Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14361)

Stage 1
  • Cole Whitt qualified 38th in the RTIC Coolers  No. 72 to start the Alabama 500
  • Lap 8: Whitt advanced to 25th
  • Under green flag pit stops, Whitt was scored 20th on the leaderboard 
  • Caution Lap 27 (incident): Whitt, scored 17th, pitted under caution for four tires, fuel, packer, wedge and air pressure adjustments. He restarted 22nd and immediately advanced two positions to 20th
  • Lap 37: Whitt secured the 19th placement on the leaderboard
  • Caution Lap 52 (incident): Posted 24th, Whitt reported the nose was jumping and handling was tight. He pitted for four tires, fuel, wedge and trackbar adjustment. He restated 24th to run the final lap of Stage 1
  • Stage 1 Completion Caution: Lap 55: Whitt completed the Stage 26th in the RTIC Coolers No. 72. Having just pitted, he came back to pit road to top off with fuel
 
 
Stage 2
  • Whitt started Stage 2 in the 22nd position and worked up to 19th 
  • Lap 68: Running 25th with green flag pit stops underway, he pitted for fuel only, ultimately cycling back to the field 34th
  • Caution Lap 82 (debris): posted 35th, Crew Chief Frank Kerr had called Whitt to pit. Before pit road was open, Whitt relayed something may have fallen off the car. NASCAR radioed stating the responder had fallen off the the RTIC Coolers No. 72. With instruction from NASCAR, Whitt cake to pit road for his scheduled pit stop for four tires and fuel. He returned to the field for one lap and came back to pit road for the crew to install a new responder under the No. 72. Whitt was allowed to return to the field and resume his original position of 31st for the restart.
  • Stage 2 Completion Caution: Lap 110: Running 27th, Whitt related he was more free on that run. He pitted for four tires. Fuel and wedge adjustment.
 
Stage 3
  • Whitt started Stage 3 in the 29th position 
  • Lap 127: Had advanced to 21st
  • Lap 141: Whitt had slipped to 30th
  • Lap 144: Whitt cake in for a green flag pit stop for four tires and fuel
  • Caution Lap 153 (incident): Crew Chief Frank Kerr called Whitt to pit for left side tires and fuel. He rejoined the field 26th. 
  • Caution Lap 157 (incident): Whitt was involved in an incident and sustained heavy damage. The damage was extensive enough to end the day for him and the RTIC Coolers No. 72 team; resulting in a 34th place finish in the Alabama 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway

Tristar PR

Gray Gaulding earns Sunoco Rookie of the Race, American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award, and a career best finish of ninth in Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Gaulding surpassed his previous best finish of 20th which came at Talladega Superspeedway in May of this year.
 
When the green flag waived Gaulding rolled the No.83 Dustless Blasting Toyota off 39th, by lap three he cracked inside the top-25. Gaulding spent the majority of the day racing inside the top-20 earning respect from competitors and learning where to position himself as the laps clicked away. In the closing laps Gaulding was able to work with those friends he made throughout the day and race his way to a career best ninth place finish. 
 
From the Driver’s Seat with Gray Gaulding: “This is Talladega and this is why the stands are still packed. It got wild and I was on my toes but I never went into defense, I was pushing forward from the drop of the green flag. I can not believe it, we’re leaving here with a top-10 in the Cup series! I grew up watching these races, dreaming of these races, and our team was able to race with the best and bring home an awesome finish for our partners, our team, and our fans! I got to meet a special girl earlier this week named Crystal, she is at a hospital in Birmingham where she recently had a double lung and heart transplant and she was racing with me this weekend. It was awesome to have my dad and my grandfather here this weekend, they've been my number one supporters since the first day I strapped into a race car. Thank you to Ron Devine for giving me the opportunity to race this weekend. This would not be possible without the great partners that have helped me get here P.F. Chang’s, Conduit Global, Toyota, SunFrog, Dustless Blasting, Addiction Campuses, LaColombe, Impact Racing, The Country Network, and Joe from Piranha for keeping my helmets and firesuits clean and comfortable. Thank you to all my competitors and media that stopped by to congratulated me after the race. If I left anyone else out I am sorry and you're not forgotten, I love you, and thank you for your support!”
 
Keeping up with Gray… For the latest news, notes, and appearance information follow @GrayGaulding on Twitter and Instagram or facebook.com/GrayGauldingRacing 
 
GGR PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-55):

Kurt Buschstarted fourth, but the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion had to go to the rear of the field because the team made an unapproved change before the race.

Busch was up to 22nd before all the Ford cars pitted on lap 14 for fuel only.

Busch finished Stage 1 in eighth place.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 55-110):

Started 27th, finished fifth.

Busch pitted on lap 57 for four tires and some tape on the grill.

On lap 67 Busch pitted for four tires and fuel.

Busch led the race from laps 89 to 91.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 111-188):

Started 14th, finished 25th.

Busch pitted on lap 113 for four tires, fuel and a wedge and tire pressure adjustment. The team also put some tape on the grill.

On lap 144, Busch pitted for two tires and fuel after running in the top-five.

● Busch cut a left-front tire when he contacted another car. He pitted on lap 153 for four tires, fuel and a small repair, restarting 34th.

● After just missing an accident, Busch pitted on lap 157 for four tires and fuel.

● Busch was involved in a multicar accident on lap 171, and his car was unable to continue.

 

Kurt Busch Quote:

“We got hooked in the right rear, and I was pretty close to the front of the pack. I am just happy everything turned out the way it did to just not get clobbered by all the cars coming by. My guess is the outside lane was all jumbled up getting aggressive and pushing and somebody spun out and clipped us in the right rear. I thought we were looking good with the Monster Ford. We were coming from behind and the inside lane was open and we were making hay, but now here we are coming out of the infield care center. That is just Talladega. That is how it works out. We need to figure out how to make the cars better so everybody can bump draft a little harder.”

 

Notes:

● Busch finished inside the top-10 for both Stage 1 and Stage 2.

● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 47 laps.

● Thirteen of the 40 drivers in the Alabama 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Brad Keselowski won the Alabama 500 to score his 24th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his fifth at Talladega. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Newman was .210 of a second.

● Truex leads the championship standings with 3,120 points and holds a 19-point advantage over his nearest pursuer, Brad Keselowski.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 22 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.

 

TSC PR

Erik Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team were involved in a multi-car accident early on in the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and the resulting damage left the team with a 36th-place finish.

Contact with the No. 1 of Jamie McMurray caused a chain reaction that gathered up two other cars in the Lap 26 melee on the 2.66-mile oval. The heavy front-end contact to the No. 77 Toyota damaged the oil pump to an extent that it was impossible to continue.

“It was kind of hard to see from my view,” said Jones. “I was behind the 18 (Kyle Busch) and he started checking up, he swerved off to the left and the 1 (Jamie McMurray) was sitting there really slow on the race track so I didn’t really have any choice. Unfortunately, I ran him over and kind of caused a chain reaction from there. It’s a bummer. We didn’t get to race today and I was hoping we’d just get a chance to go up and see what we had. It’s unfortunate, but those kind of things are going to happen here.”

The Furniture Row Racing driver is 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series after 31 races. He is 45 points behind Joey Logano in 17th.

The race winner was Brad Keselowski. Rounding out the top 10 were: Ryan Newman, Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Gray Gaulding and David Ragan.

The race had 11 cautions for 47 laps and three red flags that totaled approximately 35 minutes. There were 30 lead changes among 16 drivers. There were only 14 cars running at the end of the race.

The next race is Sunday, Oct. 22 at Kansas Speedway.

FRR PR

After picking up his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) victory in the spring at Talladega Superspeedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. picked up valuable playoff points at the end of stage one but was caught in a late race accident forcing him to settle with a 26th-place finish. With one race remaining in the NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12, Stenhouse is 22 points behind the cutoff line to make the Round of 8.

“I was just running on the bottom and the No. 38 ended up right in front of us,” Stenhouse said afterwards. “It was a bummer. We were working on getting our track position back. I felt like we had a really fast SunnyD Ford to contend for the win and put on a show for all these fans. We’ll go on to Kansas next week and have some fun.”

The Olive Branch, Miss. native started the 188-lap race in the fourth position and quickly showed the strength of his SunnyD Ford as he maneuvered multiple lines to maintain his top-five position in typical superspeedway racing. With differing pit strategies among the manufacturers, Stenhouse was able to pick up seven valuable stage points with his fourth-place finish in stage one.

After a scheduled pit-stop during the stage one break, Stenhouse Jr. restarted in the 28th position and patiently maneuvered his SunnyD Ford up to the second position within 19 laps. As stage two was winding down, the two-time XFINITY champion lost his drafting help on the bottom line forcing him to settle with a 22nd – place finish.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver lined up in the 21st position for the final stage and quickly worked all lines to work his SunnyD Ford up to the sixth position before a multi-car incident occurred in front of him.  As the No. 38 machine spun down the track, Stenhouse was unable to avoid the spinning machine causing significant damage to the left front of the SunnyD Ford. The damage was too severe to return to the track forcing Stenhouse to settle with a 26th – place finish.

Stenhouse and the No. 17 team head to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400. The race is set for Sunday, Oct. 22. Coverage will begin at 3 p.m. (EST) on NBCSN.

RFR PR

Unavoidable, Multi-Car Incident on Lap 173 Collects the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet and ends Austin Dillon's Race Early
"We ended up in a wreck that ended our day early in the American Ethanol Chevrolet. It's just part of speedway racing. What do you do? You can go and race hard all day. You can ride in the back and try to not to get in one of those big wrecks. We chose to run right in the pack and it bit us today. I was proud we earned some stage points at the end of Stage 2."
- Austin Dillon

Paul Menard and the Knauf /Menards Team Earn Top-12 Finish at Talladega Superspeedway
"We fired off with good speed in this Knauf/Menards Chevrolet, so much so that I told my crew chief, Matt Borland, to leave it alone during the first round of pit stops. I cut a tire after running over something and I ended up getting into the outside wall. Luckily, we didn't end up with much damage, but we spent most of Stage 2 feeling the car out and working to make it competitive again.  We made our way into the top-10 with about 25 to go, and then something broke in the gears. Without all four gears, we had to somewhat limp home to that 12th-place finish.  I appreciate the hard work from this whole team. We definitely had the speed to contend today."

- Paul Menard

Ryan Newman and the Caterpillar Team Lead the Field to the White Flag En Route to Runner-Up Finish
"Today was a good kind of crazy, but that's the nature of speedway racing. I'm proud of the guys on this Caterpillar Chevrolet, and everyone who is a part of RCR and ECR, for accomplishing what we did. We tried to play it smart and in the end we were close, but not close enough. I got double-teamed with the No. 2 and the No. 22 (Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano). That was the difference. We held them off longer than I expected. I couldn't tell how much nose damage I had and I hadn't led all day, so I didn't know what to expect. I saw the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) car in the mirror backing up and then he lost his draft and then he backed up again and he caught the No. 22 (Joey Logano). That was all it took for him to get a good run. I would have maybe played it differently and backed up to them in hindsight, but I don't think it would have made a difference. They were double-teaming me. Overall, it was still a good race to finish second with the Caterpillar Chevrolet."

- Ryan Newman

RCR PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-55):

Danica Patrick started 13th and finished 19th.

● The No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion team pitted for a fuel-only stop at lap 14 with all of the other Ford teams. Patrick was scored in the 37th position when the caution flag waved at lap 26 for a multicar incident. As the field cycled through pit stops, Patrick restarted in eighth at lap 36.

● Running the top line was not beneficial for Patrick, as she dropped as low as 29th on the subsequent run. When she dropped to the bottom, she was able to draft her way back inside the top-20 before the caution flag waved at lap 51.

● The team made its final stop of the stage at lap 52 for tires and fuel.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 56-110):

Started sixth and finished 11th.

● Patrick got shuffled back to the 17th spot in the high line at the start but was able to draft her way back up to sixth before pitting for fuel at lap 67. As Patrick got down to enter pit road, the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford sustained right-side damage from the No. 48 car. Despite the contact, Patrick made it to her pit without any issue, and the team was able to complete the stop.

● Patrick drafted her way from 18th to 11th in the final 10 laps of the stage.

● The team pitted at laps 83 and 112 for four tires and fuel.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 110-188):

Started 15th and finished 21st.

● Patrick was running in 22nd position when the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford was collected in a multicar accident at lap 172. The team attempted to make repairs on pit road but was unable to do so in the time allotted, thus ending Patrick’s day at Talladega.

● Patrick was evaluated and released from the care center.

 

Notes:

● This was Patrick’s 10th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and her 185th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

● Patrick earned 16 points in Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, which puts her at 457 total points for the season thus far. She is ranked 28th in the driver point standings.

● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 47 laps.

● Thirteen of the 40 drivers in the Alabama 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Brad Keselowski won the Alabama 500 to score his 24th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his fifth at Talladega Superspeedway. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Newman was .210 of a second.

● Martin Truex Jr. leads the championship standings with 3,120 points and holds a 19-point margin over his nearest pursuer, Keselowski.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Oct. 22 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The event starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.

 

TSC PR

Stage points turned out to be the silver lining for Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Quick Lane team in a Talladega race that didn’t end as they hoped it might.

The 18 points earned by Blaney in the early stages of Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway added a very positive element to an otherwise disappointing day to the race for Blaney and the Quick Lane team.

After strong finishes in the two 55-lap stages, Blaney positioned himself to challenge for the win as the laps wound down. He narrowly avoided trouble on several occasions before being swept up in one of the late multi-car crashes that left just 14 drivers running at the finish.

Blaney, who was eliminated in a Lap 177 crash, was credited with the 18th finishing position, but when his stage points were added in he actually moved up four spots in the playoff standings.
 
He entered the 500 in 11th place but left in seventh place, two points ahead of eighth-place Jimmie Johnson and nine ahead of ninth-place Kyle Busch.
 
The Round of 12 ends next weekend at Kansas Speedway, which has been one of the better tracks for the No. 21 team.
 
For much of Sunday’s race, Blaney and his fellow Ford drivers were among the fastest on the track.
 
The Ford teams worked together in Stage One to set up a strong finish. The drivers all headed to pit road for fuel under the green flag on Lap 13, and that led to Ford drivers sweeping the top four spots with Blaney earning eight points for a third-place finish.
 
He came back and dominated the second stage, leading the final 19 laps of that 55-lap segment to earn an addition 10 stage points plus one playoff point.
 
Blaney was poised to pad his points total even more before the crash that took him out of the race.
 
A disappointed Blaney said there was nothing he could have done to escape damage in the five-car crash that damaged his Fusion to badly to continue on.

 “We were up by the wall and somebody probably got turned and I got in it,” he said. “I didn’t think there were enough cars to wreck that much anymore, but we happened to find it, and a good day kind of down the drain.” 
 
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said Sunday’s race proves something he’s long believed about restrictor-plate racing on the giant Alabama track.
 
“Talladega can be your best friend, but it can turn into your worst enemy in a second,” he said.

“But I was really proud of the way Ryan and the Quick Lane team performed today.
 
“We came into the race wanting to earn stage points and then try to finish the race as high as we could.”

 He said that will be the strategy again next week at Kansas Speedway.
 
“We ran well there earlier this year, so we’ll go into the race with the same goals – earning stage points and finishing as high as possible.”
 
Wood also said he was proud of Talladega’s track president Grant Lynch and his staff for hosting a grand event.
 
“The stands were full, and seeing so many people there made it feel like the old Talladega,” Wood said.
 
Among those who made the trip to Talladega for the Alabama 500 were Edsel Ford and Brett Wheatley from Ford Motor Company.

 “I hope they enjoyed it,” Wood said. “One of our Ford teammates, Brad Keselowski from Team Penske, won the race, and Ryan and the Quick Lane team were at their best today.

 “I know Ryan is disappointed that he wasn’t able to finish the race, but he did a great job and missed a lot of wrecks before the one that finally ended his day.”

WBR PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-55):

Kevin Harvick started 22nd, finished 23rd.

The Busch Light Outdoors Ford dropped to the rear of the field for a safety modification after Cup Series qualifying.

Harvick raced the No. 4 Busch Light Outdoors Ford into the top-10 by lap 11.

The Bakersfield, California, native brought the No. 4 Ford to pit road for fuel on lap 14 and returned to the track in the 35th position.

The pit strategy allowed the No. 4 team to avoid a lap-27 wreck and advance to sixth for the restart on lap 36.

The No. 4 team came to pit road under caution on lap 52 for four tires and fuel and restarted 21st with one lap remaining in the stage.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion opted to stay out instead of come to pit road at the conclusion of Stage 1.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 56-110):

Started 10th, finished eighth and earned three bonus points.

Harvick joined his Ford teammates for a scheduled green-flag pit stop for fuel only on lap 66.

The No. 4 Busch Light Outdoors Ford came to pit road under caution on lap 84 for four tires and fuel.

Harvick restarted 29th on lap 88 and raced his way into the top-10 by the conclusion of the stage.

The No. 4 team pitted at the end of the stage for four tires and fuel.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 111-188):

Started seventh, finished 20th.

The Busch Light Outdoors Ford came to pit road from the 16th position for two tires and fuel on lap 144.

Harvick brought the No. 4 Ford to pit road under caution on lap 153 for four tires and fuel and stayed out under caution on lap 155.

The team stayed out under caution on lap 169 and restarted 20th with 18 laps remaining.

Harvick was collected in a multicar wreck on lap 172. His racecar suffered significant damage, which the team was able to repair on pit road, and Harvick restarted in the 19th position.

The No. 4 car was collected in a second multicar wreck on lap 177 and retired from the race.

 

Notes:

● Harvick finished eighth in Stage 2 to collect three bonus points.

● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 47 laps.

● Only 13 of the 40 drivers in the Alabama 500 finished on the lead lap.

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Outdoors Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“I’m fine. The last one, we slowed down and I got in the back of the 75. I checked up and then the 21 popped up on the racetrack and I couldn’t get slowed down. It was just a bad weekend. The Busch Light Ford wasn’t as good as we needed. We had to start in the back and went to the back a couple other times and just couldn’t make anything happen. We were on defense the whole time and wound up wrecked twice, so not a good weekend.”

 

Playoff Standings (with one race to go before the Round of 8):

1.    Martin Truex Jr. (3,120 points) 1 win

2.    Brad Keselowski (3,101 points, -19) 1 win

3.    Kyle Larson (3,096 points, -24) +29 points

4.    Kevin Harvick (3,089 points, -31) +22 points

5.    Denny Hamlin (3,088 points, -32) +21 points

6.    Chase Elliott (3,087 points, -33) +20 points

7.    Ryan Blaney (3,076 points, -44) +9 points

8.    Jimmie Johnson (3,074 points, -46) +7 points

9.    Kyle Busch (3,067 points, -53) -7 points

10.  Matt Kenseth (3,066 points, -54) -8 points

11.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3,052 points, -68) -22 points

12.  Jamie McMurray (3,045 points, -75) -29 points

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 22 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. It is the sixth race of the 10-race playoffs and starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN beginning at 1 p.m. MRN Radio and SiriusXM Channel 90 will provide the radio call.

 

TSC PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-55):

Clint Bowyer started seventh and finished sixth. Earned five bonus points.

Began race by running bottom lane of a three-wide draft, hovering just outside the top-10.

Pitted under green-flag conditions on lap 14 as part of a coordinated stop with fellow Ford teams. Fuel only, with two rounds out of the rear jackbolts to better plant the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford to the racetrack.

Returned to race in 32nd, but pit stops of others and staying out during two caution periods brought Bowyer to third by lap 36.

Caution on lap 50 set up a one-lap dash to the end of the stage, where Bowyer finished sixth.

Pitted at end of stage for four tires and fuel.

 

● Stage 2 Recap (Laps 56-110):

Started 24th and finished third. Earned eight bonus points.

Pitted on lap 67 in another coordinated, green-flag stop with fellow Ford drivers. Fuel only.

When caution came out on lap 80, Bowyer had climbed to ninth. Stayed out during caution and restarted eighth on lap 88.

As teammate Kurt Busch took lead on lap 91, Bowyer followed and ran as high as second with less than 20 laps remaining in stage.

Stayed up front as draft ebbed and flowed and finished stage in third place.

Pitted at end of stage for four tires and fuel, but stop was slow, so he returned to the pits on lap 114 to top off with fuel.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 111-188):

Started 35th and finished 35th after getting collected in a multicar accident on lap 156.

Took a conservative approach at beginning of the stage, running 35th.

Climbed to 26th with 50 laps to go.

Made scheduled, green-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel on lap 144.

Was 24th when caution flag waved on lap 152. Bowyer took opportunity to pit for four new tires and fuel.

Restarted 29th on lap 156 and was caught up in multicar accident as field came up to speed.

Car was too damaged to repair and Bowyer was credited with 155 laps completed.

 

Notes:

●  Bowyer finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points and third in Stage 2 to earn an additional eight bonus points.

●  There were 11 caution periods for a total of 47 laps.

●  Thirteen of the 40 drivers in the Alabama 500 finished on the lead lap.

●  Brad Keselowski won the Alabama 500 to score his 24th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his fifth at Talladega. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Newman was .210 of a second.

●  Martin Truex Jr., leads the championship standings with 3,120 points and holds a 19-point advantage over his nearest pursuer, Keselowski.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 22 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. It is the sixth race of the 10-race playoffs and it starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN beginning at 1 p.m.

 

TSC PR

Trevor Bayne overcame two separate incidents in the final stage that badly damaged the nose of his Liberty National Ford Fusion in Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event at Talladega Superspeedway to earn a third-place finish. Bayne, who took the final restart from the eighth position, charged toward the front on the final lap and utilized a three-wide move to score the top-three finish. The result is Bayne’s best finish of the 2017 season and his best finish at the famed Alabama superspeedway.

“Man I am proud of all of my guys on this Liberty National Ford,” said Bayne after the race. “They did a great job fixing our Ford after all of the damage we got throughout the day. These guys just never give up. And in the end on that last corner off of four we got a huge run off the top and got to third, so I was pretty pumped with that.  I think we were eighth coming across for the white flag, but I wanted those two more spots and we did.”

Bayne took the green flag for the scheduled 188-Lap event from the 10th position after advancing to the final round of qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The Roush Fenway Racing driver maintained his position in the top 10 until a caution halfway through the opening stage shuffled the running order. After pitting during the caution for four tires and fuel Bayne returned to the track in 13th but took advantage of the inside line to draft back into the top 10 and up to ninth by the completion of Stage 1 on Lap 55.

The Knoxville, Tenn. native continued to fight for position at the beginning of Stage 2 before a caution on Lap 80 gave crew chief Matt Puccia another opportunity to bring Bayne to pit road. After pitting for four tires and a chassis adjustment, Bayne took the restart in 19th but quickly drafted toward the front on the outside of several rows of three-wide racing. Bayne drafted all the way up to eighth in the closing laps of the stage before the outside lines momentum faded away, shuffling Bayne back to 12th at the end of Stage 2 on Lap 110.

The final stage went green with the 2011 Daytona 500 Champion wasting little time moving forward, improving 12 positions to seventh just prior to a round of green flag pit stops on Lap 143 for right-side tires and fuel. Bayne cycled out following the stop in the fifth position and quickly drafted into the top three before contact after getting forced into a four-wide situation cut the right-front tire, sending the Liberty National Ford into the outside retaining wall.

After briefly surveying the damage on pit road, Puccia sent Bayne back out in the 25th position for the ensuing restart. Bayne needed only four laps to improve 17 positions when the race went back to green, drafting up to eighth before the caution came out once again on Lap 164. The driver of the Liberty National Ford continued his climb toward the front following the Lap 170 restart, rejoining the top-five on Lap 171 and remaining there until a spinning No. 21 slid across the nose of Bayne’s Ford, knocking him sideways through the infield.

After pitting for more repairs during the caution period, Bayne returned to the track for the Lap 180 restart in 15th and drafted back up to eighth before the caution came out once again on Lap 182.

The Roush Fenway driver lined up for the final restart on Lap 185 in the eighth position and utilized a never-give-up attitude to go three-wide through the tri-oval on the final lap to take the checkered flag in the third position.

The result is Bayne’s best finish of the 2017 MENCS season and his best at the Alabama track.

Next up for the MENCS is Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 22.

RFR PR