Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16692)

Leavine Family Racing (LFR) announced today that it will once again partner with the FDNY Foundation aboard the No. 95 Toyota Camry for the third season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.  The FDNY Foundation provides funding for programs that advance the New York City Fire Department’s goals, which include maintaining operational excellence, reaching out to the community with an array of fire and health safety programs, and increasing diversity within the Department’s uniformed ranks.

FDNY members are renowned for their bravery and passion for service.  In 2018, they responded without hesitation to an astounding 1.7 million calls.  The FDNY Foundation and Leavine Family Racing are teaming up to respond to the FDNY’s request for a state-of-the art training simulator by working together to bring awareness of the Foundation’s efforts to the NASCAR industry.  The Pump Panel Simulator will combine with the Foundation’s driving simulator, which NASCAR helped provide to the FDNY, to train Firefighters on what are perhaps the most crucial and stressful minutes of fire response: arriving quickly and safely to the scene and the urgency to get the right amount of water to the right hoses for rapid extinguishment.

With heavy call volume in the country’s most densely populated city, firefighters don’t have a second to spare when arriving to a fire.  The Pump Panel Simulator works with the driving simulator to give trainers a cutting-edge resource to create realistic scenarios depicting driving to a fire and making the split-second decisions that regulate the water volume and pressure needed.  Practicing in a safe, controlled environment allows Firefighters to hone their skills so that when they are called upon to perform under the most challenging conditions, they are able to fulfill their sacred pledge to save lives. Giving their members the opportunity for rigorous, ongoing training improves safety for Firefighters and the public.

“The FDNY Foundation is very grateful and thrilled for this partnership with Leavine Family Racing and NASCAR to fund a state-of-the-art Pump Panel Simulator for the FDNY Training Academy,” said FDNY Foundation Executive Director Jean O’Shea.

In an effort to help raise awareness, LFR will run an FDNY Foundation paint scheme aboard the No. 95 Toyota Camry at Dover International Speedway for the Gander RV 400 on May 5, 2019.  LFR and the FDNY Foundation have a connection with each other thanks to LFR’s Matt DiLiberto who has been a part of the team’s ownership group since 2016.  DiLiberto currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer of SL Green Realty Corp. but he is also a member of the Board of Directors of the FDNY Foundation and has been a firefighter and EMT in New Jersey for more than 20 years

“We are extremely proud to, once again, recognize the brave men and women of the FDNY and the efforts of the FDNY Foundation while showcasing the NASCAR community’s incredible support and generosity to those who selflessly serve our communities every day,” Matt DiLiberto, LFR Partner and Board Member of the FDNY Foundation.

To learn more, or to join the Foundation’s team by donating to the Pump Panel Simulator project, please visit


After two successful weekends on the short tracks followed by the Easter weekend break, Paul Menard and the No. 21 Quick Lane team head to one of the biggest tracks, Talladega Superspeedway where an all-new rules package will be used.

Gone are the traditional restrictor plates that have been used at Talladega and its sister track, Daytona International Speedway, for more than 30 years. In their place will be a tapered spacer, the same device that has been used on intermediate tracks this season to reduce horsepower.
Further changes for Talladega include a taller rear spoiler, nine inches instead of the eight used at other tracks this season, and a bolt-on track bar mount which will raise the rear of the car one inch to 12 inches.
There has been limited testing of the new package, which leaves lots of unknowns heading into this weekend’s GEICO 500.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” Menard said. “It’s a different package from what we’ve run there for years.

 “We don’t know how the cars will draft, or whether we’ll end up running single-file or in tandem.”
He said he expects to see some drivers trying the tandem moves of several years back, where two drivers hooked up nose to tail to gain speed.

 “I expect there will be some tandem drafting, but I don’t know how long two drivers can stay hooked up,” he said.
One thing Menard is sure of is that there will be more emphasis put on practice, which is a change from previous Talladega weekends, where teams tended to try to limit practice time in hopes of avoiding damage to their cars from a crash.
“We’ve got to see what the car needs and wants to go fast, so we’ll practice more than we’d normally like to since we’ll be putting ourselves at risk,” he said. “There are going to be some interesting practices.”
Menard said he and the Quick Lane team are headed to Talladega on a roll after strong runs at Bristol and Martinsville, where they had finishes of sixth and 10th, gained five spots in the standings to 16th place and scored Stage points in five of six Stages in the past three races, dating back to Texas Motor Speedway.
“We had a couple of good runs on short tracks, and now we go the biggest, fastest track we race on,” he said. “We have confidence and momentum. We just have to keep it going.”
Qualifying for the GEICO 500 is set for Saturday at 3:40 p.m. (4:40 Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m (2 p.m. Eastern Time), with TV coverage on FOX.


In April 2018, Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) came to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway with a fresh, new outdoors-inspired look completely covered in flannel – the unofficial uniform of the true outdoor enthusiast.


It was such a hit, especially with fans, that the flannel will return for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Geico 500 at Talladega.


Busch Beer has embodied the spirit of the Great Outdoors since its inception in 1955. Again this weekend at Talladega, Busch will continue to honor its deep roots and celebrate those who are passionate about outdoor pursuits. The “Busch Guy” will return sporting his red-plaid flannel shirt and blue jeans – the inspiration for the livery of the No. 4 Busch Beer Flannel Ford Mustang.


When Harvick and the No. 4 Busch Beer Flannel team roll into Talladega for Sunday’s race, the team will be draped in the red-checkered fabric. Harvick’s Busch Beer firesuit, the crew’s shirts, the fan display and even the paint scheme of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford will all feature flannel.


The Busch Guy, decked out in flannel, will be on hand throughout the weekend to cheer on the Busch Flannel team to victory. Fans can support Harvick by shopping at where a wide variety of flannel merchandise is available.


And Harvick is hoping to put the Busch Beer Flannel Ford Mustang in victory lane.


He will make his 37th NASCAR Cup Series start Sunday at the 2.66-mile oval where he has one win, two poles, seven top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 260 laps.


Harvick scored his lone Talladega win in April 2010, when he started fourth, led two of 200 laps and beat runner-up Jamie McMurray by .011 of a second. He earned his first Cup Series pole at Talladega in May 2005 with a speed of 189.804 mph. He won his second Cup Series pole in April 2018, when he recorded a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph.


Harvick has three career Cup Series runner-up finishes at Talladega, most recently in October 2010, when he started 14th, led 12 laps and finished runner-up to his now-SHR teammate Clint Bowyer.


Harvick is hoping flannel will be the magic touch that will lead him to his first victory of 2019.


Michael McDowell on Talladega
16 Starts
Best Finish: 15th
Talladega is one of our best chances to win a race and have a great finish for our Love's Travel Stops Ford, especially since we started the season so strong at Daytona. We know what we need to do to execute well and have a clean race. I'm optimistic about the speeds we'll see this weekend from all three Front Row Motorsports cars. We’re happy to welcome Brisk to our team this weekend, too. I think we’re all looking forward to a good run on Sunday.
Matt Tifft on Talladega
(Xfinity Series) 3 Starts | 2 Top-10
Best Finish: 6th
"I'm ready to head to Talladega after the off-weekend. It can definitely be an intense race and you have to find the balance between being patient and being aggressive. I think we'll see some good speed in our No. 36 Surface Sunscreen/Tunity TV Ford and if we can stay out of trouble, we'll have a shot at taking the checkered flag."
David Ragan on Talladega
24 Starts
1 Win | 4 Top-5 | 10 Top-10
"I'm excited to head to Talladega this weekend. We've won there in the past, and we've seen some good speed there in other races, too. It'll be a special weekend to have Shriners Hospitals for Children on the car. We've been close to winning a race with them on our car in the past, and I think we'll have a good chance this weekend, again.

MoneyLion, America’s most powerful financial membership, and Ford Performance, today announce the HERE WE ROAR Sweepstakes, which allows fans to register to win one of three custom-built 2019 Ford Mustang GTs. By bringing together three of the most exciting drivers in motorsports—Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Austin Cindric—with several of the world’s most well-known performance car builders and including Vaughn Gittin Jr., MoneyLion is giving motorsports fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive and own a car like no other on earth.

Beginning today and through October 20, fans can register to win a 700-horsepower custom-built 2019 Ford Mustang GT in the HERE WE ROAR Sweepstakes by visiting the sweepstakes entry page or by sending a text message with the word “ROAR” to 95615 to receive a link to the website. Winners will be flown with a guest to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, November 15-17, 2019 to receive their car. Upon completion of a sweepstakes entry, entrants may earn additional bonus entries. See website for complete official rules and eligibility.

To kick off the initiative, MoneyLion has created the HERE WE ROAR Mustang Build-off video series so fans can tune in to see how the cars were built from scratch by the Team Penske drivers and world-class builders. The series consists of several original episodes documenting each build in its entirety. Tune in to see the first episode, featuring the first car designed and built by 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) Champion Logano, and World Champion Drifter, Fun-Haver, and founder of RTR Motorsports, Gittin Jr. The vehicle, themed around the word "WE" from MoneyLion's “Here We Roar” motto, was designed by Logano and Gittin, Jr. to reflect the importance of teamwork and community in the pursuit of any goal—whether pursuing a racing championship, a world-class car build or achieving one's own financial goals.

The brand new, one-of-a-kind 700-horsepower 2019 Ford Mustang RTR, features a Ford Performance supercharger and touts the modern-aggressive styling of RTR’s complete exterior Design Package and RTR 20-inch Aero 7 wheels wrapped in Nitto NT555 G2 tires. Complementing those features is a Ford Performance adjustable suspension package that offers poised street driving, while being ready for spirited driving in the twisties all the way to thrilling track day fun. The design of the car was a true collaboration of Ford Performance teammates Logano and Gittin Jr., the RTR Vehicles’ team, and MoneyLion. In addition to tasteful design execution, the livery includes the signatures of key members of the build team: Ford Performance, RTR Vehicles, Logano, Gittin Jr., and Edsel B. Ford II, great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford. The names were incorporated into the livery and hand painted by pinstriper Skratch of Skratch’s Garage.

“By combining three of the sport’s best drivers, with three of the most well-known custom car builders and influencers, and one of America’s most iconic cars, MoneyLion is delivering on its promise to bring excitement and unbelievable experiences to motorsports,” said Dee Choubey, CEO and co-founder of MoneyLion. “Giving motorsports fans closer access to the sport has always been an important element of our partnerships, and these wildly unique Ford Mustangs will surely shine wherever the road takes them.”

Logano will wear the MoneyLion logo on his firesuit at each race throughout the year, and will drive the No. 22 MoneyLion Ford Mustang at Talladega Superspeedway for the GEICO 500 this weekend and again at Watkins Glen International for Go Bowling at The Glen on August 4.

“When you think about awesome Ford Mustangs, one of the first names that comes to mind is Vaughn Gittin Jr.,” said Joey Logano. “Vaughn and I have gotten to work together with some really cool projects before and this custom Ford Mustang project has been a lot of fun. It’s good to have a partner like MoneyLion get on board with this and give this thing away to a lucky fan. I can’t wait to unveil this thing at Talladega and let someone take home a sweet Ford Mustang thanks to MoneyLion.”

Ford Performance and MoneyLion have established this program through their mutual partnership with Team Penske. Ford Performance has provided three 2019 Ford Mustang GTs to the program for the build teams to customize.

“We do a variety of programs throughout the year, in partnership with our motorsports partners, intended to showcase our Ford Performance vehicle lineup, but what makes this sweepstakes unique is having our drivers actively involved in the design and build process,” said Jeannee Kirkaldy, Motorsports Marketing Manager, Ford Performance. “It’s a big year for Mustang, on- and off-the-track, and this is something that we feel is going to be a big hit with our loyal Mustang enthusiasts throughout the country.”

The custom-built 2019 Ford Mustang GT will be introduced to the public during the Talladega Superspeedway Race Weekend, which features the MoneyLion 300 on Saturday, April 27. MoneyLion will be announcing more details of the reveal in the coming weeks.

“Once I heard about the opportunity to work with friend and fellow Fun-Haver, Joey Logano, I knew that this project was something myself and RTR Vehicles would want to be a part of,” said Vaughn Gittin Jr. “We have taken elements of our Mustang RTR production vehicles and added a very unique livery and made sure the future owner could have all the fun they’ve ever dreamed of from behind the wheel. We like to think 700-horsepower, big brakes and a well-dialed suspension system will put a smile on their face! It was super fun bringing MoneyLion’s ethos- the idea of only succeeding as a team, a community, and in general having each other’s back- to life through this build. I really relate to that mindset. This was a great team to work with and we all had a lot of fun during this build process. I cannot wait to see the smile on the winner’s face when we hand over the keys!”

Later in 2019, MoneyLion will roll out two more custom cars, designed by Team Penske drivers Blaney and Cindric, who will be partnering with two yet-to-be-revealed top custom builders. The next custom cars will be revealed at Watkins Glen International (August 4) and the 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on (October 13) later this year. Watch for more details to come on these build partnerships, including custom builder reveals, in the coming months.

About the Here We Roar Sweepstakes

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. The Here We Roar Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. states (excluding HI, AK) and D.C. 18 years of age or older as of date of entry. Begins 12:00 AM ET 4/22/19; ends 11:59 PM ET 10/20/19. For complete Official Rules and eligibility, visit Sponsor: MoneyLion Inc.

MoneyLion PR

David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports (FRM) will once again bring the colors of the Shriners Hospitals for Children to the NASCAR Cup Series. Ragan will make the 2019 debut of the No. 38 Shriners Hospitals for Children Ford Mustang during this weekend's events at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Ragan and the team will also host a patient of the Shriners Hospitals for Children-Greenville at the track on Sunday. Antonio Knowles, who goes by "AJ", has been a patient of the Shriners Hospitals for Children since he was just one year old. Born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a condition which causes decreased joint flexibility, the now 10-year-old can do many things he wasn't able to do when he first became a patient. Simple things that most people take for granted, like walking and talking, were made possible with the help of his medical team at the Greenville Shriners Hospital. Now able to get around with the assistance of a walker, AJ is a testament to the drive and determination of Shriners Hospitals for Children kids. AJ and his mother will be guests of the team on Sunday.

Ragan has a day of activities planned for Knowles and his mother, including a tour of the garage, his hauler and joining him during all the pre-race activities before Sunday's race. AJ and his mother will stay and watch the race with special seating made possible by Talladega Superspeedway

"It's always great to race the Shriners Hospitals for Children scheme on our car and host a patient, family and donors of the hospitals," said Ragan. "We've been close to winning a race with the Shriners Hospitals on our car in the past, and I think we'll have a good chance this weekend, again."
"We're going to have our biggest fan, AJ, with us to help give us that extra luck we need on Sunday," added Ragan. "Learning about AJ and his story, it's pretty inspirational and really tells the story of what Shriners Hospitals for Children does for these patients. The hospitals are some of the best in the country and they are no cost to the families."
Ragan has been a member of Shriners International since 2012 and serves as its NASCAR ambassador. He visits Shriners Hospitals during the race season and raises awareness and funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children through various campaigns, public service announcements, donations and activities. Earlier this year, Ragan auctioned off 2018 Shiners Hospitals for Children race car at the Barrett-Jackson auction. The winning bid, made by Rick Steele of Select Blinds, raised $300,000 for the Hospitals.
Shriners Hospitals for Children provides specialized care to children with orthopaedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, burns and cleft lip and palate regardless of the families' ability to pay.

Justin Haley will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut for Spire Motorsports in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Haley, a three-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS) winner, will pilot the No. 77 Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at the famed 2.66-mile Alabama track.
The F.O.E. is an international non-profit organization uniting fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills and promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.
The F.O.E. donates more than $10 million a year to local communities, fundraisers, charities and more. As part of its philosophy, the F.O.E. gives back 100 percent of monies raised in the form of grants. Fundraisers are conducted for eight major charities, including kidney, heart, diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injury funds, a children's fund, memorial foundation and the Golden Eagle Fund.
“Our members are incredibly excited to take the next step with Justin in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” said F.O.E. Grand Worthy President Carl Burnett. “Justin and the Eagles have been together for many of his career firsts and we can’t wait to experience yet another this weekend in Talladega. This is our third year together and we’re proud to continue to break new ground as a team.”
Haley made his professional stock car debut in 2014 and has gone on to record wins in the ARCA Menards Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the NGOTS. Last season, Haley parlayed three wins, nine top-five and 18 top-10 finishes into a third-place championship effort behind the wheel of GMS Racing’s No. 24 Chevrolet Silverado.
Meanwhile, all three of his NGOTS wins came with the F.O.E. livery showcased aboard his entry.
The 20-year-old Indiana native currently races full time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) for Kaulig Racing where he’s notched six top-10 finishes and sits 11th in points. In his most recent NXS start two weekends ago at Richmond Raceway, Haley started 14th and finished 10th.
“This is a dream come true,” explained Haley. “I couldn’t be prouder than to make my Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut with Spire Motorsports and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. The F.O.E. has supported my career since the beginning and it feels like our program will come full circle when I make my debut on NASCAR’s biggest stage this weekend at Talladega. I’m incredibly grateful to both Spire Motorsports and the F.O.E. for this opportunity. I’m excited to get on track and see what we can do.”
“Justin Haley is a proven winner and a future super star,” said Spire Motorsports co-owner T.J. Puchyr. “Justin has won at several levels and knows what it takes to compete with the best in the business. He’s a very talented, smart racer so we’re confident he’ll do a good job this weekend.”  
The GEICO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway will be televised live on FOX Sunday, April 28 beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The ninth of 36 races on the 2019 MENCS schedule will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Spire Sports PR

Recent winning history on the Talladega Superspeedway high banks has been dominated by a distinctive blue oval. Ford drivers hold a seven-race winning streak as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Alabama for Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) – the winningest stretch for a manufacturer in more than a decade of competition on what is ironically considered one of the most unpredictable venues.

Not only has Ford owned the party in Talladega’s famous Victory Lane since 2015, they have utterly dominated the competition – leading 58.8 percent of all laps run in the last seven-race span - 785 of the 1,336 laps of competition.

Team Penske driver Joey Logano scored his third Talladega Superspeedway win in this event last April, leading a race best 70 laps and holding off another Ford teammate, Kurt Busch for the trophy.

In the last Monster Energy Series race on the Alabama high banks - during October’s Playoff portion of the schedule – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola took a different, more concise path to the win, leading only the last lap. His SHR teammate Clint Bowyer was second followed by 2017 Talladega winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earning Ford a true podium sweep. Ford driver Kurt Busch won the pole position and led a race best 108 of the 193 laps in that race only to finish 14th.

In Logano’s win last April, seven Ford drivers combined to lead 126 of the race’s 188 laps - 67 percent of the race. In Almirola’s victory, Ford was even more dominant. Six Ford drivers combined to lead 184 of the race’s 193 laps or 95.3 percent of the race.

Ford drivers have led at least 58 percent of the race laps in four of the make’s last seven Talladega wins, including the last three races.

With each of Ford’s wins in this span, the statistics have been increasingly impressive. And with three wins through the opening nine races of 2019, Ford has already established good pace.

Team Penske's two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship drivers Brad Keselowski (2012) and reigning champ Logano - who have hoisted three race trophies in 2019  - have combined to earn eight trophies at Talladega making them-the most decorated among the current competition. The duo have won five of the last seven races and led a combined 426 laps in that time – 54 percent of Ford’s total laps out front.

Four times – twice each – they have led the most laps in a race. And over the course of the last 10 races, Logano’s 235 laps out front and Keselowski’s 229 laps led are most among Cup drivers.

Perhaps Keselowski summed up the team’s feelings best two seasons ago – in the days before claiming his career fifth win at the track.

“Talladega has been good to us," he said. “Talladega has been a track for us that’s been a great catalyst for success. I don’t know why that is, but it’s a track where if you’re capable of winning here, I think you show a certain level of attitude and swagger that carries your way through the rest of the year.”

Even so, Penske drivers aren’t the only ones in Talladega tip-top strata. In Almirola’s win, his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch led a race high 108 laps in his runner-up finish – the most laps led by one driver since Matt Kenseth led 142 and finished eighth in May, 2013. Only three times since then has the driver who led the most laps won the race – Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Spring, 2015, Keselowski in Spring, 2016 and Logano in this race last year.

Two other Ford drivers have joined the Penske duo in Victory Lane celebrations during the manufacturer’s current winning streak – Almirola last October and Stenhouse Jr. in 2017 when he claimed his first Cup victory. Stenhouse went on to score his second series win three months later at the Daytona summer race.

While Team Penske drivers have already celebrated with trophies and Almirola has come close, Stenhouse sees this weekend, in particular, as an ideal chance to earn a win and his shot in the season-ending Playoffs. However, as is typically the case on the big tracks such as Talladega, he’s just unsure what to expect in race condition.

“Back in the day, I felt like you had a lot of friends when you had a fast car but now if you have a fast car they want to shuffle you out so they don't have to contend with you," Stenhouse said. “Now going into speedways a lot of times you can do a lot of things on your own at Talladega and Daytona now.

“As much as all of us have learned with side drafting, I am interested to see how this package is going to draft. It will be different than what we have been running so it is what it is. We will go out there and do what we can and try to get a win. I always feel confident going there.”

While last year’s dominant SHR team is still looking for its first win of 2019, three of its four drivers do have previous Talladega victories. Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer swept the 2010 season while driving for different teams and Almirola scored his dramatic Talladega win in his first season with SHR last year.

SHR team drivers Almirola, Harvick, Bowyer and Kurt Busch (now with Chip Ganassi Racing) led 155 of the 193 laps in Almirola’s victory last Fall.

“That day completed our organization, you know what I mean?" Bowyer said. “Aric’s (Almirola) victory put all four cars in Victory Lane for the year and set a precedent for SHR that ‘We’re here.’ That was big for our organization. Heck, that would have been big for any organization. And for us to do that in SHR’s 10th anniversary year made it special.”

“Attitude is a big part of this, but it goes toward being a student while you’re out there, learning as much as you can. That’s the tricky thing about these situations at these racetracks."

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Chocolate Bar Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has been on quite the roll during the early part of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.


While his series-high three wins and six top-five finishes in the nine races contested so far this season are impressive enough, Busch aims to extend his top-10 streak to start the season to 10 races as the series comes off the Easter off-weekend for Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Morgan Shepherd holds the record for most consecutive top-10 finishes to start a season when he scored top-10s in the first 11 races of 1990. Going back to last season, Busch has notched 11 top-10s in a row, a streak he hopes to continue this weekend.


While Busch and his No. 18 M&M’S Chocolate Bar team are capable of winning at any track, it will be a particular challenge for him this weekend at the mammoth, 2.66-mile Talladega oval, where he’s had a career of ups and downs. Compared to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he has eight Cup Series wins including one earlier this season, and Richmond, where he has six, Busch has won just once in 27 career starts at Talladega. His lone win came in April 2008, and he has accumulated 12 other top-15 finishes at the track but also exited five outings early due to accidents.


The M&M’S Chocolate Bar scheme on Busch’s No. 18 Toyota this weekend appears for the fourth time this season. The new permanent addition to the brand’s iconic candy lineup will be highlighted Sunday as Busch looks to continue an impressive showing in M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry livery, having already notched a runner-up finish at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and third-place finishes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The M&M’S Chocolate Bar consists of smooth milk chocolate with whole M&M’S® Minis visible in a large bar, and it’s available nationwide in five flavors: Peanut, Milk Chocolate, Crispy, Almond and Crispy Mint.


So as Busch heads to Talladega this weekend, he would like nothing more than to keep his top-10 streak alive. But, in order to do so, he’ll have to somehow stay out of the inevitable multicar Talladega accident and be running at the end to put himself in position to continue one of the best starts to a season in his Cup Series career.


On the last lap of the fall 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Aric Almirola, driver of the then-Smithfield Bacon for Life Ford, held off his teammates Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch to win the most important race of his career. When Almirola crossed the finish line, he secured his spot in the Round of 8 of the NASCAR playoffs and went on to finish fifth in the standings – the best season of his career. 


“I just so happened to be the guy who ran third and fourth the whole race and saved a ton of fuel,” Almirola said. “Kevin (Harvick, SHR teammate) was going to line up third and the plan was that we were going to finish one-two-three-four as an organization. Harvick ran out of fuel and the plan was over. I knew I was on my own. Paul Menard gave me a hell of a push and I got to second. When I heard they were wrecking behind me, I thought I would finish second, but I kept it wide open because my spotter told me to keep digging. I ran Kurt down and I didn’t know if I was going to beat him, but I was damn sure going to make it exciting. When I pulled next to him, I heard his car starting to run out of fuel. We finally won after a strand of bad luck.”


There was sheer excitement over the radio when Almirola took the checkered flag. He screamed, “Woohoo! Yes! We finally did it!” But he was hungry for something else when he stepped out of the car.


While Almirola gave his live interview expressing his relief in being able to advance to the next playoff round, he turned to the roaring crowd and said somebody out there watching was going to win bacon for the rest of their lives – and someone did. Joseph Craig from Little Rock, Arkansas, was surprised at his home by Almirola this past offseason with a lifetime supply of bacon, and he mimicked Almirola after his Round of 12 win at Talladega (watch here).


In Almirola’s last five starts at the 2.66-mile Talladega oval, he’s earned one win, three top-five finishes and five top-10s. In his 18 Cup Series starts there, an accident ended his day prematurely just once. In the typically accident-mired event, he’s led a total of 15 laps. Almirola’s first career Cup Series victory was captured in 2014 at Talladega’s sister track, Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. 


The Tampa native has also found his way to victory lane in his career at the Alabama track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In 2017, Almirola led 13 laps before going on to capture the victory there while piloting the No. 98 Ford for Biagi-DenBeste Racing.


Ford had shown strength at superspeedways with 18 wins in the last 32 Daytona and Talladega events combined. In the Cup Series, Ford has captured 10 wins in the last 13 Talladega races.


Talladega is the seventh points-paying event during which the Smithfield livery will adorn Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang this season. 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.


Almirola heads to the 10th race of the 2019 season 11th in the championship with 260 points – 140 out of first. His highest points position this season was fifth before bad luck struck the No. 10 Ford Mustang team at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway three weekends ago and issues with lug nuts at Richmond (Va.) Raceway two weekends ago. Prior to Bristol, Almirola earned six consecutive top-10 finishes. 


The No. 10 Smithfield Ford team intends to reset its streak of top finishes this weekend and earn back-to-back wins at a track where Almirola has found the most success of any other on the 36-race points-paying race schedule. 



The Bishop, Calif. native is set to make his 24th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) start but first on a superspeedway. Barrett efforts for his first Cup Series race of the season will be supported by Swedish-based Huski Chocolate.

Soon to be launched in the United States, Huski Chocolate is a premium organic cold chocolate milk beverage available with refreshing premium chocolate with a chocolate glacier taste.

Currently available in the United States, Huski Chocolate services their premium real hot chocolate syrup in the food and beverage industry including ski resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Huski Chocolate will utilize Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race to help launch the company’s “ready to drink” chocolate beverage, while also explore other business-to-business initiatives for the Huski Chocolate hot chocolate line.

“I’m glad to be back at the race track this weekend,” said Barrett who recently completed his stunt work in the upcoming expected summer blockbuster John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. “I’ve been super busy with my companies, but it’s exciting to come back to NASCAR and not only bring a new sponsor to the sport – but one that is sure to resonate with NASCAR fans.”

Over the course of his NASCAR career, Barrett has made five starts at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. In 1999, he earned a personal track best of 15th.

While expecting a very competitive race abreast a new rules package and the introduction of tapered spacers, Barrett says a good day will be finishing the race in one-piece with a solid finish.

“There are a lot of unknowns going into this weekend’s race. I’ve ran up front many times at superspeedways and seem to get caught up in the “big one” but we hope this weekend will be different,” added Barrett. “We’re already locked into the race – so we’ll be working on finding the right balance with our No. 52 Huski Chocolate Chevrolet and make sure when we need to put ourselves in the right place we can do so.

“Bringing a good finish will give us some momentum to maybe hopefully come back in the fall.”

Rick Ware, team principal of Rick Ware Racing says the team is thrilled to welcome Barrett back to the team.

“Stanton and I have worked together for a lot of years and I’m always happy to have him behind the wheel of one of our cars,” Ware said. “I think Sunday is a race where we can go and be competitive and he (Stanton) can work with the 51 car and have the chance to bring home our best results of the season.”

Barrett’s No. 52 Chevrolet will also promote several charities this weekend. With an emphasis to bring them attentiveness, The Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation will be promoted on the television panel. E

stablished as a national identity in 2014, the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation is dedicated to changing the future of cancer by funding advanced, innovative research that treats the cancer while sparing the patient.

22 Kill, a community that raises awareness and combats suicide by empowering veterans, first responders, and their families through traditional and non-traditional therapies will adorn the side panels.

And Heroes on the Water will also see their decals on Barrett’s car Sunday. Heroes on the Water is a veteran’s charity, creates alternative therapeutic programs to serve veterans, active-duty military personnel, first responders and their families.

These experiential programs incorporate structured activities proven to improve the lives of these men and women. Each experience reduces the impact of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury while providing much-needed camaraderie and support.

Veteran industry leader George Church will call the shots as crew chief for in the 10th Cup race of the season.

To learn more about Huski Chocolate, please visit, like them on Facebook, follow along on Instagram (@huskichocolate) and follow them on Twitter (@huskichocolate).

For more on Stanton Barrett, please like his Facebook page, follow along on Instagram (@stantonbarrett). He is also active on Twitter. You can follow and Tweet with him @stantonbarrett.

For more on Rick Ware Racing, please “like” them on Facebook ( or visit

Rick Ware Racing is on Twitter. Follow them @RickWareRacing.


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