KEVIN HARVICK – 2017 Martinsville I Race Advance

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads up the road to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race with Daniel Knost serving as interim crew chief for the suspended Rodney Childers.

Childers is serving a one-race penalty for a rules infraction discovered in post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, following the March 19 event at Phoenix International Raceway.

Knost is SHR’s director of vehicle dynamics and he previously served as crew chief for SHR drivers Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick. He served as Busch’s crew chief for 33 races in 2014, scoring a win, six top-fives and nine top-10s while leading the No. 41 team to a berth in the NASCAR playoffs. His win with Busch came at Martinsville in April 2014.

Knost moved to the No. 10 team with Patrick for the final three races of 2014 and continued with her through 2015. He led the squad to two top-10 finishes in 2015, including one at Martinsville, and guided Patrick to her career-best 24th-place rank in final championship standings.

Knost, Harvick and the No. 4 team will have their work cut out for them at Martinsville. The .526-mile paperclip-shaped racetrack is the shortest in NASCAR’s top series, and its low banking and tight corners provide some of the closest and toughest competition on the schedule.

Due to the tight quarters, a racecar rarely finishes a race at Martinsville without a tire mark on the door or a few dents in the sheet metal.

What makes it even more maddening for competitors is that they can race to the front of the field and stay there throughout the majority of the event, only to get shuffled back on a late-race restart if they wind up in the outside lane.

Harvick and the No. 4 team suffered that very fate at Martinsville in April 2016. He started 19th, raced to the front and led 72 laps before being stuck in the outside lane on consecutive late-race restarts, ultimately finishing 17th.

But the madness of Martinsville can work to a driver’s benefit, as well. Harvick found that out in April 2011 when he started ninth, led just six of 500 laps and beat runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the finish line by .727 of a second.

Martinsville is one of only three NASCAR Cup Series venues where Harvick has yet to score a top-five finish since joining SHR in 2014 – Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the other two. He may be looking for his first top-five at Martinsville since joining SHR, but he has shown speed and consistency at the Virginia short track with three top-10 finishes and 265 laps led in his six Martinsville starts since the start of 2014.

Harvick is returning from an unusually rough stretch on NASCAR’s West Coast Swing, where he normally has one of his strongest showings of the season. He suffered a cut tire at Las Vegas which led to a 38th-place result. He followed that with a sixth-place finish at Phoenix, where he has dominated in recent years. Last week at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, he sustained damage to the nose of his No. 4 Ford as the race came to the green flag and fell two laps down after a cut tire led to an unscheduled pit stop. Despite all of that, he team rallied to a 13th-place, lead-lap finish.

Harvick is hoping to change his luck this Sunday at Martinsville and score his first top-five there since joining SHR in 2014.

 KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


Give us an update on the No. 4 Jimmy John’s team heading into Martinsville.

“Well, Rodney Childers is going to get a one-week vacation. Obviously with everything that has happened, basically we got in trouble for a part that was drawn a certain way and didn’t appear that way on the car. The way that NASCAR works now is you submit drawings for pretty much every part on your car. It has to meet certain specifications and that part didn’t meet it, so Rodney’s going to get to go on vacation this week. I know this is probably one of the most painful weeks for him to go on vacation because Martinsville really hasn’t been our best track. He and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, and especially everyone on our No. 4 team, put a lot of effort into trying to go in a different direction. They’re trying to make our Martinsville stuff better than it has been. I know how much time they’ve put into the car. Rodney is a racer and he wants to be at the racetrack every week, but he’s obviously not too thrilled about not being at the racetrack this week. Sometimes that happens. We push things and that’s what I want them to do. I want them to push everything on that car. Sometimes you’re going to get in trouble, but those guys have been the best in the business for the last three years. It’s kind of like growing up as a kid – sometimes you get in trouble and you have to suffer the consequences.”

Martinsville is small and things happen so quickly. Does that make it all the more crucial in terms of who you put atop the pit box?

“The hard part about Martinsville, especially now that I know they are bringing a different right-side tire this week, is that it’s supposed to lay down a lot of rubber and we’ll have some drop-off in speed, hopefully. If the tires drop off enough, you’ll have to change them every time. So we are hoping for a four-tire strategy. The hard part is to manage getting in and out of the box and who is going to talk about that. As we get later in the week, now that we know Rodney is going to be gone for the week, we’re still going to have to work on some of those details of making sure we can get in and out of the pit box and deciding who is going to tell you what on the radio – who is going to speak, who is not going to speak and those things. There will be some hurdles to get over, but we don’t really talk a lot on the radio, anyway. I think Martinsville is one of those places where there’s a lot happening so you don’t want to have too many people on the radio. It’ll be something where we have to work those details out during the week. It’s definitely different. It’s definitely not going to be the same, but you have to manage these situations the best you can. We’ve been here before and had to manage these types of situations, so we have a little experience looking back on how we did this last time and hopefully we can do it better. It’s just like anything else. It’s having a plan when you don’t have a plan. It’s having a play in the playbook for something that hasn’t happened that way before. In this case, we do. We’ve played this play before. We have to do it a little bit differently than we did last time because we have so many more things going on.”

What makes Martinsville Speedway unique? And what makes it challenging?

“I think a lot of us grew up on short tracks and Martinsville is a place where I’ve raced a lot, whether it’s been with the Trucks, or even the Xfinity Series, in which we were fortunate to win the one race we got to run there. It’s a track where I feel like we could have won more races than we probably have in the record books. It’s a place where you enjoy racing and it’s very similar to Talladega by the fact that you just never know when something’s going to happen. You just never know when it can turn and that’s really what short-track racing is all about. And it’s something that happens a lot at Martinsville.”

Where do you want to be at Martinsville to help you avoid trouble on the racetrack?

“I think the best position to be in at any racetrack is in the lead. You want to be in control of the race and try to get yourself in a position to where you can have a good clean restart and have as much clear track, especially at Martinsville just for the fact that there is so much pushing and shoving on the restarts to get to the bottom lane that you want to try to be as far forward as possible.”



DANICA PATRICK – 2017 Martinsville I Race Advance

As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s Martinsville 500, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 TaxAct Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will be looking to rekindle their past success at the .526-mile oval.

In March 2015, Patrick etched her name in the record books there by earning a seventh-place finish in the STP 500. The effort marked the fifth top-10 of her NASCAR Cup Series career. It also tied Patrick with Janet Guthrie for the most top-10 NASCAR Cup Series finishes by a female driver. A few weeks later, Patrick earned another top-10 result at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and was able to take sole ownership of that record.

For Patrick, it wasn’t the first time she’d made history at Martinsville. In April 2013, she became the first female driver to compete in a NASCAR Cup Series race at the track, which first opened in 1949.

In her first start at the short track, Patrick surprised many NASCAR observers with a solid 12th-place result – made more impressive by the fact she started 43rd after an engine change before the race. She looked like a veteran on the shortest track on the circuit which, when viewed from the air, looks like a paperclip as its long straightaways lead into tight, flat turns.

Her impressive rookie performance bested those of other name drivers in their Martinsville debuts, most notably her team owner Tony Stewart, who finished 20th in his first Martinsville start in 1999. Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson finished 35th in his Martinsville debut in 2002. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished 15th in 1984. Dale Jarrett finished 14th in 1984. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th in 2000. Kyle Busch finished 39th in 2005. Matt Kenseth finished 21st in 2000. And her SHR teammate Kurt Busch finished 37th in 2000.

All-told, in eight NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville, Patrick has earned one top-10 finish and four top-20s. Last year, she started 28th, ran as high as seventh and finished 16th after battling handling issues in the Martinsville 500.

As we enter the final weeks of the tax filing season, TaxAct, the leading provider of clear, transparent and affordably priced tax preparation software for DIY filers, will serve as primary sponsor of Patrick’s No. 10 Ford Fusion in Sunday’s race. The event marks the third of four events in which TaxAct, the official tax preparation software partner of SHR and Patrick, will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 10 Ford Fusion this year.

TaxAct is once again offering its “Premium Finish” promotion this tax season. If Patrick or any member of the SHR team secures a top-10 finish in Sunday’s race at Martinsville, NASCAR fans can file their 2016 federal and state tax returns using the TaxAct Online Premium Bundle for only $10 – currently priced at $85. This gives filers access to the federal and state forms needed to complete their TaxAct Online return no matter how complex their tax situation, all in, for $10 – offer and pricing subject to change.

If an SHR driver does not finish in the top-10, NASCAR fans can take advantage of a $10 discount off of their federal return when they use TaxAct Online Plus or Premium Editions. Filers can lock in their “Premium Finish” price online by visiting and the applicable discounted pricing offer is available through April 8. With TaxAct’s Price Lock Guarantee, filers are guaranteed to pay the price offered for its online products at the time they register, no matter when they choose to file. TaxAct will offer additional opportunities for NASCAR fans to file returns with “Premium Finish” pricing for the NASCAR Cup Series races up to the tax filing deadline on April 18, 2017.

Patrick and the No. 10 TaxAct Ford team enter Martinsville after three weeks of finishing outside the top-20. Returning to a track where she’s experienced a number of solid performances puts them in prime position to earn a “Premium Finish” this weekend.

As the NASCAR Cup Series returns to Martinsville for Sunday’s race, Patrick and her No. 10 TaxAct Ford team look to revitalize their season at the iconic short track and bring home their first top-10 result of the year.

DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 TaxAct Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


What are your thoughts about racing at the upcoming short tracks like Martinsville?

 “While I have spent a lot of time going over 200 mph in an Indy car, it’s the more traditional passing on short tracks that falls back on my road-course-racing background of setting the pass up, timing it right, getting inside of them and completing the move. That’s especially true on the tracks where you run the bottom like Martinsville.”


TaxAct is back as the primary sponsor on your No. 10 Ford this weekend at Martinsville and the company is running the “Premium Finish” program again. Talk about that.

“Choosing to file your taxes with TaxAct is a no-brainer. The company has always been the best deal in tax and their new ‘Premium Finish’ simply sweetens the deal. I’m glad we can help the NASCAR community discover how easy and affordable filing your own taxes can be with TaxAct.”


What’s the toughest thing to figure out about Martinsville?

“At Martinsville, like any short track, you want to make sure you turn the center, but you have to have drive on exit. They go hand-in-hand, too. If you can’t turn the center, it doesn’t matter what kind of power-down you have. If you have all that wheel in it when you’re trying to get off the corner and put the power down, it puts a lot of load on those back tires to try and get you off the corner because you’re using the power to try and turn. It’s about achieving a good balance with the car and I feel like our team has really always done a pretty good job with that. I’ve only had one Martinsville that was bad and the rest of them were all pretty decent.”


What is the key to success at Martinsville?

“I came from a road-course-racing background and, at Martinsville, I feel like you have to set up passes a little bit like that. I think it’s also a track where you have to exercise a lot of discipline. It’s easy to make mistakes. It’s easy to overdrive and try and get a little bit more when you’re passing somebody and make mistakes. Those are the two things I keep in mind when I’m there. I also think you really need a good car there, and Stewart-Haas Racing has always had good cars there.”


What do you like about racing at Martinsville?

“At Martinsville, I enjoy that if you have a good car, you can pass. I always say that Martinsville is one of those tracks that you’re either looking out your windshield or you’re looking in your rearview mirror. It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of in-between there, at least for me. Luckily, I’ve had more weekends where I was looking out the windshield.”


Short track racing is where NASCAR started and it’s where NASCAR drivers typically get their start. How intense is it to race when you have an entire field crammed onto a half mile oval?

“I think short-track racing where we apex the bottom of the track, like Martinsville, can be fun because you can use your bumper and get them a little bit out of the way and out of shape.”


There’s always a lot of beating and banging at short tracks. What’s acceptable and what isn’t?

“Well, I believe that on a short track – or, honestly, any track – I think you need to get next to them. I mean, you have to be able to get runs and get inside. Now, if they cut you off more than once or twice, then you start just putting a bumper to them and taking the air off the spoiler and you just have to make them understand that you know you’ve been patient and you’re not going to be patient anymore.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2017 Martinsville I Race Advance

Clint Bowyer couldn’t wait to race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California last weekend. It had long been one of his favorite tracks and, even with a 17th-place qualifying effort Friday, he remained confident throughout the weekend.

“I think we can win this race tomorrow,” Bowyer told a gathering of somewhat skeptical media minutes after a frustrating practice Saturday morning. But, after some late-night phone calls and meetings, Bowyer and crew chief Mike “Buga” Bugarewicz came up with a race setup that saw the No. 14 Ford run in the top-five throughout the 400-mile race.

Bowyer scored sixth- and fourth-place finishes in the first two stages of Sunday’s Auto Club 400, then rallied from sixth to third in overtime to record his best finish at his new Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team and a personal best since a third-place finish at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in 2015. Sunday’s performance moved Bowyer to eighth in the standings – the highest he has been since leaving the 2015 Daytona 500.

“We never showed the speed in practice, but I wasn’t worried about it because I knew the car was really comfortable on the long run and things like that,” he said.

Since taking over the No. 14 from three-time champion Tony Stewart, the normally ebullient Bowyer has ratcheted up his excitement, and performances like last weekend will only add to his enthusiasm. He credits Ford Performance, Roush-Yates Engines and his new team with the turnaround.

“I appreciate everybody’s hard work at Stewart-Haas Racing,” Bowyer said. “Having these teammates and having this group behind you, the organization and the teamwork, it’s just amazing to be a part of it at this point in my career. Thanks to Gene Haas and Tony Stewart for giving me this opportunity. It means a lot to me to be in this 14. I have a lot of fun with these guys. Buga and all these guys mean business. It’s a confidence thing right now, a momentum-builder, and we’re getting closer.”

This week, Bowyer turns his attention to another of his favorite tracks – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Not only does he like the flat, half-mile track, it’s sort of a home race for the Emporia, Kansas native but current resident of Clemmons, North Carolina.

“It’s 40 minutes from the house,” he said. “You know, finally get home to see my family and everything else. To bring everybody up there, drive to the racetrack every day, sleep in your own bed, I mean, it’s just a fun, fun weekend. Fun racetrack. It’s old-school racing at its finest. I’ve been close so many times there. It’s one that I want to win more than anything. With this momentum and the confidence we take from here, maybe we can.”

Bowyer has come close to bringing home a grandfather clock Martinsville presents the race winner, but he’s yet to add the clock to his trophy case. He led 154 laps during the fall 2012 race amid a string of five consecutive top-10s at Martinsville. He owns four top-five finishes and 12 top-10s and has led 356 laps at the southern Virginia track.

SHR owns three victories – Ryan Newman in April 2012, Tony Stewart in October 2011 and Kurt Busch in March 2014 – six top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 46 starts at Martinsville, and SHR cars have led 504 laps there.

“I’ve run really well at Martinsville several times where I thought we were the fastest car a few times, and especially like in 2012 and 2013, and I really enjoy that racetrack,” Bowyer said. “I look forward to it every year and it’s one track I feel like I can win at and win at if the equipment is underneath me and we make good calls and I make good decisions and take care of the car on the racetrack. I feel like that’s a track we can win and bring one of those clocks home.”

Could last week’s impressive run lead to bigger and better results as the 2017 progresses for the No. 14 driver and crew?

“Hell yeah. It better be coming,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “When you’ve got a team like this that’s organized and as good as it is, it better be.”

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


How weird is it to have Tony Stewart on your radio during a race? 

“It is weird, still. Look at him. He’s ready. You could put him in a firesuit. You know he’d go out there and get the job done in that 14 car. To give me the opportunity is super-cool. To have him on the box is really cool. It’s neat to see a smile on his face. I really believe he just looks happy. He looks comfortable, you know, at ease. I mean, the guy, that’s a long time – that’s a long career to be in any kind of sport. He put his time in. He’s an owner now, still a part of it. That’s the coolest thing about his gig right now. He’s still a part of this sport. Maybe in the biggest way he’s ever been.”

KURT BUSCH – 2017 Martinsville I Race Advance

It’s among the most unique and coveted trophies in NASCAR – the Ridgeway Furniture Company’s grandfather clock that’s given to the winner at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in victory lane.

The tradition of giving the famous grandfather clock to the winner of every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville got its start in 1964. Henry Clay Earles, who founded the .526-mile paperclip-shaped track, was inspired to use the grandfather clock as his trophy when Curtis Turner told him he had to start finding storage room for his trophies, and give some away, as well. It was then that NASCAR’s most iconic trophy was born.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), won his first race at Martinsville in October 2002. It was his second NASCAR Cup Series victory and a record-breaking one, at that, as he took the green flag from the 36th starting position – the deepest in the field a Martinsville winner had ever started. For Busch, the fact he had won the race really didn’t set in until he stood beside the grandfather clock in victory lane.

Winning the clock that weekend had a profound meaning. Earlier that week, Busch received news that his grandfather had passed away. He headed to Martinsville with the goal of trying to make the weekend as normal as he could, focusing on his racecar while dealing with the emotions of the family’s loss. As the race progressed, Busch was able to take advantage of a strong racecar and worked his way to the front of the field, leading 111 laps en route to the win.

When he climbed from his racecar, he saw the clock and the significance of it hit him then and there – in the week he’d lost his grandfather, he won a prestigious grandfather clock. When it was delivered to his home the following week, he placed it in his living room and immediately named it Al, as a tribute to his late grandfather Al Keller.

Fast-forward to March 2014, when the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion was able to end an 83-race winless streak by claiming his second grandfather clock. The win was special for Busch, but was even more so for Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, who co-owns SHR with three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. When Haas hired Busch, his directive was clear: win. Be the guy to finally place the Haas Automation-sponsored racecar in victory lane. Victory had eluded the largest CNC machine tool builder in the Western World for 114 races and 11 different drivers since 2002.

When Haas’s grandfather clock was delivered, like Busch’s, it was placed in the living room of his home. It remains a welcome reminder of the significance of the day that he finally saw his car roll into victory lane.

While Busch opened 2017 by winning the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, he and his No. 41 team have struggled. They’ve been challenged by mechanical and handling issues that see them headed to Martinsville ranked 14th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings. They are looking to return to form in the first short-track race of the year, knowing it’s time to right the ship and return to their winning ways.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


What is the toughest part about racing at Martinsville? 

“To me, the toughest part of Martinsville is you just never have a moment to breathe. You have to be on your game nonstop for 500 laps because somebody’s on you, or you are on top of somebody the whole time, and there’s just no room for error.”


How much does pit strategy become a factor at Martinsville? 

“It’s definitely something that comes into play. You may gamble early to pick up some positions on the track, especially if you’ve had trouble in qualifying. It’s just one of those things, though, where you always hope you’re on the right one (strategy) and, if you get caught on the wrong one, then you’re kicking yourself the whole time.”


How much more important is track position at a place like Martinsville?

“Track position is everything, everywhere, but at Martinsville it is just so easy to lose it. It doesn’t take much to find yourself going backward, whether it’s a situation with someone bumping you out of the way or you get too high on the track and up in the marbles. Then, deal with what that does to the tires and, boom, next thing you know, you may have had a 10th-place car and now you are 18th. It’s a goal all day to work your way forward and then just to have smooth pit stops to carry you through those midpoints of the race. Then, at the end, when everything is on the line, you have to be aggressive and you can’t be afraid to use the fenders on people to get that solid finish.”

KURT BUSCH – 2017 Fontana Race Report

Event:               Auto Club 400 (Round 5 of 36)
Series:               Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 
Location:          Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (2-mile oval)
Format:             200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)
Start/Finish:      15th/24th (Running, completed 201 of 202 laps) 
Point Standing: 14th (118 points, 125 out of first) 
Race Winner:    Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing in overtime (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

  • Kurt Busch started 15th, finished 24th.
  • Battled a loose-handling condition on corner entry and exit and was tight through the middle for much of the stage.
  • Made contact with the wall, resulting in cosmetic damage to the right-side of his Ford Fusion.
  • Lost a lap to the leader when he visited pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 33 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.
  • Visited pit road at the conclusion of Stage 1 to take four tires, fuel and a right-front shock adjustment.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

  • Started 22nd, finished 25th.
  • Battled a tight-handling condition through the middle and loose off the corners for much of the stage.
  • Lost a second lap to the leader on lap 110.
  • Visited pit road at the conclusion of Stage 2 to take four tires, fuel and front shock and chassis adjustments.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):

  • Started 31st, finished 24th.
  • Continued to battle handling woes that limited his ability to gain position.
  • Took the wave-around when the caution flag waved on lap 179 to get one of his laps back.


  • Busch made his 24th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Auto Club Speedway.

Next Up:                                                                        

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Martinsville 500 on Sunday, April 2 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2017 Fontana Race Report

Event:               Auto Club 400 (Round 5 of 36)
Series:               Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (2-mile oval)
Format:             200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)
Start/Finish:      7th/13th (Running, completed 202 of 202 laps)
Point Standing: 9th (137 points, 106 out of first)

Race Winner:    Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet) in overtime
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Ends on Lap 60):

  • Kevin Harvick started 7th, finished 30th.
  • The No. 4 Busch Beer Ford received damage to the nose of the car as the field stacked up in the bottom lane at the green flag.
  • Harvick brought the No. 4 Ford to pit road under caution to fix damage to the nose on lap four.
  • He restarted 38th following the stop for repairs and raced his way up to 22nd before reporting he had a cut right-rear tire.
  • Harvick brought the No. 4 Ford to pit road for fresh tires under green-flag conditions and lost a lap in the process.
  • He reported that the damage to the nose of the car caused it to get tight through the corner on a long run.
  • The team made multiple pit stops for repairs to the nose of the car under caution following the conclusion of Stage 1. 

Stage 2 Recap (Ends on Laps 120):        

  • Started 32nd, finished 24th.
  • Harvick raced his way up to 21st position before pitting under green-flag conditions on lap 91 for tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.
  • The No. 4 Ford lost a second lap to leader Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 118 while racing in 24th position, just before the end of Stage 2.
  • The Busch Beer pit crew made multiple adjustments under caution following the conclusion of Stage 2. 

Final Stage Recap (Ends on Laps 200):

  • Started 26th, finished 13th.
  • Harvick reported a tight-handling condition throughout the beginning of the final stage.
  • The No. 4 Ford stayed out under caution with 20 laps remaining to take the wave-around. He restarted 24th one lap down to the leaders with 17 laps remaining.
  • The No. 4 Ford returned to pit road under caution on lap 187 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. He restarted 22nd with 11 laps remaining.
  • Harvick was the first car a lap down when the caution came on lap 193. He was awarded the free pass to return to the lead lap.
  • He restarted 17th for the overtime and raced his way up to 13th by the checkered flag. 


  • Harvick scored his third top-15 finish of 2017.
  • There were seven caution periods for a total of 29 laps.
  • Twenty-three drivers finished on the lead lap. 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

“I feel like we won. Those are the days that championships are made out of right there. To wreck before we even get to the start-finish line, I don’t know exactly what happened in front of me, but obviously we got a caved-in grille. The guys did a great job fixing the Busch Beer Ford. We got some wave-arounds and made the car better and made something out of the day. That’s why these guys are who they are and won championships and races, because they can make days like that happen.” 

Next Up:                                                                        

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the STP 500 on Sunday, April 2 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.

DANICA PATRICK – 2017 Fontana Race Report

Event:               Auto Club 400 (Round 5 of 36)
Series:               Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Auto Club Speedway (2-mile oval)
Format:             202 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/82 laps)
Start/Finish:      22nd/26th (Running, completed 200 of 202 laps) 
Point Standing: 29th (63 points, 180 out of first) 
Race Winner:    Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing in overtime (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Ends on Lap 60):

  • Danica Patrick started 22nd and finished 27th.
  • The No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion team pitted twice during Stage 1 for tires, fuel and wedge adjustments to help improve the car’s handling.
  • Patrick reported the car’s handling was “tight center off” at the start of the race, and the wedge adjustments made it freer in turns three and four. She went a lap down to the leader at lap 35.
  • Contact with the No. 95 car two laps before the end of Stage 1 forced the No. 10 team to pit between stages to repair the right-front damage. 

Stage 2 Recap (Ends on Lap 120):          

  • Patrick started 28th and finished 26th.
  • The team pitted at lap 91 for tires and fuel, and they added a piece of tape to the grille.
  • Patrick was able to pick up two spots during the stage. She went down a second lap to the leader during a long, green-flag run at lap 102.

 Final Stage Recap (Ends on Lap 200):    

  • Patrick started 24th and finished 26th.
  • The No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team elected to stay out between stages, so Patrick was able to take the wave-around and get one lap back.
  • The team pitted at laps 138, 173, 187, 193 and 198 for tires, fuel and adjustments. When Patrick pitted at lap 138, the team discovered the right-rear tire had a puncture and was significantly low on air, which had impacted the car’s performance at the end of the previous stage as well as the start of the final stage.
  • When the caution flag waved at lap 179, crew chief Billy Scott called for Patrick to stay out and wave around again to get a lap back.
  • A series of late-race cautions prevented Patrick from gaining much ground, and she took the checkered flag scored 26th, two laps down to the leader.


  • Patrick earned 11 points in Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, which gives her a total of 63 points for the season thus far. She is ranked 29th in the driver point standings heading into next weekend’s race.

 Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“The Aspen Dental Ford team fought hard all day, and the guys did a great job on pit road. The right-front damage and the tire issue late in the race didn’t help us at all, but we kept pushing hard to get every spot we could all day.”

 Next Up:                                                                        

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Martinsville 500 on Sunday, April 2 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by Fox Sports 1.

CLINT BOWYER – 2017 Fontana Race Report

Event:               Auto Club 400 (Round 5 of 36)
Series:               Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (2-mile oval)
Format:             200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)
Start/Finish:      17th/3rd (Running, completed 202 of 202 laps) 
Point Standing: 8th (143 points, 100 out of first)
Race Winner:    Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet) in overtime

Stage 1 Recap (Ended on Lap 60):

  • Started 17th, finished sixth to earn five race points.
  • Moved to 10th by lap 16.
  • Car excelled on long runs as Bowyer managed his tires on ultra-fast track.

Stage 2 Recap (Ended on Lap 120):

  • Started third, finished fourth to earn seven race points.
  • Dropped to sixth early in stage, but climbed as high as second.
  • Turned fastest lap on the track several times during stage that ran without a caution. 

Final Stage Recap (Ended on Lap 202):  

  • Started fourth, finished third.
  • Climbed to third with 60 to go and survived several late cautions.
  • Started seventh in overtime and drove to third.


  • Race marked first time Bowyer earned race points for top-10 finishes in consecutive stages.
  • Bowyer’s second top-10 finish in 2017.
  • First top-three since third-place finish in June 2015 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:       

“It was just a good weekend. I appreciate everybody’s hard work at Stewart-Haas Racing. Having these teammates and having this group behind you, the organization and the teamwork, it’s just amazing to be a part of it at this point in my career. Thanks to Rush Truck Centers for making this possible, Gene Haas and Tony Stewart for giving me this opportunity. It means a lot to me to be in this 14. I have a lot of fun with these guys. Buga (crew chief Mike Bugarewicz) and all these guys mean business. It’s a confidence thing right now, a momentum-builder, and we’re getting closer. Obviously, this is a good track for me. I wanted to win that damn thing, but to come home with the wild finish and everything that it was, we’ll take it.”

Next Up:          

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Martinsville 500 Sunday, April 2 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.

COLE CUSTER – 2017 Fontana Race Report


Date: March 25, 2017
Event: Service King 300 (Round 5 of 33)
Location: Auto Club Speedway (2-mile oval)
Format: 150 laps, broken into three stages (35 laps/35 laps/80 laps)
Start/Finish: 4th/35th (Accident, completed 106 of 150 laps)
Point Standing: 12th (86 points, 103 out of first)

Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-35):

  • Started 4th, finished 8th.
  • Custer noted a tight-handling condition that progressed through Stage 1.
  • After the caution period on lap 30, Custer restarted the final two laps of Stage 1 in the sixth position.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 36-70):       

  • Started 6th, finished 8th.
  • Custer continued to battle a tight-handling condition through Stage 2.
  • Custer ran consistently in the top 10.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 71-150):

  • Started 6th, finished 35th.
  • After slight air pressure adjustments, Custer raced his way back to the third position.
  • During the lap 96 caution, Custer opted to pit and a jack malfunction caused Custer to restart in the 17th position.
  • On lap 106, Custer was involved in an accident sending him into the wall and ending his day.


  • Custer earned his career-best NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying effort.
  • Custer earned points in Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:  

Walk us through today’s race.
“I just got hooked going into the corner. I think I hit him (Ryan Sieg) a tick just on my side draft coming off of four and then he decided to hook us going into turn one and wreck us. It is what it is, but we’ll just move on. We had an awesome Haas Automation Ford Mustang. I thought we could have competed for a win there. We had a bad pit stop, but we were going to work our way back up there.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2017 Fontana Race Advance

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes the third and final stop on its three-race West Coast swing Sunday when the green flag drops on the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer has made the most of the opening four races of the 2017 season, climbing to a 13th-place tie in the standings.

Sunday marks Bowyer’s first appearance driving his No. 14 Ford carrying the decals of Rush Truck Centers. The Texas-based company is using its partnership with SHR and Bowyer to reach out 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 21 states.

Bowyer, who grew up working for his father Chris “Pops” Bowyer’s tow-truck business in Emporia, Kansas, appreciates the trucking industry as much as any driver in the sport.

“Rush Truck Centers keeps SHR’s trucks and transporters in great condition and you could argue those are the most important parts of our race team, and their technology allows us to keep up to date on maintenance with just a click of the computer,” he said. “Without them, our cars never get to the racetrack. The employees of Rush Truck Centers are as detail-oriented as we are, and their technicians are the heartbeat of their dealerships. They play a critical role in the success of our race team.”

According to Rush Truck Centers, experienced truck technicians have never been more vital. The American Trucking Association estimates the need for an additional 200,000 technical professionals to be developed over the next 10 years to meet service maintenance demands industry-wide. Concurrently, it is expected that 40 to 50 percent of truck technicians will retire before 2030.

Rush Truck Centers wants to make NASCAR fans aware of these opportunities. Bowyer plans to help by continuing his string of good performances that have kicked off his first year at SHR as three-time champion Tony Stewart’s replacement in the No. 14 Ford.

Sunday is Bowyer’s 402nd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and 17th career Cup Series start at Fontana. He owns two top-five finishes and seven top-10s and has led 47 laps. His SHR team owns two victories at the track, scored by Stewart in March 2012 and October 2010. Last weekend at Phoenix, Bowyer raced from 17th to 13th in overtime, marking his third consecutive top-13 finish in 2017.

Bowyer said he expects the No. 14’s performances to improve as the 2017 season continues.

“I don’t think you have seen our best, yet, but we are tied for 13th in points,” Bowyer said. “We are still getting to know each other and these cars. I’ve been very impressed with the SHR guys. We’ve had some moments this year when we weren’t very good, but we keep working on the car and, at the end of the day, we end up with a pretty good finish.”

Bowyer said the end of the West Coast swing provides a significant milestone for the Cup Series teams. He said they are starting to understand their strengths and weaknesses after races on the Daytona restrictor-plate track, 1.5-mile ovals at Atlanta and Las Vegas, the flat mile at Phoenix, and now Fontana’s 2-mile track.

The trip has also been a lot of fun. Bowyer returned to North Carolina for a few days after Las Vegas but plans to go snowmobiling in Montana this week before flying to California Thursday.

“I love the West Coast. I think it’s beautiful out there,” he said. “Some of the prettiest land that we have is out West. I think Vegas does not suck. Phoenix is fun. California is fun. I’ve got a lot of friends in California. The hardest part about all those races is that, logistically, I can’t be gone for three or four weeks. I’ve got to come home and make sure my wife isn’t gonna leave me (laughs). You can’t stay out here having fun and racing like that, and keep a family around.”

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


What will it mean to you when you win again?

“Let’s face it, you’re not given anything in this series. This is extremely competitive and a very challenging, very difficult situation to win these races. You’re only as good as the people around you and everybody at Stewart-Haas – Tony and Gene – have surrounded me with great people starting with Buga (Mike Bugarewicz) my crew chief, to my teammates to the sponsors. Everything at Stewart-Haas is lined up to win races, and we’re all in to do so after switching to Fords this year. No other manufacturer has pushed harder to have success in motorsports this year than Ford has. It’s not only a push in NASCAR, it’s a push all over motorsports, so you’ve got to associate yourself with those good people who are all-in for winning races and that gives you confidence that you can go out and win races.”


Will it be special?

“You’re damn right it will be and I’ll embrace it, but it’s just like the last time I won a race – you head to the next race wanting to win that one. Success only makes you hungrier for more success and it’s been a while but, more importantly, I want to get established as a consistent frontrunner, not a sporadic ‘show-up and run good here and be bad the next week.’ We’ve got to get consistent week-in and week-out and perfect that and keep perfecting it, and then you’ll win races. My son is two and a half years old now and I want to be able for him to see me in victory lane and for him to be in victory lane and, when it’s all said and done, you look over when you’re 50-some years old that there’s a picture of your whole family in victory lane. That’s what I race for.”