Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13610)

Kyle Busch remembers the day well. It was Aug. 21, 2011, and with just four top-10 finishes in 13 previous starts in his career at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, he found himself outdueling now seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson for the win in a late-race shootout at the 2-mile oval.

But, during the offseason that followed, the heavily worn Michigan racing surface was repaved because of the toll wreaked by harsh Upper Midwest winters, and that repave added a tremendous amount of grip that wears less on tires. In the eight races since, Busch has five finishes outside the top-30, but also one top-five in June 2013.

During this weekend’s semiannual stopover in the Irish Hills for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 Cup Series race, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) looks to benefit from the same approach he used the last three seasons on the similarly repaved Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. 

Busch and his M&M’S team started from a blank sheet of paper and raced strongly at times at Kansas, starting with the 2014 spring race there. Anyone who has ever followed Busch knows he has never been into moral victories. However, the team overcame its past issues and Busch posted back-to-back top-five finishes in October 2014 and the fall race of 2015 while missing the spring 2015 race due to injury. And, in May 2016, Busch turned his moral victory from two years prior into an actual victory, the first of his Cup Series career at the 1.5-mile Kansas oval. In fact, Busch is now on a streak of five top-five finishes in a row at Kansas, the kind of streak Busch would like to start with Sunday’s race at the 2-mile Michigan oval.

As the M&M’S Red, White, and Blue team has struggled on Michigan’s newly paved asphalt the last four seasons, Busch will look to approach this weekend much like the No. 18 team did recently at Kansas. On newer surfaces, grip level is greatly increased, which makes the speeds faster than usual. But, the racing groove remains narrower than usual as the track continues to take Goodyear tire rubber more quickly. Eventually, the groove will widen and competitors will have more options for three- and four-wide racing. That could happen this weekend as another Michigan winter has had its way with the repaved surface. In the meantime, sound tire and fuel strategy will be the keys to making sure this trip to the Automobile State is a successful one.

Like he did Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and last weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Busch will again sport a special Red, White and Blue M&M’S Camry promoting M&M’S partnership with Operation Gratitude and Walmart. For a limited time, fans can buy the Red, White and Blue M&M’S exclusively at Walmart. M&M’S candies were created 75 years ago as rations for America’s troops. During this summer’s promotion, for every bag purchased by a consumer, one bag will be sent to troops abroad. Fans can also show their support on social media with #SayThanksWithM or at www.Walmart.com/SayThanksWithM.

So, as Busch and the M&M’s Red, White, and Blue team head to the Midwest this weekend, they hope to benefit from the same approach they used on other repaved tracks to try and get a grip on the 2-mile Michigan oval. The ultimate goal will be a second career Cup Series victory for Busch in the Irish Hills of Michigan.

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Race strategy is critical every race but nowhere more so than Pocono Raceway where Erik Jones and his No. 77 GameStop/Cars 3: Driven to Win Toyota team earned a NASCAR Cup Series career-best third-place finish in the Pocono 400.

Crew chief Chris Gayle’s decision to make a full fuel run in the first 50-lap segment, while the majority of the field pitted early, played out nearly perfect at the conclusion of the 160-lap race on the 2.5-mile triangular track. The strong run was Jones’ first top-five and third top-10 finish of his rookie season.

The Furniture Row Racing driver jumped two positions, to 16th, in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 14 races. In a tie with Ryan Newman, Jones is three points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for 15th place and 47 behind Clint Bowyer for 10th.

“Just happy, happy that the GameStop team finally got a finish that we deserved,” said Jones. “We ran top-five most of the day, had good strategy and it worked out. The last restart played out right into our hands. It’s exciting we had a fast race car. Wish we had a little bit faster one and then we could have gone up there and raced for it, but definitely a good day for our Furniture Row Racing team. It’s just gratifying.”

Jones started from the inside of Row 8 after a somewhat disappointing qualifying session Friday afternoon found him just the 15th fastest of the 39-car field. He picked up a few positions early before Gayle’s strategy began paying dividends as the leaders started pitting after just 15 laps.

The No. 77 Toyota Camry took the lead on Lap 18 and kept it for 17 circuits before dropping to second. Gayle called his driver to pit road just a few laps shy of the 50-lap first stage and Jones finished it in 13th place.

The second stage found Jones leading three more laps (57-59) and keeping pace in the top 10. A red flag toward the end of the segment forced a one-lap dash which Jones capitalized on by finishing sixth to earn five valuable championship points.

Gayle stuck to his strategy and the Furniture Row Racing pit crew performed admirably throughout the contest. Though the strategy was somewhat against the stream of his competitors, it paid great dividends in the final 60-lap stage.

The day’s fourth and final caution, on Lap 142, allowed Jones to hit pit road for fresh tires and fuel. Gayle’s call for right-side tires only and the crew’s precision effort picked up six positions on pit road and allowed Jones to restart on the inside of Row 2 for the final 13-lap dash to the checkered flag.

In the closing laps, Jones was third while eventual race winner Ryan Blaney and runner-up Kevin Harvick dueled for the lead.

Jones was in perfect position in the event one or both drivers got into trouble, which was about the only thing during the race that didn’t play out in the No. 77 team’s favor.

“I was hoping they were going to get side-by-side like the 21 (Ryan Blaney) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) did and we were able to close that up on them and have a shot,” Jones continued. “I could never quite get up there. I was busy holding off the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and 41 (Kurt Busch).

With Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. and No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress team finishing sixth, the Pocono 400 was the second time this season that both drivers finished in the top 10 in the same race.

FRR PR

Martin Truex Jr. overcame a number of issues to finish sixth in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.

“No matter how many problems we faced, the bottom line is that we fought to the end and had a shot of winning this race,” said Truex, who retained his lead in the driver standings, one point ahead of Kyle Larson and 104 points ahead of third-place Kevin Harvick.

The Pocono Raceway weekend didn’t start off the way Truex had hoped for with his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota. His first practice on Friday was cut short due to a power-steering issue. However, the team rebounded later in the day with a second- place qualifying effort.

But on Saturday after a sub-par practice in race trim, the Denver, Colo.-based team was forced to change engines and pay the penalty of starting the 160-lap, 400-mile race from the rear of the field.

“We not only put in a new engine, we basically changed everything in the car,” said Truex.

Whatever the No. 78 team did appeared to work as Truex patiently charged through the field at the 2.5-mile triangular track and found himself running up front with a third-place finish in the second stage.

While teams were on different pit sequences, Truex was running second when the final caution came out on Lap 142. He pitted for four tires and a splash of fuel. With some teams not pitting, Truex was hoping to restart fourth in the preferred outside lane. But eventual race winner Ryan Blaney just beat him off pit road and took the outside lane while Truex restarted fifth in the inside lane.

“No question, the outside lane is where we wanted to be,” said Truex. “We never got going on the final restart and our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota got a little tight there at the end. Congratulations to Ryan (Blaney) for winning his first career Cup race.”

Truex added, “It was a tough day, a tough weekend, but we battled hard after having to start at the back due to an engine change after Saturday’s practice. This team never quits and we put ourselves in contention for the win. I am proud of the way we came back after the problems we experienced.”

It was the fourth straight top-10 finish for Truex and his 10th top 10 after the first 14 races of the season.

Following Ryan Blaney to the checkered flag were: Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Truex, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth.

The race had four cautions for 18 laps and was red flagged once for 23 minutes. There were 13 lead changes among nine drivers.

FRR PR

Ryan Blaney’s victory in Sunday’s 400-miler at Pocono Raceway will likely go down in NASCAR history as one for the ages, and for all ages.

It was the first Cup victory for the 23-year-old driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion and the 99th for his Wood Brothers team.

The combination of Blaney, one of the sport’s future superstars, and the Wood Brothers, the sport’s oldest continuously competing team, produced a victory that was popular with the sport’s older fans and with its younger, newer ones.

The reaction from the NASCAR world was swift and loud. The crowd at Pocono cheered wildly when Blaney surged past an aggressively blocking Kyle Busch to take the lead with 10 laps remaining then cheered even more as he held off the veteran Kevin Harvick over the final eight laps to secure the Woods’ first victory since Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in 2011 aboard the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion.
 
Immediately after the race, congratulations to the Woods and to Blaney began appearing on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. They came from competitors and drivers from other manufacturers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Erik Jones and Chase Elliott. Similar congratulatory messages were posted from fellow Ford drivers like Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

IN the winners’ post-race interview session, team co-owner Eddie Wood pointed out that the victory, and the strong performance of the No. 21 team all season, wouldn’t be possible without the support of Motorcraft and Quick Lane and the alliance with Team Penske.

“Given our alliance with Team Penske that is second to none, that just really makes a big difference,” Wood said. “Jeremy [Bullins] came over to be a crew chief, and it just all worked out.
 
“Blaney is on his way now. He outran two guys today that are champions. They're at the top of their game, and to outrun them to win a race here, at one of the toughest tracks that we go to, I'm really, really proud of him.
 
“He’s here. He's arrived now.”
 
Besides the positive impact on the future of the sport that likely will come from Blaney’s victory, there also were elements of Sunday’s victory that reminded Wood Brothers fans of the glory days of yesteryear.
 
Among the reminders were radio issues for much of the race that caused the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team to resort to old-school communication methods like hand signals between driver and crew. Blaney could hear the crew, but the crew couldn’t hear him.
 
“It was just like us going back to the old days with no radios,” Wood said. “We used to have a piece of gray tape on the dash that would have roof loose, door push, and that's what you went by. It just kind of took me back, and then right there at the end, the way [Blaney] was trying to get away from Harvick and dropping down to the inside like that, Neil Bonnett did that in 1980 here, and went on to win the race.
 
“It was just like I had flashbacks. It was really cool.”
 
Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, now in good position to claim a spot in the 10-race, season-ending playoffs, return to Michigan International Speedway, home track of Ford Motor Company.
 
For the FireKeepers Casino 400, the iconic No. 21 will carry the colors of Omnicraft, Ford’s newest, all-makes, all-models parts brand.

WBR PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):

Kurt Busch started fifth, finished seventh. Earned four bonus points.

Quickly moved to fourth at the start of Stage 1.

Made a green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and adjustments on lap 16 to correct a tight-handling condition.

After several cars in front of Busch made green-flag pit stops, he was able to drive his Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion back into the top-10.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):

Started 12th, finished eighth. Earned three bonus points.

Car became loose after adjustments made at the conclusion of Stage 1.

On lap 66, Busch pitted under green-flag conditions for four tires and fuel.

After a red-flag period, Busch battled his way to an eighth-place finish on a one-lap shootout that ended the stage.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-160):

Started 15th, finished fourth.

Busch drove his Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford into the top-four at the beginning of the final stage.

On lap 125, Busch made a green-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel. He came off pit road in 17th.

In only four laps, Busch battled his way back into the top-10.

With 17 laps to go, Busch took his last pit stop under caution for four tires and fuel.

Busch restarted in the seventh position and moved through the field to secure his second top-five finish of 2017.

Notes:

● Busch came into the Axalta presents the Pocono 400 as the defending race winner.

● Busch’s fourth-place finish was his 14th top-five and 19th top-10 in 32 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Pocono. It was his second top-five and seventh top-10 of 2017.

Twenty-four of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

There were 13 lead changes among nine drivers.

● There were four caution periods for a total of 18 laps.

● Ryan Blaney won the Axalta presents the Pocono 400 to score his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Kevin Harvick was .139 of a second.

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

“It was warm and we battled really hard today and had a nice, consistent run. I just didn’t have any special speed, but we ran good lap times, so I’m really proud of our Haas Automation/Monster Energy guys. It’s great to see a Ford in victory lane, so congratulations to the Wood Brothers. To see Ryan Blaney win – he’s going to be a superstar in this sport. He’s a good kid. I’m going to keep pushing hard, though. We’re chiseling away at this and we’re going to get in good position.”

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Furniture Row Racing showed its mettle Sunday at Pocono Raceway with determined performances from its two drivers – rookie Erik Jones and veteran Martin Truex Jr.

Jones notched a career best third-place finish and Truex put on a gritty showing by coming from the rear of the field to post a sixth-place result.

This was the second time that both Furniture Row Racing drivers finished in the top 10 in the same race this season.

Jones, who led 20 circuits in the 160-lap race, was a steady top-10 and top-five performer on the slick 2.5-mile triangular track. In a race that saw a number of pit strategies, Jones’ No. 77 GameStop Cars 3 Driven to Win Toyota team had its unique strategy that paid off in the end with Jones pocketing his first top-five result
in the NASCAR Cup Series.

“Just happy, happy that we finally got a finish that we deserved,” said Jones. “We ran top-five most of the day, had good strategy and it worked out. The last restart played out right into our hands. It’s exciting we had a fast race car. Wish we had a little bit faster one and then we could have gone up there and raced for it, but definitely a good day for us. It’s just gratifying.”

Jones is tied for 16th in driver points with Ryan Newman, and is the leader in Rookie of the Year points.

Truex’s 10th top-10 finish of the season was anything but a walk in the park for the Mayetta, N.J. native. He had to overcome issues as soon as he hit the track for the first practice session on Friday. A power-steering problem cut his practice short, but the team came back later in the day to qualifying second.

But after Saturday’s sub-par practice session, the team changed engines and instead of starting on the outside pole Truex was sent to the rear of the field. He kept gaining positions but twice before the first stage was completed (50 laps) he had to drop back because of paper that got stuck on his car’s grille.

Truex eventually put his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota in contention with a third-place finish in the second stage. He also led five laps during his resurgence to the front.

But on the final restart after a Lap 142 caution Truex came out of the pits fifth. He was hoping for fourth so he could restart on the preferred outside lane. But Ryan Blaney, who went on to win the race, just beat the No. 78 car off of pit road and took the outside lane.

“It was a tough day, but we battled hard after having to start at the back due to an engine change after Saturday’s practice,” said Truex. “This team never quits, fought right to the end and did have a shot of winning this thing. But when the race restarted for the final time we weren’t in the preferred outside lane.

“We wanted to be fourth instead of fifth and have the outside lane. But (Ryan) Blaney got that spot by just beating us off pit road. Overall we had to overcome a number of issues, but in the end we found ourselves once again in contention with our No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota.”

The good news for Truex is that he remains the points leader, a one-point margin over second place Kyle Larson and 104 points ahead of third-place Kevin Harvick.

Following Ryan Blaney to the checkered flag were: Kevin Harvick, Jones, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Truex, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth.

The race had four cautions for 18 laps and was red flagged once for 23 minutes. There were 13 lead changes among nine drivers.

The next NASCAR Cup Series race is Sunday June 18 at Michigan International Speedway.

FRR PR

After having to start at the rear of the field due to an unapproved adjustment post tech, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Little Hug Fruit Barrels Ford to a career best 11th-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Pocono Raceway. 

“I’m really proud of my team,” Stenhouse said. “We struggled all weekend with the handling of our car so to leave Pocono with an 11th – place finish is a true testament of the strength of our team. Our focus this year is to be consistent. We definitely learned some things for next time.”

After battling a loose machine in Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, the two-time XFINITY champion was supposed to line up in the 23rd position, but an unapproved adjustment per NASCAR sent the Little Hug Fruit Barrels Ford to the rear of the field.

Stenhouse picked up 10 positions in the first 10 laps of the 160-lap race and was scored 10th by lap 18 due to differing pit strategies in stage 1. After stalling his Ford leaving the pit box, Stenhouse was forced to settle with a 25th place finish at the end of stage one.

With long green flag runs and different pit strategies, the Olive Branch, Miss. was scored in the 24th position when the final yellow flag waved. With track position being crucial, crew chief Brian Pattie called Stenhouse to pit-road for two tires picking up 15 positions on pit-road for the final 13-lap shootout.

After restarting eighth for final laps, Stenhouse maintained his top-10 position before giving up one spot in the final laps to settle with an 11th-place finish; his career best at the ‘Tricky Triangle’.

RFR PR

Ryan Blaney passed former champion Kyle Busch with nine laps to go and held off former champion Kevin Harvick to capture his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this afternoon on Pocono Raceway’s Tricky Triangle behind the wheel of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion.

Blaney and his determined Wood Brothers Racing teammates, celebrating their 99th career win, overcame a loose wheel after their first pit stop and a lack of two-way radio communications throughout the day to get the Woods’ historic No. 21 into Victory Lane for the first time since the 2011 Daytona 500.

The second-year driver and the 18th to win for Wood Brothers Racing talked about dueling with Busch and Harvick in the final 10 laps of the Axalta Presents the Pocono 400.

 “Kyle stayed out and he was on a little bit older tires and it looked like he was getting pretty tight, especially off of one and that’s where new tires really seemed to come alive because you could hold the line and get runs on him, downshift and get next to him,” Blaney said after climbing out of his classic red-and-white racer. “I had a big run on him off of three and he did a good job blocking, and we were able to get under him, but then I had to hold the 4 off.  He was super-fast. I can’t thank Kevin enough for racing me clean. That was really cool of him, but it was definitely hectic. Hopefully the fans liked it. It was really cool.”

How did he manage to hold off the hard-charging Harvick?

“Just not mess up,” Blaney said. “He was a little bit better than us all day and then we obviously had clean air, which is king at a lot of places, especially here, and he was able to get to us but not get a run on us. We kind of stalled him out and I just had to hit our marks and not mess up. That was the biggest thing was to hold the line. If I could do that, I knew I had a good shot at holding him off.  That’s what kind of went through my mind.”

The win clinches a berth in the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs for Blaney, who started the weekend 13th in the driver standings.

“I think it exceeds the dream a little bit,” Blaney said of his first Cup victory. “I grew up watching my dad race on this race track and it’s so cool to get the Wood Brothers in Victory Lane, number one, and to do it here at a race track that is really close to Ohio – a home to me – is pretty awesome.”

The win is the third for Motorcraft during its long association with the Wood Brothers.

“All of us at Ford Customer Service Division congratulate Ryan on his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory today at Pocono,” said Brett Wheatley, executive director of North America, Ford Customer Service Division. “We couldn’t be more excited that this milestone moment in his career came while behind the wheel of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane.  

“We’ve known for a long time that Ryan is a NASCAR star on the rise and we’re sure this is the first of many trips to Victory Circle that Ryan will make during a long and successful career,” Wheatley continued. “We also congratulate Wood Brothers Racing on its 99th career victory. Our association with NASCAR’s most historic team has been fruitful both on and off the track and we look forward to celebrating many more wins in the future.”

Also celebrating Blaney’s win at Pocono are the fans who were in attendance at Sharon Speedway in Ohio last night. As part of its sponsorship of the dirt track’s Fan Appreciation Night, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing offered fans a free “The Works” oil change package at participating Ford or Lincoln dealership or Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center should Blaney win today in Pocono.

The next stop on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit is Michigan International Speedway the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday, June 18, at 3 p.m. on FS1. Ford’s newest, all-makes, all-models parts brand, Omnicraft, will be the primary sponsor at MIS.

Ford Performance PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):

Danica Patrick started 24th and finished 20th.

● The No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion team gained ground at the drop of the green flag, and Patrick cracked the top-20 at lap 15.

● Crew chief Billy Scott called Patrick to pit road at lap 24 for a scheduled, green-flag stop. The team changed tires and added fuel.

● Patrick was scored as high as second during the cycle of green-flag pit stops and closed out the stage in the 20th position.

● At the end of Stage 1, the team pitted for tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):

Started 20th and finished 16th.

● Patrick noted a vibration midway through the stage. The team pitted for tires and fuel at lap 87.

● She was scored in the 20th position after the caution flag waved at lap 95. The red flag was displayed so that safety workers could clean up the track, stopping action for 23 minutes and 25 seconds.

● The field went back to green-flag racing at lap 99, and Patrick ended Stage 2 scored 16th.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-160):

Started fifth and finished 16th.

● Scott had Patrick stay out between stages as a part of the team’s race strategy, which put the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford fifth when the field took the green flag at lap 105.

● Patrick only lost a handful of positions to teams with newer tires before Scott called her to pit road for tires and fuel at lap 125.

● She was scored in the 15th position when the caution flag waved at lap 141 and the team elected to pit for tires and fuel. Patrick took the green flag in the 16th spot at lap 147.

● After losing a couple of spots on the initial start, Patrick was able to make up ground in the final laps to finish 16th.

Notes:              

● Patrick’s 16th-place result in Sunday’s race tied her career-best finish at Pocono. She previously earned the mark in August 2015.

● Patrick scored her fourth top-20 finish of 2017.

● Patrick earned 21 points in Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway, which puts her at 175 total points for the season thus far. She is ranked 30th in the driver point standings.

● There were four caution periods for a total of 18 laps.

● A total of 24 drivers in the 39-car field finished on the lead lap.

● Ryan Blaney won the Axalta presents the Pocono 400 to score his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“All in all, it was a clean day for the Aspen Dental Ford team. We didn’t make any mistakes at all and ended up with a solid finish. I wish we’d had more grip there at the end, but overall it was a good day for our team.”

TSC PR

Race Winner: Ryan Blaney of Wood Brothers Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):

Kevin Harvickstarted 12th, finished second and scored nine bonus points.

Made a green-flag pit stop while racing in the fourth position on lap 16 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.

Raced his way up to the second position by lap 36.

Came to pit road for four tires and fuel at the conclusion of Stage 1.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):

Started fourth, finished fourth and scored seven bonus points.

Made a green-flag pit stop while racing in the fifth position on lap 68 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.

Restarted second for a one-lap shootout following a 23-minute red-flag period on lap 98.

Came to pit road for four tires and fuel at the conclusion of Stage 2.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-160):

Started 17th, finished second.

Made a green-flag pit stop while racing in the sixth position on lap 125 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.

Pitted from the fourth position under caution on lap 143 for four tires and fuel.

Restarted sixth on lap 146 and battled for the race win in the closing laps.

Notes:

●  Harvick scored his fifth top-five finish of 2017.

●  Harvick scored his ninth top-five finish in 33 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Pocono.

●  There were four caution periods for a total of 18 laps.

●  Twenty-four drivers finished on the lead lap.

●  Ryan Blaney’s win in the Pocono 400 is his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.

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

“The guys did a great job. I’m really proud of the engine shop. I don’t know how the engine didn’t blow up with the third to second shift. Obviously the durability is good enough in the engines to do that. But we had a really fast car. Seemed like the caution came out there at the end of that second stage, and then we got back behind. I think we were 23rd when we restarted, and got back up towards the front and had another caution, and got almost all the way back towards the front. But I had a tough time driving in the corner all day. We never could stop like we needed to all weekend, so you just had to be really careful with the brakes. If I’d over drive it for a lap or two the pedal would start going down, and then I was really at a deficit. So I had to be very aware of where I let off every lap.”

TSC PR

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Ford EcoBoost Ford Fusion, finished 21st in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon.

“We just kept getting tighter throughout the day,” said Bayne after the race. “We made adjustments all day long but our Ford Fusion was still tight on the exit of the corners. But I want to thank my guys on this team for their effort this weekend. We’ll regroup and get after it next week in Jack’s (Roush) backyard in Michigan.”

Bayne took the green flag for the 160-Lap event from the 22nd position after advancing to the second round of knockout qualifying on Friday evening. A wide variety of pit strategy dominated Stage 1 as several teams chose to hit pit road as soon as the fuel window opened in the hopes of making it to the end of the stage. Opting to stay out for as long as possible, Bayne got up to as high as the second position before pitting under green on Lap 23 for four tires and a chassis adjustment. The Roush Fenway Racing driver returned to the track in 28th but drove up to 23rd by the completion of the stage on Lap 50.

Stage 2 began with the Knoxville, Tenn. native fighting a tight-handling condition on the exit of all three of Pocono’s unique corners. Despite the handling condition, Bayne improved six positions to 18th before coming to pit road during another round of green flag pit stops on Lap 68. After returning to the track in 26th, the Roush Fenway driver raced up to 17th before the caution came out with just five laps remaining in the second stage. Crew chief Matt Puccia decided to take this opportunity to call Bayne to pit road before the end of the stage for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of gaining track position.

The strategy call paid off as Bayne took the green flag for the final stage in the eighth position as several of the race leaders had to pit at the end of Stage 2. Despite restarting in the top 10, the tight-handling condition returned for Bayne and shuffled the Roush Fenway driver back 14th before another round of green flag pit stops occurred on Lap 124. Bayne returned to the track in 22nd following the pit stop as a number of the race leaders used various pit strategies once again during the long green flag run.

Bayne maintained his track position until a caution with 20 laps remaining provided another opportunity to adjust the Ford EcoBoost Ford. Bayne took the ensuing restart from 18th but immediately reported to Puccia that he was again very tight on the exit of the corner. This tight-handling condition ultimately shuffled Bayne back in the closing laps, and in the end, Bayne took the checkered flag in the 21st position.

RFR PR