Monster Energy Cup Series News (13445)
For Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), there are racetracks on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule to which he’s been able to quickly adapt. There are others that took time to master. Then, there’s Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
He’s found his way to victory lane at 15 of 23 active racetracks on the circuit for a total of 29 career NASCAR Cup Series triumphs. His first came at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Driving the No. 97 Ford, he found his way to the winner’s circle in just his third start at the .533-mile oval. It took 32 attempts at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway to find his way to victory lane, but he was finally able to do so in the 2017 season-opening Daytona 500.
At the eight mile-and-half venues where the NASCAR Cup Series competes, Busch has earned a total of six victories. They’ve come at four tracks – three at Atlanta Motor Speedway and one apiece at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch is still searching for victory lane at four – Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Kansas.
Kansas has been a racetrack for Busch that has been complicated and vexing, but since being paired with crew chief Tony Gibson in 2015, he’s seen marked improvement. In the four races with Gibson atop the pit box, Busch has scored finishes of eighth, sixth, third and 13th for an average finish of 7.5. His average finish prior was 19th. So, while he has yet to find victory lane there, he has been able to compete at the track with the kind of consistency that could see him continue that trend of marked improvement this weekend.
Busch has been running at the end of all but two of the races he’s competed in at the 1.5-mile oval, the first DNF ending prematurely with an engine failure in 2003, the other due to an accident in October 2014. And in addition to a pair of top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 22 starts there, Busch owns one pole at Kansas, having scored the top starting spot in June 2011. The Kansas pole was the first of three consecutive poles Busch scored that month.
So, while a breakthrough victory at Kansas would add to the list of successes the Las Vegas native has experienced in his career, it would do much more than that for his 2017 championship hopes, as it would give Busch and his No. 41 team a second victory in 2017 and another five valuable bonus points for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. With his postseason eligibility already in place, they can head west and look to finally conquer Kansas.
Ryan Blaney and Jeremy Bullins head back this weekend to where it all started for them on the Cup circuit.
The driver and crew chief of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion made their debut in NASCAR’s elite series back in 2014 at Kansas Speedway in a Team Penske Ford.
Since moving to the Wood Brothers’ team, Blaney and Bullins have had some strong runs at Kansas as evidenced by their average finish there of 8.7 since they joined the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
The prospects for this weekend look bright, Bullins said, especially given the exceptional speed the No. 21 Ford has shown this season.
“One thing you can’t argue is that the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion has been fast each and every week in 2017,” he said. “While the last couple weeks haven’t ended how we wanted we had the speed we needed to be competitive.
“I’m excited to get back to an intermediate track for a few weeks because I felt like our run at Texas gave us a lot to build off of for the summer, and I think we can apply a lot of what we learned there to Kansas.”
Back in April at Texas Motor Speedway, Blaney qualified on the outside pole and dominated most of the race, leading 148 laps and winning the first two stages before late-race setbacks dropped him to 12th at the finish.
Kansas, like Texas, is an intermediate-length track, and the pavement there is still fresh enough to make it race much like Texas, especially since the Kansas race will be run under the lights, the first night race of the Cup season.
“While the asphalt at Kansas has started to age some since their last repave, I wouldn’t put it completely in the old surface category just yet,” Bullins said. “I’m also a big fan of night races so Saturday night races are fun for me.
“The track will have more grip than the daytime and should be fast, which is right up our alley.”
Qualifying for the GoBowling.com 400 is set for Friday at 5:45 p.m. (6:45 Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to start on Saturday just after 6:30 p.m. (7:30 Eastern Time) with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1.
Statement from Philippe Lopez, Director of Competition, Richard Petty Motorsports:
|Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series|
|5/7/2017 (post-race inspection)||Talladega||No. 43||L1||Sections 220.127.116.11.2 Post-Race General |
Note: Failed the post-race rear wheel steer on the LIS. Race finish is encumbered per Section 12.10 Encumbered Race Finishes.
|Crew chief (Drew Blickensderfer) has been fined $65,000 and suspended from the next three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points events. Team has been assessed with the loss of |
35 driver and 35 owner points.
|5/7/2017 (post-race inspection)||Talladega||No. 7||Safety||Sections 10.9.10.4: Tires and Wheels |
Note: Lug nut(s) not properly installed.
|Crew chief (Ken Davis) has been fined $10,000.|
|5/8/2017||N/A||Reid T. Ferguson, crew member||Behavioral |
|Sections 12.1; 19||Indefinite suspension from NASCAR|
A ninth- and fourth-place finish in the last two races catapults Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team into Kansas. The team hopes momentum from the good runs will continue this weekend at Kansas Speedway. The team moved up three spots in the Championship Standings and looks to continue their journey forward at a track that is historically good for them.
Almirola has 10 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at the 1.5-mile track. He scored three Top-10 finishes with his best of eighth coming in the spring of 2013 and 2014. Almirola also has experience leading the field at Kansas Speedway. In the fall race in 2012, Almirola led 69 laps and was poised for the win when a blown tire ended the team's day early. Last season wasn't as good as the team hoped. They raced as high as 14th in the spring race and finished 18th. In the fall, an accident early ended their day early.
"We're definitely on a good run here. The last two weeks have been really good for us. This team has worked hard all season, and we're finally getting the results to show for it. We hope the momentum continues this weekend at Kansas. I like Kansas and have had fast cars here in the past. We've been working hard on our intermediate track program. Even though it's been a few weeks since we raced at an intermediate track, the program is still at the forefront of what we are working on at the shop. The key is to unload fast and tweak the car to get better. We hope we have that this weekend with the No. 43 Smithfield Ford."
When it’s the week of the NASCAR Cup Series spring race at Kansas Speedway the questions and stories resurface about the potential victories that got away from Martin Truex Jr. on the 1.5-mile oval.
The Furniture Row Racing driver will be aiming to have a positive story to tell after Saturday night’s race in his debut run of 2017 with the Auto-Owners Insurance primary sponsorship. It will be the first of six races this season that Auto-Owners Insurance will have the primary paint scheme on Truex’s No. 78 Toyota Camry.
“No matter how many heartbreaks we had at Kansas I have all the confidence that our team will provide me with another fast race car and we will once again be competing for the win,” stated Truex. “I am excited about having our car with the Auto-Owners Insurance colors for the first time this season. We had good runs last year with the blue Auto-Owners Toyota, including a victory at the Southern 500 (Darlington, S.C.).
“Auto-Owners is also offering a fantastic sweepstakes for race fans with a number of grand prize winning options. Details are at www.autoownerstruexperience.
Of the multiple heartbreaking losses for Truex at Kansas the one that probably hurt the most was at last year’s spring race when he had the field covered with a staggering seven-to-eight-second lead.
After qualifying on the pole and leading a race high of 173 laps the flukiest of flukes destroyed his chances of visiting Victory Lane.
After pitting for fresh tires on Lap 210 of 267 he reported that he had a loose wheel and the car was shaking. The culprit was a broken head bolt off the brake caliper that landed on the stud. For some unknown reason the bolt defied gravity and stayed on the top of the rounded stud which eventually caused the tire to shred. Truex had no choice but to make an unscheduled pit stop. He went from a dominating lead to finishing 14th.
“Why that tiny bolt didn’t fall off the stud was beyond me,” said Truex.
The year before Truex led a race high of 95 laps. His shot at victory was spoiled late in the race with a roll-the-dice pit stop to take fuel but not fresh tires.
“Yeah, that was another tough one to have slip away – no one’s fault, a difficult decision that didn’t play out in our favor,” said Truex, who went from a potential win to posting a ninth-place result.
Another strong performance at Kansas for Truex was in April 2012 when he led a race high of 172 laps but lost the lead late in the race and finished second. He also finished second in the 2012 fall race at Kansas.
In 2013 he led 46 laps in the spring race and finished fourth.
Cassill on Kansas
"I always enjoy going to Kansas Speedway. The pavement is aging, but it’s aging slowly. I feel like the last couple races at Kansas have been a lot of fun. I feel like the groove has really widened out there even though the pavement is smooth and fast.
"Our cars have been running really well the past few races. Unfortunately, we've had a couple mechanical things happen that have prevented us from getting the finishes we're capable of. We're due for a little bit better luck, so we'll be looking for a good finish for our A&W team this week."
Saturday, May 13, 3:15pm - Ford Performance display (Kansas Speedway Fan Zone)
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team will try to reverse a three-week string of bad racing luck this Saturday night in the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Despite having speed at Bristol, Richmond and Talladega, the Wood Brothers’ famous No. 21 was plagued by a rare power steering failure and consecutive late-race crashes that turned otherwise promising days into 33rd-, 36th- and 39th-place finishes.
Fortunately, Blaney still is in playoff hunt as he pulls into Kansas 13th on the driver points chart.
If there is a good luck charm to help reverse Blaney’s recent racing fortunes, Kansas Speedway is it. In his last three races in the heartland, he has posted finishes of fifth, 14th and seventh for an average finish of 8.6.
On Bouncing Back at Kansas Speedway:
“The last three races have had rough endings, especially when you consider we had fast cars at Bristol, Richmond and Talladega.”
“I'm excited to get to Kansas and hope we can get it rolling and have a positive result there. I always like going to Kansas. I feel like it’s a track that suits this team well. It’s always been a decent track for me. Kansas really challenges teams and driver skill to run well. It's the fastest intermediate track we go to and tires don't fall off.”
Ford Performance PR
When Danica Patrick gets to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City for this weekend’s Go Bowling 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event, she will be looking to celebrate another wonderful race at the 1.5-mile track.
Entering the weekend, Patrick is looking to score results similar to her May 2014 performance at Kansas, when she started ninth and finished seventh. The effort was one of two times in her career she has started and finished in the top-10, with the other being the 2013 Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where she started on the pole and finished eighth. Patrick ran well throughout the night at Kansas in 2014 and was scored as high as third late in the race before finishing seventh.
After a top-10 run at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway Sunday was derailed by a late-race accident, the timing couldn’t be better for Patrick to return to Kansas. Aside from her seventh-place finish in May 2014, Patrick has earned a total of four top-20 results at the track in NASCAR Cup Series competition. In two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts there, she finished a career-best 10th in October 2012.
Patrick has also made six IndyCar Series starts at Kansas. She qualified on the pole in 2005, and earned one top-five finish and three top-10s at the track in that series.
For Saturday’s race at Kansas Speedway, Patrick’s No. 10 Ford Fusion will sport a special paint scheme featuring “Wonder Woman.” The iconic “Wonder Woman” logo appears on the hood and TV panel while “Wonder Woman” herself graces the hood and both door panels. In theaters June 2, Gal Gadot returns as the title character in the epic action adventure “Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins.
In addition, Patrick’s No. 10 Ford will feature the One Cure initiative through a collaboration with Code 3 Associates. One Cure is a project led by the Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center, where innovative cancer treatments for pets are being evaluated in clinical trials to benefit people. The center sees more than 1,500 new animal cancer patients every year, with approximately 400 patients enrolling in carefully monitored clinical trials specific to their cancer type. The canine and feline patients are helping pioneer cancer research, moving cutting-edge treatments out of the laboratory and into clinical practice, ultimately providing hope to the next generation of animal and human cancer patients.
Channeling “Wonder Woman” herself, Patrick and her No. 10 “Wonder Woman”/One Cure Ford Fusion team will be looking to have a wonderful weekend at Kansas Speedway.
One year ago this weekend, Kyle Busch finally found his “nose” for victory at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. A look at his last eight starts on the 1.5-mile oval shows the last four starts there were quite the opposite of his four previous starts.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), heads to Kansas as the defending race winner of Saturday night’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Go Bowling 400, where things didn’t always go nearly as well as his race there one year ago.
The 1.5-mile oval built in 2001, which originally featured a constant 15 degrees of banking in the turns, underwent a massive renovation project leading into its October 2012 Cup Series event. The changes included repaving of the existing track surface, reconfiguration of the oval, and the addition of a new infield road course. The oval’s geometric shape also was changed to feature variable banking of 17 to 20 degrees in the turns.
To say that Busch didn’t take well to the new surface would be quite the understatement. From October 2012 to 2013, Busch had three consecutive DNFs (Did Not Finish) there, with accidents ending his day each time, for final results of 31st, 38th and 34th.
Feeling snake bit on the new Kansas surface, Busch and his M&M’S team took a different approach starting with the April 2014 race by starting from scratch with a brand new car. They attacked the track in the Heartland of America with the hopes that a fresh outlook would produce vastly different results. While a pit-road speeding penalty cost them precious track position and an even better finish in the race, the result and effort was much different than the three previous trips. Instead, they were competitive enough to turn the corner in terms of results.
In the October 2014 Cup Series race, Busch brought home his first ever top-five finish at Kansas. Anyone who has ever followed Busch’s career knows the 2015 Cup Series champion never cared much for moral victories. However, the momentum carried over from his first top-five at Kansas in October 2014 has remained to this day. So much so that, last May, Busch was able to bring home his first Cup Series win at the 1.5-mile oval – in the special M&M’S Red nose day scheme, no less – and follow it up with another top-five finish in the fall race. Finally, with the surface starting to wear, Kansas has become a place much more agreeable to Busch’s driving style.
For the third year in a row, M&M’S is partnering with Red Nose Day to encourage Americans to come together and get their #NosesOn to help end child poverty. M&M’S will once again donate more than $1 million to the Red Nose Day Fund to support programs that ensure children in need are safe, healthy and educated, both in the United States and around the world. In addition, this year’s Red Nose Day race broadcast will feature a new 60-second spot from M&M’S, showing the pride and passion of associates at Mars and that their dedication to bringing smiles to children in need goes above and beyond making chocolate candies. To learn more about M&M’S Red Nose Day efforts, follow the M&M’S social channels and check out hashtag #NosesOn.
To join in on the Red Nose Day fun, Busch and his No. 18 M&M'S Toyota will feature the aforementioned special Red Nose Day paint scheme in Saturday night’s race. And Busch and his car won’t be the only ones at Kansas donning Red Noses for the cause as M&M’S will provide attendees at Saturday night’s prerace festivities with their own Red Nose. Busch will also have some fun with fans by being part of a #NosesOn super selfie after a special Red Nose Day fan Q&A.
So, as the Cup Series heads to Kansas for Saturday’s race under the lights, Busch hopes his newly found success at Kansas helps him bring home his fifth consecutive top-five and his second career Cup Series wins in the Heartland of America.