Truex Jr. Dominates At Kentucky
SPARTA, Ky-- In dominating fashion and battling NASCAR Overtime, Martin Truex Jr. was victorious in the Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway. Truex led a total of 152 laps.
“I thought we were dead. I thought we were done. It’s just – this is completely unbelievable. I’m so excited to win here. It felt like we had a shot last year and it got away from us on fuel mileage and just wanted to win here so so bad after that. This is sweet redemption," said Truex Jr. "I got to say hi to Sherry (Pollex) back home. She didn’t make it this weekend, so I love you babe. And all these awesome fans, thank you guys so much for coming out. What an awesome crowd. I hope they enjoyed it and that was a whole lot of fun. “
This is Truex Jr's 10th career win. This is his third career win of 2017. He scores his 12th stage win of the season.
After starting in the back of the field due to inspection issues in qualifying and receiving a penalty on pit road in the early stages of the race, Kyle Larson finished second.
“Yeah, I sped on pit road there early. At the end of that first stage, so it felt very similar to Texas earlier this year. Didn’t get to qualify, had a pit road penalty at the end of the first stage. Went from the back to the front and then we had scuffs on one run and got the balance off pretty bad, but were able to put stickers on and charge back to the front. The Target Chevy was good," said Larson. "Truex though, never got to see him that last run he was upwards of 15 seconds ahead of us. That was pretty crazy. He has definitely been the fastest car all year. So, got some work to do, but if we can keep chasing him, I think we can beat him.”
Chase Elliott finished third after being a silent contender for much of the race.
"I had a really good roll there. Got to the bottom of the No. 77 and got far enough up next to him to get underneath him into (Turn) 1 and that got us a couple more spots there which was nice. From where we started the night to where we ended up was a big improvement with our Napa Chevrolet," said Elliott "Happy we could just execute well tonight. I don’t think we were as good at Martin (Truex, Jr.) or Kyle (Larson), but we did our jobs on pit road and I made the most of a good car.”
Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-10.
Only nine drivers finished on the lead lap. There were 10 lead changes among four different drivers. There were nine cautions for 39 laps. The time of race was two hours, 57 minutes, and 55 seconds. The average speed was 138.604 mph.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Overton's 301. The race will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network at 3:00 p.m EDT.
Elliott 'Content' At Hendrick
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Signing a contract extension through 2022 with Hendrick Motorsports was a huge sign of a secured future for Chase Elliott.
With this being his second season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, this extension with Hendrick Motorsports is what many assume this is the start of a “lifetime contract” like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have received from the organization.
“I owe so much to Mr. Hendrick and what he’s done for me and really just kind of believing in me from the time I met him, for some reason, and still does and has continued to do that as time has gone along. So, I owe an awful lot to him, not just for the opportunities he’s given me, but for the faith he’s had in me over the years,” said Elliott about Hendrick.
“Even when nobody else does, he does; and he’s made that very apparent for everybody else to see. That means a lot to me. You don’t see people like that in this world very often these days that are willing to go out of they way to help you. And he’s one of those guys. I’m very lucky to have him on my team to do that.”
Elliott believes that signing this extension does not change the way he approaches his job on the racetrack.
“I think if the length of a contract changes how you go about your job, then you’re in the wrong sport. I feel very passionate about that. I think you have to bring the same amount of intensity and drive each weekend, whether your contract is good for ten years or this is your last race,” said Elliott about his approach.
“I think that’s how you need to go about it or anything that you do. So, I’m not changing how I race or how well I want to do. We want to win and run well more than anybody else wants us to or thinks they want us to. We are certainly very driven to want to continue to do well, regardless.”
Elliott is content with his role and duties at Hendrick Motorsports. When asked if he looked at other options, Elliott was quick to say that he had no interest and desire in doing so.
Over the past two and a half years with Hendrick Motorsports in the Cup Series, Elliott has 15 top-fives, 27 top-10’s, and three poles with the organization.
Day Ends Early For Elliott, Keselowski
CONCORD, N.C.— The days for Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski ended early in the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Both drivers finished the race 38th and 39th respectively.
As Jeffrey Earnhardt was coming off the fourth turn on lap 21 something broke in the rear end of the car. The object that broke went into the front end of Elliott’s car causing a fire. Keselowski was coming from behind and rammed into the back of Elliott, due to “oil” on the track.
“Somebody broke and there was just oil everywhere and I couldn’t turn. I ran into the back of Chase. Somebody broke in front of him and then he ran over what they broke and then he broke, so there were two cars broke in front of me and just oil everywhere,” said Keselowski. “You couldn’t stop and turn. You couldn’t do anything. It’s a real bummer four our team. We had a really fast Miller Lite Ford and I think we had a shot at winning tonight, but that’s how it goes.”
“This is so disappointing. Our NAPA Chevy was going to be all right as the night went along. But the No. 33 (Jeffrey Earnhardt) broke something, I guess, and I hit it hard and I saw some fire. And I guess I was laying down some oil all at the same time. And Brad (Keselowski) couldn’t get stopped. I hate it. It’s such a bummer. We’ll just go after it again next week,” said Chase Elliott.
Although the drivers involved claimed there was oil on the track, NASCAR officials saw no oil on the track during the caution period.
Elliott finished 38th, Keselowski finished 39th, and Earnhardt finished 40th.
Bowyer, Blaney, Suarez Win Open Stages; Elliott Fan Vote Winner
CONCORD, N.C— Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, and Daniel Suarez will transfer into the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway based on their victories in the stages.
After starting from the pole position, Bowyer led all 20 laps in the opening stage. He had a 3.653 second lead over Blaney at the start-finish line.
In the second stage, Blaney led the field to the green to led all 20 laps. Blaney beat Chase Elliott by 0.203 seconds.
In the final 10 lap stage, Landon Cassill was the race leader, but was punted by Elliott before the first turn. Daniel Suarez assumed the race lead, but Elliott was pass Suarez with four laps remaining. The caution flew as Erik Jones went through the grass in an effort to pass Suarez and Elliott. Suarez won the final stage by 1.039 seconds over Austin Dillon
The winner of the fan vote was Chase Elliott.
The Monster Energy All-Star Race is set to go green shortly after 8:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.
Drivers Assess First Quarter of 2017
TALLADEGA, Al.— As the first quarter of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season came to a close last week at Richmond, drivers begin to assess their seasons and where they would like to improve on throughout the rest of the season.
The first nine races of the season have seen encumbered wins and side-by-side racing. Seven different drivers have made their way to victory lane this season, while Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson have made their way into victory lane twice. Three short track, one restrictor plate event, and five different tracks have encompassed the first quarter of the season.
Some teams have struggled while some teams have flourished with the new aero packages, while some teams have excelled in stage racing.
Kyle Larson leads the points standing by 40 points over Martin Truex Jr, 52 points over Chase Elliott, 71 points over Brad Keselowski (pending points penalty from Phoenix), and Joey Logano sits 90 points out of the lead following his encumbered win at Richmond.
In his first season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Erik Jones has made a name for himself in the top series. He currently has one top-10 finish this season.
“I wish through the first part of the season we would have just had more results. I think we've ran a lot better than what we've really finished, which is disappointing and unfortunate in a way. But knowing that we showed up at the race every week ‑‑ I can only point at a couple races where I didn't really feel like we should have ran in the top 10, just circumstances, and the way these races have kind of played out, at the end of the them, it just hasn't been in the cards for us,” said Jones.
When asked how he would like to improve on the season, Jones stated, “I think beyond that as the season goes on, we just want to keep working on executing better at the end of the races, getting these finishes and running up front and honestly feel like we keep bringing these fast race cars to the track, one of these weeks it's just going to kind of click for us, and we're just going to be running up front and have a good shot at the win. I thought Bristol was kind of going to be that day, but it seems as things have gone, we just haven't had the tides been falling in our favor."
Although he received an encumbered penalty after his win last weekend at Richmond, Logano is impressed with how his season as gone.
“For us as the 22 team, we were able to kick off the season great with the win at The Clash. That was nice, and since then we’ve had decent speed in our cars. At the beginning part of the year we didn’t execute perfectly during the race, so we didn’t get many stage points, but we were able to recover and get a lot of top 5s and top 10s so far this year. Our average finish is great. I think last week to get through and win the race is a nice thing,” said Logano, “Obviously, this is a little bit of a setback, so I think in general we’re doing a good job. I think we’ve cleaned up the mistakes that we had earlier in the year to where now we’re running as well as we should during the event, which is gonna help us score stage points because we all know how big that is right now and it will be forever. I think the fact that we cleaned up our races a little bit, that’s a big deal, and our speed is still really well. We have good speed in our cars, so those wins will start clicking off is good. I feel happy with where we’re at. I think we have an average finish of around sixth and seventh with the blown right-front at Phoenix and a thirtysomething finish there, so I’m proud of the way we’ve handled the situations this year and the finishes we’ve been getting and the way we’ve been recovering I think that’s an A-plus, and I think we’ve cleaned up to where we don’t have to recover as much, hopefully, here in the future.”
For Ryan Blaney, the season has been filled with ups and downs. He assessed his second season with the Wood Brothers:
“We started off the year really strong. I feel like we didn’t get good finishes the first six or seven races. We had really good cars where things happened and we didn’t get the finish we deserved. I’d say our season started off really strong. The past two weeks have been kind of rough on us. Bristol was a shame. We were really fast and had that power-steering issue and had to ride around there for 300 laps to the end of the race. Richmond, I actually salvaged a really good finish out of that after not being good all day…running 18th all day. I think we drove up to eighth and got the car better, and then Kurt (Busch) wrecked us. I feel like those are the things that we need to do if we don’t run well the first three-quarters of the race, keep working on our car and finish well,” said Blaney. “That’s what we did last week, and I feel like we didn’t have that last year. If we ran bad last year, the first portion of the race we stayed there all day, so this year I feel like we’ve gotten better with that. I’m pretty happy how the Woods Brothers team is running now and where our performance is. It’s just a matter of getting back on track and getting the finishes that we deserve. I feel like there are some really good race tracks that we can definitely capitalize on.”
Consistency in second place, a win at Auto Club, and during the stages was key. Here is how Larson rated his first quarter:
“It’s been good. We had three consecutive second place finishes that led to the win and then we got another second-place finish after that. Four second place finishes and a win to start, I think our average finish is like basically sixth. It’s been a solid start to the year we’ve just got to keep working hard. It’s a really long season. Teams get better and worse throughout the year, so we’ve just got to continue to dig deep and build on what we have right now to get better and hopefully challenge for some more wins,” said Larson.
Chase Elliott has not had the first quarter he would like, it has been full of ups and downs.
“I think we’ve had some ups and downs. I feel like we fired off really well with the way we ran at Daytona and Atlanta. I thought our West Coast swing was pretty strong. I feel like over the past few weeks we really haven’t performed up to our potential. As a group, I think anybody in our group would feel the same way. We’ve had some fast cars at times. We’ve had our driving good and then other weeks, not so much,” said Elliott. “But, we definitely need to execute races; even on the days that your car is not driving like you want it to. That execution and doing everything correctly on pit road, restarts, giving the right information, can turn a bad day into a pretty good day, really. Like last week, for instance, we ran not very good and just inside the 15th; not quite inside the top 10 the majority of the day. We got towards the end of the day and had an opportunity to finish up well inside the top 10 if we had just executed a little bit better. So, that’s what we need to do. And we know we need to do that. And, we’ll try to make that happen.”
Although he won the Daytona 500 this year, Kurt Busch has had a season of ups and downs highlighted by alternator issues.
“For us on the 41 car, we’ve almost gotten a top 10 at half the races so far. This will be our 10th race, so if we get a top 10 this weekend that means we’ve been in the top 10 half the time. We had a couple alternator bugs and issues that we had to work through on the west coast trip. We missed the setup at Fontana. Martinsville was better this time around, we just didn’t seal the deal. We got caught up in a wreck there,” said Busch. “Overall, when you win the Daytona 500 it can carry you for a lifetime. It can carry you for a season and so for the first 10 races, we’ve had a great deal of success and we’re very happy about that with our Ford, with Haas, with Monster and for everybody on the team. Ring-sizing was this week at Stewart-Haas Racing for everybody to get their ring sizes measured up to get a Daytona 500 championship ring, so it’s been pretty special so far to start the year.”
Although the first quarter is a basis for many teams, there are still many more opportunities in 2017 to improve and stay consistent.