CLINT BOWYER – 2018 Bristol II Race Advance

Every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver deals with pressure, but Clint Bowyer might be under a little more than usual Saturday night in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Since 2017, Bowyer has driven for owners Gene Haas and three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart as part of  Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR.) Driving for Stewart, a future Hall of Fame driver, is one thing, but this weekend Bowyer’s Ford Fusion will also carry the logos of  Rush Truck Centers and Cummins Inc.

Cummins’global headquarters is in Columbus, Indiana – Stewart’s hometown.

“That’s a lot of pressure,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “Not only do I have to continue filling Tony’s seat, now I’ve got his hometown company’s logo on the side of my Ford. He’s going to have high expectations, I’m sure, but it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m glad Cummins has joined us.”

Cummins makes its first appearance on the No. 14 Ford Fusion Saturday night, but it is a household name to most motorsports fans.

Its 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.

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. At Bristol, Cummins will share space on the No. 14 with Rush Truck Centers, the nation’s largest provider of premium products and services for the commercial vehicle market, with the largest truck inventory in North America.

Rush Truck Centers 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. Rush Truck Centers wants to make NASCAR fans aware of these opportunities.

Rush Truck Centers and Cummins are accustomed to working with each other. When a Cummins customer is in need of maintenance at a Rush Truck Centers location, RushCare Service Connect automatically provides information to Cummins, expediting and facilitating Cummins support and engagement when necessary. All correspondence is captured and can be viewed on the Service Connect portal, allowing customers and service advisors to see the entire maintenance history associated with any vehicle in the system.

Rush Truck Centers has integrated its RushCare Telematics Solution and its Service Connect platform with Cummins Connected Diagnostics to improve its service program, making maintenance decisions and service tracking easier for shared customers.

Cummins and Rush Truck Centers also 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.

Bowyer hopes to put both Rush and Cummins in victory lane Saturday night. Although he hasn’t won at Bristol, he’s often near the front when the checkered flag falls there. He owns seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s at Bristol and has led 137 laps in 25 starts. He finished second in this race in 2017, trailing winner Jimmie Johnson across the finish line by 1.199 seconds.

“The Bristol night race is such a party,” Bowyer said. “The fans are right on top of you. They’ve been there all day so, by the time we take the green flag Saturday night, the place is rocking,”

Bowyer arrives at Bristol after a 12th-place finish Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The finish kept Bowyer fifth in the regular-season points race. Bowyer owns the fourth-most playoff points as the season winds down with just three races remaining before the 2018 playoffs.

Playoff time certainly turns up the pressure for the Cup Series drivers. The pressure of driving for one of the businesses in Stewart’s hometown this weekend in Bristol might make for a good tune-up for Bowyer.

 

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

 

What is it like to race at Bristol?

“There is no way to describe 500 laps at Bristol. If your car is handling well, it’s manageable. If it’s loose and you are midpack and there is someone in front of you who is erratic, you are tense and not breathing. You haven’t made it 10 laps and you are out of breath. You think, ‘There’s no way in hell I’m going to make it these 500 laps.’ Next thing you know, it’s lap 450 and you’re wishing it was 600 laps.” 

What would a victory celebration at Bristol be like? 

“I want to celebrate in front of all those wild and crazy fans. There’s no better atmosphere. They’re so close to you that you feel that environment. I’m telling you, during driver intros, you’re walking down there and it’s just the feeling that comes over you before you get in that car. It’s just something you don’t feel anywhere else. It’s because of the closeness of the fans to you. They’re all breathing down on you and expecting big things out of you, and you can’t wait to go out there and get in that coliseum and go to battle.”

How do you make your car go fast at Bristol? 

“That baby’s got to turn in the middle, man. It is so hard to get your car freed up enough to turn in the center of the corner but not be too loose in, and then not smoke the tires up and off the corner. At Bristol, you have to have the total package, a lot like I did in Martinsville.”

 

COLE CUSTER – 2018 NXS Mid-Ohio Race Report

Date: Aug. 11, 2018
Event: Rock N Roll Tequila 170 (Round 21 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington (2.4-mile road course)
Format: 75 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/35 laps)
Start/Finish: 4th/7th (Running, completed 75 of 75 laps)
Point Standing: 4th with 752 points

Race Winner: Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Austin Cindric of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):

Custer started fourth, finished 11th.
Moved up to third with a good jump at the start, getting by No. 3 qualifier Brandon Jones by turn one and held position through the entire stage thereafter.
Suffered early contact to his right-rear quarterpanel on a lap-five restart from Elliott Sadler that didn’t turn out to be an issue for the remainder of the stage.
Pitted from third place with three laps to go in the stage for four tires, fuel and to pull out the right-rear quarterpanel.
Resumed 11th and finished the stage in that position.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):

● Custer started third, finished fourth and earned seven bonus points.
● Another good jump at the start of the stage and quickly settled in behind leader Austin Cindric and second-place Matt Tifft while holding off fourth-place Christopher Bell.
●Shuffled back to fifth on a restart with seven laps to go in the stage as Bell and Daniel Hemric got by for third and fourth, respectively.
● Custer regained fourth place with a pass of Hemric with less than two laps to go in the stage.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel before the start of the final stage and was fourth off pit road among the cars that pitted.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 41-75):

● Custer started seventh, finished seventh.
● Moved up to sixth after the opening lap of the stage and held that position for a short time before dropping back to seventh one-third of the way through the stage, then back up to sixth midway through the stage and kept the pressure on Justin Allgaier for fifth.
● Custer tangled with Allgaier on lap 59 and briefly went off course and back on again, rejoining the race in ninth place.
● The caution flag flew one lap later with several cars bunched up ahead of Custer as a result of a blown tire by Tyler Reddick, dropping Custer to 10th.
● Pitted during the caution for four tires and fuel and restarted 12th with 11 laps to go.
● Climbed back into the top-10 with 10 laps to go after leader Bell spins and drops to the back of the field, then up to eighth on the next lap.
● Custer dropped a spot on the lap-69 restart to ninth place, but then regained the position and one more before the checkered flag flew for his second road-course top-10 in as many weeks.

Notes:                   

● This marks Custer’s 17th top-10 of the season and first at Mid-Ohio.
● Custer earned seven bonus points.
● Six cautions slowed the race for 18 laps.
● Only 29 of the 40 drivers finished on the lead lap.
● Justin Allgaier won the Rock N Roll Tequila 170 to score his eighth career Xfinity Series victory, third of the season and first at Mid-Ohio. His margin of victory over second-place Austin Cindric was 2.095 seconds.

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

“It was a frustrating day, to say the least. Our Haas Automation Mustang was really good. I thought we were a second-place car. We probably could’ve kept up with the 22 (Austin Cindric). I have to apologize to Justin (Allgaier). It worked out for him, but I hit him in the wrong spot there and spun him around. That’s my fault and I’ll apologize. We’ll just move on to Bristol. I want to win. That’s what we want to do. It’s frustrating when things don’t go your way. I thought we were doing everything right, we just need everything to fall into place.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2018 Michigan II Race Advance

This weekend, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the backyard of Ford – Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) return to the 2-mile oval for the second time this season after spending last weekend turning left and right on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

Before hitting the track this weekend, Almirola and his fellow Ford drivers on Thursday will reveal the 2019 Ford Mustang they’ll wheel beginning in the 2019 Cup Series season. The Ford Cup Series teams will transition to the Mustang next season after running the Fusion since 2006.

In June, Almirola scored his best Michigan finish of 11th, and it may have been even better had he not slid through his pit box during the race, causing him to lose several spots. It was the same day SHR scored its first 1-2-3 finish as an organization, and the first in the Cup Series since Roush Fenway Racing accomplished the feat in September 2008 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. In Almirola’s 12 career starts at Michigan, he’s completed 99.6 percent of all laps possible and has an average start 20.3 with an average finish of 19.4.

Almirola has two starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Michigan. He won in June 2010 after leading seven laps for his second Truck Series win that season. Additionally, the Tampa native made three starts in the Xfinity Series at Michigan with a best finish of eighth in June 2015 while piloting the No. 98 DenBeste Water Solutions Ford.

In this year’s 22 Cup Series races, Almirola has an average start of 19.1 and an average finish of 13.5 with one top-five and nine top-10s. He’s also led 113 laps this season, already a career best. Almirola rounds out the four-driver SHR contingent at 12th in the point standings.

With summer in full swing, fans have the opportunity to celebrate the grilling season by entering Smithfield’s “Hero of the Grill” contest that Almirola and five-time world-champion barbecue pitmaster Tuffy Stone helped launch earlier this year. Fans are encouraged to nominate their favorite grill hero by visiting SmithfieldGetGrilling.com. One “Hero of the Grill” nominee will win $5,000. Plus, the first 10,000 nominees will have the chance to see their name featured on Almirola’s No. 10 Smithfield Ford at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in September.

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

Michigan marks the 20th points-paying event during which the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its seventh season with Almirola and its first with SHR. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.

Ford has earned nine wins so far this season with Almirola’s SHR teammates earning eight of the victories for the Blue Oval – six by Kevin Harvick and two by Clint Bowyer. Harvick also captured the non-points-paying All-Star Race win at Charlotte. Bowyer led the 1-2-3 finish at Michigan in the June race to record Ford’s 36th and most recent win at the track. Bowyer can become the first Ford driver to sweep the Michigan Cup Series races for Ford since Bill Elliott did it in 1986.

 

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

 

Michigan has become one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. Corner entrance speed is 210 mph into turn one. Do you really feel that speed going into turn one?

“Absolutely. You feel every single mile an hour of that 210, 215 miles per hour. It is so fast at Michigan. Getting into the corner at that speed is just incredible. It’s fun to do that by yourself, but racing around other racecars at that speed is treacherous. That’s why you see give and take, and you see a lot of cars racing aggressively on restarts when we’re going a little bit slower and it’s a little easier to pass. But then, once we get strung out, it’s challenging to pass somebody going 215 miles per hour when you’re that dependent on aero, going that fast.”

At the speed you’re running at Michigan, how hard is it to get on pit road and get slowed down to pit-road speed?

“I don’t think Michigan is that difficult of a pit road to get onto. We go to many other racetracks that are harder to get on pit road with Dover probably being the toughest track to get on pit road. Michigan is in my opinion pretty straightforward. We are going pretty fast, around 200 miles per hour, and we have to get slowed down to 55 miles per hour, but it’s a pretty wide, sweeping corner and the access lane getting on pit road is pretty easy.”

How crazy are the restarts at Michigan and is it the best time to take advantage of someone?

“We’re seeing restarts get crazier and crazier at tracks that we go to. There’s no one track that they’re crazier at than the other anymore because that is the most opportune time to pass cars, besides on pit road. Pit road is the easiest place to pass but, once you line up for the restart, there’s opportunity to gain three, four, five spots in a lap, and there’s no other opportunity to do something like that throughout the run. I feel like restarts are definitely the time to gain or lose track position, so you have to be on offense and defense at the same time. Michigan is very wide and you want to be aggressive and go take spots away, but you can easily give up four or five spots that are really hard to get back once we get single file.”

Some tracks are very line-sensitive on restarts. Is Michigan one of them?

“Yes, Michigan is a very line-sensitive on restarts. The outside lane is usually the dominant lane. The inside lane – the cars on the inside usually lose sideforce, they lose the air on the side of their car and they are very loose down there in turns one and two on the restart. The outside lane usually has the momentum and preferred lane going through one and two on the restarts.”

KURT BUSCH – 2018 Michigan II Race Advance

Kurt Busch ran his first NASCAR race on Sept. 24, 2000 driving a Ford Taurus for Roush Fenway Racing.

Busch won Ford’s last championship in 2004 driving Roush Fenway’s No. 97 Ford Taurus and won Ford’s last Daytona 500 driving the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

He owns two Ford GTs and has a letter from Edsel Ford from when he won at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in June 2003.

All of this would explain why Busch is excited to be part of the manufacturer’s unveiling of the Ford Mustang in Dearborn, Michigan, which will debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2019. The Mustang follows the Thunderbird, Taurus and Fusion, which have been the only Ford models raced in the Cup Series since 1972.

Busch has driven all but the Thunderbird in competition and is looking forward to racing the Mustang next year.

He has three wins at Michigan, site of this weekend’s Consumers Energy 400, which puts him in a tie with Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson for most among active drivers. And all three of Busch’s wins came with different teams.

He scored his first win at Michigan in June 2003 driving for Roush Fenway, then backed it up with a victory in August 2007 with Team Penske. His last Michigan win came in a rain-shorted race with SHR in June 2015.

Busch also qualified on the pole at the 2-mile oval in June 2010, 2011 and this year, and he’s scored six top-five finishes there.

This weekend, he’ll be looking to take Ford back to victory lane at Michigan, which is about an hour from the Detroit area, where Ford is based. The blue oval has a long history at Michigan, winning nearly half the races run there since the track opened in 1969. Of the 98 NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Michigan, Ford and its Mercury brand have combined for 48 wins – 36 by Ford and 12 by Mercury.

One of those is Busch’s June 2003 win at Michigan, when he snatched the lead from Jeff Gordon with 24 laps to go to claim his seventh career Cup Series win.

The Las Vegas native has six top-12 finishes, including his June 2015 win, in his last seven Michigan starts. He’s hoping to score many more victories in Ford’s backyard.

 

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

 

You won the June 2003 Michigan race for Ford almost 100 years after the company was formed. Can you talk about what you remember from that experience?

“It was really neat. In my office at my house, I have a letter form Edsel Ford congratulating our team on the race win. And it’s something I framed and put in a similar format to a letter that my grandfather got from Henry Ford when he was a Ford employee. And it was really neat to have that moment and the lineage of our family of letters from the Ford family.”

What’s been the key to your success at Michigan?

“The biggest thing about Michigan is respecting the speed. It’s a very fast racetrack.”

What do you feel like is the toughest part of Michigan? 

“The toughest part is turn three. It seems like the cars do this weird, four-wheel, light drift getting down in there. If your car is dialed in – and I’ve won there three times – it feels like turn three is the easiest corner. Turn three to me is the challenge each time I go there.”

What does it take to be fast at Michigan?

“Michigan is a tough place because of the way the cars have a certain grip level on fresh tires versus old tires. What I mean by that is, when you put on fresh tires, your tires are cold and they don’t grab the asphalt as well. A lot of guys try to stay out at Michigan with the hot tires on and they get better restarts. Restarts at Michigan are already pretty wild with how wide the track is and how many lanes there are for options. It comes down to just trying to put yourself in the best position with the best-percentage chance according to whether you’re on fresh tires, or by staying out, as you try to make up spots on restarts.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2018 Michigan II Race Advance

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light/Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), trails Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Busch by 70 points heading into Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

While most of the focus continues to be on the “Big Three” of Harvick, Busch and Martin Truex Jr., including their ability to dominate with stage and race wins, the 70 points that separate Busch and Harvick is another point of emphasis just four regular-season races remaining.

At the conclusion of regular-season-ending Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the points leader collects 15 playoff points while the driver who finishes second collects 10. That five-point differential between first and second  in the regular-season championship could play a vital role in whether a driver makes the winner-take-all Championship 4 playoff finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Harvick will continue his quest for playoff points in the four races that remain in the regular season. Thus, even more pressure to start up front and, ultimately, to try to win the Busch Pole Award. Harvick ranks second with 33 playoff points heading to Michigan, just two markers behind Busch’s 35 and six ahead of Truex.

The Big Three have accounted for 16 of the 22 race wins in 2018 and nearly 65 percent of the total playoff points accumulated thus far – 95 of 147 available.

As the series heads to the Irish Hills of Michigan this weekend, Harvick also has some unfinished business from the June race there that he would like to settle. Harvick started fourth and dominated the FireKeepers Casino 400 by leading 49 of the 133 laps before rain came and ended the race prematurely. Harvick’s teammate Clint Bowyer opted for an aggressive pit strategy as the rain was approaching and held off Harvick on a restart as the rain began to fall. Bowyer was declared the winner with Harvick finishing second as the race ended under caution.

Harvick, the Bakersfield, California native, has one Cup Series win to his credit at Michigan when he finished 1.731 seconds ahead of runner-up Denny Hamlin in August 2010. While he is still searching for his second trip to victory lane there, he has finished second six times in his last 11 outings at Michigan.

The best way to score maximum playoff points in a race is to start up front, earn stage points and win races. Harvick and the No. 4 team can accomplish all of those goals with a win this weekend in the team’s final visit to Michigan in 2018.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light/Mobil 1 Ford Fusion:

 

What does it take to have a good finish at Michigan?

“How you finish at Michigan depends on how your day is going. If you’re having a good day, it’s not really hard to tell your guys what you need and everyone is in a good mood. If you’re having a bad day, you can get behind at Michigan really fast. Usually, when you’re hooked up at Michigan, the leaders have clean air and move through traffic pretty well. But, if you’re in the middle of the pack, you find yourself getting behind and going a lap down pretty quickly. You’re going to end up with a green-flag pit stop and a whole bunch of green-flag laps. You just have to be going from the time the green flag drops and keep yourself in position at the end.”

Do you enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway?

“I think we’ve finished really well there over the last couple of years and scored a lot of second-place finishes and top-fives. I learned a long time ago that sometimes those things happen, so it’s better to be on a top-five streak than a 10th-place streak. The good thing about the racetrack is that it has definitely aged and the groove has spread out over the last couple of races, so you have a lot more options than you did a few years ago when they repaved it. Every time we go back there, it gets a little more racey. When we go back this time, there should be lots of room to race and you’ll see lots of speed. As we go through the restarts and traffic and different things, we’ll have to see how it all goes, but it should be interesting.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2018 Michigan II Race Advance

They might have been the best three laps of Clint Bowyer’s career.

Bowyer’s No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion had just taken the lead during the break before the final stage of the June 10 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Rain clouds out of the northeast drew closer,  spitting a fine mist with most of the 39-car field suspecting the race wouldn’t last much longer.

Bowyer held the lead but only because his crew chief Mike Bugarewicz elected to take two tires while most of the field took four.

“When we were coming on pit road, I was 100 percent sure two tires was the right call,” Bugarewicz said. “We got about three quarters of the way down pit road, I was about 70 percent sure. When he slid into the pit box, I was about 50 percent sure. By then, we were leaving. It was too late.”

It was up to Bowyer to hold the position just ahead of his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Kevin Harvick who had led 49 laps – more than any other driver.

Bowyer admitted he had his doubts.

“I looked in the mirror – everybody behind me is on four tires,” Bowyer said. “(I’m thinking that) I don’t know what you’re looking at, but there’s an army of people on pit road who saw the same forecast, same radar, they took four.”

The green flag waved and Bowyer drove as hard as he could for three and a half laps. He edged just ahead of Harvick before the rain fell hard enough for NASCAR to end the race with 67 laps remaining, giving Bowyer his 10th career victory and second of the 2018 season.

“I knew, if we could get the lead, we had a decent shot of holding them off,” Bowyer said. “Fortunately, we did. We were racing for the win. I couldn’t have held him off had it gone another lap.”

Kurt Busch’s third-place finish gave SHR its first 1-2-3 finish – the first since Roush-Fenway Racing’s trifecta in September 2008 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

Bowyer’s Michigan victory came on a gamble, but it wasn’t a fluke. He finished second in the first stage and turned in top-three lap times throughout the race. The key was track position and that’s likely to be the case again this weekend when the Cup Series returns to Michigan for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400.

Track position – two words that will be heard a lot of this weekend.

“At the end of the day, Michigan is all about track position. If you lose that track position, it’s a fight to try and get back up there,” Bugarewicz said when asked about the strategic keys to victory at Michigan. “You look at the restarts, they are brutal. Those guys are four-wide, gouging, trying to get every spot they can. If you’re going to gain spots, that’s where you’re going to gain the majority of them. Throughout the fuel run, you might gain one or two. Keeping the track position, I think, is key all day long.”

Bowyer arrives at Michigan after an 11th-place finish on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International last weekend. It was another respectable finish in a season that has seen Bowyer win twice, post six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. Bowyer is fifth in points and owns the fourth-most playoff points as the regular season winds down with just four races remaining.

Bowyer would like nothing more than to add a third victory to that 2018 resume and roll into the playoffs with momentum from another victory at Michigan. Driving an SHR Ford, gaining late-race track position and driving the best laps of his career certainly could be the recipe for success once again.

 

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

 

What are your thoughts on SHR running 1-2-3 at Michigan in June?

“Remember, Michigan is an aero track, a horsepower track, and it’s a demanding racetrack on your equipment. Plus, as drivers, you have to be able to hit your marks and things like that because 217 mph is fast no matter what type of motorsport you are racing. That’s really fast in NASCAR. When we finished first with Kevin and Kurt behind us, it was just awesome. We got out and gave each other hugs. We were truly, genuinely happy for one another. That’s what it takes. That’s what it takes to push you to another level. Working together, the communication, pushing each other each week. It’s not just Kevin, Kurt, Aric (Almirola) and I. It’s our teams, our crew chiefs, our pit crews, everybody who raises the bar for everybody involved. It’s cool to see.”

COLE CUSTER – 2018 NXS Mid-Ohio Race Advance

Event:               Mid-Ohio Challenge (Round 21 of 33)
Date:                 Aug. 11, 2018
Location:          Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington
Layout:             2.4-mile road course

 

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

 

  • The Mid-Ohio Challenge will mark Custer’s second NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington.
  • Custer has four career road-course starts in the Xfinity Series. His best Xfinity Series finish at a road course is sixth – earned last Saturday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
  • Custer’s best finish in the 20 Xfinity Series races run this season is second, earned in the 11th event May 26 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
  • Custer has earned four poles, seven top-five finishes, 16 top-10s, and has led 232 laps in the 2018 Xfinity Series season.
  • Custer’s four pole awards this season leads all Xfinity Series regulars.
  • Ford has won three of the five Xfinity Series races run at Mid-Ohio.
  • Custer is second in the Xfinity Series driver standings, 22 points behind series leader Christopher Bell.
  • Custer is competing for his fifth consecutive top-10 this weekend.
  • Last year at Mid-Ohio, Custer suffered mechanical issues on lap two and re-entered the field 22 laps down. He ran the remainder of the race turning top-10 lap speeds.
  • There are only six races left until the Xfinity Series playoffs begin Sept. 21 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The winner of the regular-season points championship will earn an additional 15 playoff points – equivalent to winning three races.

 

Cole Custer, Driver Q&A

 

Based on your performance at Watkins Glen, what are your expectations going into your second consecutive road-course race? 

“We managed to turn what looked like a bad weekend into a solid top-10 finish at Watkins Glen. We had a lot of ups and downs throughout that race, including the rain. We fell back about 10 spots because there was confusion about whether or not we were going to run the windshield wiper when it rained, but it was fun slipping and sliding out there. I definitely don’t want to do that again at Mid-Ohio, though. I think we’re starting to understand road courses better than last year, so I feel more confident heading into the weekend.”

Explain the difference between racing at The Glen and Mid-Ohio.

“Compared to Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio has a lot more low-speed and technical corners. It’s a fun place because you get to hit curbs and have some elevation changes. This race puts the outcome a little more in the driver’s hands rather than the car’s performance.”

 

Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A

 

How would you evaluate the performance of your road-course program this year?

“It has certainly improved. We didn’t put together the fastest car last weekend, but we’re definitely getting better. We’re working with better equipment this year and more notes to go off of. Cole has improved in his ability to get around a road course, as well. Our goal right now is obviously to win a race, but we’re pushing hard to earn the regular-season championship – it will put us in a great spot going into the playoffs.”

KURT BUSCH – 2018 Watkins Glen Race Report

Date: Aug. 5, 2018
Event: Go Bowling at The Glen (Round 22 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (2.45-mile road course)
Format: 90 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/50 laps)
Start/Finish: 36th/9th (Running, completed 90 of 90 laps)
Point Standing: 4th (705 points, 229 out of first)

Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr., of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):

Kurt Busch started 36th and finished 30th.
● The Haas Automation/Monster Energy driver wasted no time making up positions from the rear of the field after failing the handheld template station in post-qualifying inspection, going from 36th to 29th on the opening lap.
● Busch reported a slight tight condition during the opening fuel-and-tire run but still was able to work his way up to 16th before pitting for tires, fuel and track bar adjustments on lap 16, four laps before the end of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):

Started 11th and finished 32nd.
● It was a smooth and steady stage for Busch as he held his relative position before pitting on lap 36, four laps before the end of the stage, for tires, fuel and air-pressure adjustments all around to help fix a loose condition in the rear of the racecar.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 41-90):

Started 15th and finished ninth.
● Moved up to 11th by lap 44 and held his position until the caution flag flew on lap 53. The No. 41 suffered a flat right-rear tire as a result of debris from the incident that brought out the caution ahead of him.
● Pitted on lap 54 for fuel and just two tires as a result of the flat tire situation in hopes of still gaining track position and restarted second.
● Busch did his best to hold positions during the remainder of the race, having taken just two tires on the stop, but he gradually lost seven spots over the final 36 laps.

Notes:

● This was Busch’s 13th top-10 finish of 2018 and his ninth top-10 in 18 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen.
● Chase Elliott won the Go Bowling at The Glen to score his first career Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 7.56 seconds.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 11 laps.
● Twenty-four of the 37 drivers in the Go Bowling at The Glen finished on the lead lap.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We had a surprise flat right-rear, and that forced us into taking two tires (on the final stop), and we had to improvise from there. It’s kind of a bummer, but we made the best we could with it and got a top-10. We want to win, but the car couldn’t quite steer from the rear, and the front was chattering a little bit. We were close, but not quite there.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2018 Watkins Glen Race Report

Date: Aug. 5, 2018
Event: Go Bowling at The Glen (Round 22 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:  Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (11-turn, 2.45-mile road course)
Format: 90 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/50 laps)
Start/Finish: 18th/11th (Running, completed 90 of 90)
Point Standing: 5th (703 points, 231 out of first)

Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 20):

Bowyer started 18th and finished 27th.
● He reported his car was a little loose and was taking it easy in the opening laps.
● Bowyer climbed to 12th before pitting on lap 17 under green to gain track position for the start of Stage 2.

Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 40):

Bowyer started ninth and finished 31st.
He asked the crew for more grip to get around the road course.
Bowyer pitted from ninth on lap 37 in the hope of gaining track position for the final stage.

Stage 3 Recap (Ended at Lap 90):

Bowyer started 14th and finished 11th.
Bowyer pitted from 10th under caution on lap 55 and restarted the race in 15th with 32 laps remaining.
He told the crew that he and every other driver struggled to pass on the track.
Bowyer climbed as high as 11th to finish the race.

Notes:

●  This was Bowyer’s 16th top-15 of 2018.
●  Chase Elliott won the Go Bowling at The Glen to score his first career Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 7.560 seconds.
●  There were four caution periods for a total of 11 laps.
●  Twenty-four of the 37 drivers in the Go Bowling at The Glen finished on the lead lap.

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion:

“That was a tough day for the Rush Truck Centers Ford, but we fought hard. It was hard to pass out there. We were struggling to make grip. We tried to play the strategy game, and that got us a decent finish. It was a long weekend, but everyone worked hard.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2018 Watkins Glen Race Report

Date: Aug. 5, 2018
Event: Go Bowling at The Glen (Round 22 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (11 turn, 2.45-mile road course)
Format: 90 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/50 laps)
Start/Finish: 7th/22nd (Running, completed 90 of 90 laps)
Point Standing: 12th (602 points, 332 out of first)

Race Winner:      Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner:  Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner:  Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):

● Aric Almirola started seventh and finished Stage 1 in the 32nd position.
● Three laps into the event, Almirola spun after contact with a competitor and received damage to the right-rear of the Go Bowling Ford.
● The spin brought the caution out, and Almirola visited pit road for repairs. He restarted 36th on lap five.
● The remainder of the stage ran under the green flag, and Almirola completed it in 32nd.
● Almirola pitted before the start of Stage 2 for more damage repairs, fuel and four tires.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):

● Almirola began Stage 2 in 32nd and completed it in 24th.
● The entire length of Stage 2 was run under the green flag, and Almirola worked his way forward in the damaged No. 10 Go Bowling Ford to gain six positions.
● Before the start of the final stage, Almirola pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help with Ford’s loose-handling condition up through the esses.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 41-90):

● Almirola started the final stage in the 23rd position and ended it 22nd.
● Almirola pitted on lap 55 for fuel and four tires during the fourth caution of the race. Unfortunately, the No. 10 team received a penalty because a pit crew member was over the wall too soon.
● He restarted 27th on lap 58, and on lap 61 he was up to the 24th spot.
● The remainder of the race went caution free, and Almirola finished 22nd.

Notes:

● Chase Elliott won the Go Bowling at The Glen to score his first career Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 7.560 seconds.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 11 laps.
● Twenty-four of the 37 drivers in the Go Bowling at The Glen finished on the lead lap.