Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16167)

This time, there was no late-race glitch to interrupt Kevin Harvick’s domination of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

Streaking away from pole winner Ryan Blaney during an overtime restart on Lap 336, Harvick won Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway with the utmost of authority, sweeping the stages and leading a race-high 177 laps on the way to his series-best eighth victory of the season and a guaranteed spot in the Nov. 18 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The victory was Harvick’s first since Michigan in August, and it broke a streak of bad luck during which the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford led laps but failed to find Victory Lane, thanks to mechanical issues or pit road mistakes.

“We've been working day after day to make speed,” said Harvick, who won for the second time at Texas and the 45th time in his career, 17th most all-time. “This place has been really good to me. We finally knocked that barrier down (with a win in last year’s Playoff race at TMS).

“The expectations are to win. Like I told you guys before the race, we don't race for points. We race for wins. We don't count our fingers and our toes trying to figure out how to make it in (to the Championship 4 race). Today we earned our way in, and we're going to race again next week (at Phoenix) and try to win another race and then see what we can do at Homestead.”

Harvick joins Martinsville winner Joey Logano, last Sunday’s Martinsville winner in the title race. Logano ran third at Texas after leading 54 laps, second only to Harvick.

The only stress for Harvick was lane choice for the overtime. On the previous restart on Lap 311 of a scheduled 334, following caution for Matt DiBenedetto’s hard crash into the inside wall on the backstretch, Harvick picked the inside lane, and Blaney cleared him off Turn 2.

It took Harvick seven laps of chasing to regain the lead, but in the two-lap overtime, he didn’t have the luxury of time to mount a pursuit. So Harvick picked the top lane for the first time and roared around Blaney in Turn 1.

Then Harvick was off into the Texas sunset.

“That last restart I knew I needed to pick the top,” Harvick said. “I wanted to be on the bottom to be safe, because the top got such a good side-draft getting into Turn 1 and the outside groove got rubbered up. I thought if I could keep him from finishing the corner, I could drive back by him. It all worked out.”

Blaney got a shove from fifth-place finisher Kyle Larson on the final restart, but it wasn’t enough.

“The 42 (Larson) gave me a heck of a push, but I didn't quite get far enough ahead of the 4 into (Turn) 1,” Blaney said. “We went in side‑by‑side. If I sailed off in there as fast as he did, I would have got loose, wrecked us both.

“You kind of knew you were beat getting into 1 when you're there, because you know the guy on the outside is going to pin you. I figured when he took the top, it was going to take a really good push and position into 1 to have a prayer at it. Just didn't happen.”

Harvick was the only one of so-called Big Three to avoid trouble on Sunday.

Kyle Busch drew an early speeding penalty entering pit road and later had to make an unscheduled pit stop because of a loose wheel. He finished 17th, the last driver on the lead lap.

Martin Truex Jr. came to pit road early on Lap 247 to correct a loose left front wheel and in the process drove through too many pit boxes entering his stall. Two laps down after a pass-through penalty, Truex rallied to finish ninth.

Nevertheless, with the Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix looming, Busch holds a 28-point edge over his brother Kurt Busch, who is fifth in the Playoff standings after running seventh on Sunday. Truex is 25 points ahead of Kurt Busch, who likely will need a victory at Phoenix to advance to the Championship 4.

The same is true for sixth-place Texas finisher Chase Elliott (39 points below the cut line). Aric Almirola (eighth Sunday) and Clint Bowyer (26th, after contact with Denny Hamlin’s Toyota on Lap 1) are both in must-win situations.

Erik jones ran fourth for the third time in the last five races.

After Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. felt as though he had just been through a trial by fire.

“I’m telling you, God is testing us,” said Truex, who had to start from the rear of the field after an engine change in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota and later suffered both a loose wheel and a pit road penalty for driving through too many boxes. 

“Had to start at the back, got to the front, hung around there for a while and then had a loose wheel there again,” Truex said. “Just a tough day. Overall, a good day. Luckily, we were able to get up front and get some stage points in the first two stages and then we had trouble, but we had it at least in time to recover.”

Two laps down at one point, Truex recovered to finish ninth and takes a 25-point edge over fifth place Kurt Busch into next Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix, where the field will be cut to four.

Another saving grace for Truex was that Kevin Harvick won at Texas.

“Harvick or Kyle (Busch) winning is a perfect scenario—the guys that are ahead of you in points,” Truex said. “That was good. I feel OK about where we are. I think we need a little more speed to run with the Fords – they’re clearly really, really fast right now.

“If this was last year, they would all be complaining that we’re too fast, so I don’t know if I should do a (Brad) Keselowski and start whining about it or not. They’re really fast, and if we’re off just a little bit we can’t run with them.

“We were off a little bit today. On the short run, they were really fast, but on the long run I thought we were as good as anybody, but just never got to show it. Track position was so, so hard to get.”

KYLE BUSCH SURVIVES DIFFICULT TEXAS RACE WITH GOOD POINTS CUSHION

Almost from the outset of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch’s race started to go south.

During a pit stop on Lap 32 under a competition caution, he entered the first sector of pit road too fast and was flagged for a penalty. Restarting from the rear of the field, Busch worked his way up to seventh by the end of Stage 1, but the second 85-lap segment brought more problems.

Ten laps after pitting on Lap 131, Busch brought his No. 18 Toyota to pit road again, thanks to a loose wheel. He fell two laps down and didn’t regain the lead lap until the race reached overtime. By then it was too late to climb higher than 17th at the finish.

Nonetheless, Busch goes to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 elimination race with a 28-point lead over his brother, Kurt Busch, who stands fifth — the first driver below the current cut lin

“We had a fast car,” said Adam Stevens, Busch’s crew chief. “You speed on pit road, you go to the back and you have a loose wheel under green then lose a couple laps and we just couldn’t get back on the lead lap.

“Obviously, at the very end we did, but it didn’t matter at that point with only a green-white-checkered to finish. Felt like we had something we could have raced for. We didn’t make many adjustments, but nothing to show for it.”

IT’S ALL OR NOTHING FOR CHASE ELLIOTT AT PHOENIX

Chase Elliott is a realist. He knows that, without a victory next Sunday at Phoenix, he almost surely won’t be eligible for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in the Nov. 18 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Not that Elliott didn’t have a solid performance in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Under conditions that made passing difficult, he worked his way up from the 16th starting position, ran in the top 10 for most of the afternoon and finished sixth at the 1.5-mile track.

But on Sunday, solid wasn’t good enough. Elliott leaves Texas 39 points behind Martin Truex Jr., who currently holds the fourth spot in the Playoff standings. At Phoenix, the field will be cut from eight drivers to the four who will battle for the championship.

Elliott has never won at the one-mile track in the Sonoran Desert, but he does have a second and a third in his last two starts there.

“I mean, yeah, I feel better about Phoenix than I did about today, for sure,” Elliott said. “Yeah, we'll see. I mean, I don't know till we get there. Yeah, tough spot to be in.

“But, ultimately, you’ve got to be in a must‑win situation at Homestead if you ever make it down there, so you might as well get used to it and like it.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame a pit-road penalty to earn an 11th-place finish in Sunday’ Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

“Our Fastenal Ford was really strong all weekend,” Stenhouse said. “After leading final practice yesterday, I was really looking forward to the race. Luckily we were able to get back on the lead lap there at the end and be able to contend in the final green white checkered finish. Overall it was a good weekend for our No. 17 team.”

After barely missing the final round of qualifying on Friday, the two-time Xfinity Series Champion started the 334-lap race in the 15th position but quickly maneuvered his Fastenal Ford inside the top-10 by lap 10. When the competition yellow waved on lap 30 for rain overnight, Stenhouse was scored in the 10th position. After taking two tires, the Roush Fenway Racing driver lost a few positions when the remainder of the stage went caution free taking the green checkered in the 11th position.

The two-time Xfinity champion started stage two in the 10th position but dropped to 16th on the restart after being caught in the outside lane. Later in the run, Stenhouse bullied his way forward working his way inside the top-10 by lap 133.  During a scheduled green flag pit-stop, the team was penalized with an uncontrolled tire forcing Stenhouse to serve a pass-thru penalty and costing him to lose a lap to the leaders. When the green checkered waved at the end of stage two, the Olive Branch, Miss. native was scored in the 20th position.

When the caution flag waved on lap 306, Stenhouse was scored in the lucky dog position allowing him to get back on the lead lap. When the caution flag waved sending the race into overtime, Stenhouse lined up in the 15th position for the final green white checkered picking up four positions in the closing laps to take the checkered flag in the 11th position.

Next weekend Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to ISM Raceway for the Can-Am 500. Race coverage begins at 2:30 pm ET on NBC.

RFR PR

Start/Finish: 3rd/1st (Running, completed 337 of 337 laps)

Point Standing: 1st with 4,143 points and one win, advances to Championship 4

 

Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85):

Kevin Harvick started third, finished first, earning 10 bonus points.

The Mobil 1 Ford raced up to the second position on the restart and held steady until the competition caution at lap 30.

The No. 4 Ford took two tires and fuel during the competition caution and came off pit road as the leader.

● The team held the lead for the remainder of the stage to score its series-best 17th stage win of the season.

● Harvick came to pit road at the conclusion of the stage for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170):

Harvick started first, finished first, earning 10 bonus points.

The No. 4 team chose to stay out following an early caution on lap 97 to keep the lead.

● Harvick surrendered the lead to come to pit road under green on lap 132 for four tires and fuel.

● He reclaimed the lead on lap 159 and continued out front for the rest of the stage to score his series-best 18th stage win of the season.

● Harvick came to pit road at the conclusion of the stage for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. He rejoined third behind Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, who took just two tires.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 171-337):

Harvick started the stage third and finished first.

● He kept pace with the leaders over the next 51 laps and came down pit road from third place under caution for his next-to-last scheduled fuel-and-tire stop on lap 228, rejoining the race in fifth.

● Harvick was fourth when the race restarted on lap 231, and he motored his way back into the lead on lap 254. He stayed up front for the next 27 laps before pitting a final time for tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment under green.

● Twelve laps later, Harvick was the leader once again as the field cycled through the day’s final scheduled round of pit stops.

● The No. 4 team elected to keep Harvick on track during three caution periods over the final 40 laps to the scheduled race distance. Each time, Harvick was faced with restarting in the lead alongside Ryan Blaney.

● On the lap-302 restart, Harvick chose the inside lane and was able to hold off Blaney, keeping the lead until the next caution flag flew on lap 306.

● Harvick again chose the inside lane on the lap-310 restart, but this time Blaney slipped past for the lead, where he stayed until Harvick was able to get around him on lap 318.

● The caution flag flew a final time on lap 331, three laps before the scheduled 334-lap race distance, sending the event into overtime.

● Harvick chose the outside lane on that final restart. After Blaney took the initial advantage at the wave of the green flag, Harvick powered around the outside and drove away for the win.

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“That last restart, I knew I needed to pick the top. I wanted to be on the bottom to be safe, because the top got such a good sidedraft getting into (turn) one and the outside groove got rubbered up. I thought if I could keep him (Blaney) from finishing the corner, I could drive back by him. It all worked out. Everything went well today on our Mobil 1 Ford, and we were able to get to victory lane. (Looking ahead to the Championship 4 at Homestead,) I think it is really just week to week. We don’t try to do anything different. We come to try to put ourselves in position to win. With the equipment we have right now, you need to take advantage of it. It might not be this way forever, so you want to take advantage of the situation, and today we did. It was a big day for all of us – for me, on the restarts and to win the race on the restart late at the end. The guys on pit road had a solid day and gained spots on pit road, and Rodney (Childers, crew chief) made great calls. All around, just a great day of execution.”

 

Notes:

● Harvick will compete in the Championship 4 for the fourth time in the last five years. He won the championship in 2014.

● This was Harvick’s series-leading eighth victory of 2018 and his second victory in 32 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Texas.

● Harvick won Stage 1 to earn 10 bonus points. He then won Stage 2 to earn an additional 10 bonus points. Harvick leads the series in stage wins with 18, eight more than any other driver.

● Harvick led five times for a race-high 177 laps to increase his laps-led total at Texas to 495.

● Harvick’s victory in the AAA Texas 500 marked the 58th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 51st points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and its third victory at Texas.

● Harvick’s win marked SHR’s series-leading 12th points-paying victory 34 races into the 2018 season. SHR also won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.

● This was SHR’s 15th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when Kurt Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.

● Harvick’s triumph delivered the 107th points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 676th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.

● This was Ford’s 14th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Texas, the most all-time among manufacturers.

● This was Harvick’s 45th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and it gives him sole possession of 17th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list.

● This was Harvick’s 22nd Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory since joining SHR in 2014.

● Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was .447 of a second.

● Ford took five of the top-10 positions, including the top-three.

● There were eight caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Only 17 of the 40 drivers in the AAA Texas 500 finished on the lead lap.

 

Playoff Standing (with one race to go before the Championship 4):

1.      Kevin Harvick (4,143) 1 win

2.      Kyle Busch (4,128) +28

3.      Martin Truex Jr. (4,125) +25

4.      Joey Logano (4,119) 1 win

5.      Kurt Busch (4,100) -25

6.      Chase Elliott (4,086) -39

7.      Aric Almirola (4,068) -57

8.      Clint Bowyer (4,052) -73

●  SHR is the only team to feature all four of its drivers in the Round of 8.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Can-Am 500k on Sunday, Nov. 11 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. It is the penultimate race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race to make the Championship 4. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EST with live coverage on NBC beginning at 1:30 p.m.

 

TSC PR

A promising start to the day for Trevor Bayne at Texas Motor Speedway ended in a 21st-place finish Sunday afternoon in his No. 6 AdvoCare Rehydrate Ford Fusion.

The 2011 Daytona 500 Champion rolled off the grid 14th after a strong qualifying effort on Friday. Bayne quickly broke into the top-10 just 10 laps in, with a scheduled competition caution upcoming at lap 30, and the stage break at lap 85. Bayne ran 12th at the first yellow, reporting he was free in and off.

The team went to work for the first time under the break, as he would restart 11th at lap 36th. The Knoxville, Tennessee, native crossed the line 12th in the opening stage, as the crew again went to work trying to fine tune his Ford Fusion.

After rolling off 19th in the second stage, he quickly jumped back to 15th by lap 100. From there the race would go green for an extended period of time, meaning he would pit under green at lap 132. After falling to 23rd, one lap off the leader, he climbed back to 18th to end the second stage, setting up the final 164-lap segment.

Bayne restarted the final stage in 24th, working his way back into the top-20 by lap 225. A series of late-race cautions were displayed, before Bayne eventually crossed the line 21st in his AdvoCare Ford.

The No. 6 returns to the track next weekend at Phoenix with Matt Kenseth back behind the wheel.

Race coverage begins next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC and MRN.

RFR PR

“We get to fight another day,” said Truex to his team after taking the checkered flag in ninth place Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Finishing ninth at a 1.5-mile track would not be considered a good day for Truex, who has been one of the NASCAR Cup Series dominant drivers on mile-and-a-half ovals. But considering the emotional roller coaster that Truex and the Furniture Row Racing team went through the ninth-place place overtime finish looked pretty, pretty good.

Truex came into the race 25 points above the cutline to advance to the Championship 4 Round in two weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and he goes into next week’s final race in the Round of 8 at Phoenix with the same 25-point cushion with two of the four transfer spots remaining.

His 25-point lead is over Kurt Busch and he trails Kyle Busch by only three points for the third-place positon.

It was no easy task for Truex to maintain that 25-point cutline margin. He had to overcome a number of setbacks in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota.

The first hiccup for Truex was starting the 334-lap race from the rear of the field due to an engine change following Saturday’s final practice. The 38-year-old driver was able to overcome that deficit by finishing fifth in the first stage and third in the second stage.

After scoring the third-place result in the second stage it appeared that Truex would be one of the drivers to contend for the overall win. But then disaster struck the No. 78 team during a Lap 224 pit stop.

Following the four-tire stop, Truex reported a vibration and 19 laps later his right-rear wheel got so loose that he was called back into the pits by crew chief Cole Pearn while the race was running under green-flag conditions.

What made matters worse for the No. 78 team was when Truex came down pit road, he was penalized for driving through pit boxes. The loose tire and penalty put Truex two laps down and in a precarious playoff points position.

But the gritty Truex eventually got one lap back and when a caution came out on Lap 296 he was back on the lead lap as the Free Pass recipient. He restarted 15th.

He picked up six spots in the closing laps to claim his 20th top-10 of the season and his first finish of the year between 6th and 10th.  He has 19 top fives to go with his 20 top 10s.

“Had to start at the back, got to the front, hung around there for a while and then had a loose wheel there again,” Truex explained. “A tough day, but overall, a good day. Luckily we were able to get up front and get some stage points in the first two stages and then we had trouble. But we at least had time to recover. Proud of everybody on this Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota.”

When asked about next Sunday’s race in Phoenix Truex said, “I feel okay about where we are and feel like we’re in decent shape going to Phoenix. We’ll go there and race hard again and see what we can do. I think we need a little more speed to run with the Fords – they’re clearly really, really fast right now and if we’re off just a little bit we can’t run with them. On the short run, they (Fords) were really fast, but on the long run I thought we were as good as anybody, but just never got to show it. Track position was so hard to get.”

The race winner and second driver to automatically advance to Homestead was Kevin Harvick. Rounding out the top 10 were Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Truex, and Austin Dillon.

The race had eight cautions for 37 laps and there were 16 lead changes among seven drivers.

The final race in the Round of 8 is next Sunday Nov. 11 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

FRR PR

Austin Dillon Drives RCR's No. 3 Dow NORKOOL Camaro ZL1 to Top-10 Finish at Texas Motor Speedway
 

10th
 
 
 26th
 
 16th
"That was a solid top-10 finish for the Dow NORKOOL team. We battled all weekend. We didn't have what we thought we needed, but we overcame and put in a good fight. After starting deep in the field, we were able to gain 12 positions in the first 20 laps and hang on to battle in the top-15 all day. I love coming to Texas Motor Speedway and I hope we put on a good show for the fans.
-Austin Dillon 
Caterpillar Next Gen Excavator Camaro Debuts at Texas Motor Speedway and Generates 18th-Place Finish
 

 18th
 
 
 14th
 
 17th
"We had our hands full today. Turns 1 and 2 were super tight. Crew chief Luke Lambert and the team made a series of changes during the first half of the race, but for whatever reason, we could not get the Caterpillar Next Gen Excavator Camaro ZL1 to respond until 125 laps remaining. We started to make some headway, but an untimely caution put us down 2 laps so we needed a break. It just did not work out in our favor. Fortunately we had that caution to go into overtime and we were able to gain a few spots in the end to finish in the top 20. I want to thank all the folks from Caterpillar and the companies represented on our car for designing the coolest Excavator I have ever seen. I also want to thank the over 175 guests who watched us compete here in Texas."
-Ryan Newman 

RCR PR

“Mari’s devotion to Indianapolis Motor Speedway was only surpassed by her kindness. Her tireless philanthropy and her passion for auto racing leave a legacy that touches the lives of millions.

“Mari was a true inspiration to us and her leadership and grace impacted us all. From the France family, all of NASCAR, ISC and IMSA, we send our deepest condolences to the Hulman George family as we mourn her loss.”

NASCAR PR

Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Cardell team advanced through all three rounds of knock-out qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday to earn the 11thstarting spot for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
 
It was the eighth time this season that Menard and the No. 21 team have been among the elite 12 qualifiers for a Monster Energy Cup Series race.
 
Menard and the Menards/Cardell team started the day at Texas by running seven laps in opening practice with a best lap at 194.812 miles per hour, which put them 22nd on the speed chart.
 
Then in the opening round of qualifying, Menard ran a lap at 196.879 mph, which was 16th fastest and more importantly won him a transfer to Round Two. 
 
His lap at 198.078 mph in the second round was 10th best and earned him a spot in the third round where his lap at 197.954 mph was 11th fastest and put him among the eight Ford drivers in the top 12 in qualifying.
 
“It was a good day for Ford and a good day for us,” Eddie Wood said. “We’ve struggled some lately in qualifying, so it was good to get back on track.
 
“Paul did a great job today as did [crew chief] Greg Erwin. We were a little tight in the third round, but the important thing is to make the final round and have a shot at the pole.” 
 
Wood offered congratulations to his former driver Ryan Blaney and to Team Penske on their pole-winning run of 200.505 mph.
 
“That was an impressive lap, and we’re happy for them and for Doug Yates for putting together an engine package that allowed Ryan to get the pole and for all of us to be so strong in qualifying,” Wood said. 
 
There are two practice session schedule for Saturday, which will allow teams to perfect their race set-ups for Sunday’s 500-miler, which is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time, with TV coverage on NBCSN.
 

WBR PR