friends, family members, fans and NASCAR personalities gathered at the Wood Brothers Museum in Stuart,Va., for a Tribute to Glenn Wood. 
 
On Sunday, prior to the start of the STP 500, Clay Campbell announced that they were renaming the Turn One Tower the Glenn Wood Tower.
 
When the cars lined up for the start of Sunday’s 500-lap race, Glenn Wood’s “Backseater” Modified racer paced the field with his brother Leonard Wood at the wheel.
 
When the green flag dropped, it was back to business for Menard and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team. Menard started the race from 14th place, moving up one spot in the line-up after William Byron’s car failed a post-qualifying inspection on Sunday morning.
 
Menard held his own throughout the first 130-lap Stage, ending that segment in 18th position. Stage Two played out in much the same fashion as Menard finished that run in 17th place.
 
The final run to the checkered flag saw him gain two spots to 15th place.
 
Eddie Wood said his driver, team and crew turned in a commendable performance in a highly competitive race.

 “It was a solid day for everyone,” he said, adding that Menard, crew chief Greg Erwin and the pit crew all had mistake-free days. “We stayed on the lead lap all day, and there were no flukes. It was one of those races where you put on four tires every stop and run as hard as you can until the next stop.”
 
Wood also offered his congratulations to race winner Brad Keselowski and his No. 2 crew from Team Penske.
 
“I’ve been coming to Martinsville for years, and I can’t remember, at least in recent times, anyone dominating a race like they did. They put a whipping on everyone.”
 
Wood said that as he and his family reflect back on the weekend tributes to their father, they realize just how much their NASCAR family means to them.
 
“I’d like to begin by thanking Mike Helton and the people from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame for organizing the tribute to our dad on Friday,” he said. “And we’d especially like to thank our friends and fans who came to be with us, share their memories, and make that day one we will never forget.”
 
He said the naming of the grandstand at Martinsville came as a surprise and was probably more fitting than even Martinsville officials knew at the time the decision was made.
 
“When Len and I used to come to the Modified and Sportsman races years ago, that’s exactly where we sat,” he said. “And it means so much to know that the only other people to have grandstands at Martinsville named for them are Bill France, Clay Earles and Richard Petty.
 
“In the future, whenever I buy a grandstand ticket for Martinsville Speedway that’s where it’s going to be.”
 
Menard and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team will return to the track next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

WBR PR

Kyle Busch was close in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway—just not close enough.

Trying for his third straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, Busch was second off pit road under caution for a restart on Lap 456 of 500, but he couldn’t get past eventual race winner Brad Keselowski.

On Lap 457, Chase Elliott drove around Busch to the outside to take second, and that’s the way the race finished. Busch’s third-place run actually hurt his average finish for the season, knocking it down to 2.7 through six races.

Busch qualified 14th on Saturday and struggled through the middle portion of the race, but sound adjustments to his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and excellent work in the pits helped him gain spots on every stop. But those factors weren’t enough to overcome a slight deficiency in speed.

“Even when we unloaded here in practice, we just weren't quite up on the speed charts like we expected to be,” said Busch, who had won the previous two Cup races at ISM Raceway in Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. “First run off the truck was really good, but as the track took rubber, our car just kind of slowed down and we just didn't have what we needed there.

“Overall, though, today the midpoint day of today's race was a bit ugly for us, and then we turned it around, and thankful to have (crew chief) Adam Stevens and all my guys that give me everything that I need to kind of go out there and work with, and we were able to turn our day around. Fast pit stops got us a lot of track position today. It was hard to pass, besides rooting a guy off the bottom, and even when you tried to do that, they just cut your nose off and you lose a spot.

“But overall, we fought hard for today's finish. Not a finish that we wanted to get. Thought we had a chance to win, actually, but could have been a whole lot worse.”

TWO SPEEDING PENALTIES DOOM CLINT BOWYER’S WINNING CHANCES

Clint Bowyer had one of the fastest cars in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, but he didn’t get a chance to prove how strong the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford could be.

The defending race winner came off pit road fourth after stops under caution on Lap 314, but he was flagged for speeding in Sector 10 and had to restart from the rear of the field on Lap 320. Bowyer quickly worked his way forward and was ninth off pit road on Lap 374 during the sixth caution.

Another speeding infraction in the same sector, however, sent him to the rear once more. Bowyer charged forward again and was seventh when Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag after 500 laps.

“I guess we need to get our stuff together on being on the same page with that pit road speed,” Bowyer said after the race. It’s such an important thing and such a big part of this style of racing, where track position is everything. We push it to the limit, but it’s so hard to practice pit road speed.

“You’ve got trucks on pit road when you’re trying to practice that. I’m not making any excuses, it’s just when you’re trying to pinch every little thing out of it, it was hard this week to practice pit road speed because of all the stuff on pit road…

“It is what it is—we just have to quit beating ourselves.”

UNCONTROLLED TIRE COSTS DENNY HAMLIN—BUT NOT SEVERELY

Denny Hamlin was philosophical about the uncontrolled tire penalty that sent him to the back of the field for a Lap 272 restart in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Up to that point, Hamlin had run consistently in the top five, but as good as the cars of race winner Brad Keselowski and runner-up Chase Elliott were, Hamlin didn’t think the infraction cost him a chance to win the race. The most recent Daytona 500 winner worked his way back to fifth at the finish and wasn’t overly disappointed with the result.

“We’ve got to get better,” Hamlin said. “We know that. We’re struggling a little bit right now, for sure, but certainly it’s a team thing. Last week I had a speeding penalty, so it all equals out. If you’re not going to be the best car, you have to execute perfectly.

“The best car (Keselowski) didn’t falter, so it wouldn’t have made a difference either way, but certainly cost us maybe one or two spots today. Nothing to hang our heads about. Overall, a good day.”

Race Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Daniel Suárez started ninth and finished 14th.

● Early in the stage, Suárez radioed that his No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang was tight in the center of the corners but loose on entrance and exit.

● During a caution on lap 67, Suárez pitted for four tires, fuel and wedge and air pressure adjustments.

Near the end of the stage, Suárez reported that he was struggling for grip off the corners.

Pitted for tires, fuel and slight chassis adjustments at the conclusion of the stage.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Started 13th and finished ninth, collecting two bonus points.

Stayed out during a caution on lap 147, gaining valuable track position.

Suárez worked his way back into the top-10 by lap 231.

At the end of the stage, pitted for four tires and fuel.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261-500):

Started 11th and finished 10th.

Suárez battled for position with the No. 3 of Austin Dillon near the end of the 500-lap race.

● During the race’s final caution came on lap 447, Suárez pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

● Started ninth for the lap-455 restart and finished 10th.

 

Notes:

● Suárez earned his second top-10 of the season and his second top-10 in five career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.

● Brad Keselowski won the Martinsville 500 to score his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .594 of a second.

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 56 laps.

● Twenty of the 36 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Busch leaves Martinsville as the championship leader with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

 

Daniel Suárez, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We were good in the long run, but, unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of longer runs the rest of the day. I felt like in the long run maybe my car was the best, but the short run wasn’t as good. It’s funny, because yesterday it was the opposite, but something good to build on and, hopefully, we can keep going in the right direction.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

TSC PR

Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Clint Bowyer started 10th and finished sixth.

● Reported his car was loose in the initial laps.

● Turned in some impressive lap times as he climbed into the top-five by lap 32.

● Continued to fight a loose-handling car, but the No. 14 looked to be one of the fastest cars on the track.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Bowyer started sixth and finished eighth.

● Dropped from sixth to 13th after slipping in grease in turns three and four immediately after the start of the stage.

● Climbed back up to eighth before the end of the stage.

● Told the crew his car was loose in and off and needed more drive off the corners.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261 -500):

Bowyer started third and finished seventh.

● A quick pit stop during the stage break moved Bowyer from eighth to third for the start of the final stage.

● Raced in third with 200 laps remaining, again turning fast lap times.

● Caution with 186 to go saw Bowyer visit pit lane, but a speeding penalty dropped him to 23rd.

● Bowyer drove back to 13th when another caution brought him to pit lane with 124 laps remaining. However, a second speeding penalty sent him to the back once again.

● Bowyer had driven up to 13th when the next caution came with 54 laps remaining.

● He pitted without incident and restarted the 500-lap race in 10th with 50 laps remaining.

● Bowyer made it back to seventh before the checkered flag fell.

 

Notes:

●  Bowyer earned his second top-10 of the season and his 16th top-10 in 27 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.

●  Bowyer finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points and eighth in Stage 2 to earn an additional three bonus points.

●  Brad Keselowski won the Martinsville 500 to score his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .594 of a second.

●  There were seven caution periods for a total of 56 laps.

●  Twenty of the 36 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.

●  Kyle Busch leaves Martinsville as the championship leader with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang:

“I don’t think anybody obviously had anything for (Keselowski) or (Elliott). I think we were a top three car for sure, but we kept beating ourselves. I guess we need to get our stuff together on being on the same page with that pit road speed. It’s such an important thing and such a big part of this style of racing, where track position is everything. We push it to the limit, but it’s so hard to practice pit road speed. You’ve got trucks on pit road when you’re trying to practice that. I’m not making any excuses, it’s just when you’re trying to pinch every little thing out of it, it was hard this week to practice pit road speed because of all the stuff on pit road.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

TSC PR

Race Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Harvick started fourth and finished 11th.

● Settled into sixth place after 15 laps, but soon grabbed fifth when he passed polesitter Joey Logano on lap 19.

● “Way too loose,” said Harvick on lap 32 after teammate Clint Bowyer got by to take fifth.

● Caution on lap 68 allowed Harvick to bring his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang to the attention of his pit crew, where he got four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.

● Harvick restarted in eighth, but by lap 100 had dropped to ninth.

“As soon as I let off the brake, it goes sideways,” said Harvick on lap 104.

Pitted for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment at the conclusion of the stage.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Started 11th and finished seventh, collecting four bonus points.

● Climbed back up to ninth following a caution on lap 147.

Harvick radioed on lap 200 that he was “loose off (the corner), but getting better.”

Held steady in seventh place through the end of the stage.

● Pitted for four tires and fuel at the end of the stage. Only adjustment was to tire pressures.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261-500):

Started 11th and finished sixth.

● Despite emerging from the pits in 11th place, Harvick drove his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang up to sixth by lap 291.

Caution on lap 313 sent Harvick to the pits for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment to tighten up his racecar. Remained in sixth place for the lap-319 restart.

● Stayed in sixth through caution on lap 374, whereupon Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and another right-rear wedge adjustment.

● The Mobil 1 pit crew picked up one spot on pit road, sending Harvick back out in fifth for the lap-379 restart.

● Battled door-to-door with the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin, with Hamlin getting past on lap 458, dropping Harvick to sixth.

● Maintained sixth place through the end of the race.

 

Notes:

● Harvick earned his fifth top-10 of the season and his 18th top-10 in 36 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.

● Brad Keselowski won the Martinsville 500 to score his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .594 of a second.

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 56 laps.

● Twenty of the 36 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Busch leaves Martinsville as the championship leader with a 21-point advantage over second-place Hamlin.

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

It was an OK day for us. I think as you look at our Martinsville stuff, it’s been hit or miss. I feel like I was a little better than the 11 (Hamlin) and the 12 (Ryan Blaney), but you’ve got to be able to get by them on the restarts. We just never could get the car right all day and be able to let off the brake and roll to the center of the corner. I couldn’t quite get to the throttle like I needed to and kind of just, I don’t know, we could kind of hold our ground on the restarts, but not really gain anything, and track position was a big deal. It was definitely not what we wanted, but not a bad day for us at Martinsville.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

TSC PR

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