Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (17151)

It’s been an impressive few opening chapters in what should be a long history book for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).


The Kannapolis, North Carolina-based team has won 51 times in 1,188 races since its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in 2009. The organization owned by Gene Haas and three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has notched championships with Stewart in 2011 and Kevin Harvick in 2014.


SHR celebrated its first Daytona 500 victory in 2017 when Kurt Busch took the checkered flag, and each SHR driver made the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs while combining for 12 victories. SHR drivers have won at every active track on the Cup Series tour except one: Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where the series races Saturday night in the Kentucky 400.


No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang driver Clint Bowyer would like to write his name in the SHR record book by bringing home a trophy from the 1.5-mile track about 40 miles southwest of Cincinnati.


“We’d like to check that box off our list,” said Bowyer, who’s earned two of his 10 career victories at SHR. “That’s a significant accomplishment. As competitive as this series is, to have won at every track is pretty rare. That’s a testament to the quality of work done back at our shop and the drivers who’ve driven these cars over the years.”


SHR has come close several times at Kentucky posting four top-fives and 11 top-10s in 27 races. Bowyer has raced well at Kentucky but only has one top-five to show for it in eight career starts.


“Kentucky has always been hit or miss for me,” he said. “Sometimes I hit it and sometimes I miss it. I don’t know why. I’ve had really strong runs there and other times I’ve just struggled for grip. I feel like I am on pins and needles there.”


Bowyer arrives at Kentucky after finishing 34th Sunday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where he started 16th and raced among the leaders throughout the event, even leading three laps. As rain approached with just 35 laps remaining, Bowyer made a bid for the lead before leader Austin Dillon attempted to block, triggering a multicar accident.


The finish moved Bowyer to 15th in the playoff standings with just eight races remaining before the start of the 16-driver playoffs Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With the playoffs nearing, a good run is a must for Bowyer at Kentucky, and he knows the track’s biggest challenge as well as anyone.


“Kentucky is a very tricky track,” he said. “It’s very fast. It’s very unique in the sense that both ends of the track are very different. The entrance to turn three is what sticks out to me when you think of Kentucky. That turn is so deceiving, and it entices you to drive in way too deep. That’s because it’s so flat that the car wants to get really loose getting in there. All of a sudden you’ve got to really slow it down, and the exit opens up a lot into that dogleg. You carry a tremendous amount of speed through turns one and two, which is what gets you into trouble going into turn three.”


Bowyer will likely be a factor in the Bluegrass State, where his No. 14 Mustang will carry the decals of Rush Truck Centers and Haas Automation this weekend.


Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner on the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived at SHR in 2017 and has been with the organization since 2010. The Texas-based company has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states. According to Rush Truck Centers, the trucking industry is expected to need 200,000 diesel technicians over the next 10 years to keep up with maintenance demands. Rush Truck Centers wants to make NASCAR fans aware of these opportunities.


Haas Automation is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. Founded by Haas in 1983, Haas Automation manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are built in the company’s 1.1 million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.


Haas is hoping to see his company’s own logos in victory lane in Kentucky to complete the sweep for his race team of all the sport’s active tracks.


Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Valley Tech Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will attempt to beat another personal record he set in 2018 when he earned his first top-10 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta after five starts at the 1.5-mile oval, site of Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kentucky 400.


“Last year was an incredible year for Stewart-Haas as a team and a great year for me, personally,” Almirola said. “We brought a lot of speed to the track each weekend and contended for top-fives, top-10s and even wins all year, which was new for me. We started this season strong at intermediate tracks and we’re all just trying to get back to where we were. I’m looking forward to improving our 1.5-mile program this weekend at Kentucky.” 


Almirola has scored three top-10 finishes and two top-15s at 1.5-mile tracks so far this season. In addition his eighth-place finish in last year’s Cup Series race at Kentucky, he earned a sixth-place finish there in the June 2011 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race. 


For the second consecutive weekend, the Cup Series has a main event under the Saturday-night lights, which are not only overwhelming fan favorites who enjoy seeing racecars leave a trail of sparks as they navigate the track, but a challenge for teams in dealing with constant handling changes on the racecars as temperatures cool as the night wears on. In Sunday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Almirola drove the No. 10 Ford to a seventh-place finish after severe weather ended the race prematurely on lap 127 of a scheduled 160 laps. His seventh-place finish advanced him one position in the championship standings. 


Valley Tech joins SHR for the second of two races this season in hopes of riding Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang to victory lane this weekend. Valley Tech Learning partners with companies, educational institutions, and municipalities to provide always-on, on-demand interactive instruction for the most in-demand technical skills for today’s marketplace. Through a unique, highly accessible platform designed to more effectively upskill current employees and future workforce members, Valley Tech enables communities to become more competitive and serve all who aspire to learn and succeed in today’s knowledge economy.


Almirola has always valued the importance of an education, even as he worked his way toward the pinnacle of North American motorsports. While he rose through the racing ranks from the World Karting Association to open-wheel Modifieds to Late Model stock cars, he attended the University of Central Florida, where he pursued a degree in mechanical engineering. But after two years in college, Almirola earned an opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing that ultimately led him to the NASCAR Cup Series.


“My parents and grandparents instilled in me the value of an education,” he said. “In order to go racing, I had to perform in school, and that included college. I continue to use what I learned in high school and at UCF to this day. Racing is a detail industry where knowledge is power. I can’t thank all of my teachers and professors enough. Between them and my family, they gave me the tools to succeed.”


Fans can now get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel and following episodes on Facebook. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode. 


The 35-year-old Ford driver has earned one pole award, one top-five, 10 top-10s and has led 100 laps through 18 races this season. His qualifying efforts have also been strong with five front-row starts and eight top-five starts this season. 


NBC Sports heads to the Bluegrass State this weekend to present live coverage of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway this Saturday, July 13, at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. NBC Sports will super serve fans with more than 15 hours of trackside coverage this week, including Xfinity Series racing from Kentucky on Friday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Entering Saturday’s Cup Series race, Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, leads the regular season standings with 700 points and 2 wins, followed by Kyle Busch (682 points, 4 wins) and Kevin Harvick (625 points, 0 wins). They will have to contend with Brad Keselowski (613 points, 3 wins), a three-time winner at Kentucky Speedway, and Martin Truex Jr. (597 points, 4 wins), who has won the previous two 

Twenty-year-old Justin Haley and the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro for Spire Motorsports earned his first-career Cup Series victory last Sunday at Daytona. Haley was in the lead with 33 laps to go when the race was red-flagged and eventually called due to inclement weather.


Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series coverage begins Friday with first practice at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by final practice at 1:30 p.m. ET. An on-site edition of NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET leads into NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Race day coverage begins Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN with NASCAR America, live from the Peacock Pit Box on pit road at Kentucky Speedway. Countdown to Green begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, and leading into live coverage of the Quaker State 400 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following the checkered flag, NBCSN will present a one-hour post-race show at 11 p.m. ET.

Pre-race coverage on NASCAR America and Countdown to Green will include the latest edition of “Behind the Driver” featuring Ryan Blaney; a special essay on grassroots racing voiced by long-time NASCAR broadcaster Ken Squier; and a “How I Roll” segment touring the motorhome of Austin Dillon.

NBC Sports’ lead race announcer Rick Allen will call the action alongside Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte. 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton and racing legend and two-time Daytona 500 Champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. will provide commentary from a second booth.

NBC Sports’ NASCAR pre-race host Krista Voda, auto racing icon Kyle Petty, and NBC analyst and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett will host NASCAR America as well as all pre- and post-race coverage. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns and Parker Kligerman will report from pit road and the garages. lead motorsports writer Nate Ryan will contribute news reports throughout the weekend.


NBC Sports’ Xfinity Series coverage from Kentucky begins Thursday with first practice at 3 p.m. ET, followed by final practice at 6 p.m. ET, both available streaming on the NBC Sports app. Race day coverage kicks off Friday at 4 p.m. ET with qualifying, followed by Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Live Xfinity Series racing begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.


Today’s episode of the Dale Jr. Download at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN will feature retired stock-car racer “Hot Shoe” Gary Balough, who made 22 NASCAR Cup Series starts from 1979 to 1992. Race fans know Balough as the winner of at least 1,000 races throughout his career, mostly in late models on southern tracks and many in the northeast running dirt modifieds. The interview also discusses Balough’s story away from the track as a drug trafficker. Click here to watch a preview of today’s episode.

Produced on-site at Dirty Mo Media Studios in Mooresville, N.C., the Dale Jr. Download on NBCSN takes viewers couch-side for the taping of the motorsports icon’s weekly podcast, featuring unparalleled perspective, candid commentary, and insight that fans have come to expect from Dale Jr.


Tomorrow’s episode of NASCAR America Motormouths at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN will feature special guest Aric Almirola. Almirola is an American stock car racing driver currently competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 10 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing. He will join Marty Snider and Kyle Petty on the NASCAR America set as fans call in to ask their pressing questions ahead of this weekend’s race at Daytona. Motormouths Wednesdays are all about the viewers, providing regular opportunities for fans to call in to NASCAR America and speak with hosts, analysts, and a rotation of current drivers live on NBCSN.


NBC Sports and NASCAR have partnered to launch the #MyTrackMyRoots Grassroots Racing Tour – a grassroots initiative which celebrates and promotes local tracks across America that have launched the dreams and careers of NASCAR drivers and continue to cultivate a passion for racing in their local communities.

Current and former drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Gander Outdoor Truck Series will join with NBC Sports and NASCAR to spearhead a nationwide initiative to visit and promote more than 500 local tracks across the country over the next four months. Click here for more details.


Last week, NBC Sports launched the free-to-play NASCAR Pick ’Em game, where fans can win upwards of $10,000 by making the right picks for each week’s NASCAR Cup Series race.

  • For each race stage, pick the driver that will have the best finish from a group of four drivers.
  • Then, out of the entire field, pick which drivers will finish the race in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place – in exact order.

Since there were no perfect scores from last week’s race at Daytona, the jackpot now rolls over to this week’s Kentucky race, where fans can win $20,000 by making the correct selections. Click here for more info.

Following is this week’s NASCAR programming across NBC Sports:

Tues., July 9 NASCAR America Dale Jr. Download 5 p.m. NBCSN
Weds., July 10 NASCAR America Motormouths 5 p.m. NBCSN
Thurs., July 11 NASCAR Xfinity Series First Practice – Kentucky 2:30 p.m. Streaming
  NASCAR Xfinity Series Final Practice – Kentucky 6 p.m. Streaming
  NASCAR America Motorsports Hour 5 p.m. NBCSN
Fri., July 12 NASCAR Cup Series First Practice - Kentucky 11:30 a.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Final Practice - Kentucky 1:30 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying – Kentucky 4 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR America  5 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying - Kentucky 6 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Xfinity Series Countdown to Green 7 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – Kentucky 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
Sat., July 13 NASCAR America 6 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Countdown to Green 7 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Quaker State 400 – Kentucky 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
  NASCAR Cup Series Post-Race Show 11 p.m. NBCSN


The official home of the NASCAR Playoffs, NBC Sports will present the final 20 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, and select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events in 2019. NBC Sports’ NASCAR programming also includes NBCSN’s daily motorsports show NASCAR America, coverage of NASCAR’s Awards Ceremonies, the annual NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as well as original programming specials.

NBC Sports PR

For as long as anyone can remember, the State of Kentucky and Horse Racing have been synonymous – from the state’s many horse farms to the world’s most famous horse-racing track, Churchill Downs in Louisville. Several of the 13 thoroughbreds that have won the Triple Crown came through the state’s various training grounds.


Just 65 miles up Interstate 71 from Churchill Downs sits Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where horsepower of a different kind has been showcased over the years.


One of the very best competitors in the relatively short history of Kentucky Speedway happens to be Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota whose record there has proven to be not unlike the state’s most top-notch thoroughbreds. Busch is always optimistic about his chances to win at one of his best tracks statistically, and he’ll look to score a record third Kentucky win during Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at the 1.5-mile oval.


The 2015 Cup Series champion has notched multiple victories at Kentucky in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions – Cup, Xfinity, and Truck. Add his 2003 ARCA series win at Kentucky and Busch has been victorious in four racing divisions and has made quite a Kentucky home of his own in the Bluegrass State’s second-most-famous victory lane.


While Busch attempts to add yet another win to his Kentucky resume Saturday night, his primary backer M&M’S will be debuting a sweet treat for NASCAR fans – the M&M’S Glampground. The all-inclusive, branded glamping experience includes a turn-key race weekend combined with the colorful fun that only M&M’S can provide. Located in the Kentucky Speedway infield, the experience includes 30 “glamorous camping” tents for fans, along with race tickets, prerace access, and a number of activities and driver appearances, including a visit by Busch. The M&M’S Glampground came about as M&M’S was looking to give new and seasoned racing fans an exclusive experience at NASCAR races. A second M&M’S Glampground will be available for the race weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway next month. 


Busch and the No. 18 M&M’S team look forward to their return this weekend to the Kentucky oval, where he won two of the track’s first five races, including its inaugural Cup Series race in 2011 and, most recently, in July 2015. The heavily worn racing surface and quirky Kentucky layout Busch navigated to win both Cup Series races is gone, replaced three seasons ago by a newly repaved surface, along with a slight reconfiguration of turns one and two. Busch managed a fifth-place finish on the new surface in 2016, and he scored his sixth top-10 in seven Kentucky Cup Series races in 2017, along with a fourth-place finish in 2018.


In the inaugural Cup Series event at Kentucky in 2011, Busch proved his worth when he led six times for a race-high 125 laps in becoming the historic first winner in NASCAR’s top series in the state. He enters Saturday night’s race with an average Kentucky finish of 5.0 – the series’ top average finish over the first eight races there. He also leads the series in several statistical categories during that time, including his six top-five finishes and seven top-10s.


Busch’s winning history at Kentucky started way back at the ripe age of 18, when he dominated the 2003 ARCA race while competing for Hendrick Motorsports. He led a race-high 91 laps en route to the victory.


He returned the following year and found victory lane again, this time in his Xfinity Series debut. In all, Busch has three wins, eight top-fives and has led 766 laps in seven Xfinity Series starts at Kentucky. He also won the 2011 and 2014 Truck Series races to give him five top-10 finishes and 310 laps led in six starts there in that division.


While Busch has notched four Cup Series wins thus far this season, as has JGR teammate and fellow championship contender Martin Truex Jr., race fans know Busch won’t be satisfied Saturday night unless he brings back home yet another trophy.


So as the Cup Series makes a swing through the Bluegrass State Saturday night, Busch’s fans are hoping he can bring home not only his third career Kentucky victory, but his fifth win this season.


The NASCAR Throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway has become one of the most highly regarded events on the schedule. From the retro schemes honoring those who left their mark on the sport to the retro mustaches, its truthfully an all-around walk back in time. 

Corey LaJoie and Go Fas Racing (GFR) will travel back to the year of 1991 to honor 1999 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Dale Jarrett. LaJoie's GFR Ford will mimic the Nestle Crunch scheme Jarrett powered in the then Busch Grand National Series in 1991. 

The 43-time NASCAR national series winner took the blue and white scheme to Victory Lane five times during the sponsor's tenure with Jarrett, with two of those victories coming at Darlington. The scheme also made appearances in Victory Lane at Bristol, Charlotte and Rockingham. 

In conjunction with his victorious efforts at Darlington in NASCAR's second-tier series, Jarrett boasts three wins in the Cup Series at the track "Too Tough to Tame."

It's also fitting that the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee wheeled the No. 32 while driving the Crunch scheme just as LaJoie currently races the same number in NASCAR's premier division. While Jarrett only drove the number in the Xfinity Series, the North Carolina native's resume also includes a trio of Daytona 500 wins coming in 1993, 1996 and 2000.

LaJoie is proud to honor such a remarkable driver and his outstanding achievements in our sport. 

"The car looks great and I've always been a fan of Dale, so to carry this scheme around Darlington is awesome. I think we did a great job keeping the scheme as close to the original as possible while incorporating the logos into it. I can't thank Tom and TJ Keen enough for allowing us to run this design - it's one of my favorite schemes. I might even have to shave myself a mustache so I don't do the car a disservice," LaJoie joked. 

The Crunch-inspired scheme will flaunt longtime GFR partner, Keen Parts/ Whether you're looking for a complete interior for your vintage '58 Corvette or a performance accessory for your '09, they have the Corvette part you need and the expertise you want as Corvettes are their sole focus.

Join us as we venture back in time on Labor Day weekend at the 1.366-mile South Carolina track. NBCSN will carry coverage of the crown-jewel Southern 500 on Sunday, September 1 at 6:00 PM ET. 

In the bubbling cauldron that is Daytona International Speedway on race day, perhaps it’s the closely bunched pack racing that is most responsible for producing near-magical outcomes—none of which could have been more unexpected than Justin Haley’s victory on Sunday in the rain-shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400.

Haley’s win with start-up Spire Motorsports, which had only one finish better than 28th in 17 previous races, also brought balance to the karmic equation. In last year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona, Haley was demoted to 18th after dipping below the double yellow line between the racing surface and the apron to make what was ostensibly the winning pass.

In Friday night’s Xfinity race, he finished a bittersweet second to Kaulig Racing teammate Ross Chastain. But on Sunday, after rain drenched the asphalt at the World Center of Racing, Haley, at 20 years, two months and nine days, became the third-youngest winner of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, behind only 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and 2009 New Hampshire winner Joey Logano.

Haley seemed just as stunned as everyone else that he had won a Cup race in his third start in the series.

“The stars aligned, and I didn't ever think I was going to get redemption back from a few years back in Daytona… last year at Daytona when I got the Xfinity win taken away from me,” Haley said.

“To come back and get redemption in the Cup Series is pretty cool, and it makes that second‑place finish with Kaulig last Friday a lot better.”

Though Haley is the latest to get a stunning victory at Daytona, he’s hardly the first. In 2011, Bayne won the Daytona 500 in his second Cup start and never won again. David Ragan picked up his first Cup victory in July of that same year.

In 2014, Aric Almirola got the first of his two Cup triumphs at a superspeedway (Talladega, 2018), and last year, the July race at Daytona gave Erik Jones his only Cup win to date.

But if Daytona often adds unexpected winners to the NASCAR record book, the next stop on the Cup circuit—Kentucky Speedway—provides a reality check. The series has raced at Kentucky eight times. Only four different drivers have taken the checkered flag there, and all are former series champions.

Brad Keselowski has won three times at the 1.5-mile speedway, which was repaved and reconfigured in 2016. Kyle Busch and two-time defending winner Martin Truex Jr. have two victories each at the track, which tends to identify the most successful drivers in the series. It’s no coincidence that Busch, Truex and Keselowski come to Kentucky with a combined 11 wins in the first 18 races of 2019.

Those three drivers also come to Kentucky during a season that has produced the best racing in recent memory on intermediate speedways. The statistics don’t lie: green-flag passes at 1.5-mile tracks are substantially higher year-over-year, and green-flag passes for the lead are up 43.5 percent over last year.

The June 30 race at Chicagoland Speedway, for example, produced two green-flag passes for the lead in the final eight laps, as Kyle Larson swapped the top spot with race winner Alex Bowman.

Overall, through Sunday’s race at Daytona, Kyle Busch leads the series with 1,378 quality passes (defined as passes while running in the top 15). At the same point last year, Chase Elliott was tops in that category with 939. Much of the year-to-year difference is reflected in the enhanced quality of racing at intermediate tracks.

According to Joey Logano, reconfigured Kentucky, with two distinctly different sets of corners, will present a challenge to drivers as they search for clean air. This is the first time the Cup series will race at Kentucky with the higher-downforce, lower-horsepower configuration introduced this year.

“It’s just completely a different race track,” Logano said. “It doesn’t even look the same from what it used to be, and once again it’s going to be quite the different race track when you come there with this rules package. That’s where it’s really going affect us a lot on how we race each other.

“(Turns) 1 and 2 obviously is going to be pretty easy wide-open, but 3 and 4 is not going to be, and when you have cars that we have right now that, when you get in dirty air and that flat entry to Turn 3, I’d expect the track to widen out a little bit to where we’ll all be looking for air.”

The No. 18 M&M’S Toyota with NASCAR’s “Candy Man” Kyle Busch behind the wheel has found their way to Victory Lane four times this season, but this weekend fans will see the iconic No. 18 M&M’S paint scheme in an entirely new setting as an M&M’S NASCAR Euro Series Toyota Camry takes on the iconic hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Piloted by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Kyle Busch Motorsports driver, Todd Gilliland, the M&M’S NASCAR Euro Series Toyota Camry run up Lord March’s hill marks the first time that NASCAR and M&M’S – the Official Chocolate of NASCAR – have  participated in the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Making the run even more special, Gilliland’s father David drove the M&M’S car in NASCAR’s top series in 2006 and 2007.  David will also take on the famous hill this weekend, driving a Maltesers NASCAR Euro Series Toyota Camry in the same race.

Across the race weekend, race fans will also have the opportunity to trial M&M’S products in the NASCAR-designated paddock on-site at Goodwood. To follow all of the action, follow along on NASCAR’s social media channels and the M&M’S Racing Facebook page.


Germain Racing and Ty Dillon consider Daytona International Speedway as their home track, of sorts, given their well-documented success at the historic facility. The GEICO team has netted top-6 finishes in their previous two visits and looked to continue their string of impressive performances when they arrived in Daytona Beach for practice on the Fourth of July.
Dillon and company made themselves right at home on Thursday when practice got underway at the World Center of Racing. He shot up the board in both practices and had the No. 13 GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 sitting second and 10th when the respective sessions came to a close.
While Germain Racing sat armed with a fast racecar and eagerly awaited qualifying, Mother Nature intervened and caused the cancelation of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Friday. The field was set according to owner points and Dillon would roll off of the Coke Zero 400 starting grid from the 23rd position.
Heavy rain blanketed the Daytona Beach area on Saturday night as the start of the race approached, handing Mother Nature the win and leaving Dillon and his counterparts to return and do battle on Sunday afternoon.
When the green flag waved at 1:04 PM (ET) on Sunday, Dillon rolled off of the Coke Zero 400 starting grid from the 23rd position. He immediately pedaled the No. 13 GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 forward and didn't look back. Dillon was 22nd when stage 1 concluded, but was in the top-10 just a handful of laps into the second stage. Weather threatened for a large part of the race, but held off until late in the 160-lap event.
With the skies darkening and storms moving into the Daytona area, business picked up on the racetrack with drivers jockeying for position as they looked to secure their places among the leaders. Accordingly, a hard-charging Dillon wheeled around the high-banked 2.5-mile superspeedway, gathering real estate and making his way to the front of the field. When lightning brought out the red flag with just 33-laps remaining, he had the GEICO Military Camaro in fourth place.
As drivers exited their cars for the weather delay, Dillon climbed from the No. 13 entry smiling as he looked forward to returning to green flag conditions after the 30-minute lightning break. Crew chief, Matt Borland, and the Germain Racing crew conferred with Dillon upon his arrival in the team's pit stall and all agreed they had a car to win the race.
Unfortunately, rain would set-in and NASCAR would declare the race official with only 33-laps of the scheduled 160 left to contend. The GEICO Military team continued their string of success at the World Center of Racing and scored a fourth place finish. More notably, they depart Daytona with an impressive third consecutive top-10 result (6th in July, 2018 and 6th at the 2019 Daytona 500) at the famed racing facility. Dillon's effort would also account for Germain Racing's first top-5 of the season and his personal career-best NASCAR Cup Series finish.
The success that Germain Racing has experienced at Daytona International Speedway over the years is well-documented and, arguably, unrivaled in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
While Dillon and the GEICO Military team were pleased with the fourth place result, a win is what they had dwelling in their minds. Inclement weather, however, would not offer them the chance to make a run for the trophy.
"We didn't have a chance to race for the win, but this was a first top-five and best finish ever for me and I'm pretty pleased with that," Dillon said. "I'm thrilled for our Germain Racing team. It's a nice little shot in the arm for our GEICO Military team to get the second half of the season going. There has been a little bit of disappointment the last couple of weeks, so to be able to have a good finish is going to catapult us into the second half of the season, and hopefully we continue to build off that momentum. I'm proud of our effort today. Sometimes it just seems to work out."
Germain Racing will now load up their No. 13 entry and head to the Bluegrass state for race number 19 of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 will hit the track at Kentucky Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, July 12th, at 11:35 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 6:05 PM (ET).
The Quaker State 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is on Saturday, July 13th, and it will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 7:30 PM (ET). The Performance Racing Network (PRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
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After two top-10 finishes in both stages picking up valuable stage points, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sustained damage to his Fifth Third Ford in the ‘Big One’ on lap 119. Unfortunately rain moved in forcing NASCAR to make the race official causing Stenhouse to settle with a 24th-place finish at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

“We were trying to work our way back to the lead and were in the top 10,” Stenhouse said.  “We were in decent position, but obviously when the wreck starts on the front row it’s all about luck after that and we weren’t able to get our Fifth Third Ford through that wreck as good as we wanted.  I just spent a lot of time on pit road and went a couple laps down trying to fix it, so, all in all, it was a good first two stages when we were strong and felt good, but it just didn’t work out.” 

After qualifying was cancelled on Friday for weather, the two-time Xfinity champion took the green flag in the 19th position and quickly powered his way forward picking up 14 positions before all of the Ford Performance cars hit pit-road for a scheduled green flag pit-stop. On the final lap of stage one, Stenhouse jockeyed his way forward picking up four positions taking the green checkered in the second position picking up valuable stage points.

After taking four tires and fuel during the stage break, Stenhouse lined up on the outside of the front row for stage two. With the No. 22 locked on the rear bumper of the Fifth Third Ford, Stenhouse took over the lead. With the inside lane having steam, Stenhouse dropped down to block their momentum but contact was made sending the No. 17 Ford through the grass.

The Fifth Third Ford sustained minimal damage. After restarting in the 35th position, the Olive Branch, Miss. native quickly bullied his way forward picking up 28 positions in six laps. With a couple of cautions at the end of stage two, Stenhouse took the second green checkered in the eighth positon. 

Stenhouse lined up in the eighth positon for the final 60 laps. Just 12 laps into the final stage, the ‘Big One’ occurred when contact was made between the top two cars. The Fifth Third Ford suffered heavy damage but the crew worked feverishly while on the five minute clock to repair the mangled machine. As the race was about to go back green, weather moved in eventually ending the race 33 laps shy forcing Stenhouse to settle with a 24th-place finish.

Next up for Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 17 team is the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on July 13. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90. 


In an upset of practically unprecedented proportions, Justin Haley, with help from crew chief Peter Sospenzo and Mother Nature, won his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race in Sunday’s rain-delayed Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Haley, in just his third start in NASCAR’s premier division, drove a smart, patient race while positioning himself to make a run toward the front of the field as the laps wound down in the scheduled 160-lap race.
When a Lap 118 multi-car incident slowed the field and sent many of the day’s contenders to the garage area early, Haley steered his No. 77 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet Camaro clear of the carnage, launching a sequence of events that propelled the 20-year-old driver to Victory Lane at the “World Center of Racing.”
“It's absolutely a blessing,” said Haley. “It’s pretty incredible that I have so many great people around me who have given me this opportunity to come here, to this level and stage, that we are performing on. Obviously, Todd (Braun - Haley’s uncle and former NASCAR team owner) and my family have done a great job, but the Fraternal Order of Eagles has given me this opportunity with Spire Motorsports and it’s truly a blessing. I never even saw myself running a Cup race until I got a call a few months ago to do Talladega. It's just unreal and I don't know how to put it. I don't know how to feel.”
Haley started NASCAR’s traditional Fourth of July Weekend 400-miler from deep in the field, with a pre-determined strategy to log miles, stay out of harm’s way and avoid the always imminent “big one.” With veteran NASCAR top kick Peter Sospenzo calling the shots from pit road, Haley clicked off laps and eventually raced himself into position to make meaningful forward progress.
By the start of the race’s third and final stage, and with the team’s plan beginning to take shape, Haley made the most of his opportunity and when the smoke cleared from the Lap 118 free-for-all, the three-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series winner was suddenly in contention for the win.
As NASCAR gave the field the one-lap-to-go signal following the incident and the leaders headed down pit road, Sospenzo cast his lot and ordered his driver to stay on the track in hopes of outmaneuvering the competition. His plan came to fruition less than a half-lap later when lightning struck within eight miles of Daytona International Speedway, forcing NASCAR to red flag the race with Haley’s No. 77 Chevy atop the scoring pylon.
Over the next two hours and 12 minutes, Haley waited for the looming rain to settle in once and for all to seal the win or to return to his car and finish the final 33 laps.
After the extended red flag, that included a lengthy period where it looked like the weather would clear, the approaching storms rolled into Daytona Beach for good. With two of three stages complete, NASCAR declared the race official, affording Haley and Spire Motorsports owners T.J. Puchyr and Jeff Dickerson with their collective crowning achievements. 
“The stars aligned and I didn't ever think I was going to get redemption back from a few years back in Daytona, and last year when I got the Xfinity win taken away from me,” said Haley of the win and his previous outings at Daytona. “So, to come back and get redemption in the Cup Series is pretty cool and makes that second-place finish with Kaulig Racing last Friday a lot better.”
Spire Motorsports was founded in 2018 by co-owners T.J. Puchyr and Jeff Dickerson and has competed in every MENCS race this season. Haley’s win marked the team’s first checkered flag in 18 races and the first for Sospenzo since May 2003.
“It's obviously a huge, huge moment to win in the pinnacle of our sport at Daytona, no less,” commented Puchyr. “This is it, right? This is the World Center of Racing… Jeff Dickerson and I said we believe in the sport.  We believe in the platform that NASCAR provides. This is the American dream. I've been coming here sitting on that lawn since I was 10 years old, saying one day we're going to do this.
“It's not lost on me that luck was on our side today. But I'm not going to feel bad about it at all. I'm going to love it. We're just going to continue to be the Little Engine That Could and build this thing as best we can and go from here.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads for the Bluegrass State next weekend where rookie Quin Houff will return to the seat of Spire Motorsports No. 77 entry.
The Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway will be televised live on NBCSN Saturday, July 13 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 19th of 36 races on the 2019 MENCS schedule will be broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Spire Motorsports PR

Race Winner: Justin Haley of Spire Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):

Kyle Busch started second and finished 15th.

● After rain delayed the race from Saturday night until Sunday afternoon, the 400-miler finally took the green just after 1 p.m.

● The Las Vegas native passed Joey Logano for the lead on the second lap, but Logano retook the spot the next lap.

● By lap 20, Busch radioed to crew chief Adam Stevens that he was losing grip in all four tires, but mainly the rear tires. He dropped back to 11th by lap 33 and 18th by lap 40.

● Busch came to pit road for the first time on lap 37, taking fuel only and returning to the track in 15th place, where he eventually finished the stage.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):

Started 10th and finished 15th.

The Interstate Batteries Toyota driver came to pit road on lap 52 for four tires and fuel, and his over-the-wall crew also fixed a slightly bent right-front fender. Still, the team completed a fast stop and sent Busch back out in 10th to start Stage 2.

Busch dropped to 23rd shortly after the restart but quickly moved back up into the top-10.

The 2015 NASCAR champ told Stevens he needed more grip and the car was tight on the exit of the corner. He had fallen to 15th by the end of the second stage.


Stage 3 Recap (Laps 101-127):

Started 34th and finished 14th.

The Interstate Batteries Toyota driver came to pit road during the stage break on lap 102, but he overshot his pit stall and had to back up so his team could perform the pit stop. The issue forced him to start the final stage in 34th.

● Busch didn’t stay in the back of the pack very long, working his way up to eighth.

● However, as rain was approaching, the pack started getting much racier. At the front of the field, leader Austin Dillon tried to block a pass by Clint Bowyer and triggered a 17-car accident. Busch was one of those drivers collected in the melee.

● Busch came to pit road under caution three times to fix the damage, but as the race was set to go back to green, an approaching storm forced a hold for lightning in the area. While NASCAR attempted to resume racing over the next couple of hours, the rain became persistent and they were forced to call the race complete with 33 of the scheduled 160 laps remaining.


Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

“Seemed to be a typical Daytona for me. We had a pretty good Interstate Batteries Camry but got shuffled back a bit, but we were moving our way back up. Not sure what happened at the front of the field, but I really had nowhere to go. I don’t think the body was damaged too badly, but our tow was off and it was probably not got going to drive well if we ended up going back to green. Hate it for all our Interstate Batteries guys, but we’ll move on to the next one.”


Team Interstate Results:

Kyle Busch finished 14th.

● Martin Truex Jr. finished 22nd.

● Erik Jones finished 23rd.

Denny Hamlin finished 26th.


Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Quaker State 400 on Saturday night, July 13 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.


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