Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14024)

Kurt Busch may not remember the 1980s Michigan television commercials that ended with the theme “Yes, Michigan!”


But as the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series rolls into historic Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, he is thinking “Yes, Michigan!”


Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has three wins at Michigan, which puts him in a tie with Matt Kenseth for most among active drivers. And just like at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, he’s won three times, with three different teams.


He scored his first win at Michigan in June 2003 driving for Roush Fenway Racing, then backed it up with a victory in August 2007 with Roger Penske. His last Michigan win came in a rain-shorted race with SHR in June 2015.


Busch also qualified on the pole in June 2010 and 2011 and has scored five top-five finishes at the 2-mile oval.


He’ll be looking to take Ford back to victory lane at Michigan, which is about an hour from the Detroit area, where Ford is based. The blue oval has a long history at Michigan, winning nearly half the races since the track opened in 1969. Of the 96 NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Michigan, Ford and its Mercury brand have won 47 of them – 35 wins by Ford and 12 by Mercury.


Busch is credited with one of those triumphs – June 2003, when he snatched the lead from Jeff Gordon with 24 laps to go to claim his seventh career Cup Series win.


The Las Vegas native has four top-12 finishes, including a win, in his last five starts at the 2-mile oval. He’s hoping to score another victory this weekend so he can once again proclaim, “Yes, Michigan!”



BK Racing and Corey LaJoie will be paying tribute to Davey Allison for the Southern 500 NASCAR Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway.  Dr Pepper will be back on board the No. 23 Toyota Camry with a paint scheme modeled after Davey Allison’s No. 23 Miller High Life car he ran in the 1984-1985 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series (now Xfinity Series). The car was unveiled earlier today at the NASCAR Hall of Fame by LaJoie, Bobby Allison, Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp, and BK Racing team owner Ron Devine.

“Seeing this car back on track will bring back so many great memories,” said Bobby Allison, 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee and father of Davey Allison. “My family and the LaJoies have known each other for a very long time, so I’m very glad to have Corey racing this tribute car for my son, Davey.”

“I’m excited to race Darlington Raceway for the first time,” said Corey LaJoie. “It’s pretty cool to run my first race at this historic track with the Dr Pepper colors and a tribute to the Allison family.”

“Darlington has always been a special place, and it is the perfect track for the NASCAR Throwback Weekend,” said Ron Devine. “I can’t thank Dr Pepper enough for their continued support and the Allison family for fully embracing this project.”

Larry McReynolds served as the emcee for the unveiling. Larry has been dear friends with Bobby Allison since the early 90’s. Davey was Godfather to Larry’s son, Brandon McReynolds.

BK Racing PR

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson will wear the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope, which features five charities working to improve K-12 public education, this weekend during the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn where a special paint scheme featuring the Jimmie Johnson Foundation (JJF) will be featured on his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. As a show of support to Johnson’s efforts to raise funds for programs that support K-12 public education, a number of his NASCAR Cup Series competitors will display JJF-branded decals on the visors of their helmets.

“It is an honor to highlight charities making a huge impact on K-12 public education across the country on my Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope,” Johnson said. “Chandra (wife) and I are proud to be able to support such incredible non-profits and schools through the Foundation programs. We’d like to thank Lowe’s for allowing us to run the Foundation paint scheme for the twelfth time, Blue Bunny for sponsoring the Helmet of Hope program again this year, and all of the drivers participating in the visor campaign to raise awareness and funds for K-12 public education. We are so grateful.”

The Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program allows fans and consumers across the country to nominate and vote on not-for-profit (501c3) organizations that support K-12 public education. Each of the recipients was also awarded a $25,000 grant and a Blue Bunny Ice Cream party.

The 5 recipient charities are:

●  Art Feeds in Fayetteville, Arkansas

●  Edu-Futuro in Arlington, Virginia

●  Mary J. Treglia Community House in Sioux City, Iowa

●  School on Wheels of Massachusetts in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts

●  The Kids’ Reading Room in Houston

“We are extremely proud to once again support the incredible work and commitment displayed by each of the organizations to assist K-12 public education,” Wells said. “The passion around the mission of each of these organizations is evident through the rallying of their supporters to vote and ultimately secure additional needed funding. It never ceases to amaze me at how creative and driven all of the organizations are to securing the votes needed.”

New to the weekend dedicated to highlighting the JJF is the visor campaign. A number of competitors will sport a specially designed JJF strip on the visors of their respective helmets. At the conclusion of Sunday’s 400-mile race at Michigan, participating drivers will sign the visors. The signed visors will be available in an online auction to raise funds to support K-12 public education. Participating drivers include:

A.J. Allmendinger        Aric Almirola

Clint Bowyer               Chris Buescher

Kyle Busch                  Dale Earnhardt Jr.       

Chase Elliott                Kasey Kahne

Matt Kenseth               Danica Patrick

Daniel Suarez              Ricky Stenhouse Jr.   

Drivers Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Jamie McMurray will donate visors for the auction.

In addition to the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, the Foundation operates the Champions Grant program, which provides cash grants to schools in the Johnson’s hometowns and where they currently live; Team Up For Technology, a $48,000 technology makeover open to schools nationwide; and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Fit Fest, a family friendly, event in Charlotte, N.C. that features running, mountain biking, obstacle racing, music, food and more.  Each of these programs will be featured on the special JJF paint scheme.  To date, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation has contributed more than $9.6 million to schools and non-profits across the country.

Jimmie Johnson Foundation PR

In the midst of one of their best seasons in years the Wood Brothers and their young driver are headed to Michigan International Speedway hoping for a strong run in front of their long-time backers at Ford Motor Company.

Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion have a win this season at Pocono Raceway, two other top-five and seven other top-10 finishes and a pole at Kansas Speedway.

They’ve scored stage points in 17 races so far and are set for the team’s first appearance in NASCAR’s playoffs.

Another impressive run, in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at MIS, would give the Woods and Blaney a chance to show their appreciation to both Motorcraft/Quick Lane and Ford Performance for helping the team return to the winning ranks in NASCAR’s elite division.
“It’s always important to run well everywhere,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “But it’s especially important for our family to run well at Michigan.
“It’s Ford’s home track, and running well there is a way of thanking our friends at Ford for supporting us through the years, through all the ups and downs.
“With their support we’ve been able to get back to full-time status and in position to compete for wins and championships.”
Also represented on the No. 21 Ford Fusion this weekend is associate sponsorship from SKF, which was a primary sponsor for the Wood Brothers in two races last season and has been a long-time supporter of motorsports, including a relationship with Wood Brothers’ technical partner, Team Penske.  
SKF is a leading global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services. The company is represented in more than 130 countries and has around 17,000 distributor locations worldwide.
Over the years, Michigan has been one of the better tracks for the Wood Brothers. They have 11 wins there, from their first one in the track’s inaugural Cup race in 1969 with Cale Yarborough driving, to their most recent one, with Dale Jarrett in 1991.
More recently, Ryan Blaney had a fourth-place finish at Michigan in the fall of 2016 and was poised to score another top-five in June before a late-race incident knocked him out of contention.
“For a long time, we ran really well at Michigan,” Wood said. “Then there was a period of time when we didn’t run so well up there.
“But the last couple of years, with Ryan Blaney on board and with our relationship with Team Penske and with the additional technical support from Ford Performance, we’ve been competitive at Michigan again.

 “I’m feeling really good about this weekend.”
Qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400 is set for Friday at 5:05 p.m., and the race is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.


On Wednesday, August 2, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, and Craig Stephens, Director of Collision Services at AutoNation, appeared on QVC® during the “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Appreci88ion Tour” broadcast, live from the Axalta Coating Systems (NYSE: AXTA) Customer Experience Center in Concord, North Carolina, to reveal the paint scheme that will be featured on the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS for Earnhardt’s final start as a full-time NASCAR® Cup Series driver at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19. The show also featured an assortment of die-cast model cars, apparel and other licensed collectibles.

Axalta will partner with and feature AutoNation on the car for the final race. The special-edition paint scheme is a tribute to the No. 8 Chevrolet that NASCAR’s 14-time most popular driver drove in his first Cup races in 1999. The car is adorned with the Axalta emblem on the hood and the AutoNation logo on the roof and rear panels.

“We enjoy our partnership with Axalta and were grateful to be included in such a momentous event in racing,” said Mike Jackson, AutoNation Chairman, CEO, and President.

Axalta Coating Systems is a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings. The Customer Experience Center is a state-of-the-art, 36,000 square feet training and conference complex designed to serve Axalta’s refinish, transportation OEM, and industrial customers, in person and remotely, and is located on the Hendrick Motorsports campus adjacent to some of the finest automotive technology and expertise in the world.

“Axalta’s Customer Experience Center is a world class facility outfitted with the latest technology that is designed to boost our customers’ productivity and efficiency. It served as an excellent venue for QVC,” said Mike Carr, Axalta President, Americas. “We wish Dale every success at Homestead and are excited to associate the paint and other coatings that we supply with the technology that underpins racing. It is also thrilling to share this moment of racing history with our customer, AutoNation.”

Items from the “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Appreci88ion Tour” broadcast are available, while supplies last, through, the QVC apps or by calling 800.345.1515.

Axalta Coating Systems PR

Clint Bowyer sits on the bubble that floats between those drivers who have secured a berth through victory in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series 16-driver playoffs and those hoping to win or acquire enough points to join in the 10-race title battle.


Bowyer is 17th in the standings, trailing 16th-place Matt Kenseth by 26 points, 15th-place Jamie McMurray by 34 points and 14th-place Chase Elliott by 39 points. Assuming there will be no first-time race winners the remainder of the regular season, Bowyer needs to outscore one of those drivers or drive his No. 14 Ford to victory lane to gain entry to the playoffs.


Counting Sunday’s 400-mile race at Michigan International Raceway in Brooklyn, only four races remain in the regular season before the start of the playoffs Sept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.


Bowyer admits he can hear the sands in the hourglass running out on the regular season. He also knows most every question he’ll get from media and race fans the next few weeks will likely remind him of the playoff bid and the accompanying pressure.


So, how is he handling it all? Bowyer says he is enjoying the moment.


“This is a lot of fun,” said the Emporia, Kansas native who replaced three-time champion and Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) co-owner Tony Stewart in the No. 14 in 2017. “I love this time of year. There’s no pressure. This is racing and it’s fun.”


Many might ask how he can joke about something that’s been at the top of his bucket list since February, something that is also accompanied by sponsor and team hopes. Bowyer’s confidence comes from knowing he and his crew chief Mike Bugarewicz-led team are doing the right things to win races, as well as from his past success.


Bowyer owns three top-five and five top-10 points finishes in 11 NASCAR Cup Series seasons.  


“You just have to take it in stride and go out and do your job,” said Bowyer, who also won the NASCAR Xfinity Series title in 2008. “It’s no different than the first time I climbed into the No. 14 Ford down in Daytona. We knew then that we needed a win and we still know we need a win. We’ve been close this year. Three second-place finishes but we have to push through and get that win.”


Bowyer knows the strength of the competition in the sport these days, but he’s also aware he’s showing up at the track with a chance each weekend. That will be no different in the next four races.


“I’m with the right team with Buga (Bugarewicz) and the crew, right organization with SHR and right manufacturer with Ford,” he said. “We just have to put it together. Our time is coming. It’s going to happen. But it needs to happen pretty soon.”


It could happen this weekend at Michigan, where Bowyer has scored a top-five and 11 top-10s in 23 starts at the 2-mile, D-shaped, ultra-fast oval. He’ll pilot the No. 14 Ford carrying the Nature’s Bakery paint scheme for the final time in 2017. He hopes to continue his recent streak of good performances that included a fifth-place finish at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International last weekend.


Bowyer can go a long way toward improving his playoff chances this weekend in Michigan.


Who knows? He might even burst that bubble.



Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) earned their best finish together at Watkins Glen International after a fuel mileage race resulted in a 12th place finish on Sunday.

McDowell began the weekend finishing in the Top-10 in both Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) practices on Saturday. He went on to qualify 14th on Sunday before the I Love New York 355.

After the first few laps of the 355-mile race, McDowell said his No. 95 K-LOVE Chevrolet SS was handling tight in the right hand turns, but he was still able to run in the Top-15 of the field where he would race for the majority of the first stage.

With about eight laps remaining in the first stage, McDowell said he was no longer tight in the right hand turns and was able to make it to lap 16, where Todd Parrott called him in to pit.

McDowell was the first driver to pit and get four tires and fuel. Though he finished the stage towards the back of the field, he was able to restart 11th to begin stage two, as the rest of the field pitted under caution.

McDowell made it to lap 37, where Todd Parrott decided to use the same strategy and pit a few laps before the end of the stage. Once again, McDowell finished the stage toward the back, but would start 18th in the final stage.

At the beginning of the final stage, the team reported radio troubles, as the antenna broke off the No. 95 K-LOVE Chevy. The issues resolved somewhat, as McDowell switched over to a different channel.

Stage three brought only one caution out where McDowell pitted for tires and fuel, but was told he would likely be two laps short on fuel. This was the case with many others, as well. With 20 laps to go, Parrott told McDowell to save as much as he could without losing time. He was in 17th place at the time.

The long, green-flag run resulted in many cars having to pit for fuel. McDowell made it across the start / finish line in 12th before running out of fuel just as he drove down pit road.

“We had a little bit of radio trouble,” said McDowell. “The antenna broke off the car, so nothing we could really do about that. All in all, that didn’t really affect the race, fortunately. I was able to do what I needed to do and the crew was able to do what they needed to do. I think we definitely had a Top-10 car, which is about where we ran. We struggled a little on pit road and lost some spots, but overall it wasn’t a bad day.”

Next up for McDowell and LFR is the Pure Michigan 400, where he looks to improve on his best finish of 23rd.


Stage 1: Ended on Lap 20
  • Cole Whitt rolled off the grid 26th in the RTIC Coolers No. 72 to start the I Love NY 355
  • Lap 10: Whitt had lost a few positions and was running 28th when he relayed the handling was "tight in the center and loose off"
  • As cars were strategically making green flag pit stops, Whitt was scored 16th on the leaderboard on Lap 19 and completed Stage 1 in that position
  • Whitt relayed he was having to use a lot of brake and pitted under the Stage 1 completion caution for four tires and fuel
Stage 2: Ended on Lap 40
  • Whitt took the green flag and started Stage 2 in the 24th position
  • Ten laps later, Lap 30, he radioed the handling had become "way loose" but was managing a 23rd place position
  • On Lap 37, competitors were coming in for green flag pit stops and Whitt was scored 16th in the RTIC Coolers No. 72
  • With two laps remaining in Stage 2, Whitt alerted the team that something had broken in the rear. Managing to complete the stage in the 19th position, Whitt brought the RTIC Coolers No. 72 to pit for a quick evaluation. Upon assessment, it was determined the track bar mount had broken. Whitt went to the garage for repairs
Stage 3: Ended on Lap 90
  • With completion of the repairs, Whitt returned to the track on Lap 60 and was scored 34th, nine laps down from the leader
  • He continued to hold that position but was running low on fuel. On Lap 86, Crew Chief Frank Kerr called Whitt to pit for fuel only. He returned to the field 34th.
  • Whitt remained steady and consistent for the last few laps and completed the day with a 34th place finish for the I Love NY 355 at Watkins Glen International

TriStar PR

As the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season continues to move along, so does the impressive journey of Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, Ty Dillon. The GEICO driver has had a successful foray into the Cup Series and he looked forward to his second road course race of the year when he hit the track at Watkins Glen International on Friday.
Dillon and his GEICO Chevrolet SS would have a busy day in the Finger Lakes Region of New York when Sunday rolled around. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series would both qualify and race on the same day. Dillon qualified 24th after touring the 2.45-mile road course in 71.22-seconds, at a speed of 124.012-mph. 
Perfect weather and a sold out crowd would welcome Dillon and his Cup Series counterparts to the starting grid when they went racing just a couple of hours after qualifying was complete.
When the green flag set the field underway, Dillon started 24th, but collected two spots on the opening lap of the 90-lap event, moving into the 22nd position. However, just six laps into the race, he reported that he had no stopping power, while lap nine heard him mention the loss of his power steering. While the pit crew was at the ready, Dillon continued to battle on-track in order to avoid an unscheduled green flag pit stop, which would most assuredly relegate him to the rear of the field.
When stage one came to a close on lap 20, Dillon had navigated the No. 13 GEICO Chevy up to 17th and welcomed relief of the braking and power steering issues. He visited pit road for an extended pit stop where he received four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and the Germain Racing pit crew pulled the tape from his front grill in order to allow air-flow to the brakes. Due to the additional time on pit road to inspect and diagnose the car, Dillon and his GEICO machine restarted from the 28th position when the race returned to green for the start of stage two. His pattern of collecting positions on restarts continued when he snagged two spots and quickly jumped to 26th.
The changes made by the GEICO crew proved fruitful and Dillon enthusiastically reported over the team's radio frequency on lap 46, "We're a lot better; I have something I can race with now." As the race wound down, fuel became a concern for all teams. Crew Chief, Bootie Barker, instructed his driver to save fuel in an effort to make it to the end. Despite conserving fuel, Dillon managed to hold off a charging Ryan Newman, and a host of others, as the race neared completion. The aggressive rookie followed Barker's orders and when the checkered flag closed out 220.5-miles of tight racing action, the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet crossed the finish line in the 19th position. The result accounted for Dillon's 15th top-20 result of the 2017 Cup Series season.
"Our day definitely improved from where we started. We had some brake and power steering issues at the very start, but I was able to keep it underneath me until we could bring our GEICO Chevy in during the first stage break," Dillon said after the race. "By the time we got to the final stage, we had the car handling exactly how I needed it. Fuel mileage games are always tricky, but everyone has to do their part. The engineers have to do the math, I have to back down my entries and the spotters have to tell me who I'm racing in fuel-saving mode, and who is packed full coming up behind me. It's a team effort, and we all did our jobs today to get it home with fuel in the tank and a top-20 finish."
Germain Racing will now head to the Irish Hills of Michigan for race number 23 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Michigan International Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, August 11th, at 11:00 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 5:05 PM (ET).
The Pure Michigan 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is on Sunday, August 13th, and it will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 3:00 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

Hendrick Motorsports and Kasey Kahne will end their six-year run together following the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. The driver has been released from the final year of his contract, allowing him to immediately pursue opportunities for 2018.

“Kasey has worked extremely hard,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “He’s a tremendous teammate and person, and he has been totally dedicated to our program since day one. I’ve always believed that he’s a special talent, and I know he will thrive in the right situation. We will do everything we can to finish the season as strong as we can.”

Kahne, 37, will complete the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule for Hendrick Motorsports. He was signed by the organization in April 2010, nearly two years before his February 2012 debut in its No. 5 Chevrolet. Now in their sixth season together, Kahne has earned six of his 18 career points-paying Cup victories with the No. 5 team.

“I’d like to thank Rick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for their hard work and dedication, along with providing me a great opportunity and success over the last six years,” said Kahne, who most recently won July 23 at Indianapolis. “We won six races together and I'm coming off of one of the biggest wins of my career at the Brickyard, which has given the (No.) 5 team a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs. We still have a lot of racing left in 2017 and finishing strong is our top priority. I look forward to what the next chapter in my career holds.”

Hendrick Motorsports will announce 2018 plans for its four-car operation at a later date.


Erik Jones made big gains in his young road racing career by steering his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota to a 10th-place finish in Sunday’s I Love New York 355 at the Glen.

It was Jones’ second straight top-10 finish and seventh of the season.

“The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota was good all day despite some brake issues from the beginning,” said Jones. “I thought we had a top-10 car, maybe a top-five car had circumstances played out. I had a bad stop and got boxed in behind the 43 (Aric Almirola) so we just didn’t quite get the finish that we wanted. But all in all it was a good day for our Furniture Row Racing team.”

Despite the top-10 finish, Jones dropped two positions, to 18th, in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 22 races. He is 31 points behind Daniel Suarez for 15th place.

The 21-year old qualified the Furniture Row Racing entry in the sixth position earlier in the afternoon, lining up out the outside of Row 3 for the 90-lap race on the 2.454-mile Watkins Glen International road course. He called over the radio early to interim crew chief James Small that there was an issue with the Toyota’s braking. He was able to maintain his starting position until pitting on Lap 17, three laps prior to the end of the day’s first stage. On a separate race strategy than many of the leaders, he finished the stage in the 25th position.

Those leaders did pit during the caution, however, which allowed the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota to start Stage 2 in seventh place. Jones picked up two spots in the running order by the end of the second 20-lap stage to earn six championship points for his efforts.

Small kept Jones on the racing surface during the second intermission, in doing so starting the 50-lap final stage in fifth place. Jones pitted under caution on Lap 53, taking four tires and fuel. He was boxed in by the car ahead of him while attempting to exit his pit, however, and returned to the field in 16th place for the restart on lap 55.

Jones was scored 18th on Lap 60 but picked up two positions by the end of Lap 70. He was 13th with 10 laps remaining, which was when the fuel strategy from the beginning of the race played out. Three of the cars ahead of him had to pit late for fuel which provided the opportunity for Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota to earn a solid 10th-place finish.

Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. earned his fourth victory of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. The balance of the top 10 following Truex to the checkered flag were Matt Kenseth, Daniel Suarez, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, AJ Allmendinger and Jones.