Steven B. Wilson

Steven B. Wilson

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Twelve drivers from across the United States and abroad have been invited to try out for NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program, the top driver developmental program in motorsports, at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway and Bethune-Cookman University on Oct. 22-23.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Combine invites promising ethnically diverse and female drivers to test their skills over a two-day period as NASCAR evaluates talent for the 2019 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development class.

In partnership with Rev Racing, NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program offers racing opportunities in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and U.S. Legend Cars International for one full season, providing selected drivers with equipment, mentoring, and competition experience. The goal is to provide top diverse talent with a path for development in order to improve participants' chances of being identified as a prospect by NASCAR's national series teams, sponsors and manufacturers. 

Candidates for the 2019 class have competition experience throughout North America, Asia and Europe. All will vie for an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™ drivers Daniel Suárez, Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson, the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity driver to qualify for the NASCAR Playoffs. "The drivers invited to this year's NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development  Combine represent a wide range of diverse backgrounds, both in terms of heritage and driving disciplines, " said Jusan Hamilton, NASCAR senior manager of racing operations and event management. "The combine has been tremendous in helping the NASCAR industry identify and develop top diverse talent and this year is no different."

The combine, which will serve as a key element in the selection process for setting the driver lineup for Rev Racing in 2019, will evaluate participants on their driving skill and work ethic on and off the track, as well as their marketing and media skills. Each driver will also take part in a physical fitness assessment at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. Additionally, Rev Racing and NASCAR will work with B-CU communications students for additional training and evaluation of the combine participants that will include a mock press conference and one-on-one interviews.

Since the inception of NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program, Rev Racing has earned 19 wins, 88 top-5 finishes, and 186 top-10 finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program driver Rubén García Jr. won the K&N Pro Series East season finale at Dover International Speedway in early October, the Mexico native’s second win of the season. García Jr. is also the current Championship points leader in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series.

“As we embark upon our 11th year managing the Drive for Diversity program in partnership with NASCAR, we couldn’t be more excited about the evolution of our driver development program,” said Max Siegel, CEO of Rev Racing. “Through selection process and training program we look forward to selecting and developing some of NASCAR’s brightest stars.”

In addition to Garcia Jr., drivers under consideration to return to the team in 2019 are Chase Cabre, Ernie Francis Jr., Nick Sanchez and Ryan Vargas. Vargas is a two-time NASCAR Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award winner and has won three NASCAR Late Model races. In 2018, Francis Jr. achieved four wins in the Trans-Am Championship presented by Pirelli and currently leads the series standings. He has won the series championship for four consecutive years.

This year’s participants also include Juan Manuel González, Loris Hezemans, Perry Patino, Brooke Storer, Ryu Taggart, Gracie Trotter and Britney Zamora. Storer is the 2016 Desoto Speedway Sportman Champion, while Zamora became the first female driver to win the Northwest Super Late Model Series Championship in 2017. In 2015, Taggart earned a third-place finish out of more than 7,000 drivers in the Red Bull Kart Fight in Japan.  

Rev Racing also operates the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Youth Driver Development Program, which targets drivers 12 to 17 to compete in the U.S. Legend Cars International (USLCI) and serves as an entry point to the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program. The deadline to apply for the youth program is Oct. 31, 2018.

2018 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Combine drivers:

DRIVER HOMETOWN 2018 RACING EXPERIENCE
Chase
Cabre
Tampa, Fla. NASCAR K&N Pro Series East & NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
 
Ernie
Francis Jr.
Southwest Ranches, Fla. Trans Am TA Series & NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
 
Rubén
García Jr.
Mexico City, Mexico NASCAR K&N Pro Series East & NASCAR Peak Mexico Series
 
Juan Manuel González Mexico City, Mexico NASCAR Mexico FedEx Challenge Series NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
 
Loris Hezemans Amsterdam, Netherlands Blancpain GT Sprint Series & NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
 
Perry
Patino
Montgomery, Ala. Pro Late Model & Late Model Sportsman Series
 
Nick
Sanchez
Miami, Fla. NASCAR Whelen All-American Series & Bojangles Summer Shootout Pro Legend Car Class
 
Brooke
Storer
Land O’ Lakes, Fla. Wheelman Series Late Model/Sportsman Division
 
Ryu
Taggart
Jefferson City, Mo. Pro Late Model Division at Lebanon I-44 Speedway and USRRA A-mod on dirt
 
Gracie
Trotter
Denver, N.C. CARS Tour & PASS Series, USLCI Legend Cars & Bojangles Summer Shootout Semi Pro Division
 
Ryan
Vargas
La Mirada, Calif. NASCAR K&N Pro Series East & NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
 
Brittney Zamora Kennewick, Wash. NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Budweiser Crown Series & Northwest Super Late Model Series

Rev Racing PR

Old World Industries, the makers of PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid and Equipment, has partnered with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), the championship-winning NASCAR team.

 

PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid and Equipment will be the primary sponsor for driver Clint Bowyer and the No. 14 team for three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in 2019 with associate sponsorship on the No. 14 Ford Mustang at all other races.

 

“Old World Industries has successfully leveraged motorsports for decades to build strong brands and we’re incredibly proud to be a part of their history by representing PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid and Equipment,” said Mike Verlander, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, SHR. “They have a lineage with Clint that goes back to his dirt late model teams and we’re happy to transcend PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze’s and BlueDEF’s grassroots racing efforts with Clint to the NASCAR Cup Series.”

 

“PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF are synonymous with racing, from grassroots dirt late-model racing to NASCAR and NHRA and even Formula One,” added Bowyer, a winner of 10 NASCAR Cup Series races, including two this season that have earned him a spot in the exclusive NASCAR Playoffs. “They know that you have to have the best to compete and win, and it’s an attitude they promote on the racetrack because it’s the same attitude they use to make their products the best in the business. That’s the kind of mentality we have here at Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s a true partnership.”

 

This agreement expands an already aggressive and diverse motorsports portfolio for PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF, with the leading automotive brands enjoying relationships in NASCAR, Formula One, NHRA and the Late Model Dirt Series. It also augments Old World Industries’ existing partnership with Haas F1 Team, which will expand in 2019 as the PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF brands move from the nose of the racecars driven by Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen to the much more visible rear-wing endplates.

 

“We get the best of both worlds with Haas F1 Team and Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Bryan Emrich, Chief Marketing Officer, Old World Industries. “The PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF brands get global exposure and continued recognition domestically. The technology of Formula One and NASCAR help sell our products, as do the personalities we’ve aligned ourselves with. Clint Bowyer, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are genuine people who engage well with our customers. Racing is a relationship business, and we’re extremely proud of the relationships we’ve fostered with Haas F1 Team and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

 

Old World Industries has been a leader in the development and distribution of high-quality automotive and heavy-duty products for more than four decades. For nearly the same amount of time, PEAK has been actively involved in motorsports as a way to highlight the excellence and competitive quality of its family of brands. From partnerships with such racing icons as Dale Earnhardt and John Force to title sponsorships of international series, specifically, the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series, PEAK has successfully utilized motorsports to showcase PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid and Equipment.

 

PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze features patented, advanced technologies allowing for superior protection for all vehicles, both on pavement and off-road, and BlueDEF is the number one brand of Diesel Exhaust Fluid in the United States.

 

TSC PR

Team Penske has announced a new partnership with VF Workwear.  Under the multi-year agreement, VF Workwear’s Wrangler Riggs brand will be the primary sponsor of the No. 12 Ford Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney in the NASCAR Cup Series, beginning with this weekend’s event at Kansas Speedway. The new partnership also includes VF brands serving as a primary sponsor on the No. 12 Ford for the Cup Series races at Michigan (June) and Kansas (October) in both 2019 and 2020.

The VF Workwear family of brands features names that are very familiar to NASCAR fans, including Wrangler®, Dickies®, Timberland Pro®, Red Kap®, Kodiak®, Bulwark® and Horace Small®.

“We are excited to welcome VF Workwear as a new partner to Team Penske and we believe the company and its brands will bring new energy and vision to our organization,” said Roger Penske. “All of the VF Workwear brands are well known to motorsports fans and this represents a great opportunity to connect the Wrangler brand and its heritage in racing to our team. The VF brands also align well with Ryan (Blaney), a terrific young driver on the track and a great representative off the track as well. To me, Wrangler and Ryan just represents a great combination.”

VF Workwear is part of the VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC), which outfits consumers around the world with its diverse portfolio of iconic lifestyle brands, including Vans®, The North Face®, Timberland®, Wrangler® and Lee®. Founded in 1899, VF is one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies with socially and environmentally responsible operations spanning numerous geographies, product categories and distribution channels.

“VF Workwear is proud to partner with Team Penske and Ryan Blaney and we think it’s a great fit across the board,” said Chris Holcombe, President of VF Workwear. “Consumers already know a lot about our brands, and NASCAR fans have an affinity with our Wrangler name and the history it has in the sport. So, to bring a brand onboard like Wrangler Riggs – and have it associated with someone like Ryan who is sort of a throwback in this younger generation of drivers – is a perfect fit for us. We are excited and look forward to having our other brands involved in the future.”

At just 24 years old, Blaney is a key pillar of NASCAR’s youth movement. Competing in his first full-season with Team Penske in the Cup Series in 2018, Blaney captured his second career victory at the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on September 30. Blaney has already eclipsed his career-best totals in top-five finishes and laps led this season as he’s advanced to the NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12.

“I’ve always loved the history of our sport and there is definitely a lot of history with Wrangler in racing,” said Blaney. “Knowing that I will have that Wrangler name on my car this weekend – and hopefully have the chance to help introduce some of the other VF brands to the sport – will be awesome. It’s great that VF Workwear is coming back to our sport and I’m excited for the opportunity to represent them.”

The 2018 Cup Series season continues with the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, October 21 with race coverage beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBC. 

Team Penske PR

Aric Almirola won for the second time in his career and first time in the No.10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion to automatically advance to the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Almirola’s win continued Ford’s winning streak at Talladega, recording their seventh in a row at the SuperSpeedway. It was also SHR’s milestone 50th points-paying MENCS win and its first victory at Talladega.

“I’m so happy for Aric, Tony and SHR,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “They executed their plan perfectly today. I’m just so proud of all the hard work at Ford Performance, all the things that Mark Rushbrook is doing leading our group, and everybody at Roush Yates Engines and the dedication they put into the plate racing here at Talladega and when we go to Daytona. It takes a total team effort and I’m just proud to be part of the team. It’s an incredible day here at Talladega. My dad loved racing here.

We raced here together a lot and it kind of started back when we had Davey Allison as our driver in the 28 car. It was interesting, I asked Aric yesterday I said, ‘Maybe we should put a 28 on the side of this car.’ I thought he was gonna win the race and I asked him if he’d mind to carry that 28 to Victory Lane today and to be here with him is amazing. I’m trying to carry on what my dad, Robert Yates started, and our family tradition of plate racing and just really proud to have my daughter Olivia here with me today and carrying on the family tradition. What a way to win our company’s 350th overall win.”

The power of the Ford Performance, Roush Yates Engines powered Ford Fusions made a statement in Talladega, after qualifying 1-2-3-4 and leading 184 total laps (489 miles) out of a 193-lap overtime race on Sunday.

“We came and brought four amazing racecars,” Almirola commented in Victory Lane. "As an organization, we were so committed to each other about running up front, staying up front, scoring as many points as we can, and staying committed to the bottom lane, to each other. I feel like that strategy, honestly, was what obviously won us the race. I think our cars were so fast that as long as we stayed single file, all four of us lined up, nobody could get that outside lane working to go up there and challenge us.”

Stewart-Haas Racing teammates hooked up and showed great disciple to lead the field for all but 2 laps during the first two stages of the race. Pole and Stage 1 winner, Kurt Busch lead the field for 108 laps while teammate Kevin Harvick led 46 laps on his way to winning Stage 2.

“I want to thank everybody from the engine department at Roush Yates for all the work and effort that they put into everything that goes on the race track,” said Harvick. “This is all about cars and people and engines and everything that goes and when you can have a group of guys that work together like we did today, you can control the situation in the race a lot more than just battling it out amongst each other. I’m really, really happy for Aric. He works his butt off. Those guys have done a great job all year and to see them get to Victory Lane is a lot of fun.”

A late race caution caused the race to go into overtime, the additional laps caused fuel challenges for Harvick, Blaney and Busch as they ran out of fuel during the last laps of the race, shuffling the field on the final two laps of the race.

It was a 1, 2, 3, & 5 finish for Ford; SHR teammates Almirola and Clint Bowyer finished 1-2 while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from Roush Fenway Racing drove up through the field to finish third. Team Penske’s Joey Logano finished fifth and Wood Brother’s Racing, Paul Menard finished ninth.

Kansas will be the next cutoff race for MENCS. The Ford drivers are currently in P1 Almirola, P3 Harvick, P5 Logano, P6 Kurt Busch, P7 Bowyer, P9 Brad Keselowski and P10 Ryan Blaney.

RYE PR

Race Winner:      Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford) in overtime

Stage 1 Winner:  Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-55):

● Aric Almirola started fourth and finished Stage 1 in fourth to earn seven bonus points.

● Almirola and the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent ran the entire stage in positions one through four.

● During the Stage 1 break, the Tampa native reported the No. 10 Smithfield Bacon for Life Ford was “handling pretty well.” He visited pit road for fuel and four tires during the break.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 56-110):

● Almirola started Stage 2 in eighth and ended it in fourth to accumulate another seven bonus points.

● Almirola started the second stage eighth and remained in the top-10 until the second caution of the race came out on lap 63. During the caution the Smithfield driver pitted for fuel only.

● The pit strategy worked out well for the No. 10 team and SHR with all four Fords restarting in the first four positions on lap 66.

● The Smithfield driver stayed out on track through one more caution to end the stage in fourth.

● The Stage 2 break allowed Almirola to visit pit road for fuel and four tires, but varying pit strategies meant the 34-year-old had to restart in the 19th spot, the furthest back he had been all day.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 111-193):

● Almirola started the final stage 19th and ended it as the race winner.

● After the green flag dropped on the final stage, Almirola began to work his way forward and, by lap 124, he was up to the third.

● When the sixth caution came out on lap 136, Almirola was seventh and visited pit road for two right-side tires and fuel.

● He restarted sixth on lap 142 and was back up to third on lap 159, when the caution was displayed once again.

● The No. 10 team, along with its SHR teammates, stayed out for the seventh caution of the race, and Almirola restarted third.

● One lap after the green flag was displayed, Almirola was fourth on lap 165 behind his three SHR teammates, and the four stayed together and held their position well in front of the field until the final caution period for a multicar incident behind them on lap 187, just one lap before the scheduled race distance.

● With the race extended past its scheduled distance, fuel became a concern for Almirola, who last pitted on lap 138, and his SHR teammates. It was calculated the No. 10 would have enough to complete one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.

● The race restarted on lap 192 with Almirola in fourth place. Shortly after, teammate Kevin Harvick ran out of fuel and had to pit while Almirola moved into second behind teammate Kurt Busch.

● Busch then ran out of fuel on the final lap, and Almirola was able to move into the lead and hold it for the win.

 

Notes:

● This was Almirola’s first victory of 2018.

● Almirola earned his first victory in 18 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega.

● Almirola’s one lap led on the final lap increased his laps-led total at Talladega to 16.

● Almirola’s victory in the 1000Bulbs.com 500 marked the 56th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s milestone 50th points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and its first victory at Talladega.

● Almirola’s win marked SHR’s series-leading 11th points-paying victory 31 races into the 2018 season. SHR also won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.

● This was SHR’s 14th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.

● Almirola’s triumph delivered the 105th points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 674th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.

● Ford now has 28 all-time series wins at Talladega, including 10 of the last 13. This was its seventh straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory at Talladega.

● This was Almirola’s second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory and his first since joining SHR this year.

● There were eight caution periods for a total of 32 laps.

● Twenty-nine of the 40 drivers in the 1000Bulbs.com 500 finished on the lead lap.

 

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Bacon for Life Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“I felt like I kept giving it away, and I was so disappointed for all these guys behind me because they’re awesome. They’re the best. I’m with the best team in the garage, and I felt like I kept letting them down not winning a race. Today, the good Lord was shining on us and we went to victory lane. We did it, finally.
 

“I knew (we were going to have a good day) when we qualified, all four of us starting up there in the front. We kind of talked about it in our competition meeting, that we needed to be committed to each other, we needed to score as many stage points as we can, we needed to score more stage points than the 12, than the 42 and the 88. We knew all that. Going into the weekend, that was our focus, was to be committed as an organization to doing everything we can to help each other, making sure that we continue to get points, especially for Clint and myself being in the situation we were in going into this weekend. Then when we qualified top-four, all of us together, I knew that all four of us were going to be tough to beat. We were going to have really fast racecars. We’ve been chasing those Penske cars. We talked about it Saturday. We’ve been chasing Penske at the restrictor-plate races. They’ve been able to do somewhat of what we did today, where they get out front, Brad and Joey and Paul and Blaney get organized, basically dominate the race. Today, we were able to do that. We stayed so committed to each other. We worked every restart out to where we stayed committed to each other, got in line. It was us against the field.
 

“When we started to drive off from the field in the first stage, as the stage went on, I knew we had something special. I knew one of our four cars was going to win. Just by happenstance, we were the ones that qualified fourth, so I kept being the third or fourth guy in line. It was like, ‘Man, this is nice that we’re all four running together, but I’m scoring less stage points than Bowyer – I’m racing him in points. Eventually we’re going to have to try and win this race, we’re going to have to separate and start to fend for ourselves.’ That opportunity honestly never really presented itself. It seemed like, the way the race played out, such long green‑flag runs, we would get committed to each other. As we would drive away from the field, me being the fourth guy in line, I never really had anybody behind me to help me make a move on my teammates.
 

“It was an incredible day for us as an organization at Stewart‑Haas Racing, and I am so proud and so thankful for the opportunity to be driving these racecars.”

 

Playoff Standings (with one race to go before the Round of 8):

1.       Kevin Harvick (3,128 points) +63 points

2.       Kyle Busch (3,111 points) +46 points

3.       Joey Logano (3,104 points) +39 points

4.       Kurt Busch (3,095 points) +30 points

5.       Aric Almirola (3,087 points) 1 win

6.       Clint Bowyer (3,086 points) +21 points

7.       Martin Truex Jr. (3,083 points) +18 points

8.       Chase Elliott (3,066 points) 1 win

9.       Brad Keselowski (3,065 points) -18

10.      Ryan Blaney (3,061 points) -22 points

11.      Kyle Larson (3,057 points) -26 points

12.      Alex Bowman (3,015 points) -68 points

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. It is the sixth race of the 10-race playoffs and the final race in the Round of 12. It starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage on NBC beginning at 1:30 p.m.

 

TSC PR

Trevor Bayne fought back from an ill-handling car early on charging his way towards the front crossing the line 13th at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday afternoon in his AdvoCare Rehydrate Ford Fusion.

“Little disappointed in the speed we had in the car today, especially early on we weren’t able to stay with that lead pack,” Bayne said. “The Stewart-Haas cars were just so fast and able to check out, but all the Fords were decent. We just struggled to have what we needed to be able  to lead a lane and get where we needed to be, so I had to push and follow people. I wasn’t able to make the big moves and get to the top-10 like I wanted to, so just had to have a steady race and gradually work our way up there. At the end we were in a decent spot coming to the lap when the 88 wrecked, then the caution came out. On the front stretch I thought we were wrecked and we came out going straight so we’ll take it.”

The 2011 Daytona 500 winner rolled off the grid 24th for the 188-lap event. In the opening laps, Bayne complained of loose-handling conditions, something much of the field reported in the first stage. After a yellow at lap 10 in which he would pit, Bayne eventually crossed the line 27th to end the segment.

Following more adjustments and service to the No. 6 under the stage break, Bayne would line up 20th for the second stage. Just a couple laps later, the yellow came out in which he again pitted, but on exit made contact with the No. 72, who was pitting on the wrong lap. The team would repair the small damage to the right front, as he lined back up 33rd for the restart at lap 65.

Upon the restart, Bayne was able to pass a plethora of cars, getting up to 11th by lap 82. Following another yellow just prior to the stage end, Bayne crossed the line 21st at lap 110. The team pitted for fuel only at the stage break, setting up to restart 10th at lap 115. After another yellow, Bayne restarted 15th with 47 to go. His final pit stop of the day came at lap 160, where he’d line up 18th after the yellow. The field once again went under yellow with two to go, where Bayne avoided a multi-car accident, before going on to finish 13th.

The No. 6 returns to the track next weekend with Bayne back behind the wheel at Kansas Speedway. Race coverage begins next Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC and MRN.

RFR PR

Despite going a lap down early due to making a shock change under caution, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 17 SunnyD Team rallied back to score a third-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“We definitely had to fight hard today,” Stenhouse said. “We fought hard and made a lot of adjustments to try and make our car faster. It seemed work a little bit there we obviously fell on the lucky side of having to pit and having enough fuel, so everything worked out for us today. To get that good finish and back-to-back top 10s is a solid start.”

After advancing to the final round of qualifying, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 12th position for the 188-lap race. When the first caution waved just 10 laps in, Stenhouse was scored in the 20th position after battling a tight handling car in the draft. Stenhouse worked his way up to the ninth position but fell back to 18th in typical plate race fashion when the first green checkered waved.

After making big changes to the SunnyD Ford during the stage break, the 2017 Talladega winner restarted in the 20th position and was working his way forward before another caution was displayed with 85 laps remaining. Crew chief Brian Pattie decided to change front shocks under the caution to improve the handling. Unfortunately, the change cost Stenhouse to lose a lap to leaders forcing him to settle with a 32nd-place finish in stage two.

A much needed caution was displayed on lap 136 allowing the Roush Fenway Racing driver to be awarded the free pass and get back on the lead lap. After restarting in the 31st position, Stenhouse steadily worked his way forward and was scored in the eighth position when the caution flag was displayed sending the race into over-time. On the final green-white-checkered restart, Stenhouse lined up in the eighth position and bullied his way forward scoring a third-place finish.

Stenhouse and the No. 17 team head to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400. The race is set for Sunday, Oct. 21. Coverage will begin at 2 p.m. (EST) on NBC.

RFR PR

Race Winner:      Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-55):

Kurt Busch started first and finished first, earned 10 bonus points and one playoff point.

No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion pitted under caution on lap 12 while leading for fuel and a wedge adjustment.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 56-110):

Busch started fourth and finished third, earned eight bonus points.

Busch pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment on lap 57.

On lap 64, Busch pitted for fuel only and a wedge adjustment.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 111-188):

Busch started 14th and finished 14th.

The car was still tight, so Busch pitted on lap 112 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.

By lap 130, Busch was up to second.

Busch pitted on lap 138 for right side tires and fuel.Will restart first.

● The No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation started on the front row on the restart on lap 191 and was leading on the final lap when an accident occurred in turn one. No caution was called and Busch ran out of fuel while leading on the backstretch and finished a disappointing 14th.

 

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It was a very different Talladega for me. I really enjoyed leading the race, working with my teammates. I’m really happy a Stewart-Haas car won, but the four of us, I’ve never seen so much synergy. We knew we were going have to race when we got to Kansas. It would have been nice to have the win. We’re here to win. That’s what Monster Energy wants. Thanks to them. That’s what Team Haas wants. Thanks to Gene, Tony Stewart, everybody.  But there were two human element calls there at the end.  I don’t know why we ran an extra lap under yellow and why there wasn’t the yellow for a dispatch of an ambulance.” 

 

Notes:

● Busch finished first in Stage 1 to earn 10 bonus points and one playoff point, and third in Stage 2 to earn an additional eight bonus points.

● Busch led three times for 108 laps to increase his laps-led total at Talladega to 266.

● Almirola’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 victory was his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win, his first of the season and his first at Talladega. His margin of victory over second-place Bowyer was .105 of a second.

● There were eight caution periods for a total of 32 laps.

● Twenty-nine of the 40 drivers in the 1000Bulbs.com 500 finished on the lead lap.

 

Playoff Standings (with one race to go before the Round of 8):

1.       Kevin Harvick (3,128 points) +63 points

2.       Kyle Busch (3,111 points) +46 points

3.       Joey Logano (3,104 points) +39 points

4.       Kurt Busch (3,095 points) +30 points

5.       Aric Almirola (3,087 points) 1 win

6.       Clint Bowyer (3,086 points) +21 points

7.       Martin Truex Jr. (3,083 points) +18 points

8.       Chase Elliott (3,066 points) 1 win

9.       Brad Keselowski (3,065 points) -18

10.     Ryan Blaney (3,061 points) -22 points

11.     Kyle Larson (3,057 points) -26 points

12.     Alex Bowman (3,015 points) -68 points

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. It is the sixth race of the 10-race playoffs and the final race in the Round of 12. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage on NBC beginning at 1:30 p.m.

 

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Aric Almirola claimed a thrilling Talladega Superspeedway victory on Sunday in the 1000Bulbs.com 500 to earn automatic advancement to the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Twelve drivers remain in championship contention going into next week’s (Oct. 21) event at Kansas Speedway. Post-Kansas, the field will be trimmed to eight, after which three more races will produce a “Championship 4” showdown going into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Almirola and Chase Elliott, a race winner last week, have secured Round of 8 berths.

Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Bacon for Life Ford, was part of a dominant four-car contingent from Stewart-Haas Racing. Almirola, runner-up Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Cummins/Rush Truck Centers Ford), Kevin Harvick and polesitter Kurt Busch led the field as a tightly packed foursome throughout the afternoon on the 2.66-mile tri-oval, most of the time with an incredibly dominant Busch at the front. Prior to the “OT” the Stewart-Haas drivers had pulled away from the rest of the 40-car field, by 20 car lengths.

NASCAR Overtime – which extended the race’s scheduled distance from 188 laps to 193 – was needed because of a five-car, Lap 186 incident initiated by Alex Bowman in Turn 4. Immediately there were questions about whether the Stewart-Haas cars would have enough fuel to last through the caution period lap and ultimately, two more green-flag laps.

Busch (No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford), who led a total of 108 laps, ran out of gas on the final lap while leading the race and finished 14th. Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford) ran out prior to the two-lap overtime and came home 28th but retained his lead in the series point standings.

“I really enjoyed leading the race, working with my teammates,” Busch said. “I’m really happy a Stewart-Haas car won, but the four of us, I’ve never seen so much synergy. My team did an incredible job…and we came up a little shy on fuel. Wow, what a car.”

Former Talladega winners Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

On the final lap coming out of Turn 4, as Busch’s car sputtered and slowed, Almirola swept to the outside followed closely by Bowyer. The Tampa, Florida native got his second career Monster Energy Series victory, breaking a 149-race winless streak. His only previous series victory came in July 2014 at Daytona International Speedway. Almirola’s season started with a near-win and eventual heartbreak, as he was nudged into the wall on the final lap while leading the DAYTONA 500, by eventual champion Austin Dillon.

“This is so awesome … at Talladega!,” Almirola said. “I’ve been so close so many times this year. Four or five times I feel like I’ve had a shot to win and haven’t been able to seal the deal. To come here, a place that I love … I just love racing at Talladega.

“I came here with the mindset that we were just going to give them hell and if we wreck, we wreck and if we win, we win. And we won! Unbelievable.”

NASCAR returns to Talladega Superspeedway on April 26-28 with the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards’ General Tire 200 (April 26), the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Talladega 300 (April 27) and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ GEICO 500 (April 28). Ticket information for those races and all Talladega Superspeedway events is available online at www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or by calling (855) 518-RACE (7223). 

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It’s bad news for the opposition when Steve Torrence is in the final round of an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel event – and on Sunday at zMAX Dragway, Torrence again asserted his dominance after a scorching final round to win the NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters.

Torrence moved to 9-0 in final rounds this year and became the first driver to win four straight Countdown to the Championship events. Torrence completed a season sweep of zMAX Dragway races by edging No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force with a 3.703-second, 329.67-mph pass.

“It’s a team and it takes a whole village to make this machine work,” Torrence said. “I couldn’t be more proud. I’m kind of like the hood ornament. I’m the one getting there first but (my crew are) the ones pushing me to it. … In the final, I knew they’d be right there with us but I felt confident. I had to be on my game and I was on my game. Today was the biggest race of the season for us. We needed to capitalize and we did what we needed to do.”

In his 700th round of Funny Car races, Ron Capps notched his 60th Funny Car win after a blistering 3.875-second, 329.42-mph pass in the final round gave Capps the nod over J.R. Todd.

“We got a little aggressive in Q3 on Saturday and I’m really glad we did, even though we lost the pole to Tommy Johnson,” Capps said. “It gave (crew chief Rahn Tobler) a look at what we had. Rahn made some great calls. Today was when he showed me a lot. To throw down those speeds and (elapsed times) at the end was incredible. … You’ve just got to be up for everything in the Countdown. I’m just so glad we were able to come out here and do what we needed to do.”

Jason Line became the winningest Pro Stock racer at zMAX Dragway after he captured his 50th career national win on Sunday and his fourth at the Bellagio of drag strips. Line edged Tanner Gray with a 6.523-second, 211.59-mph pass in the final round of Pro Stock competition. Line’s win gave the two-time Pro Stock champion at least one victory in 15 consecutive seasons, an NHRA record.

Gray’s runner-up finish helped the soon-to-be NASCAR racer maintain his points lead with two races left in the season.

“Obviously, these streaks are cool, but nobody really cares about streaks,” Line said. “Summit pays me to win and we finally did that today. It’s been a struggle this year, for sure, but when you’re able to win, you certainly appreciate it. I was just trying to be calm and cut the best light I could (a .020 reaction time). I was fortunate enough to do a good job with my left foot and get it done.”

Matt Smith had the easiest pathway to victory on Sunday. The Pro Stock Motorcycle finalist saw opponent Chip Ellis red-light the final round, giving Smith the 21st victory of his career. Smith’s 6.836-second, 197.71-mph run was icing on the cake for the new points leader.

“It’s pretty big when you look at the Pro Stock Motorcycle points,” Smith said. “All in all, the bike worked great. I had to do my job. We had some problems. I hurt a motor after the first round, we put one in and I had to go up there blind in the second round but we made it. That’s a testament to my crew. … We’re maintaining what we need to do. I’ve said that if we win three more races in the Countdown, we can win the championships. We can’t have any first-round losses. We need to just keep going rounds.”

Pro Mod No. 1 qualifier Rick Hord collected his first career victory on Sunday, while NGK Spark Plugs-sponsored racer Megan Meyer completed a Charlotte sweep this season by capturing her second Top Alcohol win in as many races at zMAX Dragway.

TICKETS:
Tickets to upcoming speedway events, including the Nov. 1-3 World of Outlaws World Finals presented by Can-Am, are available at the speedway ticket office, online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets/ or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

KEEP TRACK:
Fans can connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMAX Dragway and The Dirt Track at Charlotte by following on Twitter and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan. Keep up with all the latest news and information with the Charlotte Motor Speedway mobile app.

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