DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— With the win in the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford Performance has won six of the last races at either Daytona or Talladega.
For many teams, beating any of the Ford drivers at a restrictor plate event is crucial. Brad Keselowski, Stenhouse Jr., and Clint Bowyer discussed the power of Ford Performance this weekend at Daytona. That success is also attributed to the power of Roush-Yates Engines.
“I think that every year we see seem to see different cars and teams and manufacturers have strengths and weaknesses. I think we’re starting to see at this point and time in the season where the Fords have distinct strengths and weaknesses. Probably more that we’ve seen in the last four or five years with the manufacturers. The Fords right now are the best cars on the speedway tracks for a number of reasons. One of which is the power in their engines is very strong a the higher rpms. And with the current gear rules and current engine packages at Daytona and Talladega, the engines sustain higher rpm for the duration of running in the pack,” said Keselowski. “And I think with the bodies, the Ford body on the Gen 6 car lends itself to well to the restrictor plate tracks with having high-efficiencies with respect to its drag characteristics. I would agree that the Fords have some strengths right now on the restrictor plate tracks and probably behind on the other race tracks. Like anything, if your golf game is good on the greens and not good on the driving range you have to make the putts. So the Fords are doing a good job at that. I would like to see it be a little more balanced out with our strengths and weaknesses but with the current landscape that’s where it is right now.”
“Let me just say this: Those Roush Yates engines are phenomenal. Doug does such a great job, puts a lot of emphasis on this plate stuff, takes a lot of pride in it, and he should. Those things run amazing. They take a beating out there. At the end of that thing, I was overheating, blowing water, doing all the things that you know are going to happen when we get like that. I mean, I was pushing him all the way down the back straightaway all the way through 3 and 4. It was just kind of one of those deals,” said Bowyer in his post-race media availability. “We were up against the wall, and I was shoving, and the water temperature was pegged and blowing water. But it's just -- those things are phenomenal. It's amazing any of these engines make it through this stuff. I'm just blown away if you really think about it and look at the mechanics of what those on in them things each and every week, you're looking back at last week, all the rpms and everything that turns, I'm just proud to have that Roush Yates power under our hood.”
“I think it's really strong. I think obviously qualifying showed that our Ford Performance cars are really strong, and I think I kind of echo what Brad said maybe on the broadcast before the race is the high RPM tracks we feel really, really good at. I feel like that's why we run the top of the racetracks, a lot of the racetracks we go to, and the engine package, the bodies, everything is just working really well for the speedways,” said Stenhouse Jr. “And then we work well together. We all practice together, and it was nice to be able to use your Ford teammates throughout the race to keep us up front, and even -- all the Fords, David Ragan's car was fast there. He's a good speedway racer. So we feel like we've still got work to do on other racetracks, but it's nice to capitalize on -- when you have the opportunity to, and that's what it's all about. The fastest cars don't always win at speedways, but it's nice that we've been able to capitalize on that for Ford, for Roush Yates, and particularly for Roush Fenway.
With the dominance of Ford Performance at restrictor-plate tracks, can anybody stop them when Cup heads to Talladega in October? That is a question that will be interesting to watch.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— For the second time in a row at a restrictor-plate event, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was victorious in the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway.
“Wow, these guys. I kept my Talladega car and told them to build a new one. They build the Fifth Third Ford that was really fast. We won the Firecracker 400! This is awesome! I have been coming here since 2008. I actually came in 2006 one time with Bobby Hamilton Jr. and it is cool to put it in victory lane and get our second win this year. I love it! Thank you to the fans for coming out here. Everyone at NASCAR. What a great weekend. America. 1776. We are the champs!,” said Stenhouse Jr. post race.
It only took Stenhouse Jr. seven races to win his second career Cup race. This was Stenhouse Jr.’s seventh top-10 of 2017. This marks the 137th victory for Jack Roush at the Cup level. This marks Ford’s eighth Cup win of 2017.
Clint Bowyer finished second after contending for most of the race at the front of the field
“Wow, what a night. A fun race. Our Mobil 1 Ford was strong. I got shuffled out on that second stage and that bummed me out. I wanted those stage points. It wasn’t that big a deal because I knew that we had a hot rod to get back up front. Man, it’s just every man for himself. You’re beating and banging Both sides are ground off my car. Good night. This bridesmaid deal sucks. I want to win. We’re in this business to win. That’s what Tony and Gene pay me to do. I’m proud of everyone on the Mobil 1 Ford team,” said Bowyer.
Paul Menard was “Mr. Where did he come from?” tonight at Daytona. Menard was able to finish third at Daytona.
"We really didn't want to hang out in the back, but we got involved in a wreck really early and once you get back there, it is really hard to get back up to the front. I was just waiting for something to happen at the end of those stages. We weren't in the top-15 so I just bailed out of the pack for the stages. I had a really good handling car from yesterday in the draft practice,” said Menard. “All weekend long it handled really well. I knew it would race really well tonight. Bowyer gave me a hell of a push that last lap. I wasn't very good at leading, being the first guy in a line. With Ricky (Stenhouse) breaking the air, I couldn't run off to the start/finish line. We just have to keep doing this. If you run in the top--five you put yourself in position for wins. We definitely had a shot tonight, I just couldn't get a run off of turn four even with Bowyer pushing me. I just didn't have the run I had the lap before. I thought we had a chance to win this one, just couldn't get the run."
There were 33 lead changes among 16 different drivers. The caution flag flew for a record 14 times for 51 laps, while the red flag was displayed once. The average speed was 123.986 mph. This became the longest Coke Zero 400 at three hours, 17 minutes, and 12 seconds. The margin of victory was 0.213 seconds.
Kyle Larson leads Martin Truex, Jr. by 18 points in the standings.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a trip to Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400. The race will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT on July 8th.
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.
TALLADEGA, Al— Once a top-team on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Roush-Fenway went to the wayside after 2014. Once fielding five cars, they are now fielding two at the Cup level. Losing names like Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth was a shot for the organization. However, Roush Fenway stayed strong despite the performance on the track.
Although team officials won’t call it a resurgence, Roush Fenway has been competitive since going to a two-car organization this season following the departure of Greg Biffle at the end of 2016.
Winning the GEICO 500 was a mark of success in the “turning the ship”.
“Its ebbs and flows, its ups and downs. I've been stock car racing for 30 years in 2016, so this is my 31st year. But I had already been racing on a national level, drag racing and road racing for 20 years before I started with the stock car, with NASCAR,” said Jack Roush about the past few seasons.
Being part of Ford Performance, the emphasis is on the camp being one. That one mentality is the strongest it has ever been and at the top of their game, according to Roush.
“They give us a lot of tools in our toolbox and they give us unfettered support from their technical people that the things that they've got labs and all to do that are applied to what we're doing, and to be able to carry the banner for Ford is really special,” Roush explained.
Being “new” to the organization, Brian Pattie, crew chief for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., believes that the priority has changed from within the organization.
“Just focus, focus one week at a time, execute, and after the checkered flag falls on a Sunday, we'll regroup on Monday and start over. Just try and not get ahead of ourselves. That's just the biggest part. Obviously we've got better people and better spots and the cars are faster. That helps tremendously,” stated Pattie.
Finding new success in NASCAR, Roush was confident that Stenhouse and Trevor Bayne would win races in 2017. Over the off-season, Roush restructured internally to put the right people in the right places to gel in an effort to bring the organization back to winning form.
The start of 2017 has been a new wind in the sails of the organization. Officials and workers still believed in the program, despite not having the numbers. The organization continued to believe in their personnel and drivers that they would work their way out of the slump.
According to Steve Newmark, team president, this win was a confirmation that all their hard work has paid off.
“I think this is just kind of affirmation of the work that's been put into it, and we really do follow kind of the -- Jack's leadership and the principles at that he's instilled in everybody, and it's been a promote from within organization, so you have a lot of people at Roush Fenway that started on the ground floor and have worked their way up and have had ups and downs, and Ricky is probably kind of the poster child of that, so I think that's why it makes it so enjoyable for everybody to be involved,” stated Newmark.
With his victory at Talladega, Stenhouse, Jr. locks himself into the NASCAR playoffs. Roush-Fenway believes that Bayne will make the playoffs with a win. Bayne currently sits 16th in points, just one point ahead of 17th place driver, Aric Almirola.
TALLADEGA, Al— For the first time of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was victorious in the GEICO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway after a late race charge to the front in a green, white, checkered scenario. Stenhouse Jr. was able to hold off Kyle Busch in the final two laps to head towards victory. This is Roush-Fenway’s first victory since Carl Edwards went to victory lane in 2014 at Sonoma. This is Ford’s fifth win in a row on restrictor plate tracks.
“This is for all the guys at the shop. We’ve been terrible for a long time. This year, every race we’re getting better and better. We knew that Talladega was a good race track for us. It’s been a good one in the past and I’m just glad we parked it for my buddy, Bryan Clauson,” Stenhouse Jr. stated. “He was with us on that last lap. This Fifth Third Bank Ford was so fast today – qualified on the pole and got the win. I can’t say enough about the guys. It’s cool to have Jack Roush back in Victory Lane, Ford Performance, Fastenal, Sunny D. I’m gonna have a Sunny D in the morning, maybe a little later. This is cool. The closest race track to my hometown and the fans were out here this weekend.”
Jamie McMurray finished in the second position. McMurray was quiet throughout much of the day at Talladega, despite a few spotters complaining in the early stages of the race about his driving style and potentially causing a wreck.
“I mean it’s really circumstantial as to what the guys do in front of you and what is happening behind you. I just got a run at the right time. I thought the No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.) was going to get a little bit further out, but when we were coming to the line it just seemed like his car wasn’t going at that point, so it was a good finish. It was a great race,” said McMurray I’m glad everybody is okay, that was a really scary wreck on the backstretch, but really good day for our McDonald’s Chevrolet. We had good pit stops and the guys did a great job.”
Ky. Busch was leading the race at the advertised distance of 188 laps, but a late race caution sent the race in overtime ultimately sending him to a third place finish. Busch was not a happy camper when it came to the GEICO 500.
“When they have too big of a run and you can’t do anything about it. (Ricky) Stenhouse got a really good run and a good push and got by us there and then it was just about retaliation to get back on him and I just never had enough help from behind and just never got together. I just can’t say enough about this Skittles American Mix Camry – it was really fast,” said Ky. Busch. “The guys at Joe Gibbs Racing did a great job and TRD with everyone on this motor, it was awesome. We did all we could here today and it’s all circumstantial on how you win these things. Unfortunately our circumstances didn’t quite go our way, but we go to a real race track next week and we’ll try to win there.”
Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard, and David Ragan rounded out the top-10.
Kyle Larson still holds the points lead over Martin Truex, Jr by 54 points. Keselowski is 61 points back in third, Chase Elliott is 75 points back in fourth, and McMurray rounds out the top-five in points only 110 back from Larson.
The GEICO 500 was slowed eight times for 33 laps. There was one red flag period for a total of 26 minutes and 51 seconds. There were 26 different lead changes amongst 14 different drivers with Ky. Busch leading the most at 48 laps. The first two stages were one by Keselowski and Denny Hamlin. The time of the race was three hours, 29 minutes, and 16 seconds.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a Saturday night trip to Kansas Speedway for the Go Bowling 400.