CLINT BOWYER – 2020 Phoenix II Race Report

Event: Season Finale 500 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/115 laps/122 laps)
Start/Finish: 9th/14th (Running, completed 311 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 12th with 2,254 points

Champion:           Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Race Winner:      Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner:  Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

Clint Bowyer started ninth and finished eighth to earn three bonus points.
● The No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang held the ninth spot by the lap-30 competition caution.
● Bowyer moved to fifth during the pit stop and remained in the top-10 for the rest of the stage.
● During the break the crew made adjustments to help Bowyer’s car turn in the middle of the corners.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-190):

Bowyer started fifth and finished 12th.
● The No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang climbed to fourth at the start of the stage.
● Bowyer pitted under green for routine service on lap 143 but 20 laps later a caution trapped him midfield.
● Bowyer pitted under caution on lap 163 and restarted 15th. He climbed to 12th before the stage’s end.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 191-312):

Bowyer started 10th and finished 14th.
● He said the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang couldn’t make the grip needed to race with the leaders.
● Bowyer remained in the top-10 making what appeared to be a routine stop under green with 55 laps remaining.
● The jack broke slowing the pit stop which dropped Bowyer to 16th.
● Bowyer fell off the lead lap with 13 to go.

Notes:

● Sunday marked Bowyer’s final race in his career. He’ll serve as a television commentator for Fox next season.
● Bowyer ends his career with 10 wins, 82 top-five and 226 top-10s in 541 races.
● Chase Elliott won the Season Finale 500 to score his 11th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fifth of the season and his first at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was 2.740 seconds.
● Elliott earned the NASCAR Cup Series championship at Phoenix by virtue of his win. He is the 34th different driver to win the series title.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 27 laps.
● Only 12 of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Ford clinched its 17th manufacturers’ championship with a series-leading 18 victories in 2020, 10 of which were scored by SHR. This is the second time in the last three seasons Ford has won the manufacturers’ title. Its 18 wins rank as its third-highest total in the modern era (1972-present). Ford won 19 races in 2018 and 1997, one less than its modern-era record of 20 in 1994.

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“I appreciate all the texts and well wishes, but I was ready for the green flag this morning. That was kind of emotional. Seriously, that was a fun day. I want to thank everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing as well as the partners who have made the last four years so special. I have had a lot of people help me in my career and certainly wouldn’t be here without them. I don’t know if this has sunk in yet, but I think this will all hit me when we get to Daytona next season.”

Next Up:

The 2021 season kicks off with the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 14 with live coverage from FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

COLE CUSTER – 2020 Phoenix II Race Report

Event: Season Finale 500 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/115 laps/122 laps)
Start/Finish: 15th/28th (Running, completed 310 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 16th with 2,202 points

Champion: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):             

● Cole Custer started 15th and finished 14th.
● On lap 13, Custer reported his Mustang was a little too free while running 13th.
● During the lap-30 competition caution, Custer pitted from 12th for service and restarted 12th in the HaasTooling.com Mustang.
● On lap 53, the rookie driver reported his Mustang was loose on landing while in the 15th spot.
● Custer pitted from 14th during the stage break for fuel, four tires and adjustments.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-190):

● Custer started 14th and finished 13th.
● On lap 100, Custer was in the 18th spot and worked his way back up to 15th by lap 125.
● On lap 130, the Ford driver relayed to the crew that his Mustang was not handling well while continuing to run 15th.
● Custer made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 137 from the 15th spot.
● Under caution on lap 161 Custer pitted from 17th for adjustments to help with his exit. He restarted 15th.
● In the closing laps of Stage 2, Custer gained two spots to end it in 13th before pitting for service.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 191-312):

● Custer started 20th, finished 28th.
● Custer made an unscheduled pit stop on lap 206 for a loose wheel and returned to the track one lap down.
● The young driver made his final stop on lap 271 for fuel, four tires and adjustments.
● On lap 290, Custer was in the 28th spot and ultimately finished in the same position.

Notes:

● When the checkered flag dropped on the Season Finale 500, Custer was officially named the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year. The 22-year-old racer from Ladera Ranch, California, sealed this accolade when he made a last-lap pass for the win July 12 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Custer was the only rookie to qualify for the NASCAR Playoffs and the first rookie to win a NASCAR Cup Series race since Chris Buescher in 2016.
● This was Custer’s 39th career NASCAR Cup Series start and his second at Phoenix.
● Chase Elliott won the Season Finale 500 to score his 11th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fifth of the season and his first at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was 2.740 seconds.
● Elliott earned the NASCAR Cup Series championship at Phoenix by virtue of his win. He is the 34th different driver to win the series title.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 27 laps.
● Only 12 of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Ford clinched its 17th manufacturers’ championship with a series-leading 18 victories in 2020, 10 of which were scored by SHR. This is the second time in the last three seasons Ford has won the manufacturers’ title. Its 18 wins rank as its third-highest total in the modern era (1972-present). Ford won 19 races in 2018 and 1997, one less than its modern-era record of 20 in 1994.

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“Not the finish we wanted at Phoenix today, but I have to thank the crew and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing, HaasTooling.com and Ford Performance for standing behind me this year. They worked with me and helped me get better this season. I think we have a lot to look forward to next year and we have a lot to build on. It was definitely a rookie season with a lot of peaks and valleys. It was a really interesting season to be a rookie with no practice, no testing or qualifying, so it was a lot of just learning on the fly, but I think we all managed it very well. We had a really good rookie class of me, Tyler (Reddick), Christopher (Bell) and John Hunter (Nemechek). I think we all had really good runs throughout the year and it definitely means a lot to win the Cup Series Rookie of the Year.”

Next Up:

The 2021 season kicks off with the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 14 with live coverage from FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2020 Phoenix II Race Report

Event: Season Finale 500 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/115 laps/122 laps)
Start/Finish: 10th/13th (Running, completed 311 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 15th with 2,235 points

Champion: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

● Aric Almirola started 20th and finished 29th.
● Almirola raced in and around the top-10 before the lap-32 competition caution.
● He pitted the Smithfield Ford for four tires, fuel and adjustments to correct loose-handling conditions.
● Almirola had damage on the right side of his No. 10 Ford after making contact with the wall and pitted at the end of the stage for four fresh tires, fuel and damage repair.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-190):

● Almirola started 29th and finished 15th.
● He said the No. 10 Ford was tight early in the stage.
● Almirola pitted under caution on lap 163 from sixth place for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments.
● He restarted eighth and fell back due to handling issues.
● Almirola pitted at the end of the stage for four tires, fuel and more air pressure adjustments.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 191-311):

● Almirola started 15th and finished 13th.
● Almirola pitted under green on lap 258 for four tires and fuel from 13th.
● The No. 10 Ford driver went a lap down by the leader with 11 laps to go.
● He was able to hold his 13th place position before the checkered flag waved.

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

“What a year. What a season. This Smithfield Ford team battled hard all year and we had a phenomenal year with a lot of room for improvement. We have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward in the future.”

Notes:

● Almirola led once for seven laps to increase his laps-led total at Phoenix to 33.
● Almirola enjoyed a career year in 2020 with his six top-fives and 18 top-10s and 305 laps led all being season highs.
● Chase Elliott won the Season Finale 500 to score his 11th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fifth of the season and his first at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was 2.740 seconds.
● Elliott earned the NASCAR Cup Series championship at Phoenix by virtue of his win. He is the 34th different driver to win the series title.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 27 laps.
● Only 12 of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Ford clinched its 17th manufacturers’ championship with a series-leading 18 victories in 2020, 10 of which were scored by SHR. This is the second time in the last three seasons Ford has won the manufacturers’ title. Its 18 wins rank as its third-highest total in the modern era (1972-present). Ford won 19 races in 2018 and 1997, one less than its modern-era record of 20 in 1994.

Next Up: 

The 2021 season kicks off with the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 14 with live coverage from FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2020 Phoenix II Race Report

Event: Season Finale 500 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/115 laps/122 laps)
Start/Finish: 11th/7th (Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
Point Standing:  (5th with 2,410 points)

Champion: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

●  Kevin Harvick started fourth and finished 13th.
●  The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang pitted on lap 32 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure and chassis adjustment. Harvick, who was 11th, said the car was not handling well.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-190):

●  Kevin Harvick started 16th and finished 11th.
●  The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang pitted on lap 78 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. The car was not handling to Harvick’s liking.
●  On lap 138, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Harvick, who was 10th, said the car was handling better.
●  Harvick pitted on lap 163 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He said the car still hard to handle and he was 10th.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 191-312):

●  Kevin Harvick started sixth and finished seventh.
●  The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang pitted on lap 196 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He was 11th.
●  On lap 257, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He was eighth.

Notes:

●  Chase Elliott won the Season Finale 500 to score his 11th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fifth of the season and his first at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was 2.740 seconds.
●  Elliott earned the NASCAR Cup Series championship at Phoenix by virtue of his win. He is the 34th different driver to win the series title.
●  The Elliotts join the Pettys (Lee: 1954, 1958, 1959 and Richard: 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979), and the Jarretts (Ned: 1961, 1965 and Dale: 1999) as just the third father-son combo to win NASCAR Cup Series titles. Elliott’s father, Bill, won the 1988 Cup Series championship.
●  There were four caution periods for a total of 27 laps.
●  Only 12 of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap
●  Harvick earned his series-leading 27th top-10 of the season and his league-best 25th top-10 in 36 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix.
●  Harvick ends the year with the most wins (nine), the most top-fives (20), the most top-10s (27) and the most laps led (1,531).
●  Harvick’s 7.3 average finish in 2020 is the best among active drivers. Denny Hamlin is next best with a 9.3 average finish.
●  Harvick has not finished outside the top-10 at Phoenix since March 2013. It is a 15-race streak that includes six wins, two runner-up finishes and 12 top-fives.
●  Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has only finished outside the top-five twice at Phoenix. He has never finished outside the top-10.
●  By completing lap 27, Harvick surpassed NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace for 13th on the all-time laps completed list. Harvick has now finished 205,104 laps in his NASCAR Cup Series career.
●  Ford clinched its 17th manufacturers’ championship with a series-leading 18 victories in 2020, 10 of which were scored by SHR. This is the second time in the last three seasons Ford has won the manufacturers’ title. Its 18 wins rank as its third-highest total in the modern era (1972-present). Ford won 19 races in 2018 and 1997, one less than its modern-era record of 20 in 1994.
●  The Season Finale 500 marked the final NASCAR Cup Series race for Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time champion ends his career with 686 starts across 19 seasons that in addition to his record-tying seven titles, includes 83 wins, 36 poles, 232 top-fives, 374 top-10s and 18,941 laps led. While he is retiring from NASCAR, Johnson is not retiring from motorsports. He has a 13-race IndyCar Series schedule planned for 2021.
●  Also retiring from the NASCAR Cup Series is Matt Kenseth. He won the championship in 2003, and in a career spanning 22 seasons with 697 starts, Kenseth scored 39 wins, 20 poles, 182 top-fives, 331 top-10s and led a total of 11,769 laps.

Next Up:

The 2021 season kicks off with the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 14 with live coverage from FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2020 Martinsville II Race Report

Event: Xfinity 500 (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 20th/7th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 15th with 2,211 points

Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

● Aric Almirola started 20th and finished 29th.
● Almirola was involved in an incident with teammate Clint Bowyer on lap 74, bringing out the caution.
● He restarted fourth and was contacted in the rear and lost several positions.
● Almirola pitted on lap 115 under caution to repair damage.
● He restarted 30th and raced at the tail of the field before the stage ended.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

● Almirola started fifth and finished 11th.
● Almirola ran in and around the top-five until a lap-187 caution.
● He pitted the Smithfield Ford for four tires, fuel and came off pit road in 12th.
● Almirola did not pit during a lap-212 caution and restarted seventh.
● He fell back to 11th on older tires and pitted at the end of the stage.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 261-500):

● Almirola started ninth and finished seventh.
● Almirola ran in and around the top-10 at the beginning of the stage.
● The No. 10 Ford driver pitted on lap 353 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments to come off pit road in eighth.
● Almirola pitted on lap 403 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments to restart seventh.
● The No. 10 Smithfield driver pitted under caution on lap 441 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. He came off pit road 10th.
● Almirola’s balance improved as the race wore on and he gained multiple positions before the checkered flag waved.

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

“Good run for this Smithfield Ford team at Martinsville. We had a good car on the long run today. It feels good to have a decent run with one race left on the year. Hoping to have another solid run next weekend in Phoenix.”

Notes:

● Almirola earned his 18th top-10 of the season and his fifth top-10 in 24 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.
● Almirola’s 18 top-10s surpassed his own mark for the most top-10s in a single season. He scored 17 top-10s in 2018. His six top-fives this year are also the most he has had in a single season.
● Chase Elliott won the Xfinity 500 to score his 10th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was 6.577 seconds.
● There were 12 caution periods for a total of 83 laps.
● Only 17 of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

Next Up: 

The NASCAR Cup Series season finale is Sunday, Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway. The championship race starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

KEVIN HARVICK – 2020 Martinsville II Race Report

Event: Xfinity 500 (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 6th/17th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: (5th with 4,157 points, Eliminated from Round of 8)

Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Harvick started sixth and finished 14th.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang, pitted on lap 62 for four tires, fuel and a chassis and tire pressure adjustment, saying the car was a bit too free.
● On lap 107, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Said car was not taking off well.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Harvick started 25th and finished 31st.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang, said the car lacks rear grip and won’t turn. Pitted on lap 136 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Crew also removed rubber from the right rear spring.
● On lap 180, Harvick made contact with the 42 car driven by Matt Kenseth and his left rear tire was cut down. He had to pit for left side tires and fuel and ended up 32nd and two laps down.
● A caution came out three laps later and Harvick was able to take the wave around so he was only one lap down and in 31st.
● He pitted on lap 219 for right side tires and fuel, but did not get his lap back due to Timmy Hill being in the lucky dog spot. He was 31st, one lap down.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 261-500):

Harvick started 30th and finished 17th.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang, pitted on lap 265 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
● On lap 355, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The car was not handling well and he was 24th, one lap down.
● On lap 406, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel and the crew worked on the front bumper. When the caution came out, Harvick got his lap back and restarted 21st.
● Harvick pitted on lap 443 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He was 16th.
● Harvick was one point out of the Championship 4 Round and made a desperation move to try and pass the car driven by Kyle Busch in the last corner. Busch’s car spun, but Harvick’s also spun into the SAFER Barrier on the inside retaining wall and he finished 17th.

Notes:

●  Chase Elliott won the Xfinity 500 to score his 10th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was 6.577 seconds.
●  There were 12 caution periods for a total of 83 laps.
●  Only 17 of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
●  This was only the sixth time this season Harvick has finished outside the top-15. His nine wins, 20 top-fives, 26 top-10s and 1,531 laps led are all series-bests in 2020.

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

“Yeah, we just weren’t good and everybody on our Mobil 1 Ford just kept battling to make it better and gave ourselves a shot there at the end. I tried to drive into the door of the 18 (Kyle Busch) to get that last point to make it and spun him out.  I don’t usually drive like that, but you’re trying to make it to the Championship 4 and doing everything you can. Just came up short. Just not the night we needed.”                                                                                 

Championship 4 Drivers:

1.      Chase Elliott (5,000 points)
2.      Joey Logano (5,000 points)
3.      Denny Hamlin (5,000 points)
4.      Brad Keselowski (5,000 points)

Failed to Advance to Championship 4:

5.      Kevin Harvick (4,157 points) -8 points
6.      Alex Bowman (4,137 points) -28 points
7.      Martin Truex Jr. (4,113 points) -52 points
8.      Kurt Busch (4,079 points) -86 points

Next Up:

The NASCAR Cup Series season finale is Sunday, Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway. The championship race starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

COLE CUSTER – 2020 Martinsville II Race Report

Event: Xfinity 500 (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 15th/13th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 16th with 2,193 points

Race Winner:      Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner:  Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner:  Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):             

● Cole Custer started 15th and finished 24th.
● On lap 26, Custer reported his Mustang needed help on the long run while running 16th.
● During the lap-60 competition caution, Custer pitted from 18th for service and restarted 12th in the HaasTooling.com Mustang.
● Throughout the lap-73 and lap-103 cautions, Custer stayed on the racing surface and restarted from fourth on lap 110.
● The caution was displayed again on lap 114 with Custer in the 10th spot after fresher tires prevailed on competitor’s cars. He pitted and restarted 23rd with 10 laps remaining in the stage.
● Custer didn’t pit during the stage break in order to keep track position and manage tires.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

● Custer started third and finished 14th.
● While in the fifth position under caution on lap 146, Custer reported his Mustang was loose in and tight center. He didn’t pit and was in the eighth position on lap 170.
● On lap 185, under caution, Custer relayed his Mustang was okay. He pitted from 11th and restarted eighth.
● Custer remained in the top-10 when the caution was displayed on lap 215 and he pitted for service. After varying pit strategies, Custer restarted 21st.
● On lap 240, the California native was in the 13th spot and finished the stage in 14th.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 261-500):

● Custer started 12th, finished 13th.
● Custer remained in the top-15 during the green-flag run until the caution was displayed on lap 351. Custer reported his Mustang was tight in the center.
● Under caution on lap 400 Custer reported his center remained tight while in the 16th spot. He restarted 15th.
● Another caution was displayed on lap 441 and Custer pitted from 15th for four tires and to add tape to the grille. He restarted 15th.
● In the closing laps, Custer worked his way up to the 13th position and took the checkered flag.

Notes:

● Custer was the highest finishing NASCAR Cup Series rookie.
● Custer earned his 14th top-15 of the season and his first top-15 in his second career NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville.
● This was Custer’s fourth straight top-15. He finished ninth on Oct. 11 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval, 14th on Oct. 18 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and 14th in the series’ previous race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
● Chase Elliott won the Xfinity 500 to score his 10th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was 6.577 seconds.
● There were 12 caution periods for a total of 83 laps.
● Only 17 of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We were night and day better from the last time we were here at Martinsville. It was definitely a huge improvement and gives us something to build on for the next time we come back here. The guys kept adjusting on the HaasTooling.com Mustang all day.”

Next Up:

The NASCAR Cup Series season finale is Sunday, Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway. The championship race starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

CLINT BOWYER – 2020 Martinsville II Race Report

Event: Xfinity 500 (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 16th/8th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing:12th with 2,228 points

Race Winner:      Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner:  Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner:  Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

Clint Bowyer started 16th and finished 13th.
● The No. 14 Clint Bowyer Tribute Ford Mustang climbed to 13th by the lap-60 competition caution.
● Bowyer spun on lap 73 after contact with Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola.
● The No. 14 pitted twice during the caution and restarted 29th.
● Bowyer continued to show speed and raced in fifth on lap 108 after staying on the track during a caution.
● Bowyer made contact with the wall in the closing laps of the stage before finishing 13th.
● The No. 14 crew spent extra time making repairs during the stage break.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

Bowyer started 31st and finished 12th.
● The No. 14 Clint Bowyer Tribute Ford Mustang slowly worked his way back to the top breaking into the top 10 on lap 200.
● Bowyer made a late pit stop in the stage and drove back to 12th.
● During the stage break, Bowyer pitted for four tires and handling adjustments to help his car on the longer runs.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 261-500):

Bowyer started 12th and finished eighth.
● The No. 14 Clint Bowyer Tribute Ford Mustang raced around the top-10 for most of the stage.
● Bowyer restarted the race in sixth with 97 laps remaining. He was also on his final set of new tires.
● Bowyer claimed fifth with 87 laps to go with reminders on the radio to be gentle with his tires.
● Bowyer moved to fourth with 80 laps to go and held fifth when the caution came out with 60 to go.
● The No. 14 pitted during the caution and resumed the race in ninth with 51 to go.
● Bowyer held his position in the final laps on the older tires and finished eighth.

Notes:

● Bowyer earned his 12th top-10 of the season and his 17th top-10 in 30 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.
● This was Bowyer’s second straight top-20 at Martinsville. He finished 17th in the series’ previous visit to the track in June.
● Chase Elliott won the Xfinity 500 to score his 10th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was 6.577 seconds.
● There were 12 caution periods for a total of 83 laps. Only 17 of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

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

“Early on we had about a 20-lap car today. You had to pass everyone in the first 20 laps or you weren’t going to pass them. We worked hard and got it rolling there at the end. It’s always fun to race here. This is one of the tracks I’m going to miss.”

Next Up:

The NASCAR Cup Series season finale is Sunday, Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway. The championship race starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

CLINT BOWYER – 2020 Martinsville II Race Advance

In his 16 years of racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Clint Bowyer has sported dozens of paint schemes in many colors, but none like he’ll drive Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway when the 41-year-old former race winner makes his final appearance at the historic, half-mile track in Southern Virginia.

Bowyer announced on Oct. 9 that he will retire from full-time racing and join the FOX television booth in 2021. To commemorate his career, Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Mustang fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) on Sunday will carry 58 logos of nearly every major sponsor that appeared on a Bowyer racecar during his tenures at Richard Childress Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and SHR.

“SHR allowed us to run this paint scheme at Martinsville as a way to say ‘thank you’ to all my current and past sponsors,” said Bowyer, who will close out his full-time racing career at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 8. “Along with the fans, it’s our corporate partners that allow the drivers and race teams to do what we do each weekend. If it wasn’t for the support of all these people, we wouldn’t be able to race.”

Bowyer’s car will feature his 2020 partners at SHR on the hood while carrying 43 brand logos on the decklid that date back to his first full NASCAR Cup Series season in 2006. Since his first start in 2005, when he ran one race, Bowyer has run 539 races, earning 10 victories, 82 top-five finishes and 225 top-10s. Bowyer hopes to add to those totals when he returns Sunday to Martinsville, where he owns a victory, six top-fives and 16 top-10s in 29 races.

While Bowyer is closing out his full-time driving schedule, he remains highly competitive. He arrives in Martinsville after finishing 17th at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in a race that began Sunday afternoon but didn’t finish until Wednesday night because of persistent rain. Bowyer won the first stage, led 89 laps and held the lead until he was forced to make an extra fuel stop with just 25 laps remaining.

He wouldn’t mind a little redemption at Martinsville. Not only does he like the flat, .526-mile oval, it’s sort of a home race for the native of Emporia, Kansas, as his current residence is in nearby Clemmons, North Carolina.

“It’s 40 minutes from the house,” he said. “It’s just a fun, fun weekend. Fun racetrack. It’s old-school racing at its finest.

“When I went there the first couple of seasons in the sport, that was the one racetrack that I couldn’t wait to leave. I was terrible. I hated it, every aspect of it. Everything in your natural tendencies as a racecar driver doesn’t hold true there. Alright, I have to pass this guy in front of me. Well, I have to get in the corner deeper than him, I have to pick up the gas sooner than him, and both of those things took me about 27 times there before I ever figured it out.”

In 2018, Bowyer notched one of his most memorable victories when he dominated the 500-lap race by leading 215 laps on his way to ending his 190-race winless streak. It was his first victory at SHR, and he climbed from his No. 14 Ford on the frontstretch and looked to his left to see his wife Lorra and daughter Presley, led by then 3-year-old son Cash running from turn four toward “Dad.”

He couldn’t resist running toward his family.

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

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

Bowyer said Cash still asks him when he’s going back to victory lane. He’d love to Sunday and carry all the logos of the corporations that have made his career possible.

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Clint Bowyer Tribute Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Martinsville seems to be the most difficult track for drivers to figure out. Why is that?

“It’s a short track, but it’s not like any other short track you’ve ever been to. It goes against everything your tendencies tell you to do. You have to back the corner up and let the car roll way around the corner before you get back on the gas. Your tendencies are to get in the corner as deep as you can and get back on the throttle as fast as possible. Those are two things that are catastrophic there, so you’ve got to discipline yourself and stay disciplined throughout the race.”

Martinsville is your second-to-last NASCAR race. Are you at peace with how you career has played out?

“I don’t think anybody is ever satisfied with anything in life. I mean, if you win, you leave, ‘Damn, I wish I had hit that restart a little bit better. I didn’t lead every lap. I had a bad pit stop.’ That’s if you win. There are certainly things about that that you’ll always be not satisfied about, but I’m very satisfied with being able to be a part of this sport for a long time, having a lot of friends in this sport, making a lot of friends because of this sport, representing so many different organizations and just powerhouses in Corporate America. It’s cool to have those relationships still to this day, to be able to look back and say, ‘Hey, man. I represented them. They were a sponsor of mine.’ Or, ‘I know that CEO or that president, and I’m going to dinner with him next week.’ Those are all the things that were afforded to me in my life and my family because of this sport and being a part of it for so long. I don’t regret anything. I can promise you this – I’ve probably had more fun than about anybody out there these last 16 years, probably too much fun, sometimes. But, would I take anything back or change anything? Absolutely not. I mean, we got close (to the championship) once – finished second and I think fifth – had good runs within the playoffs and things like that. Did I win as many races I would have liked? No, but I had wonderful opportunities to and raced for a lot of good organizations. I won races for all three manufacturers. That’s something that was super cool. I’ve done a lot. I’m proud of what I’ve done and I’m satisfied, for sure. There’s no question about it.”

Do you envision a time when you’ll return to the car for a one-off race at some point in the future?

“I’m definitely open for anything. Hey, you can’t just shut off being a racecar driver. Are there tracks that I wish I never see again? Yes, but I’m probably gonna see them anyway. I’m gonna be there calling the races, but certainly there are some tracks that I’m really, really going to miss. Those road courses, believe it or not, are right up there. The short tracks and things like that, those are tracks that I felt like my talent and my experience that I’ve learned over the years were really good. I think that if an opportunity comes down the line and somebody was to be out or something like that, I would love to fill in if I could do a good job, and I know I could at some of those tracks, so who knows? I think we’re just going to have to see how it all goes and, if an opportunity comes to the table, maybe I’ll take it.”

How do you want your racing career to be remembered?

“I want people to obviously remember the good runs that I had, the fun that we had. I think everybody knows there are people who win races and there are people who win races and had a lot of fun doing it, and I’m proud to say there are probably not many people who celebrated and had as much fun winning as we did, but we had a lot of fun on the bad weekends, too. You’ve got to shake that off. You’ve got to chase this dream and the organizations and the people I represented – that’s what you’re most proud of, but the relationships and friendships I’ve made because of this sport, being a part of it, are what you’re most proud of. The fans, I haven’t said that enough. There is nothing more fun than going to a NASCAR race, and it’s that way because of the fans. This year has completely sucked, being at those tracks without fans. It is an empty hole that you can’t replace. You literally can’t. I’ve been one of the only drivers over the years – I’m not saying I’m the only one, but I go out each and every week and jump on the golf cart and go ride around and see fans and see people. I can’t tell you how many people – you know that ‘Ole Jim’ is going to be parked right there in the corner with his Winnebago and he’s going to have cornhole out, and he’ll have him some Busch Lights there. You know you can stop there for a cold beer, gotta see Jim. Over here are those people from Louisiana who have been your fans forever. You know those people. I don’t know their names, but I know damn well every single year that’s where they’re parked, where you can rely on them and know that they’re there and know that they’ll be there with your flag or your shirt on or your hat on their head. Those are the things that you’ll miss the most.”

 

COLE CUSTER – 2020 Martinsville II Race Advance

Cole Custer will make his 38th career NASCAR Cup Series start in his No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) during Sunday’s Xfinity 500 on the .526-mile oval at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Custer started 16th in the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Mustang last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. After 52 laps around the 1.5-mile oval, the 500-mile event was halted due to rain. After futile attempts to dry the track on Monday, the race was once again postponed and eventually concluded on Wednesday. Custer’s No. 41 crew worked on the handling of his Mustang and he ultimately finished 14th. The result was the best in the race among the four-car SHR entry.

Custer made his first Martinsville start in the Cup Series in June. The California native started 27th and fought a tight-handling Mustang throughout the race and finished 29th.

In the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series at Martinsville, Custer has six starts and, with the exception of the March 2016 race, the rookie driver started in the top-10 each time, including a pole award in October 2015. The Ford driver has a best Truck Series finish of fourth and an average starting position of 5.2 and an average finishing position of 16.2, along with 115 laps led at the Southern Virginia paperclip-shaped track.

In his last seven starts at tracks 1 mile or less, Custer has two top-10s – Phoenix Raceway and Dover (Del.) International Speedway – with an average starting position of 17.2 and an average finishing position of 18.7.

Even though Custer is out of contention for this year’s Cup Series championship, he still has two more opportunities to capture his second win of the season. This weekend, a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend the 500-lap event while following social distancing guidelines.

So far this season, Ford has won 18 races, and Custer and his SHR teammate Kevin Harvick have both earned wins for the Blue Oval – one for Custer and nine for Harvick. Ford’s milestone 700th win in the Cup Series came at the hands of Harvick on Aug. 23 at Dover. Ford captured its first victory on June 25, 1950. Ford drivers made up 50 percent of this year’s starting playoff field. SHR’s Harvick advanced to the playoffs’ Round of 8, of which Martinsville is the third of three races.

With Custer’s Cup Series win July 12 at Kentucky, he became one of 10 drivers who have won in each of NASCAR’s top three national series, as well as in ARCA and one of NASCAR’s developmental series.

Team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, Haas Tooling, was launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas’ cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. Beginning July 1, HaasTooling.com products became available nationally. The cutting tools available for purchase at HaasTooling.com are even more important during the current COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment.

SHR has 74 starts at Martinsville with four wins – team co-owner Tony Stewart in October 2011, Ryan Newman in April 2012, Kurt Busch in March 2014 and Clint Bowyer in March 2018. SHR has one pole award with 10 top-fives and 29 top-10s at Martinsville, with an average starting position of 13.7 and an average finishing position of 17.2 along with 739 laps led.

Haas Automation, founded by Haas in 1983, 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.

Custer, who had a trio of starts in the Cup Series in 2018, clinched 2020 Rookie of the Year honors in his official rookie season in NASCAR’s most prestigious series. Competing against fellow rookie notables Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick, he was the only rookie to clinch a playoff spot this season.

Cole Custer: Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Martinsville has moved from being the first race in this round to the cutoff race. What do you think Martinsville is going to be like, now?

“There’s going to be a lot of intensity at Martinsville. There’s probably going to be a lot of contact. The drivers who are in bad points positions are going to do what they have to do to get their spot in the playoffs at Phoenix. There will be desperate people making some desperate moves.”

Martinsville is such a tough place and there’s much more to it than the eye can see, so how do you survive?

“I have a few starts there in the Truck Series, and one earlier this year in the Cup Series. The flat, short tracks are some of the hardest to get around in the Cup car. A lot of Martinsville is just about trying to be there at the end. I think if you’re closer to the front, you’re going to have a better chance of staying out of trouble. It’s a tough race and you’ve got to kind of root and gouge your way around there. I think being very patient is one of the biggest things.”