Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (17151)

Race Winner:  Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner:  Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kyle Buschstarted 17th and finished 30th.

● Busch set to work from the drop of the green flag, moving from 17th to 11th by lap 10. He dropped back a couple of positions and was in 14th place when NASCAR red-flagged the race for severe weather in the area. The race was stopped for 3 hours, 18 minutes and 26 seconds.

● Once the red flag was lifted and cars started making laps on the track, Busch reported a vibration in his tires. He and a number of other drivers made a trip to pit road. Busch got four tires and was in 19th place when green-flag racing resumed on lap 16.

● The 2015 NASCAR champion had raced his way to the 10th position, but after brushing the outside wall on lap 25 he dropped back half a dozen spots to 16th. The damage wasn’t severe and he was able to continue, but he did report that the car was handling tight from the center of the turn to exit.

● A number of cars started making green-flag pit stops, but because Busch was running lap times a little slower, the team decided to try to stretch the fuel to the end of the stage. Busch was in fifth when he reported that he thought he had a flat left-front tire on lap 76. He came to pit road, where the team changed only the left-side tires to avoid losing a lap. One lap later the team discovered it was the right-front tire that was flat, so Busch had to make another stop for tires.

● Busch was in 30th place when Stage 1 concluded. He made a stop during the break to allow the team to make repairs to the right-side quarter panel.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Started 29th and finished ninth.

In order to have time for repairs, the team had Busch make a stop with the lead-lap cars, which put him back on track at the rear of the field. Busch patiently logged laps when green-flag racing resumed. By lap 100 Busch was in 21st place, the first car in position to transfer to the lead lap once a caution was displayed.

The caution Busch needed came two laps later on lap 102, placing the No. 18 Skittles America Mix Toyota back on the lead lap. Busch reported that the car was handling loose at certain points of the turns before reverting to the tight condition at the exits.

The team took its time making a series of adjustments and continued repairs to the No. 18 car. Busch was in 21st place when green-flag racing resumed on lap 108.

Once again, Busch quietly logged laps and was in 15th place by lap 126, then back to 10th by lap 149. He reported that the loose condition was the problem that needed the most help. Busch picked up one more position to finish Stage 2 in ninth place.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):

Started eighth and finished 22nd.

Stage 3 started solidly for Busch as he made an aggressive move during the restart to position the No. 18 Skittles America Mix Toyota at the front of the field. He settled in among the top-10 before making contact with the No. 22 on lap 169. The contact damaged the left-rear tire, so Busch had to stop for tires. He resumed racing scored one lap down in 25th place.

When caution was displayed a few laps later, Busch brought the car to pit road for four tires and fuel. He was in 24th place when green-flag racing resumed on lap 176.

During the next several laps Busch was able to once again place the No. 18 car in the transfer spot, being the first car in the lap-down category. The caution he needed, however, did not come.

While Busch continued to log laps, smoke started filling the cockpit due to an issue with the crush panels. He made a pit stop on lap 239 so the team could change tires and remove a wedge rubber in the hopes of alleviating the smoke. Busch managed to complete the race without issue, finishing the day in 22nd place.

 

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles America Mix Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

“That wasn’t the outcome we had hoped for with our Skittles America Mix Toyota. The car had been a struggle all weekend. We thought we were set up to be able to get a solid finish, but it didn’t work out.”

 

Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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Almirola Finishes 16th at Chicagoland

01 Jul 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson

Race Winner: Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

● Aric Almirola started 15th, finished 12th.

● The Smithfield Ford driver had raced his way to 11th when inclement weather postponed the race.

● Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments on lap 52 from 11th place under green-flag conditions.

● Crew chief Johnny Klausmeier told Almirola he was turning top-five lap times after his pit stop from 27th place.

● Multiple cars pitted under green, helping the Ford Mustang driver move to 11th before a lap-79 caution.

● At the conclusion of the stage, Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments to improve the car’s handling.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

● Started 12th, finished 10th and earned one bonus point.

● Almirola raced the Smithfield Ford to the top-10 by lap 100.

● During a caution on lap 103, Almirola pitted and remained inside the top-10.

● At the end of the stage, Almirola pitted for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments to gain four positions on pit road.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

● Started sixth, finished 16th.

● Almirola battled for fifth on lap 169 and advanced to fourth place after a lap-172 caution.

● Almirola pitted on lap 218 under green-flag conditions for four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments.

● After falling back outside the top-10, the Smithfield Ford driver said the balance of his car was back to normal.

● He noted tight-handling conditions for the remainder of the race but held position just outside the top-15, finishing 16th.

 

Notes:

● Almirola earned his 14th top-20 of the season and his fourth top-20 in eight career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Chicagoland.

● Almirola finished 10th in Stage 2 to earn a bonus point.

● Alex Bowman won the Camping World 400 to score his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Larson was .546 of a second.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 25 laps.

● Only 17 of the 38 drivers in the Camping World 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Chicagoland with an 18-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.

 

Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang:

“When we started the race I felt like we had a good car to contend with. We found some of that speed again in the final stage and raced toward the front but couldn’t hold it together at the end. We learned a lot and at least we're in a decent points position. I’m looking forward to Daytona.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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Penske Racing drivers turned in a stealth but impressive finish in the Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway – all three drivers finishing among the top six.

Joey Logano rallied to a third-place finish in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford and was joined by teammate Brad Keselowski, who placed fifth and Ryan Blaney, who took sixth.

Blaney was the only one among the trio to lead a lap (one) and that was more noteworthy considering he went a lap down early in the race after his car suffered a tire problem.

While Keselowski scored stage points with a second-place run in the opening stage, none of the team cars scored any points in Stage 2 of the race – important to note considering the late-race work of all three.

Logano’s third-place showing was his seventh top-10 finish in 11 Chicagoland races. His performance, combined with Kyle Busch’s 22nd-place run, increased his standings lead over Busch to 18 points.

“In one word, it was a “battle” out there,’’ Logano said. “The restarts were insane, three, four-wide and cars were all over the place.

“Great recovery,’’ Logano said of the team’s finish. “We didn’t score any stage points. We were running 12th or 13th most of the race and then we got the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang quite a bit better to get a top-three. I’s hard to say I’m happy with that, but all things considered, we’ll take it.’’

 

HARVICK’S MIGHTY RUN

Equipped with a fast race car and full of motivational vigor, Kevin Harvick was an easy pick to win this weekend at Chicagoland. And for much of Sunday’s race, he looked to make good on it and collect his first victory of 2019 after an eight-win 2018.

He started his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford on the outside of the front row, finished seventh in the opening stage and won the second stage. He led a race-best 132 of the 267 laps – up front in all three portions of the race. But Harvick’s Ford hit the outside wall on lap 173 bringing out the fifth caution of the race and relegating him to catch-up mode. He ultimately finished 14th – his 14h top 15 through the opening 17 races.

He heads to Daytona International Speedway next week fourth in the standings, 67 points behind leader Joey Logano and is the only driver among the top-seven drivers in the championship standings without a victory yet.

He has 11 top-10 and five top-five finishes – with a best showing of fourth four times.

 

BYRON ON BOARD

William Byron continued his summer success streak on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, earning an eighth-place finish and leading twice for nine laps on the day. He now has three top-10 finishes in the last five races in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – the most productive five-race streak in his year-and- a-half Cup career.=

Byron moved up two positions in the Cup standings to 12th place and is only 27 points behind 11th-place Aric Almirola.

“We, as a team, are really close,’’ Byron said. “It’s a little disappointing now that we have the speed that we do, but it’s good to take the lead at some point in the race.

“I think that’s six or seven in a row for that, so we just have to continue to do that. It’s good for Alex (Bowman) and hopefully we can piggy-back on that. I think we had another good points day, which doesn’t sound great, but we are making our way up the Playoff Grid.’’

Alex Bowman’s first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup victory at Chicagoland Speedway was as much a lesson in perseverance, determination and guts as it was a show of his raw talent. It took it all those qualities for the 26-year-old to reach Victory Lane for the first time in Sunday’s Camping World 400.

Bowman’s No.88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet held off a hard-charging Kyle Larson for the win by .546-seconds – the two young drivers door-to-door in the closing laps, exchanging the lead twice in the final eight laps of the race.

Reigning Cup champion, Team Penske’s Joey Logano rallied to a third place finish, leading Bowman’s teammate Jimmie Johnson and Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney to the checkered flag.

During his inaugural victory lap celebration, the Tucson, Arizona, native Bowman drove into the track’s infield still soggy from rain showers that delayed the race finish by nearly three hours. Despite the good celebratory intentions, Bowman’s Chevrolet stuck there, but the good vibes of the night resumed when he climbed out and climbed onto the car’s roof, waving to the cheering crowd and taking in the moment as a first-time race winner.

“It’s all I’ve wanted my whole life,’’ Bowman said after climbing down off his car’s roof.

“I’m just tired of running second, didn’t want to do that anymore,’’ he said smiling in reference to his three runner-up finishes in the first 16 races of this season.

And he had a good laugh about his stuck-in-the-mud car as he navigated the mucky infield to walk across the track and take the checkered flag he earned.

“I’m the dumb guy that won the race but got the car stuck in the mud.’’

Actually Bowman’s win was an impressive display of drive – both figuratively and literally. His NASCAR career essentially got a “second chance” at glory, when he was hired by the championship Hendrick team to replace the retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the famed No. 88 last year. He had competed fulltime at the Cup level in 2014-15 in a car that was not considered competitive, hoping to gain experience.

He was hired by Hendrick in 2016 to drive Earnhardt’s No. 88 while the sport’s star rehabbed from injury. Bowman then sat out a year of full-time Cup competition in 2017 as Earnhardt finished out his own decorated career. The car was all Bowman’s as of last year.

Earnhardt, who was part of the NBCSN broadcast team that officially took over the NASCAR Cup Series race broadcasts from partner FOX just his week, was understandably proud in the broadcast booth.

“I’m just so happy for Alex,’’ Earnhardt said. “I’ve seen a majority of his career up close and I’m so happy to see him achieve his dream.’’

Certainly Bowman’s victory Sunday night was not only a shot of emotional adrenalin for himself, but for the whole Hendrick Motorsports team. In addition to Johnson, second-year driver William Byron finished eighth and Chase Elliott finished 11th – the first time this season all four drivers have finished among the top 11. Bowman (88), Johnson (10) and Byron (nine) all led laps.

The big lap leader on the day was Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick, who led a race-best 132 circuits and won Stage 2, but finished 14th after hitting the outside wall late in the race.

For runner-up Larson, the outcome was obviously disappointing since he finished second last year after a tough last-laps battle with Kyle Busch. But the popular Californian seemed genuinely happy for his friend Bowman as well.

“I was actually surprised I even got to him,’’ said Larson, who took the lead from Bowman for two laps on lap 260.

“I thought when he came out about the same distance off pit road in front me, I thought he was just going to check out. But like I said, he was struggling and we were able to get to him and get by him, but did a good job. He did a good job regrouping and figuring out how to make his car driver better and got the win.

“Cool to see him get the win there. Would have liked for him to have to wait another week or so, but happy for him,’’ Larson added with a grin.

Suárez Finishes 24th at Chicagoland

01 Jul 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson

Race Winner: Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

● Daniel Suárez started the stage in 28th and ended it 19th.

● After starting 28th, Suárez worked his way up to 19th by lap 10 just before the race was red flagged due to weather.

● Once the red flag was lifted and drivers returned to their cars, Suárez pitted on lap 14 for four tires and fuel. He restarted 19th on lap 16.

● Suárez entered the top-10 on lap 50 and continued to gain track position before taking over the lead on lap 75 as the field began green-flag pit stops.

● Suárez pitted on lap 76 for fuel only and returned to the track in 16th.

● The Mexico native reported he had a tire issue on lap 78, but a caution came out on lap 79 allowing him to stay on track before pitting for four tires and fuel under yellow.

● The Ruckus driver completed Stage 1 in the 19th spot.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

● The No. 41 driver started Stage 2 in 19th and completed it in 27th.

● The third caution of the race occurred on lap 104 with Suárez running in 15th. He told the team his Ruckus Mustang was too free after the first 15 laps in the run, and he pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments under the caution.

● Suárez restarted 17th on lap 108 and jumped to the 12th position on the first lap back under green.

● On lap 120 after falling back to 15th, Suárez said the handling of his Ford had not improved.

● Suárez pitted under green on lap 137 for four tires and fuel after contact with the No. 11 caused a flat right-rear tire. He returned to the track in 30th, two laps down.

● Suárez ended Stage 2 in 27th, two laps down.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

● The Ruckus driver began the final stage in 25th and concluded it in 24th.

● Suárez did not pit before the start of the final stage and took the wave-around to get a lap back. He lined up 25th for the lap-166 restart, one lap down.

● Under caution on lap 174, the Ruckus driver pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments to help tighten up his Ford Mustang.

● Suárez restarted 25th and moved up to 23rd before the final round of green-flag stops began on lap 218.

● The driver of the No. 41 pitted for his final scheduled stop under green on lap 226 for four tires and fuel. He rejoined the field in 25th, two laps down after being lapped while on pit road.

● Suárez returned to the track in the 25th position and was able to finish the race in 24th.

 

Notes:

● Suárez led one lap, the first of his career at Chicagoland.

● Alex Bowman won the Camping World 400 to score his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Larson was .546 of a second.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 25 laps.

● Only 17 of the 38 drivers in the Camping World 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Chicagoland with an 18-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.

 

Daniel Suárez, Driver of the No. 41 Ruckus Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“Our Ruckus Ford was too free all day, and we had a hard time making the right adjustments to get the handling to where we needed it. It was hard to get any laps back with the green-flag pit stops, but the No. 41 guys worked hard all day, and we’ll keep learning and getting better.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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Harvick Finishes Disappointing 14th at Chicagoland

01 Jul 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson

Race Winner: Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kevin Harvick started second, finished seventh and earned four bonus points.

● No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang started second and was second when rain hit the racetrack and delayed the race for more than three hours.

● Harvick pitted on lap 14 for four tires and fuel. He restarted eighth but was up to first by lap 20.

● On lap 73 Harvick headed to pit road. He radioed to the team that he had a cut tire, so the team changed four tires, added fuel and made a tire pressure adjustment. There was no damage to Harvick’s car.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Started first, finished first and earned 10 bonus points and one playoff point.

● No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang was still sliding all over the place per Harvick on lap 98 while he was leading.

● On lap 99 William Byron passed Harvick for the lead.

● Harvick pitted on lap 105 under caution and took four tires and fuel along with a tire pressure adjustment.

● On the restart Harvick was second, but he took the lead in turn two on lap 110.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

Started first, finished 14th.

● No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang pitted on lap 163 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.

● On lap 172 Harvick got into the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall in turns one and two while running third.

● Harvick went to pit road on lap 173 for repairs. He took for four tires and fuel then restarted 21st, still on the lead lap.

● On lap 187, Harvick said the car was “just plowing.” He was in 16th place.

● Harvick pitted on lap 224 for four tires and fuel. He was in the lead, but due to other cars’ pit strategies he exited in 18th.

● He had worked his way up to 14th when the checkered flag flew.

 

Notes:

● Harvick earned his 14th top-15 of the season and his 13th top-15 in 19 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Chicagoland.

● Harvick finished seventh in Stage 1 to earn four bonus points and won Stage 2 to earn an additional 10 bonus points and one playoff point.

● Harvick led five times for 132 laps to increase his laps-led total at Chicagoland to 602.

● Alex Bowman won the Camping World 400 to score his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Larson was .546 of a second.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 25 laps.

● Only 17 of the 38 drivers in the Camping World 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Chicagoland with an 18-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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Flat Tires Foil Clint Bowyer at Chicagoland

01 Jul 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson

Race Winner:  Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner:  Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Started sixth, finished 31st.

● Ran 10 laps before enduring a red-flag period for severe weather that lasted three hours, 18 minutes and 26 seconds.

● Under caution before the race returned to green, Bowyer pitted for four tires and fuel.

● Bowyer restarted in 12th on lap 17 but fell to 22nd after getting caught up in three- and four-wide racing that shuffled him backward.  

● “Sliding around back here struggling for speed,” said Bowyer on lap 35.

● Bowyer climbed to 12th by lap 60 as those in front of him began to pit.

● Bowyer brought his No. 14 Toco Warranty Ford Mustang into the pits on lap 77 for a quick, fuel-only stop.

● A lap later Bowyer keyed his mic and said, “I’ve got a tire coming apart!” He then spun off turn three on lap 80.

● When the right-rear tire came apart, it ripped away the lower portion of the quarterpanel.

● Bowyer made three separate trips to pit road following the stage to make repairs.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Started 32nd, finished 35th.

● Began the stage two laps down as a result of the flat tire and subsequent repairs.

● Bowyer suffered another flat right-rear tire on lap 94. This sent him to the pits under green-flag conditions.

● Returned to the track on lap 100, six laps down to the leaders.

● A caution on lap 104 allowed Bowyer to bring his No. 14 Toco Warranty Ford Mustang back to the pits for more repairs.

● Rubber buildup in the remnants of the right-rear wheelwell caught fire on lap 159, sending Bowyer back to the pits.

● More work was done on the quarterpanel and all the rubber buildup was removed, allowing Bowyer to continue, albeit 11 laps down.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

Started 35th, finished 37th.

● “I think it’s fixing to blow up,” said Bowyer on lap 179. Prior to that message, he asked if smoke could be seen from his car.

● On lap 189, Bowyer keyed his mic and said, “I don’t have any brakes.”

● Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz brought Bowyer to the garage. The series of issues stemming from the flat tires proved terminal.

 

Notes:

● Alex Bowman won the Camping World 400 to score his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Larson was .546 of a second.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 25 laps.

● Only 17 of the 38 drivers in the Camping World 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Chicagoland and holds an 18-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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Austin Dillon earned his third Busch Pole Award of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season Saturday evening at Chicagoland Speedway, his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet posting a speed of 176.263 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

Kevin Harvick will start second, his fifth front row start of the season in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, Dillon’s RCR teammate Daniel Hemric was third fastest, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was fourth and Kurt Busch will roll out fifth on the grid.

The qualifying order is provisional until Sunday morning, but it remained a source of promise, especially for Dillon, the 2018 Daytona 500 winner who hasn’t had a top-20 finish in the last four races this season and has only a pair of top-10 finishes in total this year. The pole position, Dillon conceded, was a bit of a pleasant surprise compared to where he had run in practice earlier Saturday.

“You don’t usually see a guy that was 21st and 25th in both practice sessions jump up to the pole but I actually felt really confident in our car in the second practice,’’ Dillon said. “When we put on our stickers (tires) we had our car too low. We were hitting the track. So our speed wasn’t there because of that. .. I felt confident that our car was good and driving good. We just needed to get off [hitting] the track and we did and we went really fast. It was a good lap.’’

His teammate Hemric was equally as enthusiastic. Third place is a career best start for the 28-year-old first-year Cup driver.

“We all enjoy coming to these places where you can try to find little advantages throughout the weekend, practices and qualifying to try and dial in your car to have some versatility to it,’’ Hemric said. “If you can do that and maintain grip, it gives you more opportunities to move.

“I’m a big fan of this place and a big fan of all of the tracks like this. I’m excited about our speed there in our Camaro ZL1 and hopefully it’s a sign of what’s to come in the race.’’

Johnson will be making his best start since winning the pole position at Texas two months ago and Busch will similarly be making his best start since winning the outside pole at Bristol in April.

Michael McDowell, who will roll off from the seventh position, earned the best start in the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford this season.

Defending race winner Kyle Busch was 17th fastest in qualifying, one position ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and fellow four-time 2019 race winner Martin Truex Jr.

*Post-race inspection in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race found two issues. The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Christopher Bell in the Xfinity Series was disqualified following post-race inspection after measuring too low. Bell, a four-time race winner this season, will be awarded last-place points because of the disqualification.

Additionally, race winner Cole Custer’s No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was missing one lug nut.

The Bell disqualification is significant considering his second place in the championship standings. With the points penalty, Custer moved into second place ahead of Bell and trails championship leader Tyler Reddick by 71 points. Bell is now in third place, 94 points behind Reddick.

Post-race inspection includes the top-five cars plus a random car. The shocks are unhooked post-race as they are in pre-race inspection.

“Once they said they were set to go on height sticks, we put the car up and it failed both front heights and the right rear,’’ Wayne Auton, the NASCAR Xfinity Series Managing Director told reporters following inspection.

Ironically, Auton noted, the No. 20 JGR team was one of the series’ “biggest assets” in testing and formulating a way to properly measure the cars post-race.

“We tried to come up with a way [to inspect] so we weren’t in the situation we are right now,’’ Auton said.’’

“We did a lot of testing last year and what we came up with last year is exactly the procedure we have now. We unhook the shocks and inspect the cars post-race the same way we do pre-race.’’

Auton said he spoke with the team’s crew chief Jason Ratliff, who was surprised by the turn of events. NASCAR took photos of the car and further inspected to see if there was damage from the race perhaps contributing to the situation, but determined there was none.

“It looked just like we started the race on it,’’ Auton said. “When we put the sticks on it, the car was low by a lot and the right rear was high a little bit. We use the same procedure on every car in the garage.’’

“Things happen, but we feel 100 percent confident we did our job just as we do with all the other cars.’’

Menard Qualifies 25th At Chicagoland

29 Jun 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson

Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/FVP Ford Mustang are set to start Sunday’s Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway from 25th place.

The first driver to run against the clock Saturday afternoon, Menard toured the 1.5-mile track at 173.244 miles per hour. His starting position won’t be officially set until Sunday morning, after NASCAR officials complete a post-qualifying inspection on the cars, which were impounded immediately after qualifying.

Menard, who said after qualifying that his Mustang was too free on his qualifying lap, had shown better speed during the two practice sessions held earlier in the day on Saturday.

He was 12th fastest in the opening session with a best lap at 174.413 mph and 16th best in Happy Hour with a best lap at 173.555 mph.

Sunday’s Camping World 400 is set to get the green flag just after 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage on NBCSN as the Monster Energy Cup Series TV broadcasts switch this week from FOX to NBC.

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