Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16679)

Paul Menard capitalized on crew chief Greg Erwin’s call to stay on the track during the race’s final caution period and came away with a season-best sixth-place finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Erwin’s call, which vaulted Menard and his No. 21 Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang from 13th place to fourth heading into the 14-lap dash to the finish line, was just one of several tactical decisions that kept the No. 21 team in the running for a strong finish in Sunday’s race.
 
Menard started the 500-lapper from ninth place, and the team used a similar stay-on-the-track strategy at the end of Stage One to finish that segment in eighth place, thereby earning three Stage points.
 
The team used the wave-around late in the second stage to regain a lost lap.
 
In the final segment of the race, Erwin again called for the wave-around during a caution period with just over 80 laps left to run.
 
That decision worked out in the Menard/Sylvania team’s favor as well, with another caution flag putting Menard back on the same pit sequence as the race leaders.
  
He was running outside the top 10 when the caution flag flew at Lap 486 of 500 for a spin by Kyle Larson.
 
Erwin’s decision to stay on the track boosted Menard to fourth place for the restart and paved the way for his sixth-place finish, which moved him up two positions in the points standings to 19th place, just four points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who holds the 16th and final spot in the Playoff standings.
 
Menard said it was a great Bristol weekend all around, other than a minor mistake he made on a pit stop.
  
“We qualified really well and had good track position from the start,” he said. “I messed up our first pit stop and got us behind. I went to neutral to stop and it popped into third, so I killed the car. I put us behind doing that, and track position is so important.”
  
Menard also praised Erwin’s decision to not pit in the closing laps. 

 “Greg made a good call to stay out and we came home with a top 10,” he said.
 
Menard said the race was a good one from his perspective, thanks in large part to the preparation of the racing surface.
 
“I felt there were more options than normal,” he said. “That PJ1 [traction compound] stayed pretty much the whole race, where normally that goes away and you’re just going to the top, so I thought we had more options.”
 
Eddie Wood said Menard, Erwin and the pit crew had their best days of the young season.
 
“Paul did some great driving, especially on old tires,” he said. “The pit crew never made a mistake, and Greg made great calls all day.
 
“He used the wave-around twice to get us back on the lead lap, and his last-second call to not pit at the end was his best decision of the day.”
 
Menard and the No. 21 team return to the track next Saturday night at Richmond Raceway.

WBR PR

Race Winner:      Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner:  Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner:  Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

Clint Bowyer started seventh and finished second.

Bowyer jumped to fifth in the opening laps before the race’s first caution on lap six. He moved to second on lap 10.

● Bowyer led laps 39 and 40 when leader Chase Elliott spun. A caution brought the field to pit lane and he restarted second.

● Despite a tight-handling car, Bowyer took over the lead with just seven laps remaining in the stage, leading laps 118 to 123.

● A caution saw all but Bowyer and two others visit pit lane.

● Bowyer restarted first for the final two laps, but Ty Dillon edged him by a few feet for the stage victory.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

Bowyer started 15th and finished eighth.

● Bowyer started back in the field because he elected to pit during the stage break and not in the final laps of Stage 1 like most of the field.

● Bowyer turned some of the quickest laps on track and climbed back into the top-five by lap 213.

● Bowyer appeared ready to climb even higher, but he was blocked on a restart by another car and reported his car wouldn’t turn.

● Bowyer held on to finish eighth.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 251 -500):

Bowyer started seventh and finished seventh.

● Bowyer climbed to fourth by lap 275, third by lap 285 and second by lap 355, then took the lead on lap 375.

● After a round of pit stops Bowyer found himself in third closing in on the leaders.

● Bowyer’s bid for victory ended when he and Joey Logano made contact as they battled for second with about 60 laps remaining.

● The cut tire sent the No. 14 into the wall then to pit road for repairs.

● Bowyer remained on the lead lap but dropped to 15th and struggled because of the damage.

● He held his position until a caution with 15 to go saw the No. 14 stay on the track while the leaders pitted.

● Bowyer restarted in sixth and climbed to fourth before the cars with fresher tires dropped him to seventh in the final laps.

 

Notes:

●  Bowyer earned his fourth top-10 of the season and his 14th top-10 in 27 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol.

●  This was Bowyer’s third straight top-10 and his third consecutive top-10 at Bristol. He has finished in the top-10 all but once at Bristol since joining SHR in 2017.

●  This was Bowyer’s 200th career top-10 in 477 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts.

●  Bowyer finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points and eighth in Stage 2 to earn an additional two bonus points.

●  Bowyer led five times for 24 laps to increase his laps-led total at Bristol to 281.

●  Kyle Busch won the Food City 500 to score his 54th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading third of the season and his eighth at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Kurt Busch was .722 of a second.

●  There were 11 caution periods for a total of 77 laps.

●  Only 16 of the 37 drivers in the Food City 500 finished on the lead lap.

●  Kyle Busch leaves Bristol as the championship leader with a 27-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang:

“We had a good car, it’s just horribly disappointing. You get that close. Long runs were my strong suit. I couldn’t take off all day long. Some of those things made sense. We were down a little bit on air and it took a little bit of time for them to come in. The problem is when you balance around that and you just pump the air-pressure up, then it doesn’t work either and you don’t handle there. It’s just disappointing.

 

“(Logano) and I just barely touched and it must have cut the valve stem out of it or something and hit it just right. Maybe his fender caught it or something. That’s about typical luck for here. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. We put ourselves in position. Our Stewart-Haas Ford was good, our Haas Automation Mustang, I wanted to get that thing in victory lane. It’s such a good-looking car. I think it’s racy looking. I appreciate Gene Haas and the opportunity, I just didn’t get it done.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Richmond 400 on Saturday, April 13 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

TSC PR

Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

Kevin Harvick started 13th and finished 31st.

● The No. 4 car had to go to the back of the field before the start and then serve a pit road pass-through penalty for failing prerace inspection three times.

● Harvick was in 32nd, one lap down, when the caution came out on lap 39. Harvick wanted to do the wave-around, but the lead-lap cars did not all come to pit road, so Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.

On lap 60, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel after saying he had a loose wheel. When he exited pit road he was 35th, four laps down.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

Harvick started 29th and finished 22nd.

● No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang was 23rd and three laps down on lap 214. Harvick said the

car was tight, but his lap times were good.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 251-500):

Started 21st and finished 13th.

● No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang pitted on lap 256 for four tires, fuel and a chassis and tire pressure adjustment. Harvick said his car was still tight.

● On lap 370 Harvick got by the leader and was one lap down. Unfortunately, he made slight contact with the wall, brought out a caution and went back down two laps.

Harvick pitted on lap 379 for four tires, fuel and repairs to the damage from the wall contact. He restarted 21st, two laps down.

● On lap 435, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel. He was 20th, one lap down.

On lap 480, a caution came out and Harvick received the Lucky Dog to rejoin the lead lap. He pitted for four tires and fuel and restarted 17th.

● Under green for the final 14 laps, Harvick was able to gain four spots to finish 13th.

 

Notes:

● Kyle Busch won the Food City 500 to score his 54th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading third of the season and his eighth at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Kurt Busch was .722 of a second.

● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 77 laps.

● Only 16 of the 37 drivers in the Food City 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Busch leaves Bristol as the championship leader with a 27-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Richmond 400 on Saturday, April 13 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

TSC PR

Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

● Daniel Suárez started Stage 1 from the 20th position and ended the stage 12th.

● Suárez worked his way up to 14th when the first caution of the race was displayed on lap three.

● The 27-year-old stayed out and worked his way up to 10th before the second caution came out on lap 38. He pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help his car’s tight condition.

● The Haas driver restarted 14th on lap 45 and worked his way up to ninth before settling in at 11th when the third caution came out on lap 118.

● Suárez pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments and restarted 14th with two laps to go in the stage.

● Suárez didn’t pit during the Stage 1 break and began Stage 2 in the eighth position.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

● The No. 41 driver started Stage 2 in eighth and completed it in 10th to earn one bonus point.

● Suárez worked his way up to sixth before his No. 41 Mustang tightened up, and he slipped back to eighth.

● During the fourth caution on lap 214 Suárez came down pit road for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help the tight condition. He restarted seventh on lap 219.

● He pitted during the Stage 2 break from 10th for fuel, four tires and adjustments. Unfortunately, Suárez received a speeding penalty and was sent to the rear of the field in 17th.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 250-500):

● The Mexico native began the final stage in 17th and concluded it in eighth.

● The next caution was displayed on lap 270. Suárez came down pit road for fuel, four tires and adjustments and headed back to the track in 17th. This time Suárez received two penalties – for pitting outside of the box and an uncontrolled tire – causing NASCAR to hold the No. 41 machine one lap on pit road.

● After restarting 18th, one lap down, Suárez hustled his way around the half-mile venue but remained one lap down when the caution was displayed on lap 375.

● The Ford driver pitted under the caution for fuel and four tires and remained one lap down in 17th for the restart.

● When the next caution came out on lap 415, Suárez was the beneficiary of the free pass. He pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments and returned to the track in the 16th position.

● The next caution came out on lap 432 as the Haas Automation driver ran in 12th. He stayed out and restarted 10th on lap 439.

● The final caution of the race came out on lap 479 while Suárez was running in the eighth position. He stayed out, restarted third with 14 laps to go and ultimately finished eighth.

 

Notes:

● Suárez earned his fourth top-10 of the season and his third straight top-10.

● Suárez’s eighth-place result bettered his previous best finish at Bristol – 11th in April 2018. The Food City 500 marked his fifth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol.

● Suárez finished 10th in Stage 2 to earn one bonus point.

● Kyle Busch won the Food City 500 to score his 54th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading third of the season and his eighth at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Kurt Busch was .722 of a second.

● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 77 laps.

● Only 16 of the 37 drivers in the Food City 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Busch leaves Bristol as the championship leader with a 27-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

 

Daniel Suárez, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Today was difficult. We made a lot of mistakes that we were lucky to overcome and finish in the top-10. I’m proud of that. We have to keep getting better, but it’s kind of good that we’re making these mistakes now so we can clean them up and be stronger in the second part of the season. We have a very good team and great racecars, and it’s always good to perform well. Today, we had a lot of speed. I felt like we had top-five speed at times, and when we’re not very good we still had top-10 speed and that’s where we ended up. After all of those mistakes it was still a decent day.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Richmond 400 on Saturday, April 13 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

TSC PR

Race Winner:      Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

Kyle Busch started 17th and finished sixth.

● Busch started 17th but found trouble just two laps into the 500-lap race. With the cars of William Byron and Aric Almirola making contact ahead of him, Busch slowed to avoid contact but was hit from behind by the car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

● Despite the damage, the Skittles team did not panic in the least bit. Busch came to pit road for multiple stops over the course of the first 40 laps of the race, getting the damaged fixed quickly and staying on the lead lap.

● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion restarted 23rd on lap 45 and immediately started moving up, running 14th by lap 70 and all the way up to eighth by lap 111.

● The caution waved with less than 10 laps to go in the stage, so crew chief Adam Stevens called Busch to pit road for four tires and adjustments on lap 119. Busch restarted 10th and vaulted all the way up to sixth in short order.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

Buschstarted fourth and finished fifth.

With a few cars pitting during the caution for the stage break, Busch restarted in fourth on lap 135.

The Skittles driver held his spot within the top-five for most of the second stage, but he battled a handling condition that he described to Stevens and the team as a lack of overall grip, saying the car felt like it was on top of the track too much.

The Las Vegas native used an abundance of patience, staying out of trouble and finishing Stage 2 in the fifth position.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 251-500):

Started third and finished first.

Busch came to pit road on lap 254 to take on four tires and adjustments, setting him up to restart in third for the start of the second half of the race.

Busch struggled to get up to speed on the front end of the run on tires, but he gained steam as the tires wore down, moving from sixth on lap 331 up to fourth by lap 375.

An opportune caution on lap 375 sent Busch to pit road to the attention of the crew, where his Skittles Camry got four tires and adjustments. Quick work by the over-the-wall crew vaulted Busch to second on the ensuing restart.

Busch used the track position on the restart and powered his way around Clint Bowyer on lap 383 to lead the race for the first time.

Busch held his first lead for 25 laps before Bowyer got by him on lap 400, and Joey Logano passed him for second on lap 413.

● Ten laps later, quick work once again by the Skittles Toyota crew during a round of pit stops under caution sent Busch back on track in the lead, which he held for 27 laps.

● The call of the race came during the final caution of the race, 20 laps from the scheduled finish, when Busch stayed on track while the lead-lap cars ahead of him all pitted.

● He got off to a solid restart with 14 laps remaining and was able to hold off the field the rest of the way, crossing the finish line .722 of a second ahead of his older brother, Kurt Busch, the runner-up.

 

Notes:

● Kyle Busch’s victory was his 54th in 506 career Cup Series races and his eighth at Bristol.

● It was his third victory and eighth top-10 finish in eight races this season.

● Busch led three times for 71 laps, giving him 498 laps led this season and 2,294 laps led in 28 career races at Bristol.

 

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

 

“It’s pretty awesome to be able to snooker those guys, get our win today here at Bristol. I’ve seen that game played on both sides. I’ve seen it work more times than not. When the guys stay out, you have a better opportunity to be able to go for the win. It kind of fell into our hands there, being able to lead the restart, being able to get Kurt to not spin his tires and get up to second – it’s a good run for us Busch brothers to come home 1-2. Love this place. It was fun to battle with the brother there at the end. I know we didn’t quite get side by side, racing it out. I saw him working the top. I’m like, ‘I better go.’ I got up there, was able to make some ground. I don’t know, we’re crazy. We just do what we do, try to win. Man, just awesome to be here in front of this crowd, here at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Skittles Camry wasn’t the best today, but we made the most of not having the best and got everything we needed here at the end. I felt like we had to overcome a lot, especially on the short runs. We just didn’t have the burst-off speed that we needed for the first 30 to 40 laps. It kind of seemed after that we could maintain with a bunch of those guys and then we could kind of run those guys back down just a little bit. It was hit or miss a little for us today and this weekend. We thought we had a pretty good car in second practice yesterday and going into the race. We just didn’t quite have the speed. We just didn’t show exactly what we needed there.

 

(On winning his eighth career Cup Series race at Bristol) “It ain’t 12, that’s for sure, so I’ve got more to go. We’re getting there and it’s fun. It’s the most among active drivers, I guess. I think I heard that. But, you know, there are a lot more years left, hopefully. I mean, it’s good. I love winning at Bristol. You love winning everywhere. It’s nice to continue to bounty up some of those bonus points for the playoffs. Just want to thank everyone at Mars for all their support with Skittles, M&M'S, SNICKERS, PEDIGREE, everyone that makes this program go around and also to our friends at Interstate Batteries for their support as well.”

 

Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Toyota Owners 400 on Saturday, April 13 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

TSC PR

Kevin Harvick finished 13th in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol and on the lead lap and that’s about an amazing of a comeback as you’re likely to see at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Making up a lap or perhaps two is difficult. Harvick, at one point, was scored four laps in arrears.

Down. Out. Finished. Done.

Thanks to an incredibly fast No. 4 Ford Mustang, the 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion was able to race his way back onto the lead lap and into the picture.

The day certainly didn’t start out well – the team failed pre-race inspection three times and was penalized before the race had even begun.

Because of the inspection issues, Harvick dropped from 13th to the rear of the field at the start of the race; one crew member was ejected, the driver had to do a pass through penalty under green once the race began and the team will lose 30 minutes of practice time at the next points event.

His first break came when he hit pit road after the green flag – a multi-car incident brought out the caution flag and Harvick only lost one lap in the pits.

But a loose wheel put his No. 4 back on pit road a short time later and Harvick soon found himself multiple laps down.

He joined the lead-lap cars during the final caution of the race when he was in the free pass position.

The finish was his worst since a 26th place run at Daytona this year. But it may have been one of the team’s most impressive efforts overall.

 

POWER BUT NO STEERING

It was a frustrating day for pole winner Chase Elliott as the Hendrick Motorsports driver lost the power steering in his No. 9 Chevrolet barely 20 laps into the race, then was involved in an incident just shy of the halfway point of the 500-lap race.

Despite the setbacks, he was still contending for a spot in the top 10 when his car hit the wall with less than 70 laps remaining. He led the first 38 laps of the race, finished 11th and on the lead lap, but saw a good day otherwise ruined.

“Definitely not what we started out hoping for,” he admitted. “We got turned late in the race, that was about it. We fell behind from there.

“I had a great car, even without the power steering.”

 

HAMLIN SHOULDERS BLAME

Denny Hamlin, the series’ most recent winner heading into the Bristol race weekend, appeared to have made the move of the race when a two-tire call under caution at lap 417 put him out front for the subsequent restart.

The lead was short-lived. Hamlin was penalized for speeding on pit road, something that’s been the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s Achilles heel, and forced to give up the valuable track position.

He did manage to rally and finish fifth, however.

“I screwed up our strategy on pit lane,” Hamlin admitted. “We’ll get it cleaned up. Just got to work through all the kinks and clean stuff up.

“We didn’t have a race-winning car. Top-five finish with a car that probably shouldn’t have been there is a good day.”

Hamlin won the season-opening Daytona 500 as well as last weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The TMS win came after he rallied from a, you guessed it, pit road speeding penalty.

 

MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR BOWYER

Clint Bowyer led five times for 24 laps and had one of the best long-run cars in the field Sunday. But contact with Joey Logano on lap 432 resulted in a flat tire for the Stewart-Haas driver and put the team in catch-up mode for the remainder of the race.

“He was racing me pretty hard,” Bowyer said of Logano. “… We just barely touched, and it must have cut the valve stem out of it or something and hit it just right.”

Bowyer managed a seventh-place finish in spite of the setback.

“My strong suit, just like last week, was long runs,” he said. “We just slowly kept picking them away. You could see that on restarts. I couldn’t take off worth a damn, but I could really come on strong on the big end of a run.”

 

PENSKE STABLE SETS PACE

The cars of Team Penske teammates Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney were among the best for much of the Food City 500 and two of the three – Logano and Blaney – finished third and fourth respectively. Combined, the trio led 344 of the race’s 500 laps.

“The last thing you want is a caution with 15 to 20 (laps) to go at Bristol and you’re the leader because you know everyone is going to make their decision based off what you do,” said Logano, who found himself in exactly that predicament. “If you stay out, you’ve got to expect half the field is going to pit, maybe more. If you come in, five or six stayed (out), so it’s just part of the game.”

Keselowski appeared to be in line for a shot at the win as well, but confusion when the field was reset for the final restart left the former series champion mired in a three-wide situation coming to the green.

He was eventually issued a pass-through penalty and finished 18th.

“Nobody could figure out the lineup,” Keselowski said. “There wasn’t enough communication and it was just a tough deal.”

Austin Dillon and the SYMBICORT® (budesonide/formoterol fumarate dihydrate) Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Team Battle to 14th-Place Finish in War of Attrition at Bristol Motor Speedway
 

14th 
 
 
 15th
 
 18th
"What a battle at the last great coliseum today. Our SYMBICORT® (budesonide/formoterol fumarate dihydrate) Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was pretty good throughout Friday and Saturday, but we knew we needed just a little bit more in order to have a shot on Sunday. My crew chief, Danny Stockman, and the No. 3 team made a few setup changes for the race that didn't work in our favor, unfortunately. Sometimes you have to take a gamble, and it just didn't pan out in this case. Even though we didn't have the best-handling car, we were able to maintain and stay on the lead lap. It was a war of attrition, really, just staying up there. At one point in time we got the car decent, even though it was really tight. Towards the end of the race I hit the wall because we got the rear too free. It damaged our car a little bit. We tried to get some track position back, but it didn't work out. All-in-all, for what we had, I'll take a 14th-place finish."
-Austin Dillon
Daniel Hemric's Bristol Cup Debut Hits Snag When Caterpillar/ Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet is Spun Early
 

30th
 
 
 
26th
 
29th
"Man, what a day. We knew going into today's race we had a tall task ahead of us, but a few things in the opening stage made it an even tougher day. When the first caution of the race happened, I had slowed down but got hit from behind and received damage to the nose of the No. 8 Caterpillar/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The pit crew did a good job making the necessary repairs, and we were logging some laps in the top 20 when we just got hit from behind by the No. 15, spun and backed into the wall. That hurt the handling of the car pretty bad, and it was all I could do to hang on for the rest of the day. This was definitely a frustrating race, but the crew never gave up all weekend and made the most of the situation. Here's hoping we find some good luck soon. We just need a clean race, and that is the goal next weekend in Richmond."
 
-Daniel Hemric

RCR PR

Race Winner:  Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner:  Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner:  Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

Aric Almirola started sixth and finished 37th.

● On the outside of William Byron’s No. 24 machine in turn two on lap two, Almirola was pushed into the wall when Byron got loose and slid into Almirola’s No. 10 Shazam!/Smithfield Ford Mustang.

● 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.

 

Notes:

● Kyle Busch won the Food City 500 to score his 54th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading third of the season and his eighth at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Kurt Busch was .722 of a second.

● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 77 laps.

● Only 16 of the 37 drivers in the Food City 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Busch leaves Bristol as the championship leader with a 27-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

 

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Shazam!/Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“The 24 (Byron) just got loose under me. He struggled to get going on the initial start. He spun his tires and then was just loose and out of control that whole first lap. When we went down in turn one, he lost it under me and wiped us out. I’m pretty frustrated. You work all weekend, all week getting ready for the event, and to make it one lap is kind of uncalled for. So, I’m disappointed, frustrated, but life goes on. We’ll go to Richmond.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Richmond 400 on Saturday, April 13 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

 

TSC PR

Kyle Busch won Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, while older brother Kurt Busch finished in second.

Sunday was Busch's eighth career Monster Energy Cup Series win at Bristol and becoming the winningest driver at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch's brother Kurt Busch has seven wins at the .533-mile short tracks.

Kyle Busch was faced with trouble on Lap 2 when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rear-ended driver No. 18. The move of the race would happen when Busch would stay during the final caution of the race with 20 laps to go instead of stopping and would hold on for the remaining 19 laps to win the Food City 500.

"We're crazy, we just do what we do to try to win," Kyle Busch told Fox Sports 1. "It's awesome that we were able to snooker those guys to be able to get our win. I love this place. It was fun to battle my brother there at the end. We didn't quite get side-by-side racing, but i saw him working the top and i'm like, 'i better go' and i was able to make up some ground."

This was the second time Kyle and Kurt finished 1-2 in a Cup race. It last occurred at Sonoma Raceway in 2015.

"That one was tough, I really wanted to beat him," Kurt Busch told Fox Sports 1. "I was going to wreck him. I was wanting to stay close enough so that when we took the white flag, I was just going to drive straight into 3 and 4. I mean he's already won, I figured he could give a little love to his brother. No, of course not.

"I wanted that one bad. I feel like him right now - all mad because i didn't win."

Rounding out the top five were Kurt Busch in second, Joey Logano in third, Ryan Blaney in fourth and Denny Hamlin in fifth.

Rounding out the top ten were Paul Menard in sixth, Clint Bowyer in seventh, Daniel Suarez in eighth, Ryan Newman in ninth and Jimmie Johnson in tenth.

The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series will head into Richmond Raceway in the running of the Toyota Owners 400 Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on FOX.

Stage 1 Winner: Ty Dillion

Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano

Race Winner: Kyle Busch

Many NASCAR competitors can trace their racing roots to family members, those from a generation or so removed who raced on either the local or national stage.

Daniel Hemric, driver of the Richard Childress Racing No. 8 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, has a different sports heritage. And it’s a fitting one to note this weekend as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four gets under way in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Hemric, 28, will start 26th in Sunday’s Food City 500 here at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Race fans might not recognize the name Dickie Hemric. He never won the Southern 500 or the Daytona 500 or any other legendary NASCAR event. But Dickie Hemric etched his name in the record books of both the NCAA as well as the NBA.

“He was my grandfather’s first cousin,” Daniel Hemric told the NASCAR Wire Service. “My grandfather, my dad’s dad, I think he was six-foot three, six-four. Obviously, Dickie Hemric (at 6’6”) was in that realm. (The height gene) definitely skipped me.”

Dickie Hemric held the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) scoring record for 50 years, totaling 2,587 points as a Wake Forest Demon Deacon. He was named player of the year during the first two seasons of the ACC’s existence (1954-55). The mark stood until 2006 when it was finally broken by J.J. Reddick of Duke University.

His 1,802 career rebounds still stands as a conference record.

A third-team All-American as a junior and a second-team All-American selection as a senior, Hemric was a member of the Boston Celtics’ first championship-winning team in 1956-57.

Daniel Hemric had no idea of his relative’s exploits on the court until taking in a college game with current RCR teammate Austin Dillon and younger brother Ty Dillon.

“I found out about it, believe it or not, this goes way back,” Hemric recalled. “Almost 13 years ago. I went to my first college basketball game and I went with Austin and Ty. We went to see North Carolina and Wake Forest. We get there inside the arena and I see Hemric hanging from the rafters, the jersey. I had no idea.

“It was something I started doing a little research on after I got out of that situation. It was pretty cool to find out.”

Racing won out over other endeavors when he suffered a knee injury as a teenager.

“That’s something that sidelined me a little bit, led me to staying on four wheels, sitting in the seat,” he said. “I figured that was my path and my knee showed me that. So that’s what I ended up doing.”

 

GOING FOR THREE

Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Preece is a former Bristol winner in both the Whelen Modified Tour and Xfinity Series. Sunday will be his first start at the 0.533-mile oval in the Cup Series.

“I think all short tracks should be good tracks for me, but this is a team sport,” Preece said. “But we’ve got some work to do on our car to make it better and I think we’ll be alright.

“I’ve won here in a Modified and I’ve won here in and Xfinity car, so I expect to run good here (in Cup) for sure.”

Can past success in those series translate?

“I think it’s all relative; a race car is a race car,” he said. “They need to be able to get into the corner, you need to be able to turn the center and you need to be able to put the gas pedal down as quick as possible.

“It’s all the same. It’s just a heavier car with a smaller tire and a radial tire.”

 

RECORD RUN FOR BLANEY

Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney didn’t get the pole, but the 24-year-old did establish a track qualifying record with his run in the second round Friday at BMS as the field was set for Sunday’s Food City 500.

Blaney’s speed of 132.076 mph (14.528 sec.) in the No. 12 Ford eclipsed the previous mark of 131.407 mph set by Denny Hamlin in 2015.

He becomes the 14th driver to hold a current track qualifying mark. Kurt Busch holds the record at more tracks than any active driver – Charlotte (both Roval and 1.5-mile layout), Las Vegas and Texas Motor Speedways.

 

SHAKING OFF THE NEW

Seven races into his first season at Roush Fenway Racing and veteran driver Ryan Newman sits 20th in points. He is coming off his best finish of the season, an 11th-place run last weekend at Texas, since taking over the driving duties of the No. 6 Ford Mustang.

“I’ve spent four times as much time at the shop per week (this year) than I did in the last five years,” Newman said.

“I think we have some really great meetings when we have our sit-downs, and layers of meetings – not just a meeting but layers of meetings that make us perform better and learn where we’re at.

“I think that we have much better potential of showing what we’re made of as we hit some of these race tracks the second time than we did the first time just looking at our experiences so far this year.”

 

SHORT STROKES

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Erik Jones and Joey Logano led Saturday’s two practice sessions for the series, posting times of 14.771 and 14.894 seconds, respectively … Pole winner Chase Elliott clocked in 16th quickest in the final session while defending race winner Kyle Busch was fifth overall.

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