Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14930)

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Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing team continues to show improvement with five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races completed in 2018. Almirola left Richard Petty Motorsports in the offseason to join Stewart-Haas Racing with the departure of Danica Patrick. With five events completed, the driver of the No. 10 Ford has two top 10 finishes.

The Florida native nearly went to victory lane in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in the Daytona 500. However, while leading on the last lap going into turn three, Almirola and driver Austin Dillon made contact – sending Almirola into the wall and leaving the 2.5-mile oval with an 11th place finish. As for Dillion, he went on to win the 60th annual event.

Since joining the Stewart-Haas Racing stable, a four-car Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series operation, Almirola has the most resources than ever before in the series. The series veteran with a victory at Daytona in July of 2014 says it’s been incredible and noted how Stewart-Haas Racing conforms around each of their drivers driving style.

“They’ve got fast race cars and they’ve got really smart people and they’ll be able to conform and work around my style and that I don’t have to adapt and drive like anybody else.  That’s been the most eye-opening thing for me is that all of those guys are always fast and they always run up front and they qualify up front and they race up front and they all do something different, they all require something different setup-wise, they all do something different on their driver data, so that’s giving me a lot of confidence to just be me, to just go over there and drive the race car like I know how, give them feedback on what I want the race car to do different and they’ll work around it, and we have a group of people and smart people and really fast race cars to be able to adapt.”

With the exception of Phoenix, Almirola hasn’t done statistically well at Daytona, Atlanta, Las Vegas or Fontana. Since the start of the season in 2018, the driver has brought home five consecutive top-15 finishes all on those tracks. Almirola talked about how his confidence is building back up now after joining the new environment and finding success early on at those tracks.

“There was a day and time when I showed up at the race track in other series and I had loads of confidence and knew that I was gonna run good no matter what, and I have been beat down for sure racing at this level over the last several years just not producing the results. That’s hard to swallow. When you grow up and you win races and win state championships and national championships and racing go-karts and racing late models and you’re successful and you work your way up through the ranks and then you get all the way here to the elite and 20th is a good day, that’s hard to adjust to that mentality and it does take a toll on your confidence.  So it is gonna take a while to build my confidence back up and get to where I need to be to.”

Almirola says it’s everything behind the scenes at the shop that is contributing to their performance and building confidence. People, resources, wind tunnel time, engineering and attention to every part and piece on the car. All of the things needed to be successful in the sport of NASCAR both from a team and driver standpoint

“You just walk in the shop and it’s everything.  It’s people.  It’s resources.  It’s wind tunnel time.  It’s engineering.  It’s the attention to detail to every part and piece on the race car and in order to do that you have to have manpower capable of doing that.  You can’t take a group of 30 people and make them focus on the thousands of parts and pieces that are on the race car, but you can take 400 people and do that, so increased manpower, increased resources and engineering and technology I think pretty much sums it up.”

The series will re-visit Daytona, Phoenix and Las Vegas later in 2018. Auto Club Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway will not return to the series schedule until 2019. As for this weekend at Martinsville, a track that has been good to the driver in the past, it could result in their first top five of the season if all things go right.

In October of 2012, while racing under the Richard Petty Motorsports banner, Almirola took the No. 43 Ford to a fourth place finish. In April of that year, the driver posted an eighth on the leaderboard.

Holding an average finish of 22.4 at the 0.526-mile oval, Almirola finished 18th in both races at Martinsville Speedway last season. Overall, in 18 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts there, the driver has one top five and three top 10 finishes.

“I really look forward to going to Martinsville. Every time we go there, it’s just fun racing. It’s a love-hate relationship with Martinsville Speedway because it’s tight quarters and it’s easy to get frustrated. You kind of beat and bang with all of your competitors but it’s so cool. It’s one of the coolest places to watch a race, as well.”

This weekend will also serve as a milestone start for the driver. Almirola, since making his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2007, will be making his 250th career start in the premier series.

“I wanted to be dirty and work on racecars. I didn’t care if I made $200 a week, or $200,000 a week. It honestly made no difference to me, I didn’t care. I just wanted to make a living, to be able to wake up in the morning and be a racer. To be able to do it at this level, and to have stayed in the Cup Series for this amount of time and have this opportunity in front of me, it’s incredible to think about my 250th start. I now realize when I look in the mirror and I see the gray hair in my sideburns and in my beard, it all makes sense.”

Since his debut in 2007, Almirola holds one victory, 11 top five, 34 top 10s and one career pole.

Kasey Kahne and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) will head to Martinsville Speedway for the first short track race of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season.

After the West Coast swing left the team eager to improve, the team will try their hand at the short track at which Kahne has a pole award and three Top-five finishes, including a runner-up finish.

The team also announced this week that they will once again host Camp 95, an exclusive two-day camp for high school students wanting to learn about the various careers in NASCAR.

After hosting the camp for the first time in 2015, it has become so successful since then, that high schoolers from as far as California apply to attend.

Former campers have gone on to continue their education at universities like the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Duke University for mechanical engineering and have also received internships with other MENCS teams.

“We’re looking forward to hosting camp for the fourth year in a row,” said Jeremy Lange, VP / GM of LFR. “We began the camp with the intent of providing an opportunity to kids that isn’t offered anywhere else. We want to help show them, not only how to get involved in the sport, but that they don’t necessarily have to know how to turn a wrench in order to have a career in racing.”

Camp 95 will take place on July 10th and 11th as a way to give back to the community by using the team to provide the students with an inside look at the different career opportunities available to them.

LFR and Kahne will head to Martinsville Speedway for the STP 500 on Sunday, March 25 at 2PM EST. Race fans can tune in to FS1 for live coverage and follow @LFR95 on Twitter.


EDITORS NOTE: 2015 was the final year of published purses via NASCAR statistics prior to the introduction of the charter system.

Information obtained through court records of BK Racing LLC., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team in federal bankruptcy court has given a rare and insightful look into the new Charter System that began in 2016.

Below are a comparison of 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season total purses versus 2018 charter system purses.

In part of the decline of purses and revenues are due to removal of historical performance benefit payouts, expiration of many of the contingencies program and other reductions removed from the overall purse over the last several seasons. Teams also receive a 25% share of TV revenues.

Track 2018 2015
Daytona 500 $15,466,000 $19,809,272
Atlanta (1) $2,477,000 $6,299,292
Las Vegas (1) $2,647,000 $6,495,939
Phoenix (1) $1,459,000 $5,107,970
Auto Club (1) $2,289,000 $5,950,387
Martinsville (1) $1,373,000 $5,075,776
Texas (1) $2,944,000 $7,260,922
Bristol (1) $1,736,000 $5,628,518
Richmond (1) $1,514,000 $5,171,635
Talladega (1) $2,377,000 $6,183,287
Dover (1) $2,312,000 $5,977,115
Kansas (1) $1,539,000 $5,400,236
Charlotte (1) $2,961,000 $6,660,588
Pocono (1) $1,439,000 $5,084,726
Michigan (1) $1,535,000 $5,263,885
Sonoma (1) $1,990,000 $5,735,702
Chicago (1) $2,515,000 $6,144,256
Daytona (2) $2,515,000 $6,343,472
Kentucky (1) $1,456,000 $5,104,114
New Hampshire (1) $1,527,000 $5,386,439
Pocono (2) $1,439,000 $5,084,726
Watkins Glen (1) $1,160,000 $4,960,524
Michigan (2) $1,532,000 $5,260,905
Bristol (2) $2,535,000 $6,366,322
Darlington (1) $2,127,000 $5,762,276
Indianapolis (1) $5,456,000 $9,358,657
Las Vegas (2) $1,699,000 NHMS Date
New Hampshire (2) LVMS Date $5,386,439
Richmond (2) $1,540,000 $5,202,126
Charlotte (2) $1,630,000 $5,306,331
Dover (2) $1,586,000 $5,255,734
Talladega (2) $1,752,000 $5,446,886
Kansas (2) $2,515,000 $6,144,256
Martinsville (2) $1,540,000 $5,202,126
Texas (2) $2,622,000 $7,075,075
Phoenix (2) $1,540,000 $5,202,126
Homestead (1) $1,692,000 $5,378,116
Total $86.436,000 $222,476,156

Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion team wrapped up the three-race “NASCAR Goes West” swing Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California with a 12th-place finish for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). Three of the four SHR entries finished in the top-15 at Fontana – the lone exception being Kevin Harvick, who was involved in an accident – continuing the show of strength by the four-car entity five races into the 36-race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. The strong start for the Ford-backed team has placed all four cars in the top-11 in the driver point standings – Harvick in eighth, Clint Bowyer ninth, Almirola 10th and Kurt Busch 11th. 

​This weekend, NASCAR’s premiere series heads to a completely different style of track. Martinsville (Va.) Speedway is known for its unique surface with racecars competing in very tight quarters, creating exciting racing for the fans. Tempers often flair as drivers vie for one of the most coveted trophies on the circuit – a hand-crafted grandfather clock.  

Almirola hits career milestone Cup Series start No. 250 this weekend at Martinsville. The toughness of the sport doesn’t allow for many drivers to stick around long enough to make it to their 250th start. Almirola first competed in the Cup Series in 2007 as a part-time driver. While the 34-year-old has enjoyed recent success at SHR, he knows it doesn’t come easily. If the current Almirola could give advice to his younger self, it’s interesting what he would say.

“I wish I knew going into all of this how tough it was really going to be,” he said. “I think everybody views things from TV and thinks they’re way easier than they really are. The reason things look easy when you watch on TV is because those people are professionals and they do it for a living. The reason they make it look easy is because they’re really, really, really good at it. I just think as a kid you grow up, and you’re arrogant, and you think you know everything, and you’re awesome. Then, it’s especially the case when you get your first few opportunities and you’ve got people who surround you and they’re pumping your ego up, and telling you that you’re awesome and that you’re going to be the next big superstar. What you don’t realize in those early years is that it’s so tough. You’ve got to want it. Desire and passion don’t do it alone. You’ve got to have the work ethic, the mental stability, all of those things to make a really great racecar driver.”

Almirola eyes this weekend’s event as another opportunity to continue building his relationship with crew chief Johnny Klausmeier and the No. 10 Mobil 1 team. Klausmeier’s alma mater, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, enjoyed success last weekend in the opening rounds of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. The relatively unknown school took front and center on the national stage after routing No. 1 seed University of Virginia to move on to the second round, where it was eliminated by Kansas State.

This weekend’s Martinsville event marks the first two-day show of the season for the Cup Series. The condensed schedule means one less practice session for the premiere series as track activity doesn’t begin until Saturday morning.

While most people are familiar with Almirola piloting the white, black and gold Smithfield Ford Fusion this weekend, the No. 10 machine will dawn the Mobil 1 colors of red, blue, and white. The longtime SHR partner is also the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” and the partnership with Mobil 1 continues to provide a rigorous and extreme testing ground to improve lubricant technology performance on and off the track.

Statistically, the half-mile, paperclip-shaped Martinsville oval has been one of Almirola’s better tracks. He’s earned one top-five finish and three top-10s with 2012 being his best season at the track with finishes of eighth and fourth. He’s also led a total of 56 laps at the Virginia track and has an average starting position of 20.7 with an average finishing position of 22.4. This weekend in the Cup Series at Martinsville, the native of Tampa, Florida will make his 19th start in the series. In Almirola’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career at Martinsville, he has an average starting positon of 12.0 and an average finishing position of 11.4.

To this point in the season, Almirola has completed 1,308 laps in five Cup Series events for a completion rate of 99.8 percent. Coming off five top-13 finishes – 11th at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, 13th at Atlanta Motor Speedway, 10th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, seventh at ISM Raceway near Phoenix and 12th at Fontana – Almirola and the No. 10 team have proven their competitiveness at several styles of tracks – a superspeedway, two intermediate ovals, a short track and a fast, 2-mile oval.  

Martinsville serves as the final race before the first NASCAR Cup Series off weekend. The series returns to action April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Almirola and the No. 10 team have already visited the 1.5-mile track once, before the season officially started for a two-day test Jan. 9 and 10. It marked the first time the Klausmeier-led team worked together.



Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is heading to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Martinsville 500 looking to start a fresh winning streak at a notoriously challenging venue.


Harvick has won three of the first five NASCAR Cup Series events of 2018, scoring consecutive wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway near Phoenix. His streak ended Sunday with a 35th-place result at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Now, the 42-year-old driver is looking to regain his form and start a new streak with a trip to victory lane this weekend at Martinsville.


The .526-mile paperclip-shaped racetrack is the shortest NASCAR Cup Series circuit while its low banking and tight corners provide some of the closest and toughest competition of the year.


Due to its tight quarters, a racecar rarely finishes a race at Martinsville without a tire mark on the door or a few dents in the sheet metal.  


What makes it maddening for competitors is that they can race to the front of the field and stay there throughout the majority of the event, only to get shuffled back on a late-race restart if they wind up in the outside lane.


Harvick and the No. 4 team suffered that very fate at Martinsville in April 2016, when he started 19th, raced to the front and led 72 laps before being stuck in the outside lane on consecutive late-race restarts, ultimately finishing 17th.


But the madness of Martinsville can work to a driver’s benefit, as well. Harvick found that out in April 2011, when he started ninth, led just six of 500 laps and beat runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the finish line by .727 of a second.


The Bakersfield, California, native scored his first top-five at Martinsville since joining SHR in his most recent visit to the venue in October 2017, but it didn’t come easily. The No. 4 Ford was collected in a last-lap accident and crossed the finish line backwards with the tires smoking. The racecar finally made contact with the outside SAFER Barrier and suffered so much damage that the crew could not load it into the team hauler.


One of the most important things to watch for this weekend at Martinsville will be stage points and stage wins, which can be scored early in the race. Harvick has scored 53 stage points through the first five races in 2018, which accounts for more than 31 percent of his total of 170 points in the driver standings.


Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing claimed the points lead following his win last week at Fontana, while Harvick dropped from first to eighth place in the standings with his 35th-place finish Sunday.


While Harvick leads the Cup Series with three wins and 11 playoff points through the first five races, he still would love nothing more than to start another winning streak this weekend in Martinsville.



Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Infraction Date Track Team Level Infraction Penalty
3/18/2018 (post-race inspection) Auto Club No. 18 Safety Sections Tires and Wheels
Note: Lug nut(s) not properly installed.
Crew chief (Adam Stevens) has been fined $10,000.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Infraction Date Track Team Level Infraction Penalty
3/17/2018 (post-race inspection) Auto Club No. 18 Safety Sections Tires and Wheels
Note: Lug nut(s) not properly installed.
Crew chief (Eric Phillips) has been fined $5,000.


When Paul Menard takes the wheel of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, he’ll make his first appearance in the No. 21 at the track where Glen Wood made the team’s first Cup start back in 1953.

Now, 65 years later, Menard will make career start No. 1516 for the Wood Brothers, NASCAR’s longest continuously operating race team.
That’s something he’s looking forward to.
“It’ll be pretty special because it’s the home track for the Wood Brothers,” Menard said. “I know they have a lot of fans up there, so we want to do well for them.”
Menard, like many of his peers, has mixed feelings about racing at the tight, paper-clip-shaped track located just a short drive east of the Wood Brothers’ home base in Stuart, Va.
“It’s a love-hate relationship,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to drive on that track, and the races are fun for the most part.

 “But they can be frustrating.”
Menard said he doesn’t lose his temper at Martinsville any more than at any other track on the circuit, but he said he also expects more retaliation for fender-banging at Martinsville than at other tracks.
He said that’s a product of the reduced speeds at Martinsville.
“The risk of injury is less there than at Charlotte or Fontana or some of the bigger tracks,” he said.
But he said it’s also nice to race at a place like Martinsville.
“It’s going back to NASCAR’s roots,” he said. “And it’s a track a lot like the ones a lot of us came up racing on.”
Menard said he’s optimistic going into the STP 500 weekend, because of his team’s performance so far this season and because of Ford’s recent history at Martinsville, where Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski is the defending race winner.
“This is the first real short-track race of the year, and the Fords have been strong there the last few years,” Menard said. “And we were happy with our performance at Fontana. We had a top-10 car most of the day and passed a lot of cars coming from the back to the front.”
Qualifying for the STP 500 is set for Saturday at 5:10 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.


After making his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) debut at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway last month, NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Harrison Rhodes (@HarrisonRhodes) returns to Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 chartered Chevrolet for Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Joining Rhodes in his debut at Martinsville is primary marketing partner Custom Aircraft Cabinets (CAC).

Custom Aircraft Cabinets has been providing luxurious interiors for private, corporate and head-of-state aircraft since 1989. CAC manufactures the highest quality cabinetry, upholstered interior products from a state-of-the-art facility in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

“CAC is very proud to sponsor and be a part of Rick Ware Racing and it is an honor to be included with their team,” stated Paul Reesnes, co-owner of Custom Aircraft Cabinets.

Mike Gueringer, co-owner of CAC added, “This is a great way for CAC to expose our produc

ts and services to a most discerning audience.” RWR team principal Rick Ware says he’s excited to debut a new partnership with his team at the sport’s pinnacle level – and have a qualified driver like Rhodes behind the wheel at Martinsville’s famed paperclip oval.

“I’m very appreciative of Custom Aircraft Cabinets and their support of our team this weekend,” said Ware. “They’ve taken a head-first approach with this new opportunity to support a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team and I hope this is a partnership that everyone will see expand throughout the year.

“I’m equally excited to have Harrison back behind the wheel for us this weekend. He flew under the radar at Atlanta but learned a lot and showcased his ability to respectfully compete in a Cup race. Martinsville isn’t an easy track, but with his desire, dedication and focus, I think he’ll be fine on Sunday.”

A native of High Point, N.C., Rhodes has spent the last five years competing in the Xfinity Series for a variety of different organizations. Last year, the 24-year-old competed in 31 races driving for JD Motorsports with Gary Keller earning a season-high 10th place finish in the season-opening race at Daytona.

“I’ve never been to Martinsville, but I’m optimistic about our chances,” added Rhodes. “I’m grateful to Custom Aircraft Cabinets and Rick (Ware) for giving me an opportunity to compete in another Cup race.

“I think our goals for this weekend are obtainable. We just need to make gains from practice to qualifying and see the checkered flag on Sunday. If we can do that – we can continue to build as a team and set our expectations a little higher for the next race.”

In addition to Custom Aircraft Cabinets, RWR is proud to carry the support of Keen Buildings, Spoonful of Music, American Dream Leasing and Financing and Industrial Construction Experts as associate marketing partners for the sixth race on the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tour.

For more on Rick Ware Racing, please “like” them on Facebook ( or visit

Rick Ware Racing is on Twitter. Follow them @RickWareRacing.


 Gordon Brothers, the global advisory, restructuring and investment firm, will adorn the No. 96 Toyota Camry fielded by Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) and driven by D.J. Kennington in this Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway (Va.).

"GBR is pleased to partner with Gordon Brothers this weekend at Martinsville," said Marty Gaunt, GBR owner. "Partnering with Gordon Brothers helps GBR to grow. We take pride in bringing new companies into the Cup Series and helping them benefit from their participation in NASCAR."

"Gordon Brothers is excited to partner with the GBR team this weekend," said Jim Burke, Director of Gordon Brothers, Commercial and Industrial. "It's a great fit given our experience and capabilities within professional motorsports."

Sunday's event will mark the third race of the season for GBR and Kennington. Their two previous starts came in February at Daytona and earlier this month at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. It will also serve as Kennington's first Cup Series short track start. He made two Martinsville starts in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition, scoring a best finish of 17th in 2010.

"I'm pumped to get back on the track," said Kennington, two-time champion of NASCAR's Pinty's Series. "At the end of the Phoenix race, we had our car handling where we wanted it. We're still building our foundation for the shorter tracks and Martinsville should provide us a solid proving ground."


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR will again use a new and well-received enhanced schedule format featuring robust driver appearances and fan interaction opportunities at 12 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events this season, beginning with this weekend’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The enhanced schedule will feature two days of Monster Energy Series action while each track will still host three total days of on-track activity. There also will be a rotating schedule of Monster Energy Series drivers participating in various interactive opportunities for fans at the racing facilities.

In addition to both the spring and fall Martinsville race weekends, the enhanced Monster Energy Series schedule will be in place at both Richmond races, the May Kansas weekend, Chicagoland, Kentucky, the second Pocono race in July, Watkins Glen, the Bristol night race weekend in August, Indianapolis and the fall Talladega weekend.

The decision to bring back the enhanced schedule comes after much success with the new idea last season. It was used at Martinsville, Indianapolis, Pocono races in 2017, receiving good reviews from both spectators and competitors.

Executives from NASCAR, Monster Energy Series teams and the race tracks collaborated on the enhanced scheduling concept for the 2018 season with the idea of unique opportunities for fans to interact with their favorite Cup drivers. Each facility will develop specific programs and events with the goal to continually offer fans new experiences at track, up-close with their favorite drivers.