Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14767)

As the 2010 SHOWTIME Southern 500 dawned on Darlington Raceway, Brian Vickers had at least two reasons to be particularly happy.

He was at Darlington, a track that all NASCAR drivers respect but one that Vickers considers his favorite.

And his race car was fast.

All in all, though, it seemed to be a pretty normal race weekend for the driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota.

“There was really nothing significant or special about it,” Vickers says.

Yet there was one little matter that he couldn’t quite explain.

All week leading up to the SHOWTIME Southern 500, Vickers had experienced an unusual tingling sensation in his left fingers. Upon arriving at Darlington and throughout the race weekend, the feeling persisted.

But Vickers thought little of it. He was there to race.

“I wasn’t really sure what it was,” Vickers says. “But it was just kind of tingling and going numb some. It would come and go. Sometimes it was there, sometimes it wasn’t. But at the time I didn’t think anything about it. I should have, but I didn’t.”

The feeling clearly wasn’t enough to slow Vickers down.

He qualified third and finished 10th after leading nine laps.

With his best career finish at the track “Too Tough To Tame” under his belt, Vickers had something to build on for the next weekend’s Sprint Cup event at Dover International Speedway.

But instead of going to Dover, Vickers would up in a Washington, D.C. emergency room – just four days removed from his superb Darlington showing – after complaining of chest pains.

A series of tests showed that Vickers hadblood clots in his leg and lungs. A third clot developed in hisfinger, and doctors believed it moved through a hole in his heart.

He would miss the rest of the 2010 seasonwhile taking prescription blood thinners, undergoing two procedures to close the hole in his heart and having a stent inserted into his left leg.

Vickers was formally diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis in his left leg. Thrombosis is caused by a blood clot, and the condition led to pulmonary embolisms in both of Vickers’ lungs, blocking blood vessels. That produced the chest pains that sent Vickers to the hospital.

"It was difficult,” Vickers, 27, says of his time away from the seat. “Obviously, you spend your whole life preparing to do something and you're there and you're doing it and then all of the sudden it's taken away — especially at such a young age. Emotionally it was difficult at times, but in the moment and in the heat of the battle, my focus was just on dealing with the issue and then as some time went by and I had some time to think about it is when emotionally it probably hit me the hardest. Realizing what was going down.

“That being said, I believe things happen for a reason. I've learned a lot from this experience and 100 percent believe that it happened for a reason and I feel like I came out better for it.”

Vickers hoped to return for the 2011 season but didn’t know what his NASCAR future held until receiving medical clearance to race again.

He wondered if Darlington would end up being his final race – and odd twist of irony, to be certain, given his passion for the fabled track.

“While everything was going on, there was definitely the thought that occurred to me,” Vickers says. “I obviously didn’t think about it at the same when I was at the race track (for the SHOWTIME Southern 500)because there was no way of knowing what was going to happen, but throughout the year it definitely occurred to me. Obviously I didn’t want it to be my last race but I guess it wouldn’t have been a bad one if it did turn out that way, because I do love that race track.”

The 2010 SHOWTIME Southern 500, of course, wasn’t Vickers’ last race.

He made his official return in the 2011 Daytona 500 and has competed business as usual ever since with his Red BullRacing team. But Vickers is looking especially forward to getting back to Darlington for the SHOWTIME Southern 500 on May 7.

He’s always been a huge fan of the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval, despite achieving modest success at the track. In eight Sprint Cup Series starts at the “Lady in Black,” Vickers’ lone top 10 was his 10th-place finish last May.

He’s fared considerably better at Darlington in the Nationwide Series, winning in fall 2003 and collecting four top 10s in eight starts. While the track “Too Tough To Tame” invokes fear in some drivers, there’s no place that Vickers enjoys more.

“Historically when the pavement was old and wore out, it was a good track for me,” he says. “I think it reminded me a lot of the tracks I grew up racing on dirt and different things. I always likedthat feel that you had to have there and that you were looking for, but since they paved it, I still like the way you have to race the race track. You run right against the wall. It’s very unique and challenging from a driver’s perspective compared to a lot of places we go, and that’s always suited my driving style.

“In my opinion it’s one of the most challenging race tracks we go to. It’s extremely unique, obviously, and that’s just something I’ve always enjoyed. You either love Darlington or you hate it, and I’ve always loved it.”

Vickers doesn’t know exactly how he’ll feel when he rolls into the Darlington garage area for the first time since his medical scare. Reflecting on last year’s race – and the events that transpired in the days and weeks that followed – could make the 2011 SHOWTIME Southern 500 extra meaningful for Vickers.

But it could be just another weekend at his favorite track.

“It will definitely be interesting and special to get back to Darlington, but I haven’t really thought about it until you asked me,” he says. “I guess I’ll tell you when I get there.”

Darlington Raceway PR


Kyle Busch Motorsports announced today that Kyle Busch will participate in the fourth annual Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway on April 28. Busch, a two-time winner of the event, will be racing a Toyota Camry Late Model prepared by Frank Deiny, Jr. (FDJ) Motorsports.

"Denny's Short Track Showdown is a really fun event and it's for a great cause," said Busch. "Any time you get the chance to compete against the guys you race with on Sunday in a different type of car, it usually makes for a pretty exciting race. Throw in guys that drive this type of car every weekend racing for a chance to say they beat some of the best drivers in NASCAR and the fans should be in for a real treat. I know that Frank Deiny Jr. is going to provide me with a fast Camry. Hopefully I'll be able to win the event for the third time in four years."

The event will feature several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and celebrities battling it out on the ¾-mile track with some of the best local Late Model Stock Car drivers. Other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and NASCAR celebrities currently scheduled to run in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown include Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Hermie Sadler and Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell.

Proceeds from the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway will benefit the Denny Hamlin Foundation, a 501 C (3) started to raise funds for individuals and families affected by cystic fibrosis. The foundation supports organizations like The Children's Hospital of Richmond, St. Jude's Hospital and Victory Junction.

Kyle Busch Motorsports

Roush Fenway Racing's Trevor Bayne was treated and released Sunday from Carolina Medical Center University Hospital in Charlotte after a reaction from an apparent insect bite on his left elbow that the 20-year old driver suffered last week while at home.

"Trevor has been treated and released from the hospital and is fine to continue with his daily activities - including driving a race car," said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. "Doctors are still waiting for the test results to determine for sure what caused the reaction, but Trevor has been treated, is at home and he is doing fine."

Additional information should be available at the end of the week.

Bayne competed in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway over the weekend.  He is scheduled to compete in both events this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway (Ala.).

Roush Racing PR

After stumbling a bit in the weeks following their Daytona 500 victory, Trevor Bayne and the crew of his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion turned in a solid performance in Saturday’s Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Bayne finished 17th in a race dominated by Ford Fusions as Roush Fenway Racing’s Matt Kenseth led the most laps in winning the race and five of the top seven finishing positions went to Ford drivers.

Eddie Wood, co-owner of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, said the entire Wood Brothers team had a race to be proud of.

“It was a really good night,” Wood said. “We had great pit stops and gained positions on every stop. [Crew chief] Donnie Wingo had a good race strategy, and Trevor drove a smart race.

“We needed a good solid night to get back to where we need to be, and we got it.”

Bayne, racing for the first time at a track where he’d driven a Sprint Cup car before, showed the same maturity that played a key role in his Daytona 500 victory. He ran hard when the situation called for it and backed off when he was in vulnerable positions.

He skillfully avoided the race’s worst crash, on Lap 215, when Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin and Regan Smith crashed on the backstretch. Bayne, running just behind the three drivers in the crash, steered his way through the spinning cars and escaped without damage.

Bayne also got on and off pit road smoothly and without mistakes.

“Trevor drove a really good race, just like the first time he was here,” Wood said.

“We were a little free all night,” Wood said. “But Donnie and the crew got it better and better as the race went on.”

The strong run at Texas couldn’t have come at a better time as Bayne and the Wood Brothers team now head to Talladega Superspeedway, the sister track to Daytona International Speedway, for the first restrictor-plate race since the Daytona 500.

Bayne will be among the favorites there based on his and his team’s performance in the draft at Daytona in February.

“We’re back where we need to be,” Wood said.

Wood Brothers Racing PR

The bad luck is not stopping for Regan Smith and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team.

What occurred Saturday night in the Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway has been happening with too much regularity this season for Smith, who was forced to retire from the race early after being collected in a multicar accident on lap 212 of 334.  He was credited with a 37th-place finish.

"It's the same old story," said a disappointed Smith as he watched his teammates work on his damaged Chevrolet in the garage. "I have never been through a streak of bad luck like this before. Never. It's been every race this year, even the Daytona 500 when we got shoved into the wall as we were contending for the win with a few laps to go. I just don't know what to say except, we'll just keep on fighting through this. That's all you can do."

Smith, who qualified fifth, was running in the low 20s at the time of the accident, which also took out Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr.

"Cars were crashing in front of me and I had no place to go," explained Smith. "I am not sure how it all started and it doesn't make much difference right now."

The race winner was Matt Kenseth. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Paul Menard.

Front Row Racing/Regan Smith PR

With a dominating performance in Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Matt Kenseth ended his winless streak at 76 races when he beat race runner-up Clint Bowyer to the finish line by 8.315 seconds.

The victory was Kenseth’s second at Texas and the 19th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of his career. Kenseth’s Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle came home third and fourth, respectively, with Paul Menard completing the top five.

Kenseth, who led 169 laps, passed Bowyer for the lead on Lap 249, but one lap later, Kenseth relinquished the top spot when he brought the No. 17 Ford to pit road. After a lengthy cycle of pit stops, during which Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch pressed the issue by staying out as long as possible, Kenseth opened his advantage to more than four seconds.

Busch pitted on Lap 270. Stewart waited until Lap 276, opening a fuel window that would allow him to finish the race without another stop — or so he thought. Stewart ran out of fuel on the last lap and finished 12th, the last car on the lead lap.

Bowyer had just grabbed the lead after a restart on Lap 214 of 334 when a bone-jarring wreck on the backstretch sent the cars of Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin and Regan Smith to the garage. Brad Keselowski checked up in front of Truex, who did likewise, and the chain reaction turned Truex sideways after slight contact from Kevin Harvick.

Martin and Smith were innocent victims, but their cars were crippled nonetheless.

Matt Kenseth led 169 laps en route to a dominating victory at Texas Motor Speedway, as all four Roush Fenway Fords finished inside the top seven in Saturday night's Samsung 500. Kenseth's victory, combined with Carl Edwards' victory in the Nationwide race on Friday gave Roush Fenway a clean sweep of the weekend's action, with the organization winning both races and both poles.

"I really want to thank Jimmy (Fennig) and this whole team for working as hard as they do for this victory," said Kenseth. "I have to thank Crown Royal Black and all the fans up there. We had a packed house up there and it might not have been the closest finish, but it was great racing all night.

'The goal every year is to win a championship and you can’t do that if you aren’t in the Chase so we have been pretty good over the last four weeks and now we have a pretty dominating win," added Kenseth. "Hopefully we can carry this momentum back to victory lane a couple of times.”

Kenseth took the lead early and never really looked back, leading by as many as 13 seconds. He used the victory to move up six places to third in the Sprint Cup point standings. The win was the 19th of Sprint Cup career.

The win was Kenseth's second at TMS in the Sprint Cup Series and Roush Fenway's eighth Cup win at the 1.5-mile track. It marked the 15th NASCAR win for Roush Fenway at TMS. For the weekend, Roush Fenway saw a total of six entries lead a combined 364 laps.

Edwards finished third to retake the points lead and Greg Biffle, who led seven laps, finished fourth. David Ragan earned his first career Sprint Cup pole for the race, led 11 laps and finished seventh; his second straight top 10 finish.

Roush Fenway now leads the points in both the Nationwide (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) and Sprint Cup Series, which heads to Talladega Superspeedway next weekend.

Roush Fenway Racing PR

NASCAR Statistical Services

Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew picked up right where they left off last fall at Texas Motor Speedway, running through a productive practice session then grabbing a respectable 18th-place starting spot despite qualifying in the heat of the afternoon, when speeds typically are slower. Returning to the track where he made his Sprint Cup debut in the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, Bayne and his crew spent most of their practice time with the car in race trim.

When it came time to run against clock in time trials, the speeds picked up significantly.

“I think we picked up like six to eight-tenths [of a second per lap] from practice,” Bayne said, adding that he was second-guessing himself a bit afterwards. “It was a really good in [Turns] One and Two, and right up to the point where I was going to lift I couldn’t decide if I was going to go high or low in Three and Four, and at the last minute I decided to go low and probably should have gone high.”

Bayne’s qualifying lap at 187.019 miles per hour indeed was much faster than his best lap in practice, which was at 181.886 mph.

His qualifying effort also was an improvement over last year, when he qualified 28th. For the team, this year’s race preparation is far different because the team came to Texas guaranteed a starting spot since they’re among the top 35 in car owner points. That allowed Bayne and his Donnie Wingo-led crew to spend most of practice preparing for Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 instead of just trying to make the race as they had to do last year.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he’s optimistic about his team’s chances in Saturday’s race.

“This is the car from Vegas which ran really well there, and all the Ford’s seem to run well on mile-and-a-half tracks and our car should be no different,” he said. “We dyno’d it on Monday, and it has a really good engine. The engineering side of it is really on its game and I think we will be OK.”

Wood Brothers Racing PR

David Ragan covered the 1.5-mile oval of Texas Motor Speedway in 28.45 seconds (189.820) to earn his first-career Sprint Cup pole and lead a strong Roush Fenway effort with three cars qualifying inside the top four and four in the top nine. Carl Edwards gave tomorrow's race an all Roush Fenway front row, qualifying second and Matt Kenseth will start outside of the second row in fourth. Greg Biffle rounded out the impressive outing, qualifying ninth.

"Momentum is a very powerful thing and we have some momentum on our side," said Ragan. "Our UPS Freight car not only looks good but it's fast this weekend. Drew (Blickensderfer) made a great call to change the setup around a little before this last practice run and it did what it needed to do. Hopefully it can be just as good for 500 miles on Saturday night."

The pole was also the first Sprint Cup pole for Roush Fenway at Texas Motor Speedway, despite seven victories in 94 starts.

Edwards won the pole for the Nationwide Race earlier in the afternoon, giving Roush Fenway a clean sweep of the poles. Edwards led three Roush Fenway Mustangs inside the top six in qualifying, with point leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualifying third and Trevor Bayne earning a sixth-place staring position. It was Roush Fenway's fifth NNS pole at TMS and Edwards' third of the season.

"We hope we are fast enough to win this race," said Edwards. "We've had fast cars and we want to get to victory lane. We had a blast in that race last fall, so hopefully we can get there tonight."

Roush Racing PR

Long-time Paul Menard sponsor Quaker State will continue its relationship with the driver during the 2011 season. Quaker State will come aboard as primary sponsor of the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet for four races during the 2011 season.

"I've had a long-standing relationship with Quaker State and they've been a great sponsor to work with over the years," commented, driver Paul Menard on the sponsorship. "This year they are on-board the No. 27 for four races - both events at Texas Motor Speedway, at Daytona in July and at Atlanta Motor Speedway. We are running a slightly different paint scheme on the Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet this weekend, which is going to look really sharp under the lights. Texas is fast and fun, and racing at night is going to make it all the more thrilling for the fans and us drivers. It will definitely be an exciting weekend with Quaker State on the car and Texas Motor Speedway's first night race."

Menard has had an outstanding start to the 2011 season and currently resides in 13th position after six events heading into Texas this weekend.  During the first four races of the season, Paul captured his best career finish at each of those tracks and scored one top-five and two top-ten finishes.

Quaker State and Menard have a relationship on and off the track that dates back 15 years. Their on track partnership began back in 1995 when Menard ran in the IRL Series. As Menard changed gears and made his way into NASCAR, Quaker State followed beginning with a two-year stint in the Nationwide Series and then into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Much of the technology found in Quaker State's commercially available motor oils is first put through vigorous on-road testing in various cab fleets across the country, and on the demanding tracks of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.  The extremes experienced in racing provide them with severe testing grounds for our lubricants and help us to ensure that they will meet the demands of all motorists - whatever their driving environment.

RCR Racing PR