Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13211)

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion, overcame two pit road penalties and improved six positions in the closing laps of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon to record a 13th-place finish. The result is Bayne’s fourth top-15 finish in six races in 2017.

“This was a good day for us here in Martinsville,” said Bayne after the race. “I’m really happy that we were able to come out of here with another top-15 finish and that we were able to keep our Ford clean for the most part. We’ve had a pretty good start to our season and I’m looking forward to getting to Texas next week and keeping that momentum going.”

Bayne took the green flag for the 500-Lap event from the 16th position after rain on Friday cancelled qualifying, forcing NASCAR to set the field by owner points, per the rulebook. Bayne maintained his top-20 track position throughout the early portion of Stage 1, before a pit road speeding penalty during a Lap 69 caution period sent the Roush Fenway Racing driver to the rear of the field. Despite losing valuable track position, Bayne raced his way back up to 23rd before a caution just eight laps shy of the end of Stage 1 gave the AdvoCare Ford another opportunity to hit pit road.

That pit stop just before the end of Stage 1 gave crew chief Matt Puccia a chance to make a strategy call, choosing to keep Bayne out on the racetrack for Stage 2. This strategy call paid off as Bayne began Stage 2 from the sixth position. The Knoxville, Tenn. native remained in the top 10 throughout the stage, taking the green-checkered flag in ninth on Lap 260.

After pitting for four tires and a chassis adjustment between stages, Bayne took the green for the final stage from seventh. Bayne continued to fight for position in the top 10 before pitting once again during a Lap 309 caution for four fresh tires. Returning to the track in 14th, Bayne remained in the top 15 until a speeding penalty on pit road during a Lap 391 caution period again sent the AdvoCare Ford to the rear of the field.

Despite losing his track position, Bayne never gave up and utilized a Lap 414 restart to improve six positions to 13th.

In the closing laps, Bayne would hold off a charge from Kasey Kahne to take the checkered flag in the 13th position. The result is Bayne’s fourth top-15 of the 2017 MENCS season and improves the Roush Fenway driver to 15th in the championship standings.

RFR PR

Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 130):

Started eighth, finished 10th to earn one race point.

Suffered minor front-end damage on lap three, then reported throughout stage his car had no rear grip.

Dropped as far back as 15th, then rallied back to 10th in the closing laps of the stage.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 260):              

Started 26th, finished 14th.

Dropped to 26th before start of Stage 2 after stop to add a rear spring rubber to help handling.

Stage 2 ran without caution; Bowyer drove by 12 cars under green-flag conditions and battled to stay on lead lap as race wound down.

 

Final Stage Recap (Ended at Lap 500):       

● Started 13th, finished seventh.

● Dropped to 16th after suffering front and rear damage in a lap-287 multicar accident.

● After repairs, Bowyer climbed as high as fourth in the closing laps.

 

Notes:                   

Rain canceled Friday’s qualifying session. The starting lineup was set by current 2017 owner points, per the NASCAR rulebook.

The race marked Bowyer’s fifth consecutive top-13 and third top-10 finish in 2017.

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:    

“We were just a little bit off today, but everybody kept working hard and didn’t give up. We really wanted to lead laps and take home the grandfather clock (winner’s trophy), so we are disappointed. We are still learning and getting better each week. This is a really good team, and SHR is a great organization. We’re going to get better and better as the season goes on.”

 

Next Up:               

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, April 9 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

 

TSC PR

A strong start to Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway by Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team began to unravel just past the halfway mark when Blaney was collected in a couple of crashes that left him mired two laps down and ended with a disappointing 25th place finish.

The finish was no indication of the early speed shown by Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team. After starting seventh, Blaney worked his way into the top five and was running fourth when the first caution flag flew. A problem with a lug nut stuck in the wrench’s socket dropped him to 20th on the next restart, but he soon worked his way forward and finished the first 130-lap Stage in seventh place.

Despite concerns about a tire rub in Stage Two, Blaney ran in the top five throughout the segment before finishing fifth, thereby earning 10 championship points for the two segments. He now has earned 41 stage points for the season, sixth best among Cup drivers.

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew used the caution period after the second stage to make sure there was no body damage that might damage a tire, and he returned to the track in 15th position.
 
But he was collected in a crash at Lap 290 that damaged the No. 21 Ford Fusion and put him down one lap to the leaders.
 
A second incident just after the restart caused more damage, and the ensuing unscheduled pit stop trapped him two laps behind the leaders.
 
With the race playing out so that there wasn’t a realistic opportunity to regain lost laps, Blaney soldiered home 25th behind race winner and Ford teammate Brad Keselowski.
 
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he was proud of the way his young driver drove his way into the lead pack and held his own against some of NASCAR’s best drivers at Martinsville.
 
“Ryan did a great job in the first two stages, staying in the top ten and getting those extra stage points.” Wood said. “But once we got caught up that crash and had to pit under green to repair damage, our day didn’t turn out like we hoped.  
 
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team didn’t leave Martinsville empty handed. Prior to the race, the Wood Brothers received the Clay Earles Award from the speedway. The award, named for the late track founder and presented by his grandson and current track president Clay Campbell, was accepted by Glen, Leonard, Eddie and Len Wood.
 
“It was a great honor to receive that award,” Glen Wood said. “Clay Earles’ family and our family have meant a lot to each other over the years.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, who remain in seventh place in the driver and owner standings, will return to the track next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

WBR PR

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fought hard in his No. 17 Fastenal Ford for 500 laps at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon to earn a 10th-place finish at the half-mile track.  The top-10 is Stenhouse's first at the Virginia short track. 

“Going into today we had better hopes for Martinsville than normal,” said Stenhouse.  “When we got turned, I thought that our day was going to go like it usually does.  We fought hard all day. We got our car better all day.  I was really good on long runs.  I really needed long runs.  Those cautions really stacked me up.  Once I got going I was really good.”  

Rain on Friday canceled qualifying, which left Stenhouse with a 24th-place starting position for the 263-mile race.  Early in the race, Stenhouse began making progress, gaining a few positions in the opening laps.  That progress was halted when contact with a competitor caused the No. 17 Ford to spin on Lap 70.

Stenhouse visited pit road for four tires and fuel and to make sure that the fenders would not cause a tire rub.  On Lap 76, the No. 17 Ford restarted 36th, one lap down.  When the caution flag flew 30 laps later, crew chief Brian Pattie opted to keep Stenhouse on the track to try and get closer to the free pass position.

Pattie’s plan worked well, with Stenhouse getting the free pass to get back on the lead lap at the conclusion of stage one.  During the break in action between rounds, Stenhouse visited pit road for fresh tires and fuel, along with air pressure and wedge adjustments.

As the free pass recipient, Stenhouse was required to restart stage two at the tail end of the longest line, in 27th position.  With stage two running caution-free, Stenhouse was forced to battle the leader to remain on the lead lap.  With a power move on the No. 18, Stenhouse took his spot back on the lead lap just before the conclusion of the second stage.

Stenhouse started stage three in 16th on Lap 274.  As is characteristic of the tough, close racing at Martinsville Speedway, Stenhouse’s No. 17 Fastenal Ford accumulated some cosmetic damage during stage three that forced the team to make several pit stops for repairs under caution.

As the laps wound down, Stenhouse and team did not give up, ultimately crossing the finish line in 10th.

RFR PR

Erik Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY team took all that the tough Martinsville Speedway short track could throw at them to earn a 12th-place finish in the STP 500 and valuable lessons for when they return later this season.

The day was a mixed bag for the Furniture Row Racing team that, in the end, showcased the determination the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and his 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry team have. After a 17th-place finish in the first stage, crew chief Chris Gayle chose to leave the No. 77 Toyota Camry on the track since they’d made a stop for fuel and tires just 24 laps before.

The decision moved Jones up to fifth for the start of the second stage and he took advantage of a 128-lap green-flag run to finish eighth, earning three valuable championship points in doing so.

The third and final segment saw Jones drop to 18th and then have to make a green-flag stop on lap 383 for a tire rub after contact with the No. 13 of Ty Dillon. Then, on Lap 418, the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry was collected in a multi-car accident in Turn 3, causing extensive damage to the hood and right-front side of the car. However, the repaired damage actually seemed to help the handling of the car, allowing Jones to restart 20th on lap 428 and then pick up eight positions in the final 73 laps.

“There were a lot of ups and downs for the 5-hour ENERGY team today,” said Jones. “I thought at one point we had a pretty good car. We were running up in the top five but as the day went on we kind of lost the handle on it, got tight in the center and just never could really get it back. Right up there at the end we went two laps down. We had to pit under green. We had a tire rub and after that the 5-hour ENERGY Camry got caught up in an accident, but honestly after that was the best we were all day. Not exactly sure where we came home, but that’s a good recovery for us. Finishing 12th isn’t the day we wanted but we’ll definitely take it for the first time here at Martinsville.”

Jones gained two spots, to 13th, in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

“I knew today at Martinsville Speedway would be tough,” said Gayle. “It’s my first time back as a rookie NASCAR Cup Series crew chief and Erik’s first race here in a Cup car. I was expecting it to be tough back and forth and we definitely fought the handling on the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry all day. But we worked hard and, after getting in the crash late in the race, Erik and the team made a great rebound to come back. We then had a really strong run to close the race out to finish 12th. We obviously want to finish better than that but, for the first time here, it turned out okay and we all learned a lot.”

The race winner was Brad Keselowski. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, AJ Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The race had 18 lead changes among seven drivers and 14 cautions for 95 laps.

The next NASCAR Cup Series race is Sunday, April 9 at the repaved 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

FRR PR

First, the good news for Martin Truex Jr. He won the first stage of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. He picked up an additional 10 standing points and one playoff point. He now leads the Cup series with four stage wins and ranks second with nine playoff points, which carry through the first three rounds of the post season.

But after winning the first stage (Lap 130 of 500), Truex’s No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota was never the same on the half-mile track. He struggled with handling issues and brought the flat-black car home to a 16th-place finish, between seven time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson (15th) and current points leader Kyle Larson (17th).

Though the result was Truex’s worst in the first six races of the 2017 season, he still remained third in the driver point standings.

“I just couldn’t drive off the corner,” said Truex, who led a total of 42 laps. “The car pushed and nothing appeared to be right after the first stage. It was nice to at least get something out of the race by winning the first stage and picking up more valuable points. Those extra playoff points could turn out to be very important when we get into the post season.”

Truex, who drove with a high level of tenacity during the 500 lapper, appeared to be gaining ground late in the race. But as he was attempting to pass Matt Kenseth for sixth on Lap 430, the cars of Truex and Kenseth made contact, sending Truex into a smoky spin and all the way back to 17th place.

“That could have been the end of the day for us, but our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota survived major damage,” explained Truex. “We were able to hang on at the end. We’re not sure why we lost our performance edge after the first stage but our guys will look at everything and get it right. This was not the way we wanted to finish our first short track race of the season.”

The race winner was Brad Keselowski. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, AJ Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The race had 18 lead changes among seven drivers and 14 cautions for 95 laps.

The next NASCAR Cup Series race is Sunday, April 9 at the newly-repaved 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

FRR PR

"We had a really fast Okuma Chevrolet and that's because of the guys on the team and everyone at RCR. No one panicked. We didn't have the speed we needed during the first couple of practice sessions. For some reason we never do here. I just can't go fast enough to start then consistently get better throughout practices and throughout the race. It's nice to be able to do that but I wish I could be fast right away. Starting 20th was big for us. Our car had takeoff speed. It's the first racecar we've had that can actually restart and go for the first five laps. That's important for us and something you have to focus on with the way that the racing is now with stages. Short run speed is key and if you have long run speed, falloff doesn't really matter because you're going to have a caution at some point. I'm just proud of the guys because we finished fourth in this race last year and we were able to come back and back it up with a fifth place finish today. I thought we were going to have a little something for the two leaders. In the middle of the run our car just lacked a little bit more turn and forward drive. At the end we could come back to them but the 22 car backed down in front of me. Overall it was a good run." 
 
- Austin Dillon

Paul Menard and the No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevy Team finish 19th at Martinsville Speedway 
"We took a gamble with 82 laps to go by taking the wave-around rather than pitting for fresh tires. Track position is so important here at Martinsville Speedway. The gamble seemed to work, and it looked like it was going to pay off nicely for us for the finish. Unfortunately, we got collected in an accident shortly after that which caused some pretty bad nose damage to our No. 27 Duracell / Menards Chevy. But that's part of racing at a short track like this. I always enjoy racing at Martinsville, and I hope to improve on our finish later this season when we come back."
- Paul Menard

Ryan Newman and the No. 31 Chevrolet Team Score Eighth-Place Finish in First Short-Track Event of 2017 at Martinsville Speedway
"We never got the corner connected, entry, middle and exit all day long for our No. 31 Chevrolet. We just struggled a little bit. I'm surprised we finished as good as we did for how bad the car felt, but all in all, it was a good job for the guys. Matt Kenseth and I had a hell of a race for nothing, but that is sometimes what you've got to do. It was just fun racing at Martinsville Speedway all day long. A lot of single-file racing today. I think the other tire might have been better, but we will just keep digging." 

- Ryan Newman



RCR PR

After scoring points in the first two stages of the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, a stuck jack on pit road and a Stage 3 wreck pushed the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion back to a 25th-place finish.

Starting seventh due to a qualifying rainout and a grid based on owner’s points, driver Ryan Blaney was a mainstay in the top 10 during the first two stages of the race. He overcame a long lap-70 pit stop when a lug nut got stuck in an air gun to finish Stage 1 where he started, adding an extra four points.

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford did not pit between stages and moved up to third to start Stage 2. Blaney got passed on lap 149 and spent 73 laps in fourth before finishing the second segment in fifth, tallying another six points.

Things began to go awry in the final stage of the 70th anniversary race at the Wood Brothers’ home track. Pitting from the fifth spot after Stage 2, a jack got stuck under the car causing Blaney and company to lose 10 spots of track position. Almost 60 laps later, Blaney got caught in a multi-car wreck resulting in damage that required multiple trips to the pits to repair.

When the dust settled, Blaney was all the way back to 29th place, two laps behind the leader. He made up four places racing a heavily taped Fusion during the final 100 laps.

Despite the finish, helped by scoring 10 points in the first two stages of the race, Blaney stays in the top 10 – seventh – in the driver points standings.  

The NASCAR circuit heads to the Lone Star State next weekend, April 9, for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race begins at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Ford Performance PR

Stage 1 Recap (Ended on Lap 130):

Danica Patrick started 29th and finished 25th.

● The No. 10 TaxAct Ford Fusion started the race from the 29th position after Friday’s qualifying session was cancelled and the field was set per the NASCAR rule book.

● Patrick struggled getting the car to turn in the center of the corner and went a lap down to the leader at lap 52. The team made adjustments on trips to pit road at laps 73, 110 and 126.

● The No. 10 team was the recipient of the free pass when the caution flag waved at lap 123. That put Patrick back on the lead lap to conclude Stage 1.

Stage 2 Recap (Ended on Lap 260):        

Patrick started 12th and finished 20th.

● As Patrick pitted four laps before the end of Stage 1, crew chief Billy Scott called for her to not pit between stages, which put the No. 10 TaxAct Ford team in 12th to start Stage 2.

● Stage 2 ran caution free, and Patrick went down a lap to the leader at lap 218.  

● Patrick reported the car was still “tight in the center” of the corner and that she had to “be careful to not get too loose in and off” as well. Scott called for tires, fuel and adjustments when the team pitted between stages.

Final Stage Recap (Ended on Lap 500):  

Patrick started 21st and finished 23rd.

● Patrick raced to put herself in position for the free pass once again when the caution flag waved at lap 288.

● The No. 10 TaxAct Ford team pitted five times throughout the final stage for tires, fuel and adjustments to help improve the car’s handling.

● Patrick was scored 13th with less than 100 laps to go. Unfortunately, contact from the No. 11 car of Denny Hamlin sent the No. 10 TaxAct Ford spinning in turn three on lap 418. Patrick lost a lap to the leader as she worked to get the car re-fired and dropped back to 24th.

● In the closing laps of the race, Patrick was only able to pick up one spot and took the checkered flag in the 23rd position.

Notes:              

● Patrick earned 14 points in Sunday’s race at Martinsville, which gives her a total of 77 points for the season thus far. She is ranked 29th in the driver point standings heading into next weekend’s event.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 TaxAct Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We struggled at the start of the race, but the TaxAct team did a really good job on pit road all day, and Billy made some good calls to get the car turning better. We were able to run up in the top-15, and it’s unfortunate we got turned by the No. 11 and that just took us out of contention for a great finish today.”

TSC PR

Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Ends on Lap 130):

Kevin Harvick started ninth, finished 11th.

● The No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford pitted under caution on lap 72 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.

Harvick gained several positions on pit road and restarted third following the lap-72 pit stop.

He pitted under caution on lap 109 to reverse his previous changes after noting he was tight in the center and loose off.

The team stayed out during the lap-123 caution and gained two positions in the closing laps of the stage.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Ends on Lap 260):

Started 21st, finished 24th.

● The No. 4 Ford battled a tight-handling condition in the center of the corner and loose off.

● Harvick went a lap down to leader Kyle Busch on lap 205 while racing in the 23rd position.

 

Final Stage Recap (Ends on Lap 500):

● Started 25th, finished 20th.

● The No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford came to pit road for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments following Stage 2.

● Harvick pitted under caution on lap 282 for right-side tires and repairs. He restarted 27th.

● He raced the No. 13 car for the free pass for more than 100 laps before finally returning to the lead lap on lap 406.

● The Bakersfield, California, native restarted 21st on lap 414 and stayed out under caution on lap 421 to move into the top-12.

● The No. 4 car sustained damage trying to avoid an incident on lap 434. The team pitted for repairs and restarted 19th.

● Harvick battled until the end and took the checkered flag in 20th.

 

Notes:                                   

● Harvick scored his fourth top-20 finish of 2017.

● He scored his 24th top-20 finish in 32 career Cup Series starts at Martinsville.

● Keselowski’s win in the Martinsville 500 is his 23rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his first at Martinsville.

● Kyle Larson leads the point standings by four points over Chase Elliott.

● A total of 20 drivers finished on the lead lap.

● The race was slowed by 14 cautions for 95 laps.

TSC PR

RIDGEWAY, Va.— Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch had at it during Sunday’s running of the STP 500.

 

In the second stage of the race, that ran from laps 130 to 260, Busch was setting a blistering pace lapping the field up to 17th position.

 

Early in the stage as Busch was about to lap Stenhouse Jr., but Stenhouse did not help but put on a fight with Busch. Stenhouse was not happy with Busch and was going to let him know it the next chance he got.

 

The opportunity for Stenhouse came on the final lap of stage two. Stenhouse was able to get to the bumper of Busch. Busch went higher than normal in the fourth turn because he was running a lane above where the rubber was being laid down. Stenhouse went low on Busch sending him up the racetrack. Stenhouse was able to get his lap back, and give Chase Elliott the stage win and playoff point.

 

After the race, Stenhouse mentioned that he had to do it for his team and sponsors to stay on the lead lap.

 

However, Busch had a different story to tell after the conclusion of the race.

 

“I actually was rolling into Turn 3 and was kind of going higher out of my way in order to let the 17 back by and give him the lap. That was my intent, and then he just drove through me. It cost me my spot to the 24, so I was hoping the I could rn off the corner side by side with the 17 and keep the 24 at bay and just keep my nose in front of his and be able to score the segment, and I was trying to be a nice guy, but nice guys don’t finish first,” said Busch.

 

Busch mentioned that he felt disrespected by Stenhouse as he was banging him (Busch) into the corners. Busch also mentions that this incident will come back and  bite Stenhouse at a later date.

 

“You’ve just got to remember race car drivers are like elephants; they remember everything.”

 

Busch finished second in the STP 500, while Stenhouse Jr finished 10th.