Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13236)

Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team face a new challenge this weekend as they prepare to race on a repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway.

When NASCAR teams arrive at Texas this week they’ll see for the first time a Texas track with less banking in Turns One and Two. The banking in those turns has been decreased from 24 degrees to 20, while Turns Three and Four remain at 24 degrees. There also will be an extra 20 feet of racing surface in Turns One and Two, pushing the total to 80 feet.

The track also installed a new drainage system, which is intended to speed up track drying in the event of rain.

Jeremy Bullins, crew chief of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion, is optimistic that he and Blaney can adapt quickly to a layout they’ve never seen before.

“I’m really excited to get to Texas,” Bullins said. “If you look at our best tracks, the fast intermediates that have most recently repaved are often great tracks for us.

“This week will be a challenge with the reconfigured banking and not having tested there. 

However, one thing that makes me feel confident is how well we ran at Kentucky last year, with a similar aero package and also a track that was reconfigured to have different banking in the turns. I feel like we can learn a lot from what we did there as we had a lot of speed.”

At Kentucky last year, Blaney started 15th when rain washed out qualifying but raced his way into the top five before being collected in a crash.

Bullins also said his team’s performance so far this year gives him more reasons to be optimistic heading into Texas. Blaney and the Wood Brothers are seventh in the Cup standings after the first six races with three top-10 finishes and an average finish of 14th.

“So far, 2017 has been a good season for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion,” Bullins said.

“Some of the results may not show it, but we’ve been fast every week.”
He said that while the final result from the most recent race at Martinsville was disappointing, there were encouraging signs.
“After running in the top five and ending the second segment in fifth, we took the time to fix some damage and that got us in the back and we got torn up again,” Bullins said. “While we were disappointed, to have a car that competitive in Ryan’s third race there bodes well for the Chase race there in the fall. 
“I feel like he did a great job of figuring out how to get around there very quickly.”  
Qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas is set for Friday at 5:15 p.m. (6:15 Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to start just after 12:30 p.m. (1:30 Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.


Trevor Bayne left Martinsville Speedway on Sunday with his fourth top-15 finish of the season. Bayne, driving the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, started the 500-lap event in the 16th starting spot. When the STP 500 concluded – the Tennessee native sat 13th on the leaderboard.

Bayne stayed inside the top 20 once the green flag waved. On lap 69, a caution involving teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard in turn three, Bayne and the No. 6 crew elected to hit pit road. That’s when they would be popped for speeding and sent to the rear of the field for the restart.

With eight laps remaining in stage one of the STP 500, Bayne sat 23rd on the leaderboard when a caution came out involving Ryan Blaney and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in turn two. With stage two vastly approaching, the team elected to hit pit road for a strategy call that would later put them back upfront for stage two.

The call by crew chief Matt Puccia would give Bayne a 19th-place finish in stage one. They would elect to stay out between stages to earn much needed track position for stage two.

The call worked according to plan as Bayne started sixth in stage two. On lap 260, marking the end of stage two, Bayne sat ninth on the leaderboard – earning two additional driver points. The young driver stayed inside the top 10 all throughout this second stage.

Bayne and the team pitted for four tires, fuel, and adjustments between stage two and three. They later started the final stage sitting seventh on the scoring monitor for the final 229 laps.

Things went smooth for the team as they continued to battle inside the top 10. Then, on lap 391, things would go the wrong way as they were popped for speeding once again while the field circled under yellow. That placed Bayne at the tail of the field for the restart on lap 399.

From there, Bayne picked up six positions on a restart with 86 laps left in the STP 500 to move up into the 13th spot. He would remain in that position over the course of the event until the checkered flag.

“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.”

At Texas, a 1.5-mile oval, Bayne hasn’t had the best of luck there. His best finish at the track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series came last season in April when he took his No. 6 Ford to a 15th-place finish. Last November, Bayne started 26th and finished 30th at the Texas oval.

After a three-week stint on the West Coast, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returned east to tackle the smallest track on the circuit, Martinsville Speedway, located in Ridgeway, Virginia. Although GEICO Racing driver Ty Dillon had raced at the half-mile paperclip-shaped track previously in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender entered Sunday's race for the first time in the premier series. The 500-lap event proved eventful for Germain Racing as the No. 13 overcame a flat tire mid-way through the race and a wreck in the final stage to cross the finish line in the 22nd position.
With qualifying being rained out on Friday afternoon, the starting lineup was set by championship owner points, placing Dillon in the 23rd position for Sunday's main event. During the opening 100 laps, the young gun held strong inside the top-25 and kept his GEICO Chevrolet out of harms way. An opportunity arose on lap 108 with varying pit strategies up and down pit road, allowing crew chief Bootie Barker to keep Dillon out on the track. This move would place Dillon in fourth-place on the restart with less than 15 laps remaining in stage one. Despite most competitors have fresh tires behind the No. 13 machine, Dillon maneuvered to finish the opening stage in the 11th position.
After fighting an ill-handling GEICO Chevrolet during the beginning segment, Dillon radioed his team by lap 160 with encouragement saying "we're good now" while running in the 25th position, one lap down to the leader. As the second stage came to close on lap 240, Dillon felt a flat right front tire, forcing the team to pit early under caution and restart at the tail end of the field. This would relegate Dillon to the 27th position on the restart, shortly past halfway.
Dillon continued to work hard to place himself in the free pass position for the opportunity to return to the lead lap, but as soon as the driver placed the GEICO Chevrolet in the lucky dog spot, the leader would catch the tail end of the field and place another car one lap down. While running in the 23rd position, Dillon and spotter Billy O'Dea used heads up work to escape a chain reaction wreck in front of the No. 13 on lap 418. The Germain Racing entry sustained minimal left front damage, which the pit crew fixed under caution. Over the final leg, Dillon pushed through to bring home a 22nd-place finish.
"Martinsville is always a battle and today was no different," said Dillon, after the race. "We struggled towards the end of the first stage and went a lap down, but we were able to get the balance how we needed it and started to pick up speed. But, in the nature of short-track racing, the leader catches the back of the pack so quickly and keeps putting cars a lap down. It seemed like every time a caution came out, the leader had just caught a car in the back and knocked us out of the free pass spot. And, it certainly didn't help to be caught up in someone else's wreck there towards the end. I have an awesome team though and our No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet team never lost motivation. They kept fighting to get us where we needed to be."
Race number seven of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will be held in Fort Worth, Texas. Dillon and his No. 13 GEICO Racing team will two-step into Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, April 7for opening practice at 12Noon ET, with qualifying following at 6:15 pm ET.
The green flag will fly for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, April 9 at 1:30 pm ET. FOX will carry the live television broadcast, beginning at 1:00 pm ET. The Performance Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 will also carry the live radio broadcast.
Please visit to learn how you could save money on more than just auto insurance.

With the racing season in full swing, Little Caesars is offering America a free lunch if fan favorite driver Chase Elliott claims a victory in Bristol, Tennessee, on April 23. If Elliott wins the April 23 race, Little Caesars will give away one free $5 HOT-N-READY®  Lunch Combo, featuring a 20 oz. Pepsi product to every customer who comes into a participating store and mentions this offer at the check-out counter, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (local time) on April 26, in accordance with the offer terms.

"We know race fans have the need for speed, and that's why we're offering this opportunity to get the fastest lunch in town," said Ed Gleich, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing for Little Caesars. "And, if Chase Elliott doesn't make it to the Victory Lane, fans can still catch a great deal at Little Caesars with our high quality, HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo for just $5 plus tax. Either way, customers win!"

Available at participating restaurants nationwide, the Little Caesars HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo includes a satisfying portion of four Detroit-style DEEP!DEEP!™ Dish pepperoni pizza slices and a 20-ounce Pepsi product for $5 (plus tax), all served HOT-N-READY. No calling, waiting or online ordering necessary. Customers simply go to their Little Caesars store, and fresh pizzas are ready to carry out. 

At the April 23 race at Bristol, Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet SS will have a fresh new paint scheme, featuring Little Caesars branding on the hood and quarter panels.

Offer Details:

  • If Chase Elliott wins the NASCAR Cup Series race on April 23 in Bristol, Tennessee, Little Caesars will give away one free $5 HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo to customers who come into a participating store and mention this offer at the check-out counter, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (local time) (while supplies last) on April 26, 2017.
  • Limited to one $5 HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo per family. (Defined as parents, children, siblings, and spouse).
  • Valid only on April 26, 2017 between 11:30am1:00pm (local time) or while supplies last. Must be ordered during this time period.
  • Valid at participating stores in the 50 United States and D.C.
  • No purchase is necessary. Void where prohibited. While supplies last. Subject to official terms at  
  • Little Caesars is under no obligation to give away the free $5 HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo unless Chase Elliott wins the NASCAR Cup Series race on April 23, 2017.

Little Caesars PR

Typically when a racetrack undergoes a repave or reconfiguration, officials from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will schedule an organizational test to give race teams the opportunity to gather information that will be used for the upcoming race.



Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth underwent a complete repave and reconfiguration of its 1.5-mile oval that annually plays host to a pair of NASCAR Cup Series races, a process that began in January. The project featured a four-degree reduction of the banking in turns one and two to 20 degrees, and a 20-foot widening of the racing surface to 80 feet in those turns in an effort to create more passing opportunities.


It’s the second full repave since Texas Motor Speedway made its NASCAR debut in 1997, and the first since the summer of 2001. But the timing of this repave, which came during the winter between NASCAR’s November race and Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, meant that the project schedule was so tight that it didn’t leave time to hold a test session.


When an organizational test session is held, teams are permitted to run data-capturing equipment on their racecars that is not allowed during race weekends. Engineers are able to dissect aerodynamic data, engine data, miscellaneous mechanical data, tire data and more. That data is shared amongst the teams in-house, but is also implemented in simulators.


Simulation programs are used to help determine which setups to bring to the racetrack each week. Ford Performance, Stewart-Haas Racing’s (SHR) manufacturer partner, took that idea and ramped it up when it opened its Technical Support Center in Concord, North Carolina three years ago. Ford Racing teams are able to access a full-motion platform simulator that allows them to optimize their setups for individual track configurations, and for drivers to practice driving a track ahead of an upcoming race weekend. But, in order to gather the data needed for the simulator, track mapping and accurate tire data needs to be accessible.


So, this weekend, Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for SHR, and the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series drivers will head into the weekend facing a great unknown. Their first laps on the track will be just that.


Fortunately for Busch, the last time he faced a situation like this was at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta just last year. The racetrack was repaved, underwent banking changes in turns one and two and a reduction in the racing surface in those turns. While there was enough time to hold a two-day organizational test, he was not among the drivers who participated. However, Busch was able to score a top-five finish in that race, his first at the 1.5 mile speedway, and in doing so earned top-five finishes at each of the active racetracks on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.


Since opening 2017 by winning the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Busch and his No. 41 team have struggled. They’ve been challenged by mechanical and handling issues alike. So as they head to Texas this weekend not knowing what they’ll face, they’ll hope to experience a similar result to the last time they were in this situation. And they’ll do it at a track where Busch knows how to get the job done.


Busch is a former winner at Texas, having visited victory lane during the track’s November race in 2009. He started that race third and led 89 laps en route to the win. In 28 career starts at Texas, Busch has finished in the top-10 a total of 15 times, including a ninth-place finish in this race last year. Busch hopes this is the weekend he’ll be able to bring home his second Texas win in NASCAR’s top series and get his 2017 season back on track.



In the spring of 1950, John Searcy began selling and delivering car batteries to wholesalers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area from the back of his red pickup truck. After two years, Searcy founded his new company and named it Interstate Battery System. He based his business on the principles of offering the best-quality product, providing impeccable service, and treating the customer with respect.
When he retired in 1978, Searcy left the company in the hands of current owner and Chairman Norm Miller. In the following years, Interstate Batteries transcended from regional powerhouse to a household name in automotive batteries. Under the guidance of Miller, Interstate Batteries distributorships served auto repair shops in every American state.
From a marketing standpoint, the natural progression of its business led the company to what would become the perfect fit for promoting the automotive battery brand – NASCAR racing. It all started in 1991, when then-Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs ended up in the Dallas office of Interstate Batteries Chairman Miller.
Gibbs was there to make his pitch to have Miller’s company sponsor the three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach’s first foray into what is now called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The only problem was that Gibbs had no race shop, no employees, not even a driver to drive his cars. What he was selling to Miller that day was nothing more than a dream. 
During his entire business career, Miller has never been shy about taking chances. And while Interstate Batteries had sponsored a few races with a little-known team with Stanley Smith as the driver, Miller and Interstate Batteries agreed to sponsor Gibbs’ team, and the rest, as they say, is history. Now, more than a quarter of a century later, an organization that started from humble beginnings before the commitment of Interstate Batteries has now become one of the premiere teams in all of NASCAR. 
Not only did Gibbs gain a lifetime sponsor in Miller and Interstate Batteries, he gained a lifetime friendship, as well. It’s become a relationship that cannot be overemphasized when discussing Joe Gibbs Racing’s (JGR) evolution and longevity. 
So as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to its semi-annual stop at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, there could be no better way than to continue the 65th anniversary celebration for Dallas-Based Interstate Batteries right down the road from its company headquarters.
Kyle Busch, the 2015 Cup Series champion, first drove the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for JGR to victory lane at Texas back in April 2013, giving the brand its first win at its home track. The win ended a streak of 19 Cup Series races in which Interstate had competed at Texas without a coveted victory. Busch followed it up with a win in last year’s Texas Cup Series race in April. 
However, a new challenge awaits the Las Vegas native and the Interstate Batteries team. Texas has undergone a repaving project this spring as a fresh coat of asphalt wipes the slate clean for crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire team, who will be starting from scratch thanks to the new surface and a reconfigured turns one and two. 
On top of his two Cup Series wins there, Busch is no stranger to victory lane at Texas in other NASCAR series, as well. He reeled off an incredible string of five consecutive Xfinity Series wins there from April 2008 to April 2010, adding two more wins in April 2013, November 2014, and April 2016. Add his three Camping World Truck Series wins in November 2009, 2010, and 2014 and he enters the upcoming Texas race weekend with a total of 13 NASCAR national series wins at the 1.5-mile oval. 
So while the challenge of the repave and reconfiguration will test Busch and his entire team, it’s safe to say they would like nothing more than to bring home another win for hometown sponsor Interstate Batteries in the Lone Star State as the company celebrates 65 years of providing great batteries across the United States and around the world. 

Editors Note: Bellator MMA and other publications have since pulled this press release citing more details to come. NASCAR has also issued a statement updated below.

Update: NASCAR Statement

Bellator MMA is proud to announce a partnership with Monster Energy and NASCAR to showcase a series of fights to take place at select races during the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. For the first time in NASCAR history, mixed martial arts will be included as a pre-race activation for the fans in attendance and just like the action the cars bring on the racetrack, Bellator will bring the same excitement inside the cage.

"I'm excited to announce Bellator's partnership with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series," said Bellator President Scott Coker. "Bellator and NASCAR fans are some of the most passionate in sports and we couldn't be happier to bring MMA and motorsports together. Monster Energy has been a great partner of ours over the years and we're excited about the opportunity to integrate our brand into another great sports property within the Monster Energy family. I want to thank Cody Dresser and Hans Molenkamp from Monster Energy for helping put this great partnership together, and I'm looking forward to introducing Bellator to a whole new fan base."

"MMA is an exciting sport that appeals to a wide demographic," said Mitch Covington Vice President of Sports Marketing. By partnering with Bellator to bring mixed martial arts to NASCAR we are able to bring a fresh dynamic to the racetrack and a taste of what Monster Energy is into, allowing us all to connect with a new fan base in relevant and meaningful ways to further elevate the series."

Bellator is currently scheduled to host events at four races throughout the current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, including both NASCAR's championship and all-star race weekends.

Bellator MMA will be featured at the following 2017 NASCAR races:

• Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 20
• Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 19
• Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, October 15
• Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, November 19

Bellator MMA PR

Update No 2: Bellator MMA has released a clarification to the original press release

Bellator MMA is currently in talks with longstanding partner Monster Energy to showcase a series of fights to take place at select races during the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Through the partnership, mixed martial arts will be included as a pre-race activation exclusively for fans in attendance.
"I'm excited about Bellator's partnership with Monster Energy and the opportunity to promote these types of events," said Bellator President Scott Coker. "Bellator and NASCAR fans are some of the most passionate in sports and we couldn't be happier to bring MMA and motorsports together. Monster Energy has been a great partner of ours over the years and we're excited about the opportunity to integrate our brand into another great sports property within the Monster Energy family. I want to thank Cody Dresser and Hans Molenkamp from Monster Energy for helping put this great partnership together, and I'm looking forward to introducing Bellator to a whole new fan base."
"MMA is an exciting sport that appeals to a wide demographic," added Mitch Covington Vice President of Sports Marketing.  "By partnering with Bellator to bring mixed martial arts to NASCAR we are able to bring a fresh dynamic to the racetrack and a taste of what Monster Energy is into, allowing us all to connect with a new fan base in relevant and meaningful ways to further elevate the series."
Bellator and Monster Energy are planning to host events at several races throughout the current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. In looking to create a unique experience for fans at the racetrack, there are currently no plans to televise these events.

Bellator MMA PR

Bellator MMA announced earlier today that they partnered with NASCAR and Monster Energy to have a boxing ring in the midway on racedays.

Hours later, that statement from Bellator was retracted, despite being retweeted numerous times on Twitter, with the words “details to come”.

The initial announcement from Bellator mentioned that the boxing ting would be at the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in October, and the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Here is the first announcement:

Bellator and Monster Energy have had similar activations across Monster Energy AMA Supercross in recent years.

NASCAR has released a statement about this new deal.

“NASCAR does not have a partnership with Bellator.”

This announcement comes off the heels of the Joey Logano and Kyle Busch incident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

On April 4th, Bellator MMA re-released the press release that has no mention of NASCAR. However, it mentions that this is a Monster deal, not a NASCAR deal. Bellator mentioned that they would be part of the fan-activation on the midway, exclusively for those at select tracks, which have yet to be released. 


Brad Keselowski took home the coveted grandfather clock from Martinsville Speedway, better known as the “Paperclip” to NASCAR fans. The smallest track in NASCAR delivered a big win for Ford Performance, Team Penske and Roush Yates Engines. As the exclusive Ford Performance engine builder for NASCAR, Roush Yates Engines powered the No. 2 to victory lane in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series STP 500 on Sunday.
Ford Performance has made 27 visits to victory lane in Martinsville, dating back to their first in 1961 with Fred Lorenzen. This was the first for Roush Yates Engines and the Ford FR9 EFI race engine with Ford Performance. The win also came on Roger Penske’s 1,000th NASCAR start and marked the 56th victory of all-time for Team Penske with Ford and the 13th for Keselowski.
“Congratulations to Brad on his first win at Martinsville,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “It was an epic battle all afternoon and to have four Fords in the top 10 is remarkable! Every win is special, but getting our first win in Martinsville with Ford Performance is something extra special.”
Martinsville is all about patience and trying to keep your car clean. The No. 2 of Keselowski showed immense patience during the 500 lap race and except for a minor side body rub early on in the race, the No. 2 was pristine.
The race turned into a battle of the ages between Keselowski and Kyle Busch during the last 60 laps of the race. After trading the lead multiple times, the No. 2 set up Busch one last time, on lap 458 to take over the lead for the final time on his way to collecting the checkered flag. Keselowski led a total of 116 out of the 500 lap race.
“This is awesome!” Keselowski stated in victory lane. “We’ve ran so good here with the Miller Lite Ford, but something always happens and we haven’t been able to bring it home. Martinsville is just one of those champion’s tracks. The guys that run well everywhere run well here, and it’s really just an honor to win here and get to compete here. This track is 70 years old and a lot of legends have won here. It feels great to be able to join them and bring home a clock.”

Keselowski continues to run strong, this his second win and his 5th top five finish of the year.
Four Ford Fusions rounded out the top 10 in Martinsville. Team Penske’s No. 2, Keselowski and No. 22, Joey Logano finished first and fourth respectively and the No. 14, Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing drove a stellar race to finish seventh followed by No. 17, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from Roush Fenway Racing rounding out the top 10.
“I think the commitment that Ford Performance has made is a byproduct of Edsel's commitment to the program,” commented Roger Penske during the Martinsville press conference. “Bringing on Stewart‑Haas and the partnership that we have with the 21, which is obviously supported with Ford, I think that it was terrific. To have him here driving the pace car, you couldn't plan anything any better. For me, delivering for Ford was special, and to see the cars and how competitive we've been here since the beginning of the season makes us feel good about the next several weeks. But as we all know, win early is great, but you've got to win late.”

NASCAR heads south to Texas Motor Speedway. Tune-in for the O’Reilly Parts 500 Sunday, April 9th | 1:40 PM ET | FOX. The Ford GTs will be back on the track, as well in Long Beach, CA on Saturday, April 8th | 4:05 PM ET start time.  Reference the full 2017 schedule on


Cole Whitt, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver of the Bad Boy Mowers No. 72, finished 21st in the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Qualifying efforts scheduled on Friday were cancelled due to rain. NASCAR set the starting field per the Rule Book slotting Cole Whitt to roll off the grid 31st to start the 500-lap event.
Whitt maintained a 31st place position for the opening of Stage 1 and was posted a lap down from the leader when a timely caution occurred on Lap 71. He relayed to Crew Chief Frank Kerr he "needed more forward drive" and the Bad Boy Mowers No. 72 was "bouncing on the rear tire and did not have a lot of straight line drive". Track position trumped handling and the call was made to keep Whitt out on track to take the wave around, being scored 24th and on the lead lap for the restart. With the second caution of the day, Lap 108, the team utilized the opportunity to pit for four tires, fuel, air pressure and a rear adjustments; resuming track position 25th. An on-track incident on Lap 124 brought out the third caution of Stage 1, when Whitt received another set of four tires and fuel. He returned to competition 26th and remained in that position until the Stage 1 completion caution on Lap 130. Having just pitted seven laps prior, Whitt stayed out under the completion caution to gain track position.
Starting Stage 2, with 27 cars on the lead lap, Whitt took the green flag restart 13th in the Bad Boy Mowers No. 72. As Stage 2 progressed, Whitt slowly lost positions falling back to 21st and one lap down from the leader. Stage 2, being caution free, ran under green for the entire segment. At the conclusion caution, Whitt, posted 19th and one lap down, relayed he still needed more forward drive but not to affect the tightness through the center. With that feedback, the team opted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments, sending Whitt back out 24th.
Soon thereafter, early in Stage 3, an incident caused another caution on Lap 290. The field had just resumed green flag racing on Lap 294 when the competition began to heat up with a flurry of caution causing incidents on Lap 298 and again on Lap 310. Whitt utilized the Lap 310 caution for four fresh tires and fuel, restarting 22nd. Stage 3 did not fall short on action. As the Stage progressed five cautions for incidents followed. Narrowly escaping the carnage, Whitt navigated through the multi-vehicle cautions on Lap 419 and 432. He continued to run consistently in the 21st position, staying damage free, for the duration of the race. As the STP 500 concluded, Whitt wheeled his Bad Boy Mowers No. 72 to take the finish 21st at Martinsville Speedway.
Tristar PR

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.