Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13610)

Penalties were handed out in a big way following the NASCAR weekend at Dover International Speedway.

In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Pedigree Petcare Toyota was tagged for an improperly installed wheel. The wheel came off the vehicle following a pit stop. This rule falls under Sections Tires and Wheels as well as Minimum Safety Options. Crew chief Adam Stevens, tire changer Jacob Seminara and tire carrier Kenneth Barber have been suspended from all NASCAR Series Championship Points Events through July 3, 2017. Busch finished 16th in the AAA 400 Drive For Autism last Sunday.

The No. 19 Tunity Toyota XFINITY team of Matt Tifft was also penalized under Sections for lugnuts not properly installed. Crew chief Matt Beckman has been fined $5,000. Tifft finished 9th in the One Main Financial 200 on Saturday in Dover.

Chase Briscoe’s No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, who finished 12th in the Ben Harbor 200, was hit with the same infractions as Busch in the Cup series. An improperly installed wheel came off after a pit stop. Crew chief Mike Hillman Jr., tire changer Wesley McPherson and tire carrier Eric Pinkert will sit out of NASCAR events through July 9, 2017.

According to a statement from Brad Keselowski Racing, Briscoe’s team is ‘considering our options under the appeal process outlined in the NASCAR Rulebook’. Buddy Sisco will be the interim crew chief. Joe Gibbs Racing has decided not to appeal. Race engineer Ben Beshore will fill in for Stevens on the No. 18.

Cassill on Pocono

"In approaching how to race Pocono Raceway, I feel like you have to be good off of Turn 3. I don’t know how you tune the car for Turn 3 without hurting the other two corners the most. But in my experience at Pocono, the best cars are usually equal in 1 and 2 and they kill you off of Turn 3. So, if you can be good off of Turn 3, you know you’re going to be good on the rest of the track. That's what our CSX team will be focusing on during practice Friday and Saturday.

"I think stage racing at Pocono is going to show some different strategies than we’ve seen all year. I think you’re going to see people make some really odd-looking green-flag pit stops to try to flip the grid after the end of the stage. It should be entertaining."


Ragan on Pocono

"Pocono is a very unique race track. It’s one of the reasons that our NASCAR circuit is fun to watch every weekend. Each race track is a little different, and Pocono is one of the more unique places that we race on. Turn 1 is a traditional, high-banked corner. Turn 2 is very flat, but very tight. And Turn 3 is very sweeping without a lot of banking. It's hard to get your car working well in all three corners, but our Overton's team will be working hard to get as close as we can.

"The stages are going to play a key role in the outcome of the overall finish because you’ll be able to pit during the stages without losing a lap and try to gain some track position. So, I think you’ll have guys on different strategies – some trying to gain points for that stage, but some cars that will just throw away those points and try to set themselves up for the final stage. I think Pocono could be a place where you’ll see some unfamiliar names up front at the end of one of the stages just because the strategy worked out right."


Rising star NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney has a chance to make those who attend the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fan Appreciation Night at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio on Saturday, June 10, very happy and help get their vehicles running in top condition.

Should the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, driven by Blaney, win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway on June 11, everyone in attendance at Fan Appreciation Night can take their June 10 Sharon Speedway admission ticket and the “Win With Ryan Blaney” certificate they will receive on entry to a participating Youngstown Metro Ford dealership or Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center to redeem the “The Works” vehicle service package (or an equivalent $40 service).

“This is a really, really cool promotion,” said Blaney.  “Sharon Speedway has been a part of my family dating back to my grandfather, and my mom and dad are now part-owners and operators of the track.  For Motorcraft and Quick Lane to support the track’s Fan Appreciation Night in such a big way is very special to our whole family.  And then to tie it all together with the No. 21 Cup program and race on Sunday in Pocono is a lot of fun.  Hopefully I can deliver a win for the thousands in attendance at Sharon Speedway on Saturday night.  No added pressure, right?!” 

The green flag drops, starting the racing action on Saturday at Sharon Speedway at 6:00 pm, but the gates will open at 3:00 pm to allow fans to enjoy the many Ford vehicle displays and activities that are planned, including:

  • The Ford F-Series Tech Tour display demonstrating the all-new F-Series Super Duty capabilities and class-exclusive features

  • The No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion NASCAR show car

  • Family Fun Zone including Motorcraft Tested Tough Battery bounce house

  • Enter for the chance to win the NASCAR Championship Weekend experience (winner announced race night on June 10, 2017 at Sharon Speedway)

  • Enter for a chance to win a 2018 Mustang GT (national content, winner announced January 2018)

Complimentary admission tickets are available before the event at participating Youngstown Metro Ford dealerships and Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center.  Tickets also will be available at the Sharon Speedway gate on June 10.

Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race airs on FS1 starting at 3:00 pm ET.

Ford Performance PR

On Tuesday in the Daytona International Speedway infield, avid outdoorsman Clint Bowyer demonstrated his archery expertise. He also talked about hoping his aim is really true on Saturday night, July 1, when he runs in the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola.

Bowyer, in his first year driving for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, is winless but showing signs of the form that nearly produced a series championship in 2012 when he finished second behind Brad Keselowski. Bowyer is 10th in the series standings, driving the No. 14 Ford Fusion.

In search of a breakthrough victory with his new team, what better place than the “World Center of Racing?” Bowyer has yet to win a Monster Energy Series race at DIS; his sole DIS victory came in NASCAR XFINITY Series competition – the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250, July 2009 when he won from the pole.

“To win at Daytona is ultra-special,” Bowyer said. “The sense of accomplishment at restrictor-plate tracks is so genuine because so many things have to go right. It’s not only you, but your spotter, your teammates, your manufacturer teammates.”

Bowyer was joined in the archery exhibition – held in the speedway’s garage area – by media members and the staff from Bass Pro Shops located at nearby ONE DAYTONA, a premier 300,000 square retail, dining and entertainment district. Bowyer started things off looking a bit like an expert himself, with two near-bullseyes.

He likewise has had a strong start to this season, riding a wave of organizational momentum that started with his teammate Kurt Busch winning the DAYTONA 500 in February.

“It’s been an awesome year,” Bowyer said. “It’s been super cool to show up at Stewart-Haas Racing and start off with a bang, firing on all eight cylinders.”

In addition to the archery exhibition with the media, Bowyer also surprised a Daytona International Speedway tour in Gatorade Victory Lane and then visited with the ticket office staff, even pitching in by taking a few calls.

The Coke Zero 400 weekend is packed with storylines, starting with Dale Earnhardt Jr’s final Monster Energy Series start at DIS and the celebration of seven-time DAYTONA 500 champion Richard Petty’s 80th birthday. The annual red, white and blue celebration also will feature country music star Tyler Farr performing a pre-race concert, the traditional honoring of Medal of Honor recipients and one of the largest fireworks displays in the Southeast.

“You talk about fireworks, man, fireworks always seem to big here on and off the race track,” Bowyer said. “Just an unbelievable race track. This is the ‘big daddy’ of them all. There’s nothing like it.”

Tickets for the 59th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 and other Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.


Hendrick Motorsports executive vice president and general manager Doug Duchardt will leave the organization later this summer. He will remain in his role through the end of June.

Duchardt, 53, came to Hendrick Motorsports in January 2005 as vice president of development, a position in which he oversaw race car design, engineering and production. In July 2013, he was elevated to the newly created role of general manager, directing all racing operations for the team.

“Being a member of this family of talented people for more than 12 years has been an unparalleled privilege,” said Duchardt, who previously was director of North American motor sports initiatives for General Motors. “It was a difficult decision to make, but I feel this is the right time in my life to pursue other goals. I’m incredibly thankful to Rick (Hendrick) and all of my teammates for a truly rewarding experience and for the countless relationships that will continue on.”

In Duchardt’s 12 full seasons with Hendrick Motorsports, the organization’s chassis and engines won a record six consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championships and nine of the last 11. He oversaw the successful conversion to the Chevrolet R-07 engine in 2007, the incorporation of electronic fuel injection in 2012 and Hendrick Motorsports’ role as lead development team for the Generation-6 Chevrolet SS race car, which debuted in 2013.

“Doug joined us during a difficult time in our history and helped provide stability and leadership,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “I’ll always be grateful to him for accepting that challenge and for his ongoing dedication and countless contributions. We all wish him the very best in his future endeavors, which will most certainly be successful. He’s a special friend and person.”

Duchardt’s responsibilities will be assigned to multiple team members, including Hendrick Motorsports president Marshall Carlson, chief financial officer Scott Lampe and vice president of competition Ken Howes. The organization does not plan to fill the general manager role.

Hendrick Motorsports PR

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be adding a new driver to their ranks beginning this weekend at Pocono Raceway. Bubba Wallace Jr. will be the interim driver in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entry while Aric Almirola continues the healing process after suffering a T5 Vertebrae Compression Fracture at Kansas Speedway last month.

After the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Pocono, Roush Fenway Racing will suspend operations of their No. 6 entry driven by Wallace Jr. Roush Fenway and Wallace Jr. will continue to look at opportunities for him to get in the Xfinity car when sponsorship arises.

“It's an exciting opportunity not only for myself but my family, first of all, my fans, everybody that's helped me get to this level ever since I started racing when I was nine years old and had dreams of running in a Cup race, making my name present in the sport.  So this is the perfect opportunity.  So I'm very thankful for that,” said Wallace.

Wallace Jr.’s named emerge shortly after 2010 among the NASCAR ranks through the Drive For Diversity program. While in that program, Wallace Jr. showed success. Wallace reflected on that time and where it lead him today.

“That was a great opportunity that presented itself when we signed on with Joe Gibbs Racing, joined on with Rev Racing at the same time to compete in the Diversity Program, K&N Pro Series East,” said Wallace Jr. “With that success came my career where it is now.  So definitely without that on‑ and off‑track success we had in those two years, I don't know if I'd be here today.  A lot of that credit goes to those guys over there.”

With this step into Cup competition, Wallace Jr. hopes this opportunity helps open the door for more diversity in NASCAR.

“This is a huge step for NASCAR, the whole sport in general, for bringing diversity to its top‑tier level of NASCAR.  I'm glad to be leading the forefront of that right now.  It just shows that we're trying to bring in a new demographic,” said Wallace. “We're trying to bring in a new face, get a younger generation, no matter what color, what age.  We're trying to get everybody involved to bring NASCAR back.  It's been a fun journey.”

Although the future is uncertain when Almirola returns, Wallace Jr. will make the most out of this opportunity.

“I don't know what's going to happen.  One thing I can touch on is I know I'll go out there and prove to everybody inside the racetrack, outside the racetrack, on the TV, that I belong in the Cup Series.  Do the best that I can.  Give an extra 200% each and every time I climb in the car for Ford, for Richard Petty, for everybody on the team, for Smithfield, to go out there and make the opportunity the greatest it has been,” said Wallace Jr.

Wallace Jr. has five years of experience in the Xfinity Series. He has six top-five finishes, 34 top-10’s, and two poles. Wallace Jr. hopes this chance in Cup brings many more years to come at NASCAR’s top level.

While the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams are at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this weekend for Sunday’s Axalta presents the Pocono 400, Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will be one of several drivers looking to make history.


On Saturday, Patrick will be joined by seven of her NASCAR Cup Series peers for the FOX broadcast of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race. In what is believed to be an unprecedented move in national sports broadcasting, Saturday’s Xfinity race will be called entirely by active NASCAR Cup Series drivers, including Patrick’s SHR teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. The race broadcast is thought to be the first time a nationally televised live sporting event has featured an on-air team comprised strictly of athletes actively competing in that sport.


Patrick is also believed to have been the first woman to serve as an analyst during a NASCAR television race when she joined the FOX Sports team in the broadcast booth for the Xfinity Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in June 2015. She also served in that capacity for last year’s Xfinity Series race at Pocono.


This weekend, she will join fellow NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin to co-host FOX race coverage from the Hollywood Hotel mobile studio. The race coverage will air live on FOX at 1 p.m. EDT on Saturday.


The next day, Patrick will get behind the wheel of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford for the Pocono 400. The race will mark her ninth start at the 2.5-mile track nicknamed the “Tricky Triangle” due to its unique triangular layout that was designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rodger Ward. Patrick’s best finish at Pocono is a 16th-place effort earned in August 2015.


Fresh off of a top-10 result at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team will be ready to score another top-10 finish at Pocono on Sunday after she helps make history Saturday in the FOX broadcast booth.



No. 14 Haas Automation Ford crew chief Mike Bugarewicz begins each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend with the hope of getting driver Clint Bowyer to victory lane. With two top-five finishes already in the 2017 season, a Bowyer trip to victory lane isn’t out of the realm of possibilities when the Cup Series travels to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for Sunday’s Pocono 400.

Winning this weekend would be extra special for the man everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) calls “Buga,” who grew up in the backyard of the 2.5-mile track.

“There’s a simple, one-word description I have of Pocono, and it’s ‘home,’” Bugarewicz said. “I grew up about 20 minutes from the racetrack. I’ve raced up in the Northeast and attended many of the races at Pocono. I used to go to qualifying all the time there. Pocono means a lot to me. It would really mean a lot to me to have a win there at some point in my career. I haven’t been successful with that, yet, but I hope to change that shortly.”

Bugarewicz grew up in Lehighton, Pennsylvania competing on the high school football, wrestling and track and field teams. He also spent a lot of time watching his father race at Mahoning Valley (Pa.) Speedway and working on cars at his father’s business long before he even owned a driver’s license. He studied mechanical engineering and performed research for the U.S. Navy through Applied Research Laboratories in graduate school at Penn State University before heading to North Carolina to embark on a NASCAR career that peaked at SHR.

He won a championship serving as the lead engineer on SHR’s No. 4 car with driver Kevin Harvick in 2014. He took over the No. 14 crew chief duties in 2016 for driver Tony Stewart’s final year of NASCAR competition. Bugarewicz’s decision to pit Stewart with 25 laps remaining in the race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway last year, despite dropping him to 32nd, turned out to be genius as a caution two laps later enable Stewart to take the lead. The three-time champion made a last-lap pass for his 49th and final Cup Series victory.

The victory propelled Stewart into the playoffs with Bugarewicz the only rookie crew chief among the 16 participants. The arrival of Clint Bowyer in 2017 hasn’t slowed the rate of success. The No. 14 is 10th in points after 13 races despite a 31st-place finish last weekend at Dover (Del.) Speedway. Bowyer had driven from 22nd to fourth in the opening 100 laps before an oil leak sent him behind the wall.

Bowyer’s happy-go-lucky personality and Bugarewicz’s seriousness are a contrast but make for a good combination.

“Man, it is the hardest thing to try to get a laugh out of him or a rise in any way other than just pissed or completely disgusted with me – it is a lot of fun though,” Bowyer said with a laugh, pointing out his 35-year-old crew chief is one of the youngest in the garage.

“The work ethic is what you care about and I think that is what he cares about with me,” Bowyer continued, “as long as I show up for my meetings and take my work seriously. It has been a while since I’ve had someone as dedicated as Mike is. You literally have to tell him to go home, go eat dinner with your family, take your wife out to dinner, do something to get your mind off this. He will call you and 9 or 10 o’clock at night and he is still working. That work ethic is instilled in pretty much everybody at Stewart-Haas, and Mike is no exception. We are very fortunate to have him. He has brought me a lot of good hot rods already.”

Sunday’s race will mark Bowyer’s 411th career Cup Series start and 23rd career Cup Series start at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, where he has two top-five finishes and nine top-10s and has led 91 laps. He knows winning Sunday would be special for his crew chief.

“Pocono is a really tough track with three different turns,” Bowyer said. “I want to make sure we qualify well so we can get a good starting position and pit stall. Winning in Pennsylvania with Buga would be cool. He’d be thrilled. Heck, so would all of us.”


The list of racetracks where Kyle Busch has yet to win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is not long.

In fact, there are only two left on that list – Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the site of Sunday’s Pocono 400 Cup Series race.

So as the Cup Series competitors head to the Pocono Mountains for the first of two races there in an eight-week span that also signals the beginning of the summer stretch of races, Busch and the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White, and Blue Toyota Camry team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) are looking to get one win closer to adding his name to the record books yet again. Busch added two Cup Series tracks to his career victory list with 2016 wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

Other drivers have come close to accomplishing the feat Busch has in his sights and fell short. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season and was one short of the feat as he was unable to find victory lane at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in five career starts there. Three-time champion Tony Stewart, who retired at the end of 2016, had Kentucky and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway remaining on his list of tracks where he had yet to win.

While Pocono proved to be difficult for Busch to master for the first six years of his Cup Series career, he seemed to have turned a corner there starting in June 2011, when he started from the pole – his first at Pocono – and was beaten across the finish line only by teammate and Pocono master Denny Hamlin, who has four wins to his credit at “The Tricky Triangle.” In August 2011, Busch led 27 laps late in the race before equaling his career-best Pocono finish of second behind race-winner Brad Keselowski. While he brought home top-10 finishes in both 2013 races at Pocono, Busch and the M&M’S Red, White, and Blue team are striving for even bigger things at the 2.5-mile track after running well the last two years but not getting the finishes they deserved, especially the July 2015 fuel-mileage heartbreak as his most recent strong run there.

While Busch brought home his first career win in the non-points All-Star Race three weeks ago at Charlotte, Busch has come agonizingly close to his first points-paying win of the season. With strong runs at Phoenix International Raceway, Martinsville and in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, Busch has at least three races he’s run well enough to win but has come up just short in his attempt. In fact, Busch has led 603 total laps this season, the third-most laps led in the Cup Series behind Martin Truex Jr.’s 871 and Kyle Larson’s 607. With those strong runs in the back of his mind, there’s no doubt that Busch, 2015 Cup Series champion, could bring home a win very soon.

As the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains for Sunday’s 400-miler, Busch and the entire M&M’S team hope to start the summer stretch of races on the right foot. They’ll look to cross another track off the list for Busch as he works to accomplish something nobody else has in NASCAR Cup history – win a points race at every single active track.


Dover International Speedway, often called the Monster Mile, can be a challenge for drivers at any level of NASCAR competition, and Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism was an especially “monstrous” day for many rookie and veteran drivers. Both BK Racing drivers, however, brought home clean racecars and solid finishes with Gray Gaulding finishing 24th and Ryan Sieg, in his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start, finishing 26th.

The Monster Mile was not completely new to rookie driver Gray Gaulding, who had previously raced there in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Gaulding ran a solid race in Sunday’s AAA 400, competing in the top 25 almost all day and finishing in 24th place in the No. 23 Addiction Campuses Toyota Camry. "We had a great run yesterday at Dover," said Gaulding. "My crew chief, Patrick Donahue, made great calls, and the pit crew had excellent stops all day. I’m thankful to have Addiction Campuses on board and have a good showing for them. I’m looking forward to next week at Pocono."

Ryan Sieg made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend in the No. 83 JAS Expedited Trucking Toyota Camry. After finding trouble early in the race, Sieg and the No. 83 team worked hard all day and came back to finish in 26th place. "It was a great learning weekend for me being in a cup car for the first time," said Sieg. "I was pushing too hard early in the race when we spun, but luckily I kept it off the wall. From there we kept the car clean, and I learned every lap. We managed a decent result, and I'm thankful to my crew chief, Randy Cox, and everyone at BK Racing for their hard work."
BK Racing PR