CLINT BOWYER – 2019 Texas I Race Advance

No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang driver Clint Bowyer and his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team judge their success on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series each weekend based on the scoring sheet after every practice, qualifying session and the race.

But this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Bowyer and his friends at Rush Truck Centers add an additional measurement to determine the weekend’s success – technician recruits.

Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner on the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived in 2017 and has been with the SHR organization since 2010. The San Antonio-based company with more than 120 locations and 7,000 employees has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states.

According to Rush Truck Centers, the trucking industry is expected to need 200,000 diesel technicians over the next 10 years to keep up with maintenance demands. To help meet the demand, Rush will host a display in the fan midway this weekend where its recruiters will discuss with fans and prospective applicants the work its technicians do on the trucks, as well advantages of joining the company. A Rush Truck Centers truck and Bowyer’s No. 14 car will also be at the display.

Bowyer will visit the display twice and talk about technician careers.

“We want to get the word out that Rush, as well as the entire trucking industry, needs technicians,” said Bowyer, who now owns the car dealership where he once worked as a paint and body specialist. “Rush Truck Centers is a leader in the trucking industry and the largest commercial dealership network in North America. They want to train these folks and give them good jobs. I’ve been around a lot of them in the last few years and it’s a hell of a career.”

It’s diesel truck weekend on the No. 14 at Texas as Cummins makes its first appearance in 2019. While Cummins is a corporation of complementary business segments that designs, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions, it is best known for its diesel truck engines.

Cummins and Rush Truck Centers help SHR get its racecars to the track each weekend. SHR’s Peterbilt Model 389 haulers are equipped with Cummins engines and RushCare Telematics and supported by the RushCare team, which monitors and reports critical fault codes, vehicle performance and driver habits. This ensures the haulers remain in peak condition while traveling thousands of miles from race to race each season.

Cummins’ lineage dates back to the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911, when company founder Clessie Cummins was on the pit crew of the race-winning Marmon Wasp of driver Ray Harroun. Since its founding in 1919, the company now employs approximately 58,600 people and serves customers in about 190 countries and territories through a network of some 500 company-owned and independent distributor locations and approximately 7,500 dealer locations. It’s also headquartered in Columbus, Indiana – SHR co-owner Tony Stewart’s hometown.

“Cummins joined us last year and I told them they put me under a lot of pressure,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “Tony cares deeply about all our partners at SHR but Cummins, being from his hometown, means if we don’t run well we’ll doubly hear about it.”

Bowyer arrives at the ultra-fast 1.5-mile Texas oval 13th in points after a seventh-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway Sunday. He’s posted three-top five finishes and 11 top-10s in 26 career races at Texas and qualified in the top-three in three of the last four Cup Series races. He’s even won at Texas, taking home the trophy in the 2006 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race.

“There’s no time like this weekend to finally break through there in the Cup Series,” Bowyer said. “I want (Texas track president) Eddie (Gossage) to hand me that trophy after the race.”

 

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

 

What did you think of SHR teammate Daniel Suarez’s “Daniel’s Amigos” on pitlane two weekends ago at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, singing and dancing in support of the Monterrey, Mexico driver?

“That was one of the coolest things I have ever seen in this sport. I want one of those types of fan clubs. I saw a mariachi band in Fontana the night before and thought it was awesome. On Sunday, Daniel’s fans brought a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. I thought it was great.”

What do you think of Suarez so far?

“Oh my gosh, he is a blast. We both are excitable and get to talking where we can’t understand each other. We joke that both of our English isn’t too good. He’s really a great kid and fitting in perfectly with us.”

What have you told Suarez since joining SHR?

“I’ve just tried to emphasize to him how excited I am for his opportunity. No different than me, no different than Aric (Almirola) and no different than Kevin (Harvick) when he arrived Stewart-Haas Racing. I mean, everybody benefits from that army of people behind you at Stewart-Haas Racing. And as fast as our cars are, the speed that we have. For him in particular, Billy Scott is a crew chief who I’ve had before, so I know that the opportunity he has in front of him and I’m excited for him to be able to get that and benefit from the speed in our racecars. And get that second chance that he deserves. This sport is, it’s tough, especially as a younger driver, especially in today’s day and age.”

Is it different for younger drivers to break into the sport than it was when you arrived?

“When I came into the sport we tested, we did this, we did that. In between our race weekends, we were on the track somewhere in those racecars. These are drastically different automobiles than anything you ever drive coming through the ranks. When you get in these beasts and you get against that competition, the deck is stacked against you. And sometimes you don’t perform at your best under those circumstances. And, unfortunately, you have maybe only a year or two to prove your worth. So, for him, this second chance in this kind of equipment, it’s going to be a good opportunity for him.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2019 Martinsville I Race Report

Event: Martinsville 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 10th/7th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 13th (157 points, 116 out of first)

Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Clint Bowyer started 10th and finished sixth.
● Reported his car was loose in the initial laps.
● Turned in some impressive lap times as he climbed into the top-five by lap 32.
● Continued to fight a loose-handling car, but the No. 14 looked to be one of the fastest cars on the track.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Bowyer started sixth and finished eighth.
● Dropped from sixth to 13th after slipping in grease in turns three and four immediately after the start of the stage.
● Climbed back up to eighth before the end of the stage.
● Told the crew his car was loose in and off and needed more drive off the corners.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261 -500):

Bowyer started third and finished seventh.
● A quick pit stop during the stage break moved Bowyer from eighth to third for the start of the final stage.
● Raced in third with 200 laps remaining, again turning fast lap times.
● Caution with 186 to go saw Bowyer visit pit lane, but a speeding penalty dropped him to 23rd.
● Bowyer drove back to 13th when another caution brought him to pit lane with 124 laps remaining. However, a second speeding penalty sent him to the back once again.
● Bowyer had driven up to 13th when the next caution came with 54 laps remaining.
● He pitted without incident and restarted the 500-lap race in 10th with 50 laps remaining.
● Bowyer made it back to seventh before the checkered flag fell.

Notes:

●  Bowyer earned his second top-10 of the season and his 16th top-10 in 27 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.
●  Bowyer finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points and eighth in Stage 2 to earn an additional three bonus points.
●  Brad Keselowski won the Martinsville 500 to score his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .594 of a second.
●  There were seven caution periods for a total of 56 laps.
●  Twenty of the 36 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.
●  Kyle Busch leaves Martinsville as the championship leader with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang:

“I don’t think anybody obviously had anything for (Keselowski) or (Elliott). I think we were a top three car for sure, but we kept beating ourselves. I guess we need to get our stuff together on being on the same page with that pit road speed. It’s such an important thing and such a big part of this style of racing, where track position is everything. We push it to the limit, but it’s so hard to practice pit road speed. You’ve got trucks on pit road when you’re trying to practice that. I’m not making any excuses, it’s just when you’re trying to pinch every little thing out of it, it was hard this week to practice pit road speed because of all the stuff on pit road.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 Martinsville I Race Report

Event:  Martinsville 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series:  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:  Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format:  500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish:  9th/10th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing:  15th (134 points, 139 out of first)

Race Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Daniel Suárez started ninth and finished 14th.
● Early in the stage, Suárez radioed that his No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang was tight in the center of the corners but loose on entrance and exit.
● During a caution on lap 67, Suárez pitted for four tires, fuel and wedge and air pressure adjustments.
Near the end of the stage, Suárez reported that he was struggling for grip off the corners.
Pitted for tires, fuel and slight chassis adjustments at the conclusion of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Started 13th and finished ninth, collecting two bonus points.
Stayed out during a caution on lap 147, gaining valuable track position.
Suárez worked his way back into the top-10 by lap 231.
At the end of the stage, pitted for four tires and fuel.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261-500):

Started 11th and finished 10th.
Suárez battled for position with the No. 3 of Austin Dillon near the end of the 500-lap race.
● During the race’s final caution came on lap 447, Suárez pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
● Started ninth for the lap-455 restart and finished 10th.

Notes:

● Suárez earned his second top-10 of the season and his second top-10 in five career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.
● Brad Keselowski won the Martinsville 500 to score his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .594 of a second.
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 56 laps.
● Twenty of the 36 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Busch leaves Martinsville as the championship leader with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

Daniel Suárez, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We were good in the long run, but, unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of longer runs the rest of the day. I felt like in the long run maybe my car was the best, but the short run wasn’t as good. It’s funny, because yesterday it was the opposite, but something good to build on and, hopefully, we can keep going in the right direction.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

 

KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 Martinsville I Race Report

Event:  Martinsville 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series:  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:  Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format:  500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish:  4th/6th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing:  3rd (248 points, 25 out of first)

Race Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Harvick started fourth and finished 11th.
● Settled into sixth place after 15 laps, but soon grabbed fifth when he passed polesitter Joey Logano on lap 19.
● “Way too loose,” said Harvick on lap 32 after teammate Clint Bowyer got by to take fifth.
● Caution on lap 68 allowed Harvick to bring his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang to the attention of his pit crew, where he got four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
● Harvick restarted in eighth, but by lap 100 had dropped to ninth.
“As soon as I let off the brake, it goes sideways,” said Harvick on lap 104.
Pitted for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment at the conclusion of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Started 11th and finished seventh, collecting four bonus points.
● Climbed back up to ninth following a caution on lap 147.
Harvick radioed on lap 200 that he was “loose off (the corner), but getting better.”
Held steady in seventh place through the end of the stage.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel at the end of the stage. Only adjustment was to tire pressures.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261-500):

Started 11th and finished sixth.
● Despite emerging from the pits in 11th place, Harvick drove his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang up to sixth by lap 291.
Caution on lap 313 sent Harvick to the pits for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment to tighten up his racecar. Remained in sixth place for the lap-319 restart.
● Stayed in sixth through caution on lap 374, whereupon Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and another right-rear wedge adjustment.
● The Mobil 1 pit crew picked up one spot on pit road, sending Harvick back out in fifth for the lap-379 restart.
● Battled door-to-door with the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin, with Hamlin getting past on lap 458, dropping Harvick to sixth.
● Maintained sixth place through the end of the race.

Notes:

● Harvick earned his fifth top-10 of the season and his 18th top-10 in 36 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.
● Brad Keselowski won the Martinsville 500 to score his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .594 of a second.
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 56 laps.
● Twenty of the 36 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Busch leaves Martinsville as the championship leader with a 21-point advantage over second-place Hamlin.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It was an OK day for us. I think as you look at our Martinsville stuff, it’s been hit or miss. I feel like I was a little better than the 11 (Hamlin) and the 12 (Ryan Blaney), but you’ve got to be able to get by them on the restarts. We just never could get the car right all day and be able to let off the brake and roll to the center of the corner. I couldn’t quite get to the throttle like I needed to and kind of just, I don’t know, we could kind of hold our ground on the restarts, but not really gain anything, and track position was a big deal. It was definitely not what we wanted, but not a bad day for us at Martinsville.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2019 Martinsville I Race Report

Event: Martinsville 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 2nd/9th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 6th (215 points, 58 out of first)

Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

● Aric Almirola started second and finished third, collecting eight bonus points.
● No. 10 Shazam/Smithfield Ford Mustang ran in fourth for the majority of the opening stage.
● Almirola pitted during a caution on lap 68 for four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments.
He said the No. 10 Ford was loose at the beginning of the stage, but the car drove better as the laps wore on.
● After he pitted he noted that the tires were spinning on the exit of the turns, but the car was turning better.
● Almirola passed the No. 11 car on lap 112 to finish third in Stage 1.
● He pitted for four more tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments at the conclusion of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

● Started fourth and finished sixth, collecting five bonus points.
● Almirola piloted the Shazam/Smithfield Ford Mustang inside the top-five until lap 251.
● At the end of the stage, he radioed crew chief Johnny Klausmeier that he needed more drive off of the turns and better turn in the middle.
● Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments at the end of Stage 2.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261-500):

● Started fifth and finished ninth.
● On the opening laps, Almirola and the No. 18 car made contact, forcing the No. 10 Shazam/Smithfield Ford outside of the top-10.
● Almirola pitted on lap 312 under caution for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments to counter tight-handling conditions. He landed seventh off pit road.
● During the next caution period on lap 371, Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments, but an issue with the right-rear tire during the pit stop demoted the No. 10 Ford to 13th place.
● Almirola raced back to eighth place and battled for seventh until the lap-445 caution was called.
● He pitted for four tires and fuel and said the balance of his Ford Mustang was improving, but an issue on pit road resulted in Almirola restarting in 12th place.
● He piloted the No. 10 Shazam/Smithfield Ford back to ninth place before the checkered flag waved.

Notes:

● Almirola earned his fifth top-10 of the season and his fourth top-10 in 21 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.
● Almirola has finished among the top-10 in every race this year with the exception of the season-opening Daytona 500.
● Almirola finished third in Stage 1 to earn eight bonus points, and sixth in Stage 2 to earn an additional five bonus points.
●  Brad Keselowski won the Martinsville 500 to score his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .594 of a second.
●  There were seven caution periods for a total of 56 laps.
●  Twenty of the 36 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.
●  Kyle Busch leaves Martinsville as the championship leader with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Shazam/Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We had a great weekend overall. Our Shazam/Smithfield Mustang was fast today, but we got hit by the 18 car in Stage 2 that knocked us back to 12th, and we had to fight hard to get back to where we were all day. We’ve earned five straight top-10 finishes, so I guess it’s okay to be upset with a ninth-place finish.”

Next Up: 

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 Martinsville I Race Advance

Kevin Harvick will have Mobil 1 as his primary sponsor for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. It will be the first of nine races Harvick will be sponsored by Mobil 1, which has a long history of great success in auto racing.

For 2019, the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has switched to a black base color conveying power, strength and sophistication. And one of Harvick’s SHR teammates will have a car that looks very similar this weekend.

Harvick and SHR’s Clint Bowyer will each sport a Mobil 1 paint scheme at Martinsville. Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR organization with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 17th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.

The No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang was driven to victory lane twice last year, one as a co-primary sponsor in August at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, and as a full primary in October at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. But the lubricants Mobil 1 provided helped Harvick to all eight of his 2018 wins, plus a victory in the prestigious NASCAR All-Star Race.

Harvick is hoping for another victory in this week’s Martinsville 500. He has one win, five top-threes, 17 top-10s and has led a total of 628 laps in his 35 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the flat half-mile, paperclip-shaped oval. His average start there is 14.3, his average finish is 15.3, and he has a lap-completion rate of 98.0 percent – 17,196 of the 17,539 laps available.

It’s been eight years since he won a Cup Series race at Martinsville, and he would like another grandfather clock, which is awarded to the winner of each race.

But he has won in other divisions. Harvick has made the most of his one and only NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Martinsville Speedway. He started sixth in the Goody’s 250 on July 22, 2006, and went on to lead 149 of 250 laps en route to a victory. In NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series competition, he has three wins, seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 17 starts.

He’s back in black this week at Martinsville. And he’s hoping to score a huge win.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

Mobil 1 is your sponsor this week. Talk about the company’s involvement.

“Mobil 1 is technical partner, not just a sponsor. Their technology under the hood of the No. 4 Ford gives our cars an advantage over other teams. They are a huge reason we won eight races and the All-Star Race last year. The Mobil 1 guys work just as hard for us as we do for them. They provide us with an advantage over the other teams and they are always at the racetrack and race shop looking over the engine oil, chassis lubricants, gear oil and even power steering fluid to make sure we have the best technology available.”

Does winning a grandfather clock mean more to you than other trophies?]

“The clock at Martinsville in pretty unique. I think, as you look at the clock and the history that comes with the clock and being represented by that particular trophy, it’s something that I like. I think some of the racetracks have boring and stale trophies and, when you go to Martinsville, they’re cool clocks that represent who Martinsville is. When you go to the Daytona 500 and win the Harley J. Earl Trophy, it represents who Daytona is. When you go to some tracks and have a Plexiglas and sticker trophy, well maybe that represents some of the racetracks that we go to and some of them are the same.”

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.”

When you think of Martinsville, what comes to mind?

“Some guys just have a knack for Martinsville. There are some weekends when I show up and I feel good about where I’m at and some weekends I just feel like I’ve never been there before. You look at this little bitty racetrack and you think it would be so simple, and you go out there and it becomes so hard.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2019 Martinsville I Race Advance

Not all heroes wear capes. Some don firesuits and helmets behind the wheel of the fastest cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. This weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Aric Almirola will sport the No. 10 Shazam!/Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in superhero fashion.

Opening April 5 nationwide, Shazam! is a DC superhero movie from New Line and Warner Bros. about a streetwise 14-year-old who can magically transform into the adult superhero Shazam simply by shouting out one word. His newfound powers soon get put to the test when he squares off against the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana.

“It’s awesome we get to be superheroes this weekend at Martinsville,” Almirola said. “Growing up, my superhero was my grandfather. He raced Dirt Sprint cars a lot in the Southeast. He won a lot of races and track championships at Eastbay Raceway in Riverview, Florida, so growing up watching him race and me loving racing and seeing how successful he was with his career made him my hero. Like the movie, the 14-year-old me wanted to be just like him and here I am competing in the top series. This is my Shazam!”

While Almirola can’t shout the word “Shazam” to earn new powers, he’ll rely on the horsepower of Roush Yates Engines that has earned him four consecutive top-10 finishes, a top-five, a pole, 69 laps led, and the sixth spot in the point standings just five races into the season. His and the No. 10 team’s consistency has Almirola off to his best career start to a season through the first five events and has him and the No. 10 team positioned to be serious contenders in the championship hunt.

Last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Almirola finished ninth to earn his first top-10 at the 2-mile oval, and he led laps – seven in all – for the first time ever at the California track.

In 20 career starts at Martinsville’s half-mile paperclip, the 35-year-old Almirola has three top-10 finishes, one top-five and has led 56 laps. His two Martinsville starts with SHR proved to be competitive, but he’s yet to crack the top-10 while the SHR organization has four victories, 10 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s and have led 720 laps in 62 starts there.

“Martinsville is a really challenging racetrack,” Almirola said. “It’s the smallest racetrack we go to on the circuit. One of the most challenging parts about Martinsville is that the tires wear out pretty rapidly and, when that happens, you really struggle to get the power down to the ground.”

This year, NASCAR mandated a new rules package allowing 750 horsepower at tracks 1 mile in length or shorter. Almirola, among other drivers, will be challenged with something new.

“We make about 750 horsepower now with this new rules package and we can spin the tires very easily when we push the gas pedal down,” he said. “To get the traction in the rear tires and to keep that as best as you can throughout the course of a run as the tires wear out is really challenging.”

As Almirola and the No. 10 Ford team head to the first short-track race of the season, they look to expand on their consistency by crossing the finish line yelling “Shazam” all the way to victory lane.

 

Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 SHAZAM!/Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

Are you confident in yourself and the team to bring the same consistency we’ve seen this year to a short track like Martinsville? 

“The thing about Stewart-Haas Racing is that they can adapt and win anywhere and in anything. Clint (Bowyer) won there last year and had a great car in both races last year. I have full confidence in our 10 team and Stewart-Haas to bring fast Fords this weekend. We’ve been hitting on all eight cylinders all year and it’s almost our time.”

Who was your favorite superhero growing up and how cool is it to be one this weekend at Martinsville? 

“Growing up, Batman was my superhero. Watching all of the different Batman movies growing up, the Batmobile is what really sold it for me. Being a lover of cars, the Batmobile was just an incredible machine. It’s pretty cool I get to dress up as a superhero and race at Martinsville this weekend.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 Martinsville I Race Advance

After wrapping up the early season, three-race West Coast swing, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s Martinsville 500. Daniel Suárez will pilot the No. 41 Haas Automation Mustang in this weekend’s event.

Established in 1947, Martinsville is one of the oldest tracks on the circuit. Even though the sport has evolved over the years, Martinsville has always provided great racing for NASCAR’s premiere series. The short track creates the need for the bump-and-run technique, which is often used for passing as competitors work to advance their way through traffic.

Suárez has four Cup Series starts at Martinsville with a best finish of ninth, which he earned in last year’s fall event. He has an average starting position of 16.2 there and an average finishing position of 18.5. Additionally, he has four Gander Outdoors NASCAR Truck Series starts at the flat half-mile, paperclip-shaped oval, which he used to gain experience for his Cup Series endeavor since the Xfinity Series does not race at the venue. In the Truck Series, he accumulated three top-10 starts, including one outside pole position, and two top-10 results, earning him an average starting position of 6.2 and an average finishing position of 11.5.

After making the approximately 36-hour trip home from last weekend’s event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, NASCAR’s hauler drivers have a relatively short trek to Martinsville, which is located just about two hours northeast of the SHR shop.

Suárez qualified 20th on the 2-mile oval at Fontana last weekend, then ran in the top-10 and earned four stage points before being relegated to a 13th-place finish. So far this season, Suárez has earned 16 stage points and looks to add to that number this weekend at Martinsville. Suárez and the No. 41 team look to improve their results, which so far this season show an average starting position of 19.6 and an average finishing position of 19.2, along with 12 laps led.

Haas Automation, founded in 1983 by SHR co-owner Gene Haas, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets. This weekend marks the fourth time Suárez has piloted the Haas Automation scheme.

A year ago this weekend at Martinsville, Suárez’s SHR teammate Clint Bowyer captured the win in dominant fashion on Monday after the regularly scheduled Sunday race was postponed due to snow. Bowyer’s Martinsville win was one of 12 points-paying victories SHR earned last season.

The Virginia track is the shortest of the season for the Cup Series but one of the toughest. Suárez looks to earn his best finish of the season there venue Sunday.

Ford has 29 all-time series wins at the “paperclip,” including a sweep last year by Bowyer and fellow Ford Performance driver Joey Logano, who won the fall race.

 

Daniel Suárez: Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

What do you like about going to Martinsville?

“Martinsville is cool because it’s one of the old-school tracks that we go to. I drive back and forth from home and it’s a unique place. It reminds me kind of like a Late Model race, where it’s just a different environment from the big tracks we usually go to. You have to move guys out of the way to pass, usually, and it’s just so different.”

Is there a favorite type of exercise that you prefer to do to stay fit?

“I have been into the fitness or workout programs since I was about 15 years old. I just like to be in good shape and I like to feel good. I feel like when you get a good workout in, you have a good feeling the rest of the day. I like the high-intensity programs in the workout room or on the bike. The bike has been something that I have enjoyed a lot for the last couple of years. I have been working out high-intensity, high heart rate, for a while now. I just feel like it’s a lot of fun. I have always liked to push myself a lot and I feel like it helps you physically a lot, but the most important part is mentally. I feel like you get used to pushing yourself harder and harder, and you do that in the workout room or the bike and you learn how to do that, as well, in many other places like the racetrack.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2019 Martinsville I Race Advance

It might have been the best picture of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang driver Clint Bowyer had just ended his 190-race winless streak and notched his first victory at Stewart-Haas-Racing (SHR) driving the organization’s famous No. 14.

Bowyer climbed from the car on the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway front stretch and looked to his left to see his wife Lorra and daughter Presley led by then 3-year-old son Cash running from turn four toward Dad.

He couldn’t resist running toward his family.

“You know I make fun of these other drivers sometimes for having tears in victory lane, but I’ve got to admit that moment got to me,” said Bowyer with a laugh about embarking on a raucous victory celebration that saw him climb into the stands with the Martinsville fans who stayed in Southern Virginia an extra day because snow cancelled the race scheduled for the previous day.

“Cash is young enough that he had never been to victory lane before, so it was his first chance to be there,” Bowyer said. “That’s something I always wanted to make happen.”

Bowyer said Cash still asks him when he’s going back to victory lane.

“Oh, yeah, it’s just funny how kids are,” he said. “We were all kids once, and kids are probably as competitive as any adult. When their parents race for a living and compete week in and week out – that’s all he knows. He literally hasn’t been old enough to understand anything else. Competition and that edge on the competition is all he knows. All he wants to do is beat all of his buddies and bragging rights are part of it. That Martinsville win was big for his bragging rights.”

Bowyer should be one of the favorites once again this weekend at Martinsville. In addition to his March victory on the flat, half-mile oval, he owns six top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 26 starts there. Located just 90 minutes from his Mocksville, North Carolina home, he says the facility reminds him of the roots of the sport.

“Martinsville for me is my new home track,” he said. “Everybody lives down in the Charlotte area. We live up north – Winston-Salem area. That’s my home track. That’s the one racetrack you drive back and forth on qualifying day, then go back up there for the race.

“Martinsville has such an old-school feel – even the two-lane road going up to it where you can’t ever get around anybody. You’re stuck in traffic and then you finally get on the open road. Then, you get a (speeding) ticket as soon as you get across the Virginia line. I had the same guy pull me over three years in a row. Finally, he gave me a ticket, which I deserved, and then you get to the racetrack. You’re pulling into these people’s backyards and here’s this awesome racetrack.”

Bowyer arrives at Martinsville after the Cup Series’ three-race West Coast swing. He finished 38th last weekend at Auto Club Speedway Fontana, California, when mechanical issues ended his race early. That finish, coupled with a 20th at Daytona, fifth at Atlanta, 14th at Las Vegas and 11th at Phoenix, has Bowyer 15th in the standings. His SHR team has had a great deal of success at Martinsville Speedway, as well, posting four wins, 10 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s in 62 starts.

“Mobil 1 gives SHR a competition advantage with its technology and lubricants,” Bowyer said. “The success SHR has enjoyed in recent years shows the technological advantages Mobil 1 are giving us on the track every single week. The Mobil 1 synthetic oil I put in my cars at home prolongs the life of every car. I hope Kevin and I can show off that Mobil 1 technology Sunday with a one-two finish. Naturally, I want to be the one to bring home another one of those grandfather clocks (traditional Martinsville winner’s trophy).”

That would make the Bowyer family happy.

 

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

Where is the grandfather clock you won at Martinsville last year?

“It’s right in the living room. First thing you see when you walk in. We did have to silence it from going off every hour. For a while it was kind of cool for it to wake you in the middle of the night and remind you that you won that race. But honestly, with two kids, you stop anything that will wake anyone up in the house. But given this is Martinsville week, we might just have it back going this week.”

Was winning at Martinsville a shock?

“No. I remember telling someone that I was going to win at Martinsville someday. I’ve always run well there. I just knew some day when everything went right we’d be in victory lane, and we were.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 Fontana Race Report

Event:               Auto Club 400(Round 5 of 36)
Series:               Monster EnergyNASCAR 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:      2nd/4th(Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Point Standing:3rd(213 points, 24 out of first) 

Race Winner:    Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner:Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

  • Started second, finished fourth and collected seven bonus points.
  • Harvick fell to seventh and said the car was loose.
  • On lap 25, Harvick was 11thand said the car was tight in turn two.
  • Harvick pitted on lap 28 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
  • On lap 57, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel. 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

  • Started third, finished sixth and collected five bonus points.
  • Harvick, who was seventh, said his car was still tight in turn two.
  • On lap 91 Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He was in seventh.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 120-200):

  • Started second, finished fourth.
  • On lap 123, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
  • The No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang pitted on lap 161 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustment.
  • Harvick pitted again on lap 166 under caution for four tires and fuel.
  • The No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang came home in the fourth position. 

Notes:

  • Harvick earned his third top-five and fourth top-10 of the season, and his seventh top-five and 12thtop-10 in 26 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Auto Club Speedway.
  • Harvick finished fourth in Stage 1 to earn seven bonus points and sixth in Stage 2 to earn an additional five bonus points.
  • Kyle Busch won the Auto Club 400 to score his 53rdcareer Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his fourth at Auto Club Speedway. His margin of victory over second-place Joey Logano was 2.354 seconds.
  • This was Busch’s milestone 200thvictory across the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (53 wins), Xfinity Series (94 wins) and Gander Outdoors Truck Series (53 wins).
  • There were four caution periods for a total of 22 laps.
  • Twenty-one of the 38 drivers in the Auto Club 400 finished on the lead lap.
  • Busch leaves Auto Club Speedway as the championship leader with a 15-point advantage over second-place Logano.

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

“We raced well today. My guys did a great job on pit road. Our car was better than it was in practice. I didn’t have anything for the Penske cars or the 18 (Kyle Busch) car. They did a great job of racing hard all day, and we made a lot out of the West Coast swing with not very much. We have some work to do, but we know you still have to go race. Our Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang was okay today, and we got a decent finish.”                                                                                                                          

Next Up:                                                                        

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Martinsville 500 on Sunday, March 24 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.