Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (15089)

Kasey Kahne and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) earned a 24th place finish at a snow-delayed STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

After struggling to find drive off speed in both practices on Friday, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) qualifying for the STP 500 was canceled, relegating Kahne to a 29th place starting spot for the 500-mile race that was postponed to Monday afternoon.

As the STP 500 began, Kahne settled into the 26th spot and reported that his No. 95 WRL Camaro ZL1 had more grip than it did in practice on Friday. The No. 95 pit crew made only a tire pressure adjustment during the completion caution on lap 50, along with tires and fuel.

Kahne restarted 21st and settled into the Top-20 for the majority of the first stage, ultimately falling back to 21st where he ended the stage.

Kahne reported that he needed more forward drive and pitted while under caution. Unfortunately, Kahne received a speeding penalty in section two of pit road, sending him to the tail of the field to start the second stage.

Kahne quickly made it back to the 24th position and went on to finish the stage two laps down, as the field remained green for the stage’s entirety.

The final stage consisted of another long, green flag run with Kahne reporting his car was feeling slightly better on lap 343. The first non-stage caution finally fell on lap 384, allowing Kahne to pit for tires, fuel and a left rear adjustment.

Kahne restarted 26th with 109 laps remaining. The field remained green once again for the rest of the race, with Kahne gaining two positions to finish 24th. Despite the 24th place finish, Kahne and LFR moved up two positions in Driver / Owner points standings to 27th.

Next up for Kahne and LFR after NASCAR’s first off-weekend of the season will be LFR’s home track of Texas Motor Speedway.


Tony Stewart, best known as “Smoke” for his ability to smoke the competition and burn up a set of tires when celebrating a victory, has teamed with Smithfield® and vaunted car builder RTR Vehicles and the man behind it, drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr., to build a one-of-a-kind 2018 Ford Mustang RTR Spec 3 that will be given away to one lucky fan.


Thanks to Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8 engine receiving 12 pounds of boost from Ford Performance’s new supercharger, Tony Stewart’s Smithfield Smoke Machine will have the sound and feel of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion Stewart-Haas Racing campaigns in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with driver Aric Almirola. After hearing the thunder of the Ford Mustang’s 700-horsepower capability, onlookers will see its racing lineage in the paint scheme, body work and wheels that emulate the No. 10 Smithfield Ford.


Beginning May 6, fans can register for a chance to win Tony Stewart’s Smithfield Smoke Machine by visiting


“From being a part of tailgating at the track to home cookouts on race day, getting to engage with fans is our favorite part of our racing program at Smithfield,” said Tim Zimmer, chief marketing officer for Smithfield Foods’ Packaged Meats Division. “Receiving the keys to this custom, one-of-a-kind car from Tony Stewart himself during Ford Championship Weekend is going to be truly an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience for our lucky winner.”


“I’m a car guy as much as I am a racer,” Stewart said. “I love to see how the performance parts and pieces we use in racing make their way into street cars. We picked the right car builder in RTR and Vaughn Gittin Jr. to make sure this car performs as well as it looks. They know Ford Mustangs inside and out, and we’ve incorporated our technical partners into this build too, with Mobil 1 and WIX Filters technology getting installed. Our friends at Smithfield are genuine race fans, and it’s exciting to partner with them to bring a genuine performance machine in this Ford Mustang to one lucky fan.”


Gittin is a world-champion drifter and professional fun-haver in the premier drifting series, Formula Drift. He is best known for his aggressive, foot-to-the-floor, door-to-door, big-smoke driving style behind the wheel of his signature Ford Mustang RTR. Vaughn is the visionary behind RTR Vehicles (, which builds turnkey Ford Mustangs featuring aggressive, modern styling and tactical performance enhancements available through select Ford dealers across the globe.


“We’re going to have a lot of fun building this tire slayer of a Mustang so we can have some smoky fun with Tony Stewart and Smithfield,” Gittin said. “Our plan is to take the incredible, new 2018 Ford Mustang GT to the next level by converting it to a Mustang RTR Spec 3 that screams with 700 horsepower thanks to Ford Performance’s new game-changing supercharger with air-to-water intercooler. We will also add a few other custom touches with inspiration from Aric Almirola’s No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion. We have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, but with Smithfield involved, at least we know our RTR crew will eat well as they burn the midnight oil.”


Completing the customization of Tony Stewart’s Smithfield Smoke Machine will be:

●  RTR’s adjustable dampers, lowering springs, sway bars and performance exhaust.

●  RTR’s complete aero package, LED grille lighting and a custom leather interior.

●  A custom set of RTR’s 20-inch Tech 5 wheels.

●  And a unique, serialized “1 of 1” build plaque signed by Stewart and Gittin.


One lucky winner will be selected in October, whereupon Smithfield and Stewart-Haas Racing will fly them and a guest to Ford Championship Weekend Nov. 17-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. There, Stewart will personally hand over the keys to the winner of his Smithfield Smoke Machine Ford Mustang.



Kyle Benjamin and the No. 54 DGR-CROSLEY team had a strong showing Monday afternoon during the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The 20-year-old driver battled for the win in the closing laps of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) debut but came up just short of capturing the win, scoring a second-place finish.
Benjamin took to the half-mile track for the first time in his career on Friday afternoon for three practice sessions where he showed speed throughout the entire day. That trend continued into Saturday as the No. 54 Crosley Toyota Tundra advanced to the final round of NCWTS qualifying before securing a fourth-place starting position in the 250-lap race.
With inclement weather looming in the area, Benjamin was aggressive in the opening laps of the Alpha Energy Solutions 250, moving up to third before NASCAR Officials were forced to postpone the event until Monday. When the race resumed two days later, Benjamin started in third-place and remained towards the front of the field for the first 70-laps, ending Stage 1 in the fifth position. During Stage 2, the No. 54 team fell out of the top-10 when crew chief Bono Manion called for Benjamin to pit under caution on lap 115 while a majority of the field stayed out. The pit strategy led to a 12th-place finish in Stage 2 but put Benjamin in a great position for the concluding laps after all the leaders pitted under caution, placing Benjamin in front of the field. He maintained the lead for 74 laps before losing a three-wide battle between himself, John Hunter Nemechek and Todd Gilliland on a restart late in the race. Benjamin nudged eventual race winner, Nemecheck, coming off Turn 4 in the closing lap of the Alpha Energy 250 but ultimately didn't have enough momentum to complete the pass and was forced to settle with a second-place finish.
"We had a very fast Crosley Toyota Tundra and it really showed on the long green flag runs," said Benjamin. "I had it in my mind I was going to try something off Turn 4 to get around the 8 truck, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to get by him. I didn't want to make a move that was too aggressive but wanted to give him a run for him money, which I think we did. I'm really thankful for the opportunity and fast truck that DGR-CROSLEY gave me this weekend just wish we had a few more laps there at the end."
The NCWTS will have several weeks off before heading to Dover (Del.) International Speedway on May 4, 2018.

DGR-Crosley Racing PR

 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was stifled by a starting position at the rear and could not advance through the field in Monday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Martinsville Speedway, ultimately finishing 37th in the 263-mile event.

“We really struggled throughout the day,” said Stenhouse. “Not being able to practice with our backup car really hurt us and we couldn’t ever get the car going in the right direction.”

Stenhouse made contact with the wall during Saturday afternoon’s practice session, totaling his Fastenal Ford Fusion and forcing the Olive Branch, Miss. driver to a backup car. Per NASCAR rules, he also had to begin Monday’s race in the back of the field.

Stenhouse was unable to move forward through the field as his Fastenal Ford Fusion struggled to turn on the .526-mile racetrack and he lost a lap to the leaders before the competition caution at Lap 50. The team would take the wave-around to get their lap back during the caution.

A long green-flag run prevented Stenhouse from coming to pit road for adjustments on his car and the handling worsened throughout the race. Stenhouse ended the first stage four laps down and in 37th place. Stage two was no different, as no caution flags flew and Stenhouse finished 36th, nine laps down to the leaders. Another green flag run trapped Stenhouse and he was unable to make up any ground on the field. He finished the 500-lap race in 37th.

Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 8. Race coverage begins at 2:00 p.m. on FOX Sports 1. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90. 


The spring race in Martinsville often boasts unpredictable weather, but very few could have suspected what would transpire as the weekend progressed. The half-mile racetrack was blanketed with snow and ice, forcing the postponement of the STP 500 until Monday at 2 PM (ET). It was the first time a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event was postponed due to snow since Atlanta in 1993.  
Dillon and the Germain Racing team were able to complete both practice sessions on Friday before the snow set in. Dillon and his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 were fast off of the truck and posted the 12th quickest time in opening practice before later finishing up 14th in the final session. While the group eagerly anticipated qualifying with their fast GEICO machine, the weather would force the cancelation of qualifying, leaving Dillon to start Sunday's race from the 32nd position.
Starting 32nd when the green flag kicked off 500-laps of racing on Monday afternoon, Dillon would have his work cut out for him. Martinsville Speedway is a challenging place to pass and make up track position, so the GEICO driver methodically navigated the flat half-mile oval, slowly picking up positions, while at the same time narrowly avoiding peril. For the most part, Dillon was quiet on the team's radio frequency, while his spotter, Billy O'Dea, filled the airwaves with direction as the close-quarters racing action heated up.
When the competition caution took place on lap 50, Dillon had pedaled his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 up to 27th place before visiting pit road for four fresh Goodyear tires, a full tank of Sunoco Racing fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Dillon was quick on the track and the Germain Racing pit crew mimicked his efforts on pit road, returning the GEICO machine to the racing surface four spots to the good, in the 23rd position.
As the race wore on, Dillon's GEICO car got stronger, as the crew continued to make helpful adjustments during each pit stop. By lap 240, he was recording lap times equal to the leader, while also managing the door-to-door traffic inherent with 'The Paperclip'. O'Dea could be heard repeatedly echoing the sometimes harrowing phrase, "Three-wide" as racecars yearned to take up every inch of real estate, but Dillon was unrelenting, keeping his foot heavy on the gas pedal of the GEICO Camaro ZL1. When the checkered flag signaled the conclusion of 263-miles of racing, Dillon crossed the finish line in the 22nd position, notching a solid day for the Germain Racing team.          
"We definitely took steps in the right direction this weekend," Dillon said after the race. "This season hasn't started the way we would like, but everyone at Germain Racing is working hard to continue building and improving our program. We still need to get more speed out of our GEICO Camaro ZL1, but we made progress this week, which we will build off of for Texas." 
After a busy start to the year, the NASCAR Cup Series will enjoy a weekend off before returning to action in Fort Worth, TX, on April 8th.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 will hit the track at Texas Motor Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, April 6th, at 1 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 5:45 PM (ET).
The O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is on Sunday, April 8th, and it will be televised live on FS1 beginning at 2 PM (ET). The Performance Racing Network (PRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) and driver D.J. Kennington finished 28th in Monday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

Inclement weather canceled qualifying, presenting Kennington with an uphill battle--he started 37th--on a half-mile track known for high attrition. The two-time NASCAR Pinty's Series champion acquitted himself well in his trek through the field, marching into the top 30 in the final 100 laps. His No. 96 Gordon Brothers Toyota Camry needed no mechanical changes prior to the race's final green-flag run.

"28th is pretty good for our first time at Martinsville," said Marty Gaunt, GBR owner. "We had a lot of green-flag runs, which is uncharacteristic of this track. We got a little body damage on the nose and the sides, so it looks like we've been short-track racing. We had lap times toward the end of our runs that were as good as those in the top 15. Considering we had no qualifying, D.J. did a phenomenal job, the crew did a great job in preparation and we put on a good show for our partner, Gordon Brothers."

"I'm really happy with the team and really happy with the car; once we cleared traffic, we had lots of speed," said Kennington. "It was a good day for us.

"I was a little too timid a couple times out there and probably should've moved a couple guys a little quicker than I did. I was trying to earn their respect, and sometimes that bites you, especially at a place like this. I can't complain at all. Thanks to Gordon Brothers for being on board this weekend."

The race was contested Monday after a one-day postponement due to snow, the first time in 25 years a Cup Series race was delayed by a snowstorm.


In a Monday afternoon matinee at Martinsville Speedway, Trevor Bayne held strong in the early laps before loose conditions and late contact with the wall put him 33rd in the STP 500.

After rolling off the grid 27th, Bayne and the No. 6 crew quickly went to work on trying to gain more forward grip. He restarted 20th after the competition caution at lap 50, but the AdvoCare Ford Fusion became very loose, as Bayne ended stage one in 31st one off the lead lap.

From there Bayne continued to battle loose conditions and got up to 28th, three laps off the pace at lap 265. Following a pit stop at the conclusion of stage two, the Knoxville, Tennessee, native restarted 30th but advanced as high as 27th, as he and the crew fixed the entry issues, but still needed forward drive.

As the laps wound down, Bayne was riding in the same position before making contact with the right side of his Ford Fusion, causing moderate damage which led to three green flag stops and a 33rd place result, 14 laps down.

Bayne and the No. 6 team return to action at Texas Motor Speedway, April 8, for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Race coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, and can also be heard on PRN and NASCAR SIRIUS/XM radio channel 90.


Stage 1
Cole Whitt rolled off the grid in the 35th position in the No. 72 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Martinsville Speedway to start the STP 500
Lap 10: Running 29th, Whitt relayed the No. 72 was free and lacked forward drive
Competition Caution Lap 50: Whitt was posted 31st. He relayed the handling remained the same. Crew Chief Frank Kerr called Whitt to pit for four tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments. He restarted 27th
Stage 1 Completion Caution Lap 130: Whitt completed the stage 29th, one lap down from the leader. He relayed the No. 72 lacked forward drive and turn in the center. Crew Chief Frank Kerr opted to keep Whitt out on track to take the wave around
Stage 2
Whitt took the Stage 2 green flag restart 25th, back on the lead lap
Lap 211: Whitt continued to experience the same conditions. Under the green flag, he came in for four tires, fuel, packer removed from the left front, wedge and air pressure adjustments. He returned to the field 32nd, three laps down
Stage 2 Completion Caution Lap 260: Whitt completed the stage 31st, three laps down. He stayed out to take the wave around and gain track position
Stage 3
Whitt was scored 27th, two laps down for the start of Stage 3
Caution Lap 370: Whitt was posted 27th on the leaderboard. He pitted for four tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustment. He restarted 32nd, six laps down
Caution Lap 385 (incident): Running 31st, six laps down, Whitt stayed out to take the wave around
Whitt continued to run in the 27th position for the completion of the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway
TriStar PR

Clint Bowyer won his first race at Martinsville Speedway, leading a race high 215 laps in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series STP 500. The No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion powered by the Ford FR9 engine, recorded his first win for Stewart-Haas Racing and a new Grandfather clock. Ford Performance now has 28 career MENCS wins at the famed “Paperclip”.

“Congratulations Clint, Tony and Gene on a fantastic win” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “Clint drove a great race, showcasing his talents leading 215 laps in his Ford Fusion. Ford Performance continues to provide the technology and resources to keep our cars running up front."

“This is a place where I’ve gotten so close,” an emotional Bowyer commented in Victory Lane. I wanted to win this grandfather clock so bad. Let me tell you something, Gene Haas, Tony Stewart, to give this old dog a fresh chance and fresh blood with a new opportunity. Finally, to get the 14 in Victory Lane is just a weight off the shoulders. It’s been a long time. To have it come at this place meant a lot.”

After a snow delayed start to the STP 500, Bowyer came out strong, his car was perfectly set up for the cooler conditions in Martinsville. The No. 14 took the lead over Ford teammate Ryan Blaney (Stage 2 winner) on lap 285 and never looked back. Bowyer managed his race car and equipment throughout the 500-lap event to take the checkered flag 1.146 seconds in front of Kyle Busch, marking consecutive Ford Performance spring race wins at Martinsville.

Ford Performance teammates led a race high 361 lap total out of the 500-lap race; Clint Bowyer 215 laps, Ryan Blaney 145 laps and Brad Keselowski 1 lap.

It was a stellar day for Ford Performance racing with eight Ford Fusions finishing in the top-15; Bowyer P1, No. 12 Blaney in P2, No. 4 Kevin Harvick P5, No. 22 Joey Logano in P6 and Team Penske teammate Keselowski in P10, No. 41 Kurt Busch, No 21 Paul Menard in P13 and No. 10 Aric Almirola P14.

NASCAR heads to the longhorn state, to the Texas Motor Speedway after Easter break. Reference the full 2018 schedule on


Race Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Kurt Busch started 11th and finished eighth to collect three bonus points.

● The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion was loose early on.

● On lap 52, Busch pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Started sixth, finished seventh to collect four bonus points.

● Said car lacked “forward bite.”


Final Stage Recap (Laps 261-500):

Started eighth and finished 11th.

● Busch pitted on lap 265 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.

● After a quick caution, Busch pitted on lap 130 for four tires and fuel, running in 11th.

● Still trying to find a little rear grip as the race came to a close, Busch managed to secure a solid 11th-place finish while teammate Bowyer crossed the finish line first to score the win for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).



● This was Busch’s fourth top-15 of 2018.

● Busch finished eighth in Stage 1 to collect three bonus points and seventh in Stage 2 to earn four additional bonus points.

● Bowyer’s victory in the Martinsville 500 marked the 47th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 43rd points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and its fourth at Martinsville.

● This was SHR’s seventh Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.

● It was SHR’s fourth victory in the first six races of 2018, as Harvick scored back-to-back-to-back wins at the second, third and fourth events of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway near Phoenix.

● This was the second time in five races that all four SHR cars finished in the top-14.

● There were four caution periods for a total of 33 laps.

● Fourteen of the 38 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Bowyer’s margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was 1.146 seconds.


Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.



Race Winner:      Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner:  Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Started second and finished fourth.

● M&M’S Caramel driver Kyle Busch started second in Monday’s weather-delayed STP 500 and by lap five he was in the lead. He spent the next several circuits around the paper-clip-shaped Martinsville track in the lead before relinquishing the top spot to teammate Denny Hamlin on lap 27.

● Busch was in second place when the first caution was displayed on lap 50, reporting that the car lacked rear grip. The team made a series of air pressure adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel. Quick pit work enabled Busch to maintain second place for the restart on lap 56.

● The handling issue Busch reported persisted throughout Stage 1. He dropped a couple positions to fourth place by lap 91 and maintained the position to the conclusion of Stage 1.

● The M&M’S Caramel team made additional air pressure and chassis adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel during the caution period. Busch maintained fourth place for the start of Stage 2.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 130-260):

Started fourth and finished third.

Throughout all of Stage 2 Busch kept pace between third and fourth place. As the stage drew to a close, Busch reported that the car’s handling at the exits of the turns was better but that it had started to get a little tight in the front end.

Busch was in third place at the conclusion of Stage 2. He noted that the car needed a little more help with both chassis and air pressure adjustments. The team obliged, adjusting wedge and air pressure, changing four tires and adding fuel.

Quick pit work placed Busch in second place for the start of Stage 3.


Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261-500):

Started second and finished second.

Busch was in second place early in Stage 3 when he reported that the adjustments didn’t do a lot to improve the car’s handling at the exits of the turns and had also started to affect the handling in the center. He managed to maintain the second position until a caution waved on lap 383, giving him an opportunity to make a trip to pit road for adjustments.

Anticipating a long, green-flag run, the team made air pressure adjustments to help the car’s handling at the exit of the turns and to help maintain speed for a long period. Quick work for four fresh tires and fuel placed Busch in second place for the restart on lap 391.

The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion quietly logged laps throughout the last fifth of the race. While the handling on the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota improved, it wasn’t quite enough to keep pace with race leader and eventual race winner Clint Bowyer.

Busch went on to finish the race in second place, his third runner-up result of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series campaign.

While he didn’t get the win, the second-place finish gave Busch the points he needed to take over the top spot in the championship point standings.



● Busch led three times for a total of 24 laps.

● Busch second-place finish is his fourth top-five and fifth top-10 of the 2018 NASCAR season.

● This marks his 14th top-five and 15th top-10 in 26 career starts at Martinsville.

● Busch finished fourth in Stage 1 to earn seven bonus points. He finished third in Stage 2 to earn an additional eight bonus points.


Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

“Our M&M’S Caramel Toyota was good today – actually better than it had been during practice on Saturday. There was a lot of things kind of going on here all throughout the day. There were some guys we kind of expected to battle that we did early in the race, but then we had some guys toward the end – like the 14 (Bowyer) – that we never saw coming and didn’t expect based on practice Saturday. Those guys were good when it counted, obviously. I tried to make sure that I saved enough of the car to be able to go get him there at the end when he got to the lapped traffic. There was just nothing to go with. We’re close. We’re right there each and every week – you know (crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and myself and all these guys. We keep executing. We keep doing a good job, but it’s not quite good enough yet. We’re a championship-caliber team and know that we will get there.”


Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.