Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14773)

As the countdown continues to Daytona Day, NASCAR® today announced the return of the Hashtag 500, where fans will race on social media for a chance to win memorabilia from the 60th running of the DAYTONA 500® live during the race on February 18.

To compete in the Hashtag 500, fans can watch the DAYTONA 500 on FOX (2:30 p.m. ET) and follow @NASCAR on Twitter to find custom hashtags that give fans a chance to win race items including a driver firesuit, helmet, steering wheel, set of Goodyear tires and more.

NASCAR will share a new hashtag every 20 laps of the race. The first 500 @NASCAR followers that tweet the hashtag and #DAYTONA500 will be entered in a random drawing for each prize.

The final Hashtag 500 race winner will receive a grand prize trip for two to the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship in Miami.

“In less than a week, Daytona International Speedway will host some of the most intense, side-by-side racing we’ve ever seen,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “With the Hashtag 500, we’re once again extending the competition to our fans on social media and creating yet another fun way to engage with the Great American Race on Daytona Day.”

Beginning today through Saturday, Feb. 17, fans can practice for the Hashtag 500 by competing in daily races on Instagram for a chance to win unique, personal items from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

Daily prizes will include a Jimmie Johnson replica race helmet, a pair of sunglasses from Kyle Busch, a commemorative champagne bottle from Austin Dillon’s wedding and an autographed drum cover from series rookie Darrell Wallace Jr., who will make his DAYTONA 500 debut on Sunday

The first 500 fans to comment with the custom hashtag on NASCAR’s Instagram posts will be entered to win each day’s Hashtag 500 driver prize.

The first Hashtag 500 took place during the 2016 DAYTONA 500. The unique promotion generated massive fan engagement and broke numerous NASCAR social media records – including total tweets in a single minute (13,000).

This year, the unique promotion is one of several social and digital media experiences offered by NASCAR to elevate the sport’s 2018 season launch for fans.

The all-new NASCAR Fantasy Live, enhanced to mirror NASCAR’s official scoring system, is now open for league and team registration at NASCAR.com/fantasy. Beginning Sunday, fantasy players will be able to swap drivers in and out of their “garage” live during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races.

This week, NASCAR Mobile will debut the sport’s first augmented reality experience for app users. Fans can position race-themed items like driver helmets and Goodyear tires within their camera frames and share the images with friends on social media.

On Sunday, Snapchat will cover the DAYTONA 500 with its Our Story feature to give millions of users around the world an inside look at race day from Daytona International Speedway.

For more information on the Hashtag 500, fans can visit NASCAR.com/hashtag500 beginning later today.

NASCAR PR

The following is a question and answer with NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. The 37-year-old Mayetta, N.J. native will be competing in Sunday’s 60th running of the Daytona 500, driving the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota for Furniture Row Racing at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway.

Truex was in position to win the past two Daytona 500s. He lost to Denny Hamlin in 2016 by one-hundredth of a second, which is the closest finish in the race’s history. Last year he had the lead with two laps remaining, but slid back to 13th as a result of running out of fuel.

Q & A with Martin Truex Jr.

Q: You ended the 2017 season in Florida (at Homestead-Miami Speedway) under an enormous amount of pressure as a final-four driver. And now you start a new season in Florida at the biggest race of the year. Do you feel like you’re going from one pressure-cooker to another?

A: No question about that. If you’re fortunate enough to be a final-four driver at Homestead there’s a great deal of pressure in the one race takes all. Trust me, that is pressure. Then you turn around three months later and you’re at the biggest race of the year. Crazy how it works. But these big moments are what we all live for.

Q: What is the team’s approach to the Daytona 500?

A: We come here and go for the win and not worry about points, don’t worry about stage points and stage wins. We just come here to win. We have 35 races remaining after Daytona to figure it out and make up the points. This race is all about winning.

Q: What does it take to win the Daytona 500?

A: Fast car, a lot of luck and making the right moves at the end.

Q: Does losing the 2016 Daytona 500 in the closest finish of the race’s history still haunt you?  (lost to Denny Hamlin by one-hundredth of a second)

A: Not until I see the replay.

Q: Does winning the season championship last year soften the sting of that Daytona 500 loss?

A: Winning the title is the ultimate goal but I don’t know if it takes the sting away from losing that race. But the championship definitely checks off the top five on the list of things you want to accomplish as a driver in this sport. Daytona 500 is pretty high on that list and we’d like to do it.

Q: You’ve won the Southern 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and it’s the Daytona 500 that is keeping you from claiming NASCAR’s Triple Crown. Do you think about this?

A: Yes. I have thought about it. I know we’ve come close at Daytona a few times now. It’s kind of surreal to think about the races we have won and what we’ve accomplished the last few years. No guarantee that we will ever check the rest of them off, but to have the chance to do it and to see the races we have won as a team the past three years I never thought it was possible. I am enjoying the opportunities and feel privileged to be in this position.

Q. Though you were in position to win the past two Daytona 500 races, your overall speedway record has been both so-so and unlucky. Is that accurate to say?

A: Our Speedway record has been very bad and typically speedways have not been my strong suit. I feel like I am always in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I’ve been able to put myself in position to have a shot at winning a few of them but haven’t been able to get it done yet. It’s a little frustrating. But we’re still learning ways as a team to make moves better and to position ourselves in front of the field and stay there. I don’t know if we quite figured it out yet. I am not sure if we have the speed as one of the guys to make those big moves and be aggressive here, but we’ll keep looking for it. One good thing about these (superspeedway) races is anybody has a shot to win. You just have to put yourself in position. It seems like there are always a few guys who are really fast and who are capable of really making big moves and setting the tone. However, there are still opportunities for teams that are a little off on speed to make something happen as well.

FRR PR

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, will conduct a public autograph session at the Daytona Beach Furniture Row Shopping Center Wednesday, Feb. 14 from 5-6:30 p.m. ET.

The special event will take place at the Oak Express store, located at 830 North Tomoka Farms Road -- approximately a 3-mile drive from Daytona International Speedway. (see directions below)

Fans attending the autograph session will be treated to free hot dogs/chips/sodas and a show car replica of Truex's No. 78 Toyota will also be on site.

Truex, who is in Daytona Beach for Speedweeks, will compete in Sunday’s Daytona 500, the opening points race of the 2018 season. He is coming off his best season as a NASCAR Cup Series driver. Along with capturing his first NASCAR Cup Series championship, Truex led the series in a number of categories including eight race wins, 19 top fives, 26 top 10s, 2,253 laps led and 19 stage wins.

The Daytona Beach Furniture Row Shopping Center consists of Oak Express, Denver Mattress, Sofa Mart and Bedroom Expressions.

Directions to Furniture Row Shopping Center

From Daytona International Speedway:

Go west on International Speedway Blvd to Tomoka Farms Road

Take Right on Tomoka Farms Road -- Furniture Row Shopping Center will be on left

FRR PR

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a strong Fastenal Ford Fusion in Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash kickoff event at Daytona International Speedway, and he was poised for a run at the win before a controversial penalty relegated the No. 17 to a 16th-place finish in the all-star event.

While racing with the leaders, Stenhouse had a run on the No. 18 machine diving to the inside but the 18 came down causing the Roush Fenway Racing driver to go below the double yellow line. NASCAR ultimately deemed that despite being forced below the line that the No. 17 gained position and Stenhouse had to serve a pass thru penalty. With no drafting partner, he eventually lost a lap and was never able to recover.

“Our Fastenal Ford was really strong today,” Stenhouse said. “We will have to get clarity from NASCAR on the rule because I thought we were forced down there. Luckily, this was a non-points race so the penalty didn’t hurt as much. Our Fastenal Ford has been strong all week so I’m looking forward to next weekend and seeing what we can do in the Daytona 500

After a fan random draw for starting positions, the two-time XFINITY champion lined up in the eighth position for his fourth career Advance Auto Parts Clash and steadily ran in the top-10 for a majority of the first 25 laps.

When the caution was displayed on lap 25, the Olive Branch, Miss. native was scored in the second position. With the new pit crew rules in place, Stenhouse brought his Fastenal Ford to pit-road for four tires and fuel.

After the penalty, with the race going caution free, Stenhouse lost a lap to the leaders ultimately resulting in a 16th-place finish.

Next up for Stenhouse is the Can-Am Duels where he will roll off fifth in Duel 1.

RFR PR

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Ford Fusion won his first Speedweeks’ race at Daytona International Speedway, winning the Advance Auto Parts Clash for Team Penske in his sixth Clash start. Ford Performance made history becoming the first manufacturer to finish 1,2,3 and 4 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Clash event.

“Congratulations to Brad, Roger and Team Penske,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “This was a great way to start off the season opener at Daytona. The teams have worked hard in the off season to get ready for the 2018 season and it was great to see the Fords finish so strong.”

The six Ford’s ran strong from the start of the race with the Ford FR9 EFI engines under the hoods. Keselowski drove a fantastic race, coming from the rear of the field and with a two tire strategy call by Crew Chief, Paul Wolfe, took the lead on lap 39. Keselowski led 43 out of the 75 lap race.

“Doug Yates and his guys did a good job giving me something real durable to take all that and keep digging,” Keselowski commented in Victory Lane. “I am really proud of the whole effort here. What a way to start Speedweeks, putting the Miller Lite Ford in Victory Lane. I am really proud of my team.”

Keselowski and Team Penske Joey Logano (2017 Clash winner) finished 1-2, while the 2017 Daytona winner Kurt Busch from Stewart-Haas Racing finished P3. Rounding out the forth spot was the newest Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney. Kevin Harvick finished P9 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from Roush Fenway Racing finished sixteenth after serving a late race penalty for racing below the yellow line.

The Ford teams will take this momentum into the Can-Am Twin Duels and the Daytona 500 later this week. Reference the full 2018 schedule on www.roushyates.com.

RYE PR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2018) – Brad Keselowski won Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway with a dominating last-to-first run over the course of the 75-lap event.

The Advance Auto Parts Clash (run in segments of 25 and 50 laps), a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series non-points, invitation-only battle, is always a highlight of Speedweeks. The 17-driver field featured 2017 pole winners, former Clash champions, former DAYTONA 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2017 and drivers who qualified for the 2017 Monster Energy Series playoffs.

Keselowski, in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, was followed by his Team Penske teammate and 2015 DAYTONA 500 champion Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford), with last year’s DAYTONA 500 champion Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford) finishing third. The top three escaped from a last-lap, Turn 3 incident that involved several cars.

Keselowski – a former Monster Energy Series champion – led 41 laps in securing only his second victory at Daytona International Speedway and his first during a Speedweeks. His only previous DIS victory came in the 2016 Coca-Cola 400.

Last year, Keselowski started first in the Clash via the annual blind draw format, but finished sixth. “This year we got last [in the draw] so we said this will be the year we win it and sure enough, here we are,” he said. “It’s a great way to start the season.

“I hope I can repeat this in seven days in the DAYTONA 500.”

Sunday marked the return of an old-school Speedweeks scheduling tradition, as DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger and the Advance Auto Parts Clash combined for an afternoon doubleheader. Prior to the Clash, Alex Bowman won the pole for the 60th annual DAYTONA 500 set for Sunday, Feb. 18, with a lap of 195.644 mph in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro on the famed DIS 2.5-mile tri-oval.

Bowman is in his first fulltime year with Hendrick Motorsports in the car formerly driven by the newly retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. Previously, Bowman drove the No. 88 in 2016 as a substitute for Earnhardt, who was injured that season.

Sunday, Bowman topped the leaderboard after both of the two qualifying rounds; the first round pared 40 drivers down to 12 for the second and final round. Bowman posted his fastest speed in the second round, edging out 2016 DAYTONA 500 champion Denny Hamlin by 0.130 seconds for the pole. Hamlin qualified the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry at 195.092 mph. Two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Jimmie Johnson – he’s also the seven-time Monster Energy Series champion – was third in the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro at 194.734.

The qualifying session “locked in” Bowman and Hamlin for the front row of the DAYTONA 500 and also established the grids for Thursday’s Can-Am Duel, a pair of 150-mile races that determine the DAYTONA 500 grid after the front row. Bowman has the pole for the first Duel event, with Hamlin on the pole for the second Duel race.

Bowman gave Hendrick Motorsports its 20th DAYTONA 500 pole – and its fourth consecutive. That allowed team owner Rick Hendrick to tie the record for most consecutive poles also held by Harry Rainer (1979-82, with drivers Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison and Benny Parsons).

“I think this is still a little surreal,” Bowman said. “Driving for Hendrick Motorsports … and to get to drive what I think is the best race car in the business.

“I'm just lucky enough to be able to hold the steering wheel in one of Mr. H's (Rick Hendrick) race cars. Very thankful for that opportunity.”

Bowman extended a recent trend of excellence by the No. 88 team at Daytona International Speedway and 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway, the huge, high-banked tracks where NASCAR mandates restrictor plates. Last year, Earnhardt qualified second for the DAYTONA 500 and had the pole for the Coca-Cola 400 held in July at DIS. Then, in October, Earnhardt took the Talladega pole.

“The car has been fast since we unloaded,” Bowman said. “I’m just really happy for the whole race team, from the engine shop to the aero group to the chassis shop. Everybody worked so hard this winter. I just got to hold the steering wheel.”

Danica Patrick, the 2013 DAYTONA 500 pole winner making her final start in the DAYTONA 500 this year, qualified 28th Sunday, at 191.160 in the No. 7 GoDaddy Chevrolet. She’ll start 14th in the second Can-Am Duel race.

 

−Daytona International Speedway Press Release−

Austin Dillon and the Dow Racing Team Kick Off Speedweeks with a Top-5 Finish in the Advance Auto Parts Clash
 

5th
 
 
 1st
 
 N/A
"That is the fastest we have been at a speedway in a while. The last two years we haven't been able to compete like that.  It feels really good to lead a couple of laps and dice it up.  The handling got a little worse when we lost some of the track position, so we will work on that for the Daytona 500.  But, overall it was a very promising day for our Dow Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We came out of there without a scratch on the car and we've got something for the 500, all my guys are excited. The race was really fun at the beginning when we had track position.  We had a fast car, got some pushes from the No. 22 and the No. 2 and I got to dice it up there. We lost track position and my car didn't drive as good. We made a move there at the end from pretty far back and got up through there quite a way.  I was trying to get somebody to go with me, but I think everybody was scared of the Penske train up there that was running.  Those top three were pretty hard to get out of the way.  We will just have to figure out ways to work together with some of the other Camaro's.  The ZL1's are fast.  I think Chase Elliott and I both had really fast cars and I really liked working with him, so hopefully we can work good in the race."  
 
-Austin Dillon 
Ryan Newman Finishes 11th in Season Opener Exhibition Race at Daytona International Speedway
 

 11th
 
 
 11th
 
 N/A
"We learned a lot today with this Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. I had no complaints with our car's handling. Our pit crew also got to complete a few four-tire pit stops with the new pit stop rules. They too, learned a few things in race conditions. Unfortunately we got shuffled out of the draft and didn't have a chance to make the run at the front. Good news is we learned a lot and our Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is in one piece."  
-Ryan Newman 

 

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is unofficially underway with the completion of the 40th annual Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona. Brad Keselowski, who drew the last starting spot in a blind draw by children on Saturday, won the race as a caution at the exit of turn two on the final lap ended the exhibition event.

The Michigan native led the field for 43 of the 75 circuits to score the win. The exhibition season opener will not count in the win total but does give the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team some bragging rights going into the second portion of Speedweeks at Daytona.

“I was worried about the run but the car was way overheating there at the end and I was more worried about it blowing up than anything else,” said Keselowski after the win. “Doug Yates and his guys did a good job giving me something real durable to take all that and keep digging. I am really proud of the whole effort here. What a way to start speedweeks, putting the Miller Lite Ford in Victory Lane. I am really proud of my team.”

The exhibition race allows a first-hand look at the new rule changes as they prepare for the Duel 150 races on Thursday and the Daytona 500 next Sunday. The Duel’s will set the rest of the starting order for next Sunday’s Daytona 500. Some drivers spoke about the differences they felt after the race.

“The cars are a handful. They are supposed to be. This is professional racing and they are supposed to be hard to drive,” Keselowski said later after the win. “This was no exception today. This is probably the hardest I have ever had to drive a car at Daytona, but I am not complaining.”

“I thought the car would be a handful and at times they were, said Ryan Blaney. “You can get pretty loose and the bumps shoot you around. Not too bad. Something to be aggressive with, which is what you need. You can always get a little more and maybe we will learn more about that in the Duels and 500.”

Erik Jones, who enters his second season of full-time racing in NASCAR’s premier series, expressed his thoughts on the new package at Daytona after finishing eighth.

“The new package is a handful. It’s hard to race. It was single-file the whole time and if you try to make something happen, you go to the back,” said Jones. “We went to the back and lost the draft, and that was about the end of it. From here, we have to try to figure out what we have to do for the (Daytona) 500 to stay in contention.”

Joey Logano will leave Daytona finishing in the runner-up position. Logano, a teammate to race winner Brad Keselowski, started third and led the freight train for one lap.

“It is fun when you are up there running and you don’t know what is going to happen. The suspense keeps building as you are running single-file,” said Logano. “Three to go, two to go, here comes the white flag. When do you make the move? Do you make a move? Sometimes you make and it is never the right thing. Everything has to time out just right. You are waiting to see what everyone else is going to do and you are thinking about the type of people they are and what the possible moves are they will make. Then as soon as we hit the white flag Blaney was able to go to the bottom, I had to stay on top because I would have gotten passed by the 48. I thought I would get a good push on the backstretch. The 41 had a hell of a run. Then they wadded them up.”

Last Season in the Advance Auto Parts Clash, Logano, from Connecticut, led the field for four laps and ended the night victorious. The series veteran started that race in ninth.

Kurt Busch rounded out the top three finishers in the Clash at Daytona. Busch, from Las Vegas, started 14th and rebounded from an issue towards the middle of the event. On lap 35, Busch was involved in an incident with Jamie McMurray in turn four. He was able to continue on while McMurray received a big deal of the damage.

Busch and the No. 41 team had several things on their checklist going into the 40th annual event.

“Project number one was to do all the laps so that we could understand more about our tires and our setup and the way that the car was going to handle. Then step number two was to have fun. I had a blast. I wanted to make another move on the last lap but ran out of steam because the guys behind me got too wide. I couldn’t jump in there and go after the Penske guys. It is a good day for Ford and good day for us and Billy Scott, my new crew chief. Now we will go back and debrief about our car.”

Less than 10 laps later, on lap 43, McMurray took his No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet to the garage area and was done for the day.

The race stayed clean for majority of the event until turn two on the final lap. That’s when Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. made contact to give Brad Keselowski the race victory.

“The 42 (Kyle Larson) got into the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and messed him up a little on the straightaway there and then it was on after that,” said Kyle Busch after the race when asked about the last lap crash.

Ryan Blaney and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five finishers. With Blaney’s fourth-place finish, Ford Racing took home the top-four spots. As for Dillon, his fifth-place finish was the highest finishing position for Chevrolet. Denny Hamlin was the highest finisher for Toyota in sixth.

Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson rounded out the top 10.

The next race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be on Thursday, February 15. The Duel 150 races will set the rest of the starting grid for Sunday’s Daytona 500 with the exception of the front row. Before the Clash, Alex Bowman, driving the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet, won the pole for the ‘Great American Race’. Denny Hamlin, driving the No. 11 FedEx Toyota, secured the second-place starting spot. These races will air live on FOX Sports 1 at 7:00 p.m. ET. and will also be carried by MRN radio and SiriusXM Channel 90.

Avoiding a final lap accident in Sunday’s non-points Advance Auto Parts Clash race was costly for Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr, who found himself in the grass and a 14th-place finish.

The conservative 75-lap race at Daytona International Speedway saw Truex run as high as second. But while running in 11th place when drivers (including Truex) started to drop out of line to make a move to the front, a multicar accident took place in front of Truex.

“I slowed down way early after seeing them wreck,” explained Truex. “They started to come down the track and I had to go into the grass. And when I did that the splitter dug in and just turned me around.  So I just spun out lazy and bounced up on the racetrack. It didn’t hurt the car that bad, just a weird situation.”

Outside of the last lap incident, Truex said his No. 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota had good moments, but did have trouble maintaining a position at the front.

“Once we get to the front, we can't figure out how to keep the position,” said Truex. “We got to the front multiple times but couldn’t stay there. We need to work on this issue.”

The race winner was Brad Keselowski.  Rounding out the top-five in order were: Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney and Austin Dillon.

Next on the Daytona Speedweeks schedule is Thursday night’s Can-Am Duel qualifying races for the Daytona 500. The Duels will determine starting positions 3-40 for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Truex will compete in the second Duel race, starting at approximately 8:45 p.m. ET.  The Can-Am Duels will be televised on Fox Sports 1 with the first race starting at 7 p.m. ET.

FRR PR