ARIC ALMIROLA – 2019 Charlotte Roval Race Advance

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads to the nearby Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway “roval” road course this weekend with a three-point cushion in his quest to advance to the Round of 12 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Last year, Almirola was in a similar but more favorable position with a 23-point cushion heading into the third and final race of the opening playoff round.

In last year’s race at Charlotte, Almirola started 20th and endured multiple accidents that continuously pushed him to the rear of the field. On the final lap, Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr., made contact, spinning at the start-finish line and allowing Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team to advance to the next round with a 19th-place finish.

“Anything can happen at the roval,” Almirola said. “You have to go there and survive. The roval is always intense. It being a cutoff race, there’s a lot of intensity with that. If you’re one of the guys outside (the top 12 who get to advance), you kind of have to throw a Hail Mary. If you’re in, you’ve got to be really cautious. That’s what makes the roval so entertaining and challenging. You never know what to expect.”

Almirola has earned one pole, one top-five finish, 10 top-10s and has led 115 laps in 28 races this season. He finished 11th in this year’s May race on the Charlotte oval, and on the other two road-course races on the schedule this season, he finished ninth at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway’s and 12th at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

The 35-year-old has eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts on the Charlotte oval with one top-five finish, three top-10s and a lap-completion rate of 99.4 percent. Almirola also has two starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series on the Charlotte oval, which both resulted in top-10 finishes.

Earlier this month, Almirola helped make history when he teamed with the world’s No. 1 bowler Jason Belmonte to create the GoBowling.com World’s Fastest Strike. With Almirola behind the wheel, Belmonte launched a bowling ball from the passenger seat of the No. 10 Ford Mustang at 140 mph down the Charlotte Motor Speedway frontstretch. To see what a bowling ball hitting 10 pins at 140 mph looks like, visit www.WorldsFastestStrike.com.

As the playoffs continue this weekend, fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Tune in this weekend for full access to Almirola’s playoff media day, NASCAR Burnout Boulevard and the Vegas race weekend. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

Two weeks ago, Almirola and Smithfield announced the “Racin’ for Bacon” 1 million slice giveaway program. If Almirola pilots the No. 10 Ford to victory lane Oct. 13 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, 10 lucky fans will earn 100,000 slices of bacon. To sign up, visit www.racinforbacongiveaway.com.

Sunday’s 400-mile race at Charlotte marks the 25th points-paying event during which the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang this year. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, based in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its eighth season with Almirola and its second 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.

From his 11th position in the playoff standings, Almirola’s 2,054 points are three more than 13th-place Alex Bowman.

 

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

 

How do you prepare yourself for a course like the roval?

“Ford Performance gives us all the tools we need. I have been able to spend some time in the simulator over the last few weeks to get myself acclimated to the course. The rest is watching film and memorizing each turn. The real studying begins after the first practice session on Friday. You get to see how good you unload and then you can go from there to make your car better for Sunday. The rest is up to the driver to keep it on the track and in position to advance on Sunday.”

Explain the excitement and outcome of last year’s roval race, where everything was on the line. 

“I was just trying to get every spot. That was the thing. Everywhere on the racetrack at the end there I was trying to get every single spot I could. Man, it worked out. It was amazing. I’m really proud and really blessed to have been in that position. It doesn’t matter how pretty it was, we moved on to the Round of 12. It was such a crazy race with so many ups and downs. We can only go up from that one.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2019 Charlotte Roval Race Advance

It’s “de javu all over again” for Clint Bowyer.

For the second consecutive year, the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver’s chances to advance to the Round of 12 in NASCAR’s playoffs comes down to his performance on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn “roval” road course at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, where the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series holds its third and final Round of 16 playoff race Sunday.

In 2018 Bowyer entered the first round’s final race 13th in points, just four markers outside the top-12 cutoff. A third-place finish was enough to propel Bowyer to the Round of 12. This weekend, he returns to the roval 14th in points but again needs to make up just four points to advance to the Round of 12.

Bowyer isn’t the only driver in the hot seat at Charlotte. Only three of the 16 playoff drivers have secured spots in the next round. There is only a 26-point difference between 15th and ninth in the standings.

“Charlotte is going to be fun for everybody involved,” said Bowyer, who is outside looking in because of a 25th-place finish after a late-race pit stop in the playoff opener Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, followed by a hard-fought eighth-place finish at Richmond (Va.) Raceway Saturday night.

“It’s do-or-die time. It’s the playoffs. You watch these football teams go through these playoffs and how exciting it is and it’s our turn to have those nerve-racking moments and do-or-die moments for your race team and your season, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Bowyer will have his work cut out for him on the sport’s newest layout.

“From the time you pull out on the track to the time you get off, it’s just sketchy,” he said. “You are just tip-toeing. There’s no room for error at all. The grip level isn’t great like in turn three. If you get to sliding a little bit getting in there and you look over at them tires, you realize there’s no room. If that thing gets out from under you, you are going to be in the fence and you are going to be in it hard. It’s not something you are going to limp (the car) away from.”

Now, for an even bigger scare for the drivers whose title bids will be on the line Sunday, Goodyear will make wet-weather tires available in the event of rain, making it even more challenging to navigate the high-speed oval portion of the track and the low-speed, twisting, left-and-right turns in the course’s infield. Wet-weather tires were last used in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event Aug. 4, 2018 at Watkins (N.Y.) Glen International.

Bowyer likes his chances on a road course. Since starting at SHR in the 2017 season, Bowyer has an average finish of 7.9 in seven road course races. Only five drivers have better average finishes on the Cup Series road courses since then.

In his 29 career starts on road courses at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and the Charlotte roval, Bowyer has earned a victory, 11 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s.

Bowyer will drive the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang co-owned by Gene Haas Tony Stewart. Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner on the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived at SHR in 2017 and has been with the organization since 2010. The Texas-based company 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.

Cummins is no stranger to victory lane with its racing lineage dating 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. While Cummins is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions, it is best known for its diesel truck engines.

If Bowyer climbs into the top 12 of the playoff standings by the time the checkered flag falls Sunday, he’ll advance to the next round that begins Oct. 6 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

While he and a majority of the 16 playoff drivers hold  their breath this Sunday, wondering whether the roval brings salvation or elimination, there’s one group of folks who are in for an exciting show – the race fans.

“We are all going to be sweating our rear ends off trying to make the Round of 12 while everybody in the stands and on television are going to be watching us lunatics wondering what’s going to happen,” he said. “I know I would be.”

 

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

 

What was last year like at the roval, trying to advance in the playoffs?

“A lot of unknowns going into something like the roval or any new racetrack or endeavor that we do with our sport, it’s always nerve-racking times. I think the roval, you get so busy in your days and living in the moment, living in that week, wherever that week may be, whether it’s leading up to the playoffs or before, you don’t think about the distant future until it becomes the near future. Once everyone got in the playoffs it was like, ‘All right, the playoffs have started. We’ve got the playoffs mindset. Let’s focus on these first couple of races and then, oh my God, the roval! What! Do you mean the roval is a cutoff race?’ That’s when it starts to become reality. It’s not that it wasn’t on the schedule punching you in the face every time, but it doesn’t register until it’s in the forefront and it’s real. You’re preparing for the roval, preparing for a track and a race a weekend you haven’t seen before, so it’s definitely nerve-racking. But, to be honest with you, I don’t know whether it’s my personality or driving style, I don’t know what it is but I always seem to be better in those situations than I am at a place that I’ve been to 100 times.”

Has your mentality changed to the must-win way of thinking?

“It’s kind of a must-win situation at all times. In life, if you wake up and say, ‘I don’t really need to win today,’ you’re probably going to suck.”

What is your roval strategy?

“We are just going to go there and do the best we can. I have confidence in this race team and we have the capability of going out there and winning the race and certainly we can move into the top 12.”

Not as a driver battling to advance to Round of 12, but as a race fan, what do you think of the roval?

“I’d buy a good ticket or get in front of a television and get that popcorn and whatever else out, because I expect those final laps Sunday are going to be some of the most memorable of the season. It’s probably going to be really calm for a while, but there will be a few late cautions and then it will be chaos. We hardly ever see anything like we are about to see. Like last year on the roval, nobody has any idea what to expect.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2019 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: 5th/9th (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 15th with 2,047 points (five points below top-12 cutoff)

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

Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 100):

Bowyer started fifth and finished sixth to earn five bonus points.
The No. 14 One Cure Ford started the race loose as Bowyer raced in seventh.
● As the laps clicked off he reported the car was difficult to turn in the middle of the corner. “I need to turn better when I’m underneath the other cars,” Bowyer said on the team radio.
● Bowyer climbed to sixth and was moving in on fifth when the stage ended.
● The stage ran without a caution.
● Bowyer pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments at the end of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 200):

● Bowyer started ninth and finished ninth to earn two bonus points.
The No. 14 One Cure Ford moved to sixth in the opening laps of the stage after a good restart.
He began reporting the car would not turn in the center and was “snapping” loose.
Bowyer drifted back to ninth about 15 seconds behind the leader.
“I just can’t roll the center for nothing,” Bowyer said.
Bowyer pitted at the end of the stage and the crew made more changes to improve the handling.

Stage 3 Recap (Ended at Lap 400):

Bowyer started 11th and finished ninth.
The No. 14 One Cure Ford dropped to 12th by lap 212.
A caution at lap 242 allowed the No. 14 to return to pit lane for more adjustments. He restarted the race in 11th with 151 to go.
● Bowyer climbed as high as eighth midway through the stage before teammate Kevin Harvick passed him.
● Bowyer also held off a late charge from teammate Daniel Suarez in the closing laps to hold ninth.

Notes:

●  Bowyer earned his 13th top-10 of the season and his 16th top-10 in 28 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
●  This is Bowyer’s fourth straight top-10 at Richmond. He finished third in the series’ last visit to the track in April.
●  Bowyer finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points and ninth in Stage 2 to earn an additional two bonus points.
●  Martin Truex Jr. won the Federated Auto Parts 400to score his 25th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading sixth of the season, his second in a row and his second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was 2.630 seconds.
●  There were five caution periods for a total of 32 laps.
●  Only 13 of the 38 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap.

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

1.      Martin Truex Jr. (2,141 points) 2 wins… clinched spot in Round of 12
2.      Kevin Harvick (2,118 points) +68 points… clinched spot in Round of 12
3.      Kyle Busch (2,117 points) +67 points… clinched spot in Round of 12
4.      Denny Hamlin (2,105 points) +55 points
5.      Brad Keselowski (2,104 points) +54 points
6.      Joey Logano (2,100 points) +50 points
7.      Chase Elliott (2,086 points) +36 points
8.      Kyle Larson (2,074 points) +24 points
9.      Ryan Newman (2,063 points) +13 points
10.    Ryan Blaney (2,058 points) +8 points
11.    Aric Almirola (2,053 points) +3 points
12.    William Byron (2,052 points) +2 points
13.    Alex Bowman (2,050 points) -2 points
14.    Erik Jones (2,049 points) -3 points
15.    Clint Bowyer (2,047 points) -5 points
16.    Kurt Busch (2,037 points) -15 points

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“I was expecting a little bit more to be honest with you, but we did what we had to do. We gave ourselves a fighting chance going into Charlotte. I knew Richmond was going to be an opportunity. We semi-capitalized on that opportunity, but looking forward to Charlotte. It’s going to be fun for everybody involved. It’s do-or-die time. It’s the Playoffs. You watch these football teams go through these playoffs and how exciting it is and it’s our turn to have that nerve-racking moments and do-or-die moments for your race team and your season, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2019 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:      7th/17th (Running, completed 159 of 160 laps)
Point Standing:  11th with 2,053 points, 3 points above top-12 cutoff

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

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100): 

  • Aric Almirola started seventh and finished 12th.
  • The Smithfield Ford driver ran inside the top-10 for the majority of Stage 1, but he said his No. 10 Ford wouldn’t roll in the middle.
  • By lap 81, handling conditions forced Almirola outside the top-10.
  • He said the car would not turn and needed air pressure adjustments to correct it.
  • He pitted for four tires, fuel and chassis and air pressure adjustments at the end of the stage. 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200): 

  • Almirola started 12th and finished 16th.
  • The No. 10 Smithfield Ford pitted for chassis adjustments under a lap-113 caution and restarted 17th.
  • Shortly after the changes were made Almirola said the No. 10 Ford still struggled to turn and was loose.
  • Almirola fought handling conditions for the remainder of the stage but was able to hold the Smithfield Ford on the lead lap.
  • He pitted at the conclusion of the stage for four fresh tires and fuel, and the team reversed adjustments previously made.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400): 

  • Almirola started 16th and finished 17th.
  • Almirola raced inside the top-15 before the caution was called on lap 243.
  • He noted that the handling of the car was the best it had been all night.
  • Under caution, Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He was handed a speeding penalty and forced to the rear to restart 20th.
  • Almirola pitted on lap 313 for four fresh tires and fuel. While he was on pit road the caution was called, putting him a lap down.
  • He earned the Lucky Dog and pitted again for a large swing on adjustments before returning to the track in 16th.
  • Almirola continued to battle for position until the end despite the difficult handling of his No. 10 Smithfield Ford.

Notes:

  • Almirola earned his 23rd top-20 of the season and his 12th top-20 in 16 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
  • This is Almirola’s fourth straight top-20. He finished 13th in the series’ last race at Las Vegas.
  • Martin Truex Jr. won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 25th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading sixth of the season, his second in a row and his second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was 2.63 seconds.
  • There were five caution periods for a total of 32 laps.
  • Only 13 of the 38 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap.

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

“I feel like we brought a spoon to a sword fight tonight. We did everything we could with what we had. The silver lining is that we are three points ahead of the cutoff. Tomorrow is a new day, and our Smithfield Ford team will get focused on the Roval as soon as the sun comes up tomorrow.”

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

  1.   Martin Truex Jr. (2,141 points) 2 wins; clinched spot in Round of 12
  2. Kevin Harvick (2,118 points) +68 points; clinched spot in Round of 12
  3.   Kyle Busch (2,117 points) +67 points; clinched spot in Round of 12
  4.   Denny Hamlin (2,105 points) +55 points
  5.   Brad Keselowski (2,104 points) +54 points
  6.   Joey Logano (2,100 points) +50 points
  7.   Chase Elliott (2,086 points) +36 points
  8.   Kyle Larson (2,074 points) +24 points
  9.   Ryan Newman (2,063 points) +13 points
  10. Ryan Blaney (2,058 points) +8 points
  11. Aric Almirola (2,053 points) +3 points
  12. William Byron (2,052 points) +2 points
  13. Alex Bowman (2,050 points) -2 points
  14. Erik Jones (2,049 points) -3 points
  15. Clint Bowyer (2,047 points) -5 points
  16. Kurt Busch (2,037 points) -15 points

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the last race in the Round of 16. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 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:  14th/10th  (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing:  17th with 699 points

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

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):

● Daniel Suárez started 14th and finished 14th.
● Suárez dropped back to 15th by lap six.
● On lap 17, Suárez gained his spot back and continued to run 14th.
● The Haas Automation driver battled for the 13th position with the No. 12 car of Ryan Blaney. Passed him on lap 28.
● After a battle with the No. 20 car of Erik Jones, Suárez fell back to 14th, reporting his car was tight in the center of the corners but loose off.
● Upon the conclusion of the stage, Suárez pitted for four tires, fuel and a slight tire pressure adjustment.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):

● Suárez started 15th and finished 17th.
● During a caution on lap 113, Suárez was given the option to pit, but he chose to stay out and maintain track position.
● After a battle with his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Aric Almirola, Suárez fell back to 17th on lap 183.
● The remainder of the stage ran under green and the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang stayed on the lead lap, but Suárez reported that his car was tight as the stage came to an end.
● At the end of the stage, Suárez pitted for fuel, four tires and wedge and tire pressure adjustments.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400):

● Suárez started 14th and finished 10th.
● On the restart, Suárez battled with his SHR teammate Clint Bowyer for 12th.
● After a caution on lap 244, the team pitted for four tires, fuel and a slight tire pressure adjustment. Restarted 14th.
● On the lap-250 restart, Suárez drove his No. 41 Haas Automation Ford up to 12th.
● Suárez entered the top-10 by passing the No. 9 of Chase Elliott on lap 301.
● After driving up to ninth, the caution came out on lap 316. Suárez pitted for four tires and fuel. Restarted 10th.
● Suárez held onto his 10th position for the remainder of the race.

Notes:

● Suárez earned his 10th top-10 of the season and his third top-10 in six career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
● The Federated Auto Parts 400 marked Suárez’s 100th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start.
● Suárez has never finished outside the top-20 at Richmond.
● Martin Truex Jr. won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 25th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading sixth of the season, his second in a row and his second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was 2.630 seconds.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 32 laps.
● Only 13 of the 38 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap.

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

“I feel like it was a clean day. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the speed that we wish we had, but we worked very hard. We made good adjustments. The pit crew did a good job. They got better as the night went and we just had a top-10 car and finished in the top-10. We’re still working extremely hard to get that first win and, hopefully, we can make it happen soon.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the last race in the Round of 16. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 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:      2nd/8th (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing:  2nd with 2,118 points (68 points above top-12 cutoffclinched spot in Round of 12) 

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

Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 100):

  • Kevin Harvick started second and finished fifth, earning six bonus points.
  • The No. 4 driver reported his Mobil 1 Ford was a little loose.
  • Harvick did not pit during the first stage, which ran caution-free. 

Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 200):

  • Harvick started fifth and finished seventh, earning four bonus points.
  • The No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford pitted on lap 104 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
  • On lap 142, Harvick was fourth, 3.7 seconds behind leader Kyle Busch.

Stage 3 Recap (Ended at Lap 400):

  • Harvick started seventh and finished eighth.
  • The No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford pitted on lap 204 for four tires, fuel and a chassis and tire pressure adjustment. Harvick said car needed to turn better.
  • On lap 244 Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. He was running in seventh.
  • Harvick pitted on lap 317 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. He finished the race eighth.

Notes:

  • Harvick earned his 19th top-10 of the season and his 25th top-10 in 38 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
  • This is Harvick’s third straight top-10 at Richmond. He finished fourth in the series’ last visit to Richmond in April.
  • This is Harvick’s fourth consecutive top-10. He finished second in the series’ last race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
  • Harvick’s 25 top-10s at Richmond are the most among active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Next best is Kyle Busch with 22 top-10s.
  • Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has never finished outside the top-15 at Richmond.
  • Martin Truex Jr. won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 25th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading sixth of the season, his second in a row and his second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was 2.63 seconds.
  • There were five caution periods for a total of 32 laps.
  • Only 13 of the 38 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap.

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

“It’ll be a nice week at home (at Charlotte Motor Speedway). I think it allows everybody to really go and the biggest thing is you want to go try and learn what you need to do to run fast there, so this week we’ll go to the simulator and try to transfer that to the race track and see how practice goes and then we’ll see how the weekend goes. You definitely still want to go there and get a race win or something that will go forward with you and also learn something for the future.”

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

  1.   Martin Truex Jr. (2,141 points) 2 wins; clinched spot in Round of 12
  2. Kevin Harvick (2,118 points) +68 points; clinched spot in Round of 12
  3.   Kyle Busch (2,117 points) +67 points; clinched spot in Round of 12
  4.   Denny Hamlin (2,105 points) +55 points
  5.   Brad Keselowski (2,104 points) +54 points
  6.   Joey Logano (2,100 points) +50 points
  7.   Chase Elliott (2,086 points) +36 points
  8.   Kyle Larson (2,074 points) +24 points
  9.   Ryan Newman (2,063 points) +13 points
  10. Ryan Blaney (2,058 points) +8 points
  11. Aric Almirola (2,053 points) +3 points
  12. William Byron (2,052 points) +2 points
  13. Alex Bowman (2,050 points) -2 points
  14. Erik Jones (2,049 points) -3 points
  15. Clint Bowyer (2,047 points) -5 points
  16. Kurt Busch (2,037 points) -15 points

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

CHASE BRISCOE – 2019 NXS Richmond II Race Report

Race Name: Go Bowling 250 (Race 27 of 33)
Venue: Richmond (Va.) Raceway
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Stages: 75 laps / 75 laps / 100 laps (250 Total Laps)
Race Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Results: Cole Custer: 3rd | Chase Briscoe: 5th
Point Standings:
– Cole Custer: 2nd with 2,093 points; holds a 60 point advantage over the final transfer position to the round of 8
– Chase Briscoe: 7th with 2,050 points; with a 17 point advantage over the final transfer position to the Round of 8

Chase Briscoe / Ford Performance Ford Mustang Recap:

– Briscoe started fifth, finished ninth to collect two points in Stage 1.
– The No. 98 Ford Performance team started ninth in Stage 2 and finished seventh to add four points.
– Briscoe brought the No. 98 Ford to pit road for four tires, a track bar adjustment and fuel at the end of the stage to correct a tight-handling condition.
– The No. 98 Ford started the final stage in sixth position.
– The final stage ran caution free for the final 100 laps.

– Briscoe crossed the finish line in the fifth position to score his 10th top-five and 21st top-10 finish of 2019.
– Briscoe earned his first top-five and second top-10 finish in three Xfinity Series starts at Richmond.

Next Up: Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway on September 28th at 3:30 p.m. ET broadcast by NBCSN.

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

“I feel like this place is probably my worst race track, so to come out of here with a fifth is always nice. I think this first round is a lot easier to race your way out of the next round, instead of race your way into the next round. I feel confident that if we have the same result we had tonight in these next two races, we should be alright. There are so many variables that go into the Roval. There’s a lot of opportunity to get caught up in other people’s messes, and the same at Dover, so I don’t know. I felt like we weren’t a very good race car tonight, so to finish fifth is a good thing, but we just gave up a little bit too much on stage points. That will definitely cost us Playoff-wise.  That first stage I was running fifth or sixth and that caution came out and I ended up running 10th in the stage, so just gave up a lot of points right there and even in the second stage. I’ve just got to clean all of that up and go to the Roval next week, where we obviously have a really good package going there and hopefully do it again.”

COLE CUSTER – 2019 NXS Richmond II Race Report

Race Name: Go Bowling 250 (Race 27 of 33)
Venue: Richmond (Va.) Raceway
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Stages: 75 laps / 75 laps / 100 laps (250 Total Laps)
Race Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Results: Cole Custer: 3rd | Chase Briscoe: 5th
Point Standings:
– Cole Custer: 2nd with 2,093 points; holds a 60 point advantage over the final transfer position to the round of 8
– Chase Briscoe: 7th with 2,050 points; with a 17 point advantage over the final transfer position to the Round of 8

Cole Custer / Go Bowling Ford Mustang Recap:

– Custer started 12th, finished fifth to collect six points in Stage 1.
– The No. 00 Go Bowling team started fifth in Stage 2 and finished second to add nine points.
– Custer brought the No. 00 Ford to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
– The No. 00 Go Bowling Ford started the final stage in the second position and ran there for the majority of the final stage before falling to third with less than 15 laps remaining in the race.
– Custer scored his 14th top-five and 19th top-10 finish of the 2019

Next Up: Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway on September 28th at 3:30 p.m. ET broadcast by NBCSN.

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Go Bowling Ford Mustang:                                   

“I was worried after our qualifying effort but once we got going Mike Shiplett and the SHR guys made some good adjustments and got me to the front. We would start a run off tight and it would over rotate to where I couldn’t get on the gas as much as the other teams but we fought through that and had a great points day as we start the playoffs and head into the ROVAL.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2019 Richmond II Race Advance

Richmond (Va.) Raceway hosts the second race of the opening round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs where Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will compete in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 looking to continue his quest to advance to the next round.

Almirola is optimistic heading to the three-quarter-mile oval as he sits 12th in the playoff standings with six points ahead of the cutoff line for the Round of 12.

“I’m excited to head to Richmond after a decent weekend at Vegas,” Almirola said after last weekend’s opening playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he finished 13th. “We put ourselves in a better position than some, and Richmond is a great place to head to next when we need to get an even better cushion. I’m confident that we’ll bring a fast Smithfield Ford Mustang this weekend. We just have to stay out of trouble and race smart like we did last year.”

At Las Vegas, Almirola qualified fourth to round out SHR’s third-ever 1-2-3-4 qualifying effort. In the first stage of Sunday’s late-afternoon race, he piloted his No. 10 Ford to third to earn eight bonus points. As the temperature changed, so did the handling of his Ford Mustang and he ultimately finished 13th when the checkered flag flew. A handful of other playoff drivers endured bad luck and experienced lower finishing positions, leaving Almirola content to come home with a top-15 finish.

“Every single point matters,” he said. “The difference between going to the second round or getting kicked out could be the result of me passing a car at the line every stage and every race. It happened to us last year at the roval (at Charlotte Motor Speedway). We were out of contention until that last-lap crash, so every second of the race this weekend will be focused on earning one more spot. It doesn’t matter if you’re in 20th or fifth – you still strive for one more pass.”

Almirola finished fifth in last year’s Richmond playoff race after leading the first lap of his career there. He raced in and around the top-five for the entirety of the 400-lap race.

In 15 starts at the Richmond oval, Almirola has captured two top-five finishes and four top-10s. He earned his best finish of fourth in September 2015. He has six Richmond starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with one top-10 finish, 10 laps led and an average finish of 16.2.

As the playoffs continue this weekend, fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Tune in this weekend for full access to Almirola’s playoff media day, NASCAR Burnout Boulevard and the Vegas race weekend. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

Last week, Almirola and Smithfield announced the “Racin’ for Bacon” 1 million slice giveaway program. If Almirola pilots the No. 10 Ford to victory lane Oct. 13 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, 10 lucky fans will earn 100,000 slices of bacon. To sign up, visit www.racinforbacongiveaway.com.

Sunday’s 400-mile race at Richmond marks the 24th points-paying event during which the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang this year. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, based in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its eighth season with Almirola and its second 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.

From his 12th position in the playoff standings, Almirola’s 2,033 points are six more than 13th-place Ryan Newman.

 

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

 

What kind of challenge does a short track like Richmond bring? 

“I would say Richmond is one of the most challenging racetracks we go to for managing your tires throughout the run. The first 10, 15 or 20 laps of the run can make you feel like Superman roaring through the field, but you will pay a major penalty for that by lap 40. It makes it fun because, when we show up to Richmond, it really is about managing tire fall-off and making sure your car stays consistent throughout the run as the tires fall off.”

What’s it like to race at Richmond? 

“Richmond is an awesome track to race at. It’s Saturday-night racing at its finest. Beating and banging, and the track has very little grip and the tires wear out, so it’s a really fun racetrack. You can see the sparks flying, and having the glow of the brake rotors and everything lit up is neat. It’s also pretty close to Smithfield, Virginia, so it’s a hometown race for Smithfield. It’s just a lot of fun to go there and race.”

Is it difficult to adjust from the larger tracks you race on to all of a sudden being at a smaller track like Richmond? 

“No, I think that’s what makes racecar drivers special, especially the ones who are at the top of what they do, like us. We’re able to adapt so fast. Whether we go from a big track like Michigan International Speedway, or to a place like Martinsville Speedway, we all get really good at adapting to whatever racetrack we go to.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 Richmond II Race Advance

Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will race for a win in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. Suárez’s No. 41 machine will have the traditional red-and-black Haas paint scheme for the second race of the NASCAR playoffs.

Last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, SHR’s weekend as a whole was off to a solid start with all four entries qualifying in positions one through four for Sunday’s race. Teammate Clint Bowyer took the top spot with Suárez earning the outside-front-row starting spot. SHR’s Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola qualified third and fourth, respectively. Earlier this year at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, the four-car SHR contingent also qualified 1-2-3-4. Last Sunday in Las Vegas, Suárez led 29 laps from his No. 2 starting spot, but his night was troubled after receiving damage to both sides of the No. 41 Ford Mustang. He ultimately finished 20th at the 1.5-mile oval.

This weekend at Richmond marks Suárez’s 100th Cup Series start. The 27-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico, has made his way from racing go-karts as young kid to living in the United States for the last eight years while advancing his racing career. After being noticed by a Joe Gibbs Racing team representative several years ago, Suárez climbed through the ranks from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, to the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series, and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He won the 2016 Xfinity Series championship en route to the pinnacle of racing stock-car racing – the Cup Series. Suárez is in his third full-time Cup Series season and first with SHR.

At Richmond, Suárez has five career Cup Series starts with two top-10 finishes. Overall, Suárez has an average starting position of 24.8 there, an average finishing position of 12.8, and has completed 99.9 percent of all possible laps. While the track has completed a multi-million-dollar facility makeover, including a renovated infield, the .75-mile Richmond oval remains one of the most action-packed venues each season.

In the Xfinity Series at Richmond, Suárez has six starts with one top-five finish and three top-10s. He has an average starting position of 8.3 and an average finishing position of 11.7. Additionally, Suárez has four Richmond starts from 2011 to 2014 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with a best finish of 20th in 2011.

The Haas Automation driver is currently 17th in the point standings with nine races remaining in the season after accumulating three top-five finishes and nine top-10s, along with 134 laps led. He has an average start of 14.6 and an average finish of 15.0. He earned his second career Cup Series pole, first with the No. 41 team, in July at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

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.

 

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

 

What goes through your mind when you’re on the track?

“My mind is very clear when I’m on the track. I’m not thinking about anything else other than driving. I’m 100 percent focused. I’m not worried about what I’m going to have for dinner. If I’m worried about something like that, then I’m not doing my job to the best of my ability.”

Not being part of the playoff field, are you racing a little bit differently now that points may not be as important?

“I feel like we had a little different mentality before the playoffs started when we were trying to make them. I don’t think we were as risky, but now we can be. I want to win a race. That’s my goal and that’s my team’s goal. Obviously, we wanted to make the playoffs, but we didn’t, so now we’re focused on winning races. We still have nine opportunities this season to put a race together and end up in victory lane.”