Monster Energy Cup Series News (16679)
Like many a school kid returning to school after spring break, Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Maytag team will be hitting the books this week as they prepare for Saturday night’s 400-lapper at Richmond Raceway.
Menard and the team are coming off their season-best performance in which they finished sixth in last Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
And while Richmond falls in the same short-track category as Bristol, the similarities pretty much end there.
“It’s a totally different track,” Menard said.
For whatever reason, both he and his Wood Brothers team tend to struggle at Richmond. Menard, who has seven career top-10 finishes at Bristol, has just one at Richmond. The Woods have 26 top-10s at Bristol and 19 at Richmond.
Menard said he and the team plan to spend the week looking over notes from previous races and processing other data in hopes of reversing their Richmond fortunes.
“Bristol is one of our better tracks and Richmond is one of our worse tracks, so we’re going do a lot of studying this week,” he said.
Menard is hoping track officials don’t complicate matters more by applying PJ1 traction compound to the racing surface as was done with success at Bristol this past week.
“I don’t know if they’re going to lay any PJ1 down for that track,” he said. “I hope they don’t for that track. It widens out as it is.”
Qualifying at Richmond is set for 5:40 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, and the 400-lap race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on FOX.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond (Va.) Raceway this weekend for the ninth race of the season. Daniel Suárez will pilot the red-and-black No. 41 Haas Automation Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in this weekend’s event at the track located approximately two hours south of our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.
The Cup Series goes to its second consecutive short track this weekend at Richmond. Suárez survived last weekend’s event on the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway half-mile oval after overcoming three pit-road penalties, which put him one lap down. The 27-year-old battled his way back to the lead lap and earned an eighth-place finish after running as high as third. Bristol’s result has allowed Suárez to put together a trio of top-10 finishes this season.
“I’m kind of glad these mistakes are happening now because we know what we have to fix and clean up to get better,” Suárez said. “We definitely have good speed and were a top-five car and, when we weren’t very good, we were a top-10 car. So we have really good cars, we just need to clean up some of the details.”
At Richmond, the Mexico native has four career Cup Series starts with two top-10 finishes. Overall, Suárez has an average starting position of 22.8 there and an average finishing position of 11.5, and has completed 99.9 percent of all possible laps. While the track has completed a multi-million-dollar facility makeover, including a renovated infield, the .75-mile oval remains one of the most action-packed venues each season.
“I feel like Richmond is a good track for me and it’s good for Stewart-Haas Racing,” Suárez said. “They’re always good there, so I hope we go there to have some fun and have a shot at the win. Then we can enjoy the off weekend before we return for the next stretch of the season.”
Suárez is knocking on the door of his first Cup Series win. Curtis Turner in 1949 was the last driver to earn his first win while wheeling a car adorned with the No. 41. This weekend also offers an added sense of optimism in the SHR camp as, last year, an SHR driver won the race before each of the three off weekends. After this weekend’s action at Richmond, Suárez will head back home to his native country of Mexico to enjoy some time off before the Cup Series returns April 28 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
The solid finish at Bristol moved the Haas driver up to 12th in the point standings to round out the four-car SHR contingent. The top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the NASCAR playoffs.
Haas Automation, founded in 1983 by SHR co-owner Gene Haas, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets. This weekend marks the sixth time Suárez has piloted the Haas Automation scheme.
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Richmond, Suárez has six starts with one top-five finish and three top-10s. He’s amassed an average starting position of 8.3 and an average finishing position of 11.7. Additionally, Suárez has four Richmond starts from 2011 to 2014 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with a best finish of 20th in 2011.
Ford has captured three victories in the first eight races this season. The new Cup Series Mustang also has four pole awards, two of those by Suárez’s SHR teammates Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick. SHR has one win as an organization at Richmond with former SHR driver Kurt Busch capturing the victory in April 2015.
Aric Almirola heads to Richmond (Va.) Raceway this weekend, where he earned one of his four top-five finishes last year. The confidence at the track where Almirola has had success before is key this weekend as he comes off one of the unluckiest races of his career.
Last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Almirola brought a fast Ford Mustang, starting the race in sixth. While running on the outside of William Byron’s No. 24 machine in turn two on lap two of the race, Almirola was pushed into the wall when Byron got loose and slid into Almirola’s No. 10 Smithfield Get Grilling America Ford. The right-front corner of Almirola’s Mustang hit the wall first, and the impact bent the lower control arm beyond repair. With Almirola unable to steer his racecar, his race was over. The DNF (Did Not Finish) ended a six-race streak of top-10 finishes.
Seeing his string of top-10 finishes come to an abrupt end, Almirola dropped from fifth to ninth in the championship.
Luckily for Almirola, Richmond is one of his favorite tracks on the circuit, one where he is most confident.
“Richmond is one of my favorite racetracks that we go to,” he said. “It’s the epitome of short-track racing and it’s a little bit faster and bigger than the short track we all grew up racing on, but it’s such a cool racetrack and the asphalt is worn out, the tires don’t make a lot of grip, you can spin the tires at the flag stand, so you’re just constantly looking for grip and trying to get your car to turn but, at the same time, having enough forward bite to drive up off the corners without spinning the rear tires. It’s so fun, so challenging and very typical of short-track racing. I’m looking forward to getting back to another short track where we can redeem our bad luck from last weekend.”
In 14 starts at the Richmond oval, Almirola has captured two top-five finishes and four top-10s. He has an average Richmond finish of 15.5, and earned his best finish of fourth in September 2015. He has six Richmond starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with one top-10 finish, 10 laps led and an average finish of 16.2.
While last weekend didn’t go the No. 10 team’s way, Almirola has already surpassed his previous best over a season’s first eight races by earning one pole, one top-five finish, six top-10s and has led 72 laps.
Ford Mustang drivers make up half of the top-10 in the point standings, including Almirola. Ford has also earned 32 all-time series wins at Richmond.
Almirola will adorn a special Get Grilling America Smithfield paint scheme this weekend at Richmond. With summer in full swing, fans have the opportunity to celebrate the grilling season by entering Smithfield’s “Hero of the Grill” contest that Almirola and five-time world-champion barbecue pitmaster Tuffy Stone helped launch last year. Fans are encouraged to nominate their favorite grill hero by visiting SmithfieldGetGrilling
While fans nominate their “Hero of the Grill,” Almirola and the No. 10 Ford team will battle it out this Sunday to try and become the hero of the track by grilling up their first win at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
Kevin Harvick has not won a race in the first eight events of the 2019 season. It’s happened only once since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014.
In 2017, when SHR switched to the Ford Fusion, it took Harvick a bit of time to adjust and won his first race in the 16th race of the season at Sonoma Raceway. For 2019, SHR switched the Ford Mustang and NASCAR introduced a new rules package for the season.
Harvick has six consecutive top-10 finishes between Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. And he had the fastest car at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last week, but had to start from the rear of the field and had a loose wheel early in the race, which forced him to pit. He was four laps down and in 31st place and no one though he had any chance of rebounded.
His car was so quick that he actually finished on the lead lap and finished 13th. An amazing comeback from what could have been a horrible day.
Harvick will win and he hopes its this week at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. And has always he’ll have the support of Mobil 1 technology.
Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR organization with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 17th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for SHR, has had much success at Richmond. Harvick has three wins, three poles, 14 top-five finishes, 23 top-10s and has led a total of 1,109 laps in his 36 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond. His average start is 13.7, his average finish is 10.1 and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.2 percent, completing 14,304 of the 14,422 laps available.
But he’s hoping that he score victory number four at Richmond this week.
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announces today that it has entered into an agreement with Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) to serve as an associate sponsor on its No. 19 Toyota Camry driven by Martin Truex, Jr.
“B.A.S.S. is thrilled to enter into this partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing and the Bass Pro Shops No. 19 car,” said Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S. “As an avid outdoorsman and fisherman, Martin Truex, Jr. is a great fit as an ambassador for our sport. This partnership also amplifies our common partnerships with Toyota and Bass Pro Shops. Most importantly, in a year where we are celebrating the fans of B.A.S.S., it connects our organization with racing fans who are also fans of fishing.”
B.A.S.S. is the world’s largest fishing organization with a growing membership that has now reached 510,000. A media-and-events company that celebrated its 50thanniversary last year, B.A.S.S. conducts the world’s most prestigious professional bass fishing tournaments and reaches millions of fans each month through its flagship magazine, Bassmaster, Bassmaster.com, and the highly rated The Bassmasters television program.
“It’s great to have B.A.S.S. come on board as an associate sponsor with our No. 19 Toyota Camry,” said Martin Truex, Jr. “It’s no secret that I love fishing so this is obviously a great fit. B.A.S.S. has done a lot to advance the sport and I look forward to working with them and through their partnerships with Toyota and Bass Pro Shops.”
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), knows plenty about winning. He’s the winner of 54 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, which includes his eighth career win at last weekend’s venue, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Richmond (Va.) Raceway, site of Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400, is yet another place where Busch has shown a propensity to find victory lane. Busch swept both 2018 races and is a winner of six Cup Series races at the .75-mile short track while also owning a head-turning average finish of 6.9 in 27 career starts.
While Busch will bring back the familiar yellow M&M’S scheme to the track at Richmond this weekend, he’ll be bringing attention to three, brand-new, limited-edition flavors as part of M&M’S third Flavor Vote campaign: Mexican Jalapeño Peanut, Thai Coconut Peanut and English Toffee Peanut. The new flavors are on sale at select retailers nationwide, where fans can purchase and try each new flavor and cast a vote for their favorite once a day until May 17.
By voting in this year’s M&M’S Flavor Vote, fans will be entered for the chance to win a trip to all three countries that inspired the new flavors: Mexico, Thailand and England. Fans can try each new flavor and cast a vote online at www.flavorvote.mms.com, or text the word “Vote” to 84444 and follow the instructions in the reply text messages. After voting closes May 17, the flavor with the most votes will be announced in August.
Back to the task at hand this weekend, a quick look at the Richmond stat sheet for Busch can easily make the case he is most consistent at the .75-mile short track in Virginia’s capital city. Along with four series wins there, Busch has amassed 15 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s in 27 career starts there.
Additionally, the Las Vegas native is tops among active drivers with his aforementioned average Richmond finishing position of 6.9. Next best is Kevin Harvick’s average finish of 8.1. Busch has completed all but one of the 10,829 laps available to him in his 27 Richmond starts. Of those laps completed, Busch has run in the top-15 for 9,602 laps, or 88.7 percent, which ranks second among active drivers.
Saturday night, Busch and the M&M’S team look to get back to victory lane at Richmond where, in addition to last year’s sweep of the spring and fall races, Busch also won four consecutive Cup Series spring-race wins from 2009 to 2012, besting Richard Petty’s previous record of three Richmond spring-race wins in a row from 1971 to 1973. With those impressive statistics and records to back him up, it’s little wonder that a visit to the “Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia” is one of Busch’s favorite stops on the NASCAR tour.
Busch will look to post back-to-back victories for the second time this season as the 2015 Cup Series champion won back-to-back races earlier this season at ISM Raceway near Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch has set the high-water mark for the series thus far with a series-high three victories while also scoring top-10 finishes in each of the eight races contested thus far.
So, as the series heads to Richmond for the first time this season, Busch and the M&M’S team look to bring home their seventh win there together. While M&M’S fans will be choosing a winner between Mexican Jalapeño Peanut, Thai Coconut Peanut and English Toffee Peanut off the track, Busch will look to continue his winnings ways on it.
If only Clint Bowyer had met H.G. Wells.
Wells, the science fiction author who wrote the 1895 novella The Time Machine, is credited with the concept of time travel using a machine that’s spawned loads of movies and television shows.
Bowyer said he wishes he had a time machine for racing purposes so he could race in different decades against the NASCAR heroes of each era.
“The coolest thing for me would be to invent a time machine where you could go back, click into the '60s, and be in the car racing, with Ralph Earnhardt and Ned Jarrett and those guys,” said Bowyer.
“Then all of a sudden we’d fire that machine up and move in to the '70s and bang fenders with David Pearson, Richard Petty and all those guys Then I’d move into the '80s go up against Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt and just live in that. Why stop there, we’d have to go to the 90s. Gosh, the '90s look so much fun. I think I would stop after that. From then I’ve pretty much lived it so we wouldn’t need a time machine.”
Bowyer won’t need the time machine to go back in time when he races his No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The Virginia track is a glimpse into the future of all race facilities. A $30 million redevelopment project included a redesign of the entire infield with driver Q&A’s, music, food and everything fans asked for in a race experience. The Richmond infield is its own village with access to the Cup cars and teams.
The .75-mile oval also retains its historic short track flare. It staged its first Cup Series race in 1953 when Lee Petty took the checkered flag. There have been 125 Cup races at Richmond and Bowyer is proud he’s won two of those races.
“Richmond is such an important part of our sport,” said Bowyer. “It’s a new modern facility but it's still good old Saturday night short track racing at Richmond. You feel like those guys in the 50s, 60s and 70s did when you race here. She’s been good to me over the years and I hope she'll be good to me again this weekend.”
Bowyer has raced well over his career on the Virginia track. In addition to the two victories he owns four top-five and 14 top-10s in 26 starts. He arrives at Richmond on a roll after a seventh-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway where he led 24 laps and looked to be a contender for the victory before a late race accident dropped him to midpack. He rallied for his third consecutive and 200th top-10 finish in his career. Bowyer is now 11th in points.
Bowyer hopes to move into the top-10 in the standings before the Cup Series takes a weekend off after the Richmond race then resumes its schedule on April 21 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Like most drivers and crew members, Bowyer will spend the rare off weekend with family even though that might not be in his nature.
“I am never a stay-at-home kind of guy,” Bowyer said laughing. “Like, my wife, you know, she, she enlightens me to that fact, all the time, that, ‘You realize we haven't been home more than four days this whole offseason, you, you understand that, that this is not normal?’ It's normal for me.”
Races before the off-weekends seemed like prime motivation for SHR’s Fords in 2018. There were only three off weekends on the calendar, and Bowyer won at Martinsville and Michigan the final races before the first two off weekends. His then SHR teammate Kurt Busch won at Bristol in August, the race before the final off weekend of the season.
Bowyer wouldn’t mind a repeat visit to victory lane at Richmond this weekend. That’s a trip back in time he’ll always enjoy.
Kyle Busch wasn’t the only driver to overcome adversity during Sunday’s running of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
But he was the only one to end up in victory lane.
The race winner was involved in a multi-car crash on the second lap of the 500-lap affair, sustaining damage to the rear of his car. But he patiently worked his way back through the field. He took his first lead at lap 384.
The key to the win came late – Busch collected his third win of the season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and his eight overall at Bristol Motor Speedway when he chose track position over fresh tires during the 11th and final caution of the race.
“I don’t know, we’re crazy; we just do what we do (to) try to win,” the driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing said after climbing from his entry on the frontstretch.
The final run to the checkered flag was set up after Kyle Larson got into the wall with less than 25 laps remaining to bring out the yellow flag. Joey Logano and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski, running 1-2, hit pit road, as did several others in the lead pack.
But Busch, along with older brother Kurt, opted to stay out, along with Daniel Suarez and Paul Menard to restart first through fourth when the field went back to green with just 14 laps remaining.
“It’s pretty awesome to be able to snooker those guys, get our win today here at Bristol,” the younger Busch said. “I love this place.
“It was fun to battle out the brother there at the end. I know we didn’t quite get the side-by-side racing it out; I saw him looking at the top. I’m like, ‘I better go.’ I got up there, was able to make some ground.”
“It was a no-brainer for us,” crew chief Adam Stevens said afterward when asked about the call not to bring his driver to pit road.
Busch also paid tribute to three-time series champion and FOX NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip, who won 12 times at the Tennessee venue.
“It ain’t 12, that’s for sure,” Busch said of his win total at BMS. “So I’ve got more to go.”
There were issues on the final restart, Keselowski was penalized for failing to follow a NASCAR directive, but none for the front two.
Logano, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin completed the top five.
Menard, Clint Bowyer, Suarez, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson were sixth through 10th respectively.
“I really wanted to beat him,” Kurt Busch said of the battle with his brother. “I was going to wreck him. … He already won (this year). I figure he could give a little love to his brother. I wanted that one bad. …
“I’m happy that we were in position to do it. This group of guys, we’re not quite ready to win yet, but that was close.”
The win was Busch’s 54th overall in the series. His previous wins this season came at ISM (Phoenix) Raceway and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California
He led 71 laps, including the final 19. He also overcame an early spin that saw his Toyota swept up in a five-car incident on just the second lap of the 500-lap race.
The race was the eighth of the season; all eight have been won by drivers from either the JGR or Team Penske camps.
It was a battle reminiscent of past contests held at Bristol, with plenty of contact as well as lead changes. Blaney was the lap leader at 158 while Logano paced the field for 146.
Ty Dillon was a surprising winner of the opening stage, edging Bowyer with a last-lap pass. Logano won the second stage.
Several teams, including those of Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, battled loose wheel issues. Others were merely forced to deal with damage typically associated with the close-quarters racing that has been the norm at BMS.
Former NASCAR drivers Blake Koch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. today announced a new partnership in FilterTime®, a company that provides homeowners and business owners an easy and affordable path to receiving and replacing air filters.
The brainchild of Koch, FilterTime® is a subscription-based service that delivers customized air filters straight to the customer, essentially removing the arduous planning, shopping and hassle of air-filter replacement.
To get started, FilterTime® customers simply log on to FilterTime.com to complete a one-time process of choosing their filters and setting their delivery schedule. They’ll begin receiving new filters every one, two or three months, depending on their preference and average life cycle of a filter. Shipping is free.
“Air filters are so important to your heating and cooling systems, but they can also be a pain,” said Koch. “FilterTime® eliminates the hassle of remembering to replace these filters. We remind you to replace them by delivering them to you when you need them. Also, keeping them changed at the proper time saves an average of five to 15 percent on heating & cooling bills, so this is not only a necessary service but also a cost-efficient one.”
Koch, who had 213 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and six starts in the NASCAR Cup Series from 2009-17, became passionate about this new business endeavor shortly after his racing career. It was Koch’s passion and strategy that became interesting to Earnhardt, already an established business owner with JR Motorsports, Whisky River, Dirty Mo Media, and his automotive dealerships. Earnhardt retired from full-time racing in 2017 after 20 years in NASCAR’s top two touring series, a successful stretch that included 50 victories, two Daytona 500 wins and 15 consecutive Most Popular Driver awards.
“I’m a homeowner, and I know how hard it can be to remember to change your filters on a regular basis,” said Earnhardt. “FilterTime® is a great concept, and Blake has a lot of enthusiasm for it, so I look forward to watching it grow and being partners with him on it.”
In approaching Earnhardt with the idea, Koch gained a partner whose reach will immediately impact the growth of the company as well as its potential reach among consumers.
"Dale was the partner that I wanted,” Koch said. “His fan base is the typical FilterTime® customer, the everyday person who works hard at maintaining his/her home. He’s the best at branding and marketing and has resources in Dirty Mo Media and JR Motorsports. He has a desire to win at everything he does.”
JR Motorsports PR