Monster Energy Cup Series News (13610)
Though Martin Truex Jr. finished sixth in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway the final result wasn’t met with contentment with the Furniture Row Racing driver, who won the first two stages and had the dominant car until late-race inside lane restarts spoiled his chance of a victory.
Truex’s Furniture Row Racing teammate Erik Jones finished 13th.
“Without a shadow of a doubt our No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota was the best car out there,” said Truex. “But inside lane restarts at the end just killed us. Unlike the outside lane we just couldn’t get going each time we restarted in the inside lane. It stinks when you have to race that way.”
Race winner Kyle Larson concurred with Truex when he told the media in post-race interviews, “The (No.) 78 was the class of the field.”
Truex’s blue Auto-Owners Toyota was in control of the race, but when the caution came out on Lap 151 of 200 he restarted fifth after taking four tires and fuel. The four drivers ahead of him took two tires.
“Probably should have taken two tires that last time we pitted – we took four,” noted Truex. “That killed us. Just wrong lane on the restart every single time all day long and couldn’t use the best car to win.”
In each of the final four cautions Truex found himself in the inside lane. His car never could get going on those restarts and it was a handful just to hold his restarting position.
“Just in a bad spot and nothing you can do about it,” said Truex, who led 62 laps. “You have to have a little luck on your side and we didn’t today.”
Truex picked up 20 championship points and two playoff bonus points for winning the first two stages. However, he did drop to second in overall driver points to Kyle Larson, who has a five-point margin over Truex. The Stage wins were Truex’s series’ leading ninth and 10th of the season. His 20 playoff bonus points also rank No. 1.
A loose wheel on the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota Camry early in the race forced Jones to pit early and play catch up the rest of the afternoon. A long shot pit strategy by crew chief Chris Gayle saw Jones make consecutive right-side tire only stops in the second half of the race, running the final 108 laps on the same left-side tires. Jones moved up to second on the Lap 151 restart before dropping back to 13th at the checkered flag.
“Yeah, just a long day overall,” said Jones, a native of Byron, Mich. “Just never quite had the car we really needed. We were fighting just being free and as the day went on we never really fixed that issue and that loose wheel early kind of got us pinned in a strategy we didn’t want to be in. Had a lot of laps – I think we had 86 laps on our left side tires – and just couldn’t quite get it there at the end.”
Jones, who was the highest finishing rookie in the Michigan race, is 16th in overall driver points.
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Danica Patrick started 23rd and finished 20th.
● The No. 10 TaxAct Ford Fusion team ran as high as 18th during Stage 1 as Patrick noted the car was “a little unstable on entry.”
● The team pitted twice for tires and fuel and made air pressure adjustments to address the car’s handling.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Started 19th and finished 26th.
● Patrick lost ground on the lap-67 restart and slipped back to 26th. She went a lap down to the leader during a cycle of green-flag pit stops and ended the stage scored 26th as she battled a car that was “tight on exit.”
● The No. 10 TaxAct Ford team pitted twice for tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):
● Started 24th and finished 37th.
● Patrick started the final stage of the race from the 24th position but fell back to 29th after the restart. She was able to race her way back up to 24th by lap 140 and earned the free pass when the caution flag waved at lap 149.
● The team pitted twice for four tires and fuel during Stage 3.
● Patrick worked her way up to the 15th position when the field took the green flag at lap 190. She made a move to go low to pass a number of cars, but contact from the No. 19 racecar sent her into the inside wall.
● The No. 10 TaxAct Ford sustained significant damage and was unable to continue, leaving Patrick with a 37th-place finish.
● Patrick was evaluated and released from the care center following the accident.
● Patrick leaves Michigan with 176 total points for the season thus far. She is ranked 30th in the driver point standings.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 34 laps.
● A total of 26 drivers in the 37-car field finished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Larson won the FireKeepers Casino 400 to score his third career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Michigan.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 TaxAct Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“That was an unfortunate way to end what had been a promising weekend for the TaxAct Ford team. I knew when there was a caution with about 15 laps to go that there would end up being another one. I had a good run and went for it and just got hit.”
Ryan Blaney and the Omnicraft Ford struggled with handling early in the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway but battled back using two-tire pit strategy to be in a position to contend for the win but a late-race brush with the wall sent last week’s race winner back to a 25th-place finish.
Blaney, who started sixth on the grid, finished Stage 2 of the race in seventh and collected four additional regular-season points but he was battling a loose race car and fell to 14th by the half-way point of the 200-lap event. He finished Stage 2 in 13th.
Blaney and company re-started Stage 3 in 19th but a quick two-tire stop during a lap-150 caution period put them in fourth with 46 laps remaining. Blaney drove the Omnicraft Ford to second place on the re-start and stayed there for 22 laps.
"It would have been tough (to win the race),” Blaney said. “I think on short runs we could run second. We held second for a while then (cars with) four tires ate us up.
“We couldn’t restart on the bottom,” said Blaney who was in third and in the bottom lane for a lap-184 re-start that was the beginning of the end. “That didn’t bode well for us. I went into (turn) one and got super loose. I hate that it took a couple cars out off (of turn) two. I got really free for some reason. It caught me off guard, which made it look bad. We had a decent enough car to run up there once we got track position.”
Coming off last week’s win at Pocono, the Omnicraft team can take solace in improving their car throughout the course of the race and being in position to contend with 15 laps to go.
“I thought we did a good job of making adjustments to get us a little better,” Blaney said. “We got into spots but it just didn’t work out. It was so hard to pass out there. The fastest cars couldn’t get to the front if they weren’t already there.”
Blaney remains in 13th place in the driver standings, 264 points behind leader and Michigan race winner Kyle Larson. Last week’s win at Pocono, however, assures Blaney of a place in this season’s playoffs for which he has eight playoff points in the bank.
Ford Performance PR
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Clint Bowyerstarted third, finished sixth to earn five race points.
● Climbed to second on lap 12 after a restart.
● Reported his car grew looser as the stage progressed.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Started sixth, finished fifth to earn six race points.
● Team made tire pressure adjustments to improve handling issues.
● Bowyer turned top-five lap times in the second half of stage.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):
● Started fifth, finished 26th.
● Dropped to ninth on a restart and reported his car was tight in traffic.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel under caution and restarted 12th with 47 to go.
● Bowyer moved from 12th to eighth during the next two laps.
● Bowyer was running seventh with 16 laps to go but brushed the outside retaining wall in turn two. This brought out the caution and sent Bowyer to the pits for an unscheduled stop to fix right-side damage.
● Third-place start equaled Bowyer’s best of the season.
● He rarely raced outside the top-10 throughout therace.
● Cars were turning laps speeds in excess of 195 mph.
● Eight cautions slowed the race for 34 laps.
● Kyle Larson won the FireKeepers 400 to score his third career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Michigan.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We were sitting there seventh with 20 laps to go reeling them in thinking this was our day, and then a debris caution forces a restart. Restarts are the only times you can pass, so everyone was racing hard, and I got into the wall. It killed our day.”
Kyle Larson “Parked It” into victory lane on Sunday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. Larson, who started on the pole in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400, dominated the field after leading 96 of the 200 circuits. The win marks Larson’s second victory of the 2017 season through 15 events.
“I just had a hell of a push from Ryan Blaney behind me,” Larson said after the race. “I can’t thank him enough for shoving me like that. It was cool to see him get his win last week and then he helped me a ton today to get this win. He stayed committed to me all the way down the frontstretch and got me past the No. 18 which was key.”
Larson passed race leader Kyle Busch on a restart with 15 laps remaining. Busch, who led a total of 40 laps all throughout Sunday afternoon, finished seventh in his No. 18 M&M’s Toyota.
“Yeah, Ryan Blaney gave me a heck of a push. So, I’ve really got to thank him a ton. I knew the Penske cars took off good, so I was happy to see him behind me. For us to withstand a few restarts there with some tough competitors there was pretty important,” said Larson on the pass for the lead. “What a great Father’s Day present for myself and all the other fathers out there. My dad is here today, too. So, I’m looking forward to celebrating with him. We’ve been so close to so many other wins. This is our second Cup win of the year, but we’ve had six second place finishes. All-in-all, it’s a good season so far and we’ll continue to keep building on what we’ve got.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran from Las Vegas holds five top five and eight top 10 finishes through 2017. Busch continues to seek his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in 2017.
Chase Elliott nearly walked away with his first career cup series victory on Sunday at Michigan. Elliott, who started the FireKeepers Casino 400 in 10th, finished inside the top-three for the third time of the season. He also finished second in this race one year ago when Joey Logano scored the win.
“Man, I don’t know. It was all just about how your push went,” Elliott said after the race. “I am really proud of our effort today. I thought we way improved from where we were last year as far as those late-race restarts go and was able to hang with them and really just kind of rely on the guy behind you. Kyle (Busch) gave me a great push. I didn’t give him a very good push that time before. He went a little sooner than I thought he was going to. He gave me a good push and I think somebody pulled out on him. He had to go block them and it just ends up kind of disrupting the whole situation when that happens.”
Elliott sits fifth in points and holds an average start of 11.1 and an average finish of 13.3.
Joey Logano, the defending race winner of the FireKeepers 400 at Michigan, rounded out the top-three finishers on Sunday. Logano started seventh on the race leaderboard and finished inside the top 10 in two of the three stages.
Martin Truex Jr. and the Furniture Row Racing team showed strength all throughout the afternoon at the 2.0-mile oval. Truex led 62 of the 200 circuits and won stage one and two. However, when the checkered flag waved, Truex finished sixth in the No. 78 Toyota.
“We had the best car out there without a doubt – just inside lane restarts at the end killed us, so just stinks when you have to race like that, you know? You get just in a bad spot and there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Truex after the 400-mile race. “We seen it the last couple restarts, so just wrong place. Probably should have took two tires that last time we pitted – we took four. That killed us. Just wrong lane on the restart every single time all day long and couldn’t use the best car to win.”
The veteran, who drives for a two-car operation based out of Colorado, holds two victories, five top five and 11 top 10 finishes in 2017. Truex’s teammate Erik Jones finished a little further back in 13th.
Race winner Kyle Larson continues to lead the series standings by five points over Martin Truex Jr. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott round out the top five in points as the series heads to Sonoma Raceway next Sunday.
The series will go road course racing next weekend at Sonoma Raceway. The Toyota / Save Mart 350 will take place at 3:00 p.m. ET. live on FOX Sports 1. The Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM Channel 90 will carry the live radio broadcast.
BK Racing is proud to have Wheelin Team 457 on board as an associate sponsor on the No. 83 JAS Expedited Trucking Toyota of Corey LaJoie this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Wheelin Team 457 provides the physically challenged with indoor and outdoor sports and recreation, as well as providing education and guidance to the community and the nation.
“When I saw the racecar, I was so thankful to JAS Expedited Trucking, Corey LaJoie, and BK Racing.,” said Ray Brown, President of Wheelin Team 457. “These guys know the meaning of hard work, yet they took time out of all they do to extend their hand to us. When you’re around this NASCAR family, you know you’re in the presence of greatness. In a world that often turns its back on the disabled and injured soldiers alike, this group makes us feel special.”
BK Racing PR
It took a second attempt in Round Two of qualifying at Michigan International Speedway, but Ryan Blaney was able to advance to the final round and put the No. 21 Omnicraft Ford Fusion in sixth place for the start of Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400.
Blaney, fresh off a victory at Pocono Raceway, was ninth fastest in the opening practice at Michigan with a best lap of 199.545 miles per hour.
He was ninth fastest in the opening round of qualifying, which allowed him to advance to the second of three qualifying rounds.
His first attempt in Round Two was not fast enough to be among the 12 drivers who advanced to the third round, so he made a second attempt and wound up eighth fastest at that point.
The extra lap on his tires hurt his speed in the final round, but his final lap at 200.854 mph led to a net gain of nine positions, from 15th place where he likely would have started if he hadn’t made a second attempt in Round Two.
"We made better adjustments for the second run,” Blaney said. “We didn't adjust enough for the first run of the second round. We got really tight, and tight around here is just scrubbing speed off and we couldn't run as fast.
“We made a big swing to try to free it up, and I thought we did a good job of getting it closer from the first to the second run in Round Two. We still lacked a little bit of speed overall. It wasn't a bad last run with an extra lap on the tires.”
Still, it was the 10th time in 15 races this season that Blaney and the No. 21 Ford Fusion have been among the top seven in Cup qualifying.
NASCAR veteran Crew Chief, Eddie Pardue joins CS/TMG starting this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, as Head of Engineering.
Pardue, the former Competition Director for Red Horse Racing, has countless NASCAR success. After 338 races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Pardue earned three wins, 37 Top Fives, 90 Top Ten's and eight Pole Awards as a Crew Chief, working with drivers like Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne and several others.
"I am pleased to have Eddie Pardue on board with CS/TMG for the remainder of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season," commented team owner, Curtis Key. "Eddie brings a lot of experience and knowledge to the team through his years of success in NASCAR. This is a great addition to our organization, and a step in the right direction to improving our teams competition.
With their 99th victory secured by a dramatic finish of last Sunday’s Pocono 400, the Wood Brothers will kick off their quest for No. 100 in the FireKeepers Casino 400 at one of their favorite tracks, Michigan International Speedway.
It’s a place that has seen the Woods win 11 times in the past, including the inaugural Motor State 500 back on June 15, 1969. And it’s the home track for their long-time supporter Ford Motor Company.
This weekend, the familiar Motorcraft/Quick Lane colors will give way to the orange logos of Omnicraft, Ford Motor Company’s new brand of quality replacement parts for non-Ford and non-Lincoln vehicles. The Omnicraft brand, which made its debut in January, is Ford’s first new parts brand in 50 years and will give its dealers and the Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers access to quality parts for any vehicle brought in for service.
“It’s an honor to have the No. 21 Ford Fusion be a part of spreading the word about the Omnicraft brand,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “It will be a plus for the company, especially the Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers.”
Odds are, Sunday’s race will come down to a finish similar to the first Cup race at Michigan, which ended in dramatic fashion, something that’s common now but was relatively rare back in the day.
In the inaugural race at Michigan, Cale Yarborough, driving the No. 21 Mercury, prevailed over LeeRoy Yarbrough, driving a Mercury for Junior Johnson, in a fender-banging run to the finish. LeeRoy came out on the losing end. His damaged car didn’t make it back to the start-finish line, and he was credited with fourth place.
David Pearson and Richard Petty capitalized on LeeRoy’s misfortune to finish second and third respectively. All of the top four were driving either Fords or Mercurys.
“Finishes like that, with two drivers beating on each other, weren’t as common back then as they are today,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said.
In Greg Fielden’s Forty Years of Stock Car Racing, the author quoted legendary NASCAR journalist Benny Phillips, who wrote of that race: “If they gave an Oscar for stock car racing’s most thrilling event, then the Motor State 500 would take the lead by leaps and bounds.”
For Wood, the upcoming weekend, even if the finish of Sunday’s race isn’t as dramatic as in 1969 it is a chance for his team to build on the confidence and momentum that comes from the victory at Pocono.
“When we were getting ready to leave, our Dad told us that we broke axles two weeks in a row before we won at Pocono, so we need to go out and win two races in a row,” Wood said.
“We don’t want to sound like we’re overconfident after just one win, but the way Ryan drove at the end of that race, passing Kyle Busch and holding off Kevin Harvick, does make us realize that if we can get to the end of the race in pretty good shape and have the right opportunity, we could win again.
“And it would mean a lot to be able to win one for Ford Motor Company at their home track.”