Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13610)

Another weekend of disappointment occurred this weekend at Pocono Raceway for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.


The weekend started on the wrong foot for Earnhardt, Jr. in the opening practice session of the weekend. Earnhardt, Jr. had to start at the rear of the field due to an engine change before qualifying. The rev limiter on the engine turned 12,615 RPM. The engine rev limiter was supposed to run at 9,500 RPM.


On Saturday, Earnhardt Jr. and his team were not impressed with their practice speed According to Twitter, the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team sat down after practice and worked on some adjustments, but needed to make substantial gains.


On Lap 57 in the race, Earnhardt Jr. radioed to his team that the shifter was not natural to him this weekend.


“Just something in my motion, I mean there really isn’t anything different.  The shifter is not different, the handle is not different, the location, everything is the same.  I don’t know. It’s something about my motion that’s not... going in the wrong gear.  I wish I could blame it on something else, because this is awful, it feels awful,” said a dejected Earnhardt Jr. “The car was fast.  We drove up into the top 15 there running great lap times. Really, really happy with the car.  Wasn’t really running that hard backing up the corners big time and just cruising forward, really happy.  It’s just my fault.”


Missing the shifter raises some concerns for Earnhardt, Jr. because he has to return to Pocono and still has to deal with the road courses.


“This really concerns me coming back here and the road courses you know.  But, we haven’t had any problems all year long, but at places where we do a lot of shifting I don’t know what is going on, what I’ve got to do or why this is really happening out of nowhere,” said Earnhardt, Jr.


“I don’t know… we don’t really have an answer to it other than me just having to pay more attention, but I mean I’ve been doing this all my life and this isn’t a common issue, but it has been this weekend.”


Earnhardt, Jr. finished the race in the 38th position.

Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team led the way for Ford Motor Company in Cup qualifying at Pocono Raceway, earning the fourth starting position for Sunday’s Pocono 400.

It was the sixth time in 14 races this season that Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have qualified in the top five.

The No. 21 Fusion once again was fast off the truck as Blaney posted the seventh-fastest speed in the opening practice session with a best lap of 175.613 miles per hour.

Then in qualifying, he was 10th fastest in the first round with a speed of 176. 391 mph and third fastest in Round Two with a lap at 178.295 mph.

Then in the third and final round he ran a lap at 177.897 mph to earn the fourth starting position and post the best time of the five Ford drivers who made the final round.

Blaney told reporters afterward that he probably lost a little speed in the Tunnel Turn on his final run but not much.
“I don’t know that we could have run a pole speed, but I thought we made good changes each round and we got better and better,” he said. “I know the last round was a little bit slower, but that was me just missing the tunnel a little bit.  
“That’s such a hard turn to do, especially in [qualifying trim] because you’re going so fast, but, overall, good speed by our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford.”
Blaney said he’s pleased with the weekend so far and is optimistic about his chances in Sunday’s 400-mile race.
“I think in race trim we were fairly decent,” he said. “We can see the front from there, and we’ve only got a few spots to go, so we’ll see how Sunday goes.”
The Pocono 400 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FS1.


Kyle Busch will start from the pole in Sunday’s  Axalta Presents the Pocono 400 from Pocono Raceway. This is Busch’s second pole in a row in 2017 and his 21st career pole. This was Busch’s third pole from Pocono.


The car was really good,” Busch said. It’s showed good speed since we unloaded here. It’s going to be a tricky race at the tricky triangle as it heats up throughout the weekend.”


Martin Truex, Jr. will start second, Matt Kenseth will start third, Ryan Blaney will start fourth, and Kurt Busch round out the top-five.



The first round of qualifying saw Kyle Larson go to the top of the board at 178.625 mph. Ky. Busch was second fastest at 178.056 mph. Kevin Harvick was third fastest at 177.285 mph. Joey Logano was fourth fastest at 177.176 mph. Keselowski rounded out the top-five at a speed of 176.796 mph. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified 28th, but will start at the rear of the field due to changing his engine in the only practice session of the day. Notable drivers who did not advance to the second round include Chase Elliott (P25), Kasey Kahne (P26), and Ty Dillon (P27). There will be no drivers sent home as 39 drivers arrived at Pocono.


The second round saw Ky. Busch at the top of the board at 178.483 mph. Logano was second fastest at 178.313 mph. Blaney was third fastest at 178.295 mph. Kenseth was fourth fastest at 178.087 mph. Harvick rounded out the top-five with a speed of 178.006 mph. Notable drivers who did not advance to the final round include Daniel Suarez (P14), Austin Dillon (P17), Denny Hamlin (P18), Jimmie Johnson (P19), Clint Bowyer (p20), and Danica Patrick (P24)


In the final round, Ky. Busch posted a speed of 179.151 mph. Truex Jr. posted the second fastest speed at 178.543 mph. Kenseth posted the third fastest speed at 178.108 mph. Blaney posted the fourth fastest speed at 177.897 mph. Kurt Busch posted the fifth fastest speed at 177.799. Keselowski, Larson, Jamie McMurray, Logano, and Ryan Newman round out the top-10.


Teams will have only one practice session on Saturday beginning at 11:30 a.m. EDT to prepare for Sunday’s race that will go green shortly after 3:00 p.m. EDT. Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network will have practice and race coverage.

Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation continued its support of the nation's military by adding to the fundraising efforts for a new Fisher House to be built in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The first annual Huntsman Shootout was held Thursday at The Huntsman Hunt Club in Dryden, Michigan - Keselowski's home state. 
Fisher House Foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans' families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. The Ann Arbor facility will benefit families of veterans that are in the care of the local VA hospital near the University of Michigan campus.
"What a phenomenal day we had at The Huntsman Shootout to benefit the building of a Fisher House in Ann Arbor," Keselowski said. "When the Checkered Flag Foundation (CFF) began looking for a new partner to continue to benefit our nation's veterans, we were lucky to have been led to the great people at the Fisher House Foundation. They put .93 cents of every dollar raised back into the foundation and are rated as an A+ charity. This is the most-successful fundraiser conducted by the CFF since its inception in 2010, and knowing that most of the money raised is going directly to the building of the Ann Arbor house is very humbling."
Over 125 guests took part in several events at the beautiful facility, including sporting clays, skeet shooting, archery, dog demonstrations and off-road driving in Ford F-150 and Ford Raptor trucks. In addition to Keselowski, Team Penske drivers Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney also competed in the various activities to provide a unique experience. University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh was also in attendance to lend his support and rounded out a star-studded day.  
Unique items and one-of-a kind experiences were available during the live and silent auctions throughout the day, featuring:
  • A helmet signed by all 33 drivers that participated in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016
  • VIP trip to the 2018 Masters golf tournament
  • Two exclusive ticket packages to University of Michigan football games this fall
  • Skydiving experience with Fisher House Foundation board member Mark "Ranger" Jones, an Army Ranger veteran who has over 9,000 jumps and who accompanied former United States President George H.W. Bush on his 90th birthday jump
"While we are still putting the wraps on the first annual Huntsman Shootout, we are already looking at ways to make it even better in 2018," Keselowski said. "We want this event to be something not to be missed by anyone who supports our nation's military. Freedom is not free, and there is a lot of work to be done to take care of those that sacrifice so much for us."

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania for the 36th annual Axalta Presents The Pocono 400. The race will consist of two 50-lap stages and a stage of 60 laps.

There will be 39 drivers competing in Sunday’s field. The most notable will be Darrell Wallace, Jr., who will be making his first Cup start in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports entry as Aric Almirola continues to recover from his injury sustained at Kansas Speedway.

Kyle Busch will be without his crew chief, Adam Stevens, and his tire changer and carrier following a penalty assessed on Wednesday after a wheel came loose on a pit stop at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.

Drivers are excited for their trip to the “Tricky Triangle”.

“Pocono is so different from any track that we go to all year as it has just three turns. The straightaways are really long and each turn is really different. With that being said, I really enjoyed racing at Pocono last year and have been looking forward to making my return since we left a year ago,” said Daniel Suarez. “Scott (Graves) and the guys have worked hard each week to make our Toyota Camry’s as fast as possible, and I feel really good about where we are as a team right now. Last week at Dover was a great run for us, so hopefully we can build on that and have another great finish for ARRIS and everyone involved with this No. 19 team on Sunday.”

"Pocono is such a fun track to drive. It's very unique because it drives similar to a road course and there is a lot shifting involved. I've always had a lot of fun racing there. You can really attack the corners and the racing is great. We're hoping to unload with a good base setup on our IncredibleBank Ford and bring home a solid top-25 finish,” said Matt DiBenedetto.

"You have try your best to find a setup that allows you to be good in all three corners to be successful at Pocono. You have to hit all three corners perfectly. Turn 1 is very important because it leads into the second-longest straightaway, and Turn 3 is obviously important because it takes you into the longest straightaway of the track. You would think that Turn 2 is the least important, but it seems like time is really made and lost in that turn by hitting your mark. If you miss it by even just a foot, your lap time really suffers. So it's important to hit all three corners,” said Paul Menard.

Cup teams will have one practice session on Friday at 11:00 a.m. EDT and qualify at 4:15 p.m. EDT. Teams will have on practice session on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. EDT. The race will be on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1 will have coverage all weekend long.

VELVEETA® Shells & Cheese is partnering with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and the No. 31 Chevrolet SS team to give NASCAR fans a taste of the one and only LIQUID GOLD. VELVEETA Shells & Cheese will serve as the primary sponsor for select races, beginning June 18 at Michigan International Speedway, and an associate sponsor for the remainder of the 2017 season. The paint scheme was unveiled live on FS1's "NASCAR Race Hub" this evening.

The partnership is highlighted by a comprehensive marketing and content program, including a national sweepstakes that will grant one lucky grand prize winner the LIQUID GOLD championship experience: an all-expenses paid VIP trip to the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Entrants will also have the chance to win more than 100 autographed swag items, including mini replicas of Ryan Newman's race helmet and race-worn fire suits from the No. 31 Chevrolet pit crew. Details and call-to-action for the sweepstakes, which launches this month and will continue through the summer, are being distributed on more than three million boxes of VELVEETA Shells & Cheese.

"There's nothing quite like LIQUID GOLD, and the same goes for NASCAR," said Jessica Gilbertson, Head of Meals at Kraft Heinz. "Partnering with Ryan Newman and Richard Childress Racing perfectly marries the existing fandom of VELVEETA Shells & Cheese and NASCAR, providing our fans with once-in-a-lifetime experiences."

VELVEETA Shells & Cheese will utilize digital, social and retail activation assets to engage consumers in key markets. Fans will have the opportunity to see the No. 31 VELVEETA Shells & Cheese Chevrolet SS show car up close and in person, at local market pop-up events held throughout the season. More information with exact locations and times will be released at a later date.

"Our loyal fans are heavily engaged with brands throughout our sport, and the VELVEETA Shells & Cheese brand is a perfect fit for those millions of NASCAR fans," said Ben Schlosser, chief marketing officer for Richard Childress Racing. "American families enjoy the convenience and tastiness of VELVEETA Shells & Cheese every day of the week, and now they'll have the opportunity to win a VIP trip to our season finale in Miami, while engaging with 'LIQUID GOLD' content throughout the season featuring Ryan (Newman), crew chief Luke Lambert, the No. 31 VELVEETA Shells & Cheese crew members and other RCR personalities."

The Kraft Heinz Co., which owns and operates the VELVEETA Shells & Cheese brand, is the third-largest food and beverage company in North America. It joins Caterpillar, Grainger and Kalahari Resorts & Conventions as primary sponsors on the No. 31 Chevrolet SS driven by NASCAR veteran Ryan Newman. Newman won earlier this season at Phoenix International Raceway and locked himself into the NASCAR playoffs which are set to begin on Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Pocono Raceway’s “Tricky Triangle” doesn’t appear to be so tricky for Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team. In their two 2016 starts at the Pennsylvania track, Blaney and company finished 10th and 11th.

The Wood Brothers’ crew would benefit from a solid result this weekend in the Axalta Presents the Pocono 400 to continue making their playoff case. After starting the season with three top-10 finishes in the first five races, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has one in the last eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events.

Blaney’s 100 stage points, sixth most in the series, have helped him stay in contention despite some recent late-race misfortune that pushed otherwise fast cars down the scoring pylon. The second-year driver is currently 13th on the driver points chart.


On Pocono Raceway:

“I really enjoy racing at Pocono. It's a fun racetrack because we drivers are constantly shifting going in and out of those three tricky corners and that's something we don't get to do that often.”

On Being a Pit Reporter for XFINITY Race:

“I'm excited to be a TV pit reporter for the XFINITY race at Pocono on Saturday. I've done color commentary for races from way up in the press box but I’ve never seen NASCAR from the point of view of a pit reporter so that'll be a new experience.”

Ford Performance PR

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., alongside other active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) drivers, will join the FOX broadcast team serving as a pit road reporter during Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) race at Pocono Raceway.

Saturday is going to be a lot of fun,” Stenhouse said. “I have been a guest analyst on NASCAR RaceHub, but being part of the broadcast team during the live event is definitely a first for me. I think the fans will really enjoy hearing the different perspectives from all the drivers participating. I’m still a little nervous about the possibility of interviewing a driver after a wreck and having to ask them what happened. So make sure you tune in because you aren’t going to want to miss Saturday’s race.”

The two-time NXS champion will be teamed up with FOX’s Jamie Little as they live-report from pit road during the action of the Pocono Green 250. The race is set for Saturday, June 10 at 1 p.m. EST on FOX.