Tuesday, May 17

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Fans from all 50 states, five continents, and 21 countries will get to see the world’s best drivers embark on the second restrictor plate race of the 2017 season.

42 drivers will attempt to qualify for 40 spots in Sunday’s Geico 500. Two open drivers will go home after Cup qualifying Saturday afternoon after the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Sparks Energy 300.

There have been 95 races from Talladega. 40 different drivers have won the pole position. There have been 45 different race winners. Only 13 races have been won from the pole with Jeff Gordon being the last driver to do in in 2007. Mark Martin set the race record in 1997 at 188.354 mph. Bill Elliott set the qualifying record in 1987 at 212.809 mph.

Teams will have two sets of Goodyears to practice on, one set for qualifying, and six sets for the race. Teams will be using the same tire setup going back to October of 2014.

From the Team Penske camp, Todd Gordon, crew chief for Joey Logano, and Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Brad Keselowski, will not be at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. For Wolfe, the team decided to use this weekend to defer the three-race suspension received from Phoenix in case their final appeal does not go in their favor this weekend. Gordon will not be at the racetrack due to an encumbered win from Richmond International Raceway. When NASCAR took the 22 car back to the Research and Development Center, they found an illegal truck trailing arm spacer in the rear suspension. Logano will not be able to use the victory and five playoff points later on in the year. Team Penske will not appeal the ruling.

At Talladega, everyone has a chance to win. Drivers are excited about this race because it is a great equalizer for the field.

"I’m really looking forward to Talladega and making my first start in our PEAK Antifreeze Camry this weekend. There is a lot of luck involved in restrictor-plate racing, but also a lot of strategy which I really enjoy. I think we learned a lot in Daytona back in February that we can carry over to this weekend. Anything can happen when we race at Talladega, but I’m really looking forward to the race on Saturday and hopefully coming away with a good finish for everyone involved with PEAK and this No. 18 team.,” said Daniel Suarez.

“Talladega is going to be intense, especially when you incorporate stage racing. I know that there’s a great opportunity to gain points this weekend by finishing in the top 10 of those stages, but I’m sure that the pack racing will be crazy. I’m really looking forward to getting there with our AdvoCare Ford. Hopefully we can keep it clean all day long and be out in front of the three and four-wide craziness, and be contending for the win come days end. We had a great Ford here last year and I’m confident we will be just as strong this weekend,” said Trevor Bayne.

"It's all about having a fast racecar and be lucky enough to stay out front and not getting in somebody else's mess. You also have to have a good day on pit road because it seems like we have a lot of green-flag runs. If you have a bad stop, it is really easy to lose a lap. It's all about keeping yourself in the game,” said Ryan Newman.

The Greco 500 will feature two 55-lap stages, and a final stage of 78 laps. On Friday, teams will have two practice sessions due to this weekend being an impound weekend. Those practice sessions are slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. EST and 4:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network. Qualifying will be held at 4:00 p.m. EST on Saturday on FOX and Motor Racing Network. Sunday’s Running of the Geico 500 will be on FOX and Motor Racing Network at 2:00 p.m. EST.

After gaining the lead when teammate Brad Keslowski was fending off Kyle Busch and moving through the field with fresh tires on the final restart, Joey Logano will win the Toyota Owners 400 from RIchmond International Raceway under hot and slick conditions for his first win of 2017. Logano had to start at the back of the field due to changing a transmission on Saturday.

“I knew the 2 was so much faster than everybody and I had to get out there as quick and as far as I could. He was on his way to catch me. I think he was catching me a couple tenths a lap. That was all I had inside the car and I burned them up early trying to go,” said Logano post-race. “I am proud of the effort of the team. We executed under pressure today and brought a car home that was a 5th-10th place car home to victory lane.”

This is Logano’s 18th career win coming on his 300th start. Ford has won four of the first nine race of 2017. This is Logano's second victory at Richmond.

Keselowski finished second after the best long run car throughout the day. Keselowski ran up front for most of the race leading 110 laps. Despite having one of the cars to beat, Keselowski was upset after the race despite a second place finish.

“It was just hoping for another restart or  the race to get extended for another 10 laps. I think we had a ton of long run speed today. That short run at the end...half the field came, half the field didn’t. I just got stuck in a lane of cars that didn’t go,” said Keselowski post-race. “By the time I did, he had a whole straightaway on me. I got it down to a couple of car lengths at the end. All and all I’m happy for Team Penske withe 1-2 finish. We’ll take it and move on.”

Denny Hamlin finished quietly in third after leading 59 laps during the race. Hamlin played a two-tire strategy in the second stage to give him the track position beginning on lap 211. According to the TV pit stop times, Hamlin’s pit crew was doing 10 to 11 second stops. However, NASCAR found a missing lug nut on the right rear tire post-race.

“We were competitive and our car drove really good. We were just missing some of the speed from the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the 22 (Joey Logano) – they run a little more sideways than what we run and just they have more grip. I think we optimized our day for the most part and that’s about as good as we could do.”

Commitment line violations changed the complexion of the race, especially for Kyle Busch. When he leaders hit the pit lane after the final caution of the race, Busch was nabbed for violating the commitment line by not having all four tires below the line. NASCAR warned drivers in the driver’s meeting pre-race and over the radio before the green flag fell. Busch was unable to see the box due to the fact that Logano cut down to the pit lane at the last moment.

Busch declined full comment after the race about the incident, but told FOX. “Balls and strikes.” Busch walked away briskly without answering anymore questions. Busch finished the race in the 16th position despite running up front all race. Busch was one of six drivers busted for violating the commitment line.

There were 18 lead changes amongst eight different drivers. The caution flew nine times for 53 laps. The time of race was three hours, 14 minutes, and 34 seconds

Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the GIECO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Coverage from Talladega will be on FOX and Motor Racing Network beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Despite the first two rounds of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying being dominated by Joey Logano, it was Matt Kenseth who grabbed the pole position for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 from Richmond International Raceway.

“I didn’t feel like I had the perfect lap but I had some great speed,” Kenseth said after qualifying. “The guys didn’t a great job adjusting in between rounds. We had enough speed that we only had to do one lap in each of the first two rounds. We improved a little bit on our second lap (in the final session).”

This was the first pole for Kenseth in the 2017 season, his 19th career pole.

Throughout the qualifying session, drivers were awaiting a cloud to create some shade on the racetrack. However, the shade never came.

Logano was scored as the fastest driver in the first round after posting the same speed as Kevin Harvick at 120.870 mph. Logano gained the top position due to his position in the points standing. Clint Bowyer was third, Jimmie Johnson was fourth, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Notable drivers who did not advance to the second round include Aric Almirola, Paul Menard, Trevor Bayne, and Austin Dillon. Dillon made one lap at about 82 mph because no matter where he qualified, he would have to start in the rear after failing laser inspection five times.

Logano was fastest in the second round at 121.268 mph, while Harvick posted the second fastest speed in the round at 120.979 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was third fastest, Jamie McMurray was fourth fastest, and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top-five in the second round. Bowyer was able to advance to the final round by being higher in points than Ryan Newman as both drivers posted a lap speed at 119.667 mph.

Kenseth played his game in the final round of qualifying to post a speed of 121.076 mph to top Ryan Blaney, who will start second. Truex Jr. will start third, Stenhouse Jr. will start fourth, and Logano will start from the fifth position.

Drivers will have two practice sessions on Saturday before Sunday’s running of the Toyota Owners 400. The race will be broadcasted on FOX and Motor Racing Network at 2:00 pm EST.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wraps up the unofficial “Short Track Swing” this weekend at Richmond International Raceway for the 63rd annual Toyota Owners 400. The race will be broken up into stage lengths of 100, 100, and 200 laps.

38 drivers made the trip up to Richmond for the race. No driver will be sent home. The field is considered full according to NASCAR.

There have been 54 different pole winners at Richmond, while there have only been 50 different winners. There have been 24 drivers who have won a race from the pole position with Denny Hamlin doing so in 2016. Dale Jarrett set the race record in 1997 at 109.047 mph. In 2013, Jeff Gordon set the qualifying record at 130.599 mph.

Drivers are excited to once again race in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“Richmond has been a very successful racetrack for us as we’ve gone through the years. We finished both races in the top-five last year at Richmond so I think, as we go back this year, we’re going to shoot to be a little better than we were last year. We’ll try some different things. It’s been a very good racetrack for me in the past and I’m looking forward to going back. I like the short, flat tracks,” said Kevin Harvick.

“I love Richmond. It’s one of my favorite racetracks and one of my best racetracks. I love being able to go there and, of course, we put on some pretty good races there. We won four spring races in a row and I would have loved to have made it five or more. It’s a neat racetrack and it’s certainly an excitement track and there is a lot of action that happens there,” said Kyle Busch.

"Richmond usually turns into a forward drive racetrack. You have to be able to turn in the center like every other short track but getting the power down coming off the corners is a real premium especially later in a run,” said Ryan Newman.

Drivers will qualify at 4:30 p.m. EST on Friday. Qualifying will be broadcasted on Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1. The Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday will be broadcasted by Motor Racing Network and FOX.

 

It was a tale of two days for Roush Fenway’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and NASCAR Xfinity Series teams this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

 

The Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 from Bristol Motor Speedway was not the best race in 2017 for Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed and Darrell Wallace Jr.

 

In qualifying early Saturday Morning, Reed qualified 24th and Wallace Jr. qualified 14th. However, both drivers had to start in the rear of the field. In pre-race technical inspection, NASCAR found an unapproved splitter mount on both the cars.

 

For Reed, the first stage of the race was his last. After dropping to the rear of the field to serve his penalty, he began to make strides towards the front. Due to a tight handling race car in the early stages, Reed was put a lapped down by the leaders. Reed never had the chance to make a pit stop to fix the issue.

 

Reed’s day ended on lap 79 of the 300 lap event. The right front tire blew sending Reed into the wall. Reed also suffered a sprain to his wrist as he did not let go of the steering wheel in time before contact was made. Reed and his team deemed the car as unrepairable to finish 38th

 

“It was a tough day altogether, starting in the back,” said Reed.  “The balance wasn’t very good and we went a lap down early.  We were trying to fight through it, but had a tire go down and that ended our day.  We’ll move on.  We’ll go to Richmond, which is one of my favorite tracks, and rebound.  The good thing about getting a win at Daytona is that buys you some insurance in case you have some days like this, so we’ll rebound.  I’m really proud of everyone on the Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang.  It’s a tough group mentally and physically, so we’ll persevere.”

 

After getting out of the car, Reed though his wrist was fractured. However, He went to social media to confirm it was just a sprain.

 

 

For Wallace Jr., his day ended with 40 laps remaining ending his streak of five consecutive sixth place finishes.

 

In the first stage, Wallace Jr. worked his way towards the top-15 after starting from the rear. He improved over 20 positions in the stage, but went a lap down to the leaders due to a long green flag run. Wallace finished 15th in the first stage.

 

The second stage saw Wallace Jr. fighting to get his lap back that he lost in the first stage. Wallace Jr. battled Matt Tifft for that free pass position through much of the second and third stage.  However, an accident on lap 259 that damaged the left rear of the car regulated Wallace Jr. to a 33rd place finish, tying his worst finish of the season at Daytona.

 

“It’s just an unfortunate day,” said Wallace. “I was just fighting hard for the lucky dog.  We were put in the back for some circumstances we’ve got to get straightened out, but we were trying to make the most of it. We were fast.  We were so fast there with our Leidos Mustang. It’s just unfortunate. We were clawing ourselves out of that lap-down spot and just ran out of time and ran out of luck.

 

The Food City 500 provided Roush Fenway’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., with the best luck of the weekend for the organization. Both drivers ran up front most of the day and ended up with top-11 finishes.

 

Bayne started in the 12th position due to qualifying being cancelled on Friday. Bayne maintained a top-20 position throughout much of the first stage. As the track rubbered up, Bayne began to experience a tight handling race car towards the end of the stage. Bayne finished the stage in the 15th position.

 

The second stage Bayne continued to work on his handling working his way up into the top-10. Bayne held off Stenhouse Jr. towards the conclusion to score two points by finishing in the ninth position.

 

The third stage saw Bayne going from tight conditions in the middle of the corners and loose on corner entry. Bayne was on and off in the top-10. Using the top lane, Bayne gained track position to finish in the 11th position to score his sixth top-15 finish of 2017.

 

Just like Bayne, Stenhouse Jr. ran up front throughout much of the race and scored a ninth place finish.

 

Stenhouse was almost going to a backup car after contact with the wall in the only practice session on Friday, but the team repaired the car to full glory for the race.

 

Stenhouse held onto a position in the top-20 throughout much of the first stage. while battling a loose car. Once the loose condition was treated, Stenhouse marched his way to the front of the field. Stenhouse worked his way towards the top-10 at the conclusion of the second stage.

 

Stenhouse used the high lane to work his way up to seventh, but ultimately ended up in the ninth position in the Food City 500.

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