KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 Fontana Race Advance

Kevin Harvick grew up a big fan of four-time Indianapolis 500-Mile Race winner Rick Mears.

They are both from Bakersfield, California and found massive success in their racing careers. But they both started out racing as unknowns on now-closed racetracks.

Mears got his start in 1976 in the United States Auto Club IndyCar series driving for Bill Simpson in the No. 38 Do-It Wax System Eagle Offenhauser at Ontario Motor Speedway just outside of Los Angeles. He started 20th and finished eighth, completing 192 of 200 laps. He earned $6,886 that day, and who would have known that just three years later he would score his first of four Indianapolis 500 wins driving for Roger Penske.

Harvick got his NASCAR start in October 1995 at Mesa Marin Speedway in Bakersfield in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. He drove the No. 72 Hall Ambulance Chevrolet and started and finished 27th, completing 176 of 200 laps. Who would have known that in just six years he would take over for the late Dale Earnhardt at Richard Childress Racing and win in just his third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Mears earned three Championship Auto Racing Teams titles, four Indy 500 wins and 29 total Indy car victories. Harvick has one NASCAR Cup Series title, two NASCAR Xfinity Series titles and is one of just four drivers to win the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. He’s won 45 Cup Series races.

Ontario was closed after the 1980 season and the land is part of a shopping mall. Mesa Marin closed in the fall of 2005 and Harvick competed in one of the final races there. It is now part of the Bakersfield Park District.

While Mears never raced at this weekend’s stop on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule – Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, which was built in 1997 – Harvick has had plenty of success at his latest “home track.” He made his first of four Truck Series starts at Fontana in October 1997. His best Truck Series finish of eighth came in 2007.

In 1998, Harvick drove the No. 75 Spears Motorsports car in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, when he finished second in May and won the pole and the race in July. Harvick also won the International Race of Champions race at the 2-mile oval in April 2002.

Harvick has made 19 starts in the Xfinity Series at Fontana. In 2015, he started sixth, led 100 laps and crossed the finish line 3.317 seconds ahead of runner-up Brendan Gaughan. Harvick has one win, one pole, 12 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s.

Sunday’s Auto Club 400 will mark Harvick’s 26th career NASCAR Cup start at Fontana and he has one win, six top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. The 43-year-old driver has led 237 laps, has an average starting position of 15.3, an average finish of 15.8, and has completed 98.6 percent – 5,674 of 5,756 – of the laps he’s contested there.

Harvick is hoping he can be Freaky Fast at the 2-mile oval and score his second career Cup Series win there.

 

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

 

Is Auto Club Speedway a place you look forward to going to, and why?

“Auto Club Speedway is by far one of my favorite tracks we go to. It’s top three on my list as far as tracks that I’m excited to go to, just for the fact that the asphalt is so worn out. It is very similar to Atlanta in a much different shape of a racetrack. It’s a very unique racetrack because it is so wide and you have so many options to run all over the racetrack. When you add in the tire falloff, then it becomes strategy and how many laps do you stay out when everybody else starts pitting because you’re going to give up three seconds a lap. If the caution comes out, you can get caught a lap down. So there are so many things that come into play, but it has become a great race and a great racetrack to race on. The crowd has been great over the last few years since we went from two races down to one. It has changed the whole vibe at Auto Club Speedway. It’s in my home state. It’s a big week and I know, from a driver standpoint, Auto Club Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway are right up there at the top of everybody’s list because there is so much falloff and the asphalt is so worn out.”

NASCAR used to be considered a Southern regional sport, but now so many drivers have come out of California. Can you describe what the culture was like there, racing-wise, when you and some of the other drivers came up and how it led to what we have now?

“I think, when you look at California, there are a lot of racetracks up and down the coast. Whether it’s asphalt, dirt tracks, go-kart tracks, there is a well-supported community of racing up and down the state of California, even into Washington and Oregon. As I was coming up, there was the Southwest Tour, Winston West Series, and the (NASCAR Gander Outdoors) Trucks that raced on the West Coast a lot. There was also a fairly good following for Late Models. Things have slowed down from what they used to be, but you have the Kern County Raceway in this particular area. There is definitely a lot of racing when you look at way back in the day it was mostly a Southeastern sport. I think Jeff Gordon was obviously somewhat responsible for being able to allow guys like myself in and pave the way for us to have a path to have an opportunity to come and race in NASCAR. It’s always been a well-supported racing area and I was fortunate to grow up in Bakersfield, California, which is a very well-supported racing town no matter what you race. There is a lot of racing. It just took a while for everybody to figure that out.”

Now that there is just one race a year at Fontana, talk about what the atmosphere has been and how the crowds have gotten better and how the drivers’ perceptions of the way things are starting to turn around there.

“This racetrack is a great example of lessons that a lot of people who run racetracks don’t pay attention to. Sometimes, if you take one really great thing, you can easily make them into two mediocre things. I don’t understand that with racetracks a lot of the time, but this one has come full circle. When you look at the crowds that we’ve had over the last couple of years, they’ve been really good. The racing has been really good as that track surface has aged. As a driver, you look forward to going there now because it’s one of those tracks where you can run all over the place, the cars slide around, and you’re going to have fun from the driver’s seat. That bleeds over into the perception that the fans get because everybody is talking about enjoying racing on this particular track. Some markets are just one-race markets. I would say ninety percent of them are one-race markets, but a lot of them still have two races and you just see those mediocre crowds and, when people know that you’re only coming once a year, you have to go to that one particular race. Having a race with a good date is obviously good for the weather and the people to come out and enjoy it. It’s not 115 degrees in August, which was always fun to be a part of in the racecar (laughs). But, I think, it’s all come full circle and everything is going well for this particular track.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 Phoenix I Race Report

Event: Ticket Guardian 500k (Round 4 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish: 28th/23rd (Running, completed 311 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 20th (77 points, 100 out of first)

Race Winner:  Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

● Daniel Suárez started Stage 1 from the 28th position and ended the stage 32nd.
● Suárez worked his way up to 18th when the first caution of the race was displayed on lap 39. He pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help his tight-handling Ruckus Networks Mustang.
● The Mexico native restarted 17th and was in the 16th spot when the second caution was displayed. During the caution Suárez pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments in preparation for the sprint to the end of Stage 1.
● Unfortunately, the No. 41 machine lost power. Suárez received an assist to pit road, where the No. 41 crew made an adjustment to the battery. The Ruckus Mustang regained power, but the 27-year-old went one lap down while receiving repairs on pit road.
● Suárez was trapped one lap down during the Stage 1 break in 32nd place.
● Before the start of the second stage, Suárez pitted for fuel only.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

● The No. 41 driver started Stage 2 in 32nd and completed it in 28th.
● On lap 139, the Ford driver was put two laps down after a long green-flag run.
● The event stayed green until the end of the stage, and the Ruckus driver completed it 28th.
● He pitted during the stage break for fuel only and began the final stage in 28th.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-312):

● The Ruckus driver began the final stage in 28th and concluded it in 23rd.
● When the caution was displayed on lap 160, Suárez stayed out on the track with only a couple of laps on his Goodyear tires.
● He restarted 27th and continued on a green-flag run until the next caution on lap 193 while running 26th. Crew chief Billy Scott made the call for Suárez to stay out and gain one lap back.
● Suárez restarted 26th on lap 205, one lap down, and the next caution was displayed on lap 219. During the caution Suárez pitted for fuel and four tires.
● Another caution on lap 226 saw Suárez just one spot shy of receiving the free pass in the 24th position. He restarted in the same spot, and the next caution was displayed on lap 233 with Suárez in 25th. Unfortunately, he was once again one lap shy of being the beneficiary of the free pass.
● One final quick caution on lap 235 came with the Ruckus driver in the 25th spot and still one lap down. The race remained under green after the final restart, and Suárez ultimately finished the event 23rd.

Notes:

● Suárez made his fifth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at ISM Raceway with a best finish of seventh in March 2017.
● Kyle Busch won the TicketGuardian 500k to score his 52nd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his third at ISM Raceway. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 1.259 seconds.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 67 laps.
● Only 16 of the 36 drivers in the TicketGuardian 500k finished on the lead lap.
● Busch leaves ISM Raceway as the championship leader with a six-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.

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

“We had a good Ruckus Mustang today. Unfortunately, we had some sort of electrical issue and I lost power, and that put us behind a lap while we worked on it. The guys will have to look at it once we get back to the shop. We had a good car on the long runs, but once we got caught a lap down and with all of the green-flag runs we could just never get back on the lead lap. The good news is the car had a lot speed. Unfortunately, we don’t have the result to show for it, but we’ll move on to California next week.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 17 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 3 p.m.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 Phoenix I Race Report

Event: TicketGuardian 500k (Round 4 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish: 8th/9th (Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd (168 points, 9 out of first)

Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

Started eighth, finished 10th and collected one bonus point.
● Harvick said the car was a bit tight early in the run as he ran in eighth.
● Harvick was sixth on lap 38, but was 9.3 seconds behind leader Kyle Busch. He said the Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang needed rear grip.
The No. 4 pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis and tire pressure adjustment. Harvick came out 10th, since some teams only put on two tires.
Harvick pitted on lap 66 for four tires and fuel.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

Started second, finished third and collected eight bonus points.
Said car was a bit tight, but he remained in the top-five.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 151-312):

Started sixth, finished ninth.
● Pitted on lap 153 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
● While sixth on lap 196, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustment. He noted the car was still tight.
● On lap 202, Harvick pitted for two tires and fuel. He came out of the pits in third place.
● Harvick made slight contact with Jimmie Johnson on the lap-232 restart. He pitted on lap 235 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, then restarted 21st.
● Harvick worked his way up to ninth to score his third consecutive top-10 finish.

Notes:

● The TicketGuardian 500k marked Harvick’s 650th career start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
● Harvick earned his third top-10 of the season and his 22nd top-10 in 33 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at ISM Raceway.
● Harvick finished 10th in Stage 1 to earn one bonus point and third in Stage 2 to earn an additional eight bonus points.
● Kyle Busch won the TicketGuardian 500k to score his 52nd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his third at ISM Raceway. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 1.259 seconds.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 67 laps.
● Only 16 of the 36 drivers in the TicketGuardian 500k finished on the lead lap.

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

“We just needed track position. We got shuffled on a couple of those restarts and lost a couple spots on pit road, and it kind of multiplied for us. We had a car that was plenty fast. It was just really difficult to pass.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 17 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 3 p.m.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2019 Phoenix I Race Report

Event: TicketGuardian 500k (Round 4 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish: 14th/4th (Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
Point standings: 7th with 134 points, 43 out of first

Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

● Started 14th and finished second to earn nine bonus points.
● The Smithfield Ford raced to the top-10 by lap 38 before a caution was called a lap later.
● Almirola ran as high as fourth place until another caution was called on lap 63. The No. 10 team opted not to pit in order to gain the maximum amount of stage points. They restarted from second place and battled the No. 22 car to hold the second position before Stage 2 ended.
● He pitted for four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments at the conclusion of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

● Started 21st and finished 12th.
● Almirola gained six positions by lap 104 and rejoined the top-15.
● At this point, the No. 10 Ford team was consistently recording the fastest laps in the field.
● Almirola continued to note tight-handling conditions and pitted at the end of the stage for four tires, fuel and adjustments.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 151-312):

● Started 10th and finished fourth.
● He began the final stage racing in and around the top-10 and said his Ford Mustang needed more turn in the corners.
● After a caution on lap 193, Almirola pitted the No. 10 Ford for four tires and fuel. He climbed to seventh during the restart.
● Crew chief Johnny Klausmeier radioed Almirola to the pits for two tires and fuel during a lap-220 caution. He came off pit road fourth.
● Almirola gained the lead on the restart while yet another caution was thrown for a spin by the No. 47 car.
● He held the lead for 26 laps and continued to note tight-handling conditions on lap 252.
● In effort to save fuel and set the Smithfield Ford team up for victory, Almirola raced strategically and fell to fourth. He was able to save enough fuel to last the entire green-flag run and earn the team’s third consecutive top-10 of the season.

Notes:

● Almirola earned his first top-five and third top-10 in four races this season and his second top-five in 17 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at ISM Raceway.
● Almirola’s fourth-place finish equaled his previous best finish at ISM Raceway – fourth in last November’s Can-Am 500k.
● Almirola finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points.
● Almirola led once for 26 laps – his first laps led at ISM Raceway.
● This was Almirola’s third straight top-10 of the 2019 season.
● Kyle Busch won the TicketGuardian 500k to score his 52nd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his third at ISM Raceway. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 1.259 seconds.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 67 laps.
● Only 16 of the 36 drivers in the TicketGuardian 500k finished on the lead lap.
● Busch leaves ISM Raceway as the championship leader with a six-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.

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

“We had a good Smithfield Ford Mustang, but we’re just not quite as good as we need to be. We still have work to do, but I’m really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. We keep chipping away. That’s three top-10s in a row, our first top-five of the year, so we’re getting there. Our cars are getting a little better, but we just have to keep working and keep finding more speed. We have a great race team, and we’ll continue to improve on what we’ve got, so we’ll just keep working. Our Smithfield Ford Mustang was decent but just not quite good enough.”

Next Up: 

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 17 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 3 p.m.

CLINT BOWYER – 2019 Phoenix I Race Report

Event:                   TicketGuardian 500k(Round 4 of 36)
Series:                   Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location:     ISM Raceway near Phoenix(1-mile oval)
Format:                312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish:          26th/11th(Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
Point Standing:     11th(118 points, 59 out of first) 

Race Winner:        Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:     Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:     Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75): 

  • Bowyerstarted 26thand finished 12th.
  • Climbed to 20thafter four laps.
  • Bowyer radioed crew chief Mike Bugarewicz on lap 15 that his No. 14 ITsavvy Ford Mustang was tight in the middle of the corners.
  • During a caution on lap 41, Bowyer pitted for four tires, fuel, a right-rear wedge adjustment and a tire pressure adjustment.
  • Bowyer restarted in 13thplace and climbed to 12thby lap 50.
  • Cracked top-10 on lap 55.
  • Another caution on lap 66 allowed Bowyer to pit again for four tires, fuel and another right-rear wedge adjustment.
  • Bowyer restarted in 16thplace and rallied to 12thby the end of the stage.
  • Bowyer stayed out at the end of the stage, earning valuable track position.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150): 

  • Bowyerstarted fourth and finished second, collecting nine bonus points.
  • Drove to second place on restart and stayed there through the remainder of the stage.
  • Pitted for four tires and fuel with a slight tire pressure adjustment at end of stage. Maintained second place.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 151-312): 

  • Bowyerstarted second and finished 11th.
  • Held off Martin Truex Jr., on lap-166 restart to maintain second place.
  • Caution on lap 193 allowed leaders to pit. Bowyer took only four fresh tires and fuel, but came off pit road in fourth place.
  • Grabbed third place on lap-195 restart.
  • Caution on lap 220 sent leaders to pit road. Bowyer again took only four new tires and fuel. Some other drivers stayed out, some took two tires, some went with fuel only. These varying pit strategies placed Bowyer 12thfor the lap-226 restart.
  • A flurry of restarts led to a flurry of cautions between laps 220-238. Bowyer restarted 20thfor lap-239 restart after pitting for four ties and fuel on lap 235.
  • With less than 60 laps to go and mired in traffic while running 15th, Bowyer reported that his No. 14 ITsavvy Ford Mustang is loose.
  • Bowyer methodically picked up positions in the final 50 laps, rising to 12thwith 20 laps to go before grabbing 11thin the final 10 laps.

Notes: 

  • Bowyer earned his third straight top-15 finish of the season and 13thtop-15 in 28 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at ISM Raceway.
  • Kyle Busch won the TicketGuardian 500k to score his 52ndcareer Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his third at ISM Raceway. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 1.259 seconds.
  • There were nine caution periods for a total of 67 laps.
  • Only 16 of the 36 drivers in the TicketGuardian 500k finished on the lead lap.
  • Busch leaves ISM Raceway as the championship leader with a six-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 ITsavvy Ford Mustang:

“Those restarts really hurt us. We lost track position and it was so hard to get it back. Our ITsavvy Ford Mustang made its presence known, though, especially in the second stage. We didn’t qualify well, and we worked all weekend to get better – which we did. Just would’ve liked to have had a better result to show for all of our effort.”

Next Up: 

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 17 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 3 p.m.

CHASE BRISCOE – 2019 NXS Phoenix I Race Report

Date: March 9, 2019
Race Name: iK9 Service Dog 200 (Race 4 of 33)
Venue: ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Arizona
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Results: Cole Custer: 4th  | Chase Briscoe: 6th
Point Standings:
– Cole Custer: 2nd with 121 points; trails points leader by 18 points
– Chase Briscoe: 13th with 81 points; trails points leader by 58 points

Chase Briscoe / Nutri Chomps Ford Mustang Recap:

– Briscoe started 12th and worked his way up to ninth on the opening lap, but scraped the wall the next lap and fell to 15th.
– A caution with 13 laps remaining in Stage 1 allowed the team to pit for four tires and fuel. He restarted 18th and finished 13th in Stage 1.
– The Nutri Chomps team started Stage 2 in ninth and finished 14th. 
– Briscoe and the No. 98 team started 11th in the final stage after a four-tire pit stop at the conclusion of Stage 2.
– The No. 98 Ford was racing in tenth before a caution on lap 130. Briscoe came to pit road for four tires and fuel during the caution.
– A pit-road speeding penalty forced Briscoe to restart at the rear at the rear of the field. He advanced into the top ten with 32 laps remaining.
– Briscoe gained an additional four spots to finish the race in the sixth position earning his second consecutive top-10 finish.

Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Next Up: Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on March 16th at 5 p.m. EST broadcast by Fox Sports 1.

  Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 Nutri Chomps Ford Mustang:                                                    

“It was an up and down day starting off, but it was great to actually qualify for once. It was a struggle for the first three-quarters of the race with a really tight race car. We were going to be sitting pretty there at the end when we came out of the pits in sixth, but got caught speeding down pit road, which really hurt our chances by having to go to the back.”

COLE CUSTER – 2019 NXS Phoenix I Race Report

Date: March 9, 2019
Race Name: iK9 Service Dog 200 (Race 4 of 33)
Venue: ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Arizona
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Results: Cole Custer: 4th  | Chase Briscoe: 6th
Point Standings:
– Cole Custer: 2nd with 121 points; trails points leader by 18 points
– Chase Briscoe: 13th with 81 points; trails points leader by 58 points

Cole Custer / Haas Automation Ford Mustang Recap:

– Custer started the race in fourth and held steady until a caution with 13 laps remaining.
– He brought the No. 00 Ford to pit road for four tires and fuel. After restarting 11th, he finished 11th in Stage 1.
– The No. 00 team started seventh and finished seventh in Stage 2 to earn four stage points.
– The Haas Automation Ford Mustang gained two positions on pit road and started fifth in the final stage after a four-tire pit stop.
– Custer ran sixth early in final stage until a caution with 70 laps remaining. The team then came to pit road for four tires and fuel.
– Custer restarted third, but fell to tenth on the opening lap, before battling back into the top five with 28 laps remaining.
– The No. 00 Ford Mustang gained one more position in the closing laps of the race to finish fourth.

Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Next Up: Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on March 16th at 5 p.m. EST broadcast by Fox Sports 1.

 Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang:

“The car was really good there at the end of the race. I’m just frustrated as I felt like we would have had a shot at the win there, but we gave up so much on the restart that it was tough to get back. We had a really great car. It’s just a matter of keeping our track position.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 Phoenix I Race Advance

Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Ruckus Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to ISM Raceway near Phoenix for the fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event of the season. For the first time in 2019, the Mexico native will pilot the Ruckus themed Mustang. Ruckus will also be on the No. 41 Mustang in two weeks at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Ruckus Networks, an ARRIS company, is redefining connectivity by bridging the digital divide and connecting people around the world. Ruckus strives to deliver ubiquitous connectivity to its access points, switches and cloud services.

Suárez, who is 18th in the Cup Series point standings, heads to Phoenix after leading laps last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before falling back late in the race to finish 17th. The result still marked the 27-year-old driver’s best March-race finish at the track.

Phoenix is arguably one of Suárez’s best tracks on the NASCAR circuit. He has top-10 finishes in both of his March Cup Series starts at Phoenix. What makes his results more unique is he’s had success on both of the track’s configurations. In 2018, the track moved the start-finish line as part of a massive renovation project.

In addition to his Cup Series starts at the mile oval, Suárez also has five NASCAR Xfinity Series starts. With the exception of an accident in his 2017 start, Suárez hasn’t finished outside the top-11 in the series where he was the 2016 champion. Suárez also has two starts in the NASCAR Truck Series at Phoenix with a win in November 2016 and a fourth-place finish in November 2015.

Before Suárez made his way to the ranks of NASCAR’s premiere series, he entered the sport via NASCAR’s weekly and touring series. While driving in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, he made three starts at Phoenix from 2011 to 2012 with best finishes of third in March 2012 and sixth in November 2011.

Ruckus, a technology provider, and SHR, a racing organization, both ultimately strive to achieve the same goals – to operate at high performance. Ruckus provides secure and reliable access to applications and services, and offers a complete offering of high-performance network equipment. The company’s portfolio includes Wi-Fi controllers, indoor and outdoor access points, switches, network access security, and professional support and services.

SHR was successful at Phoenix last March with Kevin Harvick taking the checkered flag for this third consecutive win of the season. Harvick is the winningest driver at Phoenix with nine career wins, five while driving for SHR. Harvick’s Las Vegas win was part of an extremely successful season for the two-time championship-winning SHR organization with all four entries capturing a victory.

Ford has 16 Cup Series wins at Phoenix and goes into the weekend with two consecutive wins for its new Cup Series Mustang. Additionally, the Mustang has led 65 percent of the laps in the most recent two races this season, and has five consecutive stage wins.

Before Suárez hits the track this weekend, he’ll enjoy a National Hockey League game Thursday evening with his fellow Ford drivers at the Gila River Arena in nearby Glendale, where the Arizona Coyotes will take on the Calgary Flames. But starting with opening Cup Series practice Friday, he’ll be looking to cause a Ruckus this weekend.

 

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



Stewart-Haas Racing will have an e-sports team this year. How much do you pay attention to online racing?

“I was one of those guys, actually. I have a little simulator in my home, and I was one of those kids that, four or five years ago, I used to stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning playing with drivers all over the world online. I feel like it really helps you, actually. I started doing it just for fun as a game, and then I started to realize that it was actually helping. It helps you to be consistent and to hit your marks and to be able to beat other people. I won’t be surprised if there are a lot of guys who are doing well in the e-series and then get an opportunity to drive a real racecar and do well there, too.”

We’ve seen your workouts on social media. How does that benefit you?

“Working out is a lifestyle for me. I like to feel well and it helps me in racecar, but it also helps me mentally. You lose a lot of weight in the racecar, and you have to be strong not only at the start of the race, but also at the end of the race. At the end of the day, you don’t win a race at the beginning when everyone is fresh, you win the race at the end when everyone is tired, and I feel like being in shape gives me that advantage at the end.”

How important is your relationship with your crew chief Billy Scott?

“It’s extremely important. I feel it’s just like any relationship. You have to understand the person and know how they work. You have to know your engineers and build that chemistry. I feel like I’ve had great people in the past with me, but I feel like now, with Billy Scott and the rest of the No. 41 group, that we have a bright future ahead of us and we’ll have some fun, too.”

CHASE BRISCOE – 2019 NXS Phoenix I Race Advance

Date: March 9, 2019
Race Name: NASCAR Xfinity Series 200 (Race 4 of 33)
Venue: ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Arizona
Television: 4:00 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1
Point Standings: 

– Cole Custer: 2nd; trails points leader by 18 points
– Chase Briscoe: 13th; trails points leader by 58 points


CHASE BRISCOE NOTES OF INTEREST:


Crew Chief: Richard Boswell        Spotter: Tim Fedewa


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You have only competed at ISM Raceway once, back in 2017, will you lean on Cole Custer’s past experience here and what are you doing to prepare for this race?

“I’ve talked to Cole quite a bit and have also talked to Kevin Harvick quite a bit more. When I ran ISM Raceway back in 2017, I felt like it wasn’t one of my best tracks, so I’ll lean in on Cole and Kevin throughout the weekend. I’ll be at the simulator, like we do each and every week, to try to get as many laps as we can to hopefully unload fast this weekend. I’m really hoping we can get all of practice and qualifying in finally and we will go from there.”

COLE CUSTER – 2019 NXS Phoenix I Race Advance

Date: March 9, 2019
Race Name: NASCAR Xfinity Series 200 (Race 4 of 33)
Venue: ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Arizona
Television: 4:00 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1
Point Standings: 

– Cole Custer: 2nd; trails points leader by 18 points
– Chase Briscoe: 13th; trails points leader by 58 points


COLE CUSTER NOTES OF INTEREST:

Crew Chief: Mike Shiplett        Spotter: Joel Edmonds

  • Custer will make his 11th NASCAR appearance at ISM Raceway. He has four starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, three starts in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series and three starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
  • Custer has one win, three top-five finishes, eight top-10’s and two poles at ISM Raceway. Custer owns an average finish of 9.3 at the 1-mile oval.
  • Crew chief Mike Shiplett has recorded one top-five finish, four top-10’s and one pole at ISM Raceway.
  • Click here for Custer’s career stats.
  • Click here for Custer’s stats at ISM Raceway.
  • Click here for photos of Cole.

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You finished eighth in both Xfinity Series races at ISM Raceway in 2018 , what do you need to do this weekend to get the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang into victory lane?

“Phoenix is a tough track to get a hold of because both ends of the track are relatively flat and differ from one another. If we can figure both ends of the track out, I think we will have a good shot at the win. We tend to qualify really well at ISM Raceway but we can’t seem to find that long run speed, but Mike Shiplett brings that expertise over to our team, so if we can put together that speed along with the little things this weekend, we will definitely be a contender.”