Sprint Cup Series News (11613)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will make his 31st NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in Sunday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400. Harvick has won on short tracks, intermediate tracks, road courses and superspeedways, but it’s Pocono’s unique three-turn circuit that continues to leave him puzzled.
For Harvick, it’s something akin to picking up the triangle solitaire puzzle game, where the goal is to jump golf tees over each other until just one remains. Each attempt starts with optimism but ends in frustration when more than one peg remains. Pocono is the racetrack equivalent to the triangle solitaire puzzle game for Harvick.
The “Tricky Triangle” is one of only four Sprint Cup racetracks where Harvick has yet to record a Sprint Cup win. Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the other three.
The Bakersfield, California native has run well at Pocono, scoring seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in his 30 career Sprint Cup starts, but has yet to reach victory lane in NASCAR’s top series. He seems to be getting close, however, as he’s scored runner-up finishes in two of his last three Sprint Cup starts at Pocono.
In August 2014, Harvick started sixth, led five laps and finished second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. by .228 of a second. Last June, he started fifth, led 39 laps and was runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. by 1.346 seconds.
Harvick does have a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Pocono, scoring the win from the pole position while driving for his own team on Aug. 7, 2011. He led 44 of 53 laps to beat Kyle Busch to the finish line by 1.140 seconds.
The Sprint Cup points leader would like nothing more than to score his first Sprint Cup win Sunday at Pocono. A win would be Harvick’s second of the 2016 season. He scored his first of the year in the season’s fourth race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Thirteen races into 2016, Harvick sits atop the Sprint Cup Series standings and holds a 36 point lead over SHR teammate and second-place driver Kurt Busch. This marks the first time in SHR history where its drivers have occupied both of the top two points positions.
Harvick also ranks second in laps led with 688 and has led at least one lap in 10 of 13 Sprint Cup races in 2016, including a streak of nine in a row from Atlanta Motor Speedway in February through Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in May.
While Harvick and the No. 4 team are virtually locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff field by virtue of their win at Phoenix, gaining bonus points for additional wins is now their top priority through the second half of the Sprint Cup regular season.
You can put away the ‘purple stuff’ – SunnyD is back on the No. 17 Ford Fusion this weekend in Pocono. With that, driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is launching a campaign to have his fans “Share a SunnyD” with a friend.
By tagging a friend on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #ShareASunnyD, fans will enter themselves and a friend to win special SunnyD prize packs. The SunnyD six days of giveaways begin Tuesday afternoon and will culminate in the Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 5 at 1 p.m. Prizes include SunnyD beverages, hats, koozies and lanyards to name a few.
“I’m excited to head to Pocono with SunnyD on our car for the second time this season,” said Stenhouse. “They’re a really fun brand to be aligned with and everything they’re doing this week with the fans is really cool.”
In 192 starts at Pocono Raceway, Roush Fenway Racing drivers have earned four wins, three poles, 45 top-fives and 72 top-10s. In addition, the organization has led 1,003 laps around the “tricky triangle”.
Stenhouse enters the weekend 18th in the NSCS driver point standings, just 10 points shy of the final spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The NSCS will take the green flag for 160 laps around Pocono Raceway at 1 p.m. ET on FS1.
3M Automotive Aftermarket Division Hosted U.S. Marine Set for Deployment and His Guests at Coca-Cola 600 at CharlotteWritten by Steven B. Wilson Tuesday, 31 May 2016 17:06
The list of racetracks where Kyle Busch has yet to win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is not long.
In fact, there are only two left on that list – Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the site of Sunday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 Sprint Cup Series race.
So as the Sprint Cup competitors head to the Pocono Mountains for the first of two races there in an eight-week span that also signals the beginning of the summer stretch of races, Busch and the No. 18 M&M’S 75th Anniversary Toyota Camry team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) are looking to get one win closer to adding his name to the record books yet again. Busch has already crossed off two first time Sprint Cup tracks with wins this year – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City – and continues to add to his already impressive resume.
Other drivers have come close to accomplishing the feat Busch has in his sights. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season and was one short of the feat as he fell short of winning at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in five career starts there. Three-time champion Tony Stewart, who will retire at the end of this season, also has yet to win at Kentucky and is still chasing his first win at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, as well.
Looking back at his most recent trip to the 2.5-mile triangle at Pocono last July, Busch was less than one lap away from crossing the track off his yet-to-win list. The Las Vegas native hit town on a three-race winning streak and led three times for 19 laps, including taking the white flag as the leader. With his fourth consecutive race win in his sights, having pushed hard in swapping the lead with Joey Logano during the day’s final run, Busch pushed his fuel tank just a bit too far as he ran out of gas coming out of turn one. While he eventually coasted across the finish line, his JGR teammate Matt Kenseth benefited from Busch’s misfortune and brought home the win.
While Pocono has been difficult for Busch to master for the first six years of his Sprint Cup career, he seemed to have turned a corner there starting in June 2011, when he started from the pole – his first at Pocono – and was beaten across the finish line only by teammate and Pocono master Denny Hamlin, who has four wins to his credit at “The Tricky Triangle.” In August 2011, Busch led 27 laps late in the race before equaling his career-best Pocono finish of second behind race-winner Brad Keselowski. While he brought home top-10 finishes in both 2013 races at Pocono, Busch and the M&M’S team are striving for even bigger things at the 2.5-mile track after running well the last two years but not getting the finishes they deserved, especially last year’s fuel-mileage heartbreak.
As the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains for Sunday’s 400-miler, summer school will be in session for Busch, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire M&M’S team. They’ll look to cross another track off the list for Busch as he works to accomplish something nobody else has in NASCAR Sprint Cup history – win at every single active track.
Best Pocono Finish: 14th
“I just love driving at Pocono. I love shifting through the corners. I love the area – it’s beautiful. They bring such a good crowd. The fans in the northeast are just really avid race fans. I just really look forward to going to Pocono.
"It's hard to pick a corner to focus on. For passing cars, you want to get off of Turn 3 really well. And I feel like for speed and just making good time over the course of a run, it just seems to be really beneficial to get off of Turn 2 well. That ‘tunnel turn’ is just such a momentum corner. And it’s hard to pass into Turn 3, but if you have a really good car off of Turn 2, it makes it a lot easier to pass someone on that part of the track."
Best Pocono Finish: N/A
"The only track time I have at Pocono is several ARCA races. And we ran really well there. I don’t believe I’ve run there since they repaved it, but it’s a place that I enjoy going to. We weren’t able to shift in ARCA. I know NASCAR has expressed that they would like to take the shifting away, but I don’t know that you would really be able to, as big a speed difference as you have. It’s a fun racetrack, and it’s cool to see the XFINITY Series going there now. I wish I could’ve run an XFINITY race there last year and been a little bit more prepared for this Cup race. But I do have laps around that place and I feel OK going back.
“I remember it being a very wild racetrack going there at 16 years old. You’re going down into Turn 1, and we’re on the chip at the edge of the grandstands, just trying to lift and get back on it. And you sail down into 1, and it’s bumpy and there’s huge washouts. And in the ‘tunnel turn,’ you barely lift and you’re right back to it. It was a lot of fun.”
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions to Partner with Ryan Newman and the No. 31 Chevrolet at Pocono RacewayWritten by Steven B. Wilson Tuesday, 31 May 2016 10:41
Germain Racing Honors Army Ranger SPC Christopher Wright and Perseveres through long night at CharlotteWritten by Steven B. Wilson Tuesday, 31 May 2016 10:39
Blaney started 18th and drove his way into the top 15 in the opening laps, only to have to go to the rear of the pack after being nabbed for speeding on pit road. Back on the attack again, Blaney rallied back to 16th before more troubles on pit road sent him back to the rear on two more occasions, once because of a loose wheel.
“It was a long night, man, a really, really long night,” Blaney said in his post-race interview.
“Nothing could go right for us. That was the frustrating part.”
Despite the troubles, Blaney remained on the lead lap for most of a Coca-Cola 600 that saw the caution flag displayed just four times for 19 laps. And he maintained that position in spite of body damage his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion sustained over the course of the race.
That body damage likely led to a cut tire with two laps remaining, but the Motorcraft crew got Blaney back on the track in time to salvage a 20th-place finish, which allowed him to remain in a tie with Ryan Newman for 15th place in the Sprint Cup standings.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that considering all the setbacks in the race, he’s happy to leave Charlotte with the final result, which is the ninth time in the 13 races this season that the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion has finished in the top half of the running order.
“For a night when we had to go to the rear a couple of times, it could have been a lot worse,” Wood said. “We got a good bit of body damage throughout the night. The car was already a little on the tight side, and that damage just made it worse.”
Wood also said he appreciates his team pressing forward after some early miscues.
“The pit crew redeemed themselves with some good stops later in the race,” he said. “[Crew chief] Jeremy [Bullins] made a good call at the end to put on two right-side tires and get Ryan out there and preserve a 20th-place finish.
“Ryan hung in there all night, and we were able to honor Signal Seaman Cherone L. Gunn, who lost his life in an attack on the U.S.S. Cole and in doing so helped make it possible for us to enjoy the freedoms all of us in America enjoy.”
For his part, Blaney said his car never was as good once the sun went down. And he said he had some room for improvement too.
“There's some stuff we have to work on with the race car,” he said. “I probably didn't do the best job [Sunday night].”
Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team return to action this week at Pocono Raceway, where Blaney has never driven a Sprint Cup car but back in 2013 drove Brad Keselowski’s truck to victory in a Camping World Truck Series race.
The Wood Brothers have two wins at Pocono, one apiece with David Pearson and Neil Bonnett, but have not competed there since 2008.
For starters, the Furniture Row Racing driver led 392 of the 400 laps for 588 miles. The 392 laps led is a Coke 600 event record and the 588 miles led is the most in a single race in NASCAR history.
On a personal note, after only 13 of 36 races completed, Truex already has set a career high for laps led in a season at 809, surpassing his previous mark of 581 set in 2007. In the last three races, he has led a total of 611 laps.
“Yeah, it's just awesome, really amazing weekend, the kind you dream about,” said an elated Truex after scoring his fourth career victory and second with Furniture Row Racing. “I mean, it's incredible to think -- to see what we've done. That's what every driver wants. We all want to go to the track each and every weekend and know we have a chance of winning, running up front and leading laps. Hopefully we can keep it up. It's early in the season and there's a long ways to go. We're going to keep pushing hard and keep trying to work towards that championship goal.”
The victory virtually punched Truex’s ticket into the 10-race Chase playoffs, which commences at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 18.
When Truex’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota took the checkered flag, 2.572 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Harvick, the 35-year-old driver from Mayetta, N.J. needed some quiet time to reflect on what he just accomplished.
“There are so many emotions,” said Truex, who jumped to seventh in driver points. “I had to unplug my radio and just ride around and think for a few minutes, because I didn’t even know what I was going to say or what I was going to do. We’ve been through a lot as a group. I’ve been through a lot personally. I’ve been through a lot with Sherry (Pollex, girlfriend) and it’s fun to have her here and have her celebrate.
“I am happy for my guys, crew chief Cole Pearn, happy for Barney (Visser, team owner), Toyota, Johnny Morris (Bass Pro Shops owner and founder), everybody at the shop back in Denver. I mean, I’ve got the best team in the world.”
Truex’s Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota carried a name of a fallen hero as part of NASCAR’s 600 Miles of Remembrance for the Memorial Day Weekend race. The fallen hero on Truex’s car was U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey E. Bohr, who was killed in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“So proud to have Jeffrey Bohr ride with us this weekend,” said Truex. “He is the real hero, he gave his life for our country so we can enjoy our freedom and do what we did tonight.”
Truex, who came close to victories this season at Daytona, Texas, Kansas and Dover, was not going to be denied again. His No. 78 Toyota was fast from the get-go. He won the pole on Thursday evening and came back on Saturday to post the fastest speed in the final practice session.
“I have confidence in my team,” stated Truex. “I’ve got a lot of great people behind me. Sherry – she gives me a lot of inspiration and we just keep fighting. We never give up. We never quit. We always just keep digging and just proud of my guys for sticking behind me – the pit crew has come a long way. They did a great job tonight. Sprint, Furniture Row, Denver Mattress, Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Auto-Owners Insurance, our (technical) alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and to all our fans, who have supported us through the heartbreaks. Thanks to all of you.”
Third-place finisher and six-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson said of Truex’s dominating performance, “Yeah, I mean they have had a few runs where they have just been the class of the field and things have kept them from Victory Lane. Tonight he wasn’t going to be denied -- there was no way around that.”
Following Truex to the checkered flag in NASCAR’s longest race were: Harvick, Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.
The race had four cautions for 19 laps and there were nine lead changes among four drivers.
The next race is Sunday June 5 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway where Truex is the defending champion.