Monster Energy Cup Series News (16875)
Jimmie Johnson is a seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion, an 18-year veteran of the sport and an 83-race winner. And with 11 previous Dover International Speedway trophies, he is also the winningest driver in history at this week’s venue.
All that good juju in his corner and an omnipresent competitive desire for victory and most would assume Johnson is a perennial favorite for Sunday’s Gander RV 400 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). It’s hard to believe, but a triumph this weekend would be Johnson’s first trophy hoist since Dover’s Victory Lane two years ago.
The 2018 season marked the first time the champion has gone a full season without a victory and Johnson is long tired of predicting when his ship will right its course. Every week he feels it is possible.
Of course a record 11 victories, a record 3,105 laps led at this week's track certainly makes this weekend a good option in furthering Johnson’s certain NASCAR Hall of Fame-bound trajectory.
As is so typically the case, Johnson showed up in the Dover Media Center Friday afternoon looking settled and sounding optimistic.
“Clearly, I’m very biased about this race track," Johnson said smiling. “I think it’s the best one out there. I think all drivers appreciate just the challenge that comes with this track, the banking, the speed, the transitions from the straightaways through the corners.
“I noticed on social media before we got here that drivers and crew members and crew chiefs were all talking about how much they love coming here. It’s just a very unique challenge and a totally different race track than anything else we race on."
Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was 10th fastest in opening practice on Friday and all three of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates were also among the top-10. It’s a good sign going forward as is the momentum in general for Chevrolet and the team.
Johnson brings an enviable record to Dover – his 10.9 average finish and 9.9 average start – are best among any driver with more than six starts at the track. He has maintained that average with 34 starts. He won the first two races he ever competed on at the track and has won back-to-back trophies three different times in his career.
Since his victory in the Spring, 2017, Johnson has a pair of top-10 finishes on Dover’s “Monster Mile,” including a third place in the Fall of 2017 and a ninth place in this Spring race – won by Kevin Harvick – last year.
Johnson has four top-10s – including a season best of fifth at Texas Motor Speedway, where he also won the pole position. He suffered his worst finish of the season last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway after running over debris and getting a flat tire less than 30 laps into the race.
However, he had to leave Alabama feeling encouraged. Johnson’s teammate Chase Elliott led a Chevrolet 1-2-3 sweep at Talladega – the first win for the manufacturer this season. Elliott is also the most recent winner at Dover, claiming the Playoff win here last October.
“I think we’re all trending in the right direction and getting better each and every week," Johnson said. “Hendrick Motorsports has improved and is doing better. So, I’m optimistic and certainly very happy to be at the track that I love so much and I feel like we can hopefully string together a couple of really strong weeks here."
NASCAR and Genius Sports, the global leader in sports data solutions, today announced a landmark deal that will see Genius Sports develop an official NASCAR gaming offering for legal sportsbooks. The new agreement is the first step toward creating an advanced live betting product that will drive fan interest and deepen engagement around NASCAR race events.
Genius Sports will utilize NASCAR’s official data feed to build a high-end live betting product to be sold to legal sportsbooks around the world. Exclusive access to NASCAR’s official data will allow Genius Sports to create a real-time gaming platform that provides up-to-the-minute odds and a suite of traditional wagers and prop bets. The new initiative will enhance the race day experience and keep fans engaged with the sport for longer periods of time.
“Partnering with Genius Sports allows us to deliver a dynamic fan engagement platform in the rapidly-growing world of legalized sports gaming,” said Brian Herbst, senior vice president, broadcasting and innovation, NASCAR. “This new relationship will provide another entry point to the sport and complements our strategy to create a more immersive experience for fans.”
As a result of the agreement, Genius Sports becomes the exclusive provider of NASCAR data to licensed sportsbooks. The new data partnership marks NASCAR’s first in the growing U.S. sports betting sector.
“NASCAR fans are some of the most devoted in the world, and we look forward to helping them to create a deeper, more connected experience that is both safe and secure as the business of sports betting continues to evolve in the U.S.,” said Mark Locke, Genius Sports CEO. “Furthermore, our global relationships will help bring the excitement of NASCAR racing to new audiences both within the U.S. and in new territories around the world.”
With 40 cars on the track reaching speeds of over 200 miles per hour, NASCAR’s official data is vital to the development of a gaming platform. Only licensed sportsbooks in regulated territories will have access to the official data, providing greater transparency, accuracy, and cooperation to monitor and safeguard NASCAR events.
Before the start of the 2019 season, NASCAR developed a comprehensive sports integrity program and gambling policy in which the sanctioning body granted all teams and tracks the ability to sell marketing sponsorships to sports-betting companies and licensed sportsbooks.
All of NASCAR’s national series are prepared for tight and robust competition during the perennial popular Dover International Speedway tripleheader weekend.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series headlines the stop with Sunday’s Gander RV 400 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) after a dramatic race at Talladega Superspeedway a week ago.
The competitive mindset shifts from the sport’s largest venue at Talladega to Dover’s notoriously tough “Monster Mile” where the track’s all-time winningest driver Jimmie Johnson is hoping to return to Victory Lane for a 12th trophy – in what would be his first series victory since the spring of 2017 at Dover.
“I’ve had Dover circled on the calendar for a while," Johnson conceded. “It’s going to be different – lots of throttle and probably more like the 2015 rules package that we had there.
“I’ve loved that place since I raced in the ASA Series. I’ve always run well there, so I’m excited to get there. Last time we had a freak mechanical issue before we even started the race and didn’t have a chance to get into the mix."
No one has been statistically better than Johnson at Dover. His 11-win tally is one of the best efforts in the sport’s modern era – the most wins at a one track since Darrell Waltrip scored a 12th victory at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1972.
The 43-year old California native Johnson has led the most laps (3,105) in history at the track and heading into this weekend’s 400-miler, he boasts a 10.9 average finish and 9.9 average start at Dover – incredible statistics for someone with 34 starts.
Johnson’s first-year Monster Energy Series crew chief Kevin Meendering has five top-10 finishes in six NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in that role and is ready to restore Johnson’s prolific streak of success.
The two-year lag in trophies is the longest in Johnson’s seven-championship career and 2018 marked the first time he has gone an entire calendar year without a victory in 18 fulltime Cup seasons.
Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has four top-10s through the opening 10 races of the season but comes to Dover after a disappointing 33rd-place showing at Talladega where he blew a right front tire after running over debris only 26 laps into the 188-lapper. The finish dropped him from 13th to 16th in the standings.
But the rough last outing has not dampened Johnson’s enthusiasm, confidence or hopes when it comes to competing at Dover International Speedway.
"It’s the site of so many good memories for me, I can’t wait," Johnson said.
DASH 4 CASH FINAL ROUND
Saturday’s Allied Steel Buildings 200 at Dover (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the fourth and final round of the popular Dash 4 Cash incentive program. Last week’s Talladega Superspeedway winner Tyler Reddick, along with Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell and Gray Gaulding are eligible for the final $100,000 bonus. The highest finisher among the four on Saturday will win the money.
Bell (at Bristol), Cole Custer (at Richmond) and Reddick (at Talladega) are the previous three 2019 bonus check winners.
Bell is the only driver among the four currently eligible with a previous Xfinity Series victory at the notoriously tough Dover “Monster Mile.” He won in the series last visit to Dover in October, 2018. He has finished top-five in his two starts on the track and led 110 laps. Reddick won the 2015 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Dover. He has one top-five in three Xfinity starts and led 23 laps. This is only Briscoe’s second Xfinity race at Dover. He finished 19th in his debut last Fall. Gaulding also has only one previous series start at the track, finishing 34th in 2017.
JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier is the defending race winner. He, Bell, Jeff Green and Morgan Shepherd are the only former winners entered.
Reddick – the reigning series champion - leads the Xfinity Series championship standings again, 32-points over Bell and 73 over third place Austin Cindric.
GANDER TRUCKS RETURN
The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series returns to competition after a four-week break in the schedule with the JEG'S 200 (Friday, May 4 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The series kicks off the tripleheader NASCAR weekend with what has typically been a very competitive race.
Two-time series champion Johnny Sauter has won the last two races at Dover’s “Monster Mile” but returns to try and become the first ever to win three consecutive after switching teams and manufacturers from Chevrolet to Ford power.
Current championship leader, Canadian Stewart Friesen, hopes to improve his history on one of NASCAR’s most historic tracks. He holds a six-point edge on Grant Enfinger in the standings coming into the weekend’s race. But Friesen has an averages finish of 25.5 at Dover, crashing out in both of his previous starts at the track. Enfinger’s average finish at Dover is 8.5.
Two-time series champ Matt Crafton, Sauter and veterans Jeff Green and Morgan Shepherd are the only former winners in Friday’s field.
Ryan Newman and the No. 6 team head into the Monster Mile of Dover this weekend looking for their fourth consecutive top-10 finish of the season. Fresh off a season-high seventh-place finish last weekend at Talladega, spirts are high for the No. 6 crew, which just announced a new partnership last weekend with Mazola Corn Oil.
“I’m proud of what we are building together as a team this year, (crew chief) Scott Graves, myself and the guys,” said Newman. “I think if you look at our package and the history of Roush Fenway Racing, the six car and our sport – it’s proven to be a very competitive car and I’m happy to be able to make steps in that direction to be more competitive.”
A top-10 finish this weekend for the No. 6 Wyndham Rewards Ford would mark the best streak for the historic No. 6 since NASCAR Hall of Famer and former Roush Fenway driver Mark Martin piloted the car in 2006.
Newman, in his first season behind the wheel of the iconic Ford, began the season with an average finish of 18th through the opening six races. Since that time, the veteran driver has finished an average of ninth with results of 11th (Texas), ninth (Bristol), ninth (Richmond) and seventh (Talladega).
In that stretch alone, the 2003 Driver of the Year has recorded stage points in three out of four events. Overall, Newman has four stage finishes inside the top-10 in 2019 for a total of 23 stage points.
The team understands it still has work to do, but Newman has been pleased with the effort through the season’s first 10 races.
“We are making steps in the right direction,” added Newman. “It’s been a new situation for me. Not just with Roush Fenway, but a new rules package, new manufacturer and many other factors. But, I’ve been pleased with our progress and we will continue to work at it each week and get better each week and we will see just how competitive we can be as the season progresses.”
NASCAR announced Wednesday a well-received change in its national series qualifying procedure beginning with this week’s triple-header at Dover International Speedway.
Going forward, qualifying will feature single-car runs as opposed to the group procedure used by NASCAR for the past five seasons and up to this point in 2019. The modification was well-received by teams and NASCAR is hopeful a return to the tried-and-true format used for decades will improve the show both competitively and for the fan’s sake.
The qualifying format now will be single-car, single-round qualifying for the remainder of the season and used in all three NASCAR national series, including the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, according to NASCAR.
The format will be used at all tracks except for road courses. At oval tracks measuring 1.25-miles or less, qualifying will consist of two timed laps. At oval tracks more than 1.25-miles in length, qualifying will consist of one timed lap. The group qualifying format will remain in place at road courses.
The qualifying order will be determined by the previous race’s starting lineup. The top-20 starters from the previous race will draw to take their qualifying lap in positions 21-40 (second half of qualifying). The remainder of the cars will draw to qualify in positions 1-20.
“With all the teams waiting until the last minute, being allotted a block of time and only taking advantage of the last two or three minutes of it, became problematic from a content standpoint from the broadcaster and radio perspective and that," NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said Wednesday afternoon shortly after NASCAR's announcement.
“It was very hard to figure out who was doing what when it was only like a two-minute session. A lot of times some of the polesitters weren’t covered very well because they were kind of surprise polesitters or whatnot. That and just restoring general order."
Miller said the sanctioning body brainstormed on ideas and formats to solve issues arising from the group qualifying model. He acknowledged that no matter the process, teams would understandably approach qualifying in a manner that benefitted them most. The new single-car qualifying lessens the need for over-thinking.
“We tried a few different iterations," Miller said. “We talked about a lot of differing things that we might do. But the fact remained that the teams are always going to do what benefits them the most.
“Unfortunately that was waiting, drafting, trying to position themselves, which they weren’t using the time block and it wasn’t a very compelling show," Miller said. “We owe it to our fans to provide something that’s worth watching. We felt that it started to become less than that."
Miller also reminded that this single-car format is a nod to NASCAR’s heritage, while at the same time being an understandable way for fans to watch qualifying and a fair way to set the field.
“One of the things that to me is getting back a little bit to our roots with the single-car qualifying is everybody can understand it," Miller said. “If you looked up on the screen and the sound was off, just about any kind of hardcore fan to a casual fan can understand what’s going on there. What we had before, not so much.
“We felt like consistency and that visual week after week, series after series, kind of gets us back to a point where everybody kind of understands what we’re doing.”
For all three national series – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – qualifying will move to a single-car, single-round format at all race tracks except road courses. At oval tracks measuring 1.25 miles in length or less, qualifying will consist of two timed laps. At oval tracks measuring more than 1.25 miles in length, qualifying will consist of one timed lap. The group qualifying format will remain in place at road courses.
The qualifying order draw will be determined by the previous race’s starting lineup. For example, in the Monster Energy Series, the top 20 starters from the previous race will draw to take their qualifying lap in positions 21-40 (the second half of qualifying). The remainder of the cars will draw to qualify in positions 1-20.
After two short track races, with a mile-and-a-half race at Texas Motor Speedway sandwiched in between, followed by a run on the superspeedway at Talladega, Paul Menard and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team get to try something altogether different this weekend.
The 11th Monster Energy Cup Series race of 2019 will be contested on the high-banked, one-mile concrete oval at Dover International Speedway. And Sunday’s Gander RV 400 will be the first race at Dover since NASCAR instituted its new lower horsepower/higher downforce handling package.
“It’s unlike any other track we go to,” Menard said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s a fun track, and it’s fast.”
Menard said a lot this weekend depends on how the tire compound chosen by Goodyear reacts as well as how the new aero package affects the cars.
“Hopefully it leads to the groove widening out,” he said.
Menard, like many of his peers, says racing at Dover is a lot like Bristol in that the speeds make the race a grueling one.
“The first 200 laps seem like they take forever, and then the second 200 go by really quickly,” he said, adding that the Dover races feel like some of the hottest ones of the year. “You’re working so hard inside the car, and there’s not a lot of airflow because the track is like a soup bowl.”
He also said races at Dover tend to have long, green-flag runs, which means green-flag pit stops, which can be tricky when getting on and off pit road.
“Those green-flag stops can be pretty dicey,” he said.
Qualifying for the Gander RV 400 is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.
In 1998, some 21 years ago, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick competed at the now-closed Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida.
Harvick, driver of the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Truck for Wayne Spears Racing, started 16th and finished 18th in the first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series event on the 1998 schedule, which was conducted Sunday, Jan. 18. Six days later, on Saturday, Jan. 24, Tony Stewart started first, led 132 of 200 laps and won the IndyCar race driving the No. 2 Glidden/Menards G-Force Oldsmobile for Team Menard.
Even Tony Raines, who now spots for Harvick’s teammate Daniel Suarez, was in the 1998 Truck Series race at Disney and finished two spots ahead of Harvick.
Who could have ever believed that, 21 years later, all three would be working, and succeeding, at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). As it is stated on that lovely ride at Walt Disney World, “It’s a small world, after all.”
Stewart, along with his partner Gene Haas, will be in the owner role this week, Raines will be spotting for Suarez, and Harvick will be driving the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for SHR as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Harvick has had plenty of success at the concrete mile oval as he has two wins, one pole, six top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and has led 1,442 laps.
He scored his first Dover win in October 2015, when he started 15th, led 355 of 400 laps and beat runner-up Kyle Busch by 2.639 seconds. Harvick then earned his first Cup Series pole at Dover in September 2014 with a time of 22.095 at 162.095 mph. He scored his second Dover win a year ago this weekend, when he started second, led 201 of 400 laps and finished 7.450 seconds ahead of SHR teammate Clint Bowyer.
Harvick is hoping he can score another victory this week as he has come a long way since racing at Walt Disney World 21 years ago. And so has Jimmy John’s. In 1994, there were 10 sub shops but, by 2002, the company had grown to 160 and, in 2019, Jimmy John’s has more than 2,800 locations across 43 states.
It’s fitting that, also in 1998, Fatboy Slim released one of his best albums, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby,” because Harvick, Stewart, Raines and Jimmy John’s certainly have.
Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation team head to Dover (Del.) International Speedway this Sunday for the 11th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season. Suárez will return to the traditional red-and-black Haas Automation livery for his fifth career Cup Series start at the high-banked, concrete mile oval.
Before heading to Dover this weekend, Suárez managed a 12th-place finish in last week’s event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Early in the race, Suárez’s teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer were involved in an accident, but Suárez was able to avoid the accidents, some narrowly, to earn his second-best finish at the 2.66-mile superspeedway with a solid day in the Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola Mustang.
Dover is one of only two tracks on the Cup Series schedule where Suárez has earned top-10 finishes in each of his starts there – the other being Watkins Glen, where he has a pair of top-fives in two outings. In four starts at Dover, Suárez has one top-five finish and four top-10s with an average finishing position of 6.8. He has three top-10 starting spots there with an average starting position to 8.5.
In addition to his Cup Series starts at Dover, he has six Xfinity Series starts with one win in October 2016, two top-fives and five top-10s, along with 144 laps led. The Mexico native also has two Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts, both resulting in second-place finishes. Finally, he has two starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, one in 2013 when he finished sixth, and one in 2014, when he finished 22nd after an accident ended his day prematurely.
“Dover is probably my favorite track and it’s probably my best track, too,” Suárez said. “I’m not really sure why it’s so good for me, but it’s a lot of fun. With the new package, it should be crazy fast, so it’s going to be a lot of fun, I hope. I always have it marked on my list of tracks that I think we have a really good shot to win at. Kevin and Clint were both so good there last year and my crew chief Billy Scott and the 41 team were really good there last year, too.”
Going to Dover with SHR should bode well for Suárez’s success. Behind Aric Almirola, Bowyer and Harvick, SHR led 592 of the 804 laps raced there last year. Harvick captured the win and Bowyer the runner-up finish in the May race.
At tracks a mile in length or less this season, Suárez has accumulated top-10 finishes at each, with the exception of Phoenix, where he had a mechanical issue, and Richmond, where a pit-road speeding penalty led to an 18th-place finish.
This time last year, Suárez was 21st in the point standings, but he’s 12th with 266 points heading into this weekend’s event. All four SHR entries are in the top-12 in the championship, from where the top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the Cup Series playoffs.
Haas Automation, founded in 1983 by SHR co-owner Gene Haas, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets. This weekend marks the seventh time Suárez has piloted the Haas Automation scheme.
Ford has 26 all-time Cup Series victories at Dover. The manufacturer has captured three victories so far this year and the solid start to the season has earned Ford five spots in the top-10 in points. SHR has three wins as an organization at the Delaware track with Harvick earning two and co-owner Tony Stewart one.