Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16849)

For the second time this season Regan Smith set a career Sprint Cup mark. The latest was an all-time best qualifying performance of third, which he achieved Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway during time trials for Sunday's Jeff Byrd 500.
His other career performance came last month in the Daytona 500 when he posted an all-time best finish of seventh. And for the second time in the first four races of 2011, Smith recorded the fastest qualified speed for a Chevrolet driver.
"We've been quick everywhere we've gone this year, we just haven't had very good luck," stated Smith in a post-event news conference. "We had a motor issue last week (in Las Vegas) and then the Phoenix wreck with all the cars on the back straightaway. Obviously we want to have a good finish -- that is definitely the first priority."
Smith's No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet covered Bristol's .533-mile oval in 15.040 seconds at 127.580 miles per hour. He was a few ticks shy of Carl Edwards' pole-winning numbers of 14.989 at 128.014.
"It was a good lap," said the 27-year-old Smith. "We weren't quite that good in practice -- the guys made some good adjustments. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do - just a little tight out there. I figured with Carl (Edwards) and Greg (Biffle) going out at the end, we were probably in trouble (for the pole), but it was still a good lap and we will definitely take it for the Furniture Row Chevy."

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City
Sunday, March 20, 2011

1 99 Carl Edwards Ford Scotts EZ Seed 128.014 14.989
2 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 127.622 15.035
3 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 127.58 15.04
4 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet CertainTeed / Menards 127.537 15.045
5 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 127.453 15.055
6 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 127.419 15.059
7 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Pepsi Max 127.275 15.076
8 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 127.039 15.104
9 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet 127.006 15.108
10 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 126.947 15.115
11 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal Black 126.896 15.121
12 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 126.88 15.123
13 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 126.829 15.129
14 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 126.812 15.131
15 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 126.654 15.15
16 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bush's Baked Beans 126.637 15.152
17 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 126.478 15.171
18 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 126.478 15.171
19 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft 126.453 15.174
20 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 126.395 15.181
21 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Tornados 126.395 15.181
22 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 126.312 15.191
23 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 126.112 15.215
24 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 126.104 15.216
25 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 126.079 15.219
26 0 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 126.005 15.228
27 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 125.963 15.233
28 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Best Buy 125.765 15.257
29 34 David Gilliland Ford TMone / Taco Bell 125.757 15.258
30 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 125.609 15.276
31 9 Bill Elliott Chevrolet Security Bene 125.207 15.325
32 60 Landon Cassill Toyota Big Red 125.117 15.336
33 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Speed Energy / Food City 124.832 15.371
34 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 124.484 15.414
35 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 124.307 15.436
36 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 124.299 15.437
37 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Accell Construction 124.098 15.462
38 46 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Red Line Oil 124.01 15.473
39 66 Michael McDowell Toyota HP Racing LLC 123.993 15.475
40 192 Dennis Setzer Dodge K-Automotive Motorsports 123.277 15.565
41 37 Tony Raines Ford Front Row Motorsports 122.874 15.616
42 71 Andy Lally+* Chevrolet Super Eco-Fuel Saver 120.915 15.869
43 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 122.921 15.61
Did Not Qualify
44 32 Ken Schrader Ford VA Mortgage Center 122.529 15.66

Carl Edwards claimed the pole for Sunday’s Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City after a blistering lap around the World’s Fastest Half-Mile on Friday afternoon.

Edwards earned the Ford Fan Friday pole position after a lap of 14.989 sec., just .081 sec. slower than Ryan Newman’s track record, set in March 2003. Teammate Greg Biffle landed on the outside of the front row.

“We’ve got to keep this thing rolling,” the driver of the Scotts EZ Seed Ford said. “This is fun. The cars have just been great. For me and Greg to be up there sitting on the front row, I mean Greg motivated me. I didn’t think anybody was gonna be able to go that fast.

“I thought that the track had slowed down a lot more than that, so I was out there driving my heart out. I had my volume turned down too far, so I couldn’t hear Bob the first lap. I thought, ‘Man, we must not be fast. He hasn’t said anything.’ I don’t know what the times were exactly, but my second lap was petrifying. I was driving for all I could, but this is fun.

It was Edwards’ second pole at BMS, his first coming in August of 2008. In that race, he went on to win his second Sprint Cup event at the half-mile oval.

Biffle was proud of his lap, but knew one little slip up would have landed him much further down the running order.

“It was so close…just putting the gas down a second earlier or letting off the brake and let it roll, the cars are so tight on time that you don’t want to make a mistake because a small mistake puts you 15th. A tiny bit of a mistake puts you second, so it was a really good lap. The guys did a great job getting the cars ready and our cars are just running so good. I wish I had us a tick more, but I get to start on the front row still.”

Regan Smith earned his best career starting position, qualifying third, while Paul Menard finished fourth and David Ragan qualified fifth. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr, Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne completed the top 10.

Sprint Cup points leader Tony Stewart will start 13th, while Kurt Busch, who is second in the points, will start 20th. Knoxville native Trevor Bayne, who opened the season with a win at Daytona, will start 19th.

After tire issues during practice on Friday, Goodyear and NASCAR officials determined to switch compounds for racing action on both Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s a Scotts weekend here and it’s cool to have the Scotts car on the pole right now,” Edwards continued. That was not a perfect lap… I was driving hard. My hands are still a little shaky right there from that one.”

Bristol Motor Speedway PR

Carl Edwards covered the .533-mile oval of “Thunder Road” at Bristol in 14.989 seconds (128.014 mph) to score Roush Fenway’s third consecutive pole in 2011 and Edwards’ second pole in four races.

“It’s unreal,” said Edwards. “I sure hope it keeps going. This is a lot of fun. The guys at the shop have done a great job on this Scotts EZ Seed Ford Fusion. Greg (Biffle) motivated me, as I didn’t think he would get that fast of a lap. I could not hear (crew chief) Bob (Osborne) on the radio so I thought I must be slow on the first lap and I drove my guts out on the second lap. Finally I saw the board. Just really happy, this is really cool.”

Edwards will be joined on the front row by teammate Greg Biffle to give the field an all Roush Fenway front row for Sunday’s Jeff Byrd 500 on Sunday.

David Ragan gives Roush Fenway three cars in the top five, after qualifying fifth in the session. Matt Kenseth will start 11th based on his qualifying effort.

The pole is Roush Fenway’s 10th in Bristol Sprint Cup action at Bristol and its 15th overall at BMS.


Ford Racing PR

When you live in an area with a high concentration of NASCAR fans, and you are curious by nature about the opinions of others, the end result is that you tend to become somewhat of a habitual eavesdropper. (In my own defense, I have to point out that those tables at Starbucks are awfully close together.)

People admit how they really feel when they think no one else is listening, and I have picked up some pretty salient observations over the years, ranging from the ‘real story’ about Lindsay Lohan and the necklace to which bridal hopeful “The Bachelor” Brad Womack should have proposed to after getting to know them in a meaningful way for a whopping six weeks.

Granted, these don’t qualify as the deepest of philosophical discussions, so this next piece of purloined dialogue stood out a bit.
Person 1: “Things are so bad in the world right now that I don’t even feel right about watching the race this weekend.”
Person 2: “Seriously? It’s Bristol!”

I don’t know how you feel about it, but to my way of thinking, this is an argument in which both sides are absolutely right.
The 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on March 11 was one of the largest ever recorded, killing thousands of people and sweeping away everything in its path. News footage of the ensuing tsunami created by the earthquake is simply terrifying. The devastation and the many years of cleanup required to recover from these disasters is unimaginable.

Then came the threat of a very real, and potentially very deadly, nuclear incident.

‘March Madness’ is a phrase that has become part of the American vernacular. We use it in reference to the post-season NCAA basketball tournament, and if you ask me, it can certainly apply to the race weekend at Bristol, which is like a NASCAR smoothie, where you toss a bunch of ingredients into a blender, crank it up, and see what happens. (That result is usually anything but smooth, by the way.)

But the madness in Japan in March 2011 is much grimmer. No matter how many times we watch the TV footage, or see the images on the Internet or in the newspaper, it’s nearly impossible to grasp how horrific these events have been for those who have experienced them.

The so-called ‘hot topics’ we have focused on lately become so pale in comparison they all but disappear. When faced with big-picture reality, does it really matter who wore the tackiest dress to the Academy Awards, or whether the new “American Idol” judges can ever replace Simon Cowell in the hearts of America?

Nope. Those issues and others like them are insignificant dots in the global picture, but that doesn’t make it wrong for us to be interested by them. Truth be told, they are a welcome distraction.

One of NASCAR Nation’s very finest attributes is that it cares. It cares about stock car racing fans, and it cares about the drivers who entertain us each week.
It also cares about others. On March 15, the General Motors Foundation – GM, of course, is NASCAR’s reigning championship auto manufacturer -- approved an immediate $500,000 contribution to the American Red Cross relief fund to help Japan.
Additionally, the American Red Cross (ARC) has announced an initial contribution of $10 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society to assist in its ongoing efforts to provide medical care and relief assistance to the people of Japan. The American Red Cross has a long-standing relationship with NASCAR. The NASCAR Foundation’s annual blood drive, held in conjunction with the ARC, mobilizes tracks, drivers, teams and sponsors to help meet the ongoing need for blood donations, and driver Greg Biffle has served as one of the ARC’s primary spokesmen.
You have probably heard this before, but it is a fact that the film industry was affected by World War II, in an unexpected manner; movie theater attendance rose dramatically. In the midst of worry, violence and suffering, people sought some means of escape, some small way to take their minds off their very big problems.

They found that avenue of escape in movie theaters. We can find it on the racetrack. Even Mary Poppins knew that a spoonful of sugar can’t cure what ails us, but it does help that bitter medicine go down, setting us firmly on the road to recovery.

So go ahead and pore over your NCAA tournament brackets, shake your head in bewilderment at Charlie Sheen, and by all means, tune in to the NASCAR races, at Bristol and everywhere else on the schedule. Temporary escapism into something so familiar and so much fun, far from being a guilty pleasure, is sometimes an absolute necessity.

Guest Column By: Cathy Elliott

Thunder Valley is about to get its first taste of SPEED Energy when the No. 7 Dodge Charger R/T of Robby Gordon Motorsports rolls into town.  After a week off of NASCAR competition, Robby Gordon is ready to get back in the driver’s seat and take on the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

This weekend the No. 7 will be black with orange SPEED Energy logos and will be carrying new partner, Food City, on the quarter panels.  For the first time in nineteen years, Food City will make a one-time name change in honor of Jeff Byrd.  Byrd, who passed away this past October, was the President and General Manager of Bristol Motor Speedway for fifteen years.  The Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City will commence at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 20th.

“I am really looking forward to our first half-mile race this weekend. We had a decent run last spring, so I am looking forward to returning with the SPEED Energy Dodge Charger R/T and new partner, Food City,” says Gordon.

Since making his first start at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1997, Gordon has logged more than 8,500 laps around the half-mile track during his Sprint Cup career.  Gordon’s best start at Bristol Motor Speedway came in 2002 when he qualified on the outside pole for the spring race.  Gordon’s best finish at the track came during the summer of 2006 when Gordon took his car to a 12th-place finish.

Appearances – Be sure to stop by the SPEED Energy sampling display on Friday, March 18th during the Food City Fan Night at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Robby Gordon will be signing autographs at the display from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  No tickets or wristbands are required.  SPEED Energy can be found at Food City stores in the greater Bristol area and will soon be available in all Food City locations.  For a list of stores, please visit

Robby Gordon PR

If there is any doubt that four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon is more than ready to launch an all-out assault on the 2011 title, his song of choice for Sunday’s Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City driver introductions should erase any uncertainty.

Gordon, who has 83 Sprint Cup victories, including this year’s win at Phoenix, will make his Bristol Motor Speedway entrance to Tom Petty’s defiant “I Won’t Back Down.” A year ago, Brad Keselowski, who ended up winning the 2010 Nationwide title, selected that same song.

Meanwhile, Carl Edwards is going in a completely different direction, choosing to hear the theme song from the TV sitcom Cheers “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” as he makes his entrance. Dukes of Hazzard aficionado Ryan Newman so admires Bo and Luke Duke that he has chosen to will walk out to Waylon Jennings’ “Good Ol’ Boys.

Keeping with theme songs, Clint Bowyer is channeling the other Clint, as in Eastwood, with the theme music from “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

Matt Kenseth, an avid fan of hard rock, has selected “Nightmare” by Avenged Sevenhold as his introductory song, while Ragan Smith is also going with that group, choosing “Welcome To The Family.” Marcos Ambrose is going with Metallica’s “Fuel.”

David Ragan, known for being a rather laid-back kind of driver, has seemingly issued a warning of just what his on-track attitude might be this weekend with his selection of Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Teammate Greg Biffle is feeling pretty good about his chances in the Jeff Byrd 500, deciding to go with “Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night,” by Black Eyed Peas.

David Reutimann is keeping it light with “Pretty Fly For A White Guy” by The Offpring, while young Joey Logano wants to be introduced to “Opposite of Adults” by Chiddy Bang. A Hank Williams Jr. selection is Kasey Kahne’s choice, as he wants to hear “A Country Boy Can Survive” as he walks to the microphone and Martin Truex Jr. is sticking with the country theme by choosing Eric Church’s “Homeboy.” Not surprisingly, Bobby Labonte, a native of the Lone Star State, will stroll out to “God Bless Texas” by Little Texas.

Kevin Harvick, driving his black ride at BMS for the first time, is going with AC/DC’s “Back In Black,” while teammates Jeff Burton and Paul Menard are definitely thinking about the Bristol track surface as Burton will be introduced to Guns N’ Rose’s “Welcome To The Jungle” and Menard will walk out to “Concrete Jungle” by Black Label Society.

Saliva’s rousing rendition of  “Ladies and Gentleman,” made famous by World Wrestling Entertainment, will be played for Juan Pablo Montoya and Kurt Busch wants to hear “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood.

“Burn It To The Ground” by Nickelback will be played as Jamie McMurray makes his entrance, while Denny Hamlin is sticking with last August’s music, “Shipping Up To Boston,” by Dropkick Murphys, as is Tony Stewart with Kid Rock’s “Bawataba” and Kyle Busch with his own song, “Rowdy Busch” by 2012 featuring Raytona500.

Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers are selecting each other’s songs and have chosen to keep them a secret until they are introduced. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin also are being tight-lipped about their choices.

Fans at BMS can hear all the songs during driver introductions, which begin at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Bristol Motor Speedway PR

Two of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing’s most popular drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick, will appear in the Martinsville Speedway Fan Zone sponsored by AMP Energy before the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 on April 3.

Earnhardt Jr. and Harvick will appear separately. Personalities from the Motor Racing Network will lead both drivers in separate question-and-answer sessions.

Admission to the Martinsville Speedway Fan Zone sponsored by AMP Energy is $99 and includes pastries, juice and coffee for breakfast, lunch buffet, four coupons per person for AMP Energy and Pepsi products or beer (21 and older) and Pre-Race Track Pass.

The Pre-Race Track Pass allows fans to stroll on the track along the front stretch from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

The $99 price does not include a ticket to the Goody’s Fast Relief 500.

The Martinsville Speedway Fan Zone sponsored by AMP Energy will open at 8 a.m. on April 3.

The pastries will be served at 8 a.m. with the lunch buffet beginning at 10:30 am.

Martinsville Speedway PR

Kevin Harvick is accustomed to racing at high speeds in full-bodied stock cars, wheel-to-wheel with some of the greatest drivers in the world. But he was right at home Wednesday in a go-kart, at twenty-something miles an hour with a lot of folks better at weaving a story than driving.

“It’s just something I love to do. Coming out here today, it’s just a lot of fun,” said Harvick.

Harvick was the headliner for a Martinsville Speedway media event at Dan River Grand Prix in Danville. His opponents for most of the day were members of the media, even though at the end of the day he got a real test from three Dan River Grand Prix regulars and Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell.

It was an opportunity for the media to gather information for the upcoming Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, while having a little fun with Harvick.

Harvick is no novice when it comes to go-karts. He has a paved go-kart oval in his backyard and apparently spends a lot of time there.

“We do have rules at our track, but not very many,” Harvick said. “It’s really just for fun, but in the winter there is nothing you can do in the gym that takes care of your neck (for racing) other than the go-kart. The go-kart helps with that.

“And for the most part it’s just about getting your mind off things for a half of a day or a whole day and you get to hang out with your friends and neighbors and have fun.”

After going head-to-head with the media, Harvick closed the day with a match race against Campbell, an accomplished racer, and three Dan River Grand Prix regulars. It was a hotly contested 10 laps, with Harvick giving up the lead on the last lap on the road course. He wound up second and Campbell third. And despite his third-place finish, Campbell recorded the quickest lap of the day, a tenth of a second faster than Harvick.

Harvick hopes his strong runs on Wednesday are an omen of things to come at Martinsville in a couple of weeks.

“We’ve run well at Martinsville a lot, but you wouldn’t know it by a lot of our stats,” said Harvick, who has a Nationwide Series and a Camping World Truck Series win at Martinsville but not a Sprint Cup victory.

“Last year we ran well at Martinsville and led laps and did the things we needed to do. Hopefully we can do the same thing this year. We just have to keep doing the same things we’ve been doing and putting ourselves in that good position and eventually we’ll get the win.”

Martinsville Speedway PR

Fresh off a strong performance at Las Vegas followed by an off weekend, Roush Fenway Racing rolls into Bristol Motor Speedway looking for its 18th win in NASCAR competition.

As the series hits the .533-mile track, described by some drivers as the equivalent of ‘jet fighters, racing around a football stadium,’ team owner Jack Roush can take a moment to reflect on his long history at the facility.

“I went to Bristol for the first time (with NASCAR) in 1988,” said Roush. “But I had had a great deal of success there and won on the drag strip at Bristol with the Fastbacks years before that.

“Bristol has always been a place that had two complexes,” added Roush, who’s NASCAR teams have made 240 starts at the half-mile oval track. “It had a drag strip up in between the hills and it had an oval track.

“I’ve had the chance to race on both of them and whenever I go to Bristol, it ties my drag racing in with my stock car racing. I have fond memories of the drag racing that preceded the stock car racing and I have found memories of the stock car racing as well.”

Just as with the drag racing, success on the oval at Bristol would soon follow.

“Mark Martin was so enthused when he had a chance to go to Bristol,” recalled Roush. “It was fast and high-banked and he was able to get in the gas and not worry about a lot of finesse and it was one of his favorite places. He had a good feel for it and a great enthusiasm and eventually we realized the kind of success on the oval track that I had on the drag strip before that.”

Roush Fenway finished second in its first NASCAR Cup start at Bristol in the spring of 1988. Martin and Roush won at Bristol from the pole in the fall of 1993 and opened the floodgate for the organization’s unparalleled amount of success at the track.

All in all Roush Fenway has won at Bristol in all three of NASCAR’s major series for a total of 17 victories (including 10 in the Sprint Cup Series), with the victories spread out over six drivers. In the Cup series Roush Fenway swept the track in 2003 and put a Cup car into victory lane in eight of the last nine seasons.


Roush Fenway Racing PR

In a recent interview Furniture Row Racing driver Regan Smith kept on repeating the word "rebound". As a huge Syracuse Orange fan, one would assume that Smith was talking college basketball and the opening-round games of the NCAA tournament.

But for how much Smith would love to see his Orange advance in the tournament, his full focus is on Sunday's Jeff Byrd 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. And his multi mentions of "rebound" were a reference to what his Furniture Row team needs to do after suffering unforced problems in the previous two Cup races at Phoenix (collected in an accident) and Las Vegas (engine failure).

"I keep telling myself that things can turn just as quickly for the good as they can for the bad," said Smith. "We were on a high after finishing seventh at Daytona and felt that what we've worked so hard for was paying dividends. But an accident and engine malfunction in Phoenix and Las Vegas kicked us to the curb. Yes, we need to rebound sooner rather than later. And a good result in our Chevrolet at Bristol will quickly get us back to where we want to be."

Smith and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team know that tackling the world's fastest and toughest half-mile track will not be an easy task.

"We've been working hard to improve our short track program and there's no better place to put our efforts to a test than Bristol Motor Speedway," explained Smith. "It's a great, but challenging facility -- a venue that I will always have fond memories for since Bristol is the place where I made my first career Sprint Cup start (March 2007)."

Smith added, "The Jeff Byrd 500 is a classic race named after a classy person. Mr. Byrd was the key force in making the Bristol race one of the best on the circuit."

The 27-year-old Smith, who grew up in central New York (near Syracuse), is also fully aware of the pitfalls of a Bristol race.

"You need to respect Bristol," noted Smith, whose best finish at short track was 14th in August 2008. "If you step out of line, this track will step up and put you out of the race in an instant. We can't afford any more of those problems. We would like to have our finish be comparable to our performance, which wasn't the case in either Phoenix or Las Vegas. Our Furniture Row Chevrolets were really good at those two races, but we didn't have much to show in terms of final results."

And regarding the NCAA basketball tourney, Smith will be glued to his television Friday night cheering on Syracuse against Indiana State.

"Obviously I like Syracuse in this game, but the early rounds are not much different than racing at Bristol -- you just never know how it will all shake out," stated Smith.


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