Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14571)

Circle Sport-TMG welcomes NICERIDE Apparel as an associate sponsor on board the No. 33 Hulu Chevrolet, driven by Jeffrey Earnhardt, for this weekends AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. 

NICERIDE Apparel is a brand that provides quality apparel and products. NICERIDE has set out to promote a lifestyle that emphasizes the three most important aspects of our lives - Family, Friends, and most importantly Fun! 

"We are excited to welcome NICERIDE Apparel on board the No. 33 Hulu Chevrolet," commented team owner, Joe Falk. "NICERIDE Apparel is top of line and I'm glad that we were able to create a partnership within the premier series of NASCAR this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.”

“NICERIDE Apparel is extremely excited to be teaming up with Circle Sport for the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. We are eagerly looking forward to watching Jeffery Earnhardt have a "NICERIDE" while driving the No. 33 car this weekend. We at NICERIDE Apparel are also very honored and humbled to show support for the great people of Texas, especially after all they have had to endure this year.”

Tune into NBCSN, Sunday at 2:00pm ET to catch the action at the “Wild Circus,” Texas Motor Speedway. For more information on NICERIDE Apparel visit their website


Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Michael McDowell will celebrate their homecoming at Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500.

During the team’s last trip to Texas in April of this year, they just missed the final round of qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 and captured a 13th place starting position. McDowell’s best finish at Texas in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) is a 23rd place finish earned in 2016. He matched that finish in the most recent Texas race in April of this year.

This week, McDowell will once again pilot the No. 95 Rohto® Jolt™ Chevrolet SS, as he looks to improve on his finish from earlier this year.

“It feels like it has been so long since we have been to Texas, but we were super fast there earlier this year,” said McDowell. “We almost made it to the third round of qualifying and had a really strong car. We just missed it a little in the race, but it was still a really solid race for us. We are really looking forward to this race just because of how quick we were last time.”

McDowell is looking forward to racing at Texas, where he has had success, but knows this trip to the Lone Star state will be an emotional one.

“It’s also a hometown race for Bob, Sharon and everyone at WRL, so I always feel a little extra pressure,” continued McDowell. “It’s going to be a special weekend for me since I won’t be back with this team next year. I’m looking forward to seeing all our friends and family and enjoying my time with everyone.”

The AAA Texas 500 will take place on Sunday, November 5 at 2PM ET. Race fans can tune-in to NBCSN for live coverage and follow @LFR95 on Twitter for team updates.


Richard Petty Motorsports will be making its 42nd start at the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.  The team has one pole at the track and a best finish of fifth.  

Aric Almirola will be making his 14th start at the fast, mile-and-a-half oval.  He has a best start of third and finish of seventh, both coming with Richard Petty Motorsports.  
"Our goal is to always win, that hasn't changed.  The next three races, yeah, it'd be pretty special to get another win.  Over the past six years, the folks at RPM have become friends and more like family to Janice and I.  The best way to celebrate as a group is in Victory Lane.  We have done that, and we did bring the No. 43 back to Victory Lane for Richard.  It's something I'd like to do one more time before the season ends.
"We're all pulling together to still do the best we can.  We were encouraged with some better finishes the past month.  We qualified well at Martinsville, but didn't finish where we wanted.  Our intermediate cars have been getting better.  We had a fast car at Kansas and hopefully we have a fast Smithfield Ford Fusion in Texas.  We'd all like to get another win or two."


As Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team prepare for the second of three races in the Round of Eight in the Monster Energy Cup playoffs, the goal remains essentially the same as it’s been for every race this season.

That means it’s essential to qualify up front, earn as many stage points as possible in the first two stages of the race, then go all out to the checkered flag.

While many in the sport may have initially underestimated the importance of stage points, which were introduced this year, Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have been pursuing them with a vengeance since the start of the season.

Blaney has scored stage points in 25 of the 33 races run this season for a total of 212 points. He’s eighth among all drivers in stage points earned and sixth among the eight drivers still in the running for the championship.
He’s earned stage points in five of the seven playoff races to date, and his 29 stage points earned in the Round of 12 played a big role in his advancement to the current Round of Eight.

 “The stage points are huge,” Blaney said during a media appearance at Martinsville Speedway. “They’re gigantic.  Hopefully, we can gather a bunch of those, but I’m not really sure how many it’s going to take [to advance to the final round].  

“You can probably run 10th in every single race in this round and not advance. Stage points matter. I think you’re going to have to get at least 12-15 stage points a race and finish inside the top 10 just to even have a prayer because the competition is so good right now.  

 “It’s eight of the best cars.”

Team co-owner Len Wood said the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team’s recent performance at Kansas Speedway, where Blaney came from the 40th starting position to score 10 stage points and finish third, bodes well for Texas this weekend.

And Texas, a track that is similar to Kansas, has been good to Blaney as well as he swept both stages in April’s 500-miler.

“I think our run at Kansas shows that we may be a really good car at Texas because I think we won both stages there in the spring,” Wood said. “So let’s hope we’re peaking at the right time.”

Qualifying for the AAA Texas 500 is set for Friday at 5:15 p.m. (6:15 Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. (2 p.m. Eastern) with TV coverage on NBCSN.


NASCAR announced infractions found over the weekend at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday. The penalties involved a pair of improperly secured lug nut fines and an L1 penalty in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage. There were no infractions found over the weekend in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage area.

Scott Graves, crew chief of the No. 19 Toyota of Daniel Suarez, and Robert Barker, crew chief of the No. 13 Chevrolet of Ty Dillon, were each fined $10,000 for a lug nut not properly installed.

The most major penalty was an L1 penalty handed down to the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Clint Bowyer. The team violated section (TV Video Package Notes: TV Video Package simulated weight did not meet NASCAR specifications.)

As a result, crew chief Michael Bugarewicz has been fined $25,000 and suspended from the next Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Points event. The team will also lose 10 driver and owner points.

The third-place finish by Clint Bowyer in Sunday’s First Data 500 will also be encumbered.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Infraction Date Track Team Level Infraction Penalty
10/29/2017 (post-race inspection) Martinsville No. 14 L1 Section TV Video Package
Notes: TV Video Package simulated weight did not meet NASCAR specifications. Race finish is encumbered per Section 12.10
Encumbered Race Finishes.
Crew chief (Michael Bugarewicz) has been fined $25,000 and suspended from the next Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Series Championship Points Event. Team has been assessed with the loss of 10 owner points and 10 driver points.
10/29/2017 (post-race inspection) Martinsville No. 19 Safety Sections Tires and Wheels
Note: Lug nut(s) not properly installed.
Crew chief (Scott Graves) has been fined $10,000.
10/29/2017 (post-race inspection) Martinsville No. 13 Safety Sections Tires and Wheels
Note: Lug nut(s) not properly installed.
Crew chief (Robert Barker) has been fined $10,000.


Though he can rewrite some of his own NASCAR Cup Series records during this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, that is not foremost on the mind of Martin Truex Jr.

Following his win at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago, Truex set two 1.5-mile records -- most season wins on a 1.5-mile track (6) and most consecutive 1.5-mile wins (4).

With the mile-and-a-half Texas Motor Speedway being the next stop in the Round of 8 playoffs, needless to say Truex and his Furniture Row Racing teammates are looking forward to the speedy Texas track.

“We like going to Texas and feel we can run well there,” said Truex, who will drive the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. “But just because we’ve had some pretty good success at mile-and-a-half tracks, there’s no guarantee of achieving similar results. We have to go out there and prove ourselves again."

Truex added, “There are now seven drivers fighting for those three remaining Championship 4 spots. We’ve had good runs at Texas in the past, but have not closed the deal there. First and foremost, we want to have a strong race at Texas and acquire as many points as we can.”

Truex will be seeking his sixth straight top-10 at Texas. He finished eighth there in the spring and third in last year’s fall race.

With Kyle Busch winning at Martinsville Speedway and gaining an automatic transfer to the final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Truex, who leads in the overall playoff point standings, has a 67-point margin over the fifth-place driver.

“Until a NASCAR official tells me we have mathematically clinched a final-four berth we aren’t taking anything for granted,” stated Truex, who is coming off a runner-up finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. “This is racing and a lot of strange things can happen.”

So far, Truex has enjoyed a solid playoff season. Take away the Talladega (Ala.)  Superspeedway race where he was involved in a multicar accident, his average finish in the other six races is 2.33. In those six races he has scored three wins (Chicagoland, Charlotte, Kansas) a second (Martinsville), fourth (Dover) and fifth (New Hampshire).

“It’s what’s ahead of us that counts, not behind us,” said Truex. “Yes, it’s been a lot of fun so far, but the mission is not complete. We want to get to Homestead and be one of the four teams competing for the season championship. We feel we have what it takes, just need to avoid mistakes and stay away from trouble.”

Truex’s season record to date includes career season highs for wins (7) top fives (16), top 10s (23) and laps led (2068).

His career record at Texas includes 24 starts, three top fives, 13 top 10s and 488 laps led. His average Texas start is 15.2 and average finish is 13.6.


We’ve all heard the expression “everything’s bigger in Texas.” While the saying’s origin may not be clear, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental “$10M for Veterans” Ford Fusion team hope to leave Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth with big, Texas-sized smiles following Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.


Of all the tracks where the NASCAR Cup Series competes, Patrick has the most starts at Texas, having driven in 22 major-league races – 10 in the NASCAR Cup Series, four in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and eight in the IndyCar Series.


Patrick’s career-best NASCAR Cup Series result at Texas is 16th, a mark she earned at both events there in 2015. In her four Xfinity Series races at Texas, Patrick has three top-15 finishes, including an eighth-place result in April 2012. In Patrick’s eight IndyCar Series starts at the track, she has five top-10s, including a third-place result in June 2007 and a second-place finish in June 2010.


All of Patrick’s experience at the 1.5-mile Texas oval went out the window earlier this year as the track was repaved and reconfigured. Teams got their first look at the new track surface in April, when they competed in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Patrick called the race “one of the hardest races I’ve ever done in a stock car.” She started 19th and finished 24th, one lap down to the leaders.


Despite the modest performance at the track in the spring, Patrick and the No. 10 team head to Texas with something to smile about as sponsor Aspen Dental will be honoring veterans this weekend. On Saturday, veterans will receive free dental care aboard Aspen Dental’s MouthMobile – a 42-foot-long dental office on wheels. In addition, Patrick’s No. 10 Ford Fusion will sport a patriotic red, white and blue Aspen Dental paint scheme throughout the weekend to celebrate the veteran community, as well as Aspen Dental reaching the $10 million mark in donated dentistry to veterans through its Healthy Mouth Movement.


As they race to honor veterans and celebrate Aspen Dental’s efforts, Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental “$10M for Veterans” Ford team hope to leave Texas Motor Speedway with a solid finish and some of the biggest smiles ever seen. 



Kurt Busch is well known as a diehard Chicago Cubs fan.


Having celebrated the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series after a brief drought of 108 years last fall, Busch was a little disappointed that the Northside team was eliminated from the Major League Baseball playoffs by the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to one in this year’s National League Championship Series.


So while Busch may not be paying attention to the World Series quite as closely in 2017, he can reflect on accomplishing one – or two – of his lifelong goals.


The first was to see every Major League ballpark in the United States and Canada. He accomplished that feat.


The second was to win the prestigious Daytona 500, which he accomplished in February.

Busch joined names like Petty, Pearson, Foyt and Andretti.


Busch was sadly eliminated from the NASCAR playoffs this year after the first round, but there is still much to learn as 2017 comes to a close. And Busch will see what he can do this week in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.


The driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has one pole, one win, three top-five finishes and 16 top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval. Additionally, the 39-year-old driver has led 295 laps, has an average starting position of 14.6, an average finish of 15.3, and has completed 98.4 percent – 9,511 of 9,669 – of the laps he’s contested there.


This week marks three years since Busch and veteran crew chief Tony Gibson were paired up, as well. On November 2, 2014, Busch started fourth, led 15 laps and finished an impressive eighth in his first race with Gibson.


Both Gibson and Busch are hoping they can find victory lane once again the great state of Texas. 



Kansas Speedway was the key to Round 3 advancement for Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team. Texas Speedway holds much the same gravitas for the Wood Brothers’ ambition to race for the NASCAR championship at Homestead in three weeks.

The last time Blaney and company ran at Texas they dominated the proceedings. The iconic No. 21 started second and won the first two stages before problems on pit road relegated them to a 12th-place finish.

Because of that April Lone Star State performance, confidence and expectations are in high gear going into the AAA Texas 500.

Blaney’s best career finish at Martinsville (eighth) last week moved him up from seventh to sixth in the NASCAR Playoffs standings and inched him three points closer to the cutoff to be in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend.


On the Playoffs and Texas Speedway:

“It’s hard to carry tons of momentum from Martinsville but we ran great at Texas earlier in the year so that’s something to look forward to. I've always enjoyed the track at Texas. It’s a great facility and always a lot of fun.”

“I hope we are peaking at the right time. I think our cars are getting better each week and the team is rising to the challenge.”

Ford Performance PR

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is heading to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 with a three-point advantage over the fifth-place driver in the playoff standings with two races remaining in the Round of 8.


When Harvick advanced to the Round of 8 two weekends ago, he took a good look at the AAA Texas 500 as perhaps his best chance to score the maximum amount of points and reach victory lane to automatically advance to the winner-take-all Championship 4. What makes that most interesting is that the 1.5-mile Texas oval is one of only three racetracks where Harvick has yet to record a Cup Series victory.


The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion’s optimism stems from the No. 4 team’s performance on the 1.5-mile tracks in recent history. In the last 10 Cup Series races on 1.5-mile tracks, Harvick has scored the second-most points of any driver by collecting five top-fives and nine top-10s in those 10 races, as well as leading 748 laps – second most of any driver over that span.


While Harvick is still looking for his first Cup Series win at Texas, he has had success there in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.


Harvick has five wins and two poles at Texas in the Xfinity Series. He’s also scored 11 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and led 779 laps. He has an average starting position of 7.4 and finish of 7.3.

In the Truck Series, Harvick has one Texas victory, which came in 2011. He also has two top-fives and led 64 laps in four starts.


In 29 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Texas, Harvick has one pole, seven top-five finishes and 17 top-10s with an average finish of 11.7.


While he is still chasing that elusive first Cup Series win at Texas, Harvick’s recent starts there show he may be close to finally breaking through. He has finished in the top-10 in nine of his last 11 races at Texas, including six in a row dating back to November 2014, and he’s led 187 laps in his last six starts. Harvick won his lone Cup Series pole at Texas in April with a lap of 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph in the final round of qualifying.


Texas Motor Speedway laid an entirely new asphalt surface prior to the start of the season. The one constant with most repaved racetracks in recent history is that the racing typically changes significantly.


With just two races remaining to secure a spot in the Championship 4, Harvick got off to a strong start with a fifth-place finish last weekend in Martinsville and is hoping to continue his strong showing Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Harvick is looking to win a brand new cowboy hat – traditionally awarded to Texas winners – and, most importantly, secure his position in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a shot at his second NASCAR Cup Series championship.