Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14571)

Gray Gaulding and BK Racing are proud to announce a partnership with The Country Network for the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5. The Country Network (TCN) will join EarthWater on the No.83 Toyota driven by Gray Gaulding.

The Country Network (TCN) headquartered in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area with offices in Nashville, TN and New York, NY. TCN is an innovative music video TV network dedicated to providing today’s Country music enthusiasts with more choices in televised and digital programming. TCN is available in 51 US markets through OTA digital antennas and nationwide through major streaming services including Roku, Apple, Amazon, Panasonic and Hitachi smart TVs. TCN recently launched in DFW area on Digital Channel 34.7, and plays 24/7 on the TCN website.

“This is a great way to kick off our partnership with The Country Network and EarthWater” said Gaulding. “We have two Texas based companies on our Toyota Camry racing just thirty minutes from Toyota’s new USA headquarters at Texas Motor Speedway, it’s the perfect combo.”

“Country music and NASCAR go hand in hand,” said Tim Eaton, President & CEO of The Country Network, “and forming a partnership with a rising star like Gray Gaulding, allows us to engage our core audience in a sport they follow closely.”

EarthWater, Ltd. Is a producer of high alkaline water containing a proprietary blend of Fulvic and Humic mineral complexes that contain up to 70+ trace minerals and powerful antioxidants. The company is dedicated to creating products that hydrate, energize, and truly improve the health and quality of life of consumers. EarthWater is an exclusive partner of Amazon and is available worldwide wherever Amazon ships. Learn more at

“Our partnerships mean everything to us – they become part of our family. That’s how we see BK Racing, and that’s how we see The Country Network partnership. It’s a great fit. We are excited to share the #83 car with TCN and to stand behind Gray Gaulding on the track,” stated Cash Riley, President of EarthWater.

The AAA Texas 500 will be the finale to a weekend full of racing at Texas Motor Speedway. Ticket packages are still available through the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or online at

Keeping up with Gray… For the latest news, notes, and appearance information follow @GrayGaulding on Twitter and Instagram or


With his win this past Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Kyle Busch is locked into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 on Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


While the pressure to win races is off for the next two weeks for Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), it doesn’t mean he won’t be trying to keep the pressure on his fellow NASCAR playoff competitors, starting with Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.


Why is that the case? To borrow a football analogy, the M&M’S Caramel team doesn’t plan to just run the ball and drain the clock just because Busch is locked into the Championship 4 at Homestead. With two races remaining in the Round of 8, Busch and crew chief Adam Stevens will still be throwing the ball down the field, in a football sense, and trying to not make it easy for the rest of the remaining playoff field to automatically punch their tickets to Homestead like Busch did this past weekend.


This year’s scenario is much different for Busch than it was the last two seasons, even though he also remained championship eligible at the Homestead season finale.


In 2015, once he got to the Championship 4 at Homestead, he brought home a huge victory to secure his first title in NASCAR’s top series after scoring six top-five finishes through the first nine playoff races. Same goes for 2016, when he also matched the six top-five finishes in the first nine playoff races.


In 2017, Busch has taken a completely different path, as he scored finishes of 29th, 27th and 10th in the Round of 12 but still making it through to the Round of 8 thanks to the all-important playoff points he carried over from the regular season.


After his second career Texas win in the spring of 2016 and a fifth-place finish last fall, Busch has had to also follow a different blueprint at the 1.5-mile oval when it was repaved and slightly reconfigured prior to the start of the 2017 season. He struggled to a 15th-place finish this past April, but Busch comes to town knowing he owns seven top-five finishes in his last nine starts there, and has 11 top-fives in his 23 career Texas starts.


Along with his two Cup Series wins at Texas, Busch been a frequent visitor to victory lane in most everything else he’s raced there. He reeled off an incredible string of five consecutive Xfinity Series wins at Texas from April 2008 to 2010. Add his two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins in November 2009 and 2010 and Busch has quite the collection of signature cowboy hats given to Texas race winners.


So while Busch and his M&M’S Caramel team look to add yet another signature cowboy hat and six-shooters as race winners in the Lone Star State to their steadily growing trophy collection, Busch and his team will keep throwing the ball down the field in order to stay aggressive and keep the pressure on the seven other playoff competitors. If all goes according to plan, they very well may be the ones hoisting the Cup Series championship trophy down in South Florida in two weeks.  



Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Michael McDowell earned their 15th Top-20 of the season as they rallied back from early race trouble at Martinsville Speedway.

The team had a fast No. 95 Rohto® Jolt™ Chevrolet SS all weekend, as they were 14th fastest in first practice and were 5th fastest in the first round of qualifying. McDowell went on to earn a 20th place starting position in the second round of qualifying for the First Data 500.

McDowell started his run off strong before he and another driver made contact to bring out a caution. He acquired right front damage along with a flat right front tire. As McDowell pitted to fix the damage, the team raced against the five-minute damage repair clock that could have proven detrimental if the clock were to expire before the team finished repairs.

Fortunately, the team fixed the damage in the allotted time, but went down a lap down in the process. McDowell would also be forced to restart from the rear of the field due to a speeding penalty on pit road.

Although the damage caused McDowell to go down a lap, he earned the Lucky Dog spot when a caution came on out lap 88. He was then able to finish the stage in 23rd as his brakes began to fade.

McDowell then fought a loose-handling car during the second stage, but was able to finish the stage in 26th before pitting under caution. He began the final stage in the same position and raced until a caution came out on lap 302. McDowell then reported he was beginning to feel his brakes fade on his No. 95 Rohto® Jolt™ Chevy even more, but stayed out under caution.

Soon after the restart, another caution flag quickly fell, allowing McDowell to pit for tires and adjustments. He restarted 21st and raced until lap 360 before reporting continuous brake issues and lack of overall drive off. He pitted two laps later for four tires and minor adjustments.

With just over 100 laps remaining, McDowell reported that he felt like his sway bar broke, but was able to maintain position. The team later determined it was a sway bar link and arm that broke

McDowell made his final pit stop under caution with 10 laps remaining and avoided another late caution to finish 19th, earning LFR’s 15th Top-20 finish of the season.

“It was a hard fought day for us, that’s for sure,” said McDowell. "We were hoping for a little more, but we had to overcome a lot. We got some damage really early on, got a penalty, and had to gain a lap back. Not a bad finish for us overall and another Top-20 for the team.”

Next up for McDowell and LFR is Texas Motor Speedway, the home track of LFR team owners and partners


Clint Bowyer would like nothing better than to hoist the winner’s trophy in victory lane Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. After narrowly missing the NASCAR playoffs, the 38-year-old Emporia, Kansas native has made winning a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race a priority in the final three races of the 2017 season.


Texas is as good a place as any for Bowyer to return to the winner’s circle, but the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver isn’t going into battle alone Sunday.


NASCAR in the 21st Century is as much a team sport as any in the stick-and-ball arena. The driver is at the tip of the spear that includes a race team, engine builder, manufacturer, corporate partners and other entities. Without that support, getting to victory lane would be near impossible.


Bowyer said he thinks fans sometimes miss the effort it takes to field a successful Cup series entry. He said it’s the work done in the race shop that often decides races. Even before his No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil Delvac 1 Ford Fusion unloads Friday in Texas, his crew will have figured out what it will take to go fast.


“These race teams are so good using their experience, technology and tools that it is just incredible to see them go through a race weekend,” Bowyer said. “Whether it’s new pavement or old pavement, they can find that optimal grip load in the car and ultimately make the thing fast.”


“That is the crazy thing – how close they can get these cars to 100 percent,” he added. “Mechanical grip is what I am talking about. Aero grip and things like that are some things that you can or can’t adjust but, at the end of the day, all the teams in this garage at this level are pretty good at getting this thing close to 100 percent.”


If all those factors click, then Bowyer will be a factor on Sunday. He’s enjoyed success at the 1.5-mile Texas oval posting three top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in 24 races. In 2006, Bowyer won a Camping World Truck Series race at Texas. Bowyer started third in April at Texas and raced as high as fourth in the final stage before finishing 11th. “Like a lot of folks, we just couldn’t get the handling right,” he said that night.


Bowyer and the rest of the field will be a bit more familiar with the Texas track this weekend.


Sunday marks the second Cup Series race on the reconfigured Texas track. Before the April race, the track and pit lane underwent a complete repave while turns one and two were re-profiled, altering the configuration of the oval.  


He visits Texas a week after a third-place finish at the .526-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Bowyer started fifth at the short track and rallied to third after dropping as far back as 26th. It was a welcome finish for Bowyer, who’s hoping he’s ended a recent run of back luck. Accidents by other drivers collected Bowyer at Charlotte, Talladega and Kansas, ruining his chances for a good finish.


Bowyer, who is in his first season with SHR after replacing three-time champion Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Ford led by crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, has posted three second-place finishes and two third-place finishes. The team narrowly missed earning one of 16 berths in NASCAR’s playoffs – despite Bowyer’s average finish of 15.0 that is ninth-best of all full-time drivers this season.


If Bowyer can keep the Martinsville momentum going and his crew is as adept at finding the optimum setup as Bowyer describes, then it could be quite an exciting, happy and probably quite crowded victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway late Sunday afternoon in the Lone Star State.



Ricky Stenhouse battled through an early incident at Martinsville Speedway to earn a 10th–place finish in his Fifth Third Ford Fusion, tying his best career finish at the Virginia short track.

“Hats off to the team for getting us where we needed to be by the end of the race,” said Stenhouse. ”Brian Pattie and the crew never gave up throughout this weekend and we recovered from that wreck at the beginning to have a good finish here.”

Stenhouse began the 500-lap race from the 22nd positon but lost a few positions early on due to a loose handling machine. On Lap 36, two cars tangled in front of Stenhouse causing the Fifth Third Ford to spin. The crew feverishly worked to repair the minimal damage costing the two-time XFINITY champion to lose a lap to the leaders.

After working his way into the free pass position, the Olive Branch, Miss. native caught a much- needed caution allowing him to regain his lap. Despite having to start at the tail end of the field, Stenhouse patiently worked his way up through the field earning a 27th-place finish in stage one.

After a quick stop by the pit crew, Stenhouse gained three positions on pit road lining the Fifth Third Ford up in the 24th position for stage two. With a caution free stage two, Stenhouse steadily worked his way through the field taking the green-checkered in the 19th position.

Stenhouse began the third and final stage of the race from the 20th position, which he maintained until the yellow flag was displayed on Lap 302.  After taking the wave around with less than 200 laps remaining, the 2017 NASCAR Playoff contender restarted 18th and caught another break when a quick caution was displayed allowing Stenhouse to bring his Fifth Third Ford to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment.

Those adjustments would prove to be exactly what Stenhouse needed to finish strong, as his Ford Fusion sprang to life as the sunset at Martinsville Speedway, and the newly installed lights at the track were put to use for the first time ever. Stenhouse would continually push the pace and advance positions at the short track, eventually netting a 10th-place finish for the Mississippi native. The finish ties Stenhouse’s best-ever at the track, set in the spring race this year.


When the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway, one can always expect beating, banging and tempers to flare. Sunday's 500-lap race at the paperclip-shaped short track was no exception. Ty Dillon and the GEICO Racing team were optimistic for a strong performance, but an accident on lap 35, and subsequent flat tire, relegated the No. 13 Chevrolet to being numerous laps down early. Despite the unfortunate situation, Dillon gained 10 spots throughout the race to finish in the 30th position.
"Our No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet was just a bit tight in the center, but we were able to run competitive speeds during the long green flag runs," said Dillon, after the race. "Unfortunately, it was an uphill battle for us after we had the early damage. We knocked a hole in the left front and sustained some left rear damage. Then we ended up getting a flat left rear tire and had to pit under green. We were just never able to get all those laps back."
After rolling from the 26th starting position, Dillon quickly picked up three spots to take over 23rd-place in the opening five laps. Unfortunately, misfortune struck on lap 35, as the GEICO Chevrolet received contact from another competitor, spinning Dillon and causing left side damage to the No. 13 machine. After pitting for repairs, fresh tires and fuel, the 25-year-old found himself only one lap down with plenty of racing left. However, nine laps after the field returned to green flag racing, Dillon was forced to pit for a flat left rear tire, placing the rookie three laps down.
Despite being trapped multiple laps down, Dillon and the Germain Racing team continued to show perseverance throughout the race. During the course of the 500-lap event, the GEICO Chevrolet gained 10 positions to cross the finish line in 30th-place.
Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Racing team will now two-step to the Lone Star State, as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes to Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, November 3rd for opening practice at 1:00PM ET, with qualifying scheduled to take place later that evening at 6:15PM ET.
The green flag will fly for the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, November 5th at 2:00 pm ET. NBCSN will carry the live television broadcast, with the Performance Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 carrying the live radio broadcast.

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Ford EcoBoost Ford Fusion, improved 28 positions over the course of Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event at Martinsville Speedway and survived a multi-car incident on the final lap to record a sixth-place finish. The result gives Bayne a career high in top-10 finishes for a season and is his best finish in seven MENCS starts at the famed Virginia track.

“This was a crazy day and weekend,” said Bayne after the race. ”This team never gave up throughout this weekend and we made huge improvements from how we unloaded. I am so proud of everyone for their work. (Crew chief) Matt (Puccia) made some great adjustments throughout the day today that helped our Ford EcoBoost Ford get faster and faster as the race went on. To come home with a sixth is a testament to how we fight. Hopefully we can keep digging like this and have another great run next week in Texas.”

Bayne took the green flag for the scheduled 500-Lap event from the 34th position but steadily worked his way forward, moving into 28th before the first caution of the day came out on Lap 35. After pitting for four tires and fuel during the caution Bayne returned to the track in 24th and battled for position until the handling of the Ford EcoBoost Ford shifted to a loose on the entry of the corner and tight rolling through the center of the corner. As a result of the handling conditions Bayne slid back to 28th just before the completion of Stage 1 on Lap 130.

Crew chief Matt Puccia called the Roush Fenway Racing driver back to pit road between stages for four tires and a chassis adjustment, sending Bayne back out for the Lap 139 restart in 27th. In a stage that went caution free, Bayne continued to fight a tight-handling condition through the center of the corner that was affecting his forward drive on the exit. This handling condition unfortunately cost Bayne a lap to the race leaders and saw the Knoxville, Tenn. native take the green and checkered flag to end Stage 2 in the 24th position.

A quick caution just 29 laps into the final stage provided an opportunity for Bayne to take the wave around to get back onto the lead lap as all of the leaders came to pit road. The decision to take the wave around paid off as an opportune caution just three laps after the Lap 313 restart put the driver of the Ford EcoBoost Ford back on the same pit cycle with the leaders.

Once back on the lead lap Bayne’s Ford came to life as the 2011 Daytona 500 Champion methodically worked his way into the top 15 and up to the 12th position before the caution came out once again on Lap 457. Bayne maintained his top-12 track position through a flurry of late-race cautions that ultimately set up NASCAR’s version of overtime.

After taking the green flag for overtime in 11th, Bayne utilized the inside line to move into the top 10 coming to the white flag and persevered through a multi-car incident coming off of the final corner to take the checkered flag in the sixth position.

The result is Bayne’s best career finish at Martinsville and gives the Roush Fenway driver a career high in top-10 finishes for a season in the MENCS.

Next up for the MENCS is Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 5.


Stage 1
Cole Whitt qualified 30th to start the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway
A Competition Caution was originally scheduled for Lap 45. A caution on Lap 37 (incident) assumed to intent of the competition caution. Running 29th, Whitt said the No. 72 was tight in the center, free off and could not roll early in the center. He pitted for four tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments. He restarted 29th.
Caution Lap 63 (spin): Whitt was scored 28th, relaying the NO. 72 was rotating better that run and Crew Chief Frank Kerr kept Whitt out on track
Caution Lap 88 (incident): Whitt requested adjustments to free up the handling of the No. 72 as it had become tight. He pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. He restarted 28th
Stage 1 Completion Caution Lap 130: Whitt completed the stage 22nd. He expressed the No. 72 was falling off, getting tight and losing rear grip. He pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment
Stage 2
Whitt took the Stage 2 green flag restart 23rd on the leaderboard
He continued to run in the top-25 and had worked up to 19th but fell back to 25th, one lap down from the leader by the conclusion of the Stage
Stage 2 Completion Caution: Lap 260: Whitt completed the stage 25th, one lap down. He pitted the No. 72 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment
Stage 3
Whitt was scored 26th, one lap down for the start of Stage 3
The No. 72 became tight in and loose off. With a Caution on Lap 304 (incident), Whitt pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment
Caution Lap 317 (spin): Scored 27th, one lap down, Whitt stayed out on track
Caution Lap 360 (spin): Whitt stayed out again to take the wave around; restarting 26th back on the lead lap
Whitt continued to run alternating between the 25th and 26th position but once again fell one lap down from the leader
He remained consistent in his efforts and narrowly escaped the multi-vehicle pile-up on Lap 499 which set the stage for an overtime ending. Whitt secured a 25th place finish in the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
TriStar Motorsports PR

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Kevin Harvick started 13th and finished 13th.

Harvick raced the Busch NA Ford Fusion into the top-10 by the competition caution on lap 35.

The No. 4 Ford stayed out under caution on lap 64 to maintain the ninth position.

Harvick came to pit road for tires and fuel on lap 90, but eight cars opted to stay out, forcing the No. 4 to restart in the 17th position.

The No. 4 team pitted at the end of the stage for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Started 10th, finished seventh and earned four bonus points.

Stage 2 went caution free and allowed Harvick to race the Busch NA Ford from the 10th position up to seventh.

The Busch NA Ford came to pit road at the conclusion of Stage 2 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.


Final Stage Recap (Laps 261-500):

Started eighth, finished fifth.

Harvick brought the Busch NA Ford to pit road from the eighth position under caution on lap 309 for four tires and fuel.

The Busch NA Ford restarted eighth on lap 320 after staying out under caution on lap 317.

The No. 4 Ford came to pit road under caution from the sixth position on lap 362 for four tires, fuel and fender repair but came out 15th after a mishap during the pit stop.

The Busch NA team came to pit road under caution from the 13th position for four tires and fuel on lap 460 and came off pit road in the 11th position.

Harvick stayed out during a flurry of cautions at the end of the race and advanced from ninth to fifth in the final laps.



● Harvick scored his 11th top-five and 20th top-10 finish of 2017.

● This was Harvick’s fourth top-five and 15th top-10 in 33 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.

● Harvick finished seventh in Stage 2 for four points.

● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 74 laps.

● Twenty-three of the 40 drivers in the First Data finished on the lead lap.


Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch NA Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It’s just Martinsville. That’s what it’s all about. It’s championship time. It’s time to get physical. I’ve just got to thank everybody on my Busch Non-Alcoholic Ford, Jimmy John’s, Mobil 1, Outback, Hunt Brothers, Morton Buildings, Textron Off Road, everybody who helps this car go around the racetrack. I really want to help all of my guys at Stewart-Haas Racing. They built this car in two weeks, and we were way more competitive than we were in the spring. Bent fenders, hurt feelings. I love it.” 



Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team remain in contention for a spot in the championship round of the Monster Energy Cup playoffs after surviving a fender-banging First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Blaney scored points in the first two stages, lost a little speed midway through the race, then battled back into the top five for the start of an overtime run to the finish. But he was swept up in a multi-car crash at the finish line and wound up finishing eighth.

That put him sixth in the points standings but just six points shy of being in the top four.

The top four in the standings after the next two races – at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway – will compete for the title in Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Blaney started Sunday’s 500-lapper from the fourth position and scored nine critical points in both of the race’s 130-lap Stages. He was seventh in the first stage and sixth in the second.

He and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team battled back from a tire rub midway through the race and dropped out of the top 10 for a time. But on the final pit stop, crew chief Jeremy Bullins hit the target on the chassis set-up, and Blaney was able to drive his way into the top five for the start of an overtime run to the checkered flag.

Even with his involvement in the last-lap crash, Blaney dropped just three spots in the finishing order, preserving an impressive points day.
 “The last handful of restarts were just pandemonium,” Blaney said. “It was pretty ridiculous with everyone wrecking each other and running into each other.  
 “I thought we were going to make it through the last one, but we just kind of got caught up off of [Turn] Four in all that stuff.  At least we salvaged a decent day. 
“Honestly, a lot of cars got torn up, but we’ll go on to Texas and see what we have.”  
   The ending of the race, while disappointing, wasn’t what team co-owner Eddie Wood had on his mind as he left the track Sunday night.
“It was just a crazy weekend at Martinsville,” Wood said. “Ryan did a great job of keeping the car straight all day, and we can go to Texas still in a good spot in the points standings.
“And we had a great Fan Appreciation Day at the museum in Stuart on Friday. There was a huge crowd there, and a lot of kids having a great time.

 “All it all, it was a good weekend.”


Austin Dillon and the Dow Racing Team Earn 13th-Place Finish at Martinsville Speedway after Starting at the Rear
"We started at the rear of the field after changing our brakes after qualifying, so I am really proud of the way the entire Dow Racing team came together during the race to help get the No. 3 up near the front. We made it to as high as third during the race at one point. The handling of our car was pretty good today, but there are just a few things we still need to work through in order to lead laps and contend for wins."
- Austin Dillon

Paul Menard Earns Top-20 Finish in Libman/Menards Chevrolet at Martinsville Speedway 
"This team didn't quit at all today. We had to start at the rear for unapproved adjustments after qualifying, worked our way forward and got damage to the nose early in the race. When we pitted to fix the nose we had to come from the back again. The guys on pit road had solid stops all day and we fought our way back to the top 20 and somehow avoided that big wreck at the end."
- Paul Menard

Solid Late Race Restarts Propel Ryan Newman and No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet to 14th-place finish 
"At times this weekend we showed some good speed but we definitely struggled a little finding the right balance with the changing track conditions. Our pit crew guys did a great job giving me the fastest stops possible but some of the long runs we got stretched out and weren't able to hold our track position. Luckily at the end we got a couple of caution flags and we were able to gain some positioning on the restarts. I knew I had to be aggressive and we were able to pick up quite a few spots."  

- Ryan Newman