Monster Energy Cup Series News (15376)
After a relatively rare off weekend, Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Richmond team get back to work at Sonoma Raceway for this weekend’s 350-kilometer race on the 12-turn, 1.99-mile California track.
“It’s the first road-course race of the season, and I’m excited about that,” Menard said.
“The track is really tight, and it’s hard to use all the horsepower these Ford Fusions produce.”
Menard said races at Sonoma have other characteristics that make races there interesting.
“The tires fall off as you put laps on them, so tire management is important,” he said.
“Fuel mileage can come into play, so there are a lot of strategy decisions to be made.”
The course itself offers challenges for drivers too.
“There are not a lot of passing zones, so you have to take what you can get when you can,” he said.
Road courses are a big part of Menard’s career.
When he first came to the Cup series back in 2003 he made his first start at a road course, Watkins Glen International. He also made his second Cup start at the Glen two years later.
“At that time I had more experience on road courses than I did on ovals,” he said, adding that over the course of his career he’s now made far more starts on ovals.
In the years he’s been in Cup, Menard has seen drivers across the board develop their skills to the point that there are few who have an advantage when it comes to races on tracks like Sonoma and Watkins Glen.
“The quality of road-racing talent is as good as it’s ever been,” he said. “Now there are at least 15 drivers with a legitimate chance to win on road courses.”
Qualifying at Sonoma is set for Saturday at 11:45 a.m. (2:45 p.m. Eastern Time), and the 110-lap, 218.9-mile race is scheduled to start just after noon (3 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage for qualifying and the race on Fox Sports 1.
For someone preparing to compete on a twisting road course, Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr.’s toss across home plate was straight and true.
The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday night’s Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field, a 10-8 victory over the New York Mets.
Truex spoke on the field with Rockies manager Bud Black before throwing the pitch to catcher Chris Iannetta.
After the on-field activities, Truex conducted interviews with the Denver media and then signed autographs for the many race fans at the ballpark.
“As long as you get the ball over the plate, you don’t throw it hard,” said Truex. “You just get it there and you’re good so it worked out ok. Any time you get to do stuff like this is a lot of fun. It’s an honor to be here to talk to the coach and players to get a little insight into a different world. I played Little League when I was a kid and had a dreamed someday of being a big league player so it was really cool to just get on the field.
“I think just about every year that I’ve driven for Furniture Row Racing, I’ve stopped in Denver on the way to Sonoma. It’s on the way so it’s always nice to see the guys at the shop. It’s been a few months since I’ve been here so to spend a little time at the shop is always fun and to get to throw out the first pitch is a cool bonus.”
Truex and the No. 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota team will compete this weekend at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, the first NASCAR Cup Series road race of the season.
Kevin Harvick completed the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway sweep in 2017 by winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race on Saturday before following it up with a dominant performance on Sunday in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Harvick wheeled his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing across the finish line first ahead of teammate Clint Bowyer after leading twice for 24 laps.
Harvick is aiming for a second straight NASCAR Cup Series win at Sonoma when he returns for this weekend’s Save Mart 350k on the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course nestled in California wine country.
The demands on both man and machine throughout a road-course race can test even the most talented drivers and sophisticated mechanical equipment. Thankfully, Harvick has an equally impressive partner in Mobil 1, an entity known for standing up to the toughest challenges.
Mobil 1 is the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR” and the Mobil brand of lubricant products are the “Official Lubricants of NASCAR.” Mobil 1 engine oils have long been the lubricant of choice for race teams competing in the most demanding and popular motorsports series around the globe.
The history of Mobil 1 in motorsports dates back to rally competition during the early 1970s. However, its involvement in racing became more official in 1978 through sponsorship of the Williams Formula One team and the 1987 sponsorship of Rusty Wallace’s No. 27 car in NASCAR.
From that time, the presence of Mobil 1 on racetracks and circuits has grown by global proportions. Today, Mobil 1 is relied upon for its ability to deliver exceptional engine performance and protection even under some of the most extreme conditions. Automotive technicians, racecar drivers, team owners and the world’s leading automotive manufacturers can all testify to the advanced technology delivered by Mobil 1 lubricants.
In addition to its high performance on the racetrack, ExxonMobil will highlight its newest synthetic motor oil, Mobil 1 Annual Protection, which allows drivers to go one full year – or up to 20,000 miles (whichever comes first) – between oil changes for all vehicle types. Guaranteed.
On Friday, June 22,Harvick and comedian Casey Webb of Man vs. Food, both stars of the latest Mobil 1 television commercials, are teaming up for the Mobil 1 Annual Protection “20K Road Trip” event at the first 5,000 mile “pit stop” at Sonoma Raceway, which marks the first of four legs of the cross-country journey.
The Mobil 1 20K Road Trip features two cars, including a 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium, which will drive 20,000 miles across 48 states experiencing a variety of climates, altitudes, elevations and driving styles over the next four months. The first pit stop at Sonoma marks the end of the road trip’s first 5,000 miles.
Harvick will be available to speak about the 20K Road Trip, the motor oil testing involved in this endeavor, and his NASCAR season. In addition, some lucky onsite fans will be selected to have their vehicle’s motor oil changed with Mobil 1 Annual Protection, completed by Harvick and Webb with help from ExxonMobil partner, Yoshi.
Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion who is currently ranked second in points, knows how to stand up to the demands of road-course racing. His win last year came from 12th in the 38-car field, and it enabled Harvick to become one of only three active Cup Series drivers who have won at both, purpose-built road courses on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule – Sonoma and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the other two drivers.
A second Sonoma victory would be on top of Harvick’s series-leading five wins already this season, which has allowed him to earn 26 playoff points in his quest for a second NASCAR Cup Series title. As Mobil 1 kicks off its 20K Road Trip, Harvick will kick it into gear, literally and figuratively, on the twists and turns of Sonoma.
Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) venture to California for this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The series was on hiatus last weekend but, heading into the off weekend, Almirola scored an 11th-place finish at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
Sonoma marks the first of two road-course events this season. Nestled in Northern California’s Wine Country, its 1.99-mile, 12-turn circuit has proved to be trying for Almirola. Given the challenge the road course poses to the Tampa native, he’s looking to gain more practice by participating in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race Saturday afternoon with an entry fielded by SHR. It’s not uncommon for NASCAR Cup Series drivers to participate in the Saturday event. In fact, Almirola’s SHR teammate Kevin Harvick captured the victory in the 2017 K&N race there.
The Smithfield driver has six Cup Series starts at Sonoma with a best finish of 14th in June 2015 and a 99.7 lap completion percentage in his six starts. SHR drivers have won the last two Sonoma races – Tony Stewart in 2016 and Harvick in 2017. Almirola looks to greatly improve his performance at Sonoma, in particular, just as he’s done throughout this season. After 15 starts this year, he’s accrued an average start of 19.9, an average finish of 12.0, and he rounds out the SHR four-car contingent with an 11th spot in the point standings.
While Almirola’s main purpose this weekend in Sonoma is to pilot the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion, he and his wife Janice headed out to the area earlier this week to enjoy a few days away from the racetrack. “I love going to Sonoma with my wife and enjoying Wine Country,” he said. “We have great friends who live in the Santa Rosa and Windsor areas and we get to visit with them. I just really like going out there a couple of days early to enjoy the great food and wine. We definitely make more out of it besides a work trip.”
With summer in full swing, fans have the opportunity to celebrate the grilling season by entering Smithfield’s “Hero of the Grill” contest that Almirola and five-time world-champion barbecue pitmaster Tuffy Stone helped launch earlier this year. Fans are encouraged to nominate their favorite grill hero by visiting SmithfieldGetGrilling.com. One “Hero of the Grill” nominee will win $5,000. Plus, the first 10,000 nominees will have the chance to see their name featured on Almirola’s No. 10 Smithfield Ford at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in September.
Fans can also enter for their chance to win Smithfield’s Smoke Machine Mustang designed by team co-owner Stewart with the help of drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. They helped create a one-of-a-kind Ford Mustang RTR Spec 3 that will be given away to one lucky fan. Fans can register for their chance to win the suped-up Mustang and a trip to November’s Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead by visiting SmithfieldRacing.com, or by texting SMOKE to 82257.
Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion had a different look for last month’s non-points-paying NASCAR All-Star Race. Waffle House appeared on the car to help kick off its first-ever “Who’s Your All-Star?” sweepstakes in conjunction with Smithfield Foods. Fans can enter the sweepstakes by snapping a photo with their favorite Waffle House associate and sharing via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #WhosYourAllStar. The top-10 associates and the customers who nominated them will receive special recognition and a Waffle House gift card. One grand-prize customer and associate winner will each receive a VIP experience to the NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
This weekend’s Save Mart 350k at Sonoma marks the 14th points-paying event during which the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its seventh season with Almirola and its first 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.
Ford has earned eight wins so far this season with Almirola’s SHR teammates earning a majority of the victories for the blue oval – Harvick with five and Clint Bowyer with two. Harvick also captured the All-Star Race win at Charlotte.
Making wishes come true is a big part of what The Dale Jr. Foundation is built on, and the latest chapter in a book filled with wishes will benefit Make-A-Wish® Central & Western North Carolina. The Dale Jr. Foundation announced today a commitment of $500,000 to Make-A-Wish Central & Western North Carolina to help build and name the Wish Room in its soon-to-be-permanent home in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Dale Jr. Foundation’s commitment to the Make-A-Wish organization has a long history. Not only are Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, the vice-president of the Foundation, passionate about the mission Make-A-Wish has undertaken, to bring wish experiences to life and leave enduring legacies, they’ve put action to words long before The Dale Jr. Foundation was formed in 2007.
“Make-A-Wish is one of the most active and important groups that The Dale Jr. Foundation supports, and the opportunity to make a difference in this manner is humbling,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Kelley and I come by that support honestly, as some of my most treasured moments at the track came when meeting with wish kids. The ability to help contribute to making a permanent home for Make-A-Wish and the children it benefits is part of the DNA of The Dale Jr. Foundation and always will be.”
According to Amy Brindley, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Central & Western North Carolina. Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most prolific wish participants and has delivered them to hundreds of children with critical illnesses.
“Dale Jr. embodies the heart of our organization’s desire to share the power of a wish,” Brindley said. “The ability to have a permanent home for Wish Discovery Visits where local children can explore and declare their wish is a huge advantage. Dale’s generosity has overflowed to not only his time but his Foundation and team’s financial support to fund wishes. Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina and the thousands of children who will walk through the doors of the Dale Jr. Wish Room cannot thank Dale Jr., Kelley and The Dale Jr. Foundation enough in imagining those moments to come and how this room will transform their lives.”
The first part of the donation for the Dale Jr. Wish Room was made earlier this month by The Dale Jr. Foundation and the balance will be endowed over the next four years.
Dale Jr. Foundation PR
"It makes a lot of sense for BUBBA burgers to join us for this race," added Wallace Jr. "I love to grill and fans love to grill at the track. BUBBA burgers are the best option if you're looking for a great tasting burger at the grocery store and there name is pretty cool, too. Hey, this is a perfect sponsorship."
The Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway is scheduled for this Sunday, June 24. The race will be televised live on Fox Sports 1 at 3:00 p.m. ET and broadcast on Performance Racing Network and SIRIUS/XM NASCAR Channel 90.
Trevor Bayne returns to the seat of the No. 6 Ford this weekend at Sonoma and the 2011 Daytona 500 Champion will sport a different look for his return. AdvoCare Rehydrate® will be featured on the No. 6 as the summer months roll on, and for the remainder of AdvoCare’s primary races this season.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on the track this weekend in Sonoma and I think the fans are going to like the new look of the AdvoCare Ford,” said Bayne. “Rehydrate is an AdvoCare product that the team and I rely on especially as we get into the heat of the summer to stay hydrated and perform at our best.”
The scheme features a primarily black and white design with a touch of orange and yellow. The Knoxville, Tennessee, native will make his fourth overall start at Sonoma this weekend, and his first in 2018 since Dover on May 6.
Bayne is in his fifth season with AdvoCare as his primary partner, and fourth with the Plano, Texas company in the MENCS after they made the move with him from the Xfinity Series.
When talking about road course racing Martin Truex Jr.’s voice tends to rise a few decibels.
“I love the challenge of road racing,” Truex said. “I grew up racing go-karts on road courses (in New Jersey) and fell in love with that quickly. The excitement level definitely goes up a few notches when we compete at a road course.”
A two-time road course winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, Truex won’t have to wait much longer for a return to his grass roots form of racing. The Furniture Row Racing driver will be one of the favorites to capture Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, the first of three road course races of the season.
Truex, who will drive the No. 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Camry at Sonoma’s 11-turn, 1.99-mile circuit, is a former Sonoma winner (2013) and also won last year’s road race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Truex was also in contention to win at Sonoma last year. He led a race high of 25 laps and was dominating the race until suffering an engine failure. He retired from the race on Lap 86 of 110.
Even when his engine started to experience power issues and was operating on seven cylinders, Truex was still running neck and neck with the race leader and eventual winner Kevin Harvick.
“We had strong performing road course cars last year,” Truex recalled. “We had the car to beat at Sonoma. We hit on something and had a ton of speed there. Our Furniture Row Racing team has been looking forward to getting back to Sonoma to finish what we almost completed last year.”
Though he has had success at Sonoma Raceway, Truex is aware of the technical difficulties of the track.
“Sonoma is more like a short track,” Truex noted. “It has a lot of slower speed corners and a lot of elevation changes. The worn out pavement causes tires to wear out fast. It’s almost like Darlington on a road course. You have to be disciplined at Sonoma. One little hiccup can knock you off the course and most likely out of the race.”
Truex, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, enters the Toyota/Save Mart 300 sixth in driver points. He has two victories (Fontana, Calif. and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway) and nine top-five finishes.
His career record at Sonoma Raceway (formerly known as Sears Point Raceway and Infineon Raceway) includes: 12 starts, one win, two top fives, three top 10s and 92 laps led. His average start is 13.9 and average finish 21.0.
The stages for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 will be 25/25/60 laps for a race total of 110.
McDowell on Sonoma
"Sonoma is another race we circle at Front Row. At superspeedways, we know we have fast cars, and if you put yourself in the right spot at the right time, you can get a good finish. It’s possible, but everything has to go your way. At a road course, if you have speed, you can set your own destiny. So, the hope isn’t to go there and stay out of the mess and luck into one. The hope is to go there, qualify in the top five and be a true contender to challenge for a win.
"I feel like extra emphasis from everybody at Front Row Motorsports, Roush Fenway and Ford Performance can give me the best chance possible to score a victory at one of the road courses. We'd love to take Love's Travel Stops and Roller Bites to Victory Lane, and Sonoma is definitely a place I think we can do it."
McDowell Sonoma Stats
6 starts, 1 top-15
Best finish: 14th