Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (17146)

Paul Menard and the No. 21 Quaker State Ford Mustang put together one of their best races of the season and came away with an 11th-place finish in Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

Menard earned points in both preliminary Stages, then overcame the disadvantage of restarting on the inside lane in an overtime run to the finish line to finish 11th after dropping as low as 15th place during the final two-lap dash.

It was the team’s best finish since a 10th place at Richmond Raceway in April.

Eddie Wood said he was glad to see a strong team performance on a night in which the team’s sponsor was also the title sponsor of the race.
 
“We’re happy to have a good run for Quaker State,” Wood said. “The pit crew had a good night. [Crew chief] Greg Erwin called a really good race, and Paul drove a solid race from start to finish.”
 
Menard lined up 14th for the opening green flag but dropped out of the top 20 in the early laps as he sized up damage to the left front of the No. 21 Mustang due to contact on the initial start.

He was back to 13th place by Lap 60 and was in 10th place at the end of the first 80-lap Stage, earning one bonus point.

In Stage Two, he took advantage of Erwin’s call to stay on the track during a long green-flag run then take fuel only with 15 laps remaining to finish ninth and collect another two Stage points.

In the final segment of the race, Menard continued to show good speed, usually posting his best lap times in the latter portions of long green-flag runs, as he had done in the opening stages.

Due to the speed of the Quaker State Mustang at the end of long runs, Erwin elected to leave Menard on the track as many of his competitors made their final scheduled pit stops under the green flag.

Menard moved up to third place and was poised to capitalize should the caution flag be displayed before he made his pit stop. That opportunity never arose and Erwin called Menard to the pits from third place with 23 laps of the scheduled 267 laps remaining.
 
Menard had worked his way back to 11th place when the yellow flag was displayed with six laps remaining for a spin by Bubba Wallace. That set up an overtime run to the finish. Erwin elected to pit for fresh tires for the race-ending sprint to the finish.

Menard restarted 13th and dropped back on the restart but drove his way up to 11th at the checkered flag.

“It feels good to get a good finish,” Wood said. “We’ll move on to Loudon and try to pick up where we left off here.”

Menard and the No. 21 team travel to this week’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

WBR PR

After leading a season-high 21 laps, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was battling in the top 10 during the final green white checkered finish before contact was made as a car got loose forcing Stenhouse to settle with a 12th-place finish in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Kentucky Speedway.

“Our Fifth Third Bank Ford showed speed all night,” Stenhouse said. “It was good to be able to lead laps and get some stage points in the backyard of Fifth Third Bank. All in all it was a good day for our No. 17 team.”

The Olive Branch, Miss. native started the 267-lap race in the 16th position and steadily marched his way forward picking up seven positions by the time the caution flag waved on lap 62. With only 13 laps remaining in stage one, Stenhouse was able to capitalize, despite battling a tight handling machine picking up two more positions taking the green checkered in the seventh position picking up valuable stage points.

During the stage break, crew chief Brian Pattie chose to stay out under the caution giving the point position to the Fifth Third Bank Ford. Choosing the outside lane, Stenhouse powered around the No. 14 leading the field for 21 laps before newer tires prevailed. With differing pit strategies, Stenhouse took the second green checkered in the 12th position.

After pitting for four tires and fuel during the final stage break, the two-time Xfinity champion lined up in the 13th position and quickly maneuvered his Ford inside the top 10 within 10 laps. With some cars going long on fuel mileage and different strategies, Stenhouse found himself in the 14th position when the final caution flag was displayed sending the race into overtime.

After pitting for four tires for the final shootout, Stenhouse lined up in the 12th position and was marching his way forward in the outside lane when the No.12 got loose, stalling Stenhouse’s progression forcing him to settle with a 12th-place finish.  

Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 21. Race coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.

RFR PR

Race Winner:      Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

● Daniel Suárez started Stage 1 from the pole position and ended it 14th.

● Suárez maintained the lead position for the first 49 laps, then came to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments to help with the front end of his Mustang.

● After varying pit strategies the 27-year-old restarted 14th on lap 53.

● Suárez remained in the top-15 and stayed on the track throughout the next two caution periods.

● During the Stage 1 break Suárez pitted for fuel, two right-side tires and adjustments.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

● The No. 41 driver began Stage 2 in 10th and ended it in 29th.

● Early in the run, the Haas driver relayed to the crew that he thought he had a loose wheel. As he continued in the run, he maintained something felt wrong with a tire.

● On lap 106, Suárez came down pit road for four fresh tires in hopes of relieving the vibration he felt. After review, the team determined he had a tire going down. Unfortunately, Suárez sped on pit road and received a penalty that forced him to make a pass down pit road under the green flag.

● The penalty put the Ford driver two laps down in the 33rd position. After pit stops cycled through late in the stage, Suárez was back to only being one lap down.

● He ended the stage in the 29th position, one lap down, and pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments during the stage break.

Final Recap (Laps 161-269):

● Suárez earned his seventh top-10 of the season and his first top-10 in three career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kentucky.

● Suárez’s eighth-place result bettered his previous best finish at Kentucky – 15th in last year’s Kentucky 400.

● Suárez led twice for 52 laps, including the first 49 laps from the pole. These were his first laps led at Kentucky.

● Kurt Busch won the Kentucky 400 to score his 31st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Kentucky. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was .076 of a second.

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 35 laps.

● Only 16 of the 36 drivers in the Kentucky 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Kentucky with an 11-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.

 

Notes:

● Suárez earned his seventh top-10 of the season and his first top-10 in three career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kentucky.

● Suárez’s eighth-place result bettered his previous best finish at Kentucky – 15th in last year’s Kentucky 400.

● Suárez led twice for 52 laps, including the first 49 laps from the pole. These were his first laps led at Kentucky.

● Kurt Busch won the Kentucky 400 to score his 31st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Kentucky. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was .076 of a second.

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 35 laps.

● Only 16 of the 36 drivers in the Kentucky 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Kentucky with an 11-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.

 

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

“It was an eventful night, for sure. We just had a fast racecar, but we got a bit tight. I feel like we made the car better, but we never got the track position back. We had a tire going down and then I was speeding coming to pit road because I was wheel hopping because of the tire. It was one problem after another. We were fast enough to overcome that but not enough to get a better finish. I feel like the good thing is that we have the speed. We just have to keep working to have a cleaner day and keep working to try to keep that speed the whole race.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, July 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

TSC PR

Race Winner:  Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner:  Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner:  Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Aric Almirola started second, finished fifth and earned six bonus points.

● Under the first caution of the race on lap 48, Almirola reported the Valley Tech Ford was “just a little snug.” He pitted for right-side tires, fuel and adjustments on lap 49.

● Following the stop, Almirola said the adjustments made his No. 10 Mustang even tighter, but the team stayed on track during two additional cautions to finish the first stage in the fifth position.

● Crew chief Johnny Klausmeier brought the Valley Tech driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments at the stage break.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Started 17th, finished 10th and earned one bonus point.

● The Tampa, Fla., native told the Valley Tech team on lap 93 that the adjustments were helping but he was now loose in traffic.

● Almirola worked his way back into the top-10 and eventually the top-five before making a scheduled green-flag stop on lap 147 for four tires, fuel and adjustments.

● The Valley Tech driver returned to the track in the 12th position and re-entered the top-10 before the end of Stage 2.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-269):

Started third, finished 14th.

● After electing to stay on track at the stage break, Almirola lined up third for the lap-165 restart.

● During the sixth caution of the race on lap 180, Almirola radioed that his Valley Tech Ford was loose on entry. The team stayed on track to maintain the third position.

● Almirola fell back to fifth after contact with the No. 24 on the lap-185 restart.

● On lap 217, Almirola made his final scheduled pit stop under green and received four fresh Goodyear tires, fuel and adjustments for the Valley Tech Mustang.

● After green-flag stops were complete, Almirola found himself in the seventh position before a late-race caution on lap 261.

● Almirola stayed on track to maintain track position and restarted seventh on lap 267, but he was unable to find an opening in the top line and fell back outside of the top-10.

● The No. 10 Valley Tech Mustang ultimately crossed the finish line in the 14th position.

 

Notes:

● Almirola earned his 13th top-15 of the season and his fourth top-15 in seven career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kentucky.

● This is Almirola’s second straight top-15. He finished seventh in the series’ last race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

● This is Almirola’s second straight top-15 at Kentucky. He finished eighth in last year’s Kentucky 400.

● Kurt Busch won the Kentucky 400 to score his 31st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Kentucky. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was .076 of a second.

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 35 laps.

● Only 16 of the 36 drivers in the Kentucky 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Kentucky with an 11-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.

 

Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Valley Tech Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We had a really fast Valley Tech Ford. Johnny (Klausmeier, crew chief) and the team did a great job adjusting on it all night after we started off tight and eventually got our Mustang freed up. We were in a great position to come out of Kentucky with a good finish, but we ended up going the wrong direction on the final restart. It wasn’t the ending we wanted, but we had a strong weekend, and we’ve got a chance to do it all again in New Hampshire.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Foxwoods Resorts Casino 301 on Sunday, July 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

TSC PR

Ryan Newman earned his second top-10 in as many races Saturday night under the lights at Kentucky Speedway, crossing the line ninth after leading 15 laps in his Acorns Ford Mustang.

“I think we got five or six cars there coming to the white,” Newman said. “It was a good run for our Acorns Ford. We still have to get our performance better. The guys did a good job on pit lane but we just have to have faster race cars.”

Newman earned his seventh overall top-10 of the season, advancing through the field after starting from the rear for failing pre-race tech. Pit strategy played a factor in the final 50 laps as Newman led the field for 15 laps under green.

Early on Newman battled tight conditions in his No. 6 Ford ending the opening stage in 20th. After pitting under yellow at lap 48, Newman was on pit strategy and remained on track for the stage break setting him up third for the stage two start.

He maintained the top-five position by lap 100, riding fourth reporting he was still tight in his Acorns Ford. He hit pit road at lap 117 for four tires and adjustments in what was his final stop of the stage. By lap 140 he rode 27th, reporting he was loose, but cycled back to 13th after green-flag stops at the end of the stage.

The South Bend, Indiana, native brought his machine down pit road again under the break, taking more adjustments and tires. He went on to restart 14th for the final stage and maintained the spot when the yellow was displayed again at lap 179.

Following another stop for two tires and fuel he lined back up 15th at lap 184. By lap 200 Newman ran 13th, but quickly began advancing his way through after green-flag stops started. He was up to fourth by lap 227 and five laps later took the lead. He would go on to lead for 15 laps before hitting pit road at lap 245 for fuel only.

Newman cycled back into the top-10 with 17 to go, but with six to go the caution came out for a spin. With varying strategies in play, Newman stayed out and powered his way to a ninth-place finish in NASCAR overtime.

Newman and the No. 6 team return to the track next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Race coverage on Sunday begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SiriusXM Channel 90.

RFR PR

Race Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Clint Bowyer started seventh and finished 18th.
● Bowyer reported his car would not turn like he needed as he quickly dropped to 14th.
● Crew pitted Bowyer on lap 41 ahead of the rest of the field hoping to take advantage of new tires and clean air.
● On lap 48 a caution came out trapping Bowyer a lap behind the leaders.
● Bowyer took the wave-around and returned to the lead lap but in 28th.
● The crew called him to pit lane under caution on lap 65 for four tires and fuel.
● Bowyer drove from 28th to 18th before the stage ended.
 
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Started second and finished fifth to earn six bonus points.
● Because of his late stop in the first stage Bowyer had enough fuel and fresh tires to stay on the track during the stage break, and he restarted second.
● Bowyer held second in the early going of the stage before fresher tires dropped him to third.
● Bowyer pitted for tires and fuel on lap 134 under green.
● By the end of the stage, Bowyer had climbed back to fifth.
 
Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-269):
● Started first and finished sixth.
● Because of the late stop in the second stage, Bowyer had enough fuel and fresh tires to stay on the track during the stage break and start the final stage in first.
● The No. 14 held the lead in a side-by-side battle with Kurt Busch until Bowyer pitted on lap 206.
● The rest of the field pitted 10 to 15 laps later, and Bowyer returned to the eighth position.
● A caution in the final laps forced a green-white-checkered finish that saw Bowyer climb as high as fifth in the final laps but finish sixth. 
 
Notes:
●  Bowyer earned his ninth top-10 of the season and his second top-10 in nine career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kentucky. 
●  Bowyer’s sixth-place result was just three spots shy of his previous best finish at Kentucky – third in June 2013.
●  Since joining SHR in 2017, Bowyer has not finished outside the top-13 at Kentucky. He finished 12th in last year’s Kentucky 400.
●  Bowyer led twice for 40 laps to score his first laps led at Kentucky.
●  Kurt Busch won the Kentucky 400 to score his 31st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Kentucky. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was .076 of a second.
●  There were seven caution periods for a total of 35 laps.
●  Only 16 of the 36 drivers in the Kentucky 400 finished on the lead lap.
●  Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Kentucky with an 11-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.
 
Clint Bowyer:
“It was a positive night for us. We finally got some stage points the last two races. It didn’t start out good but we did a good job of working together, staying in it and not giving up. We got some track position and right there at the end, I don't know. Our SHR cars are extremely fast, we show that in qualifying, but they aren’t the best in race trim and traffic yet. We have work to do there and we know that. Given the month of June that we had, we had to get that monkey shook off our back. Right there at the end, you hate to give up fifth right there at the line but we could have just as easily wrecked in turn one on the restart and had another finish like we had in June. We needed a good solid finish and we got that and got some good positive mojo back with our team and we will build on it.”
 
Next Up:
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, July 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
TSC PR

Race Winner:    Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kyle Busch started 10th, finished third.

● Busch started the race in 10th, but he methodically moved his way up through the field, making it up to the seventh spot by lap 47, when the caution waved for debris.

● The M&M’S driver told crew chief Adam Stevens that he was tight in traffic, with his biggest issue being in turns three and four.

● Stevens called Busch to pit road on lap 49, where he took on two tires along with an air pressure adjustment before restarting fifth on lap 53.

● Busch moved his way up to third by the lap-67 restart and settled into that same spot for the remainder of the first stage.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Busch started eighth, finished first.

The M&M’S driver pitted following the stage, taking left-side tires and fuel on lap 83.

Busch restarted eighth behind the seven cars that did not pit following the stage.

The Las Vegas native didn’t take long to dispatch the cars ahead of him, as he moved up to third by lap 97 and to the lead past Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on lap 104.

From there, Busch had smooth sailing and built a large lead. He pitted with 10 laps to go in Stage 2 for tires and fuel, returned to the track ahead of everyone else and took home the stage win.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-269):

Busch started fifth, finished second.

Busch pitted following the end of Stage 2 on lap 163 for fuel only, then restarted fifth for the third and final stage.

The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champ settled into the top-three early in Stage 3, but he radioed to Stevens that his car wasn’t handling as well and was chattering the rear tires in the corners.

Busch continued to battle with the leaders over the next segment of the race and finally reassumed the lead when his brother Kurt Busch pitted on lap 213.

Kyle Busch held the lead until Joey Logano tracked him down and got by him on lap 247. Busch radioed to Stevens that his car was plowing tight.

As Logano was pulling away and the laps wound down, the caution waved for a spin by Darrell Wallace Jr., setting up a two-lap shootout for the win.

Busch shot ahead of Logano coming out of turn two on the first lap of the restart and made it three-wide with Kurt Busch and JGR teammate Erik Jones. By the time the white flag flew, both Kyle and Kurt Busch were side by side racing for the win. But Kurt Busch had fresher tires and was able to sneak by Kyle Busch in turns three and four to bring home the victory.

 

Notes:

The finish was Busch’s 11th top-five result of 2019.

This is Busch’s seventh top-five and eighth top-10 finish at Kentucky in just nine starts.

The 1-2 finish for the Busch brothers was their third 1-2 result in a Cup Series race, but it was the first time Kurt bested his younger brother, as Kyle beat Kurt at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in 2015 and also reached the finish ahead of his older brother at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this past March.

 

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

 

“Glad it was a thriller. It’s just unfortunate we were on the wrong end of the deal for everybody at M&M’S and Toyota, Interstate Batteries, all the folks that get us to where we’re at. Congratulations to Kurt (Busch) and Chip (Ganassi) and Monster, all the guys over there. It’s obviously cool to put on great races and great finishes, and I’ve been a part of a lot of them and not very many, in fact none, with my brother like that. That was a first. No hard feelings.”

 

How big of a difference was it that Kurt Busch had four fresh tires on that last restart?

“I didn’t know that they had four tires. I guess that probably had some of the difference. I knew I cleared him into (turn) three and if I just stayed in the gas I was never going to make the exit, I was going to plow the fence, but maybe I should have just gotten in front of him and messed up his air. It’s so easy to do with these cars. It’s pretty much just air games. I missed my chance over there, I guess. That’s about all I could really have done different.”

 

Take us through that final lap. What happened?

“I don’t know. Kurt got on my door off of (turn) two there and got a run down the backstretch, and I didn’t have enough of a run back on him into three to clear him soon enough. I know I cleared him, but I knew I wasn’t going to make the exit if I tried to jump up in front of him and mess up his air, so I just tried to get as close as I could to him and side draft him. He just had too much momentum going by me on the outside. I was just way too tight. We didn’t make good adjustments there on the last run, so that’s why we lost the lead to the 22 (Joey Logano) and ultimately weren’t in the right position to be able to win the race.”

 

Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, July 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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When Bubba Wallace spun in Turn 2 with six laps left in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, it changed the course of the entire race.

For one thing, it bunched the field for an overtime restart that put brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch center-stage for a breathtaking finish, with Kurt taking the checkered flag .076 seconds ahead of his younger sibling.

For another, it treated the fans in the grandstands to the most electrifying finish of the season.

But one person who wasn’t thrilled was Team Penske driver Joey Logano, who had a comfortable lead over Kyle Busch and seemed bound for Victory lane when Wallace spun to cause the seventh caution of the evening.

The race went to overtime, and on the restart, and Logano got sandwiched between drivers and dropped to seventh at the finish.

“The caution came out at the wrong time,” Logano said. “It happens. You try to think through your notebook on how to have a good restart. I thought I was going to have a decent one, but I got stopped on the left rear there when Kyle (Busch) got into me. That is what it is. That stopped all my momentum.

“The 1 (Kurt Busch) had a huge run (on the outside), and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t block them all. I tried to stop the 18 on his right rear by side-drafting. I saw the 1 coming and felt like, if I could get in front of him, that we were so low at the time if I blocked the 1 he would just go to the middle and pass me.

“I felt like I couldn’t stop the 1. I was in a bad spot. Once I got stopped on the left rear on the restart, I was a sitting duck and they just went by me on both sides.”

Logano didn’t win with arguably the fastest car. Nevertheless, he expressed appreciation for the quality of the event.

“Yeah, it was a great race,” Logano said. “It was a lot of fun. You had strategy and cautions, and it was probably the best Kentucky race we have ever had. If I was a race fan, I would say that was a cool finish. I’m a little too close to the fire to say it was a cool finish right now.”

 

DANIEL SUAREZ BATTLES BACK TO SCORE EIGHTH-PLACE FINISH

Until the first round of pit stops, Daniel Suarez looked like the class of field in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

Seeking his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, Suarez stared on the pole and led the first 49 laps, but during a pit stop under caution for Chase Elliott’s blown right front tire, Suarez’s crew chief, Billy Scott, opted for four tires, while many others went for right sides only or no tires.

Consequently, the driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford dropped to 13th for a restart on Lap 53. Further hurting Suarez’s effort was a green-flag pit stop on Lap 108 that drew a pit road penalty. Suarez lost three laps before he began a determined rally.

When green-flag stops cycled through, he was one lap down, and on Lap 179 of a planned 267, he returned to the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car. A determined drive the rest of the way left him eighth at the finish.

“It was an eventful night for sure,” Suarez said. “We just had a fast race car but we got a bit tight. I feel like we made the car better, but we never got the track position back. We had a tire going down and then I was speeding coming to pit road because I was wheel hopping because of the tire.

“It was one problem after another. We were fast enough to overcome that, but not enough to get a better finish. I feel like the good thing is that we have the speed. We just have to keep working to have a cleaner day and keep working to try to keep that speed the whole race.”

 

ERIK JONES HAS A FRONT-ROW SEAT FOR BUSCH BROTHERS BATTLE

A quick pit stop for fuel only got Erik Jones the track position he needed late in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway and put him in the third spot for the overtime restart that decided the race.

Jones watched from his driver’s seat as brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch swapped door-slams over the final two laps. As he watched the battle in front of him, Jones tried to find a path to victory.

“Yeah, I had two choices there going into (Turns) 3 and 4 (on the final lap),” Jones said. “I knew they were probably going to slide up, so I was going to try to run to the bottom and make a run on them, but they didn't slide up enough, and I was tight and couldn't quite get the run I needed to.

“But the Craftsman Camry was good. It was fast from the start. We just needed some track position. We needed to get up there and finally did and had a shot. We were just a little too tight at the end. But good day, lots of points, which is what we needed. I'd love to be standing there on the frontstretch where (race winner) Kurt (Busch) is, but we're close, and we're just going to keep after it and get there soon.”

The good news is that Jones climbed into 16th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, the last Playoff-eligible position. He is now two points to the good over Ryan Newman.

“Well, it's good that we're ahead of it now, and we just need to keep it going,” Jones said. “We built ourselves big deficit through some misfortune and bad luck, and we're digging out of it now, but we're doing a good job at it and doing the best we can. Getting back on the good side of is a good start. We just need to keep it rolling and hopefully get a win here soon.”

Denied victory at Daytona by an inopportune pit call last Sunday, Kurt Busch drove like lightning in a two-lap overtime dash to the finish to win Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

Swapping sheet metal with brother Kyle Busch as the siblings battled for the victory throughout the overtime, Busch collected his first victory of the season in the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. The 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion won for the first time at Kentucky and the 31st time in his career.

Kurt Busch beat his brother to the finish line by .076 seconds, the closest margin of victory at a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway this season. It was also the first Cup triumph for a Chevrolet at Kentucky, which began hosting races in NASCAR’s premier series in 2011. It was also the first victory for Busch’s crew chief, Matt McCall.

"Hell yeah! Hell yeah!" Busch exulted after climbing from his car on the frontstretch. "I'm proud he (Kyle) gave me a little room on the outside. He could have clobbered us against the wall, and he probably would have got it.”

Busch was running fourth, nine seconds behind then-leader Joey Logano, when Bubba Wallace spun in Turn 2 with six laps left in regulation. Logano, third-place Erik Jones, the Busch brothers and Denny Hamlin stayed out on older tires for the overtime, with Kurt Busch having fresher rubber on his left side, thanks to a four-tire pit stop under green on Lap 213 of a scheduled 267.

That caution helped balance the scales of fortune. Last Sunday at Daytona, Busch pitted from the lead when NASCAR gave the one-lap-to-go signal, only to have a lightning bolt within the eight-mile range return the race to caution. After rain hit the track, Justin Haley, who stayed out, got the victory.

The misfortune at Daytona, made Busch relish his Kentucky win all the more.

“What an awesome run,” Busch said. “Whatever last week was, we got the 'W' now! That was epic. I was hopeful that we would get a shot, just one more restart. We got that yellow… with my little brother—it's the best guy in the world to go race against.”

For the first time, Kurt beat his younger brother in a 1-2 finish.

“I'm glad it was a thriller,” Kyle Busch said. “Just unfortunately we were on the wrong end of the deal for everybody at M&M's and Toyota, Interstate Batteries, all the folks that get us to where we're at.

“But congratulations to Kurt and Chip and (sponsor) Monster and all the guys over there. It's obviously cool to put on great races and great finishes, and (I’ve) been a part of a lot of them and not very many—in fact none with my brother like that, so that was a first. No hard feelings, and we move on.”

In a one-year deal with Ganassi, Kurt Busch has been weighing his future in the sport. Saturday’s win may influence his decision.

“I thought this year might be my last, but we're having so much fun, we'll have to see how things go,” he said.

Jones finished third, followed by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson, who pitted for tires before the overtime. Hamlin held fifth, putting three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the top five.

Clint Bowyer, Logano, polesitter Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher completed the top 10.

Race Winner:  Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner:  Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner:  Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kevin Harvick started fifth and finished sixth, earning five stage points.

● The No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang quickly moved to third by just the second lap.

● The first caution flag flew on lap 47 and Harvick, running third, reported the car was “tighter in (turns) three and four, better than the cars in front, but hard to pass them.”

● On the ensuing pit stop, the No. 4 crew put on right side tires, filled it with fuel and made a tire pressure adjustment.

● After three cautions in 16 laps, the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang was running fifth, and instead of pitting on lap 64 like many other teams, crew chief Rodney Childers opted to stay out and maintain track position.

● Harvick finished sixth but reported his car was “plowing”. The No. 4 crew fitted the Hunt Brothers Pizza machine with four tires, fuel and made wedge and tire pressure adjustments.  

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Harvick started 16th and finished 16th.

● Harvick drove his No. 4 Hunt Brother Pizza Ford Mustang into the top-10 by lap 119.

● Harvick had climbed to sixth on lap 139 before coming in for a green-flag pit stop on lap 149.

● The No. 4 crew put on four fresh tires, added fuel and made a tire pressure adjustment before returning to the track in 16th.

● On lap 158 while running 16th, Harvick reported the car was “vibrating like crazy, worse in the corners.”

● Pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment at the conclusion of the stage.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-269):

Harvick started 13th and finished 22nd.

● Running 12th when the caution came out on lap 180, Harvick made a scheduled, four-tire pit stop. But an uncontrolled tire penalty dropped him back to 23rd for the lap-184 restart.

● On lap 207, the No. 4 machine began experiencing a power issue which prevented Harvick from regaining any more positions.

 

Notes:

● Kurt Busch won the Kentucky 400 to score his 31st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Kentucky. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was .076 of a second.

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 35 laps.

● Only 16 of the 36 drivers in the Kentucky 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Kentucky with an 11-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Foxwoods Casino 301 on Sunday, July 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

With more than 7,800 locations in 28 states, Hunt Brothers® Pizza is the nation’s largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry. Hunt Brothers Pizza offers original and thin crust pizzas available as a grab-and-go Hunk perfect for today’s on-the-go lifestyle or as a customizable whole pizza that is an exceptional value with All Toppings No Extra Charge®. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Hunt Brothers Pizza is family owned and operated with more than 25 years of experience serving great pizza to convenience store shoppers through its store partners.

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