Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13846)

SPARTA, Ky-- For Kyle Busch, 700 miles of racing will ensue on Saturday from Kentucky Speedway.

 

With the postponement of the NASCAR Xfintiy Series Also 300, Busch, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick, and Ty Dillon are also slated to run in the Alsco 300.

 

“It’s going to be challenging and especially during the day. We weren’t anticipating a day race so that’s going to make for a crazy event, that’s for sure,” said Busch.

 

Because teams were unable to get practice sessions in on Thursday, teams practiced at 8:30 p.m. EDT this morning.

 

“We practiced early this morning and I felt like it was a really good practice session for what we needed to do at night because the track was cool and it wasn’t hot and heated up like it was later on this afternoon,” said Busch. “Qualifying was a handful, it was way different than what we had all this morning in practice so that’s going to make it a handful tomorrow. Who’s going to be the best guy to adjust all that for having a fast car and making sure their car sticks well is going to win.”

 

For drivers pulling double-duty, preparation for afternoon and evening conditions begin tonight.

 

“It’s going to be tough for sure. I’m not exactly sure how to handle it yet, but it’s certainly not the circumstances I would have liked to have been in, but we got what we got and I’ll try to prepare as best as I can tonight and get as many fluids as I can tonight and then make sure you keep drinking and keep the fluids going for tomorrow,” said Ky. Busch. “It’s just a matter of making sure you don’t get yourself too dehydrated and start to cramp up and things like that. It’s going to make for a long day for sure if it’s going to be 95 degrees and hot and sunny during the first one and it will make the second one at night a little better. Still going to be a long, long day.”

 

Temperatures for the Also 300 are slated to be in the mid-70s, while the Quaker State 400 temperature is slated to be in the mid-to-upper 70s.

 

Green flag for the Alsco 300 is schedule to fly shortly after 12:00 p.m. EDT and the green flag for the Quaker State 400 is slated for 7:45 p.m. EDT.

SPARTA, Ky.— Kyle Busch will start from the pole in the Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway after setting the track record.

The first round of qualifying saw Kyle Larson unable to make a lap in the session due to his failing of the Laser Inspection System.  Chase Elliott was fastest at 189.434 mph. Matt Kenseth was second fastest at 189.029 mph. Kasey Kahne was third fastest at 188.904 mph. Jimmie Johnson was fourth fastest at 188.646 mph. Joey Logano rounded out the top-five at 188.646 mph. Notable drivers who did not advance to the second round of qualifying include Austin Dillon (P25), Ryan Newman (P31), and Larson (P40). All drivers will make the field.

In the second round of qualifying, Ky. Busch was fastest at 190.282 mph. Martin Truex Jr. was second fastest at 190.194 mph. Matt Kenseth was third fastest at 189.740 mph. Jamie McMurray was fourth fastest at 189.713 mph. Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five at 189.687 mph. Notable drivers who did not advance include Dale Earnhardt Jr (P13), Kurt Busch (P15), and Ricky Stenhouse Jr (P18).

The third round of qualifying was about to begin, but as the rains approached the speedway, qualifying was deemed complete.

SPARTA, Ky.— After winning the 2014 Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has become a prominent voice on social media.

 

Earnhardt Jr. uses Periscope after every race to interact with fans no matter how great or terrible his race was just hours prior. He uses Twitter on a regular basis to interact with fans and to answer their questions.

 

“Social media, I really have to hold back sometimes. I could do a Periscope everyday. I enjoy social media. I don’t want to be the guy on there too much. I am eager to do it. I love the sarcasm. You get to know everyone so much better because we really don’t have time to spend with each other. Social media is so funny,” said Earnhardt Jr.

 

How does Earnhardt Jr approach social media?

“I use Twitter as a message board just to goof around and laugh, have fun, and see what everyone else is asking about. I use Instagram as more of a story telling with pictures and videos. It’s a blast. I have enjoyed it a lot,” said Earnhardt Jr.

 

If you don’t already, you can follow Earnhardt Jr on Twitter and Instagram @DaleJr.

SPARTA, Ky.— As silly season has ramped up in NASCAR, Matt Kenseth’s name has been brought up as a driver who could leave his current organization, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).

 

"As of today, I do not have a job for next year," Kenseth stated Friday morning in his media availability. "I don't think I'll have the option to race at JGR next year.”

 

The statement from Kenseth confirmed rumors around the garage that Kenseth would be leaving JGR and racing for a different organization come 2018.

 

Who replaces Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota Camry? That person could potentially be Erik Jones. When Jones was signed on at Furniture Row Racing for 2017, Joe Gibbs was adamant that the deal with Jones and Barney Visser was for one year only.

 

Just yesterday, Jones was unable to comment on what his plans for 2018 are:

 

“I’m just driving. For the most part, for me, whether – I don’t know where I’m going to be yet. They haven’t let me know. For me, I’ve been really happy at Furniture Row (Racing) and it’s been a steady group of guys over there that I think work really well together,” said Jones. “I don’t yet. Hopefully I know soon. You know it’s kind of getting down to that point. I guess it’s July now, so I’m sure we’ll have an answer here soon.”

 

Where will Kenseth land? How many years does Kenseth have left? The speculation is that Kenseth would be replacing Dale Earnhardt, Jr in the No. 88 at Hendrick Motorsports as a placeholder for William Byron in 2019. If Jones is leaving Furniture Row for JGR, Kenseth could potentially move to the No. 77 Toyota Camry.

 

When asked if it was a possibility, Kenseth stated, “I probably already said too much about what I’m not doing next year, so I don’t really have anything to talk about what I am doing at this point. At this point, I don’t have anything going on next year and am trying to get focused on running better and winning races.”

 

Despite the rumors and looking for a ride, Kenseth is focused on his performance in 2017.

 

“It’s been a slow start,” Kenseth said. “It has not been a good year at all. I just want to try to get back to victory lane and qualify for the playoffs and have a shot at the championship.

 

The landscape of JGR has changed over the past two years. With the vanishing of Carl Edwards, Daniel Suarez was brought up from the Xfinity Series, although most people suspected it would be Jones before Suarez at JGR.

 

With the comments from Kenseth, the domino about silly season is about to fall.

As part of its year-long "Baking it up a notch in the fight to end hunger" initiative, Nature's Bakery (naturesbakery.com) announced a new activation today that will utilize the on-the-go snacks and food brand's sponsorship of Stewart-Haas Racing to shine a spotlight on Feeding America® (feedingamerica.org) ‒ the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization.

Nature's Bakery will serve as a primary sponsor for four upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races split between drivers Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer. Aimed at spotlighting Feeding America's® work and amplifying a call to action to help end hunger in America, Nature's Bakery has donated part of its logo space to Feeding America, whose logos will adorn Patrick's No. 10 Ford Fusion and fire suit and Bowyer's No. 14 Ford Fusion and fire suit alongside Nature's Bakery logos during select races this summer.

Additionally, Nature's Bakery will present donation checks to local food bank representatives at the New Hampshire 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 16), the Pennsylvania 400 at the Pocono Speedway (July 30), and the Pure Michigan 400 at the Michigan International Speedway (August 13).

"We're proud to enhance our partnership with Feeding America by drawing attention to the organization's crucial work through placement of its logos on Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer's Ford Fusions," said Nature's Bakery founder Dave Marson. "Nature's Bakery is committed to 'Baking it up a notch in the fight to end hunger.'"

Nature's Bakery previously announced the launch of its partnership with Feeding America which includes a financial donation to help provide 1.65 million meals* for families struggling with hunger, as well as an additional 135,000 lbs. of Nature's Bakery food product donated to select food banks in Feeding America's nationwide network.

Further emphasizing the importance of Feeding America's work, Danica Patrick recently recorded a public service announcement for the hunger-relief organization.

More than 42 million people in the United States face hunger, including 13 million children. Feeding America provides more than 4 billion meals in the United States every year through its nationwide network of 200 member food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs.

Nature's Bakery and Feeding America recently rolled out new web pages to help educate the public about families facing hunger in America and to highlight the need for action:

www.naturesbakery.com/feeding-america

www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/about-feeding-america/partners/current-promotions/natures-bakery-baking-it-up-a-notch-in-the-fight-to-end-hunger.html

*$1 helps provide 11 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks. Nature's Bakery guarantees a minimum of 1,650,000 meals to Feeding America® and member food banks from June 1, 2017 to June 1, 2018.

Nature's Bakery PR

Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are hoping to capitalize this weekend on the speed they’ve shown in their past two trips to Kentucky Speedway.

Blaney did not get to qualify in 2015. Because the Wood Brothers were at that point a part-time team without a provisional starting spot he didn’t race. Last year, qualifying was rained out again, but he did get to start and ran among the leaders before being collected in a crash on a mid-race restart.
 
“I think our Cup cars have actually been really good [at Kentucky],” Blaney said on this week’s NASCAR teleconference. “We haven't really got the great finishes that I feel like we should have gotten there, but I'm excited to get back.  
 
“I've always enjoyed the race track and the atmosphere around it, and the repave of that place, what they did last year, I think hopefully will start to widen out and we'll be able to have multiple grooves there like it used to be.”
 
Blaney said he’s hoping a strong run at Kentucky will set the tone for the nine-race stretch run to the start of the 10-race playoffs.
 
He said would like to “just try to put a solid race together and try to build some momentum before the playoffs start here in a little bit.”
 
Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are positioned well for a spot in the playoffs due to their victory at Pocono Raceway last month, but relying solely on that win isn’t acceptable to Blaney and the team.
 
“I don't think we're really doing anything different from what we have done all year even before we got the win,” he said. “You go out and you try to win stages and win races just like before and just do what we all have been doing all year. 
 
“I think we've done a pretty decent job at it. We've won a few stages and won a race. You're just kind of trying to keep building your playoff status and trying to cushion everything from each round that just carries over. 
 
“We really haven't changed anything. We just go try to win races and stages and run up front like we've been trying to do all year.”

 Qualifying at Kentucky is set for Friday evening at 6:15 p.m., and the 267-lap, 400-mile race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on NBCSN.

WBR PR

SPARTA, Ky.— With nearly two inches of asphalt relaid at Kentucky Speedway, the Kentucky Tire Dragon was called into action to help rubber in the track.

 

Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Kentucky Speedway officials ran the tire dragon in the middle and lower grooves of the 1.5-mile facility.

 

However, when NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams arrived on the property on Wednesday morning for practice, the complaints rolled in that speedway officials should have ran the tire dragon in the upper groove of the facility.

 

 

Here are what drivers had to say about where the tire dragon ran:

 

“The thing is I thought they did a really good job at Texas. You saw multi-groove racing at Texas on a repave which is pretty unheard of. They can only do so much man. If we tire drag the whole track, everybody is naturally going to go back to the bottom because it’s a repave and it’s going to be – it’s just gonna be faster down there. It’s just how it’s going to work. I think even if they drag the top in, I don’t think it’s going to be faster up by the wall than it would be right on the white line,” said Erik Jones, who is pulling double duty this weekend. “It’s just a repave and it’s going to be like this for ten years. We’re going to be on the bottom and then we’ll start to work up to the middle. Kentucky really, even on the old surface, was just starting to get up to the wall, so it just takes time.”

 

Yeah, that’s been kind of an ongoing thing at race tracks is running the tire dragon in the bottom groove or putting grip in the bottom groove and it’s – to me I honestly think and from especially what I saw yesterday is the tire dragon, the rubber, the groove is going to be on the bottom especially in Turns 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 because that’s the shortest way around the track here and that’s where it’s going to make the most grip. It’s going to be the fastest. I feel like maybe we should’ve put like a small amount of rubber on the bottom just to help us get going, but a majority of the rubber concentrated in the middle groove and then up a little bit higher,” said NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ben Rhodes. “Wherever you’re going to put the rubber is where the cars are going to be the fastest at. But with the tires that Goodyear is bringing here, if they drug it in the middle groove, then our left-side tires would be adding to that rubber cause we’re – as drivers, the lower you get the happier you are, so we’re going to add that rubber ourselves to the bottom. I think if they allowed us to work it in that might have maybe widened the groove out a little bit more – if they focused maybe in the middle. Either way, they’ve done a good job with getting rid of the bumps we had last year. Putting that two inches of asphalt all the way around and the tighter compact asphalt that’s here I think is gonna be a little bit better for getting rubber down as well.”

 

The most adamant about running the tire dragon was Brendan Gaughan.

 

“It’s stupid. They need to drag the lanes we don’t race. The lane we don’t practice in. Now, Kentucky has a lot of rain so that will wash lots of it away anyways. You could’ve done the upper two lanes and worked your way down. Lots of places could do that,” said Gaughan. “For some reason, someone doesn’t think thats a good idea. I don’t know why. I’d love to hear an answer for it. Nobody has ever given me one.”

 

Track officials stated that they did it because it worked during the Cup race last season. However, Gaughan was still not pleased with that answer noting that Cup races were shorter.

 

“There are 25 more teams that run harder than in this (Xfinity) series,’’ Gaughan said. “You have more people battling, more race cars, more laps to do it. It works great,” said Gaughan. “I think we’ve all seen in the media and the drivers, the tire dragon works great. … Then why not put it in the places that you want the track to grow to, not where you know that everybody wants to go?’’

 

Racing action from Kentucky Speedway kicks off with tonight’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports 1.

After a crazy Saturday night at Daytona, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kentucky Speedway for the Seventh Annual Quaker State 400.

40 drivers are slated to arrive at Kentucky Speedway for the event.

There have only been six events at Kentucky. Only three times has the race had a different pole winner and a different race winner. Only two races have been won from the pole with Brad Keselowski being the last one to do so in 2014. In 2012, Keselowski set the race record at 145.607 mph. Keselowski also set the qualifying record in 2014 at 188.791 mph.

This is the first time in two years that NASCAR is not testing out a new aero package to be run for the next season at Kentucky.

Teams will have four seats of tires for practice, one set for qualifying, and eight sets for the race. Teams will run the same led-side tire code as last year, but will receive a new right side code. Goodyears goal is to provide more grip and introduce more tire wear.

Drivers are excited about returning to Kentucky Speedway.

“I’m really looking forward to Kentucky this weekend. It has been a good track for us in the past. We have made some gains on our intermediate program so I think our Fords should show some speed this weekend. We will carry our momentum from our win at Daytona and hopefully can leave Kentucky with another strong run in our Fifth Third Ford,” said last week’s winner, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“I really enjoy racing at Kentucky and I’m looking forward to making my first-career Cup start there this weekend. We’ve had some good runs there in the truck and XFINITY series over the years, so hopefully some of that can translate over to this weekend. We are coming off a good weekend in Daytona, and while we didn’t get the finish I think we deserved, I feel like we really built some momentum as a team heading into this weekend. I’m looking forward to getting on the track on Friday and hopefully coming away with a good finish on Saturday night for everyone involved with this ARRIS team, “ said Daniel Suarez.

"We only go to Kentucky once a year so it's a little different from a lot of the other tracks that we go to. It's a little busier schedule this weekend because of the two-day show but we're excited to unload and get on track. Since the repave, Kentucky has changed a ton and really only has one groove. It's hard to race single file so we're going to have to make the most out of restarts and qualify as good as possible,” said Matt DiBenedetto.

Teams will have two practice sessions at 10:00 a.m. EDT and 1:00 p.m. EDT on the NBC Sports App. Teams will qualify at 6:15 p.m. EDT on Friday on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network. The Quaker State 400 will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

For Matt DiBenedetto, his NASCAR career has been all about making “a lot out of a little”.

 

The 25-year old grew up in Grass Valley, California. Living in California, DiBenedetto would constantly ride four wheelers and dirt bikes from a very young age. From the get go, DiBenedetto considers himself “pretty much wide open and out of control.” At the age of five, DiBenedetto started watching NASCAR on his own by forcing his dad to stop flipping through television channels.

 

While playing baseball, the veteran driver went to a local track and watched his teammate race on dirt. From his first experience at the track, DiBenedetto continued to bug “the heck out of my dad to let me do that.” The ironic part for DiBenedetto is that nobody in his family had a racing background. “I came to the conclusion I must be adopted,” said DiBenedetto.

 

At the age of 12, the DiBenedetto family packed their bags and headed east to Hickory, North Carolina. DiBenedetto described that transition as “interesting” and a “culture shock”. 

 

“I was young so I couldn’t understand what we were doing. To me, we were winning everything out in California. I needed to pursue this to where racing is bigger. We were really naive,” said the veteran  driver.

 

Now, DiBenedetto considers North Carolina home and would not live anywhere else, even if he wasn’t racing.

 

At the age of 15, DiBenedetto started running Limited Late Models at Hickory Speedway.  While racing at Hickory, the veteran driver was running against Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), who had a development driver racing at Hickory. During that year, DiBenedetto won the championship. Winning that championship, the name “Matt DiBenedetto” began trinkling throughout the shop at JGR as someone who was “making a lot out of a little.”

 

“The word kinda got around the shop that we were doing a lot with a little, which has been the story of my career. They knew we were on a tight budget, didn’t have much to work with, winning races. It was a good way to get the word out,” said the 25-year old.

 

In 2009, at the age of 17, DiBenedetto was signed on at JGR as a developmental driver. “It was crazy. I could have cried that day. It was unexpected. I didn’t know it was coming. All of this happened really quick, it looked like a blurb,” DiBenedetto stated. During the time, the veteran driver ran in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series as well as a handful of NASCAR Xfinity Series events.

 

At Memphis Motorsports Park in 2009, DiBenedetto made his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start. “I was pretty naive. I was really excited. It was short track so it fit my background. I wasn’t too worried about it,” said DiBenedetto.

 

He started the weekend qualifying in the fourth position. DIBenedetto was running in the front for majority of the race until an incident on pit road sent him to the back of the field. Despite the incident, the 25 year old worked his way back towards the front passing drivers like Kyle Busch. The organization had a shot at winning, but was caught in the scuffle between Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards. DiBenedetto finished 14th that day.  “At the end of the all, I was frustrated we didn’t win. That was my mentality. I didn’t really understand how good were in my first race,” said DiBenedetto.

 

Ultimately, the relationship ended at JGR for DiBenedetto. He went back to running K&N as well as some start and park rides in Xfinity.  During that time, the veteran driver appreciated things more than he did before. Despite the circumstances, DiBenedetto continued to make a lot out of a little.

 

“Going about it this route, the day that I win a race, I will be crying like a little girl. I won’t care if I get any criticism for it because I had to work so hard to get there. I had to regroup and hit rock bottom,” DiBenedetto stated about this route.

 

When the call came from Ron Devine of BK Racing, things began to change quickly for DiBenedetto. The veteran drivers owes the ride to JD Gibbs, who called Devine.

 

“Man, it was cool. I owe a lot of that to JD Gibbs. Although I wasn’t at JGR, JD still called Ron and told him to give me an opportunity. So, obviously that weighed in heavily. The day I got the opportunity, I didn’t know if it was for one or two races,  but it turned into a full season turning around that 83 car from missing races to making it their top running car,” said DiBenedetto.

 

In 2016, at Bristol Motor Speedway, DiBenedetto scored his career best finish of sixth. For DiBenedetto, that sixth place finish is considered a “win”. “It was cool because I felt that I validated myself and showed that I can be in a position one day winning races. I have the ability to win races. I just worked the old school way,” the veteran driver stated.

 

 

Going into 2017, DiBenedetto made the personal and professional decision to leave BK Racing for GoFAS Racing. The decision to move came with backlash from peers that he would be ruining his career. However, that is not the case for DiBenedetto. “I felt like going to GoFAS had lots of potential taking a team that ran 38th to 40th last year, I was like we can go in there and turn it around making a lot out of a little. If we do that, it would turn a lot of heads,” said DiBenedetto. Sure enough, the team has turned heads. With a small budget, good sponsors, and dedicated crew members, the team is running significantly better than 2016.

 

“We had to battle some growing pains, but to take a team and grow it way more competitively, it reflects on all of us. To me, that was the best possibility,” said DiBenedetto.

 

At the beginning of the year, the crew at GoFAS was tired and exhausted putting in long hours making the cars better. For DiBenedetto, the beginning of the year thigh him how to be the cheerleader that motivates and keeps the team together, despite the long hours.

 

“At the beginning, we knew it was going to be a lot of work running a small budget and having the right people that know what needs to be done with the cars. To be honest, there were lots of guys who were very tired at the beginning of the year. It taught me a lot about keeping the group together and keep them motivated. I had to be a cheerleader for our guys because they would get tired and frustrated with so much work. It taught me a lot,” said DiBenedetto.

 

The team now feels prepared with the cars that they have in the shop. The long hours are still there, but they are more reasonable for the team. “Our guys are still working long hours, but reasonable. We are more caught up. It’s more relaxed from where we started the season,” said DiBenedetto.

 

In the first half of the season, the organization is confident and pleased with the speed and performance they have had. The organization knows where they need to run, who they should be running with, and who they should be beating. The team went through a four race stretch where things either broke or a tire was cut down, the team was encouraged where they were running before the incidents.

 

“As angry and frustrated we were at not finishing due to being rushed or overlooking some things, some smaller teams struggles, we were encouraged because we had a great car and we were running with Danica or the 95, people that have better equipment than us, we were outperforming. All it did was motivate us to take the extra time to dot out i’s and cross our t’s,” said DiBenedetto.

 

In his personal life, DiBenedetto has been married to his wife Taylor since 2015. Unlike many drivers, being married did not change his approach on racing. “It didn’t. My wife would be okay with me saying that racing comes first before everything,” said DiBenedetto.

 

As the many drivers within the NASCR garage have went to cycling, DiBenedetto is his own person by lifting weights in the gym.

 

“I like lifting weights because it is more mental than anything. I kinda have more of that build. It’s a big stress reliever. What we do for a living is really stressful,” said the 25-year old driver. “When i can go lift weights, it mentally makes me feel better and gets me through the racing struggle. It’s a way for me to be unique.”

 

For those who follow DiBenedetto on social media, they understand that DiBenedetto likes to have fun. Earlier this season, DiBenedetto made his Snapchat account public to be able to interact with the younger fan base. “Getting a reputation is an easy way for me to have fun with fans and share some of my racing life and the fun, normal side of me,” said DiBenedetto.

 

At the end of the day when the racing career comes to an end, the veteran driver wants to be known in the same way as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. DiBenedetto wants to be known as someone who was fan friendly and friendliest to his fans. “Obviously, everyone can say winning races and championships, that’s a given. What I want to be know on top of that would being the nicest and cares the most about his fans,” stated the veteran driver.

 

You can follow DiBenedetto on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @mattdracing. You can follow GoFAS Racing on Twitter and Facebook @GoFasRacing32.