Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (12857)

“Remember me?”

That’s how Clint Bowyer kicked off the final portion of Tuesday’s 35th Annual NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. Bowyer certainly had an extra pep in his step and showed off his charismatic personality, both of which were sorely missed during a tough 2016 season.

Bowyer, an eight-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner, scored just three top-10 finishes last season. A switch to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2017 could be just the change he needs.

“A lot of thought goes into the new season, with a new life, a new chance, new crack at bat, new sponsor, new teammates and a new organization,” said Bowyer, who will pilot the No. 14 Ford for SHR. “What an unbelievable opportunity it is to go out and do what you love to do, and do it in first-class equipment.

“There’s no fluff and buff (at SHR); no sales pitch when you walk through the door. It’s just guys with their heads down, working, digging and building race cars that go fast – and those are the kinds of hot rods you want to be in.”

One of Bowyer’s new teammates, Kevin Harvick, is proof that the switch to SHR can be a career-defining move. In his first three years with SHR, Harvick has 12 wins and captured the first championship of his career in 2014. He followed that up with a second-place finish in 2015.

During this past offseason, SHR announced it was switching manufacturers from Chevrolet to Ford. Harvick called the change a “massive undertaking,” but a switch that shouldn’t yield any setbacks.

“Everybody’s a little anxious to get on the track. The hardest things come from a technology side and pulling things out of a database and simulation – but we may never miss a beat on the race track, and that’s our goal,” said Harvick. “We want to come out of the box strong and run for another championship.

“I think you have to … be realistic about everything. I think there are still things to be realistic with expectations. We all know that. We just need a direction and know where we stand. It’s all going to be good and we’ll make it that way.”


Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch spoke with media during Tuesday afternoon’s segment of the 35th Annual NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. Below are some of Busch’s comments from his media availability.

On having input in NASCAR’s race format enhancements: “The Drivers Council had a little bit of say in all of that. Obviously it was a huge industry-wide (decision). All the stakeholders were involved ... I think late-December and January was when the decisions were finally being made but some of the ideas that were shared earlier on were last year’s Council's (ideas) as well.”

On teammate Carl Edwards’ retirement: It was certainly a shock to the entire industry, but also to us as a team at Joe Gibbs Racing. It was a shock to me. It was something that I didn’t expect to see happen. I know that Carl ran really hard and really strong there at the end of the year and was probably the car to beat at Homestead. He had the best car all weekend long and was the fastest guy. … He had a shot to win the championship and then all of a sudden he just decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore. That’s kind of a shock to everyone I would presume. It’s his own decision to make and you’ve got to give (respect) to a guy when he says he’s had enough and he’s done and he walks away. If that continues to hold true then more power to him but if there’s something else waiting in the wings, we’ll all have to wait to find out.”

On working with rookie teammate Daniel Suarez: “He’s very eager, that’s for sure. He definitely was either told by Coach (Joe Gibbs, the team owner) or (Executive Vice President of XFINITY Series Operations and Development) Steve DeSouza that, ‘Hey, you’d better go use the resources as much as you can, so go use Kyle,’ because we were teammates in the XFINITY Series. His rookie season in XFINITY, he came to me every single Thursday. I pretty much knew it said on the calendar, ‘Daniel Suarez phone call, 3 o’clock.’ We would talk about that weekend’s race track and what to expect and practice and tire wear and everything else. During our practice breaks if I didn’t have to go back to my Cup hauler he’d come over to my hauler and he’d be right there. He wore me out but it wasn’t a bad thing. Then, we’d go back to the race tracks for the second time and I’d be like, ‘No, no, you can’t do this again. You’ve already been there once.  I already gave you everything I knew the first time, so no more.’ This past year he came to me a couple times and I said, ‘Hey, you don’t use me as much as you used to,’ and he says, ‘You told me not to.’ And I said, ‘No, I didn’t say you couldn’t. Just do it sparingly, like once every five weeks or so.’ Now he has me, Matt (Kenseth), Denny (Hamlin) and Martin (Truex Jr.). I would be once every five weeks again. That works. That’s good.”


For the past 11 years, AJ Allmendinger would make his way in the middle of January to Daytona International Speedway for the Rolex 24 with Michael Shank Racing. However, this yearly tradition comes to a halt in 2017 as Allmendinger will not be making the trip to Daytona at the end of this week.

Allmendinger took to the stage at the 2017 NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway to explain the decision.

Allmendinger stated that the main reason he would not make the trip to Daytona was because Michael Shank Racing received a deal from Honda. Because Honda is also a manufacturer in IndyCar, they preferred to have their drivers in the race. This was a pretty special deal for Michael Shank Racing because they have been “working kind of by themselves”

“Part of doing the Rolex each year is doing it with Michael Shank for the last 10 years,” said Allmendinger. He admitted that he did not try to find another ride because he “didn’t really look hard for anything else” and that it “would have been strange being there and not running with him.

Allmendinger joked that he would miss racing in the Rolex 24, but would not miss the “knock on the door at four to wake up and get in the race car is pretty tough.”

Despite not being at the track, Allmendinger will watch on TV and be there in spirit.

Nationwide, in partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Chevrolet, donated $400,000 to Nationwide Children's Hospital. The donation equaled the sale price for a 1970 Chevelle SS and Nationwide No. 88 stock car auctioned off in tandem at the Jan. 21 Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. The 1970 Chevelle was co-designed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chevrolet; and the Nationwide No. 88 Chevrolet SS was driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. during the 2014 and 2015 NASCAR racing seasons. The cars were donated to the Barrett-Jackson auction by Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet.

"Working with Dale Jr., Chevy and Hendrick Motorsports to bring this donation to fruition underscores our special partnership," said Terrance Williams, chief marketing officer at Nationwide. "Nationwide Children's Hospital remains one of the cornerstone beneficiaries of our philanthropic efforts and together, Nationwide and the Nationwide Foundation are proud to have delivered more than $80 million in aggregate gifts and commitments to the hospital over the last decade."

"On behalf of Nationwide Children's Hospital patients, families and staff, I want to express our gratitude for the tremendous generosity exemplified by Nationwide, The Nationwide Foundation, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet," said Steve Allen, MD, chief executive officer of Nationwide Children's Hospital. "The philanthropic vision of our hospital partners is a testament to their dedication to ensuring Nationwide Children's Hospital will continue to help children everywhere through unmatched clinical care and the discovery of new cures and treatments."

Nationwide PR

BK Racing announced at Richmond International Raceway that 18 year old, Gray Gaulding, will be joining the team for 35 races beginning at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  Gaulding will pilot the No. 23 Toyota Camry.

“When I first walked into the BK Racing shop I felt at home, it has the perfect mixture of corporate America and the old-school race shop feeling” said Gaulding. “Everyone was elbows deep preparing for Daytona, Atlanta, Las Vegas and the entire season. Ron Devine has invested a lot of time, effort, and equity into BK Racing and it shows as you walk the shop floor. To be back with Toyota is great, I’ve kept a great relationship with them and they’re a great technical partner. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and represent everyone at BK Racing and our partners that allow us to be at the track.”

Sponsorship for Gaulding will be announced at a later date.

However, there is a conflict with the scheduling of the No. 23 ride. Joey Gase is scheduled to drive that car with Best Home Furnishings at Daytona, the Bristol Night Race, and Kentucky.

Gase went to Twitter to explain what would happen.

For all those asking how the announcement made by @BKRacing_2383 today affects me ???

— Joey Gase Racing (@JoeyGaseRacing) January 24, 2017

Gaulding ran two races in 2016 at Martinsville and Phoenix, but the performance was not there with a 39th and 37th finishes due to mechanical issues, and failed to qualify for Homestead. 

Landon Cassill has spent eight years in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but the road to where he is today was a long and tough road. Despite the road being tough, Cassill still has the same humor and wit as when he came into the sport, but is still humble.

Cassill believes his biggest challenge in becoming a professional race car driver was remaining disciplined. That discipline has moved into every aspect of his life from being a father and husband and balancing that with being a driver.

Over the course of his Cup career, Cassill has been with second-tier teams not running up front, but that has not become what drives him today. What drives Cassill is the “my plan and my agenda and my schedule and my goals and knowing that I’m doing everything I can to be the best professional race car driver I can be for my car owner, who hired me to do this job, my sponsors who essentially hired me to do this job, and my family who is relying on me to provide for them.” Cassill believes that helps him have high confidence with his career.

Despite being an eight-year veteran, Cassill feels pretty young in his career because he started out start-and-parking and testing cars for organizations. Cassill feels like this puts him in an unique position because he has “a lot of experience and I’m just kind of cresting that edge of, ‘OK, we’re gonna figure out how to win races,’ because for the first few years of my Cup career it wasn’t really how are we gonna win races, it was how am I gonna get myself onto the race track and who am I gonna be doing it with.”

Cassill believes that 2017 will require “hard work”, especially with this new format. He believes that being one of the “outliers” in this format because “our points position is higher than maybe our average finish – where we can kind of leapfrog some guys because we use strategy midway through these races to collect six or eight or 10 points at a time.”

Cassill feels like being a NASCAR driver is the “first stage” of his life. Cassill is content and excited for the rest of his career, and what his career after being a race car driver holds whether it is selling cars with his dad or the continuation of playing a role in the industry.


Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) announced today that the "Fresh From Florida" campaign will return for their fourth season with Aric Almirola and RPM. Through the partnership, Almirola, who is Fresh From Florida himself, will drive the No. 43 Fresh From Florida Ford at Talladega Superspeedway (May 7) and the No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford at Daytona International Speedway for both NASCAR XFINITY races, as well as Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 4), Talladega Superspeedway (May 6) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 27).
The partnership will kick off during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, perfectly timed for peak season for strawberries, tomatoes, sweet corn and peppers. A Florida native, Almirola knows the importance of agriculture in Florida's economy.
"I'm excited for another winning season with 'Fresh From Florida'" said Almirola. "Being from Florida, I understand how important agriculture is for Florida's economy, not to mention, how delicious the produce is! Eating healthy is very important to me and my family and so is fresh produce. We make meals based on the growing season and are always sure to ask for Fresh From Florida produce. I invite all of you to be a member of this winning team, so ask for Fresh From Florida by name when you shop."

The partnership will include media buying and in-car camera purchases by RPM on behalf of the campaign. The "Fresh From Florida" campaign is focusing on retail activations at 40 Florida Walmart locations, which kicks off Tuesday, January 25 and leads into Speedweeks. Each activation will feature the No. 43 Fresh From Florida Ford, Fresh From Florida brand ambassadors, activities and giveaways of hats, t-shirts and gift cards in an effort to encourage consumers to buy Fresh From Florida products. The Daytona Beach Walmart will host Almirola as a special guest during Speedweeks.
Almirola will hit the track in the Fresh From Florida backed No. 98 Biagi DenBeste Ford for the NASCAR XFINITY season opener Saturday, February 25 live on FS1 at 7 p.m. EST.
BK Racing is excited to announce that 18 year-old Gray Gaulding will pilot the No. 23 Toyota Camry in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The team made the announcement today at Richmond International Raceway, home track to BK Racing and Gaulding. 
Gaulding has been competing in some form of racing since the age of three. Gaulding’s rookie season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in 2013 started with a bang with a 2nd place finish in the inaugural Battle at the Beach on the Daytona International Speedway’s back straightaway. Gaulding’s impressive three year stint in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West included 13 top-five finishes, 25 top-tens, and three pole awards. His first pole award was here at RIR in 2013, making Gaulding the youngest driver to do so at 15 years, 2 months, and 15 days. That same year, Gaulding picked up a win at Phoenix International Raceway making him the youngest driver to win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at 15 years, 8 months, and 30 days. 
Gaulding was named as a member of the 2013-2014 NASCAR Next Class, an overachieving industry initiative to help spotlight NASCAR’s rising stars and bolster fan recognition around talent that will grow into Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series mainstays. He was in the same class as fellow stand-out drivers Chase Elliot and Daniel Suárez. 
In 2014-2015, Gaulding moved up to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series where he made 13 starts with one top-five and two top ten finishes. In 2016, Gaulding furthered his career by making starts in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“When I first walked into the BK Racing shop I felt at home, it has the perfect mixture of corporate America and the old-school race shop feeling” said Gaulding. “Everyone was elbows deep preparing for Daytona, Atlanta, Las Vegas and the entire season. Ron Devine has invested a lot of time, effort, and equity into BK Racing and it shows as you walk the shop floor. To be back with Toyota is great, I’ve kept a great relationship with them and they’re a great technical partner. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and represent everyone at BK Racing and our partners that allow us to be at the track.”
"I got involved with NASCAR and in ownership the middle of last year because of the opportunity to be a part of the life of a gifted young man, Gray Gaulding” said Steve Lynn, CEO of GGR Enterprises. “I am honored and pleased that he and we are now partnering with BK Racing. Ron Devine and his BK Racing team are an outstanding place for Gray to grow and learn, as he continues his rise in this wonderful sport."
“Over the years, BK Racing has given many talented young drivers the chance to compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and make a name for themselves,” said Ron Devine, owner of BK Racing. “We see Gray Gaulding as a potential superstar in our sport.”
Gaulding’s first race in the No. 23 will be the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 5, 2017. The team will announce sponsorship for Gaulding at a later date.
BK Racing PR

he 2016 season for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was one for the record books. The team kicked of their 25th season with winning the Daytona 500 to winning a second consecutive championship. The team formed a technical alliance with Furniture Row Racing, but that did not stop the success of the organization. Drivers for the organization were Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Matt Kenseth.


Hamlin kicked off the season at Daytona with a close finish in the Daytona 500 edging out Martin Truex Jr. by .008 seconds. Hamlin’s season was plagued with numerous penalties on pit road. Hamlin was in contention to win numerous races over the season. Hamlin had four DNF’s throughout the season with three resulting from accidents and one engine issue. After winning the season opening race, Hamlin scored victory at Watkins Glen and Richmond, where he started on the pole. With his three wins, Hamlin was able to make the playoffs. Hamlin made it to the third round by the skin of his teeth edging out Austin Dillon by .006 seconds at Talladega. In the third round, Hamlin scored three top-10 finishes, but was able to advance to the final round at Homestead Miami Speedway.


Busch picked up in 2016 where he left off after his championship in 2015. His season started out with a third place finish at Daytona. In the following week, Busch won the pole but had to forfeit the pole after his time was disallowed due to failing post-qualifying inspection. Despite losing the pole, Busch captured the pole at Phoenix. Busch captured his first victory of the season and first victory at Martinsville leaving Charlotte and Pocono as the only tracks where he hasn’t won at.  He followed up the victory in Martinsville with a win at Texas Motor Speedway. However, Busch was in an accident at Bristol which resulted in his first DNF on the season. However, the rebound came quickly with second place finishes at Richmond and Talladega, and a victory at Kansas Speedway. However, that comeback was short lived with DNF’s at Dover and Charlotte, a 31st place finish at Pocono, and engine issues at Michigan. Busch stayed consistent over the next seven races with a victory at Indianapolis. Bristol was another DNF for Busch as he suffered a crash. Going into the playoffs, Busch started off strong with a win at Chicago that moved him into the next round. In the second round, Busch had strong finishes at Charlotte and Kansas, but was conservative with Kenseth and Edwards to secure a spot in the “Round of 8”. Busch made his way through that round with three top-five finishes in a move to return to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami. However, Busch came up short on a back-to-back championship, but left the season with strong momentum going into 2017.


For Edwards, 2016 would be his last as a driver in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition. His 2016 season started strong with two top-five finishes at Daytona and Atlanta. After an 18th place finish at Las Vegas, Edwards scored two poles at Texas and Bristol as well as two wins at Bristol and Richmond. His first DNF of the season came at Talladega. His second DNF came two weeks alter at Dover. Edwards was able to recover after Charlotte with three top-10 finishes and a pole at Sonoma. His third DNF came at Daytona, but came into Kentucky with a  second place finish. After terrible finishes at New Hampshire and Indianapolis, Edwards posted five top-20 finishes including two poles at Watkins Glen and Bristol. Going into the playoffs, Edwards did not have the momentum, but had the consistency. He scored the pole at New Hampshire in the first round, but no wins. He made it into the second round with finishes of 12th and second at Charlotte and Kansas, and went conservative at Talladega to keep his hopes going into the “Round of 8”. With a win at Texas, Edwards clinched his spot into the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami. Edwards was less than 10 laps away for clinching his first championshi, but greed for position ensued from behind leaving Edwards with a wrecked vehicle.


Kenseth rode in 2016 very quietly. In the first few races of 2016, he was without his veteran spotter, Chris Osborne, after he suffered injury from an accident in the offseason. Kenseth was about a half a mile away from winning another Daytona 500, but a gutsy move pushed him out of the draft and resulted in a 14th place finish. The season did not start off strong for Kenseth; His first top-10 finish in the first eight races came at Phoenix. His second top-10 came at Richmond. His first DNF came at Talladega after an accident on the backstretch. However, the next four races resulted in a top-10 finish including a win at Dover. His next run of top-10 finishes began at Kentuck with three top-10 finishes including a win at New Hampshire. After Indianapolis, Kenseth only had two top finishes before the playoff began. When the playoffs began, Kenseth became more consistent with his top-10 finishes. In the opening round of the playoffs, Kenseth had three top-10 finishes. In the second round, Kenseth won at Kansas to move to the third round. Kenseth came just short in the third round to move to the Championship Round. Kenseth ended the season at Homestead with a seventh place finish.


2017 will be a year of change at Joe Gibbs Racing. With Edwards going into retirement, Daniel Suarez will move on up and have his chance in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Despite not having Edwards, JGR will continue to be the dominate powerhouse in the Cup Series. It will be interesting to see how Hamlin, Busch, and Kenseth will lean on Suarez and vice versa. JGR is the team to watch going into 2017.

On Monday at the first day of the Media Tour that kicked off in Charlotte NASCAR leaders along with drivers and track officials who all worked together unveiled a tiered racing format that will be used within all three national series in 2017.

First and foremost the racing will be broken into three segments similar to what we have seen in the past in an event such as the All-Star. The events now will be raced to the 25 and 50 percent mark with breaks and pit stops in between each with drivers in the Top-10 also receiving bonus points to their final finishing points at the end of the event.

Gone also are the caution clock in the truck series and the traditional halfway plus one lap to make an official event, now the conclusion of stage two will now be considered an official event if rain or other factors may stop an event.

While there is much more to this change in the way events will run in 2017, I will be the first to agree there needed to be change. The demographics of race fans not only attending events but watching on TV, streaming or following through social media are ever changing.

Capturing that instantaneous in the now moment is becoming harder not just for the sport of NASCAR but all sports in general are ever evolving, look to the NFL who are streaming games directly to Twitter in an effort to capture viewership. Tracks are adding new amenities such as WIFI, kid zones, pre/post-race concerts or track take over events and the like.

Fans continue to ask the sport for change, change the cars, change the tracks they go to, change, change, and change. Is it all feasible, not at all! Did NASCAR the track promoters and driver council listen when the fans asked for some change, they sure did.

However racing is meant to revolve around endurance, the best people and machines competing against one another on levels of speed and distance in NASCAR. As time has evolved the race lengths have gotten too long and palatable for the average race fan that no longer will sit and watch a three and a half to four hour event.

This is why a change was needed to be made but not this change. Fans continue to say they watch a few moments of the beginning and come back at the end to see who wins time and time again. Maybe just maybe some of the events that are 4-500 miles long need a further reduction in length to a more palatable 300 or 400 mile event and a 50 mile or similar heat qualifier instead the day prior to give fans value in a race weekend.

While I might still be one of the few left in the minority that still enjoys racing from the aspect of start to finish and whatever happens in-between is just meant to happen good, bad or indifferent whether that’s long green flag runs, fuel mileage, or a good ole fashion Friday or Saturday night short track show down.

The majority no longer feels this way and we must all adapt to the ever changing landscape but in doing so the better approach would have been an attempt to look and further reducing race lengths, introduce halfway point bonuses back and introduce heat qualifying the day prior. While making marquee events such as the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500 double point paying events based on the half-way mark scoring.

Fire up the scanners. It is time for Crew Chatter in 2017. In this weeks edition, Speedway Digest Staff tackles the question, “What are your thoughts on NASCAR’s Big Announcement?”


Brett Winningham

I think the new format will bring a lot of excitement to the sport. Drivers, as Steve O'Donnell emphasized, will have to battle all throughout the season for the grand-prize at the end of the year. It is no longer a win at Daytona in February and a test n' tune till the beginning of the Chase at Chicagoland Speedway like in the past. 

The fans have wanted something that awards drivers all throughout the year and they got it. I think this will be very fun and exciting. 


Davey Segal

Although I went into Monday's announcement with great skepticism and nerves, I came out of it with clarity and happiness. Although everyone (drivers, fans, media members, etc) are still trying to wrap their heads around this new staged-race format, I think that it would be wildly successful. NASCAR might've hit the jackpot.

I myself don't quite yet understand all the nuances of the format, but that will come to me (and all of us) in due time. The segments act as debris cautions, but points are awarded. And the fact that points will be awarded make drivers race harder, because early portions of the race actually mean something, which they haven't in years.

Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin said it themselves. We are going to see the best racing that we have in years. And gosh, I hope they're right. I'm looking forward to seeing how this new format plays out in 2017. If it goes well, Monday January 23, 2017 will go down in history as the day NASCAR changed forever, for the better.


Katie Williams

NASCAR couldn't please everyone but a change was needed. Things were getting dull. Fans, especially old-school fans, just don't like change.

I don't think the 'stage' format is a bad one by any means but I have to see it in motion to understand it a little better. One thing, for the drivers, there will be no more laying back and every race will count, no more 'We're in the Chase (playoffs), we can go into testing mode'. This might also mean more pressure on them but who knows.

There are still a few things I'm fuzzy on but it's only day one of this news. What if one of the stages ends up in a 'big one'? We all remember the scoring fiasco during Martinsville last fall. I'm not saying it will happen but it could. We'll just see how this all pans out. After Daytona, hopefully, things will be more clear.

No more 'Chase'. I'm fine with calling it the 'playoffs'. On the other hand, the word 'Chase' was unique because all stick-and-ball sports, even my other sport of rodeo, called it the 'playoffs'.

I welcome the change. Motorsports had to roll with the times and if this was the way to do it, so be it.


Caleb Whisler

The fans spoke and NASCAR listened with this new format. Sitting in the room when the announcement was made, I was frustrated and confused with this format. After the hustle and bustle of the announcement, I found clarity with why the decisions were made, to make the on-track product better.

Mr. O’Donnell said it best to not get into the muck and mire of trying to figure out the points. Bonus points are gone. The only bonus points awarded will be “playoff points” for wins in segments and the overall wins.

At the end of the day fans win! TV experts and researches have determined that fans will be able to see 20 percent more “green-flag” laps. This will also allow fans who are at the track to know that at Lap X, there will be a break in the action so they will not miss the racing product. Every single lap will mean something.

Change is not something that many people are receptive to. If motorsports foes not evolve, it will become extinct. This was not a Monster Energy decision, but an industry decision. You have to change in order to stay relevant. If this change works, January 23, 2017, will be on for the NASCAR history book.