Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14596)

Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced today Chris Gayle will assume the role of crew chief for the No. 20 Toyota Camry team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with driver Erik Jones starting with the 2018 season. 

“I’m very excited to work with Erik again in 2018 and continue to build on our rookie season of 2017,” said Gayle. “I think the lessons we learned together this year will be invaluable to us next season. I’m also very excited to be coming back to JGR and work with all the great people and familiar faces in that organization.”

Chris Gayle returns to JGR following a one-year tenure at Furniture Row Racing where he led Jones in his Rookie Season campaign. Heading in to this weekend’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the pair have accumulated five top-five finishes, 14 top-10 finishes and earned one pole. The duos best run this season came at the August race at Bristol Motor Speedway where Jones won the pole and led 260 laps before finishing second behind Kyle Busch. With a strong run this season, Jones enters the weekend leading the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by 14 points over Toyota teammate, Daniel Suarez.

“While we still have one more shot this weekend to close out the year with a win for Furniture Row Racing in the No. 77 Camry, I’m really excited about what’s to come next year moving back to JGR full time in the Cup Series and to have Chris Gayle with me as my crew chief,” said Jones. “Chris and I have come a long way in my rookie season and his rookie season as a crew chief in the Cup Series. We’ve learned a lot together and built a good relationship that I think will only continue to grow as we both move back to JGR and continue fighting for wins and championships.”

Prior to joining Furniture Row Racing for the 2017 season, Gayle served as a crew chief for JGR in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for four years working with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Elliott Sadler, Jones and others following a successful career as a race engineer for JGR. During his four years as a crew chief in the NXS, Gayle earned 20 wins, including one with Jones at Chicagoland Speedway in 2015, 52 top-five finishes, 91 top-10 finishes and 17 pole starting positions.


The Motor Sports Group will be honoring two Gold Star Families this weekend at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway by displaying the Honor and Remember flag personalized with their hero’s names.

The family of CWO Kyle Jackson on Saturday and the family of SSG Marc Scialdo on Sunday will experience a behind the scenes NASCAR adventure including a special flag presentation and personal meet and greet with Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the No. 33 car.

“We are truly humbled by Joe Falk’s willingness to help us to continue to embrace our nation’s fallen families,” states George Lutz, founder of Honor and Remember, whose son George Anthony Lutz II was killed by a sniper’s bullet while on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2005.  “Joe's commitment to our mission of national remembrance will enable us to tangibly bring additional healing to many grieving families across our nation.”

The Ford EcoBoost Series will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway on both Sat/Sun, November 17/18.  Fans can keep up with the action on Twitter by following at @JoeFalk33, @CSMTG3330 via the organization’s the web at


On Aug. 25, 2011, Danica Patrick caused a stir when she announced she would be leaving the open-wheel world to make a full-time run in the NASCAR ranks. A little more than two months later, she joined Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team owner Tony Stewart to unveil the schedule for a 10-race effort she would run the following season with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team.


Patrick made her first official NASCAR Cup Series start in February 2012 in the 54th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.


The Kannapolis-based SHR team would expand from a two-car operation to field a third full-time NASCAR Cup Series entry with Patrick and, in the years since she completed her first laps in a NASCAR Cup Series car, Patrick has made history with the No. 10 team.


Patrick became the first woman to win a NASCAR Cup Series pole when she set the fastest time in qualifying for the 2013 Daytona 500. 


She then became the first female to lead NASCAR’s most prestigious race when she held the point for laps 90 and 91, and laps 127 to 129. 


Patrick became the first woman to lead a NASCAR race under green in that 2013 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Janet Guthrie led five laps under yellow in 1977 at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway.


After earning the pole and leading laps, Patrick finished the 2013 Daytona 500 in eighth place, the highest finishing position ever for a woman in the “Great American Race.”


In 2013, Patrick competed in every NASCAR Cup Series race and became the first female driver to complete an entire season in the series. 


Patrick has made the most starts of any female in NASCAR Cup Series competition and, last weekend, she became the first female in NASCAR history to make 250 combined starts in the three NASCAR national series. 


With seven top-10 finishes to her credit, Patrick holds the record for the most top-10 finishes by a female in NASCAR Cup Series competition. 


Sunday, Patrick will make her 190th NASCAR Cup Series start in the No. 10 entry for SHR. The Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will mark her last race in the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion with SHR. After five seasons together and one pole award, 64 laps led, seven top-10s, 21 top-15s and 65 top-20 finishes, this chapter of history comes to a close for Patrick and SHR.



This weekend, Aric Almirola will make his final start for Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM).  Almirola has been the full-time driver of the No. 43 since 2012.  He made five starts for the team prior to 2012.

Almirola enters the Homestead-Miami Speedway with 243 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts.  Of those, 213 have been with RPM.  He has the most starts for the organization that started in 2009.  

The highlight of the tenure is Almirola's win in the 2014 Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway.  A storybook win, Almirola took the checkered 30 years after "The King" Richard Petty celebrated his 200th win at Daytona.

The win also brought the No. 43 back to victory lane for the first time since 1999.  The trophy and a letter from Almirola to Petty about the win sit in the Petty Museum today.

The 2014 season was the second time that RPM competed in NASCAR's playoffs.  An engine failure at Chicaogland derailed the breakout season for Almirola and the team.

Almirola won his first pole with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2012 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  His success also includes 11 Top-Five and 31 Top-10 finishes for the organization.

"It's been a great time racing for Richard Petty Motorsports," said Almirola. "Richard and the Petty family gave me the opportunity to get into Cup racing full-time, and I appreciate that.  I wish them nothing but the best."

"Aric always did everything we asked him to do," said Petty.  "He brought the '43' back to Victory Lane for us, and that was just as special for me as it was for him.  We really thank him for everything he has done."

Furniture Row Racing’s Erik Jones is focused on closing out his successful NASCAR Cup Series rookie season in the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota on a high note in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The 21-year-old from Byron, Mich., has earned five top-five and 14 top-10 finishes after 35 races in his rookie campaign, including a fourth-place finish last Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. Jones is 18th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with 847 points after 35 races, trailing Joey Logano for 17th place by 47 points (894) and ahead of Clint Bowyer in 19th by two points (845) and Daniel Suarez in 20th place by 73 points (774).

“The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team has come a long way this season so I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” said Jones. “We ran well and had top-10 finishes the past two weeks at Texas and Phoenix so our goal is to finish out the season with another strong run at Homestead.”

In three starts on Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval, Jones has earned one top-five (third in the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series) and two other top-10 finishes (sixth in the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ninth in the 2016 XFINITY Series). He also has qualified third, fifth, and seventh in those three races. He was crowned the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion there in 2015 and came up just short in last year’s NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.

“I have good memories from Homestead despite not being able to win the XFINITY Series championship last season,” said Jones. “Winning the Truck Series championship there in 2015 was a very special time. Getting our first Cup Series win and possibly winning rookie-of-the-year honors would be a great way to wrap this year up.”

Jones leads the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 269 points, 14 ahead of Suarez (255) and 77 ahead of Ty Dillon (192).

The 267-lap, 400-mile Ford EcoBoost 400 will consist of three stages of 80/80/107 laps (80/160/267). Sunday’s race will air live beginning at 12:30 p.m. MT (2:30 p.m. ET) on NBC, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and MRN. Qualifying (multi-car, three rounds) is scheduled for Friday at 4:15 a.m. MT (6:15 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and MRN.


he partnership between Team Penske and Fitzgerald Glider Kits will continue to grow in 2018, as the team announced today that Fitzgerald will become the primary sponsor on the championship-winning No. 22 Ford Mustang for the majority of next season’s NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) races.

Fitzgerald Glider Kits, North America’s leading truck glider kit assembler, will be the primary sponsor of Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford for 16 races beginning next season, including the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and both series races at Bristol Motor Speedway, the home track for the Tennessee-based company. Fitzgerald will also be an associate sponsor on the car for the balance of the 2018 NXS season.

As part of the enhanced agreement with Fitzgerald Glider Kits, a Team Penske partner since 2016, Fitzgerald will also serve as the primary sponsor for the team’s No. 12 Ford Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Bristol in August of 2018. Fitzgerald will also continue as an associate sponsor in the Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) with a presence on the No. 1 Chevrolet driven by defending series champion Josef Newgarden throughout next season.

“Team Penske continues to grow its relationship with Fitzgerald Glider Kits and we welcome the company’s increased role as a sponsor with the No. 22 Ford Mustang team in 2018,” said Roger Penske. “We work closely with Fitzgerald in our trucking business and the company has certainly made the most of its partnership with our race teams across different platforms since it joined Team Penske in 2016. We look to continue to build the Fitzgerald Glider Kits brand as we move to the next level next season.”

Team Penske and Fitzgerald first teamed up when the company became a sponsor of the No. 22 NXS Ford Mustang in 2016. This season, the Tennessee-based company not only was a partner on the No. 22 team, but it also enhanced its relationship with Team Penske as it became a primary sponsor of the No. 2 Ford Fusion driven by Brad Keselowski for two Cup Series races and sponsored both Josef Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoya in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In addition, Fitzgerald was a sponsor with Keselowski’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team at Brad Keselowski Racing this season.

Keselowski, Newgarden, and Blaney all won races driving Fitzgerald colored cars during 2017.

“Working with Roger and Team Penske has been a real privilege over the past few years,” said Fitzgerald founder Tommy Fitzgerald Sr.  “I truly appreciate the all the new friendships we’ve built and the time that the team took to get to know our company and to understand the goals of our brand. Becoming a primary sponsor with Team Penske was a natural fit for the Fitzgerald Companies. The opportunity to display our colors on the hauler and the race car will give us a great tie into the transportation side of racing, which means maximum exposure in our industry.  Seeing our company logo in the winner’s circle provides a feeling of pride unlike anything we have done as a family and as a company. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with Team Penske by growing our commitment to the No. 22 NASCAR XFINITY Series program.”

Team Penske’s No. 22 NXS team has been one of the most successful in racing over the last several years. The No. 22 won the series Driver’s Championship with Keselowski in 2010 before capturing three-consecutive Owner’s titles from 2013-2015. The team is one of the final Championship 4 teams eligible for the Owners’ Championship this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang will make its 2018 debut in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, February 17.

Team Penske PR

Ford Championship Weekend will be bittersweet for Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Ford EcoBoost 400 as the final race of the three-season Wood-Blaney partnership provides the bitter while the sweet is a celebration of a very successful 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign.

Blaney’s first career win, his two poles and his deep NASCAR Playoffs run is plenty to celebrate. As is the Wood Brothers’ best season since 1995 when Morgan Shepherd drove the iconic No. 21 to sixth in the driver standings.

There is, however, one goal left to accomplish – getting the Woods their 100th NASCAR premier series win.

A top-10 qualifier in his first two runs at Homestead, Blaney needs to stay out of trouble early in the race to improve on his previous results at the track to have a chance at his second career win and the Woods’ landmark 100th.

In 2015, Blaney started sixth but had a bad re-start on worn tires after the event’s first caution period that sent him back to 31st. He battled back to finish 17th.

Last season he started eighth, had an early race brush with the wall that caused a flat tire, lost a lap and finished 26th.

Ford Performance PR

Cassill on Homestead

"I really enjoy Homestead. The tire fall-off is tremendous, and the cars get really loose on the long run. I tested the wheel force car there, which was beneficial because I’d never tested at Homestead before. Hoping it can help our Love's Travel Stops/Roller Bites team when we go back.

"It’s always a bittersweet race to go to because it always feels like the last day of school. But with the way the final four racing for the championship has shaken out, and knowing how Homestead always races, it's sure to be an exciting race. Fans will want to pack the stands for this one."


It seems like just yesterday that Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500. But alas, just 35 races have come and gone and now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is coming to an end at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has one win, six top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 2017 but would love to add one more to each of those totals.


At Homestead, he has two poles, one win, four top-five finishes and six top-10s. Additionally, the 39-year-old driver has led 97 laps, has an average starting position of 13.9, an average finish of 18.1, and has completed 88.6 percent (3,789 of 4,278) of the laps he’s contested there.


And he’s one of the few drivers who competed on the previous version of the oval, banked at just six degrees in the turns, to the current banking of 18 to 20 degrees. He competed on the previous version three times from 2000 to 2002, while driving on the new version since 2003.


Busch has also won a Cup Series championship at the track in 2004.


He went into that weekend with an 18-point lead in the standings. He started on the pole and, needing only to finish ahead of four drivers – Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin – Busch was able to run with the leaders for the first 90 laps until, as he was coming to pit road, the right-front wheel broke off his racecar. He miraculously missed hitting the outside pit wall by less than a foot, then was able to make his way to his pit stall and remain on the lead lap despite the setback.


From there, Busch, who was driving a Ford, moved forward through the caution-filled race and, while his two closest championship rivals Johnson and Gordon took second and third place, respectively, Busch’s fifth-place finish – his 21st top-10 of the year – was enough to win during the first year of a playoff-style championship format.


Two years prior to scoring the championship at Homestead, Busch celebrated his lone victory there while his current teammate and car co-owner Tony Stewart celebrated winning the first of his three Cup Series championships on the frontstretch. Busch led the first 10 laps, passed Ryan Newman on lap 256, and held onto the lead in the 267-lap season finale, bringing home his fourth victory of the 2002 season.


Both Busch and veteran crew chief Tony Gibson are hoping they can put together another successful weekend. 



The Ryan Blaney chapter in Wood Brothers history comes to a close this weekend with the running of the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Beginning next season, Blaney and crew chief Jeremy Bullins will return to Team Penske, and the iconic No. 21 Fusion will be driven by Paul Menard, with Greg Erwin serving as crew chief.

The three “Blaney Years” have seen a resurgence in performance for NASCAR’s oldest continuously operating race team.

Blaney and the Woods ran the 2015 season on a limited schedule of 16 races then returned to full-time in 2016.

 Their 2017 season has been a break-out year with a win at Pocono Raceway, poles and Kansas Speedway and Phoenix Raceway, four Stage wins and a nine-week run in the Monster Energy Cup playoffs.
The team heads into the Ford Championship Weekend eighth in the points standings, just 10 points behind seventh-place Matt Kenseth.
All told, Blaney and the No. 21 Motocraft/Quick Lane team, taking advantage of their technical alliance with Team Penske, have run 87 races together, with eight top-five and 25 top-10 finishes, 49 lead-lap finishes and 317 laps led.
They’ve achieved several milestones for the Woods, including the team’s 99th Cup victory, at Pocono in June, its 118th pole, last week at Phoenix and its 1,500th Cup start, in September at Richmond Raceway.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said it’s been a rewarding three-year run that started as a one-year deal and grew into two more.
“The initial expectations of everyone was Ryan was going to go back to Team Penske wherever they were ready,” Wood said. “We’re fortunate enough to keep him a couple of extra years.”

 In many ways, the Woods will keep Blaney around forever.

 “Just like everyone else who has ever driven for us, Ryan will always be a part of our Wood Brothers family,” Wood said.

 Indeed, Blaney’s image is displayed on the team’s wall of winners in the Wood Brothers Museum in Stuart, Va., and his name will be prominently displayed for posterity along with the all-star line-up of drivers who have won races and poles for the Woods.

 From Blaney’s perspective, he said earlier this year that he feels fortunate to have been a part of Wood Brothers history, as well as that of Team Penske.

 “I’ve been really lucky to drive for two great teams and get to know some great families and great people along the way,” he said in a press conference announcing his move to a third car at Team Penske. “Growing up in the sport, I looked up to teams like the Wood Brothers and the Penske organization. To drive for them is definitely something that I would always want to do as a kid.
“It’s really nice to be able to be in a spot to do that.”
Blaney said in his post-race comments at Phoenix that he’ll give it his best shot in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead even though he won’t be among the four drivers competing for the Cup title.
“It’s a shame we’re not racing for the championship, but we can still try to win the race,” he said.
Qualifying for the Ford EcoBoost 400 is set for Friday at 6:15 p.m., and the race is scheduled to start just after 2:30 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBC.


Kevin Harvick is heading into the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway as a member of the Championship 4 for the third time in the last four years. And 2017 has similarities to 2014, when Harvick won the title in his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).


Just as Harvick started from scratch in 2014 with a brand new race team at SHR after spending his 13 previous seasons with Richard Childress Racing, he started from scratch in 2017 after SHR switched to Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Company.


Instead of assembling team members, pit boxes and equipment the way it did in 2014, SHR had to start building its own chassis while learning new tools and programs to familiarize itself with a different racecar and the Ford FR9 EFI powerplant built by Roush Yates Engines.


The No. 4 Jimmy John’s team got off to a fast start in just the second race of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where it displayed a dominant performance that made the transition to Ford look easy. Harvick led four times for a race-high 292 of 325 laps, but a late-race miscue resulted in a ninth-place finish. Juxtapose that run with the one Harvick put forth in the second race of 2014 at Phoenix Raceway, where he led four times a race-high 224 of 312 laps and scored his first victory as a member of SHR.


In 2017, the team experienced teething issues through most of the month of March before recording its first top-five finish of the season April 9 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. In 2014, the No. 4 team also overcame an early season struggle during which it finished 36th or worse in four of five races from Las Vegas Motor Speedway to Texas before hitting its stride in April with a win in the prestigious Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.


As the NASCAR playoffs got underway in 2017, Harvick and the No. 4 team kicked off the effort with a third-place finish at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. The result at Chicagoland inspired confidence in the No. 4 team that it could indeed compete for the 2017 title.


Since the start of the 2017 playoffs, Harvick has scored a series-best 212 points at 1.5-mile racetracks with one win and an average finish of 3.8. He beat Martin Truex Jr. in the most recent 1.5-mile race Nov. 5 at Texas to secure his position in the Championship 4.


In 2014, the No. 4 Jimmy John’s team also had the ability to peak when it mattered most. In the final three races of the 2014 season, Harvick scored a second-place finish at Texas before winning the final two races of the season at Phoenix and Homestead.


While Harvick and the No. 4 team are unable to match the number of wins and laps led from their 2014 effort, their 13 top-five finishes is one short of their 2014 total, and their 22 top-five finishes is two better than what they earned in 2014.


Augmenting those numbers are the ones Harvick has put up at Homestead since joining SHR. He has one win, one pole and three top-three finishes with series bests of 124 points earned, 179 laps led and an average finish of 2.0.


If Harvick and the No. 4 team can claim the top prize Sunday night in the Ford EcoBoost 400, they would be the first to do so with a new manufacturer since Cale Yarborough did it driving the No. 11 Busch Beer machine in 1978. Harvick is also attempting to claim Ford’s first NASCAR Cup Series championship since SHR teammate Kurt Busch hoisted the Cup in 2004 while a member of Roush Fenway Racing.


What makes Harvick’s history in the playoffs even more impressive is his series-best seven wins in NASCAR Cup Series playoff races since 2014. No team and driver have performed better in must-win situations since 2014, and this Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 is the ultimate must-win situation with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title on the line.