KEVIN HARVICK – 2018 Charlotte Roval Race Advance

The punk-rock band Green Day released a song titled “Wake Me Up When September Ends” as part of its 2004 album American Idiot. While the song was released in 2004, it may never be as timely or relevant as it is right now for Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Jimmy John’s new 9-Grain Wheat Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) as they head to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race – the final event in the Round of 16 and first cutoff race of the 2018 NASCAR playoffs.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion is the series leader with seven points-paying wins, 20 top-five finishes, 23 top-10s, and 1,274 laps led.

However, his bid for a second NASCAR Cup Series championship got off to a rough start after cutting a right-front tire in the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that led to him retiring from the race early with a 38th-place finish. Harvick and the team rebounded strongly with a runner-up finish Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) Raceway to all but secure his advancement into the Round of 12.

He is now third in the playoff standings with 2,113 points, 57 ahead of the final transfer position and will clinch his position in the Round of 12 by just starting the race at Charlotte. That’s good news for Harvick and the No. 4 team as they enter the first elimination race of the playoffs. But there’s a huge unknown to contend with this weekend – the 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course and oval hybrid known as the “roval” at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Harvick now will race at Charlotte for playoff points by way of stage wins and a race win. Fortunately, he knows his way around both road courses and 1.5-mile ovals.

The Bakersfield, California, native is one of only three active drivers to claim a NASCAR Cup Series victory at both Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the others to make that claim. Harvick added his first career win at Sonoma in June 2017, when he started 12th, led 24 laps and finished ahead of SHR teammate Clint Bowyer when the race ended under caution. He also won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma the day before.

Harvick’s lone Cup Series victory at Watkins Glen came in 2006, when he started seventh and led 28 of 90 laps and beat current SHR co-owner Tony Stewart to the finish line by .892 of a second.

The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s new 9-Grain Wheat Ford Fusion has age and experience on his side.

Five of the past seven champions have been 37 years of age or older when they captured the Cup Series title and his Freaky Fast team is just fueling up for the fight to the finish as the team tries for its second championship.

While being Freaky Fast is nothing new to Jimmy John’s employees or Harvick’s Jimmy John’s crew, they are celebrating the arrival of something new – the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub. It marks the first time Jimmy John’s has added a new bread to its lineup in more than 20 years.

The new 9-Grain Wheat Sub features a delicious blend of wheat, rye, flaxseed, quinoa, millet, oats, barley, amaranth and spelt, as well as honey, coconut and molasses. It is available with any Jimmy John’s sandwich at no extra charge.

Like the traditional French bread, the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub will be freshly baked in-store every day. It is the latest in a series of products that Jimmy John’s has rolled out this year as a part of the Freak Yeah campaign, including the popular Kickin’ Ranch®, the 16-inch Giant Sandwich and a sliced version of Jimmy John’s World-Famous Pickles, all of which can be applied to the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub.

The No. 4 team will be playoff point racing at the roval – trying to win at all costs. Otherwise, it’s wake me up when September ends.

 

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

 

What will be the best places to pass and the most treacherous parts of the new roval track at Charlotte?

“I think the treacherous part of the course is the whole course. I don’t think there is really a safe spot on the course. As far as where you are going to pass, I don’t know that answer, either. I think there are so many unknowns about the course until we actually go do it and see what happens. Obviously, everyone is a little unsure of what you need to do, where you can pass and what the strategy will be. Who knows what will happen if it rains. There are just a number of unknowns that come from the roval that I don’t have an answer for.”

Will it be nervous time for those drivers who are not locked into the Round of 12?

“I’m glad it’s in the first round. I’m glad that we had a good regular season. There are no guarantees, but having some extra points should help. You don’t want to go in having to win at the roval – I can promise you that.”

What’s it like having all four Stewart-Haas Racing cars in the NASCAR playoffs for the first time?

“That’s a great accomplishment for Stewart-Haas Racing and all the guys and girls back at the shop who put the cars together. I think it really shows the effort and the chemistry of everything that we have going on at the organization, not even two years into a manufacturer change. Aric (Almirola) being there for one year and Clint (Bowyer) being there for two years. There are new crew chiefs and a lot of things that have changed, but I think you see the evolution of things getting better and really from an organization standpoint. When you start seeing the results of all four cars, that’s when you know that the processes and the things that you’re doing are working well.”

Valley Technical Academy Partners with Stewart-Haas Racing

Aric Almirola to Carry Primary Sponsorship from Valley Technical Academy in Two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Races Beginning in 2019

Valley Technical Academy, offering immersive, 12-week courses in web development and cybersecurity, has partnered with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), the championship-winning NASCAR team.

The Mission, Texas-based school prepares individuals for a career in technology, and Valley Technical Academy has chosen NASCAR and, specifically, the No. 10 team of SHR and driver Aric Almirola, to showcase its curriculum within a technology-driven industry. Valley Technical Academy will be the primary sponsor for Almirola and the No. 10 team for two races in 2019, with associate sponsorship beginning with this weekend’s Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

“There are two-and-a-half million jobs available in the technology market and we’re training people to fill those jobs,” said Jim Smith, Program Director, Valley Technical Academy. “Our mission is to become a major influencer of employment in the tech industry, and NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing provide a strong and specific platform to covey this message. We’re connecting high potential individuals with high potential careers and educating them and training them on how to perform in those careers. There is no better way to communicate this initiative than in a performance industry as strong and established as NASCAR, with a driver in Aric Almirola who has seized the opportunity provided to him.”

Almirola is enjoying a career year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The 34-year-old from Tampa, Florida, is in his first season with SHR after spending the previous 10 seasons with other teams. Almirola has taken full advantage of his new home, scoring 12 top-10 finishes to position himself solidly in the NASCAR Playoffs. His top-10 tally is the highest it has ever been in a single year, and his 116 laps led is also a season high. And with eight races still remaining, Almirola can continue to add to these numbers.

“We’ve had a really good year and we’ve had fast racecars. The only thing that’s missing is just a trip to victory lane,” Almirola said. “We’ve run up front and we’ve led races and we’ve been in contention – we just need to pull an entire race together. It’s these kinds of collective performances that have made the No. 10 team a strong platform for Valley Technical Academy. They’re growing and achieving just like us. It’s a true partnership.”

Almirola has always valued the importance of an education, even as he worked his way toward the pinnacle of North American motorsports. As Almirola graduated from competing in the World Karting Association to open-wheel modifieds and then late model stock cars, he attended the University of Central Florida (UCF), where he studied for a degree in mechanical engineering. But after two years at UCF, Almirola earned an opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing that ultimately led him to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“My parents and grandparents instilled in me the value of an education,” Almirola said. “In order to go racing, I had to perform in school, and that included college. I continue to use what I learned in high school and at UCF to this day. Racing is a detail industry where knowledge is power. I can’t thank all of my teachers and professors enough. Between them and my family, they gave me the tools to succeed.”

The vision of Valley Technical Academy is to become an organization with the largest training, development and promotion of skilled individuals that includes placement into high-growth careers locally and nationally. Enter NASCAR and SHR, where the coast-to-coast racing series that features all of its events on television via broadcast partners FOX and NBC can showcase the three pillars of Valley Technical Academy – train, develop and promote.

  • Train:Provide an immersive learning environment working on real projects, preparing students with the necessary skills needed to start a productive career.
  • Develop:Create positive mindsets by providing training environments for career alternatives that allow individuals to overcome negative circumstances and attitudes.
  • Promote:Connect students with corporations where they learn by doing real work, guaranteeing them job placement upon graduating.

“Valley Technical Academy has created a dynamic curriculum specific to a burgeoning aspect of the tech industry where skilled and motivated workers are coveted,” said Mike Verlander, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, SHR. “It’s a story that needs to be told and we’re obviously very proud to partner with Valley Technical Academy and communicate its mission to our industry and our fans.”

 

About Stewart-Haas Racing:

Stewart-Haas Racing is the title-winning NASCAR team co-owned by three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation – the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America. The organization fields four entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – the No. 4 Ford Fusion for Kevin Harvick, the No. 10 Ford Fusion for Aric Almirola, the No. 14 Ford Fusion for Clint Bowyer and the No. 41 Ford Fusion for Kurt Busch. The team also competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series by fielding a full-time entry – the No. 00 Ford Mustang for Cole Custer – and one part-time entry – the No. 98 Ford Mustang. Based in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Stewart-Haas Racing operates out of a 200,000-square-foot facility with approximately 380 employees. For more information, please visit us online at www.StewartHaasRacing.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/StewartHaasRacing, on Twitter @StewartHaasRcngand on Instagram @StewartHaasRacing.

KURT BUSCH – 2018 Charlotte Roval Race Advance

Ashton Kutcher said it best during the popular film released to widespread acclaim in December 2000 – “Dude, Where’s My Car?”

Standing with Seann William Scott, who was playing the character Chester Greenburg, they didn’t know where their car was parked. And Kutcher, who was playing Jesse Montgomery III, said simply, “Dude, where’s my car?”

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), might be saying, “Dude, where’s my oval?” as the NASCAR Monster Cup Series heads to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway this weekend.

Busch has competed in 36 point-paying races on the 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte, as well as 19 non-points races. But the 55 races he’s competed in on the 1.5-mile oval won’t help him as this week, he will drive on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn Charlotte “roval.”

And this isn’t Sonoma Raceway in northern California or Watkins Glen International in the state of New York. It’s half oval and half road course. Thus, the hybrid term roval.

Think back to the 1971 Questor Grand Prix conducted at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway. It used parts of the oval and road course at the track. But don’t expect Jackie Stewart or Mario Andretti – the latter who won the Questor Grand Prix – to be in Charlotte.

Busch has tested twice on the Charlotte roval – in October 2017 and in July 2018. And like everyone else, he doesn’t know what to expect this weekend, other than to expect the unexpected.

Busch has he been good at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Busch has one pole, one win, four top-threes, seven top-fives and nine top-10s and has led a total of 198 laps in his 18 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Sonoma.

His only road-course win in the Cup Series came at Sonoma in 2011 and it was a dominant victory as he led a race-high 76 laps. He passed Denny Hamlin for the lead on lap 13 and stayed out front for the next 19 circuits around the 1.99-mile track. He relinquished the lead twice for scheduled, green-flag pit stops and took over the top spot for the final time on lap 88, then led the final 23 laps.

He’s even had success at Sonoma in the NASCAR Southwest Tour Series, finishing third in 1998 after starting 19th and winning the 1999 race after starting third.

He hasn’t been bad at Watkins Glen, either, as he finished second there in the Truck Series in 2000. In his three NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Watkins Glen, he started first in each, won in 2006 and 2011, and finished third in 2007. In those three races, Busch led 98 of the 250 laps available – 39.2 percent

Busch has one pole, three top-five finishes and nine top-10s at Watkins Glen in Cup competition.

But the roval is new to the series competitors. And hopefully, at the end of this race, Busch can ask, “Dude, where’s victory lane?”

 

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

 

Thoughts on the roval? 

“There will be a lot of anxiety, a lot of unknowns and a lot of interesting, unique things that are going to come out of the road race with it being a cutoff race. It’s a very important race to have a smooth day. And, based on testing, nobody’s had a smooth day getting around that track.”

How did your tests go on the roval?

“I’ve been there twice. They changed the track layout since the last time I was there and the tire is going to be a little bit different since the last time I tested. And, now, I’ve been doing simulation work with Ford over in the simulator and making laps and trying to be as comfortable as I can heading there.”

Is it going to be a little bit crazy?   

“That’s going to be a pretty big mix-up, shake-’em-up and we hope to survive that one, in all honesty. We just need to not make mistakes at that one and not get caught up in other people’s mistakes and that’s how we’ll get through this first round.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2018 Richmond II Race Report

Event:               Federated Auto Parts 400(Round 28 of 36)
Series:               Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format:            400 laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/200 laps)
Start/Finish:      25th/10th(Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing:13th(2,056 points, four points behind the top-12 cutoff)

Race Winner:    Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner:Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 100 ):

  • Bowyer started 25thand finished 21st.
  • Twenty-five laps into the race, Bowyer said his No. 14 ITsavvy Ford Fusion was “loose in and off the corner”.
  • Despite trying different lines around the track to help his car, it was to no avail. “I can’t run high because I can’t cut down,” said Bowyer on lap 44 while running 20th.
  • This handling condition persisted through the end of the stage, where a scheduled, four-tire pit stop was welcome.
  • Bowyer pitted at the end of the stage for four tires and fuel along with significant tire pressure and wedge adjustments.

Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 200):

  • Bowyer started 22ndand finished 19th.
  • Running 19thon lap 127, Bowyer keyed his mic to say his ITsavvy Ford was starting to get tight in the center of the corner.
  • Bowyer made a scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 157 for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment. This dropped him to 22ndand put him one lap down.
  • Those fresh tires, however, allowed Bowyer to track down the leader and pass him just before the stage ended, earning his lap back.
  • Bowyer pitted for four tires and fuel at the end of the stage, with specific adjustments to the right rear, which included inserting a spring rubber, more wedge and air pressure.

Stage 3 Recap (Ended at Lap 400):

  • Bowyer started 19thand finished 10th.
  • By lap 230, Bowyer had climbed to 15thand declared that his ITsavvy Ford was “three times better” than it had been.
  • Bowyer made a scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 267 for four tires and fuel. Came in 14thand returned to the track in 13th.
  • Shod on four fresh Goodyears, Bowyer cracked the top-10 on lap 275.
  • Martin Truex Jr., winner of Stage 1 and Stage 2, came from the back of the back to pass Bowyer for 10thon lap 293.
  • As lap 300 ticked off the board, Bowyer radioed to crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, “really loose” as he fell to 12th.
  • “Loose in and off,” said Bowyer about his ITsavvy Ford on lap 322 while running 11th.
  • Bowyer took advantage of a caution period and pitted on lap 328 for four tires and fuel with a left-rear wedge adjustment.
  • Restarted in 12thon lap 334 and continued in this spot with 50 laps to go. He was able to track down 11th-place Alex Bowman on lap 362 and then grab 10thplace from Erik Jones on lap 387.
  • Bowyer waged a spirited battle with Brad Keselowski for ninth on the final lap, but Keselowski ultimately prevailed.

Notes:

  • This was Bowyer’s 13thtop-10 of 2018 and his 14thtop-10 in 26 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
  • Kyle Busch won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 50thcareer Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his seventh of the season and his sixth at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Kevin Harvick was .777 of a second.
  • There were three caution periods for a total of 23 laps.
  • Only 13 of the 40 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap.

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

“That’s one of the hardest top-10s we’ve ever had to work for. We were loose in and off the corner all night, and we threw a bunch of changes at it to try and get it right. We made some headway with it and salvaged an ok finish, but ok doesn’t cut it in the playoffs.”

Playoff Standings (with one race to go before Round of 12):

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (2,141 points) +85 points
  2. Kyle Busch (2,125 points) 1 win
  3. Kevin Harvick (2,113 points) +57 points
  4. Brad Keselowski (2,111) 1 win
  5. Joey Logano (2,081 points) +25 points
  6. Aric Almirola (2,079 points) +23 points
  7. Kyle Larson (2,073 points) +17 points
  8. Kurt Busch (2,071 points) +15 points
  9. Chase Elliott (2,066 points) -10 points
  10. Austin Dillon (2,066 points) +10 points
  11. Alex Bowman (2,061 points) +5 points
  12. Ryan Blaney (2,060 points) +4 points
  13. Clint Bowyer (2,056 points) -4 points
  14. Jimmie Johnson (2,054 points) -6 points
  15. Erik Jones (2,039 points) -21 points
  16. Denny Hamlin (2,031 points) -29 points

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 30 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race for the Round of 12. It starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC beginning at 1 p.m.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2018 Richmond II Race Report

Event:               Federated Auto Parts 400 (Round 28 of 36)
Series:               Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Richmond (Va.) Raceway(.75-mile oval)
Format:             400 laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/200 laps)
Start/Finish:      6th/5th(Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing:6thwith 2,079 points, 23 points ahead of top-12 cutoff 

Race Winner:   Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner:Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):

  • Aric Almirola started sixth and finished Stage 1 in sixth to earn five bonus points.
  • Almirola slipped back a couple of spots on the restart but eventually worked his way into the top-five around the halfway point of the stage.
  • The Tampa native reported his Smithfield Get Grilling Ford was “really, really tight in the middle” as the stage began to wind down.
  • In the closing laps of the stage, the 34-year-old was in the sixth position. He pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments during the break, and a speedy stop by his crew gained Almirola two positions.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):

  • Almirolastarted Stage 2 in fourth and concluded it in third to amass eight bonus points.
  • Just after the green flag dropped on Stage 2, Almirola moved up to the third position, where he remained until the completion of the stage.
  • During the stage break, Almirola relayed to the Smithfield Ford crew that his No. 10 machine drove better during the stage. He came in for fuel and four tires and exited pit road in fourth.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400):

  • Almirolastarted the final stage in the fourth position and ended it fifth.
  • Almirola took over the third position shortly after the restart and then swapped positions for fourth with SHR teammate Kevin Harvick around lap 200.
  • The Ford Fusion driver remained in the fourth position until lap 253.
  • On lap 269, Almirola made a scheduled green-flag pit stop from the fifth position for fuel, four tires and adjustments. Ten laps later he took over the fourth position.
  • At lap 293 Almirola slipped back to fifth after being passed by the No. 9, and he rode there until the first caution of the race was displayed on lap 327.
  • Almirola pitted for fuel and four tires. He restarted fifth on lap 333 and on the next lap moved into fourth. He remained in the top-five for the rest of the evening, finishing fifth.

Notes:

  • This was Almirola’s second top-five finish of 2018.
  • Almirola earned his second top-five in 14 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
  • Almirola finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points, and third in Stage 2 to earn an additional eight bonus points.
  • Almirola led once for one lap – his first at Richmond.
  • Kyle Busch won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 50thcareer Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his seventh of the season and his sixth at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Harvick was .777 of a second.
  • There were three caution periods for a total of 23 laps.
  • Only 13 of the 40 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap.

Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion:

“I just couldn’t quite get the Smithfield Ford Fusion to turn the way I needed to in order to make pace with the guys in front of me. I am so proud of these guys on the Smithfield team. Our Ford Fusion was fast, and we had a good night. We executed and ran top-five all night. That is the exact night we were looking for to build a little bit of a point cushion going into the roval next week where we are all unsure of what we will have. I am really proud of the night, and we will see what happens next week.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 30 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race for the Round of 12. It starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC beginning at 1 p.m.

KURT BUSCH – 2018 Richmond II Race Report

Event:               Federated Auto Parts 400 (Round 28 of 36)
Series:               Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format:            400 laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/200 laps)
Start/Finish:      5th/18th(Running, completed 398 of 400 laps)
Point Standing:  8thwith 2,071 points, 15 points ahead of 13th

Race Winner:    Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100): 

  • Kurt Buschstarted sixth and finished fifth, scoring six bonus points.
  • The State Water Heaters/Haas Automation driver said the car was a little bit loose early on, but he was up to third by lap seven.
  • The No. 41 Ford was still loose late in the run, but Busch finished fifth.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200): 

  • Buschstarted fifth, finished 14th.
  • The State Water Heaters/Haas Automation driver pitted on lap 104 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
  • The No. 41 Ford was “just really loose” through the entire stage. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400): 

  • Buschstarted 15th, finished 18th.
  • The State Water Heaters/Haas Automation driver pitted on lap 203 for four tires, fuel and a track bar and tire pressure adjustment.
  • Busch pitted on lap 268 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. He said the car lacked rear grip early on and now had no drive off.
  • On lap 317, Busch pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment while in 12thplace.
  • Ten laps after Busch pitted, there was an untimely caution for an accident involving Jeffery Earnhardt. Busch was two laps down due to the pit cycles still going on.
  • Busch got one lap back, but there were no more cautions, so Busch finished 18th. 

Notes:

  • Busch finished fifth in Stage 1 to earn six bonus points.
  • Kyle Busch won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 50thcareer Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his seventh of the season and his sixth at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Harvick was .777 of a second.
  • There were three caution periods for a total of 23 laps.
  • Only 13 of the 40 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap. 

Playoff Standing (with one race to go before the Round of 12):

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (2,141 points) +85 points
  2. Kyle Busch (2,125 points) 1 win
  3. Kevin Harvick (2,113 points) +57 points
  4. Brad Keselowski (2,111) 1 win
  5. Joey Logano (2,081 points) +25 points
  6. Aric Almirola (2,079 points) +23 points
  7. Kyle Larson (2,073 points) +17 points
  8. Kurt Busch (2,071 points) +15 points
  9. Chase Elliott (2,066 points) +10 points
  10. Austin Dillon (2,066 points) +10 points
  11. Alex Bowman (2,061 points) +5 points
  12. Ryan Blaney (2,060 points) +4 points
  13. Clint Bowyer (2,056 points) -4 points
  14. Jimmie Johnson (2,054 points) -6 points
  15. Erik Jones (2,039 points) -21 points
  16. Denny Hamlin (2,031 points) -29 points

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 30 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race for the Round of 12. It starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC beginning at 1 p.m.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2018 Richmond II Race Report

Event:               Federated Auto Parts 400 (Round 28 of 36)
Series:               Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format:            400 laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/200 laps)
Start/Finish:      1st/2nd (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing:  3rd with 2,113 points, 57 points ahead of 13th

Race Winner:    Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100): 

  • Kevin Harvick started first, finished second, scoring nine bonus points.
  • The Jimmy John’s 9-Grain Wheat Sub driver led the first 40 laps of the event.
  • The No. 4 Ford dropped back to second after a lengthy battle with the No. 78.
  • Harvick reported a “loose in, tight center, loose off” handling condition throughout the caution-free stage.
  • The No. 4 Ford came to pit road for four tires, fuel and wedge and air pressure adjustments at the conclusion of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200): 

  • Startedsecond, finished second, scoring nine bonus points.
  • Harvick continued to battle handling that was loose in and tight in the center throughout the stage.
  • The Jimmy John’s Ford held steady in the second position throughout the caution-free stage.
  • The No. 4 Ford came to pit road for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments at the conclusion of the stage. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400): 

  • Started second and finished second.
  • Harvick dropped back to the fourth position after restarting the last stage on the outside of the front row.
  • The Jimmy John’s Ford completed the pass of teammate Aric Almirola for the third position on lap 225.
  • Harvick came to pit road on lap 268 under green-flag conditions from the third position for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
  • The No. 4 Ford completed the pass of the No. 2 for the second position on lap 319.
  • Harvick came to pit road under caution on lap 328 for four tires, fuel, chassis and air pressure adjustments and held the second position.
  • The Jimmy John’s Ford dropped back to third after restarting in the outside lane on lap 333.
  • Harvick completed the pass of the No. 2 racecar for second on lap 370 but was unable to track down the leader in the closing laps.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We were starting to track him (Kyle Busch) down there at the end. I needed about 25 more laps. I gotta thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s Ford. They did a great job on a weekend when we needed to do a great job with all the unknowns going into next week. It will be a fun weekend, but it will be kind of trial and error as we go through the weekend. It was a good night for us here at Richmond, and we did a good job on pit road, just came up a little bit short.” 

Notes:

  • This was Harvick’s 20thtop-five finish of 2018.
  • Harvick earned his 14thtop-five in 36 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
  • Harvick finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points and second in Stage 2 to earn an additional nine bonus points.
  • Harvick led once for 40 laps to increase his laps-led total at Richmond to 1,109.
  • Kyle Busch won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 50thcareer Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his seventh of the season and his sixth at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Harvick was .777 of a second.
  • There were three caution periods for a total of 23 laps.
  • Only 13 of the 40 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap.

Playoff Standing (with one race to go before the Round of 12):

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (2,141 points) +85 points
  2. Kyle Busch (2,125 points) 1 win
  3. Kevin Harvick (2,113 points) +57 points
  4. Brad Keselowski (2,111) 1 win
  5. Joey Logano (2,081 points) +25 points
  6. Aric Almirola (2,079 points) +23 points
  7. Kyle Larson (2,073 points) +17 points
  8. Kurt Busch (2,071points) +15 points
  9. Chase Elliott (2,066 points) +10 points
  10. Austin Dillon (2,066 points) +10 points
  11. Alex Bowman (2,061 points) +5 points
  12. Ryan Blaney (2,060 points) +4 points
  13. Clint Bowyer (2,056points) -4 points
  14. Jimmie Johnson (2,054 points) -6 points
  15. Erik Jones (2,039 points) -21 points
  16. Denny Hamlin (2,031 points) -29 points

Next Up: 

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 30 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race for the Round of 12. It starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC beginning at 1 p.m.

COLE CUSTER – 2018 NXS Richmond II Race Report

Date: Sept. 21, 2018
Event: Go Bowling 250 (Round 27 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format: 250 laps, broken into three stages 75 laps/75 laps/100 laps)
Start/Finish: 4th/15th (Running, completed 250 of 250 laps)
Point Standing: (9th with 2035 points, 55 points out of first)

Race Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Daniel Hemric of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr. of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

● Custer started fourth, finished 11th.
● The Go Bowling driver ran inside the top-five until lap 50 when he said his No. 00 Ford became tighter as the stage wore on.
● Custer fell outside of the top-10 before the stage concluded after he said he was tight in the center of the turns and loose on exit.
● When the stage ended, Custer pitted for four tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

● Custer started ninth, finished ninth and earned one bonus point.
● Custer raced the Go Bowling Ford back into the top-five by lap 91.
● Tight-handling conditions continued to wear on Custer’s No. 00 Ford, but he kept it inside the top-10 before the yellow flag was thrown on lap 72, ending the stage under caution.
● Custer pitted at the conclusion of the stage for four fresh tires, fuel and more adjustments.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-250):

● Custer started eighth, finished 15th.
● Custer raced to sixth place until a lap-161 caution.
● He drove the Go Bowling Ford into fifth place during the restart until the tight-handling conditions continued to hinder his speed.
● Custer pitted during a lap-217 caution for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments to help his drive off the turns. He restarted from 10th place.
● Custer began to advance the No. 00 Ford through the field until he was contacted by the No. 22 car, bringing out another caution.
● Custer opted to stay out of the pits and restarted from 15th, where he finished the race.

Notes:               

● Five cautions slowed the race for 40 laps.
● Only 19 of the 40 drivers finished on the lead lap.
● Christopher Bell won the Go Bowling 250 to score his fifth career Xfinity Series victory, his fifth of the season and second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Ross Chastain was .566 of a second.]

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Go Bowling Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste:    

“We just didn’t have any long-run speed tonight. We had good short-run speed to be able to pick off five or six cars on every restart. During the last restart the ‘22’ (Austin Cindric) go into us. I don’t know what he was doing. It put us way back there and that’s just how it is. We will just have to go to Charlotte and try to win our way in to the next round.”

Playoff Standings:          

1.     Christopher Bell (2090 points) 1 win
2.     Daniel Hemric (2,062 points, -28)
3.     Justin Allgaier (2,056 points, -34)
4.     Ross Chastain (2053 points, -37)
5.     Elliott Sadler (2,051 points, -39)
6.     Matt Tifft (2,047 points, -43)
7.     Tyler Reddick (2046 points, -44)
8.     Brandon Jones (2,035 points, -55)
9.     Cole Custer (2,035 points, -55)
10.   Ryan Truex (2,033 points, -57)
11.   Austin Cindric (2,028 points, -62)
12.   Ryan Reed (2,027 points, -63)

 

KEVIN HARVICK – 2018 Richmond II Race Advance

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads into the second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at Richmond (Va.) Raceway with statistics on his side.

Five of the past seven champions have been 37 years of age or older when they captured the Cup Series title and, though Harvick’s 39th-place finish last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway wasn’t how he wanted to start his playoff run, his Freaky Fast team is just fueling up for the fight to the finish as the team tries for its second championship in four years.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion finished the 26-race regular season as the series leader with seven points-paying wins, 19 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s, 1,220 laps led and 50 playoff points, but second in total regular-season points. He is now fourth in the reset playoff standings with 2,060 points after his Las Vegas result, 38 ahead of the top-12 cutoff as he enters the penultimate race in the Round of 12 prior, which will be followed by the first elimination race at the Charlotte Motor (N.C.) Speedway “roval.”

Richmond has been a consistent track for Harvick through his career. In 35 Cup Series starts at the three-quarter-mile oval, Harvick owns three victories, 13 top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has an average Richmond finish of 10.3 with 99.2 percent of laps completed. He earned his most recent Busch Pole Award at the track in April 2016.

In the past 10 races on tracks 1 mile or less, Harvick has led 255 laps and has completed every lap. He owns two victories – ISM Raceway near Phoenix and Dover (Del.) International Speedway, six top-five finishes and eight top-10s.

The Jimmy John’s team has been the freak of the field this year with its success in most every statistical category. It has embodied the essence of the freaks who work for Jimmy John’s and their obsession with making the perfect sandwich for their customers.

While being Freaky Fast is nothing new to Jimmy John’s employees or Harvick’s Jimmy John’s crew, they are celebrating the arrival of something new – the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub. It marks the first time Jimmy John’s has added a new bread to its lineup in more than 20 years.

The new 9-Grain Wheat Sub features a delicious blend of wheat, rye, flaxseed, quinoa, millet, oats, barley, amaranth and spelt, as well as honey, coconut and molasses. It is available with any Jimmy John’s sandwich at no extra charge.

Like the traditional French bread, the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub will be freshly baked in-store every day. It is the latest in a series of products that Jimmy John’s has rolled out this year as a part of the Freak Yeah campaign, including the popular Kickin’ Ranch®, the 16-inch Giant Sandwich and a sliced version of Jimmy John’s World-Famous Pickles, all of which can be applied to the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub.

More good news for Harvick and the No. 4 team is that they started the playoffs last weekend with 50 playoffs points. Those will be a huge benefit as the team attempts to advance out of the Round of 16 and into the Round of 12. In fact, the playoff points could be beneficial through each of the first three rounds as long as the team advances.

Therefore, Harvick and the No. 4 team have their goals set for this weekend’s race – to earn stage points and get their Freaky Fast Ford back to victory lane at Richmond.

 

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

 

Why has Richmond caused so many run-ins over the years, or conflicts between drivers? Will there be more drama this year as it becomes a playoff race?

“I don’t really know. For us, it’s really the same as any other race. You want to go there and prepare the best you can. Being a short track, it’s just one of those places where sometimes you have to move somebody out of the way and sometimes that doesn’t go over well. Any time you have short-track racing, there are going to be things that happen and that should be interesting in the second week of the playoffs.”

Is it better to race with your emotions in check?

“I think, emotionally, you can get yourself in trouble. Especially for me, to have those emotions under control opens the door for less noise. I can deal with the noise, but I don’t like the noise and disruption that comes with that noise for my team because they have to start answering questions and looking at things on the Internet to take their focus off of what is most important. It’s most important for them to focus on the details of the car. Having a good mental mindset is something I’ve been working on over the past month and a half to make sure that mentally I was ready to be relaxed and focused.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2018 Richmond II Race Advance

Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) return to Richmond (Va.) Raceway this weekend for the second time this season after scoring the highest SHR finish of sixth in the opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In this year’s April Cup Series event at Richmond, Almirola ran as high as second before ending up 17th. He finished Stages 1 and 2 of the race second and third, respectively and was close to finishing out the event in the top-10 before a late-race restart caused him to go four-wide and get shuffled back to midpack.

Almirola heads into Saturday night’s race, the second in Round 1 of the Cup Series playoffs, ninth in the playoff standings with 2,034 points. The Tampa native is 12 markers ahead of the top-12 cutoff, with the first elimination race the following weekend at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway “roval.”

This weekend, Almirola’s Smithfield livery will look a little different from the traditional black, white and gold scheme. The No. 10 Ford Fusion will sport Smithfield’s summer grilling paint scheme. Additionally, fans who submitted their “Hero of the Grill” nominee earlier this season via SmithfieldGetGrilling.com will have their grilling heroes names included on Almirola’s car this weekend.

The three-quarter-mile oval facility at Richmond, which just completed an infield renovation, typically puts on one of the best shows in the sport. The 34-year-old Almirola has six starts at tracks a mile or less in length this season, completing every lap except at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August when a mechanical issue forced the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion behind the wall for repairs.

In 13 starts at the Richmond oval, Almirola has captured one top-five finish and four top-10s. He has an average Richmond finish of 16.3 with 99.9 percent of laps completed. He earned his best finish of fourth in September 2015. He  has six Richmond starts in the Xfinity Series with one top-10 finish, 10 laps led and an average finish of 16.2.

Fans can still enter for their chance to win Smithfield’s Smoke Machine Mustang designed by team co-owner Tony Stewart with the help of drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. They helped create a one-of-a-kind Ford Mustang RTR Spec 3 that will be given away to one lucky fan. Fans can register for their chance to win the suped-up Mustang and a trip to November’s Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead by visiting SmithfieldRacing.com, or by texting SMOKE to 82257.

Richmond marks the 25th points-paying event during which the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its seventh season with Almirola and its first with SHR. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.

In 27 Cup Series outings this year, Almirola has an average start of 17.8 and an average finish of 14.3, with one top-five finish and 11 top-10s. He’s also led 115 laps this season, already a career best. Almirola is third among the four-driver SHR contingent in the playoff point standings.

 

ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

This is your first year at Stewart-Haas Racing and you’ve also been paired with a new crew chief Johnny Klausmeier. How has it been working with him?

“It’s been good. We’ve been showing up with fast racecars every week and Johnny has really taken control and is doing a great job leading the 10 team. He has a really calm demeanor about him. We’re in a pretty stressful, high-intensity situation in the playoffs. It’s been nice to have him as a leader. It’s been nice to have that calm voice, and he’s very calculated and detail oriented. All of those things have made him great to work with.”

You’re 12 points to the good in the standings, but you finished 17th at Richmond earlier this season. How do you feel going into this weekend?

“We actually had a really fast Smithfield Ford Fusion at Richmond earlier this season. In the first stage, we drove from 25th all of the way up to second and almost won the stage. The next stage, we finished third, and then some strategy, pit-stop cycles and things like that didn’t play in our favor. Other than that, we had a top-five car in the first two stages and a top-10 car in the final stage. If we can find that speed we had early in the race back in April, and can carry that throughout the whole race this weekend, we’ll be fine. I feel good about this weekend. Of all places, going to Richmond, I feel good about having a shot at going for the win.”