Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (17151)

Kurt Busch ended the night victorious at Kentucky Speedway in a spectacular finish between he and brother Kyle Busch with two circuits remaining. The older Busch brother, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, took the lead on a restart with two laps remaining in NASCAR Overtime and after bumping with brother Kyle Busch on the final lap, Kurt Busch was able to score his 31st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.

“Hell ya! Hell ya! Racing your little brother every week….I’m proud of him, I’m proud that he gave me a little bit of room on that outside,” Kurt Busch told NBCSN on the start / finish line. “He could have clobbered us against the wall and third place is probably what we would have got. But what an awesome run! We got this Monster Chevy in Victory Lane! Thank you, Kentucky!”

Kyle Busch, winner of stage two, led 72 of the 269 circuits of the evening at the 1.5-mile oval. The series veteran will leave Kentucky Speedway with 10 top five and 15 top 10 finishes through 19 races in 2019.

“Glad it was a thriller. It’s just unfortunate we were on the wrong end of the deal for everybody at M&Ms and Toyota, Interstate Batteries, all the folks that get us to where we’re at,” said Kyle Busch. “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.”

Kurt Busch, winner of stage one, sat seventh in stage two and led the field for 41 laps. The Las Vegas native goes into New Hampshire Motor Speedway, race 20 of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign, with five top five and 11 top 10 finishes.

Kurt Busch nearly found himself celebrating in victory lane last weekend at Daytona International Speedway. However, crew chief Matt McCall called Busch to pit road before storms approached the speedway to delay the event, giving the win to Justin Haley.

“We got a yellow at the end that put us back,” said Busch. “Whatever last week was, it’s this week right now and we got the trophy!”

Erik Jones sat third on the leaderboard when the checkered flag waved in his No. 20 Craftsman Toyota. Jones sat 19th in stage one and second behind teammate Kyle Busch in stage two.

Jones, a Michigan native, leaves Kentucky with five top five and nine top 10s.

Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Taking home top 10 finishes were Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, pole sitter Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher.

Logano held the lead when the caution came out for Bubba Wallace in turn two on lap 262 of 267. The caution involving the No. 43 Chevrolet blowing a tire sent the Quaker State 400 into overtime.

The driver of the No. 22 Shell / Penzoil Ford finished seventh and holds 13 top 10 finishes this season going into New Hampshire Motor Speedway next weekend.

The race saw 15 lead changes between 10 drivers and had seven yellow flags.

The next race for NASCAR’s premier series will take place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 21. The Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 will air live on NBCSN at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Editors note: Newman (No. 6) and Houff (No. 77) failed inspection and will start 35th and 36th tonight

Paul Menard and the No. 21 Quaker State Ford Mustang are set to start Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 from 14th place.

The starting line-up won’t be official until after the cars are inspected on Saturday prior to the race.
 
With a schedule like the one NASCAR is following this weekend, teams start the race with the same chassis set-up used in qualifying, so crews tend to sacrifice some speed in qualifying and focus on a set-up that will be best for the race.
 
Menard, who now has qualified 14th on five occasions this year and 10 times since he joined the Wood Brothers team last year, posted a speed of 182. 020 miles per hour in qualifying. He said afterward that he was pleased with the way the No. 21 Mustang is driving.
 
The Quaker State team had two practices to tune their car for Saturday’s 400-mile run. In the opening session, he ran 34 laps, with his fastest lap of 180.383 mph placing him 16th on the speed charts.
 
In Happy Hour he ran another 44 laps and again was 16th fastest with a best speed of 180.367 mph.
  
Eddie Wood said he felt good about his team’s prospects for Saturday night.
 
“Paul said on the radio after qualifying that the car drove good, so that’s a good sign for the race,” Wood said. “It would be nice to have a strong run in the Quaker State 400 with the Steve Kinser-themed Quaker State paint scheme on our car.”
 
The paint scheme on the Wood Brothers’ Mustang this week was selected in a fan poll and is designed in the same fashion as the one Kinser ran on his World of Outlaws sprint car in 2005 when he scored his 20th series championship.
 
The Quaker State 400 is set to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday with TV coverage on NBCSN.

WBR PR

Daniel Suarez saved the best for last in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Friday at Kentucky Speedway.

The 27-year-old driver from Monterrey, Mexico, was the last to run a qualifying lap at the 1.5-mile track, and he used the opportunity to Knock Stewart-Haas Racing teammate off the provisional pole for Saturday’s Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.)

Suarez covered the distance in 29.254 seconds (184.590 mph) to beat out Almirola (183.799 mph) for the top starting spot by .126 seconds.

“The car’s been very fast the entire day,” said Suarez, who earned his Busch Pole Award of the season and the second of his career. “We had probably the fastest car in last practice and the fastest car in qualifying, so I’m very proud of my guys, Ford Performance, Haas Automation—everyone who makes this program possible.

Suarez, the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, hasn’t won in the Cup series. Suarez would become the first Mexican driver to earn a victory in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I really want to win so bad,” Suarez said. “I haven’t been in Victory Lane for a while. The last time I was in Victory Lane was in Brazil, and it was in a go-kart race. I have been looking forward to bring a trophy home for a while.

“We have very fast cars. Now it’s up to me to make it happen (Saturday) night.”

Three-time Kentucky winner Brad Keselowski went out early, and his speed (183.443 mph) stood up for the third starting spot, as Ford drivers swept the top three spots on the grid and five of the top seven. Kurt Busch (183.355 mph) was fourth in the fastest Chevrolet, and two-time defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. (182.587 mph) qualified eighth in the quickest Toyota.

“I think that’s our best qualifying effort on a mile-and-a-half (track) this year, so that’s something to be proud of there,” Keselowski said. “I didn’t quite have the speed to get to the pole. I’d have liked to have had a later draw. I think there might have been a bit of speed there, but I don’t know if I could have got… Daniel was a tenth (of a second) and a half… I might have been able to get a half a tenth or tenth.

“All in all, a decent run for our Discount Tire Ford Mustang, and happy for (engine builder) Doug Yates and all the Ford guys to have all three of our cars up front with the Fords, but we’ll see what we have (Saturday).”

Kevin Harvick qualified fifth, followed by Daniel Hemric, Clint Bowyer and Truex. Austin Dillon was ninth, and two-time Kentucky winner Kyle Busch claimed the 10th starting spot.

Keselowski, Truex and Kyle Busch are the only former Kentucky winners in the 36-driver field. Front-row starters have won the last three Cup races at the 1.5-mile track, a good omen for Suarez and Almirola.

Martin Truex Jr. already has matched last year’s total of four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories, but the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is nevertheless concerned about his performance on qualifying days.

The statistics say he should be.

Last year, as one of the series’ so-called Big Three, Truex won four poles and posted an average qualifying position of 9.9. This season, his top efforts in time trials have produced fifth-place starts at Richmond and Daytona (July), and his average position on the starting grid is 15.6 through the first 18 races.

Truex has won the last two Kentucky races in dominating fashion, but there are new variables this season that could make the challenge of three in a row more difficult. Not only are the Cup drivers dealing with new higher-downforce, lower-horsepower competition rules, but they’ll also have to deal with the addition of traction compound to the racing surface at in Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“As we figure this package out, and as we’ve run it at all these tracks this year, I feel like things have changed so much,” Truex said on Friday at Kentucky. “Early in the year, I feel like all the guys that ran good, qualified bad. Now, guys are figuring out ways to have enough speed in qualifying to start up front and to be able to have good enough handling throughout the race to stay up there.

“That’s been a big challenge for us is, how do we get both? We’ve had good handling cars at a lot of race tracks, but not a lot of speed. We’ve been able to take advantage of good handling. I don’t know. I think that, in a perfect world, you’d want to start up front because you get a good pit stall and you don’t have to worry about traffic and getting stuck trying to fight track position throughout that first stage.

“I think guys are figuring it out for sure. That’s something that we’re consistently working on and constantly working on that we haven’t, as the 19 car, we haven’t been able to figure it out quite yet.”

Historically, qualifying has been critical at Kentucky. The last three races—and five of the eight total at the 1.5-mile track—have been won from the front row.

PAUL MENARD SWATS DOWN SPECULATON ABOUT EARLY RETIREMENT

Silly season in the NASCAR garages may be in full swing, but driver Paul Menard was totally serious when discussing his status for next year.

Recent speculation on Twitter indicated Menard, whose father, John Menard, founded the eponymous home improvement chain, might be ready to step away from the sport in the near future. But Menard made clear at Kentucky Speedway on Friday that the future isn’t now.

“I have a good job, for sure,” said Menard, who is in his second full season in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. “I love the Wood Brothers. I love my race team. They are good people.

“I have a contract for next year. I guess it’s getting to be that time of year when people start talking about things. I have a contract and I love my team. We just have to perform better, that’s all.”

The Wood Brothers share a close association with Team Penske. Menard is currently 20th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, 53 points behind Ryan Newman in 16th (the last Playoff-eligible position).

“It’s certainly not where we want to be,” Menard said. “I feel like we have definitely shown some speed in the races. It’s just a matter of putting together the entire race, something we have struggled to do. It starts on Friday, or qualifying day.

“The package that we are dealt this year, it’s really hard to pass, and track position is as important as it has ever been. And when you qualify 15th, it’s hard to make up passes and get stage points and do the things you need to do to make the playoffs. The times we have qualified in the top 10 we’ve been able to get stage points and finish in the top 10 a few times. Track position is key. That’s something we’ve been working on, for sure, but it isn’t playing out to our satisfaction—but we keep working on it.”

 

SHORT STROKES

Three-time Kentucky winner Brad Keselowski topped the speed chart in final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice with a lap at 182.303 mph. Kurt Busch was fastest in opening Cup practice at 183.742 mph. Denny Hamlin topped the opening session in 10 consecutive lap average (181.131 mph). Daniel Suarez led that category in Happy Hour (180.697 mph). Those speeds are indicative that there is not much fall-off with the durable tires Goodyear provided for Saturday’s race…

The No. 00 Ford of four-time NASCAR Xfinity Series winner Cole Custer took four attempts to pass pre-qualifying inspection on Friday at Kentucky Speedway. After the third failure, car chief Eddie D’Hondt Jr. was ejected from the track. Austin Cindric overcame an L1 penalty for illegal body modifications (assessed Thursday), which included the loss of crew chief Brian Wilson for the weekend, and won the pole for Friday night’s Alsco 300.

Blink of an Eye focuses on Michael Waltrip and his star-crossed friendship with the iconic driver, Dale Earnhardt Sr. Waltrip had the longest losing streak in NASCAR losing all 462 of his races.

On the last lap of the “Great American Race,” Waltrip held the lead with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in second and Sr in third. Instead of making his trademark, ruthless charge to the front, Earnhardt Sr. blocked the field of 40 cars to allow his friend to take his first checkered flag.

Unfortunately Waltrip never had the opportunity to celebrate with his dear friend since he was killed on that last lap in what everyone initially thought was a minor crash. Waltrip eventually returned to Daytona in a dramatic, unexpected fashion to pay homage to Earndhardt Sr. 1091 will release the film in NY and LA September 6th and Nationwide September 12th in partnership with Fathom Events.


1091 Films PR

Since the Cup Series first came into Kentucky Speedway back in 2011 is been but three drivers that have led the way throughout the years. Back in the first event Kyle Busch pulled off a win in the inaugural event.

Since Busch has gone back to victory lane once more at Kentucky back in 2015.

But its been Brad Keselowski racking up three wins in the Cup Series events for Penske Racing at the track. Winning the 2012, 2014 and 2016 editions of the event.

Meanwhile Martin Truex Jr. a new addition to the JGR stable after moving over from Furniture Row Racing who had an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing has taken home the last two years events in 2017 and 2018.

For each of these drivers they have taken home championships in the year they have won at Kentucky, Keselowski in 2012, Busch in 2015 and Truex in 2017.

Busch also for his effort has taken home six top-five finishes and seven top-10 finishes at Kentucky followed up by Keselowski with four top fives and six top 10s.

SBD makes a great point on keeping an eye on Truex Jr. this weekend: not only has he won at Sparta the last two years, but, strangely, his last four finishes outside the Top 10 were followed by a third-or-better finish in the next race. And where did he finish last week in Daytona?  22nd.

Since 2011 Keselowski is the only driver at Kentucky to win for Ford Performance and prior driving a Dodge for Penske before moving over to Ford.

The Cup Series returns to Kentucky Speedway on Saturday July 13th at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN with radio coverage from PRN and SiriusXM Radio for the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart.

Professional stock car driver Austin Theriault will make an appearance Thursday, July 18, at the Concord Bangor Savings Bank branch ahead of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Theriault and his No. 52 Bangor Savings Bank race car will be at the Bangor Savings branch at 100 Loudon Road in Concord from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to meet race fans and sign autographs. Bangor Savings is the primary sponsor for Theriault’s Cup Series entry in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at Loudon on July 21.

“The bank is excited to partner with Austin again as he races against the best in NASCAR’s top series,” said Bangor Savings Bank President and CEO Bob Montgomery-Rice. “We’re proud of Austin for achieving his dream that started in northern Maine at Spud Speedway and has brought him to the top race tracks around the country. We hope race fans young and old will stop by to wish him well before his big race.”

Theriault, a native of Fort Kent, Maine, was the 2017 ARCA Menards Series Champion, and has raced on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Truck Series, and the NASCAR Nationwide and Xfinity Series in recent years. Bangor Savings sponsored Theriault in the Nationwide Series in 2014, and last year for the Oxford 250 in Maine.

The Bangor Savings Portsmouth branch at 2400 Lafayette Road will also host a meet and greet with Theriault and his race car on July 18 from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

Bangor Saving Bank PR

Kyle Busch, the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, took home some hardware at last night’s ESPY Awards, winning Best Driver – his second win in the last four years.

Busch, who also won the award in 2016, received the most votes in the category full of elite drivers including Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton, NHRA’s Steve Torrence and IndyCar’s Scott Dixon.

With Busch’s win, NASCAR drivers have now won the award in four of the past five seasons (Martin Truex Jr. – 2018; Kyle Busch – 2016; and Kevin Harvick – 2015).

Busch won eight races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018, tying Kevin Harvick for the most in the series. He also logged 28 top 10s and 22 top fives across 36 total points races. Busch is poised for another title run in 2019 as he’s already logged four wins, 10 top fives and 15 top 10s in 18 starts this season.

In March of this year at Auto Club Speedway, Busch picked up his 200th career NASCAR national series victory, the same track where he notched his first career Monster Energy Series victory in 2005. Heading into this weekend in Kentucky for the Quaker State 400, Busch will be gunning for his 56th career win in NASCAR’s premier series.

Tune-in to NBCSN this Saturday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET to watch Busch and NASCAR’s best at Kentucky Speedway, or listen live on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

NASCAR PR

Kevin Harvick has won just about everywhere he’s raced.

 

He’s scored 106 total NASCAR victories (45 in the Cup Series, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Truck Series) and only three other drivers in NASCAR history have passed 100 wins in its top three series: Richard Petty, David Pearson and Kyle Busch.

 

Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2014, as well as the 2001 and 2006 NASCAR Xfinity titles. He’s one of only four drivers to win the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Brickyard 400 and Southern 500.

 

However he has not won at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, nor at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, site of Saturday night’s Kentucky 400. But he’s come close at Kentucky, having finished in the top-10 in six consecutive races races there, including his first top-five when he came home fifth in 2018.

 

Harvick has scored two Xfinity Series wins at the 1.5 mile oval, the first coming in 2001 and followed up 13 years later in 2014.

 

While he’s looking for his first Cup Series win at Kentucky, so is sponsor, Hunt Brothers Pizza.

Hunt Brothers Pizza has sponsored Harvick in NASCAR for 10 years and, last year, he took the company to victory lane by winning the Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 

He has also won two NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races with Hunt Brothers as a sponsor at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in 2011 and at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway earlier that season.

 

Hunt Brothers Pizza is sponsoring Harvick in three NASCAR Cup Series races in 2019 and Kentucky is the second. The company also sponsored him in the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race in 2014 and 2015, which were conducted at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Harvick finished second in both races.

 

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.

 

Harvick, Hunt Brothers Pizza and the rest of the No. 4 team are hoping they can “cook up” a victory this week.

 

TSC PR

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