NASCAR Cup Series News

NASCAR Cup Series News (17900)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 400

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Sunday, November 17

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400.5 miles (267 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 300

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Saturday, Nov. 16

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 200

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Friday, Nov. 15

The Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 201 miles (134 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 134)

 


Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

By The Numbers: Homestead-Miami Speedway

1 – Tony Stewart is the only driver in series history to win at the famed 1.5-mile speedway in his first appearance (1999).

2 – Number of times the Busch pole-winner has won the race – 2001, Bill Elliott and 2002, Kurt Busch

3 – Number of Busch poles at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Denny Hamlin – most all-time

6 – Number of times the winner of the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway has won the title during the Playoff Era; including the last five seasons in the elimination-style format of the Playoffs (Tony Stewart, 2011; Kevin Harvick, 2014; Kyle Busch, 2015; Jimmie Johnson, 2016, Martin Truex Jr., 2017, Joey Logano, 2018).

12 – Number of Playoff races at Homestead-Miami Speedway that were won by Playoff contenders; three times a non-Playoff contender has won season finale: Greg Biffle (2004 and 2006) and Denny Hamlin (2013).     

14 – Number of different Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway; led by Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart with three each.

14 – The most cautions in a single Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (11/21/2004; the inaugural Playoff race in Miami)

14 – Number of different Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch pole winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

15 – Number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races Homestead-Miami Speedway has hosted (2004-2019).

15 – The worst finish by the eventual series champion in a Playoffs race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (it happened three times: Tony Stewart in 2005, Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and Brad Keselowski in 2012). 

19 – Most Homestead-Miami Cup starts – Matt Kenseth

20 – Total number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races held at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

18-20 – The degrees of banking in all four turns of Homestead-Miami Speedway.

22 – The age of the youngest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch Pole Award winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Joey Logano (11/18/2012 – 22 years, 5 months, 25 days).

24 – The age of the youngest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Kurt Busch (11/17/2002 – 24 years, 3 months, 13 days).

26 – The greatest number of lead changes in a single race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (11/20/2011).

38 – The lowest starting position by a race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Denny Hamlin, 2009).

46 – The age of the oldest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch Pole Award and race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Bill Elliott set both records in 2001 (11/11/2001 – 46 years, 1 month, 3 days).

73 – Total number of NASCAR national series races held at Homestead-Miami Speedway, second-most by a track in the state of Florida: MENCS (20), NXS (24) and NGOTS (23).

150.0 – The highest score in driver rating scale, considered a perfect performance, and has only been accomplished at Homestead-Miami Speedway once, in 2010 by Carl Edwards.

267 – Number of laps scheduled for this weekend’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

Homestead Heroes: Recent Title-Clinching Performances

Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will mark the conclusion of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Below are how the last nine season finales at Homestead-Miami Speedway turned out:

2010 – Jimmie Johnson Tracks Down Denny Hamlin For Fifth Straight Title

Denny Hamlin held a comfortable 15-point lead on Jimmie Johnson for the championship heading into the season finale. However, Hamlin could not close out the title. Hamlin damaged his Toyota with an early-race spin and finished 14th as a result. Kevin Harvick, who was third in points entering the race, finished third. Johnson placed runner-up to take home his fifth consecutive championship.

2011 – Tony Stewart Wins Third Championship In Epic Race

Trailing leader Carl Edwards by three points entering the 2011 finale, Tony Stewart virtually needed a win to capture the title – especially considering that Edwards ultimately finished runner-up in the race.

Stewart drove to the front from the back of the field twice and edged out Edwards to get to Victory Lane.

The pair finished the season tied in points, but Stewart held the tiebreaker over Edwards of most wins during the season (five to one).

2012 – Brad Keselowski Fends Off Jimmie Johnson For First Championship

Brad Keselowski entered the 2012 season finale 20 points ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.

Keselowski, who won two Playoff races to help put himself in championship-clinching position, didn’t produce his best performance with a 15th-place showing.

But problems in the pits for Johnson caused the five-time champion to finish 36th and helped Keselowski secure his first championship, as well as the first title for Team Penske.

2013 – Jimmie Johnson Closes In On Earnhardt And Petty With Sixth Title

After building up his points lead on the strength of six wins, 16 top fives and 23 top 10s, Jimmie Johnson needed to finish 23rd to capture his sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Following an incident on a restart just shy of the 200-lap mark, Johnson ended up 23rd when it all sorted itself out.

By the end of the race, he worked his way up to finish ninth, earning Hendrick Motorsports a record 11th championship.

2014 – Harvick Rides To Two ‘Do Or Die’ Victories To Earn First Series Title

Kevin Harvick started the penultimate race of the 2014 season needing a win to get into the Championship 4 race at Phoenix. He dominated the contest, leading 264 laps to earn the victory and a spot in the Championship 4. After playing mind games throughout Homestead week with the rest of the field, Harvick held off runner-up Ryan Newman to earn his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title.

2015 – Kyle Busch Overcomes Injury For Improbable Comeback

Just ninth months after breaking his right leg and fracturing his left foot, Kyle Busch edged out defending champion Kevin Harvick for the Homestead race win and his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Busch missed the first 11 races of the season after sustaining his injuries in a crash in the season-opening race NASCAR Xfinity race at Daytona. He came back to win five races and cement his name in NASCAR history.

2016 – Johnson Ties Series Record With Seventh Championship

Jimmie Johnson proved once again to not count him out in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He won his way into the Round of 8 with a victory at Charlotte, then took the checkered flag at Martinsville to punch his ticket to Homestead. He provided a walk-off win at Homestead to capture his seventh championship, tying Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series record.

2017 – Martin Truex Jr. Earns First Championship

Driving for the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing Team, Truex turned a career best season into a championship for the ages. His victory in the Homestead finale was a personal best eighth on the year. He led the final 34 laps and held off a hard charging Kyle Busch by .681-seconds to earn the trophy hoist. It was an emotional victory with team owner, Barney Visser recovering from a recent heart attack back in Denver and Truex’s longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex trackside after a year of major medical obstacles.

2018 – Joey Logano Wins First Championship

After qualifying for the Championship 4 in the Round of 8 opening race at Martinsville Speedway, the 28-year old Logano headed to Homestead-Miami largely considered the “underdog” to 2018’s “Big 3” – Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. The threesome (Busch, 9, Harvick, 8 and Truex, 4) won 21 of the first 35 races in 2018. However, the Team Penske driver grabbed his opportunity and took it to the Big 3, winning the season finale by a sizable 1.7-seconds over Truex, Harvick and Busch and taking his career first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy – Team Penske’s second.

 

Familiar Faces

This will be the third consecutive year that Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have advanced to the Homestead-Miami Speedway Championship 4 round. This marks the second time in NASCAR’s Playoff era that three of the four title contenders were championship eligible in consecutive years. It marks the fourth consecutive time that three of the four drivers vying for the big trophy are former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champs.

Harvick won the 2014 championship, Busch in 2015 and Truex in 2017.

  

A Spoiler At Homestead?

Since the introduction of the "win and you’re in" elimination-style Playoff format, the eventual champion has won at Homestead-Miami Speedway each of the five years (Kevin Harvick, 2014; Kyle Busch, 2015; Jimmie Johnson, 2016, Martin Truex Jr., 2017 and Joey Logano, 2018). Still, a driver out of championship contention can win the race.

There is plenty of motivation. Jimmie Johnson won the race in 2016 en route to his record-tying seventh Cup title. He is looking to snap a career long 94-race winless streak. This season marks the first time Johnson didn’t qualify for the Playoffs and he’d love nothing more than to end it in Victory Lane.

Logano is the defending race winner and reigning champion and having just missed a shot at defending his title – fifth best after the previous Playoff round, motivation is not an issue.

In addition to Logano and Johnson, both previous Homestead winners, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson claims Homestead-Miami Speedway as his favorite track.

The 27-year-old NASCAR Next alumnus finished runner-up at Homestead in 2016 after leading a race-high 132 laps and placed fifth at the 1.5-mile track in 2015. After a breakout season in 2017, when he set career highs in wins (four), top fives (14), top 10s (19) and average finish (13.6), Larson team struggled in 2019. But he won his first race (at Dover, Del.) in two years during the Playoff push and arrives in South Florida fresh off a fourth place run at Phoenix. He’s led 322 laps at Homestead in the last three Playoff races seeking his first Cup win at the track.

And Larson does have a win in the sun at Miami – in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He took the checkered flag in 2015 after finishing third in 2013 and second in 2014 in the Xfinity Series races.

 

Atop the Leader Board

All five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champions crowned since the elimination-style Playoff format was introduced in 2014 earned their title by taking the checkered flag. In four of those years (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018), second place in the standings finished second in the race.

That means there’s a lot of pressure on this year’s Championship 4 to win, or at least finish very close to the front, to secure the title.

Denny Hamlin leads the Championship 4 in top-five finishes in 2019 with 19, followed by Kyle Busch’s 16.  Busch has the most top 10s on the year with 26 and Martin Truex Jr. has the most victories (seven).

Hamlin, making his first Playoff appearance since 2015, leads the champion foursome as the only multi-time Homestead winner, taking the checkered flag in 2009 and 2013. Harvick, however, leads the four title contenders – in fact the entire field - in average finish (5.643). Truex is next with a 9.154, followed by Hamlin (10.571) and Busch (17.429).

 

Best of the Rest

In 2018, Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola raced his way to fifth place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings – a career-best showing for the Tampa native and an example of the motivation that remains even for those drivers who did not advance to the Championship 4.

As the points stand now, Joey Logano sits in fifth place with a 23-point advantage over sixth place Kyle Larson and a 41-point edge over Logano’s Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney in seventh. Larson’s best career championship standings was eighth place in 2017. Blaney’s top finish in the standings was ninth place in 2017.

As for the top non-Playoff drivers from this season, Jimmie Johnson and Daniel Suarez have been battling for the 17th position since the Playoffs began. As of now, Suarez holds a 16-point advantage on Johnson heading into Homestead, where Johnson won the race in 2016 and has 11 top-10 finishes.

Johnson had been ranked 17th for four weeks until the Playoff race at Martinsville where the seven-time Cup champion suffered the first of two consecutive sub 30th-place finishes. He was 38th at Martinsville, Va. and 34th at Texas.

Suarez has not finished better than 30th in two Cup Series starts at Homestead. His best career Cup championship finish – in two seasons – was a 20th-place finish in his 2017 rookie season so he would appear in good shape to set a new high this week.

 

Rookies Race for the Checkered Flag

Richard Childress Racing driver Daniel Hemric and JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece have kept the Sunoco Rookie of the Year crown battle intense and it remains competitive even heading into the season’s final race at Miami.

Hemric is ranked 25th in the championship standings only 10 points ahead of Preece in 26th place.

Their primary season statistics read similarly. Hemric won a pole position (at Kansas-2) and has one top-five and two top-10 finishes – his best outcome a seventh-place finish at Talladega-1. His best career finish at Homestead is a fourth place in the 2018 Xfinity Series championship race there last year. He was fifth there in 2016 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series finale.

Preece’s best rookie showing this season was a third place at Talladega-1. He also has a previous top five effort at Homestead, finishing fifth in the Xfinity Series finale there in 2017.

NASCAR PR

NBC Sports NASCAR analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Steve Letarte, as well as NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood, previewed the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship on a media conference call on Tuesday afternoon.

Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. will race for the 2019 championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., this Sunday, November 17, at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

Following are highlights of Tuesday’s call. Click here to read a full transcript of the call.

Burton on unpredictability of Sunday’s race: “I would encourage the fans and media, everybody involved – ignore the stats. This is like going to a football game and it’s going to snow. I don’t care that Kevin Harvick did something on mile-and-a-halves this year. This isn’t a normal mile-and-a-half racetrack. I don’t care that Denny Hamlin sat on the pole three races. I don’t care. Completely different package.”

Earnhardt Jr. on Playoff format and pressure on championship race: “It seems like you have to win the race to win the championship. You have to go in there with a car capable of winning, a winning strategy, and execute to be the champion. That's been really profound. I think when we started this system, I don't know that anybody expected the champion to have to win the race each season, but that's kind of been what it takes.”

Jarrett on competitive racing in 2019: “These are the four very best. This has been the best season of racing that we’ve seen in many, many years. The Playoffs have just been phenomenal. I expect nothing less on Sunday afternoon.”

Petty on Denny Hamlin: “It just seems like Denny Hamlin has the team of destiny. I compare it to Alan Kulwicki. I spent a lot of time with him the year he won the championship. For all the things that happened, all the things he went through that year, it’s just like you felt he was going to win a championship. I think it’s been that way for Denny since they dropped the green flag at Daytona. This will be the end of the story.”

Earnhardt Jr. on Hamlin: “Some drivers really don't waver a lot when they're confident or uncertain. I think Denny is a much, much better racecar driver when he's very confident. He seems to make different decisions, push himself into situations, succeed in that kind of environment. I think the confidence that he has this year could be the difference-maker for him to win the championship. I don't know that he had that in the past times when he was coming into this type of scenario.”

Burton on Kyle Busch’s winless drought: “I can't quite figure out where Kyle is. I know he was disappointed with second. You know what I mean? He was clearly in his post-race interview not happy with finishing second. I think that came from the fact that at one point his teammate was a half a lap in front of him under green. Kyle is not accustomed to that.”

Jarrett on Kyle Busch: “For the last few months, it’s something that has been a distraction to the driver and to the team. Can they rebound from that? Can they put everything aside here for one weekend and do everything right? I find it hard to believe, mainly because what Jeff has talked about there, is they haven’t had the speed, as much as even their teammates, much less throwing Kevin Harvick in the mix there.”

Letarte on Joe Gibbs Racing vs. Stewart-Haas Racing: “I think the three Joe Gibbs cars are going to separate themselves and run as three independents. I think it's more the week-long preparation. Even if the Joe Gibbs guys split up, it's still one organization that is supporting three cars, where Stewart-Haas only has one car. To be quite honest, the speed of the Joe Gibbs cars have been so high all year long, D.J. joked about it at NASCAR America, I would rather take a Joe Gibbs car with divided effort than perhaps a Stewart-Haas car.”

Petty on Kevin Harvick: “When he thinks it's everybody against him, he is a dangerous, dangerous man. He's the most dangerous team. He and Rodney are the most dangerous group going to Homestead because you can't measure that heart inside his body… it's important for Kevin Harvick. He's 44 years old. This is important for him. We're fast approaching a sport where you get a 13- or 14-year career, that's it. You don't get to drive for 25 years anymore.”

NBC Sports PR

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads to Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway buoyed by hope after a career-best finish on a 1.5-mile oval two weekends ago at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. 

 

Almirola piloted the No. 10 Smithfield Ford to a second-place finish at Texas after leading 62 laps. He crossed the finish line just behind race-winning SHR and Ford Performance teammate Kevin Harvick, who will be one of four drivers competing for the 2019 championship Sunday at Homestead. 

 

“It felt so good to run that well again, and Kevin put up a great race (at Texas),” Almirola said. “It was bittersweet running that well and coming up short, but Ford and SHR have a car racing for the championship this weekend. It’s been such a rollercoaster of a season starting out with a bang and having a rough patch the rest of the way. I’m hoping we can bring that same speed from Texas to Homestead so we can come back confident in 2020 and especially at the sixth race, which will be back at Homestead.”

 

After 35 races this season, Almirola has one pole, three top-five finishes, 12 top-10s and has led 180 laps. That adds to a career total of two wins, two poles, 18 top-five finishes, 61 top-10s and 537 laps led in 315 starts.

 

Almirola’s history at Homestead includes one top-five finish and three top-10s in nine starts on the 1.5-mile oval south of Miami. 

 

In addition to his Cup Series races, Almirola has two Homestead starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, both resulting in top-10 finishes. He also has three starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series with one top-five finish and 15 laps led. 

 

Not only is Sunday’s race the last of the 2019 season, it also marks the last of an 18-year streak of Cup Series season finales being held at Homestead. Next year’s season will end at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.

 

“I think it’s good to change things up sometimes,” Almirola said. “Homestead has been a great track for NASCAR to crown a champion. I think the racetrack itself has been great. It’s a 1.5-mile track and there are great opportunities to pass, but our fans will have something else to look forward to next year, whether they’re watching from home or from the grandstands. They’ll have a new championship experience. I look forward to coming back to Homestead in March.”

 

Texas is the 31st event during which the Smithfield livery will adorn Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang this year. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its eighth season with Almirola and its second with SHR. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.

 

Smithfield will rejoin Stewart-Haas Racing and Almirola for the 2020 season as the primary partner of the No. 10 Ford team.

 

“This is the opportunity every driver wants and I’m obviously very proud to have it continue,” Almirola said. “Our relationship with Smithfield is strong. From the customers to the retailers and all of the employees, we take a tremendous amount of pride in representing the Smithfield brand. They’re our biggest supporters and it’s what drives us every time we hit the racetrack. To have them back on board in 2020 makes me excited to get back in the car next February to put them in victory lane.” 

 

As the season comes to a close this weekend, fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Fans can tune in this weekend for full access to Almirola’s playoff media day, NASCAR Burnout Boulevard and the Las Vegas race weekend. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

 

Almirola sits 14th in the standings with 2,219 points heading into the final race of the 2019 season. 

TSC PR

NASCAR and Dixie Vodka announced today a multi-year official partnership, designating the American-made craft spirit brand as the “Official Vodka of NASCAR.” Central to the agreement, Dixie Vodka will sponsor the NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway next season, commemorating the track’s 25th anniversary.

Launched in 2014 by Grain & Barrel Spirits, Dixie Vodka is the largest premium craft vodka produced in the Southeast and includes a lineup of six unique expressions all representing the best of Southern flavor and craftmanship. The South Carolina-based brand is one of the fastest-growing spirit brands in the United States and recently expanded its distribution footprint west of the Mississippi.

“Dixie Vodka is entering the sport with an integrated industry approach, introducing its product to a national fan base that actively supports partners of the sport,” said Daryl Wolfe, executive vice president and chief operations and sales officer, NASCAR. “NASCAR is rooted in heritage and tradition, beginning as a regional sport that eventually grew into a global property. Our new partners have emulated that approach and are utilizing this partnership to expand Dixie’s presence and brand awareness.”

For its first taste of NASCAR, Dixie Vodka will join NASCAR Champion’s Week celebrations at the Fan Fest in Nashville, serving cocktails in Music City’s Riverfront Park alongside all 16 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race cars and other fan displays Dec. 3 - 5.

“Our goal from day one has been to align with partners who share our mission of promoting the best of our region's wonderful hospitality, flavors and craftsmanship,” said Matti Christian Anttila, founder of Dixie Vodka and CEO of Grain & Barrel Spirits. “NASCAR is an iconic brand that has grown from southern roots into a national sport watched by millions of people every race day. This partnership allows us to speak directly to that amazing fanbase, introducing them to the best of the flavors of the south and the heart and soul we put into every single bottle of Dixie Vodka. We’ll toast to that.”

The Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 22, 2020 will help celebrate the track’s 25th anniversary season. As part of the event, Dixie Vodka will be featured at bars throughout the racetrack, serving cocktails that showcase the brand’s expressions – Southern, Black Pepper, Peach, Wildflower Honey, Citrus and Mint.

“Dixie Vodka aligns perfectly with what Miami and Homestead-Miami Speedway are all about,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia. “Not only can our fans witness some of the most exciting racing in NASCAR, but we also have tremendous amenities throughout our facility that they are able to experience as well. It’s all about fun, and that’s what Homestead-Miami Speedway and Dixie Vodka will offer all of our guests. We are thrilled about this new partnership as we commemorate the 25th anniversary of our venue.”

At the start of the 2020 season, fans will have the opportunity to taste Dixie Vodka and a lineup of its all-American cocktails at the Dixie Vodka-branded bar at Daytona International Speedway. Additionally, fans will be able to celebrate every win at Richmond Raceway from the Dixie Vodka Victory Lane Club, which provides unprecedented access to the action in the infield.

As part of the partnership, Dixie Vodka also becomes the Official Vodka of the DAYTONA 500, Daytona International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Richmond Raceway.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs concludes at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the Ford EcoBoost 400 Sunday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NASCAR PR

Front Row Motorsports and Matt Tifft have mutually agreed to end their agreement as Tifft continues to focus on his health.

A statement from Matt Tifft:

"I've made the decision to focus on my health and there is no rush or timetable to get back behind the wheel. Because of that, I can't commit to racing full-time in 2020. I can't say when I'll be ready to race again, but I believe I will come back. I love this sport, the people, and I would like to be a part of it next year in some capacity.

"I want to thank Bob Jenkins, Jerry Freeze and the entire Front Row Motorsports organization for allowing me to live my dream of racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. They are great people and it's been awesome to race there. I look forward to what's next in racing when the time is right."

A statement from Bob Jenkins, Owner, Front Row Motorsports:

"Matt has always shown us a lot of determination and courage. He's a fighter and I believe, like him, that he'll return to driving. For now, we support Matt and his need to focus on his health and his family. Racing will be there when it's time. We want to thank Matt and his family for being a part of Front Row Motorsports and helping us continue to grow."

FRM PR

Anything less than battling for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title is a disappointment for Clint Bowyer, but he also recognizes the progress his No. 14 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has made since replacing three-time champion and now co-car owner Tony Stewart in 2017.  As the Cup Series prepares for the final race of the year in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Bowyer sees many positives from his third season driving for SHR.

 

“We had some good runs and tough runs this year,” said Bowyer, who enters Sunday’s finale 11th in points, just 16 behind 10th-place William Byron and 45 behind ninth-place Brad Keselowski. “But, everybody worked hard all year and kept at it.”

 

Bowyer so far has earned seven top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and a pole position in 2019. Last weekend at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, he finished eighth, the second-highest-finishing non-playoff driver.

 

“We started slow out of the box as we got used to the new cars, then we ran good through May but we just couldn’t get away from bad luck during the summer months,” he said. “All summer long, it was one crummy thing after another and just a letdown – a strong run only to be let down with something crazy happening. We picked it up as we got near the playoffs and, once we were in, we ran well and made it through the first round.”

 

Bowyer advanced to the Round of 12 but fell a few points short of advancing into the Round of 8 mainly due to bad luck during the round’s second race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. He won the first stage of the race and looked to be one of the favorites to win overall as the race progressed. However, Bowyer cut a tire midway through the race that sent the No. 14 into a spin and left him stuck for two laps where the apron and banking met on the track.

It took away any chance for victory and his best chance of moving into the next round of the playoffs.

 

“In the playoffs, we stepped up in a big way,” he said. “Not having a points pad or anything like that and going into those rounds was difficult. Those guys had 20 or 30 points on us. Had we not got stuck on the track in Talladega, we would be right there. We knew that was the opportunity, but unfortunately it just wasn’t our day.”

 

While Bowyer, whose race start at Talladega was the 500th of his career, does his best to secure the first victory of the season this weekend and finish in the top-10 in points for the sixth time in his career, he does have a rooting interest Sunday night as his SHR teammate Kevin Harvick attempts to bring the 11-year-old team its third title. Bowyer, who was also a teammate to Harvick at Richard Childress Racing from 2006 to 2011, said he has no doubt Harvick and the No. 4 team can win the championship again.

 

“Those guys are good,” Bowyer said. “You saw what Kevin did at Texas in the closing laps, and he was up there at Phoenix. I expect that same Kevin Harvick on Sunday. He has a good team, crew, SHR, Roush-Yates engines and Ford behind him, so he’s showing up with the best of everything in Homestead.”

 

It’s fitting that Bowyer’s No. 14 Mustang ends the season this weekend carrying the decals of Rush Truck Centers and Haas Automation – the two sponsors that most often appeared on the car in 2019.

 

Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner on the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived at SHR in 2017 and has been with the organization since 2010. The Texas-based company has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states. According to Rush Truck Centers, the trucking industry is expected to need 200,000 diesel technicians over the next 10 years to keep up with maintenance demands. Rush Truck Centers wants to make NASCAR fans aware of these opportunities.

 

Haas Automation is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. Founded by Gene Haas in 1983, Haas Automation manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are built in the company’s 1.1 million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

 

As the 2019 Cup Series season comes to an end, Bowyer is already looking forward to 2020. He and SHR agreed to an extension and he’ll return behind the wheel of the No. 14 when the 2020 season commences Feb. 16 with the Daytona 500. Just as important, Bowyer seems happy with his station in life and career as a driver – and thankful.

 

“I love what I do,” he said. “I just love the people. I’ve always loved people. I grew up, my father owns a towing business. You’re always out meeting people and, when you meet them, they’re people not necessarily in the best of moods or the best of situations. They’ve either wadded their car up or the damn thing has let them down, or they’ve had a flat tire, run it out of gas, something. You’re always helping somebody out of bad situation, but nonetheless I was always in and out of truck shops. 

 

“You talk about a perfect fit with Rush Truck Centers. That’s literally what I grew up doing. I remember being a little kid and pulling into a Peterbilt shop with my old man with one on the back of it and rolling into a truck shop and getting that thing fixed and unloading it. You’re always around people, so when you come to something like this, it’s like a candy store for me. All the fans and interacting with them, whether they like you or hate you, it’s still fun, it’s still a fun interaction.”

TSC PR

For the season finale, Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Just like he began the season, Suárez will pilot the red-and-black Haas Automation paint scheme.

 

Suárez joined SHR in January for his third full-time season in the Cup Series. The 27-year-old endured a manufacturer change, a rules package change in addition to everything else that comes up with joining a new team. While the No. 41 team has not found their way to victory lane yet, it will be the best Cup season of Suárez’s career.  

 

Last Sunday at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, the Ford driver started from the 15th position and rebounded from a pit road speeding penalty early on to be in the 11th position when the final caution of the race came out with nine laps to go. Ultimately, he finished 15th after contact with competitors vying for a top-10 spot in the final laps.
 

The 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion has one more chance to become the first Mexican born driver to earn a victory in NASCAR’s most prestigious series. Suárez does know how to find his way to victory lane at Homestead as this is the same track where he captured the victory in 2016 to earn him the Xfinity Series title.
 

The Mexico native has two Cup Series starts at Homestead. He’s looking to improve on his best finish of 30th at the 1.5-mile venue.  
 

In the Xfinity Series at Homestead, Suárez has a sixth-place finish and one victory, respectively. For starting positions, he has one pole award and an outside pole position. In his 2016 championship winning season, he led 133 laps to capture the season ending title.
 

In the Gander Outdoor Truck Series, Suárez has two starts with a best finish of sixth, earned in November 2016. His average starting position is 11.5 and average finishing position is 18.0.
 

In his last 10 starts at 1.5-mile tracks, the Haas Automation driver has two top-five and four top-10 finishes, along with one pole which he captured at Kentucky Speedway in July. Overall, he has an average start of 11.7 and an average finish of 14.9, along with 134 laps led.
 

Haas Automation, founded in 1983 by SHR co-owner Gene Haas, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.
 

SHR has two victories at Homestead with a total of seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10s in 31 starts at the mile-and-a-half track. Suárez’s SHR teammate, Kevin Harvick, is one of four drivers competing for the season ending championship this weekend.
 

With one race remaining, Suárez is 17th in the standings with 823 points and has four top-fives and 11 top-10s this season, along with 166 laps led. He has an average start of 14.1 and an average finish of 16.5.

TSC PR

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 400

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Sunday, November 17

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400.5 miles (267 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 300

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Saturday, Nov. 16

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 200

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Friday, Nov. 15

The Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 201 miles (134 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 134)

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (In Alphabetical Order)

The stage is set and it can be argued that the cream has risen to the top this season as the four winningest drivers will be contending for the championship this Sunday in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, and  SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

That foursome, comprised of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., as well as Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, account for 21 victories in the 35 races leading up to Sunday’s finale.

Of note, last year’s Championship 4 (Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Truex and Logano) combined for 22 wins through the opening 35 events.

Truex leads the pack with seven wins this season – the same number he had tallied heading into Miami the year he won the championship (2017). Hamlin trails slightly with six wins and Harvick and Busch have four victories apiece.

Three of the four drivers are former champions – Truex (2017), Busch (2015) and Harvick (2014) - with Hamlin looking for his first Cup title.

Here’s an in-depth look at the championship contenders in 2019: 

 

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)

 

By The Numbers:

1 – Number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series titles Kyle Busch has won (2015).

1 – Number of wins Kyle Busch has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway - 2015 (tied with Championship 4 drivers Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.)

4 – Number of top-five finishes Kyle Busch has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

5 – Number of times Kyle Busch has made it to the Championship 4 in the current Playoff format (tied with Kevin Harvick for the most Championship 4 appearances).

4 – Number of Monster Energy Cup Series wins Kyle Busch posted in 2019 (Phoenix-1, Fontana, Bristol-1, Pocono-1)

7 – Number of top-10 finishes Kyle Busch has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

9.2 – Busch’s average finish during the entire 2019 season.

11 – Stage wins in 2019 – tied with Joey Logano for most in series.

12.11 – Busch’s average finish during the first nine races of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

12.5 – Busch’s average starting position during the 2019 season

16 – Number of top-five finishes Kyle Busch has posted this season.

17.4 – Busch’s average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway

26 – Number of top-10 finishes Kyle Busch has posted during the 2019 season

99.8 – Kyle Busch’s career driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

107.5 – Season-to-date driver rating, tops in the series.

343 – Total number of laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Kyle Busch (second best among the Championship 4)

1462 - Total number of laps led in 2019 season

 

Busch eyeing multi-Cup championships club

After winning the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in dramatic come-from-behind fashion, Kyle Busch is looking to become just the 16th driver in series history to win two or more championships when he races in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio).

Busch would be joining prestigious company:

 

Drivers with Multiple Championships (1949-2018)

Rank

No. of Titles

Drivers

Years

1

7

Jimmie Johnson

2016, ‘13, ’10, ‘09, ‘08, ‘07, ‘06

Dale Earnhardt

1994, ’93, ‘91, ‘90, ‘87, ‘86, ‘80

Richard Petty

1979, ‘75, ‘74, ‘72, ‘71, ‘67, ‘64

4

4

Jeff Gordon

2001, ‘98, ‘97, ‘95

5

3

Darrell Waltrip

1985, ‘82, ‘81

Cale Yarborough

1978, ‘77, ‘76

David Pearson

1969, ‘68, ‘66

Lee Petty

1959, ‘58, ‘54

Tony Stewart

2011, ‘05, ‘02

10

2

Terry Labonte

1996, ‘84

Ned Jarrett

1965, ‘61

Joe Weatherly

1963, ‘62

Buck Baker

1957, ‘56

Tim Flock

1955, ‘52

Herb Thomas

1953, ‘51

* 15 total multiple Monster Energy Series champions

Kyle Busch will have to battle two other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers also looking for their second series championship in Martin Truex Jr. (2017) and Kevin Harvick (2014).

 

Regular season champion looking to reign in the end

Kyle Busch earned the 2019 Monster Energy Series regular season championship with four wins, 13 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes through the opening 26 races. He tied a series all-time record with 11 consecutive top-10 finishes to start the season.

This marks the fifth consecutive year Busch has won at least four races and he’s won multiple races in 11 of his 15 fulltime seasons. His pole-winning lap at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway last week marked the first pole position of the season – extending his run of seasons with a pole win to 12 straight years (and 14 of his 15 full-time seasons overall).

Certainly, Busch established himself as championship-ready from the drop of the first green flag this season – reeling off that streak of top-10 finishes and becoming the first driver to hoist four trophies this year. He’d now like to become the first active driver since Jimmie Johnson won his record-tying seventh season title in 2016 to repeat as Monster Energy Series champion.

This is Busch’s fifth consecutive Championship 4 appearance at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. His lone win at the track came in 2015 resulting in his first series championship. He was runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. in 2017 and finished fourth last year.

 

Busch has momentum at Miami

For years it appeared the Homestead-Miami Speedway was a thorn in Kyle Busch’s side – a rare venue on the schedule where the certain future NASCAR Hall of Famer struggled to find Victory Lane. He found it when it mattered most, however, winning the 2015 race and his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Since hoisting the champion’s trophy, Busch has three top-10 finishes, including a championship near-miss of runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. in 2017. He finished fourth last year.

Although Busch won the 2019 regular season championship, he hasn’t hoisted a race trophy since June 2 at Pocono. But that might not be of concern for Busch. Of the five Playoff seasons in which Busch has qualified for the Championship 4 (2015-present), twice (2015 and 2016) he did not win during the nine-race Playoff stretch that set the final quartet of championship contenders. In 2015, however, he still went on to claim the championship.

Busch has seven top-10 finishes in 14 starts at the South Florida 1.5-miler, including six in the last seven seasons. His one win came in 2015 when he led only 41 laps and held off Kevin Harvick by 1.552-seconds for the race victory that secured that Cup title.

 

Adam Stevens: The man atop the pit box 

Since pairing up in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with Kyle Busch in 2015, crew chief Adam Stevens has shown that he is one of the best crew chiefs in the sport.

The Busch-Stevens pair has combined for the following achievements in 126 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races together since 2015:

  • 26 wins
  • 80 top fives
  • 114 top 10s
  • 6,925 laps led
  • 15 Busch Pole awards
  • One Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship (2015)
  • Five consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances
  • Six consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances

The two will look to capture their second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. If they accomplish the feat, Stevens will become just the 15th different crew chief in the series with multiple titles.

 

Coach Gibbs pursuing fifth championship

How do you follow-up a hall of fame football coaching career that included three championships at the highest level of your sport?

With four – and counting – championships at the highest level of motorsports.

Coach Joe Gibbs led the Washington Redskins to Super Bowl titles in 1983, ’88 and ’92. His Joe Gibbs Racing stable has won Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships with Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002, 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015). Toss in two NASCAR Xfinity Series crowns in 2009 with Kyle Busch and 2016 with Daniel Suarez, and easy to understand why Gibbs was chosen this year for the NASCAR Hall of Fame – the second professional sports hall of fame for the former football coach.

The odds certainly seem stacked in his favor this year to add to that legacy. Three of the four Cup Series championship eligible drivers are Joe Gibbs Racing competitors – Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin. All four of his Monster Energy Series team drivers – also including Erik Jones – qualified for the 2019 Playoffs. And his NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Christopher Bell won a series-best eight races and will contend for that series championship at Homestead as well.

 

 

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)

 

By The Numbers:

0 – Number of career DNFs at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 14 career starts. He is the only Playoff driver without a DNF at the track.

2 – Number of wins Denny Hamlin has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2009 and 2013) – most among Championship 4 drivers 

2 – Number of times Denny Hamlin has made it to the Championship 4 in the new Playoff format (2014 and 2019)

3 – Pole positions Denny Hamlin has won at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2015, 2017-18)

4 – Number of top-five finishes Denny Hamlin has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway 

6 – Number of wins Denny Hamlin has during the 2019 season, including two during the Playoffs (Daytona-1, Texas-1, Pocono-2, Bristol-2, Kansas-2, Phoenix-2)

6 – Number of stage wins Denny Hamlin has posted during the 2019 season.

8.78 – Denny Hamlin’s average finish in first nine Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races of 2019

9 – Number of top-10 finishes Denny Hamlin has recorded at Homestead-Miami Speedway

9.5 – Hamlin’s average finish during the 2019 season

10.6 – Denny Hamlin’s average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway 

11.3 – Denny Hamlin’s average starting position during the 2019 season

19 – Number of top-five finishes Denny Hamlin has logged during the 2019 season.

23 – Number of top-10 finishes Denny Hamlin has tallied this season

96.7 – Denny Hamlin’s career driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway

97.7 – Denny Hamlin’s 2019 season-to-date driver rating

254 – Total number of laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Denny Hamlin

920 – Total number of laps led in 2019 

 

Back at HOME-stead

The last time that Denny Hamlin competed among the Championship 4 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship was 2014 – the debut of the series’ new Playoff system. He finished third in the race, which was won by fellow 2019 Championship 4 driver Kevin Harvick.

But even though Hamlin won multiple races in the ensuing three seasons, his best championship finish in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was sixth place – in both 2016 and 2017.

That’s not to say, however, that Hamlin hasn’t raced for the title at Homestead previously. His closest near-miss to hoisting the big trophy came in 2010 when Hamlin finished runner-up to Jimmie Johnson – who won his record fifth straight championship that year. Hamlin won at Texas and held a solid points lead over Johnson as the series headed to Phoenix for the penultimate race.

But instead of clinching his first championship in the desert after leading a commanding 190 of 312 laps at the Arizona mile-long circuit, Hamlin had to pit late for fuel and ended up 12th. He took a 15-point lead over Johnson into the Homestead finale, but made contact with Greg Biffle early in the race and only managed to climb back to a 14th-place finish. Johnson finished runner-up and took the championship by 39 points over the then 30-year-old Hamlin.

However, the most recent race winner among the four title hopefuls – with a statement-making win at Phoenix on Sunday – has said he has been looking forward to another championship opportunity for years. He is the only multi-time Homestead winner among the Championship 4 – winning in 2009 and 2013. He’s won the pole position in three of the last four races (2015, 2017, 2018) and has top-10 finishes in five of the last six races.

 

Championship race debut for crew chief Chris Gabehart

This week marks the return of Denny Hamlin to championship eligibility for the first time in five seasons – and it will be the title race debut for his first-year Cup crew chief Chris Gabehart. The longtime Joe Gibbs Racing team member led Erik Jones to a fourth-place finish in the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship and last year led the efforts of the team’s Xfinity Series standout Brandon Jones.

Since joining forces with Hamlin and the No. 11 JGR Toyota team, Gabehart is 1-for-1 in title eligibility, won a Daytona 500 trophy and five other races – including Sunday’s must-win race at Phoenix. Not only has he led the team to a position in the Championship 4, but his team is considered a very legitimate championship favorite.

Under Gabehart’s leadership Hamlin has earned a career-high in top-five finishes (19) and hoisted the most trophies (six) since a career best eight-win year in 2010.

“Myself, I’m just a newcomer,’’ Gabehart, 38, said following Sunday’s Phoenix victory. “Was tasked with a job from Coach (Gibbs) and everybody at (sponsor) FedEx and Toyota and Denny. Just so thankful that they believe in me and gave me the reins to get it done.

“[Denny] gave me the leash I needed to get going,’’ Gabehart continued. “Quickly we all marched in the right direction. I’m just glad that, yes, I feel like we’ve proven ourselves to be one of the four best race teams this year.’’

 

More-mentum

Denny Hamlin earned his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole position at Phoenix in 2005 in only his sixth career start.

The following year he marked his fulltime debut with Joe Gibbs Racing and he immediately started things on the right foot winning the 2006 Daytona Speedweeks season-opening Budweiser Shootout in his first try. Since then Hamlin has earned 37 Cup points-race victories – picking up his second Daytona 500 win this February.

In 2010, Hamlin finished a career best runner-up to Jimmie Johnson for the Cup championship. In 2014, he qualified for the series’ first ever four-driver Championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finished third. This week marks the first time he’s advanced to the Championship 4 since then and he comes into Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 riding momentum as the most recent race winner – leading 143 laps en route to the win at Phoenix last weekend.

Hamlin has started and finished strong, opening the season by winning the first race at Daytona and then the penultimate event of the season at Phoenix. In between, Hamlin’s turned in career high marks for top-five (19) and top-10 (23) results. His six wins is the second-highest single season total he’s ever had – second only to an eight-win 2010.

His 920 laps led in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is the most in eight seasons and more than double his output (380 laps) of last season.

Hamlin joins JGR teammate and fellow Cup title contender Martin Truex Jr. as the only drivers with multiple Playoff wins. Hamlin won at Kansas and Phoenix. Truex won at Las Vegas, Richmond, and Martinsville.

 

 

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang)

 

By The Numbers:

1 – Number of wins Kevin Harvick has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2014) 

2 – Number of wins from pole position in 2019 (Indianapolis, Texas-2)

4 – Number of wins Kevin Harvick has during the 2019 season, including one during the Playoffs (New Hampshire, Michigan-2, Indianapolis, Texas-2)

5 – Number of times Kevin Harvick has made it to the Championship 4 in the new Playoff format.

6 – Number of stage wins Kevin Harvick has posted during the 2019 season.

– Number of Busch Pole Awards Harvick has earned in 2019 season – most in series

6.11 – Kevin Harvick’s average finish in first nine Playoff races of 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

6.6 – Kevin Harvick’s average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway 

8.7 – Kevin Harvick’s average starting position during the 2019 season

10.2 – Kevin Harvick’s average finish during the 2019 season

10 – Number of top-five finishes Kevin Harvick has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway – most all-time.

14 – Number of top-five finishes Kevin Harvick has logged during the 2019 season.

16 – Number of top-10 finishes Kevin Harvick has recorded at Homestead-Miami Speedway – most all-time.

25 – Number of top-10 finishes Kevin Harvick has tallied this season.

104.9 – Kevin Harvick’s 2019 season-to-date driver rating –  second-best in the Monster Energy Series.

108.2 – Kevin Harvick’s career driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway (best among the Championship 4).

373 – Total number of laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Kevin Harvick (most among the Championship 4).

912 – Total number of laps led in 2019 

 

Happy hopes to take tome second championship in Miami

Kevin Harvick will attempt to capture his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in Sunday’s season finale Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The No. 4 SHR Ford driver won the first championship race at Homestead under the current elimination-style postseason format in 2014 for his first and only series crown.

In 18 starts at the 1.5-mile track, Harvick claims one win and a series-high 10 top fives and 16 top 10s. He has the track series-best average finish (6.6) and second-ranked driver rating (108.2). His 373 laps led is tops among the championship contenders at Homestead.

He has finished worse than third-place only once (fourth in 2017) in five championship races (under this current format) there. It also marks the only time in those five races he did not lead a lap. He’s led at least 46 laps in four of the five races.

 

Rodney Childers calling the shots for Harvick

A most familiar face will be back atop Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team pit box this week after missing the 2018 Championship race while serving a two-race suspension. The penalty was handed down after failing post-race inspection at the R&D Center following the race in Texas.

Childers guided Harvick to the Monster Energy Series title in 2014 – the pair’s first year working together at the Stewart-Haas Racing team. The pairing and the success it has produced makes Harvick a favorite at any track any week of the season. But after missing a title opportunity last year, Childers is eager to re-take his position on the pit box and try to lead Harvick to a second title – to make him the only other active driver besides seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson with multiple series championships.

Since the two joined forces fulltime at SHR six years ago, they have won 26 races and earned 102 top-five and 149 top-10 finishes together. The pairing has recorded at least 14 top fives and 20 top 10s all six seasons they have worked together. During that time, Harvick has won multiple races each season, including a career-high of eight in 2018.

In earning the victory at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago, Harvick now has 49 career wins – tying him with his team owner and newly named NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Tony Stewart. A 50th win this weekend at Homestead would tie Harvick with NASCAR Hall of Famers Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett on the wins list.

 

NASCAR’s intermediate master

For years, Kevin Harvick has been known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ top driver on intermediate tracks.

Harvick has 16 wins on intermediate tracks in his career – most among the four championship contenders. Kyle Busch has 13, Martin Truex Jr. has 12 and Denny Hamlin has nine. All four of the drivers have won at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway with Harvick (2014), Busch (2015) and Truex (2017) doing it in their championship years. Hamlin won twice there prior to the 2014 Playoff format.

Since the beginning of the Playoff system in 2014, Truex leads this title-seeking foursome with 12 wins on 1.5-mile tracks. Harvick has 10, Busch has seven and Hamlin has three.

This season, Harvick has led more than twice the number of laps (549) at 1.5-mile venues compared to his three fellow title contenders. Busch, who did not win this season at a 1.5-mile track, has led 249 laps on the intermediate tracks, slightly more than his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin (232) and Truex (195).

 

Stewart-Haas Racing can win third championship in 10 years

If Kevin Harvick wins the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title on Sunday, he would give Stewart-Haas Racing its third championship in the 10 years since Tony Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing to form the team with Gene Haas.

Stewart won the organization its first championship in 2011, while Harvick earned the second title for it in 2014.

Over the same time frame only Hendrick Motorsports has more titles with Jimmie Johnson’s four.

 

Championships with different manufacturers

Kevin Harvick won his 2014 championship in a Chevrolet and is attempting to earn his second title driving a Ford. The last driver to win a new championship with different manufacturers was Harvick’s team owner, Tony Stewart. He earned the 2002 crown racing a Pontiac, then captured the 2005 and 2011 titles driving a Chevrolet.

Nine drivers have won championships with multiple manufacturers: Buck Baker, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty, Tim Flock and Stewart.

 

 

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)

By The Numbers:

1 – Wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Martin Truex Jr. (2017)

4 – Number of times Martin Truex Jr. has made it to the Championship 4 in the new Playoffs format.

5 – Number of top-five finishes Martin Truex Jr. has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

6.22 – Martin Truex Jr.’s average finish during the first nine races of the 2019 Playoffs.

7– Number of wins Martin Truex Jr. has posted during the 2019 season (Richmond-1, Dover-1, Charlotte-1, Sonoma, Las Vegas-2, Richmond-2, Martinsville-2) – Most in the Series.

8 – Number of stage wins during the 2019 season

9 – Number of top-10 finishes Martin Truex Jr. has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

10.0 – Martin Truex Jr.’s average finish during the entire 2019 season

10.8 – Martin Truex Jr.’s average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway

14 – Number of top-five finishes Martin Truex Jr. has posted during the 2019 season.

23 – Number of top-10 finishes Martin Truex Jr. has posted during the 2019 season.

102.7 – Martin Truex Jr.’s 2019 season-to-date driver rating.

105.5 – Martin Truex Jr.’s career driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

209 – Total number of laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Martin Truex Jr.

1,268 – Laps led by Martin Truex Jr. in 2019.

 

Martin Truex Jr. and JGR gel from the start

Martin Truex Jr. answered any doubters with a hugely successful and arguably seamless move to the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota this season. Coming off a 2017 title in which he won a personal best eight races en route to the championship and a following that up with a four-victory, Championship 4 appearance last season with Furniture Row Racing, many wondered how the transition to JGR would go. And Truex and his crew chief Cole Pearn have answered with an unquestionable statement-making season.

Truex leads the Monster Energy Series in wins with seven – including a series-best three in the nine Playoff races to date. He won on short tracks, a road course and two 1.5-mile tracks, which are the same length as Homestead-Miami Speedway where he will race for his second championship on Sunday. Truex’s 23 top-10 finishes are his best outside his 2017 championship season when he scored 26 top 10s.

He won four races during an eight-week stretch in late spring/early summer. His three Playoff victories (at Las Vegas, Richmond, Va. and Martinsville, Va.) are tops in the field – as is his 6.2 average finish in the nine Playoff races so far. And his 654 laps led in the Playoffs is most among the Championship 4 drivers. Hamlin has led 547 laps; Busch has led 296 and Harvick has led 200 laps in the previous nine Playoff races.

 

On track in Miami

Though there have been some “rough patches” in Martin Truex Jr.’s Homestead-Miami Speedway resume, his resume of late has been outstanding. Truex finished first (2017) and second (2018) in the last two years. He was also runner-up in 2006 and third place in 2011 and is averaging a 10.8 finish in 14 starts at the track.

Kevin Harvick’s (6.6) average finish at Homestead is best among the Championship 4 drivers. Truex’s (10.8) average finish is just slightly off pace of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate’s Denny Hamlin (10.6). Kyle Busch is averaging 17.4.

In the five Playoff races at Homestead (since 2014), Truex has led 101 laps, third best among the current four championship eligible drivers. Harvick has led 237, Busch 106 and Hamlin, 91.

 

Cole Pearn looking for second championship atop the pit box

Most unusual about Cole Pearn is that his only experience as a crew chief has been atop a Monster Energy Series pit box – and only for Martin Truex Jr. But he has shown over the past five seasons that he’s made for this role.

Prior to 2015, Truex had two career wins – in 2007 and 2013. Since Pearn took over calling the shots for the New Jersey native, Truex has recorded an impressive 25 wins.

And the most important of those wins came at this weekend’s venue back in 2017 with the pair united to win their first championship together – and the only championship that Furniture Row Racing would record. Following the 2018 season, Furniture Row Racing disbanded and Pearn and Truex moved together to Joe Gibbs Racing.

It wasn’t unfamiliar territory, as the two teams had an alliance. But it did require that Pearn (and his family) relocate from Denver, Colorado, where FRR had been headquartered to NASCAR’s hub in the Charlotte area.

The move didn’t slow them down, however, as the pair have matched their 2017 efforts prior to Miami (seven wins through the 35 races).

 

Multi-team champion a possibility

Should Martin Truex Jr. claim the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship on Sunday evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway he would become the seventh driver in NASCAR history to earn the season-ending trophy for multiple teams.

Truex won the Cup championship in 2017 driving for Furniture Row Racing team. And he is one of three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the Championship 4 this weekend in South Florida.

Buck Baker, Ned Jarrett, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte and Tony Stewart all won NASCAR’s most prestigious title for more than one team. Stewart was the last to do so – winning a Cup championship at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2002 and 2005 and then for his own Stewart-Haas Racing team in 2011.

Michael McDowell on Homestead
9 Starts | 1 Top-10
Best Finish: 10th
“I can already tell this weekend will be a mixed bag of emotions with it being the season finale and [my teammate] Ragan's last race. Homestead always provides an exciting show for the fans. As a driver, there isn't really a preferred lane, so you have a lot of options and can run all around the track. Obviously we're not in the Playoffs, but we'll do everything we can to help land a Ford Mustang (hopefully ours) in Victory Lane. It's great to have Love's Travel Stops and Luber Finer with us to close out the season. I'm grateful to the support they've shown our team throughout this year and their entire partnership.”
David Ragan on Homestead
12 Starts | 1 Top-10
Best Finish: 10th
"It's hard to put into words what this weekend means to me. It's certainly been the ride of a lifetime running in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the last 14 years. I will forever be grateful to Bob Jenkins, Jerry Freeze and the entire Front Row Motorsports organization for my time with them. I'm honored to have Shriner's Hospitals for Children, CITGARD, Mystik Lubricants, Select Blinds and Fr8 Auctions all back with me for my final race as a full-time driver. This paint scheme is extra special because it's the scheme that I won my first race in, and I'm hoping we can visit Victory Lane one last time this weekend.”

What started on Feb. 10, 2019 with the Advance Auto Parts Clash non-points race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway will now end with Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

A wise person once said, “It’s over, already?”

 

Indeed it is ending after 10 months, 36 points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races – and don’t forget the two exhibition races – with the season finale in South Florida. And Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is once again in the Championship 4 and has a shot at his second title.

 

It’s Harvick against the world – or Joe Gibbs Racing, at least – as the other three contestants in Sunday’s winner-take-all championship race are Gibbs teammates Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Denny Hamlin. Truex has seven wins in 2019, Busch has four and Hamlin six. So, it’s Gibbs 17 victories versus Harvick’s four.

 

Fortunately, previous victories don’t count and whoever among the four finishes the highest will win the championship. And, let’s be honest, getting there is half the battle because, as said by Jim Carrey’s character Lloyd Christmas in the smash hit Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance …”

 

Harvick has been in the Championship 4 five times in the last six years, more than any other driver except Busch, who is in his fifth consecutive Championship 4. Harvick won the title in 2014, his first year with SHR, and finished second in 2015 and third in 2017 and 2018. Should he win the title, he would become just the 16th driver to win two or more championships.

 

Some drivers get nervous or anxious during these championship runs. Harvick lives for them. The more pressure the better because he’s been involved in the top three tiers of NASCAR racing since 1995 and has won 110 races, including 49 it the Cup Series.

 

Harvick has one win, one pole, 10 top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and has led a total of 373 laps in his 18 career Cup Series starts at Homestead. His average start there is 12.3, his average finish is 6.6, and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.9 percent – 4,811 of 4,812 laps available. His last finish outside the top-10 was a 19th in November 2007, one of his only two finishes outside the top-10.

 

He won the November 2006 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Homestead, as well as the Xfinity race pole in November 2004. He has five top-10s in eight career Xfinity starts.And in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series,Harvick has raced at Homestead six times and won the November 2009 race among his four top-five finishes in six Truck races there.

 

So here we go. It’s why drivers race for 10 months out of the year throughout 36 points-paying events – to win championships. And Harvick has that chance.

TSC PR

NASCAR’s Championship Weekend set-up included clutch performances in all three national series this past weekend at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway.

Canadian Stewart Friesen won the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at the Phoenix one-miler – his second career series victory and first ever opportunity to race for a series championship.

NASCAR Xfinity Series veteran Justin Allgaier turned in his best effort of the season when it counted most – rallying to a victory on Saturday at Phoenix and earning his third title opportunity in the past four years.

Easily the weekend’s high drama moment came Sunday when Denny Hamlin earned his sixth win of the year – rallying from fifth place in the Playoff standings to earn the last Championship 4 automatic bid displacing reigning series champion Joey Logano as a title contender.

Martin Truex Jr., who won at Martinsville Speedway, Kevin Harvick, who won at Texas Motor Speedway, join Hamlin and regular season champion Kyle Busch to settle the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship this Sunday in the Ford EcoBoost 400 (2 p.m. CT on NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Intense competition filled the 2019 Playoffs and there’s every reason to believe there will be strong storylines at Miami as well.

Hamlin is the only member of the four Cup championship eligible drivers seeking his first title hardware. And he’ll be competing against two fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammates – 2017 series champion Martin Truex Jr. and 2015 champ Kyle Busch - for the big prize.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick won the 2014 series championship – pulling off a Phoenix “walk-off” win similar to Hamlin's this week. Harvick was ranked eighth in the standings heading into that Penultimate Playoff race and won it to earn his shot at the title. And he answered the effort with an emotional trophy hoist a week later at Homestead-Miami, Fla.

“I knew at the end of the race last week we were going to have a fighting chance," Hamlin said. “I had all the parts and pieces I needed to go to Phoenix and win the race. But it’s all the unknowns that you don’t know about.

“I just made sure I did my job. [Crew chief] Chris [Gabehart] worked really hard and did his job. Great to have a result like that."

Should anyone other than Hamlin win the title at Miami, the sport would be crowning only the second multi-time champion currently active in the series – joining seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson.

Certainly all the Playoff eligible drivers drove at Phoenix like they were teeing up for this week’s title race in South Florida. Busch finished runner-up to Hamlin. Truex was fourth and Harvick was fifth.

This year’s title battle will mark only the second time since the Playoff eliminations started in the 2014 season that a team has had multiple drivers among the Championship 4. In 2016, both Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch advanced to the Championship 4 – a race and championship ultimately won by Hendrick Motorsport's Jimmie Johnson.

This weekend three JGR Toyotas fill the championship grid.

“We’ve raced against the 18 [Busch] there a few times, and kind of quasi-teammates, but never under the same roof, so to speak," Truex said, referring to the Furniture Row Racing Toyota team he was part of for the 2017 championship.

“I’m not sure [what to think]. It’s going to be interesting for sure. I feel like we’re here for a reason and that’s because we all work together so well and hopefully we’ll do that the same this week and throughout the weekend next weekend. And then Sunday, let the best team win."

When it comes to competing on the Homestead-Miami 1.5-miler, Harvick holds the mark for laps led (373) over Busch (343), Hamlin (254) and Truex (209). 

As for average finishes, Harvick’s 6.6 is easily best among this group of final four drivers and he boasts the most top-fives (10) and top-10s (16) as well.

Hamlin has a 10.6 average finish at Homestead and is the only driver among the group that has never suffered a DNF there. Truex averages a 10.8 finish and has a pair of runner-up finishes. Busch is averaging a 17.4 average finish at Homestead, but has scored six of his career seven top-10s in the last seven races.

Harvick (2014), Truex (2017) and Busch (2015) all won the race en route to their title.

Hamlin is the only multi-time winner among the foursome – earning trophies in 2009 and 2013 pre-dating the current Playoff elimination format.

“There’s still work to be done," Hamlin told the television audience Sunday. “[The win] doesn’t guarantee a championship. Gives us a chance. Live to fight another day.

“That’s all you can ask for."

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