Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16162)

Austin Dillon Drives the Dow UCON Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 
to 11th-Place Finish in 2018 Season Finale
 

11th
 
 
 16th
 
 13th
"Man, I really wanted a top-10 finish today to finish out the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and we came so close. Our Dow UCON Camaro ZL1 had handling issues for most of the race, but I had confidence in crew chief Justin Alexander and the Dow Racing team that they would be able to work on our Camaro ZL1 during pit stops. They've been great at that all season long. We knew half the battle was gaining track position and we worked hard to do that both on the track and on pit road. By the final stage, the handling improved a lot. I was digging at the end but came up just short of a 10th-place finish. That was fun. I want to thank everyone at RCR and ECR and all of our partners for a great 2018 season. We were able to accomplish a lot together and I'm looking forward to next year."
-Austin Dillon 
Ryan Newman Closes Out Season with 15th-Place Finish in the E-Z-Go Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
 

 15th
 
 
 8th
 
 17th
"Our E-Z-GO Camaro ZL1 was consistent all weekend. We turned in a great qualifying effort, made it to the final round and started eighth. No matter what changes we threw at it tonight, our Camaro ZL1 was tight through the middle of the corner and crazy loose off. I want to thank Richard Childress for giving me this opportunity to drive for him these last five seasons. To my crew chief Luke (Lambert), my crew, my teammate Austin (Dillon), and all the RCR team members, I want to say thank you. It was an honor to work with so many incredible people and partners over the years. We did great things together and it sure was fun to run for championships and give Luke his first ever Cup win."
-Ryan Newman

RCR PR

Champion:           Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Race Winner:      Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

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

Stage 2 Winner:  Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

● Aric Almirola started Stage 1 in the 10th spot and finished it in seventh to earn four bonus points.

● The Smithfield driver worked his way up to seventh before he made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 37 for fuel, four tires and adjustments.

● The entirety of the stage was run under the green flag, but Almirola was able to reach the sixth position on lap 54 even though he reported his Ford Fusion “was not much better on entry and exit.”

● The Tampa native pitted during the stage break for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help the Smithfield machine and restarted Stage 2 in seventh.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

● Almirola started Stage 2 in seventh and ended it in fifth to capture six bonus points.

● He reached the fifth spot on lap 92.

● The 34-year-old made his second scheduled green-flag stop of the day on lap 119 for fuel and four tires. After pit stops cycled through, he remained in the fifth position.

● The first caution of the race was displayed on lap 139, and Almirola reported he needed “a little bit of turn without missing lateral.”

● He pitted on lap 140 from fifth for fuel, four tires and adjustments and restarted in sixth on lap 144.

● The remainder of the stage was run under green, and Almirola completed it in fifth.

● During the Stage 2 break, Almirola visited pit road for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help with his lateral grip. He started the final stage in sixth.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

● Almirola started the final stage sixth and ended it in the ninth position.

● Almirola had raced up to fifth when the caution came out on lap 194. He pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments and restarted fifth on lap 199.

● Almirola made a scheduled green-flag pit stop from sixth on lap 230 for fuel, four tires and adjustments.

● During the last caution period of the race on lap 248, Almirola brought the No. 10 machine down pit road for the final pit stop of the season. He came in ninth and restarted ninth on lap 253.

● Almirola remained in the top-10 for the closing laps and ultimately closed out the season with a ninth-place finish at Homestead.

 

Notes:

● This was Almirola’s 17th top-10 of 2018 and his third top-10 in nine career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead.

● Almirola enjoyed a career year in 2018, securing his best points finish (fifth) and the most top-fives (four) and top-10s (17) in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career dating back to 2007. Almirola’s previous best points finish was 16th in 2014. His previous high for top-fives was three, earned twice (2015 and 2017), and his previous best for top-10s was seven (2014).

● Almirola finished seventh in Stage 1 to earn four bonus points and fifth in Stage 2 to earn six more bonus points.

● Joey Logano won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 21st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Homestead. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 1.725 seconds.

● In winning the Ford EcoBoost 400, Logano won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for the first time in his career, outdueling fellow Championship 4 contenders Truex, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

● Logano’s victory delivered Ford its first manufacturers’ championship since 2002 and 16th overall.

● This was Ford’s 19th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win this year, tying its own record for the second-most victories in a season. (Ford also won 19 races in 1997.)

● Logano’s triumph marked the 108th points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 677th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 26 laps.

● Only 18 of the 39 drivers in the Ford EcoBoost 400 finished on the lead lap.

 

Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It was a great year for us, our first year working together. That was quite an accomplishment for us to battle the way we battled and to come out of here with a top-five in points. I’m just really proud of everybody on this Smithfield team. Ford had an amazing year. We won 19 races, so just an incredible year, and I’m really excited about getting ready for 2019. We had a great season, so it was nice to cap it off with a good run here at Homestead. We had a really good long-run car. That short run there at the end kind of hurt us a little bit, but I’m just really proud of (crew chief) Johnny Klausmeier, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and this entire 10 team. We accomplished a lot in one year, and I’m just really proud of that. I feel like we have so much potential, and we just continue to grow and get better and better, and next year is going be a lot of fun.”

 

Next Up:

The 2019 season kicks off with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 61st Daytona 500, the first points-paying race of the year, is Feb. 17 and will be broadcast live on FOX.

 

TSC PR

Champion: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Race Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

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

Stage 2 Winner:  Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kyle Buschstarted second, finished third.

● Busch started on the front row and maintained second place for most of the first stage.

● The M&M’S driver held the second position through the first two pit stops of the race. He radioed to crew chief Adam Stevens that his car was loose to start the run but started to develop a tight-handling condition in the center of the corner as rubber was laid down on the track.

● The 2015 Cup Series champion dropped one spot toward the end of the first stage and found himself third by lap 80.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Busch started ninth, finished sixth.

The M&M’S driver came to pit road on lap 83. There was an issue with both front tires, and Busch dropped to third after the pit stop.

Busch dug in from there, moving up to sixth by the time the caution waved on lap 139, but he told Stevens he was loose on the bottom and tight on the top.

After a strong stop by the No. 18’s over-the-wall team on lap 145, Busch moved up to fourth, but handling issues dropped him two spots to sixth by the end of Stage 2.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):

Buschstarted fourth, finished fourth.

Busch came to pit road on lap 196, and trouble with the stop dropped him to eighth on lap 196.

The M&M’S driver fought hard on the ensuing restart, moving up to fourth by lap 207.

As the laps wound down, Stevens called for Busch to stay out while the leaders pitted, hoping for a caution to gain track position. That caution came on lap 247 after there was contact between Daniel Suarez and Brad Keselowski.

Busch came to pit road one lap later for four tires and an air pressure adjustment, with the M&M’S team vaulting to the lead off of pit road.

On the ensuing restart, however, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. got by Busch as he fell to fourth with handling issues. All Busch could do was bring his M&M’S Camry home in fourth, a disappointing finish to a strong eight-win season.

 

Notes:

● Busch led one time for a total of 21 laps.

● In all, Busch had eight wins, 22 top-fives and 28 top-10 finishes on the season, with all either tying or eclipsing career highs in those categories.

 

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

 

“I don’t know, just not at all what we wanted, obviously, and not what we expected, either. We knew the 22 (Logano) was fast, but man, I thought we were way closer than that. We kind of held up the first half of the race, but after that we were just never close. I don’t know what happened, just didn’t have the feel in the racecar that I needed tonight. Just all night long, as soon as we got out of the gas and into the corner we were just sideways, just turning to the right and trying to save it. You do that for 50 or 60 laps, whatever it is on tires, and you just can’t hang on. I couldn’t hang after eight laps, let alone the 50. Bummed for all of our guys. Adam Stevens (crew chief) and my guys did a phenomenal job. This M&M’S Camry team was really, really good – just not good enough on the night we wanted the most. We finished fourth, last of the playoff guys. That’s not what it takes these days.”

 

How did you feel about the strategy to stay on the racetrack for the long run while the other contenders came to pit road?

 

“That was just the fact of the matter of nobody giving up. Don’t give up behind the wheel and just keep driving and keep trying to swing a hail Mary and see what we could get. The strategy fell right in our lap and the pit stall fell right in our lap, but none of it meant anything if you don’t have a fast-enough racecar. I knew I was just a sitting duck on that restart. I figured I could hold them off for four laps or five laps maybe, but damn, not even a straightaway and they’re gone. That’s just all there is to it.”

 

Next Up: The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season kicks off Feb. 9-17 with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 61st Daytona 500, the first points-paying race of the season, is scheduled for Feb. 17 and will be broadcast live on FOX.

 

TSC PR

On Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it was “The Big Three and Me” — with the “Me” being Joey Logano waging vehicular war against the three most prolific winners in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Now “Me” is a champion.

In a thrilling finish that featured all four Championship 4 drivers battling for the race victory and the title—and finishing 1-2-3-4 in the Ford EcoBoost 400—Logano charged past defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 256 of 267 and pulled away to win his first championship.

“Oh, my God, yes!” Logano screamed on his radio as his No. 22 Team Penske Ford flashed across the finish line 1.725 seconds ahead of Truex, establishing a handful of milestones in the process.

“We did it! We won the championship! I can’t believe it. I don't know what to say. This team, (owner) Roger Penske, (crew chief) Todd Gordon, the pit crew. Oh, my God! They gave me the car I needed at the end to do my job. Put me in position to do my job. I couldn’t be more proud of them. We won the championship! Oh, my God!”

The victory was Logano’s third of the season, his first at the 1.5-mile track and the 21st of his career. With the win, he sealed the first manufacturer’s championship for Ford since 2002 and the first driver’s championship for the car maker since Kurt Busch won the first Playoffs in 2004.

It was the first title for the Ford Fusion. It was the last title for the Ford Fusion, which will be replaced by the Mustang in the Cup series next season. It was the second championship for Penske, who got his first in 2012 when Brad Keselowski beat Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson for the top prize in stock car racing.

Keselowski figured prominently in Sunday’s outcome, but not as a contender. With 21 laps left, Truex passed Logano for third place and took off in pursuit of eventual third-place finisher Kevin Harvick, who was running second at the time, with Kyle Busch holding the lead on old tires, hoping for a caution.

On Lap 247, Busch’s prayer was answered. Contact from Keselowski’s Ford sent the Toyota of Daniel Suarez spinning to cause the fifth caution of the race. That yellow flag changed everything. Busch got the caution he needed to get back into contention, and Logano got the chance he needed to win the championship. 

Busch was first off pit road and led the field to green on Lap 253, but Truex surged past him in the first corner with Logano following into second place. Three laps later, Logano made a breathtaking charge into Turn 1 and sped around Truex to the outside. Game over.

“My car was really good on entry all day,” Logano said, in what may be the understatement of Ford Championship Weekend.

The victory was the culmination of week in which Logano had declared himself the favorite despite his total of two victories entering the race, compared with eight each for Harvick and Busch and four for Truex.

“We were the favorite, like I told you before the race started,” Logano said in Victory Lane. “I’m so proud of everybody for rising to the occasion. We executed down the stretch like nobody’s business.”

In his excitement after taking the checkered flag, Logano thought he had pulled a muscle, but the pain was well worth it.

“Man, I worked my whole life to get here,” Logano said. “To win a championship. We’ve been so close. It has been 10 seasons of fighting for this. I wasn’t sure we were going to get it, but Todd made a good adjustment at the end, and we had that no-quit attitude.”

Notes: Keselowski finished fifth behind Kyle Busch, the last of the four title contenders… Matt Kenseth ran sixth in his last trip in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford… Jimmie Johnson was 14th in his last race with crew chief Chad Knaus, ending a 17-year pairing that produced a record-tying seven championships… Driving the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet for the last time as a full-time driver, Jamie McMurray came home 18th, the last driver on the lead lap… AJ Allmendinger was 19th in his final ride in the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet… Suarez, who is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing at season’s end, came home 30th after the Lap 247 wreck.

Race Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

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

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kurt Busch started sixth, finished 10th, earning one bonus point.

Busch said on lap 31 that the car was a bit loose off.

● The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion pitted on lap 37 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment while running seventh.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Busch started sixth, finished seventh, earning four bonus points.

The No. 41 pitted on lap 83 for four tires, fuel and wedge and tire pressure adjustments.

● While sixth, Busch pitted on lap 117 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.

● On lap 141 Busch pitted for four tires and fuel. He entered the pits seventh and exited seventh.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

Busch started ninth and finished 10th.

He pitted on lap 163 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment and reported that the car was “quite loose.”

● The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion pitted on laps 230 and 249 for four tires and fuel.

● Busch ended up finishing 10th.

 

Notes:

●  Busch earned a career-high 22 top-10s in 2018, besting his previous high of 21 top-10s, earned four times (2004, 2009, 2015 and 2016).

●  This was Busch’s seventh top-10 in 18 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead.

●  Busch finished 10th in Stage 1 to earn one bonus point and seventh in Stage 2 to earn four more bonus points.

●  Joey Logano won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 21st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Homestead. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr., was 1.725 seconds.

● In winning the Ford EcoBoost 400, Logano won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for the first time in his career, outdueling fellow Championship 4 contenders Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

●  Logano’s victory delivered Ford its first manufacturers’ championship since 2002 and 16th overall.

●  This was Ford’s 19th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win this year, tying its own record for the second-most victories in a season. (Ford also won 19 races in 1997.)

●  Logano’s triumph marked the 108th points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 677th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.

●  There were five caution periods for a total of 26 laps.

●  Only 18 of the 39 drivers in the Ford EcoBoost 400 finished on the lead lap.

 

Next Up:

The 2019 season kicks off with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 61st Daytona 500, the first points-paying race of the year, is Feb. 17 and will be broadcast live on FOX.

 

TSC PR

Homestead Miami has played host to the NASCAR season finale for sixteen years now, and the high speed drama has not slowed. The four championship contenders found themselves putting on a show for the entire 400 miles of the race as they would all race in the top five throughout the  night.

Denny Hamlin qualified on the pole leading the first forty laps of the race trying to defend his annual winning streak before being passed by Kevin Harvick who would go on to win stage one. Although stage points did not count towards the championship tonight, it was truly winner takes all. Harvick’s fellow contenders would also finish stage one in the top five.

Early in the second stage Joey Logano, who had the best short run speed all night, would surge to the lead before Kyle Larson passed him with what was easily the most dominating car not racing for the championship. Harvick would find himself back to the lead for the final lap of stage two, but Larson wasn’t done as he passed Harvick for the stage two victory coming off of turn four. Again the four championship contenders would finish in the top five.

The contenders would continue to trade positions early in the third stage as all night we would continue to be delighted with the close competition between these high caliber teams.

When the lights went down the race heated up. With 75 laps to go Larson got into the wall after characteristically running the high line this evening. Now with the caution resetting the race and a race winning threat out a championship showdown was brewing.

The championship contenders would find themselves in the top four positions again after kyle Busch had to battle back from a poor pit stop, although an underperforming car would cause the team to continue to struggle.

With fifty laps to go Martin Truex Jr. would take the lead before a Havick pit stop would bring him and Logano in for their final green flag stops a lap later. Logano would beat Truex off of pit road, but Harvick would cycle past them. Steve Addington, crew chief for the 18, threw a hail mary leaving Kyle Busch out on track to gain position in the event of a caution. Matt kenseth and Jimmie Johnson would also stay out to catch a caution.

    Fortunately for the top three drivers Brad Keselowski and Daniel Suarez would get together to bring out a final caution with 20 laps remaining. After one last round of pit stops the final showdown would be set with the final four up front; Busch, Truex, Logano, Harvick in that order.

    Busch was unable to hold the lead as Truex Jr. charged to the front. Again it would be Logano shining on the short run as he powered pass Truex Jr. for final lead change of the night giving him his first MENCS championship.

    In a year dominated by the “big 3” it was a fourth driver stepping up to claim the ultimate prize for 2018. An accomplishment that could be surprising if you note that the other drivers were better, and consistently dominated the season especially on 1.5 mile tracks. However fans that have followed NASCAR throughout the season know that Joey Logano is more than a deserving champion who has been a top driver all year.

Following a long and winding road, Joey Logano finally owns the biggest prize in motorsports.

The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford capped off a memorable season in fitting fashion – by capturing the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship with a victory in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

To take the title, Logano outdueled his Championship 4 competitors Martin Truex Jr. (second), Kevin Harvick (third) and Kyle Busch (fourth).

This was the Middletown, Connecticut, native’s third trip to the Championship 4 (2014, 2016). Logano had a strong season, securing his spot in the Playoffs with a win at Talladega Superspeedway.

Once the Playoffs began, Logano upped his performance to another level, recording a top-10 finish in eight of the 10 postseason races and scoring more points than any other driver. He won the opening race of the Round of 8 at Martinsville in a wild finish securing his spot in the Championship 4.

Logano finished the season with three wins, 12 top fives and 25 top 10s.

Logano’s title also marks the second championship for Team Penske and owner Roger Penske. The organization’s first title was in 2012 when Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 team won the title.

William Byron clinched the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title following the race at ISM Raceway. Byron won rookie of the year in 2016 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and went on to win it again in 2017 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

On the strength of a series-high 19 victories, Ford won the Monster Energy Series Manufacturer Championship.

NASCAR PR

Ford Championship Weekend lived up to its name today as Ford claimed both major titles in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Joey Logano’s victory in the Ford EcoBoost 400 gave him his first career championship and capped a season that saw him win three times.  Logano, who claimed the title in his third appearance as one of NASCAR’s Championship Four participants, became the eighth Ford driver to win the title and the first since Kurt Busch did it in 2004.

In addition, Ford won the manufacturers’ championship for the first time since 2002 after leading the series with 19 victories.  The win total is the most for Ford since 1997 when it also won 19 times and marks the first time Ford has won both championships in the same season since 1999.

“A lot of hard work has gone into our NASCAR program these last four years and today is a fitting reward,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports.  “We have a loyal group of Ford employees and fans who cheer for us all year and I’m most happy for them because it’s obviously been a long time since we’ve been in this position.”

The drivers’ championship is Ford’s ninth overall and sixth in the modern era (1972-present).  Ned Jarrett won Ford’s first title in 1965 while David Pearson is the manufacturer’s only multiple champion having won in 1968 and 1969.

Nine drivers contributed points to the 16th manufacturers’ championship by being Ford’s highest finisher in at least one race.  Harvick topped all drivers by being Ford’s top performer 14 times while Brad Keselowski was next with six.

Ford Performance PR

With a new rules package coming in 2019 for NASCAR’s foremost series, with significant schedule changes under consideration for the year after that, and with a groundswell of new corporate interest in the sport as a marketing vehicle, NASCAR President Steve Phelps was upbeat when he took questions from reporters on Sunday morning before the Ford EcoBoost 400 (at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Despite an on-track product that has produced compelling racing this season—as well as perhaps the strongest Championship 4 contingent since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014—NASCAR has introduced a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition package that will constitute a paradigm shift for next season.

Phelps expects the higher-downforce, lower-horsepower combination to enhance the on-track product.

“I think the rules package was put in place because we want to have the most competitive racing we can,” Phelps said. “We believe the 2019 rules package is just exactly that. What effect it has on ratings or what effects it has on other things that are outside of our control, I can't say.

“I can say that we do believe that this racing, which today arguably is the best we've ever had, is going to get better. We have a promise to our fans, and that promise is about close, competitive, side-by-side racing, and we believe that this 2019 rules package will give us exactly that.”

Though the 2019 NASCAR schedules are set, Phelps indicated the sanctioning body is looking at a wide range of options for 2020, even though the current five-year sanctioning agreements don’t expire until the end of the 2020 season.

“In short answer, I think everything is in play,” Phelps said. “So we've heard from our fan base that they would like to see more short-track racing. They want to see more road courses. They want to see less cookie-cutter tracks, whatever that means. I think that we are looking with our broadcast partners and with our tracks and with our teams and drivers to get input on what each of them believes would be an ideal schedule, and then we're obviously doing fan research as part of it.

So do I believe that everything is on the table? I do. Will we see a lot of the things that have been talked about, so more short tracks, more road courses, double headers, mid-week racing, pulling the season forward? All those things would be in play. I don't know what's going to happen, but we’re working diligently on what a 2020 schedule would be. As soon as we have something to talk about, we will get it to you.”

During Ford Championship week in Florida, Phelps attended a sponsorship/marketing event hosted by Team Penske. The event reaffirmed what Phelps already was feeling about the business climate with the sport.

The 2019 season will be Monster Energy’s last as the title sponsor for the Cup series, after which NASCAR will roll out a new sponsorship model for its premier series.

“The sponsorship component of this, there are… and I've been accused of being Pollyannaish before… I believe the state of sponsorship in this sport continues to accelerate in a positive manner, not just because we have a new sponsorship model coming. If you look at the state of where the teams are—I went to a Penske summit that I was fortunate enough to speak at, and I was speaking to (Team Penske executives) Bud Denker, Tim (Cindric), and they were saying, ‘Hey, we have 15 new sponsors here.’ That's fantastic. You talk to Joe Gibbs: ‘Hey, we've got a bunch of new sponsors here,’ sponsors that have been signed at the sanctioning body.

“We're always seeking to have new sponsors in the sport. We have a competitive advantage over other sports, I believe, because of our great fan base. Our fans understand what it means to be a sponsor of NASCAR, and they understand that that product or service or whatever it is, if I support that, it helps my sport.

“That's the competitive advantage we have. I think we'll continue to make gains on the sponsorship front.”

The most valuable coins of the realm are the talents and personalities of the drivers themselves. Relative to other major professional sports, the nucleus of star athletes in NASCAR racing is by nature more limited, although NASCAR stars conversely are more accessible to fans than they are in any other sport.

“Our drivers are the single most important ambassadors for our sport,” Phelps said. “There is no question about that. I was struck by something Ryan Blaney said earlier in the year. He's like, ‘I'll do anything you want me to do. I want to be an ambassador for this sport.’

“We are at a competitive disadvantage relative to other sports because we don't have as many athletes that are participating at our highest level than say the NFL. They have 1,600 players. We don't have that. And so, every driver is really important for us to help drive star power in our sport.

“It is about the driver. Listen, you have other players that are important, crew chiefs and teams, but it's really about the driver. And so, we have worked for seven or eight years to try to get drivers when they're young and try to train them about media training and try to get their personality out there, trying to build their brand.”

Tyler Reddick held off Cole Custer to win at Homestead on Saturday and bring home the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series title to JR Motorsports.

For Reddick, this marks his second win of the season. His first win of the season came at Daytona back in Febuary beating teammate Elliott Sadler by inches.

Reddick was ahead of Cole Custer due to a bad decision by Custer's team during the final round of pit stops. Just like the NASCAR Camping Wold Truck Series race on Friday night, there were no yellow flags in Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series race outside from the breaks after the end of each stage.

Reddick's race-winning and championship-winning pass came on Lap 163 of the 200-Lap race when he passed title contender Christopher Bell. Bell fell back from the lead after Reddick's pass and ended up being a non-factor at the end after getting a flat tire.

"I just knew we had to execute. I thought we had a chance if we just made it to Homestead, It rewards my aggression.

Tonight, we hit the wall a lot but the car kept in one piece, enough for me to get to the end," Reddick said following Saturday's race.

Daniel Hemric who was also in the title hunt, finished fourth. 

For JR Motorsports, this is their second-straight NASCAR Xfinity Series title for the organization. William Byron who won last year, moved up to the Monster Energy Cup Series driving the iconic No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports. Saturday's win for Reddick also marked his final win with JR Motorsports because he's taking over Daniel Hemric's ride for Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Hemric, who has been in the Championship hunt the past two years at Homestead will be moving up to the Monster Energy Cup Series for Richard Childress Racing driving the No. 31 due to Ryan Newman going to Roush Fenway Racing in 2019.

Rounding out the top five was completed by Cole Custer in second, John Hunter Nemecheck in third, Daniel Hemric in fourth and Austin Cindric in fifth.

Elliott Sadler who announced earlier this season that he would be leaving from full-time competition, finished fourteenth.