Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14026)

Stage 1: Laps 1-60
«  Cole Whitt qualified in the 31st position in the Bad Boy Mowers No. 72 to start the Pure Michigan 400
 
«  Lap 13: running 33rd, Whitt relayed the handling was a "little free"
 
«  A few laps later, Whitt said the handling was starting to "tighten up in the turns"
 
«  As Stage 1 became a long green flag run, Whitt fell one lap down from the leader reporting he felt "a vibration in the rear and needed more side bite and rear stability"
 
«  Lap 41: running 27th, on lap down, Crew Chief Frank Kerr called for four tires and fuel to the Bad Boy Mowers No. 72 and Whitt restarted in the 34th position, two laps down from the leader
 
«  Lap 60: Stage 1 Completion Caution: Cole Whitt completed the stage in the 31st position, one lap down from the leader. He stayed out to take the wave around. Once he secured that lap, he pitted, still under caution for four tires and fuel
 
 
Stage 2: Ended Lap 120
«  Cole Whitt took the green flag restart to begin Stage 2 posted 32nd, one lap down from the leader
 
«  As Stage two remained caution free, Whitt reported the handling of the Bad Boy Mowers No. 72 was "really free, sideways and he had nothing to lean on"
 
«  Lap 103: under green flag, he pitted for four tires and fuel and returned to the field 32nd
 
«  Within 10 laps, he reported he was continuing to battle the same handling and needed more rear grip and side bite
 
«  Lap 120: Stage 2 Completion Caution: Whitt completed the stage 34th, two laps down from the leader. He pitted for four tires, fuel, air pressure, wedge adjustments and bear bond on the left rear to repair minor damage
 
«  He went back out for a lap and immediately came back to pit under caution to top off with fuel and trim the bear bond. He returned to competition 34th, two laps down to start Stage 3
 
 
Stage 3: Ended on Lap 200 
«  Caution on Lap 140 for an incident: Whitt stayed out and restarted 29th, two laps down
 
«  Whitt pitted under green on Lap 171 for four tires and fuel. He restarted 33rd, four laps down from the leader
 
«  Caution Lap 187 for debris:  Whitt, relayed he was "spinning out and completely sideways." Crew Chief Frank Kerr kept him out to take the wave around, opting him 32nd, three laps down from leader
 
«  Caution on Lap 197, ultimately led to a red flag and the field was stopped setting the stage for an overtime ending. When drivers took the green, Whitt finished out the Pure Michigan 400 with a 29th place finish in the Bad Boy Mowers No. 72
 
TMI PR

Two late-race restarts in Sunday’s Michigan Pure 400 gave Erik Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team chances to earn his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in storybook fashion but he instead took the checkered flag with a career-best tying third-place finish at Michigan International Speedway.

The Byron, Mich., native lined up next to race leader and Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. twice in the final 10 laps. But it was Kyle Larson who slipped past both in the two-lap NASCAR overtime shootout after a red flag to spoil the Denver, Colo.-based team’s 1-2 finish. Truex’s runner-up finish and Jones’ third was still Furniture Row Racing’s best result as a two-car team.

The third-place finish on the two-mile oval was also Jones’ third straight top 10 and eighth of the season. It equaled his season best of third at Pocono Raceway in June. He is currently 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings after 23 races, just 12 points behind Ryan Newman in 15th place.

“I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be (inside lane) on the final restart, but I thought we could get a good enough restart where we could at least battle through (turns) one and two and hopefully make something happen into (turn) three,” said Jones. “Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, both of us couldn’t get going – Martin was spinning his tires and I was spinning my tires. He got a push from the 42 (Larson) and he passed us both. It’s unfortunate; I thought it was going to be a Furniture Row one-two (finish) either way. Wish the 5-hour ENERGY Camry could have had a shot at it, but it was a good day for us.”

It appeared Truex and Jones were going to finish 1-2 with both drivers having a safe margin in track position late in the race. But a caution for a multicar accident with four laps remaining in the scheduled 200-lap race first slowed the field then stopped it to allow track workers to clean up the debris resulting from the wreck.  

“I thought this might be my day for a few moments and then the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) really kind of picked it up there the last 50 laps or so and he was really fast,” said Jones. “We were kind of in our own league there for a long time – we were kind of matching lap times, he would go faster and I would go faster. I really thought that whoever was out front was going to win, unfortunately neither of us got it done. Neither of us really got going great after that last restart. I spun my tires, he spun his and it just wasn’t what we needed at the end.”

After qualifying eighth, Jones was steady all day in his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry. He led twice for five laps and the strategy devised by interim crew chief James Small and his team of engineers seemed to be playing out perfectly. From Lap 134 on, Jones ran second to Truex for a majority of the stretch run to the checkered flag on the track just 70 miles south of where he grew up.

FRR PR

While running in the fifth position with 21 laps remaining in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Michigan International Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. suffered a flat right rear tire resulting in an 18th-place finish. 

“We struggled with a balance today on our GoBowling.com Ford,” Stenhouse said. “First ten laps it would be super tight, then all of sudden really loose. The right rear going flat late in the race was costly but we were still able to salvage a decent finish. We are testing Chicago this week to get ready for the playoffs in a few weeks.”

In Ford and Roush Industries back yard, the two-time XFINITY champion started the 200-lap race in the 14th position where he maintained until late in stage one when the handling of GoBowling Ford turned to the tight condition. Stenhouse ultimately salvaged a 19th-place finish at the end of the stage.

With stage one and two going caution free, pit strategy became a factor. In hopes of a caution, crew chief Brian Pattie kept Stenhouse out on the track as long as possible before having to stop for fuel. Once the pit stops cycled through, the Olive Branch, Miss. native was scored in the 19th position when the green checkered waved to complete stage two.

With 21 laps remaining, Stenhouse was running in the fifth position when he had to bring his Ford to pit-road for a flat right rear tire under green flag conditions, costing him one lap to the leaders.

With a flurry of late-race cautions, the Roush Fenway Racing driver was able to get back on the lead lap and gain four positions in the closing laps to earn an 18th-place finish.

RFR PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

Clint Bowyerqualified 11th and finished 12th.

Climbed as high as 11th in the early going as most of the field ran single file on the high-speed track.

Car started getting loose late in the stage after a green-flag pit stop.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

Started 14th and finished 13th.

Penalized for speeding on pit road at lap 63 and dropped to the back of the field.

Used a two-tire stop midway through the stage to regain lost track position, briefly climbing into the top-10.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-202):

Started 23rd and finished 23rd.

Penalized again for speeding before the green flag fell on the final stage and dropped to 23rd.

Forced to pit road on lap 150 due to right-front damage after contact with another car.

Fell to 28th and a lap behind the leaders before battling back to a 23rd-place finish.

 

Notes:

●  Bowyer remains 17th in NASCAR’s 16-driver playoffs with three races left in the regular season. He trails Matt Kenseth by 31 points for the final playoff spot.

●  There were five caution periods for a total of 28 laps.

●  Kyle Larson won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was .310 of a second.

●  Truex leads the championship standings with 933 points and a 129-point advantage over his nearest pursuer, Larson.

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Nature’s Bakery Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We didn’t have much go right today. We had something off on our readings, and that led to the two penalties. We were trying to be real conservative on pit road all day. There at the end everyone got slowed up in front of me, and another car turned left over the front of us. That tore our car up pretty good.”

 

TSC PR

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Roush Performance Products Ford Fusion, utilized a fuel mileage strategy to move into the top 10 before a caution on Lap 185 provided an opportunity to come to pit road in Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event at Michigan International Speedway. After pitting for right side tires and fuel, Bayne returned to the track in the top five and survived a green-white-checkered to earn a fifth-place finish. The result is Bayne’s highest finish of the 2017 season.

“That’s what we needed,” said Bayne after the race. ”I got a great restart and pushed the 42 to the lead. I went for it in turn three and it didn’t stick. It got massively loose and ended up fifth. If I went home thinking I should have gone for it in three, I would be kicking my butt. But it’s a great day for our Roush Performance Products team. We needed this to recover a little bit. We’re still not in the playoffs yet and we have to keep pushing and making our cars faster. We have 13 races left with or without the playoffs to go make a statement, win races and run well. It feels good to be in contention.”

Bayne took the green flag for the 200-Lap event from the 21st position after advancing to the second round of qualifying on Friday afternoon. The driver of the Roush Performance Products Ford steadily worked his way forward during the opening stage, turning laps faster than the race leaders while climbing into the top 20 and up to 17th before the first round of green flag pit stops on Lap 41. After returning to the track in 17th, Bayne reported that the handling had shifted toward the tight side. Despite the handling, Bayne took the green and checkered flag to end Stage 1 in 18th.

After pitting between stages for four tires and a chassis adjustment, the Knoxville, Tenn. native began Stage 2 from the 19th position. Bayne maintained his track position throughout the second stage as the handling of the Roush Performance Products Ford continued to get tighter during the long green flag runs. As a result of the handling condition Bayne was shuffled out of the top 20 in the closing laps, ending Stage 2 in 23rd.

The third and final stage began with Bayne again fighting a tight handling condition. However, an opportune caution on Lap 138 gave crew chief Matt Puccia an opportunity to play with some strategy. Puccia called the driver of the Roush Performance Products Ford to pit road as the field took the one to go for the restart on Lap 146 in the hopes that that stop would allow Bayne to make it to the end of the race on fuel.

Bayne returned to the track following the stop in 23rd but methodically worked his way forward following the restart, moving into the top 10 and up to seventh as the race leaders all started to come to pit road for fuel. Then, a caution on Lap 185 halted Puccia’s fuel mileage gameplan but did provide the Roush Fenway Racing crew chief another opportunity to make a strategy call on pit road.

Puccia called Bayne to pit road for right side tires and fuel, sending the 2011 Daytona 500 champion back out in the fifth position. After falling to sixth on the ensuing restart, Bayne maintained his top 10 track position until a caution with five laps remaining set up NASCAR’s version of overtime. Taking the overtime restart from sixth, Bayne utilized a three-wide move going into the first corner to move into third and remained there as the field came for the white flag.

Bayne continued to fight for a top five position on the final lap before taking the checkered flag in the fifth position. The result is Bayne’s best finish of the 2017 season.

RFR PR

Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/SKF team salvaged a 15th-place finish in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway after a mid-race setback knocked them out a chance to contend for the victory.

Even so, Blaney and his Wood Brothers team gained a spot in the championship standings to 12th place. More importantly, a race victory by a previous winner (Kyle Larson) secured Blaney and the Motorcraft team a spot in the playoffs, the 10-race run to the championship that begins after three more races.

For the early portions of Sunday’s 400-miler, Blaney and the No. 21 Fusion showed their usual speed.

Blaney started 12th and was running sixth after just one lap. He maintained that spot until pitting for tires.He was 11th at the end of Stage One.

In Stage Two, Blaney worked his way back to sixth place at the finish and collected five bonus points.

It was the 18th time this season that Blaney has scored stage points, and it ran his total for the season to 164.

In the third and final stage, Blaney restarted fifth but received damage to the right front of the No. 21 Motorcraft/SKF Fusion just after the restart. He made an unscheduled pit stop for repairs, and his team spent the rest of the race working to regain the lost ground.

Blaney received the free pass to rejoin the lead lap and then began running good lap times despite the body damage to his car. His team’s strategy was foiled by a late caution, and they took the wave-around late in the race.

Just when it looked as if the No. 21 team was headed for a finish outside the top 15, Blaney gained five spots on a green-white-checkered-flag run and took the 15th position.
 
“It wasn't too bad,” Blaney said in his post-race comments. “We had a fast car and things just didn't work out. We have fast cars every week and that gives us something to look forward to." 
 
Team co-owner Eddie Wood also took heart in the speed of the No. 21 Fusion.
 
“We had a fast race car early on and had some damage that set us back,” Wood said. “We were honored to have Mr. Edsel Ford II on our pit box again this weekend, and we were hoping to have a better result for him.”

 “But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft team will return to work this Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

WBR PR

Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones finished second and third respectively in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, giving Furniture Row Racing its best double result as a two-car team.

While it was a strong outing for the Denver, Colo.-based team, each driver was in position for the victory when the green flag waved for the final two-lap overtime shootout.

At the time of the final restart, Truex was positioned in first place while Jones was second. But as the drivers hit the throttle Kyle Larson managed to pass the two Furniture Row Racing cars and went on to claim the Pure Michigan 400 victory.

It did appear that Truex and Jones were going to finish 1-2 with both drivers having a safe margin in track position late in the race. But with four laps remaining in the scheduled 200-lap race, a caution was called for a multicar accident, which was then followed by a red flag for track workers to clean up the debris, resulting from the wreck.

“I just tried to do something a little different there with Larson behind me, but when he bumped me I spun the tires,” explained Truex. “The tires just got too cold under that red flag and not enough time to get them warmed up. Our car generally took a few laps all day to get warm, but while we had enough caution laps I could kind of keep heat in the tires. Just spun them a bit and he got a run and there was no way he was going to go around me on the bottom with all that stuff down there and I just went into (turn) one and spun the tires because they were so cold. It’s one of those deals, sometimes these things don’t work out.”

Truex, who led 57 laps in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, added, “We were on cruise control until that last one (caution) and then the red flag is really what hurt us. If we had stayed under yellow we would have been fine, just everything got cold and I couldn’t get enough heat in my tires. It’s part of the deal man, that’s how it goes.”

The good news for Truex, who won last week’s race in Watkins Glen, N.Y., is that he gained in driver points and now has a 129-point margin over second place Larson with three races remaining in the regular season. And thanks to third and first place finishes in the first two stages, Truex earned the most points in the race (52, seven more than race winner Larson).

In 23 races, Truex has four wins, 10 top fives and 16 top 10s. He also has 15 stage wins and has accumulated 35 playoff bonus points.

Jones, the 21-year-old rookie from Byron, Mich., scored his third straight top 10 and eighth of the season. The third place result equaled a season best – he also finished third at Pocono Raceway in June. He is currently 16th in driver points.

After qualifying eighth, Jones was steady all day in his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry. He led twice for five laps and from Lap 134 on, he was positioned in second place for a good portion of that stretch on the 2.0-mile oval.

“Regarding the final restart Jones said, “It wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be (inside lane), but I thought we could get a good enough restart where we could at least battle through (turns) one and two and hopefully make something happen into (turn) three. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, both of us couldn’t get going – Martin was spinning his tires and I was spinning my tires. He got a push from the 42 (Larson) and he passed us both. It’s unfortunate; I thought it was going to be a Furniture Row one-two (finish) either way. Wish the 5-hour ENERGY Camry could have had a shot at it, but it was a good day for us.”

FRR PR

Solid Performance by Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Dow Automotive Magna Team Earns RCR A Seventh-Place Finish at Michigan International Speedway
"We needed that finish. The guys did a good job. This team has come a long, long way in the past couple of weeks. The Dow Automotive Magna Chevrolet was very drivable throughout the race, we just needed a little more speed to really get after it. We had good pit strategy and adjusted the car well. It's been a while since we've had a race car capable of doing something. RCR has been working hard and we need to hit our stride right when we get to the start of the playoffs. Kyle Larson's win officially locked us into the playoffs, taking a little bit of pressure off of our backs now."
- Austin Dillon

Paul Menard's Day Ends Early After Contact Damages Oil Cooler on Dutch Boys / Menards Chevrolet
"We were fighting hard on that late restart to get the free pass and we got caught up with Michael McDowell off Turn 2. I was able to drive the Dutch Boy / Menards Chevrolet back to Matt Borland and the crew, but the damage to the nose knocked the oil cooler back and we had to push it back to the garage. I hate it for our team, and for all of our Dutch Boy guests here today who have shown us so much support throughout this entire season." 
- Paul Menard

Strong Restart and Pit Strategy Lead to Fourth-Place Finish for Ryan Newman and No. 31 VELVEETA Shells & Cheese Chevy
"We definitely didn't have the best race car at the beginning of the race and had to work on it during our pit stops through Stage 1 and 2. Luke (Lambert, crew chief) put together a really great strategy by staying out late and hoping for a caution during the final stage. We got a little lucky, had a heck of a pit stop and a strong restart. Sometimes that's how these races unfold. We're super happy with a top-five finish but we feel that we've got some work to do to make our race cars faster. The good news is we have a few more races before the playoffs begin to get it right."

- Ryan Newman
 

RCR PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

Kurt Busch started 15th, finished 15th.

Busch jolted his Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion to the 12th position before noting grip issues on lap three.

On lap 42, he pitted for four fresh tires and fuel.

When the green-flag pit stops cycled through, Busch was left in the 13th position.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

Started 15th, finished 15th.

At the beginning of Stage 2, Busch continued to battle front and rear grip issues.

On lap 107, crew chief Tony Gibson called Busch to the pits for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments to correct loose-handling conditions.

At the conclusion of Stage 2, Busch pitted for four more tires and fuel.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):

Started 18th, finished 11th.

After a lap-139 caution, Busch restarted in the 10th position.

Busch ran as high as third place in the final stage.

On lap 173 Busch pitted for two tires, fuel and wedge adjustments under green-flag conditions.

Following a lap-196 red-flag caution, Busch restarted from the 17th position and battled his Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion just outside the top-10.

 

Notes:

This was Busch’s 34th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan and his 599th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 28 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 39 drivers in the Pure Michigan 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Larson won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was .310 of a second.

● Truex leads the championship standings with 933 points and a 129-point advantage over his nearest pursuer, Larson.

 

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We were solid today, but we didn’t do anything right, and we didn’t do anything wrong. We’ll pull together and work hard for next week in Bristol.”

 

TSC PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

Danica Patrick started 18th and finished 25th.

● The No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion team lost ground on the initial start and dropped back to 25th. Patrick was able to get back up to 23rd before green-flag stops started at lap 38.

● Patrick said the car felt like it was out of the track. The team elected to take right-side tires and fuel when the they pitted at lap 43.

● Patrick went a lap down to the leader at lap 59 but was awarded the free pass when the caution flag waved at the end of the stage, which put her back on the lead lap heading into Stage 2.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

Started 23rd and finished 20th.

● Crew chief Billy Scott called for a two-tire stop at lap 106, and Patrick raced her way up to the 20th position before the end of the stage.

● The No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment between stages.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):

Started 20th and finished 22nd.

● Patrick was scored in the 23rd position when the caution flag waved at lap 139. A piece of debris from an accident hit the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford, so Scott called Patrick to pit road twice under caution for tires, fuel and repairs to the racecar.

● On lap 165 the team pitted under green for a fuel-only stop. When the caution flag waved at lap 186 for debris, Patrick was scored 20th, one lap down, as some teams had yet to pit. The No. 10 team took the wave-around to get back on the lead lap.

● When the caution flag waved at lap 196, Scott called Patrick down pit road for tires and fuel. She lined up 21st for the final restart and took the checkered flag in the 22nd position.

 

Notes:              

● This was Patrick’s 10th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan and her 177th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

● Patrick earned 15 points in Sunday’s race, which puts her at 340 points so far this season. She is ranked 28th in the driver point standings.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 28 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 39 drivers in the Pure Michigan 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Larson won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan International Speedway. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was .310 of a second.

● Truex leads the championship standings with 933 points and has a 129-point margin over his nearest pursuer, Larson.

 

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We just weren’t as good as we needed to be today. Then the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford was just too loose there at the end, and we weren’t able to make up any ground on that last restart.”

 

TSC PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

Kevin Harvickstarted third, finished second and earned nine bonus points.

The Busch Light Ford Fusion raced up to the second position immediately following the drop of the green flag.

Harvick came to pit road on lap 43 for four tires and fuel.

The No. 4 teamcame to pit road for two tires and fuel at the conclusion of Stage 1 and came off pit road in the third position.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

Started third, finished third and earned eight bonus points.

Harvick reported the two-tire stop caused the car to handle too tight at the beginning of Stage 2.

The Busch Light Ford gave up the third position on lap 110 to come to pit road for four tires and fuel.

Stayed out at the conclusion of Stage 2 to maintain the third position.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-202):

Started third, finished 13th.

The Busch Light Ford came to pit road while racing in the sixth position for four tires, fuel and air pressure and wedge adjustments to correct a loose-handling condition. The stop caused him to fall a lap down to several cars that didn’t pit on the same strategy.

Harvick remained a lap down to the leaders until taking the wave-around under caution on lap 189.

The No. 4 Ford restarted 17th on the lead lap on lap 190 but continued to battle a loose-handling condition.

The team came to pit road a final time on lap 197 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment.

Harvick raced from the 19th position to 13th in the final, three-lap dash to the checkered flag.

 

Notes:

● Harvick finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points and third in Stage 2 to earn an additional eight bonus points.

● The race featured 14 lead changes among seven drivers.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 28 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 39 drivers in the Pure Michigan 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Larson won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was .310 of a second.

● Truex leads the championship standings with 933 points and has a 129-point margin over his nearest pursuer, Larson.

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We were just terrible loose when the sun came out, and then the strategy just went the wrong way, and we wound up a lap down.”

 

TSC PR