Monster Energy Cup Series News (15976)
Martin Truex Jr. knows all too well about the Talladega Superspeedway saying, “Expect the Unexpected.”
His status record in the last four visits to the 2.66-mile tri-oval is marked in red, an ominous motorsports color that indicates a DNF (did not finish).
The four-race gloomy stretch for Truex at NASCAR’s longest track started two years ago when his car suffered an engine failure. The next three Talladega races he got collected in multicar wrecks.
Truex, who will drive Furniture Row Racing’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota in Sunday’s race at the white knuckle Alabama track, is aiming to reverse his fortune.
With Talladega and Kansas remaining in the Round of 12, Truex ranks third in the point standings and has a 36-point cushion for the transfer spot to the next playoff round.
“It’s such a wacky, wild-card race,” Truex said about Talladega. “We tried all different strategies and it seems like it doesn’t make a difference. What you need is a lot of luck there. If you can avoid the wrecks and have a car that can maintain its position with the lead pack you have a chance of posting a solid finish. But usually it comes down to being in the right place at the right time. We’ve been in the wrong place too many times recently and need to change that.”
It’s not that Truex doesn’t know how to win at Talladega. He won three straight races there while driving in the Xfinity Series. Another good sign for the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion is that he came close to winning before settling for a runner-up finish at the most recent restrictor-plate race – Daytona in July.
Truex has had strong performances in the first four playoff races, claiming third-place finishes in Las Vegas and Richmond.
But his strong effort in the past two races was stymied when he got taken out near the checkered flag while leading the Charlotte Motor Speedway road race. He was credited with a 14th- place result. Sunday at Dover he was in position for a top-five result but got caught up in a multicar mayhem with four laps remaining. He ended with a 15th-pace finish.
“Last two weeks were indeed frustrating but you can’t look back – you need to move on,” Truex stated. “Just too many variables to deal with. You keep plugging away and give it your best shot and hopefully something good will happen. So many times it’s out of your control.”
Truex’s record at Talladega includes 27 starts, two top-fives, eight top 10s, one pole and 52 laps led. His average starting position is 19.1 and average finish is 21.3.
Joe Gibbs Racing Announces Dave Rogers Will Replace Scott Graves as Crew Chief on No. 19 MENCS Team for Remainder of 2018 Season09 Oct 2018 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Joe Gibbs Racing announces today that crew chief Scott Graves will be leaving the organization effective immediately.
Dave Rogers, who has been serving as Technical Director for JGR Xfinity Series Operations, will assume the duties of crew chief for the No. 19 team for remainder of this season. Rogers has previously served in the role of crew chief on the No. 19 in 2016 and part of the 2017 season.
With Major League Baseball’s postseason in full swing, two division runners-up from each league played in a pair of winner-take-all Wild Card games for the chance to continue their postseason. The American League’s New York Yankees and the National League’s Colorado Rockies were able to move on in the playoffs by winning their respective games last week.
As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway this weekend, NASCAR’s top series holds its annual “Wild Card Game” of a different sort four races into its own playoffs and during the month of October. Heading into Sunday’s 1000bulbs.com 500, there arguably isn’t a track on the circuit like Talladega, upon which racing is as much of an unknown as its mammoth 2.66-mile oval.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has found fortune both good and bad during NASCAR’s version of the Wild Card Game. With lessons learned from his now 14-season career, the 2015 Cup Series champion knows anything can happen at Talladega. Starting last year, Talladega moved from a playoff elimination race, which was its place on the schedule the previous three seasons, to the second race in the Round of 12.
Last weekend’s Round of 12 opener last weekend at Dover (Del.) International Speedway saw Busch battle handling woes at the Monster Mile and run as far back at 17th before making a miraculous recovery late in the race and salvaging an unlikely eighth-place finish. While Busch and the No. 18 team are accustomed to running much better, every point counts in the current playoff format and the top-10 finish enabled Busch to expand his cushion over the ninth-place cutoff spot in the playoff standings to 63 points with two races remaining in the Round of 12.
But Busch and his M&M’S team aren’t fooled at all by the word cushion, which isn’t comforting to hear at a place like Talladega. So far, only Chase Elliott, by virtue of his win at Dover last weekend, is guaranteed a spot in the Round of 8. Despite Busch’s tough day at Dover, his success during the regular season, as well as in the Round of 16, earned him a total of 55 playoff points that will certainly help his cause going into the wild card race at Talladega.
But as Talladega looms, Busch knows one lap, or even one corner, could change a driver’s fortunes quickly.
He has conquered Talladega just once in his career, his lone win coming in April 2008. In his 26 starts at the track, he has 12 top-15 finishes, and four outings that ended in an accident. So, the Las Vegas native knows the winner of Sunday’s 500-mile race will need to have a strong car and some good fortune at NASCAR’s longest track.
As NASCAR prepares for its version of “Wild Card Weekend” at Talladega, Busch hopes to stay in front of the chaos with his M&M’S Camry, then head to Kansas the following week with, at the very least, a strong shot of advancing in the tightly contested NASCAR playoffs.
Two points or, simply put, one position on the track. Two drivers – Guillaume Deflandre and Ulysse Delsaux – will enter next week’s Circuit Zolder Finals separated by just two points in the battle for the ELITE 2 Division title, confirming the division’s reputation as the most unpredictable of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
After beginning the Semi Finals weekend at the iconic Hockenheimring 24 points behind Delsaux in his first season with Swedish team Memphis Racing, Deflandre delivered a third place on Saturday and perfectly positioned himself on Sunday to take advantage of Delsaux’s last lap puncture to grab the lead and the second win of the season. The Belgian also took the points lead by two marks on his French rival.
“We had a lot of fun during both races at Hockenheim. I managed to run a good pace and put pressure on my competitors and we were happy to be able to win move to the top of the championship,” said the 19-year-old Memphis Racing driver, who won his first career race at Zolder in 2017. “It’s great to enter Zolder in first place, but there’s a lot more to do. Since the beginning of the season, we have a very good relationship with Memphis Racing. Alexander (Graff, ndr.) and the team are a good group, we are all progressing together.”
In a season that’s shaping up as a further, impressive step forward in his development both as a driver and as a young man, 21-year-old Ulysse Delsaux already amassed 3 wins and 4 podiums and only a late puncture in the second Hockenheim race deprived him of another dominant win. The Frenchman, who was diagnosed with a form of Asperger Syndrome early in his life and found in racing the perfect way to express himself, is looking forward to the last weekend of the season.
“My best races were undoubtedly Tours and Hockenheim because we’ve been very strong in all sessions and we dominated both weekends. Hockenheim is my favorite track and it was big disappointment to lose the Sunday race, but it’s pointless to look backwards. We will focus on the next race,” said Delsaux.
Both Delsaux and Deflandre went straight from karting to the Euro NASCAR cars and took part in the NWES drivers development program, honing their skills in test sessions in Europe and making their NASCAR debut at the historic Bowman Gray Stadium. Both their careers evolved in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and they’re both within reach of their first major accomplishment.
But the battle for the ELITE 2 division title will not be limited only to to the two young talents, because there are four more drivers within a 50-point gap from the leader with a maximum of 176 points still to be awarded in the NASCAR GP of Belgium. Rookie Cup leader Florian Venturi and Knauf Racing Team driver Wilfried Boucenna sit respectively 20 and 22 points behind Deflandre, while Paul Guiod and Felipe Rabello have a 42 and 43 point gap to fill.
Despite the pressure, Delsaux and Deflandre are both focusing on themselves rather than on the opponents in preparation for the October 20-21 Circuit Zolder Finals.
“I do not put pressure on myself and my strategy is no different from other races. We will just do our best as always and see what we can get,” Deflandre said.
“I will not think about my rivals, we will need to be perfect and as a driver I must prove that I can win the ELITE 2 Division title, so I will do my best as always. I’m doing a lot of work on the simulator and I’m in the best physical and mental shape I’ve ever been. With Fred (Gabillon) we have a great relationship and a very good communication and I believe we can also win the Teams Championship together,” concluded Delsaux.
As customary for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the Circuit Zolder Finals will be streamed live on will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the EuroNASCAR Facebook page and Youtube Channel, the EuroNASCAR Twitter account, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media profiles across the globe.
NASCAR Euro Series PR
There couldn’t be a better time for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) to scratch off winning at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway from its to-do list than Sunday at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 – the second of three Round of 12 races in the Cup Series playoffs.
The Kannapolis, North-Carolina-based team co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas and has recorded 49 victories and 42 poles since its inception in 2009. It’s celebrating its 10th anniversary season by turning in its best season-long performance to date. SHR’s Fords have won 10 of 30 Cup Series points races in 2018, plus the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race. All four SHR drivers qualified for the playoffs and advanced to the Round of 12.
Despite SHR’s race wins, two championships and a dominant season in 2018, there’s still one item left that has eluded the organization – victory at Talladega. SHR owns four top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 58 starts at the 2.66-mile superspeedway, making it and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta the only two active Cup Series tracks where SHR has not earned a victory.
That could change Sunday, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Cummins/Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion, hopes he’s the driver to do it.
“Heck yeah, I’d like to be the guy who wins (SHR’s) first race at Talladega,” said Bowyer, who already owns two Talladega Cup Series victories, plus six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 25 starts there. “Not only would it be a great win for SHR, it would move the winner on to the Round of 8, and that would make next week’s race at Kansas a lot easier.”
Bowyer needs the victory because he arrives at Talladega after what appeared to be a top-five run at Dover (Del.) International Speedway Sunday in the first of three Round of 12 races turned into a 35th-place finish after mechanical issues and an accident ended his race early. The finish dropped him to 10th in points and 10 points behind the eighth and final transfer spot with two races remaining in the round.
Bowyer knows that for him or SHR teammates Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch or Aric Almirola to win at Talladega, a lot of things will have to go right. His Talladega race in April ended with 22 laps remaining when he was collected in a multicar accident while running 12th.
“More than any other place we go, you have to be focused at Talladega because its 500 miles of mind games,” Bowyer said. “It’s all about making good, quick, decisions by all of the team – the guys in the pits, my spotter and me in the racecar. If we can do that, we will be in a great position to get another Talladega win and hopefully advance in the NASCAR playoffs.”
New SHR partner Cummins makes its first appearance as the primary paint scheme on the No. 14 Ford Fusion Sunday. The Columbus, Indiana-based company is no stranger to victory lane with its racing lineage dating back to the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911, when company founder Clessie Cummins was on the pit crew of the race-winning Marmon Wasp of driver Ray Harroun. Since its founding in 1919, the company now employs approximately 58,600 people and serves customers in about 190 countries and territories through a network of some 500 company-owned and independent distributor locations and approximately 7,500 dealer locations.
While Cummins is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions, it is best known for its diesel truck engines. At Talladega, Cummins will share space on the No. 14 with Rush Truck Centers, the nation’s largest provider of premium products and services for the commercial vehicle market, with the largest truck inventory in North America.
Rush Truck Centers has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states. According to Rush Truck Centers, the trucking industry is expecting a need for 200,000 diesel technicians over the next 10 years to keep up with maintenance demands. Rush Truck Centers wants to make NASCAR fans aware of these opportunities.
Rush Truck Centers and Cummins are accustomed to working with each other. When a Cummins customer is in need of maintenance at a Rush Truck Centers location, RushCare Service Connect automatically provides information to Cummins, expediting and facilitating Cummins support and engagement when necessary. All correspondence is captured and can be viewed on the Service Connect portal, allowing customers and service advisors to see the entire maintenance history associated with any vehicle in the system.
Rush Truck Centers has integrated its RushCare Telematics Solution and its Service Connect platform with Cummins Connected Diagnostics to improve its service program, making maintenance decisions and service tracking easier for shared customers.
Cummins and Rush Truck Centers also help SHR get its racecars to the track each weekend. SHR’s Peterbilt Model 389 haulers are equipped with Cummins engines and RushCare Telematics and supported by the RushCare team, which monitors and reports critical fault codes, vehicle performance and driver habits. This ensures the haulers remain in peak condition while traveling thousands of miles from race to race each season.
Bowyer would like to take SHR, Cummins and Rush Truck Centers to victory lane, but he’d really like to do it for himself and his No. 14 team.
“We got ourselves in a hole right now, points-wise, but we’ve been there before and know what we have to do,” he said. “We’ll go to Talladega and do our best to get some stage points and win the race.”
Earnhardt Family and Nationwide's Make Safe Happen Team Up To Raise Awareness About Home Fire Safety08 Oct 2018 Written by Steven B. Wilson
A legendary NASCAR family is partnering with Nationwide's Make Safe Happen program to provide tips on how to keep families safe in the event of a home fire.
NASCAR's 15-time Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his wife Amy and his sister Kelley Earnhardt-Miller are encouraging everyone to create a home fire escape plan and practice it on National Home Fire Drill Day, which is Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. For tools and tips to create a home fire drill for your family, visit www.makesafehappen.com or download the Make Safe Happen app.
"Kelley, Amy and I are teaming up with Nationwide's Make Safe Happen Program because we know just how important home fire safety is," said Dale Earnhardt Jr. "Home fire escape plans are easy to put together and practicing them can be fun, especially when the kids are involved. More importantly, the drill helps to imprint on everyone's mind what they need to do if a fire breaks out in their home."
"Protecting people is a key mission for Nationwide and we're so thankful to have the Earnhardt family partner with us to raise awareness for this important topic," said Jennifer MacKenzie, senior vice president of Marketing for Nationwide. "Having Dale, Kelley and Amy on board will help us spread the home fire safety message to families everywhere."
Dale and Kelley are no strangers to the danger of home fires. When they were young, their mother's home in Virginia was completely destroyed by a fire. While the family was able to escape to safety, almost all of their belongings were destroyed. The event completely changed their living situation, and Dale and Kelley went from living with their mom to moving in with their dad in North Carolina.
That experience has made them keenly aware of the importance of knowing how to get out of a home in under two minutes once a smoke alarm goes off.
"Seven out of 10 structure fires happen in a home – not at a business, not at school, but in the home. So that home fire drill is really important," said Kelley Earnhardt-Miller. "Seven out of 10 families don't have a fire escape plan. Dale and I didn't have a plan when we were young. Now that we're parents ourselves, we want to make sure that families are prepared in the event of a fire."
As new parents, Dale and Amy realize the importance of making sure kids know how to get out of a burning home quickly and safely. They also understand that fires are scary and that practicing a fire escape plan can help ease those fears.
"Parents need to go over the plan with their kids because you don't know how children are going to react when that smoke detector goes off," said Amy Earnhardt. "They may try to hide under the bed, or they may be concerned about grabbing their favorite toy or their pet. You want you and your kids to know how to get out of the house once they hear the alarm so it's not a panic situation."
Nationwide's Make Safe Happen Program offers the following tips for creating and practicing a home fire escape plan:
Draw out the plan as a family
- Draw out a floor plan of your home, marking the doors and windows
- Have two ways out of every room
- Identify a safety spot outside where everyone should meet
- Mark the locations of smoke alarms
- Assign an adult to help young children or anyone needing assistance
Practice getting out of your home when the alarm starts
- Practice getting out of the home and to the safety spot in less than two minutes
- Get out and stay out. Do not go back in to a burning home
- Leave everything behind
- Stay low to avoid smoke
- Practice your plan twice a year
- Practice your plan during the day and night
Use the Make Safe Happen App to practice
More information and resources – including games, tools, and more – are available on the Make Safe Happen web site.
LaJoie Concludes the Day with a 30th Place Finish in the Factor One Source Fast Pharmacy No. 72 at Dover International Speedway08 Oct 2018 Written by Steven B. Wilson
The days are quickly sliding past like turn 3 out of your right window at Talladega and there are only six races left to decide the Monster Energy Cup Series champion. Those that backed Chase Elliott in the Gandar Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway over the weekend cashed in big and in Las Vegas and surely dominated in there fantasy matchups, if you want to place some action into the next race you should read Bovada review before doing it.
Next up is the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. 2.66 monster miles of mayhem, Talladega never fails to disappoint. We have to hope that the race goes smoothly and hope that the Hallowdega Curse doesn’t rear its ugly head.
Playoffs Leader Board
- Chase Elliott 3056
- Kevin Harvick 3101
- Kyle Busch 3096
- Martin Truex Jr. 3069
- Joey Logano 3064
- Kurt Busch 3054
- Brad Keselowski 3054
- Ryan Blaney 3043
- Aric Almirola
- Clint Bowyer
- Kyle Larson
- Alex Bowman
After Chase Elliott’s win at Dover and Joey Logano hitting the podium as well, the points race in the round of 12 is tight. Somehow after a pit-road mishap, Elliott road on worn tires to pop out into the lead and take the checkered flag.
His family name is legacy at Talladega. Bill Elliott holds the most poles ever at Talladega as well as the fastest official lap time, which has stood since 1987. So one has to wonder if this familiarity will be multigenerational and play into the 1000Bulbs.com 500.
Chase Elliott’s average finish at ‘The Big One’ is 13th. But this is a little misleading. In his five appearances in Talladega, his average start is 4th and he has two top-five finishes. His two races in 2017 were blemished by accidents, causing him to finish in 16th after a No. 2 start and 30th after a No. 8 start marring his overall finish stat. In Elliott’s most recent showing at Talladega, back in April, he finished 3rd.
With his momentum and history of fantastic starts at this track, he should be highly favored to get a top-five finish on October 14th.
The Big Three
Kevin Harvick is on a mission. Despite a 6th place finish in Dover, he led 286 laps and picked up a couple of extra points for winning the first two stages. Going into Talladega, Harvick has plenty of experience. With 35 races under his belt in Lincoln, there are not many drivers who have as much working knowledge of the track as Kevin Harvick. He’s coming off a 4th place finish and pole position start in April, so his recent form is good at this track.
Kyle Busch has an average finish of 20th and average start of 20th at Talladega Superspeedway. His last couple of showings at this track were lack-luster, taking 13th last April and 27th in October of 2017. However, he does have six top-five finishes and a win under his belt here, so he can’t be counted out.
Martin Truex Jr. has never gotten a win here. There is something about Talladega that chews him up no matter which team or car he is in. With an average start of 19th and an average finish of 21st, Truex Jr. seems to take two steps back on this track. His last four times to Lincoln he’s had bad luck. Accidents and engine troubles plague him at the 2.66-mile track. The last time he finished in the top ten was back in 2015. Talladega creates a prime opportunity for some of the hot drivers who are on the bubble, like Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski to pass Martin Truex Jr. in points.
Unfortunately for Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson, who are entering Talladega in the 11th and 12th spots in the standings, this track has not been friendly to either of them. Bowman has an average finish of 27th, though he did hit the top-ten, finishing 8th last April in his higher quality Hendrick car. Larson has only finished in the top ten once in his last eight appearances at Talladega, so there is a good chance that both of these drivers will get pushed out of playoff contention after this weekend.
Matt Kenseth battled a tight-handling car but survived late-race cautions, crossing the line 20th at Dover International Speedway Sunday afternoon in his Wyndham Rewards Ford Fusion.
After qualifying was cancelled Friday afternoon due to mist in the area, the field was set per the rule book, meaning Kenseth lined up 28th for the 400-lap event. The 2003 Cup Champion fought up to 25th by lap 40, but fell a lap down to the leaders. Some 20 laps later, Kenseth hit pit road for his first stop of the day, as the team went to work on his Fusion.
The three-time Dover winner ended stage one in 23rd at lap 120, and would restart there to begin the second segment. By lap 175 he powered to the top-20, but fell another lap down to the leaders with an extended green flag run. Kenseth would finish the stage in 20th, before lining back up for the final 160-lap segment in 21st.
The first non-stage caution of the day eventually flew at lap 339, a series of three to end the final portion of the race that would end in overtime, where Kenseth crossed the line 20th.
The No. 6 returns to the track next weekend with Trevor Bayne behind the wheel at Talladega Superspeedway. Race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on NBC and MRN.
After blowing a right front tire, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rebounded to earn a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Dover International Speedway.
“We struggled with the handling but we were able to rebound there at the end,” Stenhouse said. “Brian Pattie made some great calls on pit strategy to get us in position there late in the race to get the lucky dog and then be able to battle with those guys at the end. Overall it was a decent day for our Fastenal Ford.”
After rain cancelled qualifying setting the lineup by points, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up for the 400-lap race in the 21st position and steadily worked his forward. Crew chief Brian Pattie chose to keep the Fastenal Ford out longer than leaders allowing Stenhouse to maintain the lead for seven laps before hitting pit-road for a scheduled pit-stop. With a caution free stage one, Stenhouse closed out the stage in the 21st position.
After taking the wave around during the stage break, the two-time Xfinity champion lined up in the 18th position for the next 120-lap stage. Despite battling an ill-handling machine, Stenhouse was able to gain two positions taking the green checkered at the end of stage two in the 16th position.
With less than 100 laps remaining, a right front tire blew on the No. 17 Fastenal machine sending him into the wall and causing him to forfeit a lap to the leaders. Luckily a much needed caution was displayed allowing Stenhouse to get back one of his laps.
After getting himself into the lucky dog position, the caution flag waved allowing him to get back on the lead lap. With a multitude of cautions late in the race which eventually sent the race into over-time, Stenhouse was able to bully his way back to earn a top-10 finish.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is Talladega Superspeedway. Race coverage begins Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUSXM Channel 90.