Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13610)

Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. made his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start last weekend while filling in for the injured Aric Almirola. In his first run with the No. 43 team, Wallace had some issues with pit road that hindered a good finish at Pocono Raceway. He'll use his lessons from last weekend and bring them to a Michigan International Speedway (MIS).
 
Wallace has four NASCAR starts at MIS between the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. He scored his best finish of ninth in the 2016 XFINITY race. Wallace showed success on intermediate tracks this season in the XFINITY Series. He scored four sixth-place finishes in five intermediate track starts this season.
 
Appearances
 
Fans will have the chance to meet "The King" Richard Petty at the South Bay Eagle Point Marina and the Pointe Bar & Grill in Clark Lake, Mich. Fans are allowed up to two items per person for autographs.
 
When: Friday, June 16, 6:30 - 8 p.m.
Where: Pointe Bar & Grill, Clark Lake, Mich.
 
Wallace will join fellow competitor Ty Dillon in the MIS Champions Club for a Q&A session before they both hit the track later that day.
 
When: Sunday, June 18, 12:15 p.m.
Where: Champions Club
Wallace will stop by the Ford stage in the Fanzone for a question and answer session prior to the Firekeepers Casino 400.
 
When: Sunday, June 18, 12:30 p.m.
Where: MIS Fanzone
 
Petty will also participate in Smithfield's Grillmaster Challenge prior to the Monster Energy Series race. Pitmaster Tuffy Stone will emcee and help Petty judge the Smithfield Grill Master Challenge. The 2017 competition will feature three fans as competitors who will be chosen at random. They will be given 90 minutes to prepare their own signature dish featuring Smithfield products. Petty and Stone will judge the plates based on originality and creativity; oral presentation and visual appearance. The chef of the winning plate will receive a "King" prize pack.
 
When: Sunday, June 18, 12:30 p.m.
Where: Smithfield Display at MIS Fanzone
 
Weekend Chatter
 
"Michigan has always been a good place for me. I've typically had a lot of speed off the truck. We'll definitely practice pit road during practice sessions this weekend. It's a fast track, and then, you add dealing with the Cup car speeds in Turns One and Three. We'll work on getting our car snugged up just enough for those turns where cars tend to get a little free. I spent a decent amount of time in the Ford SIM yesterday and got comfortable to the car and worked more with the race team. We're looking take the lessons learned from last weekend to do better this week. Not making mistakes will be key to come away with a good solid Top-15, Top-20."
 
RPM PR
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Infraction Date Track Team Level Infraction Penalty
6/11/2017 (post-race inspection) Pocono No. 19 Safety Sections 10.9.10.4: Tires and Wheels
Note: Lug nut(s) not properly installed.
Crew chief (Scott Graves) has been fined $10,000.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Infraction Date Track Team Level Infraction Penalty
6/9/2017 (post-race inspection) Texas No. 29 Safety Sections 10.9.10.4: Tires and Wheels
Note: Lug nut(s) not properly installed.
Crew chief (Buddy Sisco) has been fined $2,500.

Michigan native Erik Jones is hoping the math adds up in his favor this week with the NASCAR Cup Series rookie coming off a career-best finish and getting to compete in front of his home state fans.

Jones and his Furniture Row Racing team head into Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 after their first top-five and career-best third-place finish last week at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. They’ll unload the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota Camry in the Michigan International Speedway garage area with that accomplishment still fresh in their minds as added fuel for their positive momentum.

The 21-year-old’s hometown of Byron, Mich., is approximately 70 miles due north of Michigan International Speedway. This week he is staying in the house he grew up in, spending time with childhood friends, and sleeping in his old bedroom. He’s even talked about commuting to and from the race track during the weekend.

Though MIS is his “home track” on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Jones doesn’t have much of a hometown advantage with just two previous starts on the 2-mile oval. In August 2015, he qualified seventh and finished third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Last June, Jones qualified second and finished fourth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t had a ton of time to race at Michigan International Speedway,” said Jones. “I’ve run one [NASCAR Camping World] Truck race and one [NASCAR] Xfinity race there. It’s just the way things worked out, the way the age rules were when I was in the Truck Series, I didn’t have a chance to run there in 2014. I haven’t had a lot of time there but I have had some good runs. So we were always decent there, had OK speed and I feel every time I go back I get a little a bit more comfortable.

“Michigan is a bit off on its own with it being a recent repave. It’s not a whole lot like Fontana, another two-mile track. Funny enough, I’ve actually been there in a Cup car with a low downforce package for a test there maybe two years ago. So I have a little bit of time there with what we’re racing now.”

Jones is tied with Ryan Newman for 16th in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series point standings after the first 14 races. He is three points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for 15th and 47 behind Clint Bowyer for 10th. Jones is second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year point standings, trailing Daniel Suarez by eight points and ahead of third-place Ty Dillon by 14 points.

The 200-lap, 400-mile FireKeepers Casino 400 will consist of three stages of 60/60/80 laps (laps 60/120/200). In each of the first two stages, drivers finishing in the top 10 will receive championship points (10 to 1) with the winner receiving one playoff point. The overall race winner will earn 40 championship points and five playoff points. Playoff points accumulated during the season will carry through the first three of the four playoff rounds.

Sunday’s race will air live beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1, SiriusXM 90 and MRN. Qualifying (multi-car, three rounds) is scheduled for Friday at 4:15 p.m. ET on FS1.

MIS PR

BK Racing’s team owner, Ron Devine, announced that Ryan Sieg will be behind the wheel of  the No. 23 Dr Pepper Toyota Camry this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Sieg made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut with BK Racing earlier this month in Dover, where he finished 26th.

Randy Cox will move from the No. 83 team and take over duties as the No. 23 crew chief. Doug George has been named as crew chief for the No. 83 Toyota.

BK Racing PR

As Kurt Busch heads to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400, he happily wears a blue Ford oval for his 33rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at the ultrafast two-mile oval.

Fifteen of Busch’s 29 career NASCAR Cup Series wins have come with Ford, and after 11 years away from the brand (2006-2016), Busch came back in a big way in 2017 by wheeling his No. 41 Ford Fusion into victory lane in the season-opening Daytona 500.

In keeping with the oval theme, it was a full-circle win for Busch. He brought Ford its last NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2004, and the Daytona 500 victory automatically earned him and his Monster Energy/Haas Automation team one of the 16 playoff spots available for this year’s championship drive.

Busch has never been one to rest on past success, and the taste of victory has only made him hungry for more. With 13 races having passed since feasting at Daytona, Busch is ready for another hearty meal, and no place is better than the backyard of the United States’ Big Three auto manufacturers – Michigan International Speedway.

For Dearborn-based Ford Motor Company, the 70-mile drive from the Detroit area into the lush green of the state’s Irish Hills region only whets the appetite for what 400 miles on Sunday can bring.

Ford has won nearly half the NASCAR Cup Series races run at the track since it opened in 1969. Of the 95 NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Michigan, Ford and its Mercury brand have won 47 of them (35 wins by Ford and 12 by Mercury). Busch is credited with one of those triumphs – June 2003 when he snatched the lead from Jeff Gordon with 24 laps to go to claim his seventh career Cup Series win.

Busch has scored two more Michigan wins since – August 2007 and June 2015 – to tie Matt Kenseth for the most wins at Michigan among active Cup Series drivers. Those victories are augmented by two poles (June 2010 and June 2011), five top-threes, 11 top-10s and a total of 448 laps led, which is second only to Jimmie Johnson’s tally of 687 laps led.

Now back with the blue oval, Busch is intent on getting a second championship and Ford’s first since the one Busch delivered for the marque in 2004. After 14 races, Busch is tracing a similar path in 2017 as he did in 2004. He has a win and two top-fives, just like he did in 2004, and his seven top-10s are actually one better than the amount he had in 2004.

Busch comes into the 15th race of 2017 fresh off a strong fourth-place drive at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. It was his fourth top-10 finish in the last six races. Now he’s eyeing a fourth win at Michigan with a Monster Energy/Haas Automation team that thinks outside the box and inside the oval.

TSC PR

Ragan on Michigan

"I think the Michigan track has aged a little bit since last season. When we were up there a few weeks ago for a test, it was really gray. It had lost some of its color. There weren't enough cars running to really widen the groove out, but I think you will see two-and-a-half grooves open up. I don't think you're going to see cars up in the middle of the race track or the very top lane, but the bottom does still have a lot of grip. They did an outstanding job paving that place, and it just takes a few years for it to age.

"Michigan is a super fast race track. It's a fun place for us to race with a blue oval on our Ford Fusion. We're also going to have the Shriners Hospitals for Children with us this weekend. It will be their first race for the 2017 campaign promoting summer safety. It's a big weekend for us."

Meet David
Sunday, June 18, 10:40am - Fanatics Trackside (Michigan International Speedway Fan Zone)

FRM PR

Cassill on Michigan

"The Michigan track surface has aged some, but it's still a very fast track. It's still very edgy on tires, and the car has to be just right. But it does seem like the track is coming in a little better.

"Michigan is Ford's home track, so we always want to run well in their backyard. I'll be out at the Ford stage on race day talking to fans and doing some Q-and-A, so I encourage everybody to stop over and check out the cool Ford trucks and cars and stick around to ask me a question when I'm on stage."

Meet Landon
Sunday, June 18, 12:15pm - Ford Performance display (Michigan International Speedway Fan Zone)

FRM PR

After back-to-back solid runs at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 TaxAct Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) travel to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

Two weeks ago, Patrick finished 10th at Dover and, last weekend, the No. 10 team took home a 16th-place effort at Pocono. Now, the series ventures to one of Patrick’s top tracks on the circuit. She finished 13th in the June 2013 event and has a total of four top-20 finishes in eight NASCAR Cup Series starts at the 2-mile oval.

Her 13th-place run was the third top-15 finish in her career and came when her team elected to take only right-side tires on the final pit stop. She drove hard for the final stint and wound up with the solid finish.

In June 2014, she went down a lap early in the race but got it back on lap 147 and drove to a solid top-20 finish. The following August, she once again earned a top-20 result at Michigan.

The next year, Patrick started the Michigan 400 in June from the 19th position, led two laps and scored a 16th-place finish in the rain-shortened event.  

In addition to scoring solid runs at Michigan in the NASCAR Cup Series, Patrick had done a good job in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and IndyCar Series prior to that.

In August 2012, she started an impressive fifth and led one lap en route to an 18th-place Xfinity Series finish. And, in August 2007, she started ninth, led five laps and finished seventh in the IndyCar Series.

In July 2006, Patrick was running eighth when she ran out of fuel just three laps from the end of what would have been a top-10 IndyCar finish. She ended up 17th.  

As NASCAR Cup Series teams head to Michigan, TaxAct, a leading provider of affordable digital and downloadable tax software for individuals, business owners and tax professionals, will serve as primary sponsor of Patrick’s No. 10 Ford on Sunday. The race marks the fifth event this year in which TaxAct, the official DIY tax prep partner of SHR and Patrick, has served as the primary sponsor of the No. 10 Ford. The company’s mission is to empower people to navigate the complexities of tax and finance with ease and accuracy – at a clear, transparent and fair price.

TaxAct is back on Patrick’s No. 10 Ford this weekend to help remind taxpayers who filed an extension on their 2016 tax return that all returns must be submitted to the IRS by October 16. To help filers beat the extension deadline, TaxAct is offering a 20 percent discount on all TaxAct Online 2016 editions. Filers can choose the product that best fits their tax situation and file their federal and state returns with ease. Tax filers can take advantage of the discount by visiting http://www.taxact.com/michigan. The offer is available through July 31

After earning solid results the past two weeks, Patrick and the No. 10 TaxAct Ford team will be looking to bring home another good run this weekend at Michigan.

TSC PR

Kevin Harvick is heading to the Irish Hills of Michigan with Jimmy John’s on the hood of his No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for Sunday’s FireKeepers 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn looking to score his first win of the season.

Jimmy John’s prides itself on being “Freaky Fast” and “Freaky Fresh,” which is the perfect fit for when the NASCAR Cup Series heads north to Michigan International Speedway. The wide racing surface, long straightaways and sweeping corners make Michigan the fastest track on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

The good news for Jimmy John’s and the No. 4 team is that Harvick has been among the best in the series at the 2-mile oval in recent years, scoring top-five finishes in seven of his last eight starts there.

Harvick scored four consecutive second-place finishes at Michigan from June 2013 through August 2014. He was runner-up to Greg Biffle by 2.989 seconds in June 2013. In August 2013, Harvick finished 1.018 seconds behind Joey Logano. In 2014, he followed Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon across the finish line in the June and August races, respectively. That’s four races, four second-place finishes, to four different drivers.

His lone finish outside the top-five over the last eight NASCAR Cup Series races at Michigan came in June 2015, when he started second and led 63 laps. But rain shortened the scheduled 200-lap event to just 138 laps and he finished 29th. He followed that by posting yet another runner-up effort in August 2015, when he started seventh, led 15 laps and finished 1.722 seconds behind race-winner Matt Kenseth.

Harvick scored back-to-back top-five finishes at Michigan in 2016. In June, he started 29th and raced his way to a fifth-place finish. His next start in August, he started fourth, led 33 laps and finished fifth.

For his career, Harvick has been to victory lane at Michigan in each of NASCAR’s top three national touring series.

He scored an Xfinity Series win at Michigan in August 2003, when he led 10 laps and beat Kasey Kahne to the finish line under caution. His NASCAR Cup Series win came in August 2010, when he led 60 laps and outran Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.731 seconds. He scored a Camping World Truck Series win in August 2011, when he led 13 laps and finished ahead of Timothy Peters as the race ended under caution.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion would like to add a fresh Cup Series win to his resume on Sunday at Michigan. A win would be Harvick’s first of the 2017 season and secure his place in NASCAR’s 2017 Playoffs.

TSC PR

The primary paint scheme on Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway has been a good luck charm for the Furniture Row Racing driver.

Lansing, Mich.-based Auto-Owners Insurance will have the primary sponsorship featuring the blue schematic which has enjoyed success in its four races with Furniture Row Racing. The record includes two wins, four top 10s and a pole.

Truex’s victories in the No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota were at last year’s Southern 500 in Darlington, S.C. and at this year’s race at Kansas Speedway. He also captured the pole and finished seventh in last year’s fall race in Martinsville, Va. and was eighth in last year’s Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis.

“We’ve had nothing but success with the blue Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota and I am looking for more of the same at Michigan this weekend,” said Truex.

Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at the 2-mile oval will be the second of six races that Auto-Owners Insurance will be the primary sponsor on Truex’s Toyota in 2017.

Truex’s win at Kansas Speedway started a streak of four consecutive top 10s. Following his Kansas victory he went on to finish third in both the Charlotte and Dover races and sixth in last Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway. His recent performances have vaulted him to the top of the driver point standings.

“I think team morale is good, everybody’s having a good time and enjoying themselves,” said Truex. “They work so hard that it’s nice when it pays off and it continues to motivate the team to keep pushing. When they see results with the effort they put in then it pushes them to go even harder. We’ve got a great bunch of guys from top to bottom. I think they’re enjoying themselves as well and that’s always a big thing.”

Regarding the upcoming Michigan race Truex said, “Looking forward to that, it’s another place where I have some good fishing holes. I’m serious. Fishing just helps keep the stress level down and lets me focus on driving and lets the team focus on the cars. Michigan should be interesting. Last year we ran this low downforce package there so we have a little bit more history than most of the tracks we’ve been to this year so we’ll just see what it brings. Such a fast track and definitely different from anywhere we go so it should be fun.”

After claiming two third-place finishes at Michigan in 2015, Truex’s finishes slipped in 2016 with results of 12th and 20th.

FRR PR

There was a time when NASCAR wasn’t as popular, way back in the day as we say for some of us that's been around and those that were around when races were attended by tens of thousands instead of hundreds of thousands. In those days drivers would sit on the pit walls after a race, sign autographs and talk with the locals.

When Winston bought investment and marketing to the sport this was still a center point of the accessibility. But then came the popularity of the sport, it expanded, drivers became like other athletes appearing in commercials and magazines while getting endorsements from fortune companies that wanted the next hot star on the circuit and not just a brand name like Junior Johnson or Richard Petty from North Carolina.

No, these companies were looking to craft an image and highly market their new sponsored talent to the rising popularity of NASCAR. This however came at a price, the price of reduced accessibility to the fans.  

Teams, sponsors, talent companies and more all had their hands in marketing, press relations, sponsor relations in this new world of opportunities. In doing so drivers time became highly crafted, where to be, how long they would be there, how many autograph tickets would be handed out (weather and sponsor duties permitting of course) or just how much money you as the fan wanted to spend for a few moments for a meet and greet.

This however has been boiling to a head, which we saw this past weekend at Pocono. Danica Patrick obviously frustrated by fans booing and mocking her for not spending time outside the car signing autographs or taking photos was captured on Facebook for the world to see.

Drivers such as Brad Keselowski, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Ellis and more all weighed in on the subject. All of which over time have varying ways of seeking out their fans. Keselowski going into the campgrounds on weekends, Dibenedetto inviting fans to have breakfast with him as such examples all while using the power of social media.

Some fans are happy with drivers tweeting them that's the world we live in today. While fine, other drivers however stay hidden in the garage far away from their fans, rarely to appear unless through organized events either with the team or their sponsors, usually with handlers in tow crafting their every movement and time.

Some of which use social media to connect but at the end of the day as Mike Waddell at Richmond Raceway said through Twitter “Athletes thinking Twitter & social media can replace shaking hands & signing autographs akin to Fans cutting cable cords & staying home”

This is profound in the fact that we are all know popularity of NASCAR is beyond its peak of early 2000’s, it’s no secret and no one is denying that.

What we are denying at this point is the need to change the way business is done. It’s time to cut drivers loose a little from these highly scripted weekends of handlers and PR reps that craft nearly every second of their time at the track.

Maybe it's time for NASCAR to start instituting on site meet and greets with drivers on a rotational basis with a handful known beforehand, scheduled with the track similar to what the Camping World Truck Series or K&N Pro Series does then promote this event weekly to draw fan interest to the track. This just being one of many ideas that can increase fan engagement.

In this way fans know who and when drivers will be and where, it's a fair opportunity for all. It's a fair opportunity for drivers to not be chased down while on the way to the car, drivers meeting or hauler.

When drivers can spend hours going on multi-mile bike rides and runs the morning of race day but cannot spend a half-hour sitting on a concourse with fans signing autographs we have a disconnection in the fan base.

It’s time to make the changes, look the NHRA fan base is growing rapidly through fan engagements with “Every Tickets a Pitpass”, come meet the drivers, see the cars and the marketing they have been rolling out for years.

NASCAR and all its partners will all need to work together to unleash these drivers to allow them more flexibility in having more engagement face-to-face even if this means somewhat by making drivers get out there and doing it.

Richard Petty was said on many occasions walked out of signing engagements to see people still standing and waiting, to this he would sign until everyone had gotten an autograph or picture with The King.