Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14375)

With their playoff hopes seemingly on the ropes due to a penalty after qualifying, Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Omnicraft Auto Parts team turned in a near-perfect performance in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Blaney started 40th, drove his way to fourth place by the end of the first 80-lap Stage, finished eighth in the second then third in the race to secure a berth in the Round of Eight in the Monster Energy Cup playoffs.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood had great praise for the entire Omnicraft Auto Parts team and was especially impressed by Blaney’s poise under the pressure that comes with a cut-off race in the playoffs.
 
Wood said Blaney made smart decisions driving his way to the front, something only the greatest of drivers seem to know how to do.
 
“That was a David Pearson run right there,” Wood said. “Ryan knew what he had to do. He raced hard, but he was mindful of what was going on around him. He missed the wrecks. It was just a tremendous effort.”
 
Wood also complimented crew chief Jeremy Bullins on his race strategy throughout the day, including one call to leave Blaney on the track near the end of Stage Two, a call that led to three important bonus points.
 
“Jeremy did a great job calling the race, and the pit crew did a great job, getting Ryan back on the track in good shape despite operating from the least-desirable pit box,” Wood said, adding that none of it would have been possible without the Woods’ alliance with Team Penske. “Their help is second to none.”
 
Due to the penalty after qualifying, Bullins got the 40th pick of pit stalls for Sunday’s race.
 
Still, when the points were totaled, Blaney, with his third-place finish and 10 stage points, was in seventh place, 23 points about the cut-off.
 
He will open the Round of Eight in seventh place with nine playoff points from his win at Pocono and four stage wins.
 
Blaney, who now has four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes on the season, said Sunday’s comeback was a total team performance.
 
“Having a pretty fast car there at the end, really all race, shows some pretty great resilience from the Wood Brothers team,” he said. “It definitely feels good to be moving on, for sure.”
 
Blaney said good fortune was on his side when he dodged the Lap 199 multi-car crash that collected several of his fellow playoff drivers.
 
“Some of that is luck, for sure, being on the bottom, being able to get clear of that,” he said. “I think we've done a great job this year.”
 
Blaney went on to say that despite the seriousness of Monster Energy Cup racing, he’s enjoyed his time with the Wood Brothers and the Omnicraft team.
 
“I would say this is probably the most fun I've ever had racing with anybody, no matter what car,” he said. “They just make it a really fun year. Just to be competitive, still be in this [playoff] thing, that's just a bonus, to be honest with you.”
 
And so far, he’s exceeded whatever hopes he might have had prior to the season.
 
“I didn't really have any goals, expectations,” he said. “I just wanted us to do well, see where it ended up. 
 
“It's going pretty decent for us right now. Hopefully we can keep that going.”
 
Blaney will return to his familiar Motorcraft/Quick Lane colors for next Sunday’s race at the Wood Brothers’ home track, Martinsville Speedway.

WBR PR

Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers Racing Team have advanced to Round 3 of the NASCAR Playoffs by driving the Omnicraft Ford Fusion to third place in the Hollywood Casino 400 this afternoon at Kansas Speedway.

Starting in the back of the pack after qualifying third and failing post-qualifying inspection, Blaney took a workman’s-like approach to his drive to the front of the field during Stage 1. He made it to 20th place by lap 13, 12th place by the 44th lap and stayed on the track during a lap-46 caution to assume second place when the race re-started on lap 52. He took the lead on the re-start and ran in the top 10 the rest of the day, finishing Stage 1 in fourth place, collecting seven critical points.

“It was a good race,” Blaney said. “We did a nice job coming from the back. We were able to make some good ground early, run up through there and made good adjustments throughout the day.”

Blaney started Stage 2 in the third position and ran there for the majority of the segment before pitting and shuffling back to eighth, which was where he finished that stage, adding another three extra points to his total.

“I thought we got our car pretty decent there in the second stage,” Blaney said.

He started the final stage in sixth due to two cars ahead of him being penalized for speeding on pit road. Blaney moved into fifth place on the re-start, lost several position on a lap-187 pit stop but was back in the top 10 by the time the next caution flew two laps later.

Blaney and the Omnicraft Ford avoided a major wreck on the ensuing re-start and ended up in sixth place.

“I went left as soon as he spun and managed to avoid it on the apron,” Blaney recalled. “I feel bad for the cars that got caught up in it.”

He took over fifth place on lap 205, fourth place on lap 215 and got to third with 35 laps to go in the scheduled 267-lap race.

“We were able to make little gains on the car all day,” Blaney said. “That showed what a good car we had and it’s nice to move on. It’s just a solid day for our team. We had to overcome a lot of adversity coming from the back. They should be proud of that. It shows some pretty great resilience on the part of the Wood Brothers Team. I am really proud of my team for the effort and we will move on to the next round and Martinsville.”

The first stop in Round 3 of the NASCAR Playoffs is the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 3 p.m. on NBCSN.

Ford Performance PR

The Name of the Game is Recovery for Austin Dillon and the Dow Racing Team at Kansas Speedway
"It was a really good comeback by the Dow Racing team today. We fell behind a little bit after we had to come back down pit road to tighten lug nuts, which cost us some track position. For the rest of the race, the pit crew was on it and gained us spots pretty much every stop. We ended up with some front end damage in that big wreck, but luckily it didn't end our day. We were just too tight at the end to gain any additional positions."
- Austin Dillon

Paul Menard Recovers From Setbacks to Finish 12th in the Richmond/Menards Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway
"I am glad we were able to make something out of this day because we had our share of issues throughout the race. We fired off well and were just working on the handling of the Richmond/Menards Chevrolet when I started getting really loose and smelling smoke. Something must have bounced up under the car and pushed the fender brace in because it started rubbing the tire. We got lucky with a caution and were able to get it off the car and work to make sure it didn't rub the rest of the day. We were caught a lap down in the midsection of the race, but were able to get our lap back on one of the cautions. It was a pretty wild race out there, and we were able to survive without any damage. That allowed us to go race at the end, and I was able to bring the car home in the 12th spot."
- Paul Menard

Multi-Car Wreck Takes Out Ryan Newman, Cat Racing Team at Kansas Speedway
"We got taken out in the 'Big One'. It's hard to believe after last week we couldn't make it out of this one, but I simply ran out of room. I had no where to go. We had a fast car during the first half of the race, but for some reason we lost the handling on our Caterpillar Chevrolet. It was such a handful, I thought maybe we had a hole in the nose. We're done now so we have no way of knowing what we could have done."

- Ryan Newman
 

RCR PR

Martin Truex Jr. will walk away with his seventh victory of the season on Sunday at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. Truex, who led 91 of the 267-laps, had an up and down day in the Hollywood Casino 400.

The win did not come easy for the New Jersey native. On lap 35, Truex had to serve a pass through penalty because of a restart violation. He then had another issue later on that backed the driver up even more.

In addition, Furniture Row Racing woke up to some tough news this morning as they learned the passing of crew member and fabricator Jim Watson. Watson was working with the team this weekend at Kansas.

Truex will now hold 15 top five and 22 top 10 finishes going into Martinsville Speedway next week -- in addition to his seven victories. The series veteran is one of the dangerous drivers to look out for as the NASCAR Playoffs roll on.

Kurt Busch will leave with a runner-up finish in the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford with Stewart Haas Racing. The Las Vegas native started the afternoon in 15th and sat outside the top 10 at the end of each stage.

Early on in the race, Busch got into the wall and fell a lap down as a result. He’ll leave Kansas with his sixth top five and 14th top 10 finish of the year.

Ryan Blaney rounded out the top three finishers on Sunday. Blaney qualified third on Friday but had his time disallowed because the car did not pass post-qualifying inspection. As a result, Blaney started 40th on the leaderboard.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Several big names and NASCAR Playoff contenders were involved in on-track incidents over the course of the race.

Jimmie Johnson got involved in a pair of cautions on lap 187 and 192. Despite the result, Johnson finished 11th on the leaderboard.

Kyle Larson’s day ended short on lap 76 as the engine expired on the No. 42 Chevrolet. His hopes of scoring the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship dried as a result.

“Well it just dropped a cylinder 10 laps ago or so and then it suddenly got worse and finally blew up,” Larson said after the race. “I hate that we blew an engine and probably blew our shot at the championship, but luck is a big factor of our sport.”

Jamie McMurray’s day ended on lap 197 in a 14-car wreck on the backstretch. The Joplin, Mo., native, racing at his hometrack, finished 34th and 69 laps down.

“It just looked like the No. 77 (Erik Jones) got loose. I saw him and it looked like he over-corrected,” said McMurray after the incident. “And then actually, I didn’t think I was going to hit him and I didn’t have that much contact with him, but someone came through later on and got into me a little bit harder. I had a really fast car. I thought we had one of the best cars, and I felt like if we could have gotten to the lead, I could have led the race for a while. It was a good Cessna Chevy. But we’ve had two bad races in a row and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Danica Patrick also offered her side of it.

“I came out and said, ‘I got a turkey’, three in a row. That is some bad luck,” said Patrick. “The Code 3 car was just stated to get better, just starting to get hooked up actually. I actually felt like I was catching the right lanes and right movements on the track and having good restarts. Would have been nice to finish one off. We haven’t done that in awhile. When the 77 came across the track it kind of reminded me of Charlotte. Is it four in a row? Gosh. I can’t even remember anymore it is terrible. Charlotte, the 38 spun. The trajectory is like a football. You never know which way they are going to bounce. It was mayhem. I will see a replay and maybe a hole I should have taken. From the cockpit I was just trying to slow down and miss the 77 but you can’t see every car around you.”

NASCAR Playoff Standings After Kansas:

POS

DRIVER

POINTS

1

Martin Truex Jr.

4069

2

Kyle Busch

-27

3

Brad Keselowski

-43

4

Kevin Harvick

-52

5

Jimmie Johnson

-52

6

Denny Hamlin

-55

7

Ryan Blaney

-60

8

Chase Elliott

-63


The series will head to Martinsville Speedway next Sunday for the First Data 500. Coverage will begin at 1:00 p.m. ET. on NBCSN. The Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Ch. 90 will carry the live radio broadcast.

James “Jim” Watson, a road-crew fabricator for Furniture Row Racing’s NASCAR Cup Series teams, passed away Saturday night at the age of 55 after suffering a heart attack.

A native of Greenfield, Wis. (near Milwaukee), Jim had been a member of Furniture Row Racing since February 2017. He worked for Roush Fenway Racing from 2006-2015 and spent last season with HScott Motorsports. Jim was a long-time race car driver, competing in dirt late models and in asphalt super late models throughout southeast Wisconsin.

He is survived by his wife, Laurie, and daughter Brittany.

“On behalf of Furniture Row Racing we extend our deepest sympathies to Jim’s family,” said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing. “He was an outstanding and talented member of our racing family, whose life was dedicated to racing since his early days as a race-car driver in Wisconsin. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jim’s wife Laurie, daughter Brittany and to his entire family and friends. Our No. 77 and 78 teams will be racing with heavy hearts today."

Funeral arrangement details will be forthcoming.

FRR PR

Ryan Blaney will start at the tail of the field on Sunday at Kansas Speedway after his time was disallowed by NASCAR during post-qualifying inspection on Friday.

Blaney originally posted a third-place starting spot in the final round of knockout qualifying. In rounds one and two, the NASCAR Playoff contender sat ninth in round one and fourth in round two.

The No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford sat fourth in the opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice on Friday.

“The rules are pushed to the max in every area, and today the NASCAR officials found something they didn’t like about our car,” said team co-owner Eddie Wood. “We’re not disputing their decision. We’ll own it and move on. We’ll work on our car in Saturday’s practice, line up in the back on Sunday and look forward to watching Ryan drive his way to the front.”

The team enters Kansas sitting two points ahead of Jimmie Johnson in seventh.

Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Omnicraft Auto Parts team will have to come from the rear of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway after their third-place qualifying time was disallowed because the No. 21 Fusion failed a post-qualifying inspection.

Blaney, who enters the final race of the Monster Energy Cup playoff’s Round of 12 in seventh place, had been among the fastest drivers in practice and qualifying on Friday at Kansas.

Now he’ll need all that speed to work his way up from his 40th starting spot in Sunday’s 400 miler.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that in today’s competitive environment, teams tend to take chances when it comes to preparing their cars.
 
“The rules are pushed to the max in every area, and today the NASCAR officials found something they didn’t like about our car,” Wood said. “We’re not disputing their decision. We’ll own it and move on.
 
“We’ll work on our car in Saturday’s practice, line up in the back on Sunday and look forward to watching Ryan drive his way to the front.”
 
Blaney and his Wood Brothers team, participating in the NASCAR playoffs for the first time, enter the final race of the Round of 12 two points ahead of eighth-place Jimmie Johnson and nine ahead of ninth-place Kyle Busch.
 
The Hollywood Casino 400 is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage on NBCSN.

WBR PR

Martin Truex Jr. will start on the pole at Kansas Speedway in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400. Truex, one of the heavy hitters gunning for this year’s championship, posted a 28.719, 188.029 mph. in the final round of knockout qualifying.

Truex enters Kansas holding his own with an already dominating season. The New Jersey native has six wins, 14 top five and 21 top 10 finishes through 31 races in 2017. The Kansas pole will be Truex’s third of the year.

Kevin Harvick will start second on the leaderboard in the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford. Harvick, entering the Hollywood Casino 400 as the defending race winner, posted a 28.772, 187.682 mph.

The California native comes into the 400-mile race with one victory, 10 top five and 18 top 10 finishes. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran has an average start of 15.4 and an average finish of 10.0 at Kansas.

Ryan Blaney rounded out the top three in round three. Blaney posted a 28.782, 187.617 in the final round of knockout qualifying. The Wood Brothers Racing Ford sat ninth in round one and fourth in round two.

Jimmie Johnson, needing to find a good run on Sunday to earn a spot into the Round of 8, missed advancing into the final round by one spot in 13th. Other drivers Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch also need to have Sunday go their way. They will start fourth and eighth on the leaderboard.

40 drivers appeared on the weekend entry list and there were no DNQs.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400. The event at the 1.5-mile oval will serve as the 32nd stop on the series tour with five races left. Kevin Harvick, who will be piloting the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford, enters the event as the defending race winner.

The entry list for Kansas Speedway features 41 entries. That means one team will not qualify for Sunday’s event. Some of the fresh faces this weekend include 00-Derrike Cope, 15-Reed Sorenson, 23-Corey LaJoie, 51-B.J. McLeod, 55-Gray Goulding, and 83-Brett Moffitt.

Many key playoff drivers enter Kansas Speedway needing a good run in order to advance into the ‘Round of Eight’. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth both come into the 1.5-mile oval outside of the cut line. Busch, a native of Las Vegas, sits seven points out of the box while teammate Matt Kenseth sits eight points behind.

“We’re going to do the same things we’ve always done – same preparation, nothing different. I think we need to go in there and do our best to be prepared and when it comes to race time, try to limit our mistakes,” said Busch. “I think that helped out there over the years and that has turned our team into a contender every time we race there, now. We’ll just do the same things this time around. It’s no different than what we typically do each and every week, though. I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) will have a good M&M’S Halloween Camry and we will keep doing what we’ve been doing well all year long and see where the points fall for us if we can’t get a win.”

“I think the main key to success there is to be fast on both sides of the run.  We’ve been really fast there before on the front side, but then maybe not as strong on the backstretch, while some people can be the other way around, said Kenseth. “I think to get restarted fast is important there in today’s world, but you also have to be versatile enough to move around the race track to be good at the end of the run as well.  Kansas is a place that you really need to be fast enough to pass, restart fast, and be good at the end of the run.  Looking ahead to this being a cut-off race this weekend, I really just take it one race at a time trying to get a win, and if you can’t get that, you just try to run the best you can to collect as many points as possible.”

Ryan Blaney and Jimmie Johnson are the last two drivers inside the cut line. Blaney enters the 400-mile event nine points to the good. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray are the last two drivers in the Round of 12 playoff grid and sit 22 and 29 points back.

One driver looking to play spoiler at Kansas Speedway will be Joey Logano. Despite missing the playoffs this year, Logano is still hungry looking to score a last-minute win of the season.

With 16 starts at the midwest oval, Logano holds two victories, six top five and boasts an average finish of 18.9. Each of these top five finishes came in his last eight races there.

The driver from Connecticut has momentum coming into the weekend after finishing fourth last weekend at Talladega and leading the field for 59 circuits.

If Derrike Cope makes the race in qualifying, he’ll make his 14th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start of the season. Cope will be piloting the No. 00 Chevrolet for StarCom Racing -- marking their debut in the premier racing series.

The driver from Washington State has 422 career starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Since his debut in 1982, Cope has two victories, six top five and 32 top 10 finishes.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. live on NBCSN. The Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Ch. 90 will carry the live radio broadcast.