Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16360)

This weekend when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) rolls into Atlanta Motor Speedway, Acorns will make its debut in the sport alongside NASCAR veteran Ryan Newman in the No. 6 Ford Mustang.

The Acorns Ford will be hard to miss (or easy) on the 1.5-mile speedway, featuring a fresh, bright green paint scheme that aligns with the company’s mission to look after the financial best interests of the up-and-coming. What is Acorns you might ask? It is the nation’s first financial wellness system with over 4.5 million investment accounts.

For Newman, investing was something he taught from a young age and has continued throughout his storied career at NASCAR’s elite level.

“At a young age my father taught me to invest in myself and never stop growing,” said Newman. “In our sport we’re faced with big decisions at a split second every week, but Acorns takes the pressure away and makes a big decision small by investing for you. With Acorns anyone can invest and they do the rest.”

Growing is something Newman has embraced, making the jump to the winningest team in the sport for NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Jack Roush in 2019. After winning 13 races with Hall of Famer Roger Penske from 2000-08, including Rookie of the Year honors in 2002, Driver of the Year accolades in 2003, and the 2008 Daytona 500, Newman made the jump to Stewart-Haas Racing.

From there his career continued to grow, capturing four more wins with the organization and adding eight more poles to his illustrious qualifying track record. He capped his tenure at Stewart-Haas by winning the 2013 Brickyard 400.

Following a five-year stint with Richard Childress Racing, Newman is again excited to grow this season and beyond while investing in his future in the sport.

“I’m excited to represent a company like Acorns that is encouraging all Americans to invest in their future,” Newman added. “With the support of like-minded individuals, I hope we can share our successes on and off the race track this season.”

Like Newman, Acorns is committed to investing spare change and growing wealth for the everyday American.

Acorns Data

  • Investment Accounts: Currently 4.5M investment accounts; 350,000 new investment accounts in 2019
  • More than $1B under management, much of it in spare change.
  • 5 products with 200,000+ customers each in 4 years.
  • Found Money Dollar Amount Rewarded: $4.2M
  • Number of Found Money Brand Partners: 275
    • Include brands like Nike, AirBNB, Lyft, Apple, Expedia
  • More than 400,000 people have signed up for Acorns Later to save for a better life later.
  • More than 250,000 oak trees planted in partnership with OneTreePlanted. From acorns mighty oaks do grow!
  • 182M Americans that are making less than 100K/year

RFR PR

Michael McDowell on Atlanta

“We have a lot of momentum heading to Atlanta after our top 5 finish last weekend at Daytona. I’m excited to see how the racing will be with the new downforce package. If all goes well, I think that we will see a lot more pack racing, and that is what allows us to look at Atlanta and think we could possibly win there. In years past, you run top-20 and are excited about that. The top teams are going to be the top teams and the top drivers will always be the top drivers. But if you get a restart with five to go and can run wide open, it will be like Daytona. It will be a shootout. I like that style of racing. It has always suited me really well and if we can put ourselves in that position enough times, hopefully we can capitalize on that. I’m really looking forward to getting back on track and hopefully having a great race for our partner Fr8auctions this weekend.”

Matt Tifft on Atlanta

"I think it's going to be interesting. I feel like Atlanta is going to be a little more like truck racing and I think there's going to be a lot more momentum in being able to use the top there. The interesting part is going to be pit road, when you have a lot more cars on the lead lap than in years past. The good thing is, we ran a similar package in the Xfinity Series, so I have a little experience to go off of. I'm really excited to have our partners Tunity and Surface Sunscreen on board this weekend and to put on a great show for them."

David Ragan on Atlanta

“Atlanta is a unique racetrack because it is so fast, but it does have a worn-out surface where tires go away quick, so I think that it’s going to be about having a combination of a fast car that gets though the air well with this new downforce package. I think that speed in general when you have a lot of on throttle time is going to be important, but handling is going to be very important when they drop the green flag. You’re not going to be able to hold it wide open for lap after lap after lap, you’re going to have to have a car that gets into the race track, that turns with the front tires, that has good rear side-bite on exit, and so, it’s going to be a combination of, ‘how much do I put into handling, to how much do I just concentrate on pure speed.’ So, I think that it’s going to be a great race. We have a new partner, FireAde on the car, so I’m excited to have them there to experience what should be an awesome weekend.”

FRM PR

Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announces a partnership with Communication and Surveillance Services, LLC (ComSurv) to serve as the primary partner on the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, driven by 2017 Daytona 500 Champion Kurt Busch at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). Busch will make his 650th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) start in addition to his 28th MENCS career start at AMS on Sunday, Feb. 24.

ComSurv is a security solutions company that specializes in simple-to-use, military grade video security cameras and door electronic access control technologies, which provide business owners with peace of mind. ComSurv and CGR have enjoyed a working relationship for five years; however, this will be the first time that ComSurv has been featured as the primary sponsor on one of the CGR race cars.

 

NOTES OF INTEREST:

  • Watchful Eyes: Throughout the partnership, ComSurv has provided the CGR Concord, NC facility security solutions to help it take security to the next level. ComSurv uses military grade yet simple to use security technologies that focus on video surveillance cameras and electronic door access locks with built in artificial intelligence, analytics, cloud solutions, and superior video quality. These solutions will help CGR maintain the safety standards they have set for their teams while protecting their assets.
  • Steady Veteran: Kurt Busch is an accomplished veteran in the MENCS, both as a race winner (30) and a series champion (2004). He also has won marquee MENCS events such as the Daytona 500 (2017) the Coca-Cola 600 (2010) and the NASCAR All-Star Race (2010). Busch has not only won a race on every type of track that the series competes on, (superspeedway, intermediate, short-track and road course), he also has claimed a pole on each type of track, in addition to being named the 2018 MENCS Busch Pole Award winner for the most pole awards on the season, at five.

 

QUOTEBOARD:

  • Jose Noy, CEO, ComSurv: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Chip Ganassi Racing for this race. We are pleased to help the team fulfill their security vision and goals. ComSurv has provided Chip Ganassi Racing with military grade, yet easy to use, video security as well as access control. Our goal is to always provide our customers with peace-of-mind through reliable and innovative security solutions and the team will enjoy that with our partnership and amazing service.”
  • Doug Duchardt, Chief Operating Officer, Chip Ganassi Racing: “We are delighted to have ComSurv on the No. 1 car for the Atlanta race. They have been a valued partner of the organization, providing reliable security capabilities to our Concord, NC shop and it is exciting to expand on our relationship to have them as a primary sponsor on one of our race cars for the first time.”
  • Pete Wilson, Facilities Manager, Chip Ganassi Racing: “ComSurv’s cameras provide crisp, clear images. In a matter of minutes, we can search a whole day of recorded video and easily find the correct video image to monitor any issues or breaches. I am thrilled to integrate ComSurv’s new cutting-edge systems into our facilities to monitor and protect our assets. ComSurv has continued to offer great security solutions that also provide peace of mind and protect our assets at Chip Ganassi Racing.”

CGR PR

When Michael Jordan played in any NBA game, everyone in the arena knew he could dominate at any time. Which is why Jordan is considered one of – if not the – best ever.

 

Kevin Harvick has only two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500, but has dominated there since 2008 with 11 top-10 finishes in 14 races. He’s led a series-high 1,152 laps and is coming off an impressive victory last year when he started third and led 181 laps along the way.

 

Harvick has led 100 laps in every Atlanta Cup Series race since 2014 and has also won four of his last six NASCAR Xfinity Series races at the 1.54-mile oval. He will not race in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race but will be the lead driver analyst for the television broadcast on FS1.

 

Atlanta has always been a special place for Harvick as he scored his first career Cup Series victory there in 2001. Following Dale Earnhardt’s death on the final lap of that year’s Daytona 500, Harvick was named the driver of the No. 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing and made his series debut the following weekend at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway, where he finished 14th. On March 11, less than one month since his debut in NASCAR’s top series and in just his third start, Harvick won his first Cup Series race at Atlanta.

 

While Harvick will look to continue his Atlanta domination this weekend, the rules will be a bit different than in previous years.

 

NASCAR officials in October announced two baseline rules packages for the 2019 season, making a move to bolster competition with enhanced aerodynamic and engine configurations. The different packages are tailored to the specific tracks on the Cup Series circuit, with a combination of a smaller tapered spacer to reduce engine horsepower to a target goal of 550 – from 750 – and aero ducts to foster tighter racing on a majority of speedways measuring longer than 1 mile. Both features are in place for 17 of the 36 races, the lone exception being last week’s Daytona 500, which ran with traditional restrictor-plate rules. Five races, including Atlanta, will be run with the smaller spacer, but without ducts.

 

Harvick heads into Atlanta 14th in points after a disappointing 26th-place finish in the Daytona 500. But he did score 10 points by winning the Gander RV Duel No. 1 last Thursday and scored six bonus points in Stages 1 and 2 Sunday’s Daytona 500.

 

Daytona was three races in nine days to get the season started. But now, the real season begins as there are 35 points-paying events left as Harvick goes for his second championship.

 

TSC PR

Weekend Notes 
 

Ty Dillon tied his career-best finish when he earned a sixth-place finish in last weekend’s Daytona 500. Surviving the chaos that broke out in the final 10 laps, Dillon maneuvered his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 through the carnage to earn his second top-10 finish at the historic Daytona International Speedway. Riding the wave of momentum, Dillon and the team will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend to keep building on their strong start to the 2019 season.

 

This will be Dillon’s fifth start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta. In his previous four races, he earned his best finish of 15th place in 2017 with the GEICO Racing team. He has an average start of 25.2 and an average finish of 20.8. Dillon has five previous starts at the intermediate track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. With an average start of 13.4 and an average finish of 9.4, Dillon has logged two top-five and three top-10 finishes. His best finish of third place came in 2015. In his two NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts, Dillon has an average start of 7.5 and an average finish of 1.5. He won the 2012 event after starting on the pole and leading 40 laps. He earned a second-place finish in the 2015 race. 

Dillon Weekend Chatter

What are your thoughts as you head to Atlanta after a successful Daytona 500?
“A successful Daytona 500 can set the tone for the rest of the year. Our GEICO Racing team had a great Daytona race with a top-10 finish. It definitely gets the team pumped up and excited to start the new season. Atlanta is obviously very different from Daytona, so there’s nothing that we can take from one track to the other. But, positive momentum is so important, and we have that. We know that mile-and-a-half tracks are where we struggled last year, and this team has been working hard for months to improve our intermediate track program. I’m looking forward to unloading in Atlanta and watching their hard work pay off.”

Germain Racing PR

Denny Hamlin wasn’t exactly NASCAR’s Babe Ruth this month – he didn’t formally “call” his victory in Sunday’s Daytona 500, but if you listened to him in the days leading up the race, there was an unmistakable sense of hope and confidence.

There was also a prevailing undercurrent of motivation. The biggest support system of the first 13 years of his full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career – from a part-time seven-race launch in 2005 to his present perennial championship runs – was J.D. Gibbs, who passed away. on Jan. 11 after a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. The loss of Gibbs has been – and will continue to be – both emotional and motivational for Hamlin.

The season-opening Daytona 500 was the first points race Hamlin had competed in since losing his friend and the president of his Joe Gibbs Racing team. Add to that a compelling need to right a career-long trend of winning every year as Hamlin had for the first 12 of his 13 full-time years’ time driving for Gibbs and it’s easy to understand why he held the trophy a little higher, smiled a little wider.

Being out front on Sunday, taking the sport’s most celebrated checkered flag, was a need for Hamlin, unlike ever before.

“It’ll be super important,’’ Hamlin said before the race. “Everyone knows how important he [J.D. Gibbs] was for me and my career and everything he did for us, so certainly having success on track will be crucial for that.”

And as so often resulted in their time working together – what’s good for Gibbs was good for Hamlin. Sunday was the ultimate in vice versa. 

The victory was Hamlin’s first since the 2017 Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C. - 48 races ago.  No one expected the dry spell that followed.

Not only did Hamlin go winless in 2018, it was the first time in four years he didn’t win multiple races. So 2019 was a season to get back on track. Perhaps the strength it takes to cope with the emotional hurdle of his good friend and mentor’s passing also fortified him in other ways, creating a concrete opportunity to overcome.

The joy in Daytona International Speedway’s Victory Lane Sunday night was one-of-a-kind. More than once Hamlin’s team owner Joe Gibbs insisted with a huge smile that his son J.D. must be grinning from above. Hamlin sure believed it as well, immediately dedicating the win to J.D.

“I'd just like to retrace for a minute what happened tonight, which is ‑‑ it's the most emotional and the biggest win I've ever had in my life in anything,’’ Gibbs said in his opening remarks during the post-race press conference. “J.D. built our race team, was the guy that ran day‑to‑day operations for 27 years. He invested his occupational life in our race team.

“And as a part of that, he went up to purchase some late model stuff from Denny and struck up a relationship with Denny, put him in a test, put him in a truck, put him in an Xfinity car at Darlington, and finally he said, We need to sign this guy.

“And so that started the relationship and everything. …”

Hamlin interrupted and joked about those early days pairing with J.D. – still so thankful for the break of his career. Then he listened intently as Joe Gibbs finished his thought.

“J.D.'s favorite number was 11 when he raced,’’ Gibbs continued. “That's what he had.  Denny's number is 11. Denny put J.D. over the door post on that car, and to have that take place, everything that took place tonight, everybody knows, we've been to Daytona 27 times. We had won twice before. And so, you know, you're thinking about things, and I guess everybody could say, well, that just happened. I don't believe that just happened.

“I honestly believe it was ‑‑ I think the Lord looked down on us, and I know J.D. and everybody in my family was emotional. I called home to [his wife] Pat, and I called sponsors that were emotional, too.

“It was just an unbelievable night, unbelievable crowd. The whole thing was just a special memory for me, and it's one I'll never forget, and it was the most important night of my occupational life.”

On a more practical level, it was also an important start to the season for Hamlin, who has essentially assured himself a position in the Playoffs as a race winner. It creates a whole new vibe for the team and new crew chief Chris Gabehart, who immediately gets to be more aggressive in pursuit of additional race trophies. Winning early sets the tone of the year. It is a statement win with multiple exclamation points!!!

“You always feel like you have something to prove, but certainly this year in particular, I’m very fired up to go out there and win,’’ Hamlin said five days before the Daytona 500. The words now even more impactful considering his work on Sunday.

“Not one race, not two races, not even three – just like multiple races and show that we are a contender each and every week just like I know that we are,’’ Hamlin said. “You can always talk about the ones that got away last year, but that was last year. So what, now what? We’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do to change the narrative of our team that we’re on the decline.

“The sooner you get it, obviously the better you’re going to put yourself in position to be able to take those risky moves in the middle of the summer. I know winning early is very, very important. You punch your ticket for the Playoffs. Everything good happens when you win early, so it’s very important for us.”

And J.D. Gibbs would wholeheartedly agree.

FireAde, an Atlanta-based global leader in firefighting technology, will partner with Front Row Motorsports when it sponsors David Ragan's No. 38 Ford Mustang in this weekend's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway.

FireAde offers the most advanced and unique fire suppression systems with easy to use, environmentally formulated, non-corrosive firefighting solutions. For over 30 years, Fire Service Plus, Inc. has manufactured and distributed solutions for home, business and government needs. They have also provided products to the U.S. military, fire departments, first responders, public safety, and sheriff's offices.

"We couldn't be happier to partner with Front Row Motorsports and David Ragan this weekend in both of our home state of Georgia," said Ron Thames, president and chief executive officer, FireAde. "David is always a fan favorite at Atlanta Motor Speedway and we'll have plenty of fans watching the FireAde Ford Mustang. This relationship will also allow fans to learn more about us and the products we offer to keep their families safe at home."

FireAde will also be a major associate sponsor of Ragan at select races through the season and an associate sponsor of the team throughout the year.

"Being a Georgia native, it's always exciting to have a local company join our program," Ragan said. "Ron and his staff at FireAde are great people. We're really growing at Front Row Motorsports and it was a good time for him to join our team. I am thankful for the partnership."

The No. 38 FireAde Ford Mustang will first hit the track this Friday, February 22 for practice and qualifying. The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 will air Sunday, February 24 at 2 p.m. ET on FOX.

For more information about FireAde, visit FireAde.com.

FRM PR

Last year was a learning year for Aric Almirola, his first with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). He met an entire new team, new drivers and newer, faster setups that put him in position to win races and finish fifth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship standings.

 

As soon as the 34-year-old Tampa native had it all figured it out – the game was about to change. 

 

In October of last year, NASCAR announced new rules packages for the 2019 season. The packages are tailored to the specific tracks on the Cup Series circuit, with a combination of a smaller tapered spacer to reduce engine horsepower to a target goal of 550 – from 750 – and aero ducts to foster tighter racing on a majority of speedways longer than 1 mile. Both features are in place for 17 of the 36 races, debuting this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval.

 

Almirola came into 2018 with the expectation to adapt, and he knocked down 17 top-10 finishes, four top-fives, led 181 laps on the year, and earned his first win with SHR Oct. 14 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway to clinch a playoff spot. He advanced to the semifinal round before finishing a career-best fifth in the points. Almirola’s 181 laps led in 2018 were more than his previous six full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series seasons combined. This year, the No. 10 Smithfield Ford driver enters the 2019 season with the same mindset. 

 

“I think adapting to change is what makes the drivers at this level so great,” Almirola said. “You don’t make it to the Cup level without being a great racecar driver. It’s very hard. There are thousands of racecar drivers all across the country who race every weekend and want to be Cup drivers. There are only 40 Cup drivers. They have to be able to adapt to a tight racecar, a loose racecar, a different racecar. But I think, from my standpoint with the racecar, it has a steering wheel, a gas pedal, a brake pedal, and a clutch pedal and a shifter that goes through four gears and has reverse. I have to learn how to drive the racecar on any given weekend to get the most out of the car with whatever problem it has.”

 

With Atlanta being the first track of the 2019 season to run this new package, it will be far from the first time Almirola and his fellow drivers have experienced tight racing action on a 1.5-mile speedway oval. Almirola raced in the 2018 All-Star Open to clinch a spot in the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and a similar rules package was used. The Smithfield driver led 11 laps in the opening stage and raced in and around the top-five for the remainder of that race. While he didn’t win, he got a taste of what is to come this weekend at Atlanta. 

 

Unlike the All-Star Race last year, teams will have the opportunity to take the notes they learned from Atlanta to gain an advantage for Las Vegas the following week.  The question is, how long will it take for elite teams to break away and dominate the field like in years past? 

 

“I think that’s the one thing that people misunderstand about our sport,” Almirola said. “It’s NASCAR’s job to govern the sport and try and make sure that everyone plays under the same fair rules. It’s the team’s job to find every area it can possibly work in to win. That’s what everybody does. If you are playing a board game at home, you want to win. You understand the rules of the game, and then you figure out how to play the game to get an advantage to win the game. If you play Monopoly, there is a risk versus reward and you have to understand the rules – you have to figure out how to gain an advantage in the game to win.”

 

Almirola’s racecar at Atlanta this weekend will feature the traditional black-and-white Smithfield paint scheme. 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 is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia.

 

TSC PR

In their 10th year of partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR), McDonald’s announces plans to serve as the primary sponsor for multiple races in 2019 on the No. 42 McDonald’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, driven by Kyle Larson, in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS).

McDonald’s has not only been a valuable partner to CGR for nearly a decade on the No. 1 Chevy driven by Jamie McMurray, they have also been a supporter of Larson’s for several years. Although the increased presence in 2019 on the No. 42 Chevrolet will be a slightly new look, Larson has sported the Golden Arches on six occasions in his NASCAR career, having raced a McDonald’s entry in each of NASCAR’s three national touring series.

The partnership with Larson will officially start in Atlanta, with McDonald’s first primary paint scheme of the 2019 season on the No. 42 Chevrolet. The paint scheme will highlight McDonald’s current campaign featuring bacon on several of their Classics: the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, and World Famous Fries. The campaign begs the question, do Classics make bacon better, or does bacon make Classics better? As the paint scheme on the No. 42 Chevrolet shows, Team Larson is all in for Team Classics!

 

NOTES OF INTEREST:

  • Through the ranks: Larson has competed in a McDonald’s sponsored car in each of NASCAR’s top-three national touring series, including the MENCS (Bristol Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway, 2018) the NASCAR Xfinity Series (New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio, 2013) and the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series (Martinsville Speedway, 2016). His two MENCS races in 2018 resulted in a runner-up finish at Bristol and a third-place finish in Kansas.
  • Would you like dirt with that?: In addition to supporting Larson in the MENCS for the 2019 season, McDonald’s was recently featured on Larson’s entry at the 33rd annual Chili Bowl Nationals, a prestigious dirt midget race held in Tulsa, Okla. Larson won his preliminary night race, and finished second in the feature event driving the McDonald’s No. 01 car.

                                                                                                                                                                              

QUOTEBOARD:

  • John Lewicki, Head of Global Alliances, McDonald’s: “McDonald’s has enjoyed a partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing for nearly a decade and we are excited to continue that relationship with The No. 42 team and Kyle Larson in 2019. Like Jamie McMurray previously, Kyle embodies many of the same qualities as a family man and a competitor, that are important to McDonald’s and we look forward to having him as an ambassador to our brand.”
  • Chip Ganassi, Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing: “It says a lot about our team, both on and off the track, that we will be celebrating 10 years of partnership with McDonald’s this coming season. McDonald’s has been a great partner over the past nine seasons, and we are looking forward to what this season holds with Kyle as their driver. I am sure there will be plenty of exciting moments throughout the year.”
  • Kyle Larson, Driver No. 42 McDonald’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: “It’s always great to announce a new partner, and it means a lot that one of our team’s long-time partners will join me and the No. 42 team this season. Along with Credit One Bank, and now McDonald’s, I’m pretty lucky to have the opportunity to represent some great brands. I’ve enjoyed racing a few McDonald’s cars over my career, and I’m looking forward to representing them on track this season. In addition to me, there is also one family member in particular who is pretty excited to see McDonald’s join Team Larson. We came close to a couple wins with them last season, so hopefully we can get the Golden Arches back to victory lane this year.”

CGR PR

Fr8Auctions, an Atlanta-based auction house that sells excess freight inventory, will partner for the fifth straight year with Front Row Motorsports (FRM) when it partners with Michael McDowell and the No. 34 Ford Mustang team during this weekend's "Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500" at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Fr8Auctions partners with freight lines, distribution companies, and consumer product-based businesses to help sell excess, discontinued or damaged inventory outside of traditional distribution channels. Buyers across the Southeast attend bi-weekly auctions to bid on hundreds of pallets of merchandise, which can range from gas grills, to ceiling fans, to cleaning products. Merchandise for each auction can be previewed at Fr8Auctions.com.
 
"We are thrilled to be back with Front Row Motorsports for the fifth consecutive season and are equally as thrilled to work with Michael McDowell," said Fr8Auctions founder Marcus Barela. "Michael is coming off a great finish in the Daytona 500 and Atlanta Motor Speedway is right in our backyard, so this makes it a very special race for us."
 
"Fr8Auctions has been a partner of Front Row Motorsports for a long time and I'm excited to have the opportunity to represent them onboard my No. 34 Ford Mustang," McDowell said. "I think the design work on my car looks great and I can't wait to show it off when we head to Atlanta this weekend."
 
The Fr8Auctions Ford will first hit the track on Friday, February 22 for practice and qualifying. The "Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500" airs Sunday, Febraury 24 at 2 p.m. ET on FOX.
 
For more information about Fr8Auctions, visit Fr8Auctions.com and follow Fr8Auctions on social media: Twitter at @fr8auctions and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Fr8Auctions-165690083576986/.
 
FRM PR

Nobody really knows what to expect Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the debut of the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rules package designed to bunch the field closer on the ultra-fast, 1.5-mile speedways like the Atlanta oval.

 

Clint Bowyer doesn’t know what to expect, but expects something different.

 

“Well, everybody’s got their opinion on what we’re going see, but only time will paint that picture,” said the driver of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang. “I think it could be drastically different than what we have ever seen. My opinion is, it’s going to be different. I don’t know how much different, I don’t know what kind of different, I just know it’s going to be different than what we know as the norm on a mile-and-a-half. Um, will they be drafting? I think. How much drafting? I don’t know.”

 

NASCAR officials in October announced two baseline rules packages for the 2019 season, making a move to bolster competition with enhanced aerodynamic and engine configurations. The different packages are tailored to the specific tracks on the Cup Series circuit, with a combination of a smaller tapered spacer to reduce engine horsepower to a target goal of 550 – from 750 – and aero ducts to foster tighter racing on a majority of speedways measuring longer than 1 mile. Both features are in place for 17 of the 36 races, the lone exception being last week’s Daytona 500, which ran with traditional restrictor-plate rules. Five other races will be run with the smaller spacer, but without ducts.

 

Bowyer said the key to success Sunday in Georgia, as well as the rest of the season, could be adaptability.

 

“I think it’s extremely important to have some adjustability built into that racecar,” Bowyer said. “We do have that in our Mustangs. But that’s no different than anybody else. Everybody’s putting the work in to try to figure it out.”

 

Bowyer and his crew chief Mike Bugarewicz-led team tested the new rule package on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway track last month. So he’ll have some idea of what to expect once practice begins Friday in Atlanta. In addition to the new rule package, drivers will also have to overcome the challenge of the 22-year-old racing surface that often provides some of the best racing of the season. New pavement usually creates much better grip and faster speeds that often result in a one-groove racetrack on which passing is difficult. That typically results in single-file racing, something Bowyer says neither drivers nor fans enjoy for 500 miles. He says the Atlanta track is just the opposite. Its slick surface is difficult to navigate but offers several grooves and plenty of passing opportunities.

 

“Ever since I have been in the sport, it seems like Atlanta is the most worn-out track but always produced some of the best racing,” Bowyer said. “It’s crazy how worn out the track is, but that is what makes for good racing and it lets us put on such a great show for a long time.”

 

Bowyer and SHR’s No. 14 team are sure to improve upon their 20th-place finish at last weekend’s Daytona 500. A daring move in the final laps saw Bowyer’s bid for the lead and trophy end in an accident.

 

“That’s last week and we are on to Atlanta now,” he said. “It’s a very long season but we’re confident. We had a good Speedweeks in Daytona and I think that will continue this weekend in Atlanta and on the West Coast swing in the coming weeks.”

 

Bowyer goes to battle at Atlanta carrying the black-and-red paint scheme of Haas Automation, Inc. 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.

         

Bowyer hopes he can replicate last year’s success at Atlanta when he scored a third-place finish – his first top-five finish at the track. He’s always run well at Atlanta, leading 52 laps in the March 2008 race before finishing sixth. The most heartbreaking moment at the track came in September 2013, when he led 48 of the first 192 laps before engine failure. In total, Bowyer has led 115 laps at Atlanta but only has last year’s third-place finish and four other sixth-place finishes to show for the effort.

 

All things considered, Bowyer said history won’t mean much this weekend.

 

“I think you can throw out all the stats,” he said. “It’s going to be a whole new ballgame at Atlanta this weekend.”

 

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