Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (15089)

Martin Truex Jr.’s 14th-place finish did not by any means correlate to his performance in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

Truex led a race high of 121 laps and was contending for the win with 10 laps remaining. But then things started to take a sudden turn in the wrong direction in his 450th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

While running second Truex’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota came down pit road for fresh tires following a caution on Lap 390. Unfortunately, there were issues on the pit stop and Truex dropped to 11th place.

He picked up three positions before another caution came on out on Lap 397. The team took a gamble to come down pit road for a new set of Goodyears, hoping that would give Truex a better chance of gaining more positions. The strategy didn’t work out since a number of teams ahead of Truex did not pit.

Truex came on strong during the second half of the race. He radioed his crew chief Cole Pearn to tell him, “I don’t know what adjustments you made but the car is a lot better.”

Truex appeared to be pulling away from the field before a caution came out with 30 laps to go. He came into the pits for service but dropped to third in track position when he exited pit road.

He was rightfully frustrated after the race.

Tonight we beat ourselves, so that’s unfortunate,” said Truex, who started on the pole.  “Pretty disappointed that we didn’t get at least a chance. I don’t know what we have to do to win at one of these short tracks and get everything to go the way we need it to.”

Truex added, “The guys did a really good job with the race car. We were awful at the start of the race and I thought we were really in trouble. Just fought all night long and tried to stick with it and make good adjustments, and put ourselves in position to try to win another one and just came up short. Frustrated, but proud of everyone for the effort and hopefully we’ll get them next week (at Talladega).”

Truex finished ninth in the first two stages and remains seventh in the driver point standings.

The race winner was Kyle Busch. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez.

The race had six cautions for 46 laps and there were 16 lead changes among seven drivers.  Truex led four different times for 121 laps.

The next race is Sunday, April 29 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

FRR PR

Austin Dillon and the AAA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Team Earn Top-15 Finish Following Strong Performance at Richmond Raceway
 

 15th
 
 
 23rd
 
 14th
"Richmond Raceway has always been what I consider the hardest track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit, so I was really proud of our efforts in Stage 1. Our AAA Camaro ZL1 was really good. We were the fastest car on the track for most of the run and were able to race our way from 23rd to eighth and earn a few stage points. Once the race transitioned to night we lost some of the magic. We just weren't as strong. I put us in a bit of a hole by earning a commitment line violation coming to pit road, but we worked hard and had a good shot at the end. It was just hard to find a line that made moves." 
-Austin Dillon 
Daniel Hemric Finishes 32nd in Cup Series Debut in Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 
 

 32nd
 
 
 22nd
 
 N/A
"First off, I have to thank Richard Childress and Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff for giving me the opportunity to make my first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start this weekend. This is something that was 22 years in the making and truly a dream come true. The No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 fired off so tight during that first stage that I really struggled and we fell multiple laps down with no cautions to help us. My crew chief, Brandon Thomas, made a really good adjustment on that first stop. That gave us a fighting chance. We kept adjusting on it and it kept getting better. I wish we could go back and run that first stage over again, but we learned a lot and these guys never gave up. Everyone on this crew volunteered to build this car and come here this week and that means a lot. I just wish we could have had a better result tonight." 
-Daniel Hemric 
Late-Race Mishap Costs Ryan Newman and the No. 31 Childress Vineyards Chevrolet ZL1 Team Top-10 Finish
 

 37th
 
 
 14th
 
 17th
"Richmond Raceway is one of my favorite tracks and to run just outside the top five, get assessed a pit-road penalty and then battle back onto the lead lap says a lot about this No. 31 Childress Vineyards Camaro ZL1 team. It's unfortunate on the restart with 30 to go that we got into the back of a car. Everyone started checking up and I just hit him square in the back. I did all I could but the damage cost us our race. I'm just so disappointed right now. We had a good car and a finish that doesn't reflect it." 
-Ryan Newman 

RCR P

Kyle Busch survived NASCAR Overtime on Saturday at Richmond Raceway to score his 46th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win. Busch, driving the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, started 32nd on the leaderboard and quickly drove his way to the front of the field. The 32-year old credited the No. 18 pit crew for their fast pit stops all night long that put the M&Ms Toyota in position for the win.

“All these guys – everybody on this whole M&M Camry, they do a great job for me. I can’t say enough about Adam Stevens (crew chief) and my guys and the pit crew tonight,” said Busch after the race. “They won this race for us. They got us off pit road first those last two times that we came down for tires and got us where we needed to be. I can’t say enough about this Toyota Camry. It was just awesome today. Out front all day long. This is really cool for as good as the crowd was tonight. Really cool out here in Richmond, really chilly but otherwise it was a fantastic evening so hopefully everybody enjoyed that.”

The driver from Las Vegas now has 187 career victories across all three of NASCAR’s National Series following this win at Richmond. The series veteran has three wins, seven top five and eight top 10 finishes through nine completed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in 2018.

With the win on Saturday, Busch has won three NASCAR premier series races in a row and will look to score his fourth consecutive win at Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday. Talladega, a track where Busch won at back in 2008, is a track that is highly unpredictable and can produce a surprise race winner.

“It’s definitely cool we’ve won three in a row. We did it a couple years ago and now I don’t know if you can shoot for four in a row,” Busch continued after the race in victory lane. “It’s hard to go to Talladega with that much of a winning streak and think that you can go to victory lane, but we’re going to go there anyway and give it a shot. We’ll see what we can do. Our guys are amazing. They’re awesome every week and I love racing with these guys and Joe Gibbs Racing.”

Chase Elliott posted a runner-up finish in the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet and will leave the 0.75-mile oval with his second top-five finish of the season. The Georgia native started second on the leaderboard and finished seventh in stage one. At the end of stage two, Elliott sat 15th.

“Yeah, I mean I think it’s been a steady work in progress,” said Elliott after the race. “We certainly have work to do and we know that. The results tonight, I don’t feel like… I think if we looked at the results we would feel okay about it, but I think in reality we shouldn’t feel okay about it. We need to go back and really focus on getting better.”

Still looking to score his first career win, Elliott goes into Talladega next weekend with an average finish of 16.3 this season.

Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-three finishers at Richmond and came into the night as one of the favorites. The driver from Virginia led six circuits of the race and scored his fifth top 10 finish of the year.

Drivers Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers on Saturday. Both Logano and Harvick led a combined total of 100 laps in their Ford machines.

Other than the two stage breaks at lap 100 and 200, there were no yellow flags for an on-track incident until 47 laps remaining. The first yellow flag was displayed on lap 353 for a three car incident involving Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Cole Whitt and Ryan Blaney. Each of these drivers involved were able to continue with their night.

Fluid brought out the yellow on lap 367 and an on-track incident involving David Ragan brought out the next one on lap 389. The final caution came out on lap 395 for an incident involving Ryan Newman dropping fluid on the track and sending the race into NASCAR Overtime. Newman went to the garage and finished 37th on the leaderboard.

The next race will be at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 29. The Geico 500 will air live on FOX and MRN at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Quaker State Ford will start 20thin Saturday night’s 400-lapper at Richmond Raceway.

Menard earned that spot by advancing through the first round of qualifying with a lap at 123.164 miles per hour. In the second round, he ran a lap at 122.510 mph, securing his spot on the outside of the 10throw.
 
Team co-owner Eddie Wood pointed out that the Menards team focused on a set up for racing conditions during Friday’s practice sessions, and didn’t make a mock qualifying run.
 
Menard was 14thfastest in the opening practice session with a best lap at 119.893 mph. He was 24thin Happy Hour with a best lap at 119.011 mph.
 
“We won’t be back on track until the race starts Saturday night, so the priority on a weekend like this is getting the car tuned for the race,” Wood said.”
 
Saturday’s 400-lap race is scheduled to start just after 6:30 p.m. with TV coverage on FOX.

WBR PR

Martin Truex Jr. will start on the pole at Richmond Raceway on Saturday in the No. 78 5-hour Energy / Bass Pro Shops Toyota. Truex, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, will start on the pole for the third time of the season in the premier series after posting a 21.799, 123.859 mph. in the final round.

Truex led round one and sat fourth in round two. The series veteran enters the weekend with five top five and five top 10 finishes through eight races this year.

Chase Elliott will start second on the race leaderboard after a 21.841, 123.621 mph. in the final round of knockout qualifying. The driver of the No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet comes into Richmond Raceway looking to score his first career win in the premier series and sat 0.042 seconds behind pole sitter Martin Truex Jr. The young racer has one top five and three top 10 finishes this season.

Joey Logano will round out the top three starters on Saturday in the No. 22 Shell / Pennzoil Ford. Logano posted a 21.848, 123.581 mph. in the the final round to take the third starting spot. The driver from Connecticut sat sixth in round one and third in round two.

Round two leader Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson will round out the top five starters.

Several big name drivers failed to make the second round of qualifying and will start 25th on back. Some of these drivers included Aric Almirola (25th), Daniel Suarez (26th), Brad Keselowski (28th), Kasey Kahne (29th), Kyle Busch (32nd) and AJ Allmendinger (33rd).

Daniel Hemric will be making his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut and will start 22nd on Saturday. Hemric finished round one sitting 23rd in the No. 8 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

There were no DNQ’s as 38 drivers appeared on the weekend entry list.

The Dale Jr. Foundation, in conjunction with the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the Heart of America Foundation, celebrated the grand opening of the brand-new LaSalle-Backus Educational Campus Library in Washington, D.C. today. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who co-founded TDJF in 2007 with his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, attended the celebratory event.
 
The trio of foundations combined to transform the former library into a new learning center, complete with updated paint schemes and décor, 350 new books, new technology and new furniture to aid in the education of students in the area. It’s a continuation of LBEC’s commitment to literacy. LBEC has worked long and hard to improve literacy through the 2017-18 Redskins Read Program, an incentive-based reading program that helps teachers expand on current curriculum for fourth- and fifth-grade students and increase reading scores.
 
“The only way to be productive is to be positive,” the 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver—and lifelong Washington Redskins fan- said prior to the event. “Reading is a great escape. Diving into a good book can transport you out of your circumstances and into a whole other world where anything is possible, and that is what this project is all about.” 

TDJF, whose mission is to give underprivileged individuals with a focus on youth, the resources to improve their confidence and education, and the opportunity to achieve extraordinary goals, provided support for the project, which injects technology, color and innovation into the structure.

Numerous volunteers were on hand, including Earnhardt Jr., and several Washington Redskins players, and assembled custom Redskins-themed furniture, stocked bookshelves and helped decorate the space prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
 
“Dale is a longtime Redskins fan and our Foundation is dedicated to providing hope to disadvantaged youth – so this was a perfect way for us to fulfill our mission while partnering with a team that is near and dear to Dale’s heart,” said Emily DiNunzio, development director for The Dale Jr. Foundation.

Students also participated in a Book Celebration and selected four books for their home libraries.

Dale Jr. Foundation PR

The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Team Penske Ford will carry a special hashtag at this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway.   The hashtag, #VoteForTheCaptain, is an effort to encourage NASCAR fans to vote for legendary team owner Roger Penske.

Penske is one of 20 nominees for the 2019 induction class and has touched just about every aspect of motorsports in the United States, including a major impact on NASCAR racing.   Also known as “The Captain”, Roger celebrated his race team’s (Team Penske) 50th anniversary in 2016 where he also captured his 100th win in NASCAR’s premier series.  A winner of the Bill France Aware of Excellence, Penske also holds two Daytona 500 victories (2008/Ryan Newman & 2015/Joey Logano) and a MENCS title with Brad Keselowski in 2012.

NASCAR fans are invited to help pick the legends that will be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.   Voting began on March 27th and ends on May 21st.  You can vote for your favorite here:  http://www.nascarhall.com/inductees/fan-vote .    Fans can vote up to 50 times a day and the five nominees with the most votes will count as one of the 54 votes cast by the Voting Panel.  

Shell-Pennzoil PR

The last time Timothy Peters partnered with Ricky Benton Racing (RBR), the pairing resulted in a seventh-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway. Emboldened by the result, the team and driver have decided to renew their partnership in a bigger way: RBR and Peters will be heading to Alabama to compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
 
The event will be Peters’ debut in MENCS and RBR’s second start. RBR finished 14th in the 60th running of the Daytona 500 in February.
 
“This is just a dream come true for me,” said Peters. “I am humbled and so appreciative for the opportunity that Ricky (Benton), Advance Auto Parts, the entire Black’s Tire family, BB&T and Highland Construction have given me to make my first Cup start.”
 
Despite not having made a Cup start to date, Peters is no stranger to NASCAR restrictor plate racing. The Danville, Va. native has two wins at Talladega and one at Daytona to go along with four other top-five finishes in 14 starts in the NCWTS. He also has a sixth-place finish in ARCA competition at Daytona.
 
“Timothy is an incredibly talented driver and proved to be a great fit with our guys at Martinsville,” said team owner Ricky Benton. “He and (crew chief) Mike (Hester) worked great together, communicated well and made some great adjustments as that race progressed.
 
“I have no doubt that it will carry over to Talladega in the Cup car.”
 
Benton said David Gilliland, who drove the RBR entry in the Daytona 500, is not behind the wheel this time around due to commitments to the race team he owns fielding cars in ARCA, the K&N Pro Series and NCWTS.
 
To learn more about Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider that serves both professional installer and do-it-yourself customers, www.advanceautoparts.com.
 
RBR PR
 

After an up-and-down race at Bristol Motor Speedway that saw Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards team run as high as third place before finishing 13th, the Menards/Quaker State team heads to Richmond Raceway for the first night race of the Monster Energy Cup season.

Menard, who enters Saturday night’s 400-lapper in 16thplace in the Monster Energy Cup Series standings, said he’s had mixed results over the years on the three-quarter-mile oval at Richmond.
 
“I’ve run well there in the Xfinity Series but not as well in the Cup series,” Menard said. “We’ll go up there and give it our best shot and see what happens.”
 
The veteran driver has one top-five finish at Richmond in the Cup series but has two runner-up finishes in Xfinity, to Richmond stand-outs Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.
 
Menard is encouraged by the speed shown by Ford drivers in recent Richmond races. Ford drivers have won four of the past nine Cup races at Richmond.
 
“The Fords have run well at Richmond the last few years, so  we’ll have some good notes to draw from,” he said, adding that now that he and crew chief Greg Erwin have run eight races together they’re becoming more willing to fine-tune their set-up more to their liking. “Greg and I keep learning more about each other, and we’re working well together.
 
“We’ve gotten more aggressive about doing our own thing instead of just relying on past notes.”
 
Qualifying at Richmond is set for Friday at 5:30 p.m., Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 6:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on FOX.

WBR PR