Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14369)

Back in the day, when the Wood Brothers were en route to winning five races at Talladega Superspeedway from 1971 to 1980, horsepower, some slick sheet metal and a calculating driver were the most important factors in team’s performance.

But when the green flag drops Sunday to start the Alabama 500 at Talladega, Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Fusion will need all of the above, plus some Quick Lane-type service on pit road if they hope to score stage points, contend for victory and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said it’s fitting that the iconic No. 21 will carry the blue-and-white colors of Quick Lane this weekend at Talladega.

 “Pit stops are so important these days,” Wood said. “In the old days at Talladega you could have a slow stop and draft your way back to the front.

 “But with the way restrictor-plate races play out now and with so many cars running essentially the same speed, if you have a slow stop, you’re in danger of getting lapped or ending up with such poor track position that you can’t contend for stage points or a victory.”
Wood said the crew of the No. 21 Fusion has been among the fastest and most reliable on pit road all seasons, usually gaining spots on every pit stop and doing so with a minimum of mistakes.

 “That’s the same philosophy Ford dealers have with their Quick Lane service,” Wood said. “We hope the work of our pit crew will have the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” effect for Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center dealers as they compete for customers looking for service for their automobiles.”
There’s another reason Quick Lane has taken the primary sponsorship position this weekend.
The team and Quick Lane are promoting the company’s “Trading One Uniform For Another” scholarship program for military veterans who want to pursue careers as automotive technicians.
Now in its second year, the program offers five $10,000 scholarships to veterans who want to enter private life as service technicians.

 Anyone can nominate a veteran for the scholarship program by visiting
The five winners will be announced on Dec. 26 at the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.
Wood said the motoring public needs good mechanics just as much as a NASCAR race team.
 “It takes a high level of maintenance and preparation to get a race car to withstand the punishment of a 500-mile race,” Wood said. “And even the best-built passenger cars benefit from the services of a well-trained mechanic.
“I can’t think of any better candidate for a career as a mechanic than someone who has been serving their country in the Armed Forces.”

Qualifying for the Alabama 500 is set for Saturday at 3:15 p.m. Central Time (4:15 Eastern) and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. (2 p.m. Eastern) with TV coverage on NBC.

Ford Performance PR

Justin Marks will pilot the No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. Golden Corral is the primary sponsor, along with Katerra, as an associate, for Sunday's Alabama 500.  

Golden Corral, the family-friendly buffet chain is known for their endless buffet with a variety of familiar favorites and new menu offerings. Golden Corral has been actively involved in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since 2011. As primary sponsor for the weekend, Golden Corral will again activate their Top 10 Kids Eat Free Promotion.  If Marks finishes in the Top 10, "Kids Eat Free" on Monday, October 16, with the purchase of an adult buffet at Golden Corral restaurants across the country.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of such an awesome race as the Alabama 500,” said Marks. “Monster Energy Cup Series racing is special and any opportunity to race is a big deal. Tommy and his team have a solid and proven track record this year on the superspeedways with the Golden Corral Chevy. I'm looking forward to working with this group and having a productive weekend and racing for a Top 10, so kids can eat free on Monday.”

“We’re excited to cheer on Justin on Sunday as he races for a Top 10 Kids Eat Free finish,” said Shelley Wolford, Vice President of National Marketing and Media at Golden Corral.

Be sure to tune into NBC on Sunday October 15th at 2:00p to catch all the action at Talladega Superspeedway. For more information on Golden Corral visit their website at


Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is looking for his third consecutive restrictor-plate victory and a season sweep at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) returns to the famed 2.66-mile oval. Stenhouse, who earned his first career victory this past May at Talladega, also went to victory lane in July at Daytona International Speedway. A win this weekend would secure the Roush Fenway Racing driver a position in the 2017 MENCS Playoffs Round of 8.

“I’m definitely looking forward to Talladega this weekend,” Stenhouse said. “Last Talladega was really special for me. Talladega is considered my home track so it meant a lot to me to have my dad and friends there to help celebrate my first Cup win. Jimmy Fennig has done an amazing job with our superspeedway program and our success this year is a testament to all of his hard work.

“It would be nice to be able to get our SunnyD Ford back in victory lane and secure a spot in the next round, but, if not, I think it’s a race track that we could still gain a lot of points.  Nothing is guaranteed when you go there.  I’ve been crashed out of them just as easy as finishing well, but I definitely think our entire team is excited about getting back to Talladega.”

In May, the Olive Branch, Miss. native’s dramatic come-from-behind win from the pole at Talladega, marked Roush Fenway’s record-extending 324th win in NASCAR’s three premiere series.

The Alabama 500 will be televised on October 15, 2017 on NBC at 2 p.m. ET. Race coverage can also be heard on Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SIRIUS Channel 90.


NBC Sports Group surrounds the second race of the Round of 12 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, with more than 11 hours of trackside coverage this weekend from Talladega Superspeedway, in Lincoln, Ala. Live race coverage from NASCAR’s biggest and baddest track begins this Sunday, October. 15, at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

During Sunday’s race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will don NASCAR on NBC’s helmet visor camera, and provide viewers live in-car coverage as he attempts to take home his seventh victory at Talladega Superspeedway.

Following a thrilling overtime win last Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota have advanced to the Round of 8 and lead the Cup Series playoff field with 3,106 points. Kyle Larson (3,072 points), Kevin Harvick (3,069), Chase Elliott (3,059) and Denny Hamlin (3,056) round out the Top 5, followed by Kyle Busch (3,055), Jimmie Johnson (3,051) and Jamie McMurray (3,044). Matt Kenseth (3,043), Brad Keselowski (3,042), Ryan Blaney (3,039) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3,034) currently stand below the cutline. Stenhouse Jr. earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series win at Talladega this past May.

In addition to live television coverage on NBCSN, and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs – will provide comprehensive streaming coverage of this weekend’s NASCAR action.


NBC Sports Group kicks off its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series coverage from Talladega Superspeedway this Friday at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN with first practice, followed by final practice at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. NASCAR America wraps up on-site coverage at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Saturday’s coverage includes qualifying at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Sunday’s race day coverage begins with NASCAR America at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN, and continues with Countdown to Green at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Pre-race coverage includes a special feature with three-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart.

NASCAR Cup Series racing begins at 2 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage wraps up at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, with Victory Lap, NBC Sports Group’s NASCAR post-race show.

NBC Sports Group’s lead race announcer Rick Allen (@Rickallenracing) will call this weekend’s Monster Energy action, alongside Daytona 500 winning crew chief Steve Letarte (@steveletarte), and “The Mayor” of NASCAR Jeff Burton (@Jeffburton).

Krista Voda (@KristaVoda) will host pre- and post-race coverage alongside auto racing icon Kyle Petty (@Kylepetty), and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett (@DaleJarrett). Marty Snider (@HeyMartysnider), Kelli Stavast (@Kellistavast) and Dave Burns (@tvdaveburns) will report from pit road, alongside features reporter Rutledge Wood (@rutledgewood).


Tonight at 5 p.m. ET, Danica Patrick will join NASCAR America host Krista Voda, as well as analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte, live from the NASCAR Hall of Fame, in Charlotte, N.C.

Patrick will discuss her final season with Stewart-Haas Racing, her plans for 2018, and her numerous career aspirations and ventures outside of NASCAR. As part of NBCSN’s comprehensive coverage of the 2017 NASCAR season, NASCAR America will present a live show each week from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Each live episode will include an in-depth interview with an active driver, and highlight their journey to professional racing.


During Monday evening’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR on NBCSN analyst Steve Letarte shared the following comments about Jimmie Johnson not being penalized for being outside the pit box during his pit stop on Lap 280 of this past Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Letarte: “Words on paper are very different than a call in a race. By the rule, the No. 48 should not have been penalized. I questioned it during yesterday’s broadcast simply because it failed the eye test. My bigger issue is Chad Knaus was crystal clear, he understood what the rule was. His competitor Cole Pearn, who I consider to be a very smart crew chief, thought it was going to be a penalty.”

The full conversation is available here.


NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton joins Nate Ryan (@nateryan) on this week’s NASCAR on NBC podcast. Burton candidly discusses last weekend’s Cup Series playoff race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and shares his thoughts on how NASCAR has been enforcing rules and penalties this season.

The NASCAR on NBC podcast is available on NASCAR Talk, Apple Podcasts, AudioBoom, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher and podcasting apps. For more info click here.


Wednesday, October 11 NASCAR America 5:00 PM NBCSN
Thursday, October 12 NASCAR America 5:00 PM NBCSN
  NASCAR Whelen Series 6:00 PM NBCSN
Friday, October 13 NASCAR Cup Series First Practice – Talladega 1:00 PM NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Final Practice – Talladega 3:00 PM NBCSN
  NASCAR America 5:00 PM NBCSN
Saturday, October 14 NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – Talladega 4:00 PM NBCSN
Sunday, October 15 NASCAR America 1:00 PM NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Countdown to Green 1:30 PM NBC
  NASCAR Cup Series Racing – Talladega 2:00 PM NBC
  NASCAR Cup Series Post-Race Show 6:00 PM NBCSN
  Victory Lap 6:30 PM NBCSN



In 2017, NBC Sports Group will present the final 20 NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series events and select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events.

NBC Sports Group’s NASCAR programming also includes NBCSN’s daily motorsports show NASCAR America, coverage of NASCAR’s Awards Ceremonies, the annual NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as well as original programming specials. NBC Sports Group concluded the 2016 NASCAR season presenting more hours of trackside coverage and programming than ever before.

“Crazy, fast and risky.” That’s how Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing, describes restrictor-plate racing at tracks like Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will compete in Sunday’s Alabama 500.


Talladega has long been considered somewhat of a wild-card event, where a driver’s fate is not entirely in his or her own hands. It is one of only two racetracks on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit where restrictor plates are used. A restrictor plate is a device installed at the air intake of an engine to limit its power in an effort to reduce speeds, increase safety and help provide an equal level of competition. The horsepower-restricted engines require drivers to draft together, side-by-side, at speeds approaching 200 mph.


As a result, superspeedway events often produce crazy, fast and unpredictable racing.


“It’s super easy to drive around the track flat-out by yourself – it’s not difficult at all,” Patrick said. “When you put all of the other cars around you, it’s not necessarily about how the car feels on the track, although that can be an issue, for sure, at times. It’s more about what everyone else is doing around you. You’re constantly looking at what’s happening in front of you. You’re also looking at what’s behind you. Probably more important than what’s happening in front of you is what’s happening behind you – who’s coming, who’s following you, who’s helping you move forward.”


All of that jostling and jockeying around for position at speeds near 200 mph can lead to the seemingly inevitable “big one” – a multicar accident that typically eliminates multitudes of drivers from the event. This type of racing leaves teams wondering what it will take to survive the “big one” and make it to victory lane at the end of the day.


Patrick has set records at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway – the other restrictor-plate superspeedway on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule – but she’s yet to find the same level of success at Talladega. With 10 prior NASCAR Cup Series starts at the track, her career-best finish is a 19th-place result she earned in October 2014.


In May, after running as high as seventh, a late-race, 18-car accident relegated Patrick to a 38th-place finish. Last year, another late-race accident left her with a 24th-place result in May and, when the series returned to the track in October, she finished 20th.


As the NASCAR Cup Series returns to Talladega this weekend, Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team will be prepared for a crazy race as they look to survive the “big one” and go for the win on Sunday.



"As Furniture Row Racing looks ahead to the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season, the Denver, Colo. based team is not planning to field the No. 77 Toyota as a second car entry. It is our organization's goal to operate a two-car team in the future and we will continue to seek sponsorship funding for the No. 77. Our 100 percent focus for next season will be on the No 78 Toyota Camry, which will be driven by Martin Truex Jr.”'


As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the high banks of Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the Alabama 500, the second race in the Round of 12 in the 2017 playoffs, Kevin Harvick will be in the great outdoors hunting for a win to secure his second win of the season and lock in his position for the Round of 8.


Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will feature a special-edition Busch Light outdoors paint scheme with iconic Realtree camouflage, blaze orange accents and a Busch Light trophy can giving a nod to the beer brand’s seasonal Great Outdoors packaging.


Busch Beer and Realtree come together to form a natural collaboration, as both brands have deep roots in outdoor pursuits. Given the overlaps between Busch Beer and Realtree, including established relationships with Harvick and SHR, it makes sense for the brands to team up at Talladega.


Busch’s Great Outdoors campaign runs through Nov. 20, with specially marked packs of Busch Beer and Busch Light featuring the new Great Outdoors look, introducing bold colors, wildlife and the brand’s iconic stream. The promotion features 30,000 golden trophy cans to be placed randomly nationwide, allowing lucky consumers to enter the Great Outdoors sweepstakes for a chance to win weekly prizes or the grand prize – a trip to Big Cedar Lodge with professional angler Kevin VanDam.


Busch Beer fans can also check out the collaboration on, where consumers can redeem points for Busch Beer and Realtree co-branded gear. The program is simple – register at, purchase eligible products and collect points by snapping a picture of the receipt and uploading it to Redeem points for Busch-themed prizes ranging in point values, from apparel, coolers and tents, to scrap metal from Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Fusion. Race fans can head to for more details.


While consumers can win by enjoying a cold, crisp and refreshing Busch Light, Harvick will be trying to score his own prize Sunday afternoon at Talladega. A win would automatically secure his position in the Round of 8 in his pursuit of the ultimate NASCAR prize – the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series trophy.


The Bakersfield, California native had a fast start in the Round of 12, securing two stage wins and a third-place race finish last weekend at Charlotte to provide a 26-point advantage over the ninth-place driver with two races remaining in the round.


Harvick has shown speed at the superspeedway races in 2017 – especially on qualifying day, where he has started sixth or better in the three restrictor-plate events on the season. While speed has been on his side, luck, on the other hand, has eluded the No. 4 team on race day, with a top restrictor-plate finish on the year of 22nd in the season-opening Daytona 500.


The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion’s lone Cup Series win at Talladega Superspeedway came in April 2010, when he started fourth and beat runner-up Jamie McMurray by .011 of a second – the 15th-closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history.


Hopefully, with the help of Busch Beer and Realtree, Harvick can stalk his competitors in the closing laps and secure what may be one of the season’s most difficult trophies to capture.



Stage racing, instituted by NASCAR officials at the beginning of the season to inject drama into the early portions of races, has had a major impact on how race teams plan strategy.

For drivers and teams in the Round of 12 in the playoffs, this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway could see stage racing take on even greater importance.

In years past, some teams often chose to ride around in the rear of the pack at Talladega, hoping to avoid being collected in one of the points-killing, multi-car crashes that seem to occur on a frequent basis at the giant Alabama track.

Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion, pointed out in an interview session at Martinsville Speedway that there will be no riding around early on for him and his fellow playoff contenders.
“It really hurts you when you don’t get any of those points, so I think a lot of teams are going go out there and be pretty aggressive at Talladega, trying to get some stage points,” Blaney said.

“I know we’re going have to be aggressive because you can take a big swing in the points if you can do well or if you do bad at them.”
For most of the 2017 season, Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have been successful in running up stage points. He’s scored those bonus points in 22 races for a total of 175 points.

 “You have to start off these races so good to try to run up there and collect those points,” Blaney said. “We’ve done that. We know how to do it.”
Blaney enters Sunday’s Alabama 500 11th in the championship standings but just five points behind eighth place, and the top eight will advance to the next playoff round after the Oct. 22 race at Kansas Speedway. He’s hopeful that the speeds shown by Ford in recent restrictor-plate races will continue this weekend.
Ford drivers have won all three restrictor-plate races this season and seven of the past 10 races at Talladega including the past four straight. Blaney has had restrictor-plate success as well, finishing second in the season-opening Daytona 500.
“The Fords have been really fast this year at the speedways,” he said. “They’ve won every single one of them this year, so that’s pretty encouraging to know.  
“We’ve always had a great speedway program – Ford in general – so I think that’s a huge testament to not only the teams at getting the cars ready, but that’s a huge statement for Roush Yates. They’ve done a great job of getting the motors to where we need to be on the speedways, so that’s always nice to know.”
What’s not nice to know is the possibility of being swept up in one of the multi-car crashes that seem to happen regularly in the giant packs of cars that are an inevitable part of restrictor-plate racing.
“You just try the best you can to try to position yourself to where you don’t have to try to avoid anything, but you never know what can happen,” he said. “I don’t really think about even the second-place run at Daytona. I don’t really even think about that one because it’s a whole different game.  
“You can never really go in there with a game plan. You do the best you can, but everything changes when the green flag drops.”
Qualifying for the Alabama 500 is set for Saturday at 3:15 p.m. Central Time (4:15 Eastern) and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. (2 p.m. Eastern) with TV coverage on NBC.


Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Infraction Date Track Team Level Infraction Penalty
10/8/2017 (post-race inspection) Charlotte No. 19 Safety Sections Tires and Wheels
Note: Lug nut(s) not properly installed.
Crew chief (Scott Graves) has been fined $10,000.
Infraction Date Track Team Level Infraction Penalty
10/7/2017 (post-race inspection) Charlotte No. 19 L1 Sections Post-Race Front Body
Inspection Heights
Note: Race finish is encumbered per Section
12.10 Encumbered Race Finishes. Post-race height measurements were outside NASCAR allowed tolerances.
Crew chief (Matthew Beckman) has been fined $10,000 and suspended from the next NASCAR XFINITY Series points race. Team assessed with the loss of 10 driver points and 10
owner points.
10/7/2017 (post-race inspection) Charlotte No. 11 L1 Sections Post-Race Front Body
Inspection Heights
Note: Race finish is encumbered per Section
12.10 Encumbered Race Finishes. Post-race height measurements were outside NASCAR allowed tolerances.
Crew chief (Chris Rice) has been fined $10,000 and suspended from the next NASCAR XFINITY Series points race. Team assessed with the loss of 10 driver points and 10
owner points.
NASCAR Penalty
Infraction Date Track Team/Member Level Infraction Penalty
10/9/2017 N/A Dennis O'Connor, crew member Behavioral
Sections 12.1; 19 Indefinite suspension from NASCAR
NASCAR Reinstatement
Date Track Team/Member Level Infraction Penalty
10/11/2017 N/A Reid T. Ferguson, crew member N/A N/A Mr. Ferguson has successfully completed NASCAR's Road to
Recovery Program and his NASCAR suspension has been lifted.


Expect Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers Racing Team to make their strongest case for advancement in the NASCAR Playoffs during the next two weekends, beginning this Sunday in the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Talladega and Kansas, the next two stops on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tour, are among the team’s best tracks in recent years. Strong finishes will be needed with the No. 21 currently five points below the Round 2 cutoff.

When not involved in big wrecks at Talladega, Blaney has piloted the Wood Brothers’ iconic No. 21 to finishes of 11th, ninth and fourth. A win, of course, is the ultimate goal, which would give Blaney an automatic transfer to Round 3 of the Playoffs and hand the Wood Brothers their 100th NASCAR premier series victory.

This weekend, the Wood Brothers Racing Ford Fusion will be in its striking blue-and-orange Quick Lane livery. Once again the paint scheme features the Trading One Uniform for Another (TOUFA) logo on the rear quarter panel. TOUFA is the automotive technician scholarship program, developed jointly by Quick Lane and DAV, in which five military veterans receive $10,000 scholarships to pursue a careers as mechanics. Anyone can nominate a veteran by visiting


On the Intensity of the NASCAR Playoffs:

“Yeah, it’s intense, for sure. From lap one, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. (It’s) supposed to be ‘on-go’ from the drop of the green flag. There shouldn't be any riding around. I’m not saying that we do that during the regular season, but there is a lot more give in the regular season and there’s not a lot of that in the postseason and that’s good. That’s how it should be and that’s how I like racing. Intensity is high but that’s what we race for. I like it.”

On Talladega Superspeedway:

“We’re gonna try to run up front and win.”

“There’s confidence because we run pretty decent there. We’ve had some good runs at the speedways, but you never know. We’ve had great runs at Talladega and we got KO’d in the race earlier this year and got knocked-out. You just never know what can happen. It’s just circumstance and chance unless you are just dominant and can lead the whole race. I’ve seen a couple do that in

the past handful of years. But even then I’ve seen them fall back and get wrecked. There’s not a lot of comfort that you can bring to that race. Just know that you run decent that and our car is pretty fast.

Hopefully you can make the right move and decisions and have a little bit of luck on your side. That comes into play on those tracks, unfortunately. There’s confidence but not a lot of comfort.”

Ford Performance PR

Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Michael McDowell look to capitalize on past superspeedway success at Talladega Superspeedway’s Alabama 500.

During the team’s last trip to Talladega, McDowell was caught up in “The Big One”, forcing him to earn his only DNF (Did Not Finish) in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season. Up until the wreck, McDowell was running solid times and qualified in the Top-25 in the spring race.

Superspeedways are often opportunities for success for LFR, as their last trip to one resulted in a 4th place finish and a last lap shot at a win at Daytona International Speedway in July of this year.

“Talladega is another shot for us to try to go win a race,” said McDowell. “We are so good at Daytona, another superspeedway, where we were running in the Top-5, had a shot at winning the race, made the wrong move on the last lap, and we were still able to finish 4th. We have a great superspeedway program. I am very comfortable and confident at those places. Talladega has been a little more hit or miss for us. Hopefully this weekend we can get positioned up front and miss the big one.”

K-LOVE Radio, a longtime partner of McDowell and LFR, will be returning as a primary sponsor for the final time this season at Talladega Superspeedway. LFR is thrilled to have K-LOVE’s black and blue colors don their No. 95 Chevy one last time during the 2017 MENCS season.

The Alabama 500 will take place on Sunday, October 15 at 2PM ET. Race fans can tune-in to NBC for live race coverage and keep up with LFR by following @LFR95 on Twitter.