Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14387)

With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returning to Kansas Speedway for the second and final time this season, Ty Dillon and the GEICO Racing team looked to build upon their first trip in May, which resulted in a 14th-place finish at the 1.5-mile intermediate oval. Sunday's 267-lap event would prove to be eventful for the Germain Racing team as Dillon overcame a tight-handling condition early, avoided a massive wreck on lap 198, and rebounded from a pit road penalty in the late stages to cross the finish line in the 16th position.
"Today was definitely a crazy day," said Dillon, after the race. "With the changing track conditions as the sun set and shaded parts of the track, we had to be on top of the adjustments to our GEICO Chevrolet for the entire race. My team did a great job making calls, and I didn't struggle with the balance much at all. Track position was just the main key, and it was hard to make passes out there. Overall, I think this was a good weekend and shows the improvements to our intermediate-track package. There's still work to be done, but we are definitely getting closer."
After rolling from the 29th starting spot, Dillon spent the majority of the opening stage battling for position on the racetrack. While facing a tight-handling condition on entry, the 25-year-old, who was making his 50th career start in the MENCS, took off from the 23rd position on lap 87 and knocked on door of the top-20 within eight circuits. As the laps continued to click away, Dillon kept his GEICO Chevrolet clean and successfully avoided the biggest wreck of the day, coming on lap 198. During this caution, the over-the-wall crew received a penalty for an uncontrolled tire, forcing the young gun to take off from the tail end of the longest line with 60 laps remaining. Dillon effectively gained five positions during the closing laps to bring home a solid 16th-place finish.
Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Racing team will now head to the famous paperclip-shaped short track in Ridgeway, Virginia, as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes to Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, October 28th for opening practice at 11:30am ET. Qualifying is scheduled to take place prior to the race on Sunday, October 29th at 12:05 pm ET.
The green flag will fly for the First Data 500 on Sunday, October 29th at 3:00 pm ET. NBCSN will carry the live television broadcast, with the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 carrying the live radio broadcast.

Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Michael McDowell earned their 14th Top-20 finish of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season at Kansas Speedway.

The team earned their best finish at the 1.5-mile track earlier this year with a 13th place finish and went into this weekend expecting nothing less.

With a solid practice on Friday, the team breezed through the first round of qualifying and earned their best qualifying effort to start the Hollywood Casino 400 from the 16th position.

The No. 95 Tommy Williams Drywall (TWD) Chevrolet SS started out extremely tight, but McDowell was able to free it up after 15 laps. He dropped back to 19th before the competition caution came out on lap 30.

When the field returned to green, McDowell dropped back a few more positions, as the No. 95 still felt too tight. He was able to pit under caution on lap 47 to free the car up and restarted 22nd on lap 52.

With three laps remaining in the stage, a caution came out and McDowell was hit hard from behind. Fortunately, no major damage was acquired and he went on to finish the stage in 21st.

After starting the second stage in 22nd, McDowell still complained of a tight-handling car, and made his first green flag pit stop on lap 143. The next caution flag fell with four laps remaining in the stage. McDowell pitted for four tires in order to stay out at the end of the stage and hopefully gain positions.

McDowell started the final stage in 28th and one lap down before a caution came out on lap 174 giving him the free pass and allowing him to restart in 24th.

Another caution flag fell on lap 198 for a wreck, and McDowell acquired damage to the left front of the No. 95 TWD Chevy. Fortunately, the team was able to fix a large hole in the nose. McDowell restarted 13th after the wreck and made it as far as 11th.

The team was able to make one last pit stop on lap 239 in order to put on the last set of tires and went on to finish the race in 18th, earning their 14th Top-20 finish of the 2017 MENCS season.

”That was a hard fought race,” said McDowell. “I felt like we didn’t have a ton of speed, but we were still able to stay in the Top-20 for the majority of the race. We got a good amount of damage during the big wreck at the end there, but our guys were able to get it patched up and we were able to salvage a Top-20.”


A memorial service for Jim Watson, the Furniture Row Racing crew member who passed away Oct. 21 in the Kansas City area, has been scheduled for Fri., Oct. 27 at Warlick Funeral Home in Lincolnton, N.C.

The family will receive friends of the man many affectionately knew as “Wildman” from 4-6 p.m. Warlick Funeral Home is located at 125 Dave Warlick Drive in Lincolnton, N.C.

Watson was born Sept. 27, 1962, in Kenosha, Wis., to Betty Paulus Watson and the late David Harrison Watson. He is survived by his wife, Laurie Ann Watson; a daughter, Brittany May Watson; his mother, Betty L. Watson; brother, Mike Watson; stepchildren, Eric James Conover and fiancé Claudia Rodriguez, and Matthew Sean Conover; Michael Patrick Conover, and wife Michele, and Nicholas Ian Conover; three grandchildren, Patrick Michael Conover, Michael Winston Conover, and Coleton Daniel Conover; nieces, Jennifer Watson and Katie J. Ballou; and many other uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials may be made to in memory of Jim.


Stage 1
Cole Whitt qualified 35th to start the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway
Lap 20: Running 34th, Whitt has fallen a lap down from the leader and reported the No. 72 was tight on exit and had no front grip
Lap 30: Competition Caution: Whitt related he was spinning out, out of the race track and the rear was out of control. He pitted for four tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments, rubbers added to left rear and tape on the grille
Caution Lap 48 (incident): Whitt was scored 34th, one lap down from the leader. Relayed he was struggling with overall grip, he pitted for four tires, fuel and a round of wedge out of the left rear. He restarted 32nd, one lap down
Caution Lap 78 (fluid on track / Stage 1 Completion Caution): Whitt completed Stage 132nd, two laps down from the leader. He expressed the No. 72 was dead sideways and had a possible vibration. He pitted for four tires, fuel, rubber added to left rear, air pressure and wedge adjustments
Stage 2
Lap 100: The handling of the No. 72 had become more tight but freed up over the next five laps, with Whitt stating it was taking off randomly
Lap 130: Whitt came in for a green flag pit stop receing four tires, fuel and wedge adjustment, placing him to return to the field 32nd, three laps down
Caution Lap 157: Whitt was 33rd and had fallen four laps down. Thought he No. 72 was edgy in the right rear, Crew Chief Frank Kerr made the call to keep Whitt out on track to take the wave around
Stage 2 Completion Caution: Lap 160: Whitt completed the stage 32nd, three laps down. He pitted the No. 72 for four tires and fuel
Stage 3
Started Stage 3, 32nd, three laps down
Caution Lap 176 (incident): Scored 32nd, three laps down, Whitt relayed the handling had become a lot looser.
Caution Lap 189: Feels free and can't trust the rear was the feedback from Whitt. He pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment
Upon taking the green flag restart on lap 192, the field had just returned to speed when another caution occurred on lap 194
The field returned to green on lap 197 when on lap 199 a multi-car incident brought out the red flag and stopped the field to clear the track. Whitt navigated the No. 72 through the incident and came out unscathed. When the red flag was lifted, Whitt pitted under caution for four tires and fuel, placing him to take the green flag restart 27th, three laps down
For the remainder of Stage 3, Whitt continued to run in the top-30 and inched his way up to the top-25 of the field
He remained consistent in his efforts and secured a 24th place finish in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway
Tristar PR

Erik Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota were in position late in the Hollywood Casino 400 to put the previous weeks’ bad luck behind them before yet another multicar crash forced an early exit at Kansas Speedway.

The 14-car wreck coming off Turn 2 on Lap 197 of 267 left Jones with a 35th-place finish. Despite the second consecutive DNF (36th at Talladega), Jones remains 19th in the championship point standings, 53 behind Joey Logano in 17th and 48 ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th.

“I just got loose – I started getting free off of (Turn) two when the 24 (Chase Elliott) starting coming around us and I just lost it,” said Jones. “We had a good run going up there in third place and thought we were going to have a top-five day. Wish we could have ran it out, but it’s just an unfortunate ending. All of us were thinking about Jim Watson and his family and we were hoping to bring home a strong finish for them.”

The No. 77 started the race with a tight handling condition but adjustments called for by crew chief Chris Gayle and determined driving by Jones resulted in a 10th-place finish in the first 80-lap stage. Jones dropped as low as 17th in the second stage but rebounded to finish sixth in Stage 2.

Solid work in the final 107-lap stage allowed Jones to move into the top five early on and up to third for a restart on Lap 193. Close pack racing immediately after the green flag waved caused the turbulent air that created the loose handling on the No. 77 that then caused the multicar crash on Lap 198. Despite the hard hits and getting partially airborne, Jones was uninjured in the incident. The car, however, was too damaged to continue.

“I made the same mistakes here in the spring and this place has just been tough on me,” said Jones. “Fortunately we had a fast 5-hour ENERGY Camry and it was up front, we had worked our way back up to that point after having mishaps at the start of the day. Nonetheless, not the ending that we wanted, but hopefully we can come back a little stronger for Martinsville.”

Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. won his series-leading seventh race of the season. The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Kyle Busch.

There were 10 cautions for 49 laps, one red flag for 10 minutes and 14 lead changes among seven drivers.

The next race on the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is Oct. 29 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.


In the final race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) Playoffs Round of 12, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. settled with a 29th – place finish after early contact cut the right front tire sending the Fastenal Ford into the outside wall. Stenhouse ended the Round of 12 seeded in the 11th positon.

“We really struggled today with the handling of our Fastenal Ford,” Stenhouse said. “It’s a bummer we couldn’t advance but no one really gave us a chance to make Round of 12. Overall, we have had a great season so we can’t hang our heads. We have four more races to gain as many points as we can and finish off the season strong.”

The Olive Branch, Miss. native rolled off in the 24th position for the 267-lap race. A timely competition yellow due to overnight storms was displayed on lap 30 giving the team a chance to work on the loose handling Fastenal Ford. A caution ended stage one forcing Stenhouse to settle with a 24th-place finish.

Despite the loose handling condition throughout stage two, Stenhouse was able to steadily work his way up through the field and was scored 18th when the yellow flag was displayed three laps shy of the conclusion of stage two. Trying to earn valuable stage points, crew chief Brian Pattie told Stenhouse to stay out for the final one lap shootout. After lining up in the fourth position for the restart, newer tires prevailed shuffling the two-time XFINITY champion back to 17th by the completion of the second stage.

Shortly after going back to green to start stage three, Stenhouse cut a right front tire bringing out the caution. The contact with the wall knocked the toe out of line causing lengthy pit stops to repair the mangled machine. With a handful of late race cautions, Stenhouse was able to pick up a few positions to take the checkered flag in the 29th position.


“Let’s go win this one for Jim, and we did it,” said Martin Truex Jr., referring to the loss of Furniture Row Racing crew member Jim Watson, who passed away Saturday night of a heart attack. “We got together in the morning and said the best way we could honor Jim and his family would be a victory.”

Truex did what he set out to do in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, scoring his seventh win of the season that was by no means an easy task for the No. 78 team. After starting on the pole Truex led the first 34 laps but then was assessed a restart violation which sent him back to 31st place.

He made a strong comeback in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota by finishing eighth in the first stage, which ended on Lap 80 of 267. But 11 laps later Truex was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop due to a loose wheel, and when he returned to action, he found himself in 32nd place and one lap down.

“Just couldn’t believe some of the things that were happening and thought there was no way that we were going to win,” said Truex, who led 91 laps. “I can’t believe how this day went and that’s why you never give up because you never know what could happen.

“This was a team effort by all accounts. Everybody at the shop for building the cars and all the road crew guys. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) who made some great adjustment calls as the race went on. Also have to thank TRD (Toyota Racing Development) for the great motors all season and our alliance with JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). It was also great to win for Bass Pro and share in the celebration with my good friend Johnny Morris.”

Truex put himself back in contention with some powerful driving on two late restarts, gaining seven positions on one and six on the other. Those restarts brought him within striking distance of the leader. He eventually passed Kyle Busch for the lead on Lap 211 and kept the lead for the final 57 laps.

Truex left Kansas with two NASCAR records and a membership into an exclusive NASCAR club.

The two NASCAR records he set were winning six times in a season on a 1.5-mile track and winning four straight 1.5-mile races.

Truex became the 12th driver in NASCAR’s modern era (1972 to present) to lead 2,000 or more laps in a single season. The other 11 drivers who accomplished this feat are: Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick. Truex’s has led 2,068 laps with four races remaining in the season.

Truex also became the first driver to sweep Kansas Speedway, where he also won in the spring.

Truex now has 14 career wins. Twelve of those victories have been with Furniture Row Racing.

Truex enters the Round of 8 playoffs first in points. The victory earned him five playoff bonus points bringing his total to 69. The three races in the Round of 8 are at Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 29), Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 5) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 12). The top four drivers advance to final playoff race Nov. 19 at Homestead Miami Speedway. (see current playoff points below).

The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Kyle Busch.

There were 10 cautions for 49 laps, one red flag for 10 minutes and 14 lead changes among seven drivers.


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kurt Buschstarted 15th and finished 19th.

● On lap 18, Busch made slight contact with the outside wall and had to make an unschedueled pit stop for two tires and fuel. He returned to the race in the 38th position, one lap down.

● Busch pitted under caution on lap 33 for four tires and fuel. The team also made a tire pressure adjustment while he was in 34th place, one lap down.

● On lap 51, Busch was 31st when the caution came out. That gave Busch the “Lucky Dog” to get his lap back. Busch also pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Buschstarted 19th and finished 15th.

On lap 83, Busch pitted for four tires and fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.

● Busch pitted on lap 139 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.

● On lap 157, Busch pitted for four tires and fuel as he ran in 19th.


Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):

Buschstarted 15th and finished second.

● On lap 175, Busch pitted for four tires and fuel.

● On lap 199, Busch pitted for four tires and fuel while in the ninth position.

● The final pit stop for Busch was for four tires and fuel, and the crew got him out in second place.

● Busch finished just 2.284 seconds behind winner Martin Truex Jr.



● There were 10 caution periods for a total of 49 laps.

● Twenty-two of the 40 drivers in the Hollywood Casino 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Busch now has six top-five finishes in 2017 and 131 in his career. It was his third top-five at Kansas Speedway.

● Truex won the Hollywood Casino 400 to score his 14th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his seventh of the season and his second at Kansas.

● Truex leads the championship standings with 4,069 points and holds a 27-point advantage over his nearest pursuer, Kyle Busch.


Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“I just feel like I’m on razorblades here. I really wanted that one bad. At the end, I had the sticker tires. As I’m warming them up, they weren’t grabbing in the back. I knew that I wasn’t going to get the jump that I needed. I tried to play middle of the ground. Early in the race with scuffs from qualifying I brushed the fence. Kansas – I don’t know what it is about this place. Kyle (Busch) struggles here, too. I feel like I’m on pins and needles most of the day. (Crew chief Tony) Gibson always throws nice adjustments at it, and the race comes to us, and we’re right there. We had a shot at winning. I just feel like I’m pushing too hard early on. I saw (Jimmie) Johnson spin. We saw the 77 spin. All the drivers asked for less downforce and yet never got the softer tire that we hoped for. But we’re right there. When we get it right, we’re right there. It just feels like I have to overdrive. When you’re overdriving you’re not going to make it work.”



Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kevin Harvick started second, finished second and earned nine bonus points.

The Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion ran in the second position for the majority of Stage 1.

The No. 4 Ford pitted for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments during a lap-46 caution to correct tight-handling conditions.

Harvick restarted from eighth and quickly piloted the “freaky fast” Ford back to second, where he ran for the remainder of the stage.

The No. 4 team pitted at the end of the stage for four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Started second, finished second and earned nine more bonus points.

Harvick continued his run in the second position for the majority of the stage.

The Jimmy John’s Ford took four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments on lap 127 under green-flag conditions.

After green-flag pit stops cycled through, Harvick reported a loose wheel, but he continued to run in second place.

The No. 4 team pitted for four tires and fuel during a lap-156 caution. Harvick restarted the one-lap shootout in the sixth position and powered his way to second place before the conclusion of the stage.


Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

Started first, finished eighth.

Harvick led the field for the first 35 laps of the stage.

On lap 197, a multicar accident brought out red-flag conditions. Harvick opted not to pit and restarted from second.

The No. 4 Ford’s handling became too tight on lap 209, and Harvick fell back to sixth.

The team pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments to run a lap down. After a lap-236 caution, the Jimmy John’s Ford stayed out of the pits to rejoin the lead lap.

Harvick battled back into the top-10 on the final restart from the 21st position.



● Harvick scored his 19th top-10 finish of 2017.

● This was Harvick’s 13th top-10 in 24 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kansas.

● Harvick finished second in Stage 1 to collect nine bonus points and second in Stage 2 for an additional nine points.

● Harvick led three times for 37 laps to bring his laps-led total at Kansas to 596.

● There were 10 caution periods for a total of 49 laps.

● Twenty-two of the 40 drivers in the Hollywood Casino 400 finished on the lead lap.


Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“As you look at the result of the day, you want to have a chance to win. We had a car capable of winning. Just got stuck in a box, and the box kept on getting smaller and smaller. The caution came out with 47 laps to go, and that put us in a bad spot.”



Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion, overcame damage sustained during a multi-car incident following a Lap 197 restart in Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event at Kansas Speedway to record a 20th-place finish.

“We really didn’t have anywhere to go during that deal on the backstretch,” said Bayne after the race. “But I want to thank all of my guys on this AdvoCare Ford for their hard work all weekend. They never quit today and did a great job making repairs and getting us back out there. It’s really unfortunate we didn’t get the result we deserve but we will keep fighting and get after it next weekend at Martinsville.”

Bayne took the green flag for the 267-Lap event from 29th and steadily worked his way forward, moving up to 25th just before the competition caution for rain overnight came out on Lap 30. When the race restarted on Lap 35 Bayne continued to press forward, moving into the top 20 on Lap 50 and up to the 16th position before the caution came out on Lap 76, resulting in the first stage ending under yellow.

After pitting for four tires and fuel between stages, the Knoxville, Tenn. native returned to the track in 16th for the beginning of Stage 2. As soon as the stage went green, Bayne reported to crew chief Matt Puccia that the AdvoCare Ford had become extremely loose rolling through the corner. As a result of handling condition, Bayne was shuffled back to 24th and ultimately lost a lap to the race leaders as the long green flag run progressed. However, an opportune caution with five laps remaining in Stage 2 allowed Puccia to make a strategy call and have Bayne stay out to take the wave around. The call paid off and returned the Roush Fenway Racing driver back to the lead lap at the completion of Stage 2 on Lap 160.

Puccia called the 2011 Daytona 500 Champion back to pit road prior to the beginning of Stage 3 for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of alleviating the loose-handling condition. Bayne returned to the track following the stop in 20th and maintained his track position despite a flurry of cautions early in the final stage. Then, following a Lap 197 restart, Bayne was involved in a multi-car incident heading down the backstraightaway that damaged both the right front and right rear of the AdvoCare Ford.

After pitting several times for repairs Bayne returned to the track in the 22nd position but quickly rejoined the top 20 and drove up to 16th before the handling started to slip away once again in the closing laps.

In the end, Bayne took the checkered flag in the 20th position.

Next up for the MENCS is Martinsville, Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 29.


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Clint Bowyerstarted ninth and finished 14th.

Raced as high as fifth by lap 44.

Dropped to 14th after pit stop when his team elected to take four tires instead of two tires.

Bowyer reported his rear grip seemed to go away in the later part of the stage.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Started 12th and finished 11th.

Bowyer moved to ninth at the lap-100 mark.

Crew told Bowyer his lap times were one of the four best on the track.

Made routine, green-flag pit stop on lap 123.

Late caution created a one-lap shootout, and Bowyer missed a top-10 stage finish by inches.


Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):

Started 18th and finished 19th.

Bowyer pitted before the start of the stage and dropped to 18th.

Stayed on the track during the caution at lap 177 and moved to fifth.

Despite running at the front of the field, Bowyer’s chances for victory ended on lap 197 in a multicar crash coming off turn two.

The No. 14 suffered significant damage, but the crew made repairs, after NASCAR lifted the red flag, to return Bowyer to the track.

Bowyer’s wounded car maintained a respectable speed and finished the race.

Sunday marked the third consecutive week Bowyer’s race has been ruined by another car’s accident.



● There were 10 caution periods for a total of 49 laps.

● Twenty-two of the 40 drivers in the Hollywood 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Martin Truex Jr. won the Hollywood 400 to score his 14th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his seventh of the season and his second at Kansas.

● Truex leads the championship standings with 4,069 points and holds a 27-point advantage over his nearest pursuer, Kyle Busch.


Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We had a pretty good Ford today and deserved a top-fve finish, but there just wasn’t anywhere to go in the wreck. My guys did a good job fixing us up so we could finish the race. I really wanted a good finish here in Kansas. We haven’t had a thing go right in three weeks, but there is a lot of racing left in the season. We’ve shown speed.”


Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the First Data 500 on Sunday, Oct. 29 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. It is the seventh race of the 10-race playoffs and starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.