Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (12857)

It will be Martin Truex Jr., who will ring in Furniture Row Racing’s new sponsor – 5-hour Energy® -- with the primary paint scheme of the company on his No. 78 Toyota in Saturday night’s NASCAR season kick off – the invitational Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

After the 75-lap non-points Clash, which is expected to have a field of 18 drivers, the 5-hour Energy primary colors will switch to Furniture Row Racing’s new team -- the No. 77 Toyota driven by rookie Erik Jones – for the remainder of Speedweeks. Truex’s race car post-Clash will be in the Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats colors.

“We welcome 5-hour Energy to our family of sponsors and are very proud to have them as one of our major partners,” said Truex. “I personally welcome Erik to our team and look forward to working and sharing information with him. Everything is trending upward and it’s up to us to continue the momentum. We’re going to give it our best shot to drive the No. 78 5-hour Energy Toyota to Victory Lane.”

Truex is coming off his best statistical season since joining the Cup series full time in 2006. His 2016 record included four Cup wins, five poles, and a series high of laps led at 1809.

Truex and his crew chief Cole Pearn will be looking for the same kind of muscle for the no-holds-barred Advance Auto Parts Clash.

“Only one thing matters in the Clash and that’s winning the race,” said Truex. “We’re going to beef things up and go after the win. Our guys build great speedway cars and if we can keep our Toyota out of trouble I not only look forward to a successful run in the Clash but also in the other Speedweeks events, including the Daytona 500.”

Truex will make his fifth career start in the Clash and his third as a Furniture Row Racing driver. His best finish was runner-up in 2015 after leading 28 laps. Last year, he had a strong run going but was a victim in a final lap multicar accident at the 2.5-mile oval.

The first criteria for Truex earning a Clash berth was being a former Daytona 500 pole winner (2009). He would have also qualified, if needed, as a previous season pole winner.

Upcoming Speedweeks events following Saturday night’s Clash will be Daytona 500 Pole Day, Sunday, Feb 19, the twin Daytona 500 qualifying races Thursday, Feb. 23 and the official season opener – the Daytona 500, Sunday, Feb. 26.

Fox Sports 1 will televise Saturday’s Clash, 8 p.m. ET.  

FRR PR

NASCAR today announced the 2017 stage lengths for each race in all three of its national series. A number of factors went into determining the lap count for Stage 1, Stage 2 and the Final Stage of each race, with a singular goal in mind – the best racing for NASCAR fans. 

"Every track is unique for its characteristics in length, surface and overall racing conditions," said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. "We worked closely with race teams on expected fuel and tire runs over the entirety of an event when considering stage lengths. And in the end, stage lengths were decided based upon what would provide the best race for fans." 

Last week, NASCAR announced the stage lengths for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season-opening DAYTONA 500 (Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). For the Great American Race, the stages are scheduled to end on lap 60, lap 120 and lap 200.

For the full list of stages for the remainder of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, as well as the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series seasons, see pages 2-4.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Track

Stage 1

Stage 2

Final Stage

(ends on lap)

(ends on lap)

(ends on lap)

Daytona International Speedway

60

120

200

Atlanta Motor Speedway

85

170

325

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

80

160

267

Phoenix International Raceway

75

150

312

Auto Club Speedway

60

120

200

Martinsville Speedway

130

260

500

Texas Motor Speedway

85

170

334

Bristol Motor Speedway

125

250

500

Richmond International Raceway

100

200

400

Talladega Superspeedway

55

110

188

Kansas Speedway

80

160

267

Charlotte Motor Speedway

115

230

400

Dover International Speedway

120

240

400

Pocono Raceway

50

100

160

Michigan International Raceway

60

120

200

Sonoma Raceway

25

50

110

Daytona International Speedway

40

80

160

Kentucky Speedway

80

160

267

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

75

150

301

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

50

100

160

Pocono Raceway

50

100

160

Watkins Glen International

20

40

90

Michigan International Raceway

60

120

200

Bristol Motor Speedway

125

250

500

Darlington Raceway

100

200

367

Richmond International Raceway

100

200

400

Chicagoland Speedway

80

160

267

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

75

150

300

Dover International Speedway

120

240

400

Charlotte Motor Speedway

90

180

334

Talladega Superspeedway

55

110

188

Kansas Speedway

80

160

267

Martinsville Speedway

130

260

500

Texas Motor Speedway

85

170

334

Phoenix International Raceway

75

150

312

Homestead-Miami Speedway

80

160

267

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Track

Stage 1

Stage 2

Final Stage

(ends on lap)

(ends on lap)

(ends on lap)

Daytona International Speedway

30

60

120

Atlanta Motor Speedway

40

80

163

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

45

90

200

Phoenix International Raceway

60

120

200

Auto Club Speedway

35

70

150

Texas Motor Speedway

45

90

200

Bristol Motor Speedway

85

170

300

Richmond International Raceway

75

150

250

Talladega Superspeedway

25

50

113

Charlotte Motor Speedway

45

90

200

Dover International Speedway

60

120

200

Pocono Raceway

25

50

100

Michigan International Speedway

30

60

125

Iowa Speedway

60

120

250

Daytona International Speedway

30

60

100

Kentucky Speedway

45

90

200

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

45

90

200

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

25

50

100

Iowa Speedway

60

120

250

Watkins Glen International

20

40

82

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

20

40

75

Bristol Motor Speedway

85

170

300

Road America

10

20

45

Darlington Raceway

45

90

147

Richmond International Raceway

75

150

250

Chicagoland Speedway

45

90

200

Kentucky Speedway

45

90

200

Dover International Speedway

60

120

200

Charlotte Motor Speedway

45

90

200

Kansas Speedway

45

90

200

Texas Motor Speedway

45

90

200

Phoenix International Raceway

60

120

200

Homestead-Miami Speedway

45

90

200

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Track

Stage 1

Stage 2

Final Stage

(ends on lap)

(ends on lap)

(ends on lap)

Daytona International Speedway

20

40

100

Atlanta Motor Speedway

40

80

130

Martinsville Speedway

70

140

250

Kansas Speedway

40

80

167

Charlotte Motor Speedway

40

80

134

Dover International Speedway

45

90

200

Texas Motor Speedway

40

80

167

Gateway Motorsports Park

35

70

160

Iowa Speedway

60

120

200

Kentucky Speedway

35

70

150

Eldora Speedway

40

90

150

Pocono Raceway

15

30

60

Michigan International Speedway

30

60

100

Bristol Motor Speedway

55

110

200

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

20

40

64

Chicagoland Speedway

35

70

150

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

55

110

175

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

35

70

146

Talladega Superspeedway

20

40

94

Martinsville Speedway

50

100

200

Texas Motor Speedway

35

70

147

Phoenix International Raceway

40

80

150

Homestead-Miami Speedway

40

80

134

NASCAR PR

Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) are thrilled to kick-off the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season at the 59th running of the Daytona 500.

 

Entering their first full season together, McDowell and LFR are looking to build off last year’s momentum and pick up where they left off after earning ten Top-20 finishes, including a 10th place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway at the 2016 season finale.

 

“I’m definitely excited to get this season started, especially at Daytona where we know we can run well,” said McDowell. “We’ve run in the Top-10 at Daytona, so hopefully we can do that this time and get ourselves in a position at the end of the race to sneak in and win. With the format now, a win gets you in the playoffs. That could be really big for a small team like ours.”

 

During the team’s last trip to Daytona International Speedway, McDowell earned his third Top-10 at the 2.5-mile tri-oval.

 

Also beginning his first full season with LFR is Todd Parrott, who will be returning to the roll of crew chief he began full-time with the team back in October of 2016.

 

“There has been a lot of hard work that has gone into the off-season by the whole team,” said Parrott. “We have been rebuilding everything and making sure it is ready to go when we unload in Daytona. There are definitely a few challenges that come with Daytona. The duels play a big part this season since they pay points for the playoffs, so we definitely have to race hard and stay out of trouble. Michael does extremely well at restrictor plate tracks, so we just need to work on strategy during our pit stops. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what we’ve got as a team.”

 

McDowell and LFR are also excited to announce the return of K-LOVE Radio as a primary sponsor for select races during the 2017 MENCS season. K-LOVE has had a long-standing presence with both McDowell and LFR for a number of years and will continue the partnership, as McDowell will pilot the No. 95 K-LOVE Chevrolet SS in the 59th running of the Daytona 500.

 

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 will take place on Sunday, February 20, followed by the Can-Am Duel on Thursday, February 23 beginning at 7PM ET. Race fans can follow @LFR95 on Twitter and Leavine Family Racing on Facebook for Speedweeks and Daytona 500 updates.

 

LFR PR

The long winter’s wait is over for the Wood Brothers and their Motorcraft/Quick Lane race team.

The iconic No. 21 Ford Fusion returns to the track this week at the Daytona International Speedway to start the 2017 Monster Energy Cup season. It’s the second-straight year that the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team will be competing on a full-time basis, but the team’s history in the elite division dates back to 1953, further than any active team on the circuit.

This trip to Speedweeks marks the Wood’s 59th appearance in the February classic at the Daytona International Speedway, dating back to the inaugural event in 1959. That’s in addition to numerous trips to the old Beach/Road Course that preceded the superspeedway.

The Wood Brothers have 15 points-paying victories at Daytona International Speedway, including five in the Daytona 500.

The team’s sophomore crew chief Jeremy Bullins said he and driver Ryan Blaney, also a sophomore on the elite NASCAR circuit, are anxious to get back on the track after spending the winter months preparing for the upcoming campaign.

“Daytona can’t get here fast enough,” Bullins said. “It doesn’t take long of being in the shop every day of the week to miss the race track.” 
 
“Our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team is really excited about our second full-time season together, and we have a lot of good things going on.”
 
A new addition to the team, lead engineer Andrea Mueller, will be joining Bullins atop the pit box.
 
“She and I worked together on Team Penske’s Xfinity program and had a lot of success,” Bullins said. “I know she will bring a lot of value to our team.”
 
Also new this year for all teams is a change in the race format, which breaks each Cup event into three stages, with championship points paid for all three.
 
“There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the new race format and more opportunity to gain points by being in the top 10 at the end of those segments,” Bullins said. “There will be a lot of opportunities for us this year to get our cars up front and keep them up front, and we look forward to that challenge.” 
 
“Anytime there’s an opportunity for a strategy call I get excited because it’s a chance for us to try to gain an advantage on our competitors.” 
 
“Regardless, your cars will still have to have speed, and we feel like we can produce that, so it’s up to us to capitalize when we have fast cars.  I think having a year under our belt full time together we all feel more prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.”
 
For team co-owner Eddie Wood, this year’s trip to the Daytona 500 will be much more relaxing than in recent seasons. The No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has rented a charter, which guarantees a starting spot in the Great American Race as well as the other races on the schedule.
 
“This year is the first time we’ve been guaranteed into the race since we won it in 2011,” Wood said. “And that year we had the owner points from Richard Petty Motorsports.”
 Wood said it’s hard to explain just how much pressure there is on a team that is not assured of being in the starting field.
 
“You worry about it all year long, not just when it comes time to go to Daytona,” he said.

“The worries start multiplying as soon as Homestead is over, and it never really lets up.”
 
“We’re fortunate this year to have rented a charter, and being guaranteed to start races is good for us, but more importantly it’s good for Motorcraft and Quick Lane and all of our other partners.”

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is set for Sunday, Feb. 19, at 3:10 p.m. with TV coverage on FOX. The Can-AM Duel 150-mile qualifying races are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1, and the Daytona 500 should get the green flag on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m., with TV coverage on FOX.

WBR PR

Let us re-introduce you to Clint Bowyer.

 

You might remember him. He finished second in the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and third in the 2007 title chase. He has eight NASCAR Cup Series victories and won the 2008 NASCAR Xfinity Series title after leaving his hometown of Emporia, Kansas for racing glory in 2004.

 

He’s NASCAR’s everyman, whose collar is as blue as his Kansas City Royals hat and his smile as wide as a wheat field.

 

He’s been quiet the last two seasons, but that only proves how much of a team sport NASCAR is these days. Midway through 2015, his two-car Michael Waltrip Racing team announced it was going out of business at the end of the season. In 2016, Bowyer, needing a temporary home before joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2017, drove for an HScott Motorsports team that was still early in its development.

 

Out of sight usually means out of mind in NASCAR, but Bowyer will be front and center in 2017. He’ll climb into a car worthy of his skill as he replaces the retired and future Hall of Famer Tony Stewart in SHR’s No. 14 Ford Fusion under the leadership of second-year crew chief Mike “Buga” Bugarewicz. After engineering a playoff appearance with Stewart in 2016, expectations of pairing Bowyer with “Buga” – the only rookie crew chief in the 2016 playoffs – are sky high in 2017.

 

Bowyer will make his SHR debut Feb. 26 driving the No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion in NASCAR’s most prestigious event – the 59th running of the Daytona 500.

 

“This is the best opportunity I’ve ever had,” Bowyer said. “Everybody knows that. Getting in the No. 14 Ford isn’t easy. It’s going to be a challenge. The first thing you think about is Tony’s fan base. There are a whole lot of people I don’t want to let down. I want to make all those people proud of the No. 14 this year, proud of me being in that No. 14, and proud of Tony’s decision to put me in it this year. The pressure is probably there but, to be honest with you, from where I’ve come to looking forward to this opportunity for more than a year, there’s more excitement than pressure.”

 

Bowyer won’t be the only new addition to SHR in 2017. Since its inception in 2009, SHR has posted 36 victories and two championships with Stewart and Kevin Harvick, so it came as a bit of a shock to the motorsports world when it was announced in February 2016 that SHR would welcome Ford Performance as the four-car team’s manufacturer beginning in 2017. The move should provide a boost under the hood and in aerodynamics, as well as in the SHR engineering meetings with the global motorsports company bringing its expertise to its Kannapolis, North Carolina, operation. As the sport grows, the long-term alliance of SHR and Ford Performance could lead to the next wave of dominance that Bowyer expects to surf for the next several years.

 

If the SHR-Ford-Bowyer combination bears the fruit many expect, then Bowyer’s return to prominence will be a boon to NASCAR. The former dirt racer can boast success on every type of track the series visits. Four of his eight career NASCAR Cup Series victories have come on short tracks, two on restrictor-plate tracks, one on an ultra-fast 1.5-mile track and one on a road course. He’s won everywhere and he’s won in everything. Three times he’s finished in the top-five in the standings and earned eight victories in the Xfinity Series and three in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

 

Chasing checkered flags is what has driven Bowyer since racing dirt bikes in Kansas. He proved proficient at collecting trophies as he transitioned from two wheels to four, from dirt to asphalt, from Xfinity to Cup. Another trophy and another checkered flag is what drives Bowyer, and from the cockpit of his No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion, he’s in the best position to secure those highly-sought items.

 

TSC PR

In anticipation of the upcoming 2017 NASCAR season, Roush Fenway Racing will give fans an inside look at the journey to the season-opening Daytona Speedweeks for the team’s PR staff. Members of the team will document the road trip from Roush Fenway headquarters in Concord, N.C. to Daytona International Speedway – a journey totaling its own 500 miles.

The eastbound and down expedition begins Thursday morning and will culminate in a live view of the team Monster Cup Series haulers parking in the Daytona infield garage. Along the way, fans will be asked to provide suggestions on musical playlists, carpool karaoke, food and sightseeing detours. A comprehensive look at the journey will take place across the team’s social media – with Twitter Q&As, Facebook Live video, Instagram stories and more setting the scene.

RFR PR

In April 2016, the Petty Museum experienced a fire in the multimedia room of the original Petty Enterprises building. Following the fire, the museum knew they needed to find an alternative to store and keep the thousands of unique and one-of-a-kind documents from the storied Petty family history. They looked no further than Richard Petty Motorsports partner, Pioneer Technology.
 
The Pioneer Records Management team performed a thorough assessment and determined approximately more than 1 million documents containing Petty Enterprises related historical financial documents, contracts, miscellaneous team documents, photographs, engineering notes, marketing material, partner information and other one-of-a-kind documents were at risk. The Pioneer team worked with the Petty Museum to establish a plan to index, digitize and organize the documents at risk.
 
The first phase of the project started in the fall of 2016. Pioneer salvaged over 100,000 historical documents. Preparation is now underway to begin the second phase of the project.
 
Upon completion of the project, the Petty Museum will not only have their unique historical documents digitized and archived, but they will be securely stored and available for online access via Pioneer's secure document hosting solution, YourDox.
"This service is invaluable," said Sharon Farlow, Executive Director Petty Museum. "These documents are our family history. They mean the world to us. When we had the fire early last year, it really opened our eyes to how quickly we could lose everything if we didn't find a plan. Thankfully, Richard Petty Motorsports has great partners that we were able to tap into for this solution."
 
"I'm very grateful for everything Pioneer is doing to save our family history," NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty. "We saved everything, but didn't have a plan if something were to happen like a fire. Now, we do."
 
This project couldn't come at a better time for Pioneer Technology as they expand the company into the private sector, making them a perfect fit for the Petty Museum.
 
"It's been a privilege to work with the Petty Museum to preserve and protect its rich history," said Steve Rumsey, CEO of Pioneer Technology Group. "As fans of the sport ourselves, it's extremely rewarding to know that our efforts will allow the Petty brands to share its history with fans across the globe."

RPM PR

Just in time for the 2017 DAYTONA 500®, NASCAR and DeskSite jointly announced today the official launch of the NASCAR DeskSite, an interactive and personalized video app that delivers premium, high-definition video content on-demand to NASCAR fans – for free.

NASCAR is the first professional sports league to launch DeskSite, which has partnerships with individual NFL, NHL and MLS team franchises.

Described as a “DVR for the Internet,” the NASCAR DeskSite serves as a digital fan hub for NASCAR.com video content including interviews with drivers, post-race recaps, in-depth coverage, driver spotlights and breaking news. The content is available to fans at any time, even offline.

“NASCAR.com represents a massive portal through which millions of fans engage with our sport,” said Colin Smith, vice president, NASCAR Digital Media. “Now, thanks to NASCAR DeskSite’s automatic updates and offline viewing features, our fans can continue to access the latest NASCAR news and content no matter where they are.”

The NASCAR DeskSite enables automatic downloads and stores videos directly to devices based on user preferences, allowing fans the ability to view NASCAR.com video content offline without an Internet connection. Audiovisual alerts reduce the delay between a video’s initial release and fan access.

The platform is currently loaded with content previewing the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™ points race of the 2017 season, the DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“NASCAR is an incredible brand, and a perfect fit for our technology,” said Megan Bennett, VP of Marketing, DeskSite. “We’re thrilled to announce NASCAR has become our first league partner. And we look forward to making our platform available to NASCAR’s millions of fans.”

The NASCAR DeskSite is available on both Windows and Mac computers, as well as Windows tablets. Fans can download the app for free at NASCAR.com/DeskSite.

NASCAR PR

In a new season that will feature a new race format, points system and manufacturer for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 team at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), there is comfort in the consistency displayed by the colors adorning their new Ford Fusion for Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.


While the make and model of the No. 4 may have changed as SHR collaborated with Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Company starting in 2017, the familiar black-and-red livery of Jimmy John’s will return for its second season as the primary sponsor for the Daytona 500. Jimmy John’s, based in Champaign, Illinois and famous for its freaky fast delivery, made its Daytona 500 debut in 2016, when Harvick and the No. 4 team started ninth and finished fourth to start the season in “The Great American Race.”


While Jimmy John’s is on the hood for the Daytona 500, for the second consecutive year Busch Beer returns to Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Fusion for the Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona – the 75-lap, bonus-points-paying race that kicks off the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season Feb. 18. Busch is back on the hood, but the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford is updated with a fresh new look, giving a nod to new packaging the brand will debut in April.


Busch debuted its new packaging and advertising campaign featuring the return of the “BUSCHHHHH” can-crack sound with its first-ever Super Bowl commercial that aired during the FOX broadcast of the game Feb. 5.


Busch’s rich racing history began in 1978 when the brand sponsored the award presented to the pole winners of what was known then as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Busch went on to be the “Official Beer of NASCAR” from 1988 through 1997 and was the title sponsor of the stepping-stone division to the NASCAR Cup Series – currently known as the NASCAR Xfinity Series – from 1984 through 2007. The last Busch-sponsored driver prior to the company’s return in 2016 was Cale Yarborough and his iconic No. 11 car during the 1980 season.


Both Jimmy John’s and Busch have reason to be optimistic as Harvick and the No. 4 team head to Daytona.


As Harvick enters his 17th NASCAR Cup Series season and his fourth at SHR with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm, he is looking to score his second win in the Daytona 500. He won the famed Harley J. Earl trophy in 2007, when he beat Mark Martin to the Daytona 500 finish line by .020 of a second on the final green-white-checkered restart. It was the closest Daytona 500 finish since the start of computer scoring in 2003.


Harvick also has three wins in the Clash at Daytona – 2009, 2010 and 2013 – tying him for second-most with his team owner Tony Stewart and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett.


In the 2009 Clash at Daytona, Harvick survived an incident-filled race that saw a record eight caution periods and less than half the starting field make it to the checkered flag.


The following year, he joined Neil Bonnett, Ken Schrader and Stewart as the fourth driver in event history to win consecutive races, and he did so driving a backup car he was never able to practice, passing Greg Biffle with two laps remaining in a green-white-checkered finish. NASCAR declared Harvick the winner when a multicar incident ended the race under caution.


In his 2013 win, Harvick led 40 of 75 laps, dominating the second and third segments en route to his third Clash at Daytona victory in five years.


If Harvick can add his name for a second time to the Harley J. Earl trophy Feb. 26 in the season-opening Daytona 500 at “The World Center of Racing,” he would be the 11th driver in NASCAR history to win the iconic event more than once. It would also put the No. 4 team in prime position to secure a berth in the 2017 playoffs as it attempts to win a second NASCAR Cup Series championship in four years.

 

TSC PR

Wood Brothers Racing’s iconic No. 21 Ford has been to victory lane at the Daytona 500 five times in the team’s 66 years of NASCAR competition. Can their second-year driver, Ryan Blaney, behind the wheel of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion, chalk up the Woods’ sixth win in The Great American Race?

 

If so, it would be Blaney’s first win in the newly minted Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the second Daytona win for Motorcraft/Quick Lane – the first being Trevor Bayne’s improbable 2011 rookie win.

 

“Obviously it would be huge,” Blaney said. “There would be no bigger feat than being able to win the 500 for the Wood Brothers.” 

 

The young driver is making progress at the speedway. In 2015, despite having a fast car, engine problems ended his day early. Last year, Blaney and company recovered from early race handing issues and a loose wheel to post a 19th-place finish.

 

A Blaney win in the Daytona 500 would put him in an elite club of former Wood Brothers drivers who have piloted the No. 21 to victory in stock car racing’s most prestigious race. He would join Bayne and Tiny Lund (1963), Cale Yarborough (1968), A.J. Foyt (1972) and David Pearson (1976).

 

To join that fraternity, Blaney and the Wood Brothers will have to navigate NASCAR’s new race format, which breaks each event into three segments, the first two resulting in points for the top 10 finishers and the last receiving the appropriate race points.

 

“I think the new rules will add some excitement to the races,” Blaney said. “And I like that the bonus points benefit us throughout the playoffs.” 

 

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins also is looking forward to running under the new format.

 

“It will certainly change the (pit) windows concerning getting to the end of the segments, but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to from the strategy side,” Bullins said. “I think it’s great to mix it up a little bit and create new strategies, but at the end of the day you’ll still want to be up front all race which is what we would like to be doing anyhow. If you qualify well and have fast cars hopefully we can be in position to take advantage of the points that will be awarded.”

 

Bullins said his team is ready for Daytona and the coming season.

 

“We feel like it’s all out in front of us and we just have to do our jobs and keep bringing fast cars to the track and capitalize when we do,” he said. “We know this team is capable of doing good things and we need to prove that.”

 

Blaney, now with a full season of experience under his belt, will be driving for the first time minus the yellow rookie stripe on the rear bumper.

 

“I believe it's a big deal getting the yellow bumper off,” he said. “It makes you feel like a full-fledged part of the series rather than just a rookie.” 

 

The practice sessions for Daytona 500 qualifying is Saturday, Feb. 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. and can be seen on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Pole qualifying will be run on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 3:10 p.m. and will be televised on FOX. Practice for the Can-Am Duels will be shown on FS1 at noon and 1 p.m. ET on Feb. 23. The Can-Am Duels will air on FS1 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET on Feb. 23. Practice for the Daytona 500 airs on Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. on FS1. The Daytona 500 begins on FOX at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 26.

 

Ford Performance PR

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will steer more than just the No. 88 Chevrolet this season as the NASCAR Cup Series cranks up this week.
 
Today Earnhardt Jr. made his debut as host of Dale Jr. Download, a weekly podcast on his Dirty Mo Radio network. While the new episode was Earnhardt Jr.’s first as host, it began the fifth season for Dirty Mo Radio, home to eight racing or lifestyle programs.
 
“Dirty Mo Radio is still evolving, but I’m proud of what it has become, which is an extremely reliable and mobile option for fans to access content,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Hosting my own podcast was sort of the next step of that evolution, not just for Dirty Mo Radio but also for me. I had been interested in hosting, but in the height of my concussion rehab I realized just how valuable this communication channel was. We used Dirty Mo Radio podcasts to share information directly to the fans. That was important to me – to know they could hear about my situation from nobody else’s voice but mine.”
 
In today’s episode of Dale Jr. Download, Earnhardt and co-host Tyler Overstreet discussed off-season changes made by NASCAR to improve the sport. The 14-time most popular driver also responded to recent comments from Richard Petty regarding his return to racing, and he shared a personal story about longtime family friend and legendary racer Neil Bonnett. Earnhardt ended the show by answering questions submitted by fans via Twitter.
 
“It’s our first show,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We’ll get better every week. It’s something I’m taking seriously. I want to add to the transparency of my passion for this sport, my enthusiasm for being back in the race car, and my appreciation for everyone who has supported me.”
 
Earnhardt Jr. will record most of his episodes from Dirty Mo Radio’s Axalta Studio, located in the retail store at JR Motorsports. New episodes of Dale Jr. Download will post on Tuesdays throughout the race season. Like all Dirty Mo Radio podcasts, it is available free of charge on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, and all major podcasting outlets. Dirty Mo Radio is also housed on DaleJr.com.
 
The complete 2017 programming line-up for Dirty Mo Radio is as follows:
 
SUNDAY: “JR Motorsports Up Front” presented by K1 Speed – an audio diary of Justin Allgaier and other JR Motorsports drivers as they compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. New episodes post every weekend following NXS races starting Feb. 25.

MONDAY: “Door, Bumper, Clear” presented by OneMain Financial –
candid and hilarious discourse from veteran spotters T.J. Majors and Brett Griffin as they spend their lives touring the NASCAR circuit. The new season of DBC debuts on Feb. 20 following The Clash at Daytona.
 
MONDAY: “JR Nation UnDAMNrestricted” presented by Oskar Blues – Dirty Mo Radio’s first-ever podcast of the fans, by the fans, and for the fans. New episodes to post following race weekends throughout the year.
 
TUESDAY: “Dale Jr. Download” – unparalleled perspective from the track, candid commentary about the sport, and fascinating, first-person insight from Dale Earnhardt Jr. himself and co-host Tyler Overstreet. New season debuted today.

WEDNESDAY: “Fast Lane Family” presented by TIGI –
a lifestyle podcast featuring the perspectives, stories and relationships of Kelley Earnhardt Miller and her teenage daughter Karsyn Elledge. New episodes to post on alternating Wednesdays with Earnhardt Outdoors starting Feb. 22.
 
WEDNESDAY: “Earnhardt Outdoors” – a hunting, fishing and camping podcast hosted by Kerry Earnhardt and L.W. Miller that shares the Earnhardt family passion for the great outdoors. Episodes post on alternating Wednesdays with Fast Lane Family starting March 15.
 
THURSDAY: “Back In The Day” presented by Axalta – refurbished from the 2006-07 TV series Back In The Day with Dale Jr., this podcast is your NASCAR time machine that revisits auto racing’s milestone moments, influential figures, and historical highlights.  Hosted by Ron Lemasters and Steve Richards, new episodes scheduled for every other Thursday starting Feb. 23.

INTERMITTENTLY: “Said Junior” presented by Nationwide –
full audio replay of press conferences and media sessions by Earnhardt Jr. throughout the NASCAR season. New season debuted on Jan. 31 and will continue throughout the year.
 
JRM PR