Sprint Cup Series News

Sprint Cup Series News (11372)

Ford Motor Company in general, and the Wood Brothers in particular, have had some glorious Sunday afternoons at Talladega Superspeedway through the years.

In the early years of the track that opened in 1969, the Wood Brothers won five races from the spring of 1971, when Donnie Allison drove the iconic No. 21 to victory at his home track, until the fall of 1979, when another Alabama driver, the late Neil Bonnett, scored the victory.

In between were three consecutive wins in the spring race by David Pearson, from 1972-1974.

In the 1980s, Bill Elliott, who later drove the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford for the Woods, put on some awesome displays of speed at Talladega, setting NASCAR’s all-time qualifying record of 212.809 miles per hour in 1987 aboard his No. 9 Thunderbird. (That was before NASCAR began restricting engines to slow speeds at the 2.66-mile track.)

Lately it has been the Ford Fusions from Team Penske putting numbers in Ford’s win column, with Brad Keselowski winning in the fall of 2014 and Joey Logano winning last fall. Logano’s win gave Ford 29 Talladega victories, including seven by the Mercury division.

Through the years, the Wood Brothers have continued to field fast cars at Talladega, with six poles, starting with Allison in ’71 and continuing through a pole in 2004 with Ricky Rudd at the wheel.

The team has 17 top-three Talladega starts, the most recent with its current driver, Ryan Blaney, last spring.

The Woods also have 18 top-five finishes, again the most recent being a fourth-place finish by Blaney last spring.

Jeremy Bullins, crew chief of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, said Ford indeed has a great legacy at Talladega.

“If you look across the history of our sport, from the cars that Leonard Wood prepared to the cars that Bill Elliott dominated with, you have to have confidence in taking a Ford to a restrictor-plate race,” Bullins said, adding that the alliance with Team Penske is a big factor these days.

“We have the same fast car we had in Daytona and strong, reliable Roush-Yates power,” he said.

“Certainly our Penske alliance gives us a boost as well, with their cars proving they have what it takes to win there, as recently as last fall.”

It helps too, Bullins said, that the rookie Blaney has adapted to the chess-match-type mentality needed to succeed at restrictor-plate tracks.

“Ryan has shown a natural instinct for plate racing and had himself in position to contend for a win a year ago,” he said. “Hopefully with more experience and the respect of his peers, if we pull out of line this year to make a move for the win we might get some help from other cars.”

However the race plays out, Bullins plans to try to keep his driver near the front of the field, figuring that’s the best place to be when and if cars start crashing.

"You know there will be a big pack, and unfortunately that often leads to a big wreck,” he said. “But we will use a similar strategy to what's worked for us in the past - to try to keep our car toward the front of the pack so most of the action is behind us and hopefully take good care of our car all day and be where we want to be at the end.”

Qualifying for Sunday’s GEICO 500 is set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. eastern time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. Eastern with TV coverage on FOX.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will switch gears this week, leaving short track racing behind in favor of the high banks of Talladega Superspeedway and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing couldn’t be more excited.

After two tough weeks of short track racing, the team is eager to return to a superspeedway track as they will be taking the same car that finished 15th in the Daytona 500.

NASCAR driver Michael McDowell will be behind the wheel of the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet SS and has 10 career Cup starts at the 2.66-mile tri-oval.  McDowell earned his career-best Talladega finish (15th) in 2013 and secured a driver and team best starting position (6th) at Talladega in 2014.

“We’ve had good results at superspeedways in the past and we’ll have the same car here this weekend that finished strong in Daytona so it should be exciting,” said McDowell. “Switching from short track to restrictor plate racing will be a nice change of pace for our team. I feel like we always have a strong shot at the win at Talladega if we can stay out of trouble.”

Crew chief Dave Winston understands that success at Talladega is equal parts luck and skill. 

“If the stars line up correctly and we can make it to the end of the race, we have the potential of a win for this team and McDowell,” explained Winston. “It used to be that setup at Talladega did not matter; it was all about pure speed. I would say that is no longer the case. If you want to make it to the end and have a chance to compete for a win, you need to make sure that the car is secure and can move around in the draft.” 

“I have been a part of two superspeedway wins,” he continued. “One at Talladega with Jamie McMurray in 2013 and one Daytona with Greg Biffle in 2003. I do not plan to wait until 2023 for the next one!”

The GEICO 500 will take place on Sunday, May 1 at 1:00 p.m. ET at Talladega Superspeedway. Race fans can follow the team on Twitter at @CSLFR95 for updates.


What to get a guy for his birthday who seemingly has everything?


That guy happens to be Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles/Marvel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), owner of 36 first-place trophies in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition and 161 winner’s trophies in all among NASCAR’s top three series. For Busch, the answer is quite simple – more trophies and, perhaps a slice of birthday cake made with Skittles?


Busch blows out the candles to celebrate his 31st birthday Monday and would like nothing more than to start the celebration in victory lane at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway as the winner of Sunday’s Geico 500 Sprint Cup event. The race will also mark Busch’s 400th career Sprint Cup start, and there are six drivers who scored victories in their 400th career start, with Jimmie Johnson the most recent one to do it when he won the 2013 Daytona 500. Interestingly enough, Busch brought home the victory at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in 2013 while making his 300th Sprint Cup start.


Even though Busch’s birthday isn’t until the day after race day this year, he does hold the distinction of being only the second driver in Sprint Cup history to celebrate a victory on his birthday with a win at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on May 2, 2009, a feat first accomplished by Cale Yarborough – twice. Yarborough won on his March 27 birthday at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway in 1977 and at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1983. Since then, Busch’s JGR teammate Matt Kenseth equaled the feat as he won in 2013 on his March 10 birthday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.


As for this weekend, Busch has conquered the mammoth, 2.66-mile Talladega oval just once in 21 career starts at the track, his lone win coming in April 2008. He has accumulated nine other top-15 finishes at the track but also exited four outings early due to accidents.


Busch knows the winner of Sunday’s 500-mile race will not only need to have a strong car, but must be in the right place at the right time during the final laps on NASCAR’s longest track. So, if anyone is considering what to get Busch as a belated birthday gift, any help earning a second career Talladega trophy would be greatly appreciated. And having the Skittles colors to celebrate with in victory lane would make for one “sweet” birthday weekend.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that they will team up with Alsco Linen and Uniform Rental Services on track this season. Alsco, the official race shop uniform and supplies provider for the team, will join as an associate partner on the No. 44 Ford driven by Brian Scott for the remainder of the 2016 season.
It's only fitting this announcement comes at the launch of NASCAR Race to Green campaign as reducing their ecological footprint and offering sustainable choices are core components of Alsco's business values. In their first year as the official race shop uniform and supplies provider for Richard Petty Motorsports, Alsco brings more than 125 years of experience and a standard of excellence as a pioneer in their field.
"Being part of Richard Petty Motorsports as a provider and associate sponsor is the best it gets," said Jim Divers, Alsco Director of Sales and Marketing. "We appreciate the legacy of family values on and off the track that we have grown accustomed to over the many years of our association with the Richard Petty Motorsports team."
Similar to the Pettys in racing, Alsco pioneered their industry and created standards still used today. Starting as the first door-to-door laundry delivery by a hand cart, Alsco has grown to the sophisticated precision technology required today.
"At Richard Petty Motorsports, we have a storied history of excellence and that rings true off the track too," said Chief Marketing Officer Mike Hargrave. "Not only do we have high expectations of our race team, but we also have high expectations for how our employees represent the Petty brand not only at the track but in the shop as well. Since the start of this season, Alsco has our crewmembers in the shop looking sharp, just like 'The King' himself. We've been very happy with our relationship with Alsco and are proud to extend that relationship to the racing program with an associate partnership on the No. 44 Ford."
The Alsco logo will run on the No. 44 Ford Fusion driven by Brian Scott starting this weekend at Richmond International Raceway and remain on the car for the remainder of the season.


When Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) take to the track for Sunday’s Geico 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, they will have one goal in mind: getting to victory lane.


Talladega has always been considered a bit of a wild-card race, where a driver’s fate is not entirely in his or her own hands. It is one of only two racetracks on the Sprint Cup circuit where restrictor plates are used. A restrictor plate is a device installed at the air intake of an engine to limit its power in an effort to reduce speeds, increase safety and help provide an equal level of competition. The horsepower-restricted engines require drivers to draft together, side-by-side, at speeds approaching 200 mph.


As a result, superspeedway events often produce wild, unpredictable racing. In turn, there is always the distinct possibility of the seemingly inevitable “big one” – a multicar accident that typically eliminates multitudes of drivers from the event. This type of racing leaves teams wondering what it will take to survive the “big one” and make it to victory lane at the end of the day.


While Patrick has set records at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway – the other restrictor-plate superspeedway on the Sprint Cup schedule – she’s yet to find the same level of success at Talladega. With six prior starts at the track, her career-best finish is a19th-place effort she earned in October 2014. Last year, she finished 21st in both races at the 2.66-mile track. 


This weekend, Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet SS will sport blue and silver for Aspen Dental’s second of four primary races this season. The car will have a different look than it did in Atlanta, featuring a “Turbocharged Tooth Fairy” logo on the a hood, a nod to Patrick’s role in Aspen Dental’s newest TV campaign that started airing earlier this month.


Aspen Dental dentists and teams recognize that going to the dentist isn’t always at the top of the “to-do” list. And so, as a part of the Aspen Dental Weekend at Talladega, a “Turbocharged Tooth Fairy Squad” will be roaming the grounds at the track to not only ask fans, “What would it take to get you to go to the dentist?” but also deliver on some of those wishes on the spot. It’s all a part of Aspen Dental’s commitment to doing whatever it takes to make dentistry easier.


As the Aspen Dental team looks to get NASCAR fans back to the dentist, Patrick’s team will be looking to answer the question: What would it take to get the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS into victory lane on Sunday at Talladega?


Brian Scott and the No. 44 Twisted Tea team are prepared for anything at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, a track notorious for big wrecks and underdogs taking home the checkered flag. Following a disappointing 35th-place at Richmond after Scott cut a left, rear tire with less than 50 laps to go, the No. 44 team is ready to beat the odds at the 2.66-mile track.
Scott has experience in the Cup Series and the XFINITY Series at Talladega, winning a pole in the Cup Series at the spring race in 2014. Scott found success at the Superspeedway level early this year at Daytona, finishing 24th in the Daytona 500. In six XFINITY Series starts, Scott has one Top-Five finish and three Top-10s, earning the second-place finish at last year's Talladega XFINITY Series race. Scott also has two starts in the Camping World Truck Series, finishing seventh in 2008. 
Twisted Tea will be back on the hood of the No. 44 Ford Fusion, featuring their unique yellow and blue paint scheme. Fans can meet Scott at Walmart in Oxford on Friday evening following final practice. Scott and the No. 44 Twisted Tea Ford Fusion will be on display outside of Walmart from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Twisted Tea Walmart Appearance with Brian Scott
Where: Walmart - 92 Plaza Ln, Oxford, AL 
When: Friday, April 29 from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Scott will be on the float for the "Big One on the Blvd" parade on Saturday night and will have Twisted Tea koozies for fans in attendance.
"Talladega is a track that's been hit or miss for me. I won the pole there in the Cup Series in 2014 and finished second in the XFINITY Series race there last year. Unfortunately, I've been caught in 'The Big One' a few times racing at Talladega as well. I'm looking forward to changing things this weekend, switching from short-track racing to Superspeedway racing. The guys in the shop have been working hard on our Speedway cars, and I'm looking forward to racing hard this weekend, being prepared for anything and making sure our car is still there at the end - hopefully at the front of the field."

ASCAR is heading to the second Superspeedway track of the year, and Aric Almirola is ready to take on the 2.66 miles of Talladega Superspeedway. Almirola will pilot the No. 43 Fresh From Florida Ford in Sunday's 500-mile main event. The team is hoping to build off of the momentum from a 12th-place finish in the Daytona 500, the first Superspeedway race of 2016. Currently sitting 24th in the Championship Point Standings, Almirola is looking to advance his position with a strong finish this weekend. 

Almirola will pull double duty in Alabama, driving the No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford for Biagi-DenBeste Racing in Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY race. Running a partial-schedule in the XFINITY series as his Cup schedule allows, this will be Almirola's sixth start in the series of the 2016 season. Almirola finished 11th in Daytona's XFINITY race earlier this year.

Having made 12 starts at Talladega in the Sprint Cup Series previously, Almirola has scored eight Top-20 finishes. His best finish of 10th place came in the spring of 2013. Almirola has made three starts in the XFINITY Series at Talladega. He's finished 10th at the superspeedway twice, once in 2011 and again 2015.
Almirola will be participating in a fan Q&A at the Ford Display in Talladega Superspeedway's Fan Midway on Sunday morning. Make sure that you're there to have your question answered!

When: Sunday, May 1, 9:30 - 9:45 AM
Where: Talladega Superspeedway Fan Midway, Ford Display
"Talladega is the biggest crapshoot of all. It's a unique race track in the respect that handling doesn't matter. Of all the tracks that we go to every year, it's the one track where handling just doesn't matter. It's just about having your car trimmed out to go very, very fast. If it goes fast by itself then it will typically draft well. And, if it doesn't go fast, the draft will still makeup a lot of the difference. It's a place where you have to be very aggressive and take risky chances. Sometimes those chances pay off for you and sometimes you end up in a big crash. But, I like our chances going into Talladega. We had great cars in Daytona, both Cup and XFINITY, and I think we'll be just as strong in Talladega."


The Sprint Cup Drivers Council will donate the $35,000 it raised last week to pay Tony Stewart’s fine to Autism Delaware.  

Artie Kempner, coordinating director, NASCAR on FOX, and his wife, Marcy, founded Autism Delaware in 1998. It has raised more than $5 million and served more than 1,000 children and adults living with autism.

“I appreciated the Drivers Council support, but I didn’t want them to pay the fine. We decided as a group to donate the money to charity,” Stewart said. “Artie is such a good friend to all of us and his foundation does a lot of great work.”

The Drivers Council was formed in 2015 and meets periodically with NASCAR to discuss various issues from competition to safety. The Drivers Council is comprised of Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Stewart.

Hamlin will present the check to Kempner at his Drive for Autism golf tournament May 12 in Wilmington, Delaware.


Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team return to the site of their best finish in recent years when they travel to Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday’s Geico 500.

A year ago, Blaney qualified third and finished fourth at the Alabama superspeedway. Although the Wood Brothers’ historic No. 21 was hampered by engine woes in the 2015 fall race at Talladega, Blaney qualified ninth and is confident going into this weekend’s race.

“It's been a strong track for us,” he said. “We bring fast cars and obviously a little luck has to be on your side.”

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins added, “We feel like we have had good cars at all the speedway races we have run with Ryan and this week should be no different.”

Critical to the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team’s success, as well as that of every other NASCAR Sprint Cup team at Talladega, is steering clear of the major wrecks that often occur as a result of the close-quarters drafting that takes place on restrictor-plate tracks.

“It’s mostly luck,” Blaney explained. “You never know when it can happen and just hope you're ahead of it or behind the wreck enough to slow down and avoid it.”

“In my opinion the best thing you can do is try to use a strategy that keeps you up front as much as possible,” Bullins continued. “The closer to the front of the pack you can be helps you control your own destiny by being ahead of a wreck. That said, Ryan has shown the ability to keep himself out of trouble.”

A year ago, as a 21-year-old part timer on the NASCAR circuit, Blaney resisted the urge to make a move to the front of the pack late in the race not knowing if he would get any drafting help from other drivers on the track. Had he made a move and no other cars went with him, he likely would have slid to the middle of the pack or worse.

Since then, he has continued to show driver maturity beyond his years and consideration to faster cars on the track when he isn’t as fleet. Might that dues paying begin to pay interest this weekend at Talladega?

“I feel like it will help,” Blaney said. “Last year we didn't get a lot of help and hopefully that changes this year. But you never know. Sometimes drivers talk prior to the race about helping one another. Obviously teammates do what they can to help out. Most the time you go with whoever has the biggest run.”

Added Bullins, “I think Ryan has earned the respect of his peers and that's key. I think we've also proven we have cars and that helps too if guys know your car has speed.”

Blaney heads into Talladega 20th in the driver standings and trails Chase Elliott on the Rookie of the Year chart by 22 points.

The practice sessions for the Geico 500 begin at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29 and can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Qualifying will take on Saturday, April 30, at 11:30 a.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on FOX. The Geico 500 begins on FOX at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 1.

Ford Performance PR
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Infraction Date Track Team Level Infraction Penalty/Warning
4/22/16 (opening day inspection) Richmond No. 17 P3 Section 20.13.I-1.d Crew chief has been fined $20,000, suspended from all NASCAR Series Championship points events
through May 4, and placed on NASCAR probation until
Dec. 31
4/24/16 (pre- race inspection) Richmond No. 48 (1) Warning Failed template inspection twice, pre-race Written warning
4/24/16 (pre- race inspection) Richmond No. 14 (1) Warning Failed LIS twice, pre-race Written warning
() -- Total current warnings.        
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