Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (17151)

Erik Jones is typically, cool, calm and perhaps a bit shy when facing a room full of reporters hanging on his every word. But that same composed demeanor has also served him well behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry that he drove right into Daytona International Speedway Victory Lane a year ago for his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory celebration.

Backing up that win on the notoriously challenging Daytona high banks in Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) may be a bigger challenge yet. The last person to win two consecutive Daytona July races was newly-selected NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart – coincidentally, also a former driver of the JGR No. 20  – who did it in 2005-06.

The 23-year old Jones certainly remembers his last lap, career-defining win vividly even a year later.

“I remember that whole last sequence of restarts," Jones said. “The last one, the green-white-checkered, we were stuck side-by-side with Martin (Truex Jr.) on that first lap. Then coming around to take the white, I could see the top line forming behind me and I was hoping they would stick with me and I would get a big push.

“Going down the backstretch, Martin was trying to side draft hard and we got a really big push from behind from the 37 (Chris Buescher) and got clear of Martin there and I knew at that point, the only way we were going to lose it was a catastrophic failure so I was defending the last move that Martin could make and getting to the checkered.

“Coming out of (turn) four, I would say I knew it was pretty locked in. I remember everything about those last laps for sure.”

And, he added with a smile, he also remembers the celebration that ensued.

“It was good," Jones said. “I didn’t home until three in the morning and I had to fly out and go out to Slinger (Speedway in Slinger, Wisc.) the next day for a late model race, so I don’t know if we went to sleep. But we flew up there and practiced the late model that day and finally got to celebrate that night.

“I had a lot of buddies that came over to Wisconsin from Michigan to come celebrate so that was a lot of fun."

And now, Jones could certainly use a second boost of good fortune. He’s the only member of his high-achieving JGR team without a win. Yet. His former Cup champion teammates Truex and Kyle Busch have four victories each and veteran teammate Denny Hamlin has a pair of wins too – including the season-opening Daytona 500.

Daytona has long been a source of extreme emotion for drivers. They tend to either love it or simply, tolerate it – the style of intense pack racing a test of ability, that also seems to require a stroke of good fortune.

Jones would like to think that the defending winner tag may be a source of good juju too.

“Coming back as the defending winner always feels good," Jones said. “For me, it gives you that extra little bump to keep being the defending winner and to come back and do it again."

He certainly came close in the February Daytona 500, won by his JGR teammate Hamlin. Jones finished third – his best ever showing in the race.

That gives him consecutive top-five finishes at the speedway counting his victory last July. He has three top-10s in five career starts at the big track, including a ninth place run in the 2017 summer race.

Jones comes into this weekend’s race ranked 17th in the championship standings – 15 points behind Clint Bowyer in the 16th and final Playoff position. He’s had eight top-10 finishes in the 17 races and four top-fives. He has a season-high three third-place finishes.

Even after the promising results, Jones is fighting for this Playoff entry. And absolutely upbeat and optimistic about his chances.

“I think for us, our goal is 30 points a race," Jones said. “That’s about a seventh-place finish. If we do that every week, we will easily point our way in without a win. We know we can win a race. We have a lot of good tracks coming up here.

“If we can continue to crank out that 30 points a race, guys will make mistakes, and we will keep pointing our way up there”

And he reassured, “We’ve got good cars; we just need to have things go our way. We need to execute better on our end on all fronts. Make sure we are doing all we can to get the best finish that we can."

Tickets to the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Weekend events go on sale to the public on Saturday, July 6 at 10 a.m. Tickets to Induction Ceremony events begin at $75 per person (plus tax and applicable service fees).
Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Waddell Wilson —the 11th class since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010—will be honored during the 2020 Induction Ceremony. Edsel Ford II, the sixth recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR, and the ninth recipient of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, who will be announced at a later date, will also be celebrated. The Induction Weekend events are set for Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, through Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The official Induction Ceremony will take place on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.
The Class of 2020 marks the 11th class and a total of 55 legends inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. To celebrate the momentous occasion, new events and special programs have been added throughout the extended weekend.
Beginning on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, fans who visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame are invited to welcome the class of 2020 by writing a message on the Class of 2020 welcome banners for each inductee. Fans who want to take their Induction experiences "full throttle" can purchase an Induction Insider Experience which offers exclusive access to the Class of 2020 inductees and the Induction Ceremony stage. Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, has a full lineup of Induction festivities including the NASCAR Hall of Fame Legends Brunch, where fans can dine with a Hall of Famer, Victory Lap with the Class of 2019 and the NASCAR Hall of Fame Red Carpet Event, which will take place prior to the Induction Dinner and Induction Ceremony that evening. The Friday activities will culminate with the historic Induction Ceremony honoring the five-person class:
Buddy Baker, At 6 feet, 6 inches tall, Buddy Baker was often called the “Gentle Giant,” however, the nickname “Leadfoot” was more apropos due to the blistering speeds he often achieved during his 33-year career.

Joe Gibbs, The three-time Super Bowl champion football coach, started Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992 and has led the organization to four premier series championships.

Bobby Labonte, The ultimate grinder, Bobby Labonte raced any car he could get behind the wheel of before he got his first break as a full-time premier series driver at 28 years old in 1993.

Tony Stewart, Known as "The People's Champion" for his blue-collar, hard-nosed style of competition, Stewart has proven to be a master of any type of race car he drives.

Waddell Wilson, A dual threat as an engine builder and crew chief, Wilson powered and guided cars to some of the biggest victories in NASCAR history.
The full list of 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Weekend event ticket packages is below.

Thursday, January 30
10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
High Octane Theater and Crown Ballroom 
$75 per person plus tax and applicable service fees ($60 for NASCAR Hall of Fame members)
• Access to Class of 2020 Storytelling Sessions and Additional Programming in the High Octane Theater
• Complimentary Digital Photo from the Induction Ceremony Stage
• $5 Pit Stop Café Voucher
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Admission for Thursday, January 30, 2020

Thursday, January 30 – Saturday, February 1

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Debuting on Thursday and continuing throughout Induction weekend, fans who purchase a ticket to visit the Hall are invited to write a special message to each member of the class of 2020.


Friday, January 31
9:30-10:30 a.m.
Hall of Honor 
$150 per person plus tax and applicable service fees ($125 for NASCAR Hall of Fame members)

• Seated with NASCAR Hall of Famer in the Hall of Honor **
• Brunch Buffet
• Exclusive gift from the NASCAR Hall of Fame
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Admission for Friday, January 31, 2020, which includes access to the Landmark Award Unveiling, Squier-Hall Exhibit Reveal and the NASCAR Hall of Fame Red Carpet Event

** Pending Hall of Famer availability 

Friday, January 31
Time TBD
Collections Garage 
$75 per person plus tax and applicable service fees ($60 for NASCAR Hall of Fame members)
• Class of 2019 NASCAR Hall of Famer-Led Tour through the Collections Garage **
• Pre-signed Class of 2019 Autograph Card 
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Admission for Friday, January 31, 2019, which includes access to the Landmark Award Unveiling, Squier-Hall Exhibit Reveal and the NASCAR Hall of Fame Red Carpet Experience

** Subject to change based on Inductee availability

Friday, January 31
Hall of Honor 

This event is open to anyone with a NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony ticket or general admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, January 31.

Friday, January 31
Race Week 

This event is open to anyone with a NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony ticket or general admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, January 31.

Friday, January 31
4:00-5:30 p.m.
Great Hall

This event is open to anyone with a NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner ticket, Induction Ceremony ticket or general admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, January 31.

$425 per person plus tax and applicable service fees
• Seat with NASCAR National Series Driver at Induction Dinner and Special Presentations
• Exclusive Induction Ceremony Seat
• Commemorative Dinner and Ceremony Ticket
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Yearbook
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Annual Pass

$150 per person plus tax and applicable service fees
• Exclusive Induction Ceremony Seat
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Yearbook
• Admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020
$100 per person plus tax and applicable service fees                           
• Premium Induction Ceremony Seat
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Yearbook
• Admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020
$75 plus tax and applicable service fees        
• General Induction Ceremony Seat
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Yearbook
• Admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020
Tickets for all Induction Weekend events will only be available for pick up at Will Call at the NASCAR Hall of Fame the day of the event. There is a ticket limit of six for this event.
For additional details about the Class of 2020 Induction Weekend schedule and ticket packages, visit


A new Camaro to drive, a house party to bring in the dawn and hundreds of congratulatory messages to answer on social media – including one from PGA legend Jack Nicklaus. It’s been a good week for first time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner Alex Bowman.

Smiles, a full heart and a checked box.

Bowman’s team owner, NASCAR Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick gave the Chicago race winner a helicopter ride to pick up his new Chevrolet Camaro in North Carolina earlier this week – a highlight for Bowman, who joked that the price of the helicopter hitchhike may well have been included in the cost of the new car from NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon’s dealership. But it was all worth it in one of the most special weeks of Bowman’s young career – a time of celebration and also of reassurance that Bowman can definitely win in NASCAR’s big leagues.

“It’s probably been a little different than I thought it would be," Bowman, 26, conceded of his celebratory week. “It was just a really short week and a lot of obligations that come along with it. But it’s been a lot of fun. It was fun to get home Sunday night and share it with my friends. The whole race team stopped by on their way home from the airport, so that was really cool.

“I feel like it’s a big relief and now I just want to go win a bunch more. You always have that question in the back of your head: “What if I never win a Cup race?” You start thinking about all the drivers that have driven for Hendrick Motorsports that haven’t won a Cup race in their career. I don’t know if anyone has ever done that, but it feels really good to have that off my back. Now we can focus on just winning more.”

Winning more begins immediately with Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and Bowman has reason to feel good about his chances. He finished 11th in the season-opening Daytona 500 and was runner-up at the other superspeedway in Talladega, Ala. in April.

That Talladega finish started a three-race streak of runner-up finishes, at last bettered Sunday night with a hard-earned victory over Kyle Larson in Chicago. Bowman recognizes the uptick in his driving and his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team performance. Far from swiping his spirit, the multiple near-misses only confirmed his genuine belief that he could be a winner at NASCAR’s highest level.

“You look at Talladega for us, we’ve been really strong everywhere," Bowman said. “I knocked the wall down and still finished seventh. Pocono, we lost fourth gear and still finished 15th. Sonoma, we lost power-steering and still finished in the top-15. So those were really our worst weeks.

“Other than that, we’ve been really solid everywhere. It’s been a lot of fun to just be able to be a little more consistent than we’ve been and have really fast race cars each and every week."

The result is not just Bowman’s confidence in this team and vice versa. It’s a bona fide mental shift for his competitors and for new fans – many who initially backed Bowman primarily because he took over the No. 88 formerly driven by the sport’s Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Bowman proved that in the right equipment, he can better the best. He showed that he can make the most of an opportunity. Sunday night Larson took the lead from Bowman with seven laps remaining. And instead of Bowman feeling any oh-too-familiar satisfaction in the consolation runner-up prize, instead he went back after Larson, passing him for the victory with five laps remining.

The waning laps and how they played out was symbolic of Bowman’s passion. And they confirmed to all that he wants to win – that he isn’t just grateful for this chance to race, but ready to capitalize on it.

“I just don’t want to run second anymore," Bowman said, his face sincere and his words direct.

“So I was going to crash the thing or win. It was as simple as that.”


The intensity and gamesmanship is increasing weekly with nine races remaining to set the 16-driver Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field and Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) has typically provided a dramatic summer twist in this title hunt.

Twice in the last five years – including last year with Erik Jones and 2014 with Aric Almirola – winning the summer Daytona race represented a driver’s automatic entry in the Playoffs – both times the drivers jumped over several otherwise higher ranked drivers for the Playoff berth.

A solid and safe position in the standings is obviously valued, but this season especially, “safe” is difficult to come by.

Nine positions among the championship Top-16 changed just this week as a result of last Sunday’s dramatic race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Chicago race winner Alex Bowman guaranteed his Playoff spot with a victory. But the bigger shakeup happened farther down in the standings – with all 11 positions from 12th to 22nd changing in one form or another – all potentially affecting the crucial Playoff cutoff mark.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer took the biggest tumble – falling four positions from 12th to 16th in the standings after a frustrating 37th-place finish at Chicago in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

On the upside, Jimmie Johnson’s fourth place at Chicago vaulted him three positions upward in the series driver standings. Now instead of sitting one position off the cutoff in 17th - as he was before the Chicago race - he’s now 14th and looking ahead – only 15 points behind 13th place Kyle Larson.

As with Johnson, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver Larson is still looking for his first win of the 2019 season, but his runner-up finish at Chicago was good enough to move him up two positions in the standings.

Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron, who led nine laps and ran up front for much of last week’s race, also benefitted from the effort. His eighth place at Chicago places him 12th in the championship, 27 points shy of 11th place Aric Almirola – the highest standing in the series championship the second-year driver Byron has ever achieved.

On the downside, Daniel Suarez lost two championship positions – falling from 13th to 15th following a 24th place showing at Chicago. He trails 14th place Johnson by two points but holds only a three-point cushion on 16th place Clint Bowyer.

Similarly, Ryan Newman lost two places in the standings, falling from 16th to 18th. He now trails Bowyer in the last Playoff transfer position by 20 points.



The championship situation in the NASCAR Xfinity Series continues to be an intense game of one-upmanship between three of the brightest young racing stars.

Friday night’s Circle K Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) may be a good opportunity for a new driver to celebrate in Victory Lane and earn a shot at this year’s title.

Entering the race, three drivers – Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Christopher Bell – have combined to win 11 of the season’s 15 races, including Custer’s win at Chicagoland Speedway just last week. A member of this trio has hoisted trophies in the last nine consecutive races.

But Daytona International Speedway always presents a unique challenge/opportunity. Only one time in the last decade has an Xfinity Series regular won this summer Daytona race – William Byron in his 2017 Xfinity championship season. Last year, Cup star Kyle Larson held off Xfinity title contender Elliott Sadler by a mere .005-second in the closest July race finish in history.

Ironically, Reddick’s win in February of 2018 – also over Sadler – marked the closest finish in NASCAR national series history – a photo finish .0004-second. The driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet is the only one of this year’s Triumphant Trio to have won an Xfinity race previously at Daytona. He has a pair of top-10 finishes in five starts here.

Bell, who drives the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, has two top-10 finishes in three Daytona starts and his team is undoubtedly eager to rebound from a disqualification last week at Chicago that dropped him from second to third in the title standings.

Custer, the driver of the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, has yet to earn a top-10 in five starts at Daytona. His best showing is 14th and he’s done that twice – in February, 2018 and 2019.

Five other drivers scored their best result of the season at Daytona earlier this year, including Justin Allgaier – a five-time race winner in 2018 – that is still looking for his first victory of the year. He finished runner-up this February.

Weekend Notes 

NASCAR is returning to Daytona International Speedway for the second visit of the 2019 season. Dillon and the GEICO Racing team will compete with the fan-favorite GEICO Military paint scheme that includes the iconic ‘geckoflage’ to fittingly honor America’s heroes on Fourth of July weekend.


This will be Dillon’s eighth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the historic superspeedway. He finished in the sixth position in his last two outings at Daytona. Dillon is looking to propel the team even further this Saturday when he takes to the track for 400 miles. 

Honor and Remember

Germain Racing’s hauler driver, Ben Prince, served honorably in the United States Army as a soldier in the 546 Transportation unit. The GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 will carry the names of two of his unit members that were killed in action on January 29, 2011, on the decklid this weekend at Daytona International Speedway to honor their service to our country.


SPC Shawn Muhr

SPC Joshua R. Campbell


Germain Racing is honored to have these brave men ride along with Dillon in Saturday’s race.

Germain Racing PR

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Anytime Favorites Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), returns to his home track, Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, this weekend. 


In the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, Almirola showed strength by running at the front of the field on occasion, but his day ended when he was caught in a multicar accident on lap 190 – the inevitable “big one.” 


The Tampa, Florida native has found his way to victory lane at Daytona, scoring his first career Cup Series win in the rain-shortened July 2014 race, when he led 14 laps. He tasted restrictor plate-racing success again four years later, during his first season with SHR, when he was victorious at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It put him in the 2018 Cup Series playoffs, where he advance to the semifinal round, and proved the No. 10 driver has potential to bring home another superspeedway win any time he races on one. 


Almirola will make his 16th Cup Series start at Daytona this weekend. He also has 10 starts in the Xfinity Series at the track located along Florida’s Central Coast. In fact, Almirola started on the pole in his first Xfinity Series outing in July 2007, and he captured an Xfinity Series win there while piloting the No. 98 Biagi-Den Beste Ford Mustang in July 2016. Almirola has three Daytona starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series with a best finish of 12th. 


In Cup Series competition this season, Almirola has earned nine top-10s, one top-five, one pole, and has led 100 laps in 17 races. He is currently on pace for his best season to date. At this point last year, he had only seven top-10s, no top-fives, no poles, and had led 71 laps. 


For the second time this season, a slightly new aerodynamic setup for the superspeedway races first implemented at Talladega in April will be in effect at Daytona this weekend. 


“I don’t know if we learned anything from the Talladega race that will apply to Daytona,” Almirola said. “Daytona and Talladega are really two different animals. At Talladega, handling is rarely an issue and it’s more about trimming your car out to go fast. Daytona certainly becomes a handling racetrack, especially in the heat of summer in July. You’ve got to be able to run wide open at Daytona while having great balance to make aggressive moves in the draft.”


The Mustang driver enters the Fourth of July weekend the same way he did last year, partnered for the eighth year with Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.


Almirola’s Ford Mustang this weekend will sport a fresh new look for the first time this season with Smithfield Anytime Favorites livery adorning the No. 10 car. The legendary artisan taste of Smithfield now comes in more than 20 delicious cuts and flavors – including sliced, cubes and steaks. That means perfect portions every time. Scrambled eggs can be enhanced with flavorful cubes, and diced ham makes for an ideal party appetizer, and enjoyable slices make for a traditional dinner.


Also, 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 and Instagram TV. 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.


Almirola currently sits 11th in the championship standings, 195 points out of first and five positions ahead of the cutoff for the playoffs.


Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head south to Florida for Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400, the 18th race of the season. Suárez’s racecar will be adorned with the familiar black-and-red Haas Automation livery for this year’s third superspeedway event.

Daytona is the first track the Cup Series will return to this season. NASCAR’s premiere series opened the 2019 season at the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway in February. That event marked Suárez’s first time behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang for SHR, and he finished 33rd after an accident prematurely ended his day.


Suárez is looking for a little luck after coming off a 24th-place finish in last weekend’s race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. The Ford driver worked his way up into the top-10 but contact from another competitor caused a tire to go down and forced Suárez to pit road for an unscheduled green-flag stop, which put him two laps down on the 1.5-mile oval.  


The Mexico native is looking to improve on his Daytona finishes as the superspeedway hasn’t been kind to him. Suárez has five Cup Series starts at the high-banked track and has led a total of 11 laps. The pack racing that is standard fare there has proved challenging for Suárez, with an average starting position of 22.2 and an average finishing position 30.2 to show for it. He’s been caught up in the typical superspeedway accidents more often than not in his young Cup Series career.


He has seven starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Daytona with one pole position earned in July 2015, along with three top-five and four top-10 starting spots. A speed of 180.256 mph there earned his first career Xfinity Series pole. In total, the 2016 Xfinity Series champion has an average Daytona starting position in that series of 12.9 and an average finishing position of 25.0, along with 12 laps led. Additionally, Suárez has two NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series starts at Daytona with results of ninth and 28th.


The Haas driver is currently 15th in the Cup Series standings with SHR teammate Clint Bowyer in 16th to round out the four-driver contingent. The top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the NASCAR playoffs. If Suárez captures a playoff position, it will be the first of his Cup Series career. Last year, all four SHR entries secured at least one win and a playoff spot.


SHR has three wins as an organization at Daytona – former SHR driver Kurt Busch in the 2017 Daytona 500, and team co-owner Tony Stewart in the 2009 and 2012 July races. 


Ford has 37 all-time Cup Series wins at Daytona and has captured eight victories in the last 17 events there. Ford has found most of its success in the July Daytona event, winning two of the last three and four of the last eight.


When Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Mustang leave Daytona International Speedway at the end of Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400, it’ll mark the end of an era.

From the opening of Daytona International Speedway in 1959, the track has hosted the series now known as Monster Energy Cup on the Fourth of July or that weekend.

Beginning next year, the second Cup race at Daytona, behind the season-opening Daytona 500, will be run in late August and become the final event in the 26-race regular season, giving drivers and teams one last chance to make the cut for the 10-race Playoffs, which will begin the following week at Darlington Raceway.

From 1959 through 1987, the race commonly known as the Firecracker 400 back in the day was run on July 4. 

Races typically got the green flag at 10 a.m., allowing fans a break from the July heat, and giving race teams an opportunity to do their work at the track and get in some beach time in the afternoon before heading home. (Fans also were able to flock to the beaches after the race.)

In 1988 the race moved to the Saturday of the Fourth of July weekend and ran on that day until this year, with the lone exception being in 1998, when wildfires in central Florida forced the race to be moved to October.

The summertime Daytona races have been good for the Wood Brothers team, which has five wins in the premier Daytona 500. The Woods have eight victories in July at Daytona, with the legendary David Pearson accounting for half of them. 

Pearson swept the summer races at Daytona from 1972-74 and won again in 1978, with Neil Bonnett following up with another victory in 1979. 

Buddy Baker won in 1983, and that ended up being the 19th and final Cup victory for the NASCAR Hall of Fame driver.

Leonard Wood, the long-time crew chief for the No. 21, said he was cool with the hot Daytona temperatures.
“I never minded the heat,” he said. “The drive down there wasn’t bad because I was looking forward to the race and enjoyed it so much.”
Wood said that he and fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Inman, the veteran crew chief for Richard Petty, carried on a friendly rivalry about their Daytona successes.
“Dale used to like to tell me about him being a seven-time Daytona 500 winner, but I’d tell him, ‘Yeah, but you don’t have any in July.’
“Of course they finally won one.”
Wood’s cars often were dominant in the July heat.
“In 1968, Cale Yarborough was driving our car, and we were sitting third when it rained,” Wood said. “I said I’d be happy if they called it right there, but Cale disagreed. He said there were two more spots to get, and when they restarted the race he went on to win.”
Yarborough repeated the next year. “He ran away with, and set a new race record of over 167 miles per hour,” Wood said.
Even though Wood can take the heat without breaking out in a big sweat, there were times at Daytona that the heat got to him.
“After we won the race, I had to tear down the engine,” he said. “And standing over that hot engine, sweat was running off my nose.”
But it was all worth it.
“I loved to win the race and then go over to the beach,” he said. 

Qualifying for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 is set for Friday at 5:05 p.m., and the race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on NBC.\


StarCom Racing partners with Rick Ware Racing for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, bringing the RWR Sponsor, Jacob Companies on board the #00 Camaro piloted by Landon Cassill. In keeping with the Fourth of July Spirit, All-American Jacob Companies has a brand-new paint scheme for this race and is excited to have these platforms to show their patriotism for Independence Weekend on the high banks of Daytona!

“I am excited to be able to put the Jacob Companies name on the red, white and blue Chevrolet of StarCom Racing,” comments Don Perry, president of Jacob Companies. Having been in NASCAR in various forms for the last few years, I have an admiration of what StarCom Racing has been able to achieve. I think Derrike Cope has done a great job with this team and we look forward to having our name on the #00 and seeing what Landon Cassill can do at Daytona. We have collaborated to make a great looking car and I look forward to seeing it on the track!”

Jacob Companies is a multifaceted nationwide construction firm with a focus on construction, development, management, design-build and technology services.

“We are looking forward to welcoming RWR’s sponsor, Jacob Companies, into our SCR family for the Coke Zero Sugar 400,” said Michael Kohler, SCR CEO. “Jacob Companies and our team put together an awesome patriotic paint scheme that we can’t wait to share with you on the track this Fourth of July race weekend!”

StarCom Racing PR

Daytona International Speedway will be home to over 100,000 people this Saturday, July 6, for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. NASCAR fans will be arriving from all over the country this Independence Day weekend ready to watch their favorite drivers race the two-and-a-half-mile track.

Festivities will be gearing up starting this Friday after the infamous Daytona Beach has had its fair share of tourists trickle out of town following the Fourth of July holiday. One event that fans will not want to miss out on is an exclusive Meet & Greet with six-time NASCAR winner Corey LaJoie of Go Fas Racing, sponsored by Shine Armor

This once-in-a-lifetime event will be held at Dave & Buster’s Daytona Beach, just nine minutes from the race track, on Friday, July 5, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Attendees will have an opportunity to win Shine Armor and NASCAR giveaways, take photos and get autographs from LaJoie, learn about Shine Armor products, and more. There will also be food and drink specials offered at Dave & Buster’s, located at 1507 Cornerstone Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114.

Fans can RSVP for this FREE event on Facebook:

Shine Armor PR

More than 40 years ago, Mobil 1 motor oil entered the marketplace, making it the first globally available, full-synthetic automotive motor oil. Though it was originally released to safely enhance fuel efficiency, later formulations of Mobil 1 motor oil offered outstanding wear protection over the widest range of temperatures.


Now, more than four decades later, Mobil 1 remains the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand. It has pushed forward the boundaries of automotive lubricant technology, evolving and improving to keep engines running like new, mile after mile, since 1974. From its vital role in the world of motorsports to its many scientific breakthroughs, Mobil 1 motor oil has a rich story with plenty of twists and turns.


In its 17th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series. It also provides primary sponsorships on Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick’s Mustangs at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at various Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races throughout the year. The Mobil 1 brand also serves as an associate sponsor for all four SHR drivers at all other races. Since 2011, ExxonMobil has been providing lubricant technology support to the SHR team, which helped drivers Tony Stewart and Harvick earn series championships for SHR in 2011 and 2014.


Bowyer and Harvick along with SHR teammates Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez hope to demonstrate the Mobil 1 advantage on the high banks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Saturday night in the 61st annual Coke Zero Sugar 400.


“Daytona is a challenge for everyone, not just the drivers,” said Bowyer, who will pilot the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Mustang at Daytona. “You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that Saturday night in Florida is going to be hotter than you know what. That means those engines, gears and everything are going to be stressed. We feel like we have a competitive advantage over the other teams because our Mobil 1 lubricants have been tested and proven to be the best on the track. It means better horsepower, reduced friction, and outstanding wear protection for our Mustangs. In this sport, even the tiniest advantage is a huge advantage.”


Bowyer said that technology and engineering works in his personal car as well as his racecar.

“Look, I have said several times over the last few years that Mobil 1 is more than a sponsor at SHR,” he said. “Most of the time I come into the 14 hauler, I see Mobil 1 folks testing our lubricants and doing stuff to make us better. These guys are always looking for ways to make things faster and more efficient. I see firsthand that the Mobil 1 lubricant engineering teams know engines better than anyone else in the industry. From racecars to my truck on the farm, Mobil 1 synthetic oil prolongs the life of every car better than conventional oil.”


Bowyer needs the Mobil 1 advantage as NASCAR’s playoffs draw near. Counting Daytona, only nine races remain before the 2019 playoffs begin Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Bowyer occupies the 16th and final playoff spot and is only 15 points ahead of 17th place. A win will secure a playoff position, but a good finish will certainly help, too, as Bowyer is only 68 out of 10th place.


Daytona and Bowyer have enjoyed a love-hate relationship over the years. In 27 career starts, he owns four top-five finishes and 12 top10s and has led 159 laps. He battled for victory in the Daytona 500 in February, when he restarted fifth with two laps to go. Bowyer dove to the inside on the backstretch to grab the third spot, but clipped another car. The contact sent Bowyer into a spin, collecting several cars. The No. 14 team attempted to make repairs but could not continue and he finished 20th.


“It’s time for a victory,” said Bowyer, who arrives at Daytona after finishing 37th at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois last weekend. “We ran really well in the Daytona 500 and had a chance at the end. I expect we’ll have our chances again Saturday night. We have to take advantage. We know we are a good team and certainly want to get on a roll in these upcoming races to have momentum going into the playoffs.”


In addition to Mobil 1, Bowyer’s No. 14 will carry the decals of Rush Truck Centers again this weekend in Daytona. 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 and knows that, with Bowyer’s background, he is the right guy to help get the message out.


“Mobil 1 and Rush Truck Centers are two longtime SHR partners and really important to what we are doing,” he said. “There would be nothing better than to get a win Saturday night in Daytona. That would be a helluva a fireworks show after the race.”


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