Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16875)

Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Dutch Boy Mustang have earned the 16th starting spot for Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Menard, who was 19th fastest in Friday’s opening practice with a best lap at 175.816 and 24th in Happy Hour with a lap at 175.638 mph, upped his speed to 176.217 mph in qualifying.
 
 In a media session at Kansas prior to qualifying, Menard offered his insights on Saturday’s race.
 
“I think tomorrow night you will see that there are a couple cars that kind of stood out that could potentially get away from the pack, but outside of that it is going to be double-file and three or four-wide on restarts and then it will start to single out,” he said. “Tires will come into play. We put new tires on and it handled way better than it did with 30-lap tires. It is all part of the deal.”
 
He said he was surprised to see cars up against the outside wall early in the race weekend.
 
“We are wide-open around the bottom, and you could go wide-open there and wide-open around the top but the top came in pretty good,” Menard said. “It keeps momentum up. In the past you could run about three or four laps on the bottom and then stick it to the wall. I think you will have more options but I think the top will still be preferred.”
 
But he said that with this year’s higher downforce/lower horsepower package, it’s hard to say exactly how Saturday’s 400-miler will play out.

“Our notes from last year at Kansas and years past - we have been racing here a long time - the track has certain trends and usually frees up when the sun goes down,” he said. “With this package, we don't know what it is going to do. It could free up or maybe the package lends itself to be tighter, we just don't know. I guess what we learned [in practice] is that we don't know.”
  
Menard and the Menards/Dutch Boy team will find out how the package plays out when the green flag drops at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. FOX Sports 1 will carry the TV broadcast.

WBR PR

It was one of those incidents that unfolds almost in slow motion.

During Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice for Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the rear of Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet stepped out as Larson ran near the outside wall through Turns 1 and 2.

The car slid sideways and angled back down toward the infield. Martin Truex Jr., winner of last Monday’s rain-delayed race at Dover, was the third car in line behind Larson, and he could see it coming.

“That was one of those ‘oh-you-know-what’ moments,” Truex said. “I saw him out of the corner of my eye as we were almost-but-not-quite side by side. I could see him get loose up at the top, and I’m staying wide open, and I could see he’s coming down the track pointing at me.

“He’s coming down the track, and I’m staying wide open, wide open, wide open. And he keeps coming down, coming down, coming down. And I’m like, ‘Oh, man, make a decision here—hold it wide open or try to slow it down.’

“At the last second, I just tried to step on the brakes, because he was obviously coming down on my right front. Luckily, he got it straight—kind of—just in time, and I kind of got backed out of there just in time. And I think we actually touched—barely. About that hard (Truex tapped the dais in the media center lightly). So we got pretty lucky there, for sure.”

Truex needed some luck. He and his Joe Gibbs Racing team struggled during practice to find the right balance on the No. 19 Toyota.

“We had a bit of a rough day today,” said Truex, who was 21st fastest in Happy Hour. “But we’re excited about racing here in Kansas. It’s been good to us. So hopefully we can get it dialed in, get a few things figured out this afternoon and tonight and have a good run (Saturday) evening.”

 

“AMBASSADOR” PROGRAM TAKES JENNIFER JO COBB TO RUSSIA

It started with an e-mail.

At first, NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Jennifer Jo Cobb thought the note was one of those scam-artist come-ons promising millions from a long-lost foreign bank account.

But she did some checking, and the invitation to serve as a United States “ambassador” to another country turned out to be real.

Cobb has already been to Georgia—not the state known for its peaches, but the country south of Russia. This year, she’ll take her gift of gab on three separate trips to Russia itself, first to Moscow and surrounding cities after the Truck race at Charlotte, then later to St. Petersburg in July and finally back to Moscow in September—all during breaks in her racing schedule.

“They want me to come talk about my racing career,” Cobb said on Friday at Kansas Speedway. “They want me to come talk about overcoming obstacles. They want me to come talk about science, technology, engineering, math, and how it relates to what I do.

“I’m not a natural STEM person. In school I did not excel in those areas. I excelled in talking and writing and socializing. But I’ve had to learn to figure out things like that, because I work on my own race cars, and I want them to go faster.”

Cobb will use a translator when she gives her talks in Russia, but she has been preparing for the trip by learning a few basic Russian phrases and reading spy novels.

“I’m a little scared,” she acknowledged. “I’m reading stupid Russian spy books right now to try to just get a feel for culture, and I need to stop. It’s scaring me.”

In reality, Cobb expects her trips to Russia to be as fascinating and rewarding as her trip to Georgia was.

“It’s amazing as an American to go to other countries and get that perspective,” she said. “I just think everyone who—I’m just going to say it—bitches and moans and complains, needs to go to another country that struggles and see how lucky we are to be American, to be born here.”

 

ARE CHASE ELLIOTT, ALEX BOWMAN THE CLASS OF THE CHEVY CAMP?

Without tremendous fanfare, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman have risen to the top of the Chevrolet pecking order in recent weeks.

Elliott won his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season on April 28 at Talladega Superspeedway. Bowman finished second. Elliott won the pole for Monday’s rain-delayed race at Dover and ran fifth. Bowman finished second.

And in final practice on Friday at Kansas Speedway, Bowman was second and Elliott sixth behind Kurt Busch, who has been solid all season long in his Hendrick-powered No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

In fact, Elliott has accounted for the last four Chevrolet victories in NASCAR’s premier series—three last year to go with the Talladega win. But Elliott doesn’t feel as if he’s carrying the load for the car maker.

“It’s nice to have wins, obviously,” Elliott said. “I think, as a manufacturer, the more that we all run better, we’re all going to help each other, much like Alex’s good runs the past couple weeks. They’re good for the company as well.

“Just like I think Chevrolet having good runs is good for the manufacturer. I don’t necessarily think we’re carrying it. Any of the Chevrolets could have won Talladega, and that wouldn’t even be a relevant question. It’s nice to have won some races but, no, I think that narrative could have changed pretty easily a couple of weeks ago to somebody else.”

Kurt Busch set the fastest lap in the final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice session at Kansas Speedway on Friday afternoon as drivers prepared for Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

It was a big statement for the veteran who is winless in 26 previous starts at the 1.5-mile track in America’s Heartland – the longest streak in the series. But Friday’s fast work is exactly the kind of effort Busch has turned in all year, his first season driving the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet.

The 40-year old smiles about his “one-year contract” with Ganassi and has been open-minded and candidly optimistic about a return in 2020 if he fares well all season.

He’s had seven top-10s in the opening 11 races of the season, including a runner-up showing at Bristol, Tenn. and a third place effort at the Atlanta 1.5-miler. It’s the best season start in four years - since he started the 2016 season with nine top-10s.

And Busch has certainly had a promising start to his Kansas weekend. Even so, the 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion likes that his car is fast but reminded everyone that no one knows exactly what to expect in Saturday night’s race.

“Right now, a lot of people are kinda bouncing all around in their set-ups and that’s why there’s a lot of action,’’ Busch said.

His Chevy camp comes to Kansas with reason to feel optimistic. Chase Elliott earned the make its first trophy of the season at Talladega two weeks ago, leading a 1-2-3 sweep atop the results. And so far this weekend at Kansas, the bowtie brigade has been fast.

Busch led final practice with Chevy’s Alex Bowman – who has finished runner-up the previous two races – second quickest. Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates Elliott (sixth), three-time Kansas winner Jimmie Johnson (10th) and second-year driver William Byron (11th) were also fast in that last practice.

“The package here this weekend has been intense, it’s been fun, it’s a challenge already with the way practice has been shaken up,’’ Busch said. “Out there by yourself you’re wide open, and it almost gives you an indication your car is handling too good.

“Then you jump into the draft and you’re out there in a pack drafting like you’re at Talladega and the car is all over the place, pushing, loose, sliding all around. It’s a big challenge.”

Although he has not hoisted a Cup trophy in Kansas yet, Busch has shown reason to be optimistic. He finished runner-up in the 2013 and 2017 Fall races here. He won the pole position and led a race best 152 laps in the 2011, Spring race only to finish ninth.

Busch has two top-10s in the last three races at the track, however.

With so many unknowns, a veteran like Busch appears ready and poised to seize the opportunity that Kansas presents.

“There’s the Talladega and Daytona effect that’s happened on the mile-and-a -halves because we are wide open,’’ said Busch, the 2017 Daytona 500 winner.

“The handling comes into play but what happens is that it’s more like a light switch and that’s where the good teams will learn how to take off the sharpness and edginess the cars have and that way you’ll race better in the pack, race better in the draft.’’

Only two active drivers have won more than two-time winner Joey Logano at this week’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stop, Kansas Speedway.

Yet for all his success at the track, Logano conceded Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) remains a huge unknown throughout the garage. For starters, the Kansas City venue has been unusually chilly for this time of year – day time temperatures hovering in the 50s and 60s and cooling off significantly at night. And with a new and un-race tested competitive package at this particular track no one knows for sure what to expect on the 1.5-mile high banks.

Unlike some race weekends when drivers run a handful of laps on track and allow their teams to finetune in the garage, most every driver was turning scores of laps in Friday’s opening practice sessions.

Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford was 12th in the first practice and 20th in the final practice. But the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion looked fully at ease speaking with the gathered media on Friday afternoon. He conceded that expectations vary greatly for the race and was less surprised by the amount of drafting practice and total laps run in general.

“I think everyone just realizes that you are going to have a lot of wide-open time here and the more you have; the more the draft will come into play,’’ Logano said of Friday’s practice strategies. “You have to be around other cars for those reasons. The difference between clean air and dirty air, balance-wise, is quite a difference because the speed here is faster and you don’t have as much downforce.

“If you go out there and are easy, wide-open by yourself, what are you learning?”

There’s a decent argument that Logano would be a fine teacher. He’s had plenty of success at the track – eight top-10s and seven top-fives in his 19 Kansas starts. He finished third in this race last year, won the pole position and led 100 laps in the Fall playoff race but finished eighth.

He had a streak of five consecutive top-five finishes between 2013-15, winning the Fall races in 2014 and 2015.

Again, however, he reiterated the specific conditions this weekend – the new technical package and unusually cool weather - create a unique circumstance. And it just may present a great opportunity for Logano, who is ranked second in the championship, only five points behind three-time 2019 winner Kyle Busch.

Logano has been a perfect 3-for-3 in top-10s at the  previous 1.5-mile venues – sixth at Atlanta, seventh at Las Vegas and sixth at Texas. And he’s had top-10s in the last four races coming to Kansas.

His mindset is adapt and go. And who could argue?

“Cooler temperatures will bring the pack closer,’’ Logano said. “The cars today in practice, it was surprising how much we were lifting actually in that draft. The cars were really sliding all over the place in dirty air and the temperature is a little warmer right now with the sun out.

“When you get to a night race it will bring the pack closer together. It used to be the other way around. When we were lifting a lot we wanted the track temperature to be hot and to rubber up a lot so that it would get really wide and we could move around and do all this stuff. Now, you want it cooler so that you are more wide-open and that is what brings the cars closer.”

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson announced, via video, the launch of the 2019 Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope campaign today at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.

Mike Wells, president and CEO of Wells Enterprises, makers of Blue Bunny Ice Cream, joined Johnson to announce that not-for-profit 501c3 organizations that directly support K-12 public education will be eligible to receive one of five $25,000 grants. The grants, totaling $125,000, will be awarded in July.

“Jimmie and his wife Chandra have shown incredible generosity and dedication to the Helmet of Hope program,” Wells said. “Today’s young people are the leaders of tomorrow, and Blue Bunny is honored and proud to continue supporting an organization that positively impacts the lives of so many.”

The Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, which began in 2008, allows fans and consumers across the country to nominate their favorite education-focused charities, including parent-teacher associations, to receive a $25,000 grant, a Blue Bunny Ice Cream party, and special recognition on Johnson’s race helmet. Nominations will be accepted at www.helmetofhope.org through Friday, June 21. Ten semifinalists will be selected from these nominations. The public vote to choose the final five grant recipients will take place July 12-19.

“This program is so much fun, and the grants have made such a difference for organizations doing the important work of supporting K-12 public education,” Johnson said. “Chandra and I are very excited to partner with Blue Bunny again this year to assist and promote the incredible work of five new charities!”

To date, the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program has contributed more than $1.2 million to 111 different charities.

Johnson will take to the track this weekend at Kansas Speedway in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.  He will wear the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope during the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on October 20.

For additional information and to nominate a charity, visit www.helmetofhope.org.

Jimmie Johnson Foundation PR

AdventHealth, one of the nation’s largest faith-based health systems, will expand its relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) and team up with Kyle Larson on the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 2019 Monster Energy Open, as the team looks to earn a spot in the Monster Energy All-Star Race. This will be the first time AdventHealth will be featured on the No. 42 car.  

“I am excited to have AdventHealth on our car for the All-Star weekend,” said Larson. “Our team does a great job on and off the track working with our partners and to have AdventHealth on the 42 car for the first time is a great example of that work.”

Later in the season, AdventHealth will return to the track with Kurt Busch, the former NASCAR Cup Series champion, on the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the Oct. 20 playoff race at Kansas Speedway.

“I am thrilled to have AdventHealth onboard for our playoff push in Kansas later this season,” said Busch. “I was first introduced to AdventHealth this year through the work they do at the Human Innovation and Development Lab at Chip Ganassi Racing. It is motivating to see how they work with our trainers to help our team feel whole while performing at our highest level every weekend. I am thankful that AdventHealth is continuing their partnership with CGR and look forward to delivering the results they deserve in Kansas this fall.”

A partner with Chip Ganassi Racing since 2016, AdventHealth served as a primary partner on the No.1 car with Jamie McMurray behind the wheel and sponsored his entry in this year’s Clash at DAYTONA and the DAYTONA 500. 

Additionally, AdventHealth helped develop a robust Human Innovation and Development Lab (HIDL) at the Chip Ganassi Racing shop in Concord, North Carolina, earlier this year. The HIDL features tools and technology to improve the performance of CGR’s pit crews and drivers, focusing on unique activities to help prepare the drivers and crew both mentally and physically. 

“We are excited to further expand our partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing to include markets outside the state of Florida,” said David Banks, executive vice president and chief strategy officer for AdventHealth. “The race team partnership provides us with an excellent platform to be able to reach the communities we serve, inspiring consumers to take control of their health and live their best life. To be able to be a small part of the Chip Ganassi Racing story and success, as a health care partner and sponsor of the HIDL, is something our 80,000 team members can celebrate.”

With nearly 50 hospitals in almost a dozen states, there is a racetrack within a few hours of almost every AdventHealth market, including AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, AdventHealth Lenexa, AdventHealth South Overland Park and AdventHealth Ottawa in Kansas; AdventHealth Daytona Beach in Florida; and AdventHealth Gordon in Georgia.

In addition to the race team sponsorship, AdventHealth has had a relationship with the Daytona International Speedway since 2014. As the Official Healthcare Partner of Daytona International Speedway, AdventHealth cares for more than 1,000 patients each year on site. In the event of an emergency, there are 11 AdventHealth ambulances, two care centers and nine first aid stations standing ready to care for drivers and fans alike. The AdventHealth injector – or gate entrance – at the Daytona Beach, Florida track is a 20,000-plus-square-foot oasis within a concrete jungle. The hospital system’s injector features messages of health, well-being and wholeness, as well as interactive games that naturally tie the sport of racing to health and wellness, testing race fans’ hand-eye coordination – a vital skill on the racetrack.

Advent Health PR

With eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories in 2018 and a near-miss at his second Cup title, Kevin Harvick came into the 2019 season feeling understandably confident in himself and his Stewart-Haas Racing team.

But 11 races into the season, Harvick and his No. 4 team are still surprisingly looking for a first trip to victory lane. That’s not to say they haven’t been close. But as defending winner of Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) Harvick would like nothing better than to right the ship.

Last year, Harvick won this race from the pole position – a place he’s started more than anyone else in history at Kansas (four) - and he also holds the track qualifying record at 197.773 mph (October, 2014). Historically the pole position is the winningest spot on the Kansas grid, producing six winners to date.

Harvick has finished eighth or better in eight of the last 11 Kansas races – six of those times he’s finished either first or second. Three times he’s won, three times he’s finished runner-up.  During that stretch he’s led 668 laps total – most in the field. In 10 of those 11 races, he led double-digit laps.

This season, however, Harvick and essentially the rest of the field find themselves playing catch-up to Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske, whose teams have combined to earn 10 of the first 11 trophies. The other typically “hot” driver at Kansas, two-time race winner Martin Truex Jr. has won two of the last three 2019 Monster Energy Series races, including last week at Dover, Del. in his new No. 19 Toyota ride for JGR. He swept the two Kansas races in 2017 en route to winning the series championship.

Last year, Harvick had already won four times before the series arrived at the Kansas 1.5-miler, where he won again. In fact, his SHR team had five wins total through the opening 11 races in 2018 with Kansas’ own Clint Bowyer winning an early season trophy in Martinsville, Va. too.

That the Penske Fords have won this year – twice with Brad Keselowski and once with Joey Logano – assuages the situation some for the SHR Ford team. But patience is not a practical virtue as the regular season approaches the halfway point. SHR has 25 top-10 and 10 top-five finishes among its four drivers but that conspicuous "0" where it would prefer a higher number.

Harvick is third in the points standings despite being the only driver among the top seven without a victory yet. He trails three-time race winner Kyle Busch by 63 points and is 58 points behind second place Logano.

“Our cars ran fine at Texas,’’ Harvick said of the similar 1.5-mile venue the series has already competed on. “Obviously, we had some isolated problems. Our cars from the Stewart-Haas standpoint haven’t won a race, but they ran fine at Texas.

“We’ve been in contention. We were plenty good at Bristol (Tenn.) and Richmond (Va.), so it’s really just a detail thing at this point to get one of them to victory lane.

 

CLOSE BATTLE ATOP THE NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES STANDINGS

The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship became even tighter following Johnny Sauter’s record third consecutive win at Dover (Del.) International Speedway last weekend. He now trails ThorSport Racing teammate Grant Enfinger by only four points in the standings.

Enfinger re-took the lead with a fourth-place finish at Dover, while previous championship leader Stewart Friesen finished 12th. Although Friesen was disappointed to fall 11 points back in the title chase, that was the first time he was running at the finish in three career Dover races, so he still comes away feeling encouraged.

Only 23 points separate Enfinger and fifth place Ben Rhodes. Defending series champion Brett Moffitt is 14 points behind Enfinger in fourth place.

Sauter (Dover) and rookie Austin Hill (Daytona) are the only truck regulars to score a victory so far in 2019, but that should change again this week with primarily championship contenders competing at the Kansas 1.5-miler.

Matt Crafton is the only multi-time winner (2013 and 2015) in the field this week. The two-time Gander Trucks champion is keeping the title contenders honest. He’s ranked sixth in the standings – 37 points behind Enfinger - and has top-10 finishes in five of the last six Kansas races, including three top-five showings.

Additionally, he finished either first or second at Kansas for four consecutive years between 2013-16. 

 

AdventHealth, one of the nation’s largest faith-based health systems, will expand its relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) and team up with Kyle Larson on the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 2019 Monster Energy Open, as the team looks to earn a spot in the Monster Energy All-Star Race. This will be the first time AdventHealth will be featured on the No. 42 car.

Later in the season, AdventHealth will return to the track with Kurt Busch, a former NASCAR Cup Series champion, on the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the Oct. 20 playoff race at Kansas Speedway.

A partner with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) since 2016, AdventHealth served as a primary partner on the No.1 car with Jamie McMurray behind the wheel and sponsored his entry in this year’s Clash at DAYTONA and the DAYTONA 500.

Additionally, AdventHealth helped develop a robust Human Innovation and Development Lab (HIDL) at the Chip Ganassi Racing shop in Concord, N.C., earlier this year. The HIDL features tools and technology to improve the performance of CGR’s pit crews and drivers, focusing on unique activities to help prepare the drivers and crew both mentally and physically.

With nearly 50 hospitals in almost a dozen states, there is a racetrack within a few hours of almost every AdventHealth market, including AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, AdventHealth Lenexa, AdventHealth South Overland Park and AdventHealth Ottawa in Kansas; AdventHealth Daytona Beach in Florida; and AdventHealth Gordon in Georgia.

In addition to the race team sponsorship, AdventHealth has had a relationship with the Daytona International Speedway since 2014. As the Official Healthcare Partner of Daytona International Speedway, AdventHealth cares for more than 1,000 patients each year on site. In the event of an emergency, there are 11 AdventHealth ambulances, two care centers and nine first aid stations standing ready to care for drivers and fans alike. The AdventHealth injector – or gate entrance – at the Daytona Beach, Florida track is a 20,000-plus-square-foot oasis within a concrete jungle. The hospital system’s injector features messages of health, well-being and wholeness, as well as interactive games that naturally tie the sport of racing to health and wellness, testing race fans’ hand-eye coordination – a vital skill on the racetrack.

NOTES OF INTEREST:

  • Kansas Playoff Plans – Busch, who is in his 20th season racing in the Cup series, has been somewhat of a fixture in the NASCAR playoffs, earning a spot in the postseason in all but three of the 15 seasons in which the playoff system has been in place. This season Kansas will again serve as the cutoff race for the second round of the Playoffs, with the top-eight drivers advancing to the next round. 

 

QUOTEBOARD:

  • David Banks, Chief Strategy Officer, AdventHealth: We are excited to further expand our partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing to include markets outside the state of Florida. The race team partnership provides us with an excellent platform to be able to reach the communities we serve, inspiring consumers to take control of their health and live their best life. To be able to be a small part of the Chip Ganassi Racing story and success, as a health care partner and sponsor of the HIDL, is something our 80,000 team members can celebrate.
  • Kyle Larson, Driver No. 42 AdventHealth Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: “I am excited to have AdventHealth on our car for the All-Star weekend. I have had the chance to meet them over the last few years and hope we can show them a great time with the 42 team. Our team does a great job on and off the track working with our partners and to have AdventHealth on the 42 car for the first time is a great example of that work. We’ll have some work to do to get into the All-Star race, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of racing into the main event.”
  • Kurt Busch, Driver No. 1 AdventHealth Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: “I am thrilled to have AdventHealth onboard for our playoff push in Kansas later this season. I was first introduced to AdventHealth this year through the work they do at the Human Innovation and Development Lab at Chip Ganassi Racing. It is motivating to see how they work with our trainers to help our team feel whole while performing at our highest level every weekend. I am thankful that AdventHealth is continuing their partnership with CGR and look forward to delivering the results they deserve in Kansas this fall.”

CGR PR

 

The No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 is returning to the Kansas Speedway night race for the first time since 2016. After a two-year absence in this particular race, the blue and white GEICO scheme comes back to the nighttime event at the mile-and-a-half track, as the Germain Racing team looks to continue a strong start to the 2019 season. The last time the gecko-adorned hood was on track this season was in April’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, winning Stage 1 and surviving “The Big One” to earn a top-20 finish.

 

So far throughout the 2019 campaign, driver Ty Dillon has scored two stage wins. He leads Team Chevy drivers in stage wins, owning two of the manufacturer’s four. His first stage win came at Bristol Motor Speedway and the second in the GEICO 500. He has four top-15 finishes under his belt, the best of which was a sixth-place finish at Daytona International Speedway.  

Germain Racing’s Kansas Team Member
 
The eNASCAR Heat Pro League (eNHPL) season kicks off in just a few weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Representing Germain Racing in the XBOX series is Kansas resident Jacob Kerr. Kerr was selected in the inaugural eNHPL draft to pilot the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 for the Welcome, N.C., based team in their newly established gaming team. At 22 years old, Kerr currently resides in Stillwell, Kan. He has been playing NASCAR Heat since 2009, developing his gaming skills which ultimately led to being chosen to compete in the first season of the eNHPL. Kerr will attend Saturday’s race at Kansas Speedway as a guest of Germain Racing, taking over the team’s Twitter handle throughout the afternoon.
Dillon Weekend Chatter

What are your thoughts as you prepare for Kansas Speedway?
“The good thing so far this year is that we’ve had speed at the intermediate tracks. We’re still working on what we need for the car to handle how we need it to during the race, but I think we’re certainly getting there. We have seen our short-track program grow in a positive direction this season. Matt (Borland, crew chief) and I feel very confident in our communication with one another. The next step is fine-tuning our mile-and-a-half program, and we’re getting closer and closer with each track. We’ve shown speed in qualifying, which is a plus. We’re just looking to carry that speed over into consistency throughout the race. We’ve been great at the end of races, but we’ve been a little bit behind at the start. Once we get all of that ironed out, our GEICO Racing team is going to be a really strong, competitive team at these intermediates.”
Germain Racing PR

Next up for Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Dutch Boy team is Saturday’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway, a track that has been a good one for Menard and his No. 21 team.

In the past seven races on the 1.5-mile oval, the team has five finishes of seventh or better, including a sixth-place run by Menard last May. In the fall, he was poised to run the string to six strong Kansas finishes, but after driving from his 18th starting spot to fifth at the end of the first 80-lap Stage, he was involved in a collision on pit road that damaged his car and led to a disappointing finish.

Menard and the Woods have done well at Kansas before the recent stretch of good runs.

Menard has six top-10 finishes with a best of third place in 2012 in 20 career starts. He also has a pole and a runner-up finish in the Xfinity Series at Kansas.

The Wood Brothers have four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 18 races plus a pole in 2017. Their best Kansas finish came in 2004 when Ricky Rudd finished a close second to Joe Nemechek in one of the last races in which two single-car teams battled for the win on a non-restrictor-plate track.

Jon Wood, a co-owner of the team and the company’s business manager, wrote his name in the Kansas Speedway record book. He won the first-ever pole at the speedway when he took the top spot for the Kansas 100 Winston West race in 2001 with a speed of 168.534 miles per hour. He also won a Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Kansas in 2002, beating his Roush Racing teammate Carl Edwards to the line by 1.176 seconds.

Kansas Speedway wasn’t around when team founder Glen Wood was driving, but he had a strong run in the state of Kansas, at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson in a 1959 Convertible Series race.

With mud from the wet track blocking his radiator, Wood had to nurse his car to the finish line but still finished second.

That was significant in the team’s history as it was his first top-level finish after receiving factory backing from Ford Motor Company, a relationship that continues to this day.
 
“Kansas and Kansas Speedway have been good places for us over the years,” Eddie Wood said. “We’re excited to be heading back out there and looking forward to another good run there.”

Qualifying for the Digital Ally 400 is set for Friday at 6:05 p.m. (7:05 Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to start just after 6:30 p.m. (7:30 Eastern) with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.

WBR PR

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