KEVIN HARVICK – 2018 Homestead Race Report

Event:               Ford EcoBoost 400(Round 36 of 36)
Series:               Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format:            267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish:      12th/3rd(Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing:  3rdwith 5,034 points

Champion:        Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Race Winner:    Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80): 

  • Kevin Harvick started 12th and finished first.
  • The Jimmy John’s Ford entered the top-five by lap 21 and was up to third by lap 33.
  • Harvick reported that his Ford had goodbalance but lacked rear grip through the majority of the stage.
  • The Jimmy John’s team made a scheduled, green-flag stop on lap 38 for four tires, fuel and adjustments and came out as the leader among the Championship 4.
  • The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion took the race lead on lap 43 and kept it to capture his 19thstage win of the 2018 season.
  • At the conclusion of Stage 1, the Jimmy John’s Ford came down pit road forfour tires, fuel, tape and air pressure adjustments.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160): 

  • Harvick started first and finished second.
  • The Freaky Fast crew started from the lead but dropped to third on the ensuing restart.
  • Harvick regained the lead shortly after lap 105, but he pitted from the lead on lap 120 for four tires, fuel and adjustments.
  • By lap 123, Harvick had worked his way up to second and was the top Championship 4 contender.
  • The caution flag came out on lap 140, and Harvick reported a loose-handling condition as he pitted from the second spot.
  • The Jimmy John’s driver regained the lead on lap 147, but he relinquished the top spot on the final lap of Stage 2 to Kyle Larson. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267): 

  • Harvick started second and finished third.
  • The Bakersfield, California, native took the lead on the first lap of the final stage but quickly dropped to third.
  • The Jimmy John’s team serviced its Ford with four tires, fuel and tape during the lap-193 caution period, restarting fourth.
  • Harvick gained one position on the restart, taking over the third spot.
  • Interim crew chief Tony Gibson called Harvick to pit road for a scheduled pit service on lap 230, beginning the green-flag stop cycle.
  • The caution flag was displayed on lap 249 before Harvick had the opportunity to cycle through to the lead, but the Jimmy John’s team pitted from the fourth position and restarted fourth on the following restart.
  • Ultimately, Harvick finished the Ford EcoBoost 400 race – and the 2018 season – in the third position.

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

You led a number of laps tonight. Just take us through your race, please.

“Yeah, we had a daytime racecar. As soon as it got dark we never could get our car tightened up there at the end. They made a great call to put us in position to win the race, and then the caution came out when the 2 car spun the 19 out. We came off pit road fourth, and just our strong point was not the restarts tonight, and we wound up on the wrong side of it.”

It seems like every year this race comes down to that late‑race caution. So as you’re leading what appears is going to be the championship battle there with about 25 to go and knowing that Kyle (Busch) has to pit again, in the back of your mind are you just thinking, “What’s going to happen, what’s going to change this?”

“You know, in the end, not really. I was just driving away and wound up with a restart there and didn’t wind up getting off, going at the beginning. I don’t really think about stuff like that. You just try to hit one lap at a time.”

Kevin, you guys didn’t seem to be that happy with what you had yesterday after practice. What all went into it? When you got in the car and started to race, did you feel there had been a lot of big changes made?

“We didn’t make a lot of big changes, we made a lot of small changes, and the car was definitely better. But like I say, when it got dark, we just lost the rear grip and couldn’t get off the corner and was having trouble turning in the corner. Just the balance was really good until it was dark outside, and we just never could get the rear grip back to where we needed to, and I couldn’t take off. But like I say, they put us in a position to win if the caution didn’t come out, and we had a shot there with, I don’t even know, 18 laps to go when the caution came out. It’s just the way it all shook out. The 22 (of winner Joey Logano) could take off really good.”

Notes:

  • This was Harvick’s series-best 23rdtop-five and 29thtop-10 finish of 2018.
  • Harvick earned his 10thtop-five and 16thtop-10 in 18 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead.
  • Harvick won Stage 1 and finished second in Stage 2. He ends 2018 with a series-best 19 stage wins.
  • Harvick led five times for 58 laps to increase his laps-led total at Homestead to 373.
  • Logano won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 21stcareer Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Homestead. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 1.725 seconds.
  • In winning the Ford EcoBoost 400, Logano won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for the first time in his career, outdueling fellow Championship 4 contenders Truex, Harvick and Kyle Busch.
  • Logano’s victory delivered Ford its first manufacturers’ championship since 2002 and 16thoverall.
  • This was Ford’s 19thMonster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win this year, tying its own record for the second-most victories in a season. (Ford also won 19 races in 1997.)
  • Logano’s triumph marked the 108thpoints-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 677th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.
  • There were five caution periods for a total of 26 laps.
  • Only 18 of the 39 drivers in the Ford EcoBoost 400 finished on the lead lap. 

Championship 4 Results:

  1. Joey Logano (5,040 points)
  2. Martin Truex Jr. (5,035 points)
  3. Kevin Harvick (5,034 points)
  4. Kyle Busch (5,033 points)
  • Harvick competed in the Championship 4 for the fourth time in the last five years. He won the championship in 2014.

Next Up: 

The 2019 season kicks off with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 61stDaytona 500, the first points-paying race of the year, is Feb. 17 and will be broadcast live on FOX.

CLINT BOWYER – 2018 Homestead Race Report

Event: Ford EcoBoost 400 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway(1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 26th/8th (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing:12th with 2,272 points

Champion:           Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Race Winner:      Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:  Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 80):

Bowyer started 26th and finished 13th.
Told his crew on the opening lap, “You’ve worked your asses off this year, had a lot of fun and a lot of success.”
Drove from 26th to 18th in the first 10 laps of the race.
Pitted from 15th on lap 36 for minor adjustments to help his car’s handling.
Stage ran caution-free, never giving Bowyer a chance to climb into the top-10.

Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 160):

Bowyer started 11th and finished 10th.
Asked for air adjustment to help his car turn in the center of the corners.
● Broke into the top-10 on lap 87.
● Turned in top-five lap times and climbed as high as eighth.
● Pitted on laps 119 and 141 for tires and fuel.
● Race restarted with 16 laps left in the stage, but Bowyer was blocked in traffic and fell back to 13th.
● Bowyer climbed back to 10th before the stage ended.

Stage 3 Recap (Ended at Lap 267):

Bowyer started 11th and finished eighth.
Moved to eighth in the opening laps of the stage and seventh 10 laps later.
Restarted the race in fifth with 68 laps remaining but fell to eighth with 40 to go.
Pitted with 39 to go but told his crew in the closing laps that he couldn’t turn in the middle of the corners.
Caution fell with 20 to go, and Bowyer pitted, returning to the track in 13th.
Bowyer raced his way up to seventh in the final laps before Chase Elliott edged him at the finish line.

Notes:

● This was Bowyer’s 16th top-10 finish of 2018.
● Bowyer earned his seventh top-10 in 13 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead.
● Joey Logano won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 21st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Homestead. Logano also won his first career championship.
● Only 18 of the 39 drivers in the Ford EcoBoost 400 finished on the lead lap.

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

“I want to congratulate everyone at Ford Performance. I wish it were Kevin (Harvick) winning the championship, but I’m glad we kept it in the Ford family. That was a decent way to end the season tonight for us. We didn’t qualify like we wanted Friday, but we had a good car tonight. We’ve had a good year. My guys have worked hard and had a lot of fun and a lot of success. We’re ready for a break, but it won’t be long, and we’ll be ready to go to Daytona and start the new season.”

Next Up:

The 2019 season kicks off with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 61st Daytona 500, the first points-paying race of the year, is Feb. 17 and will be broadcast live on FOX.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2018 Homestead Race Report

Event: Ford EcoBoost 400 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway(1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 10th/9th (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 5th with 2,354 points

Champion:           Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Race Winner:      Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)</strong
Stage 2 Winner:  Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

● Aric Almirola started Stage 1 in the 10th spot and finished it in seventh to earn four bonus points.
● The Smithfield driver worked his way up to seventh before he made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 37 for fuel, four tires and adjustments.
● The entirety of the stage was run under the green flag, but Almirola was able to reach the sixth position on lap 54 even though he reported his Ford Fusion “was not much better on entry and exit.”
● The Tampa native pitted during the stage break for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help the Smithfield machine and restarted Stage 2 in seventh.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

● Almirola started Stage 2 in seventh and ended it in fifth to capture six bonus points.
● He reached the fifth spot on lap 92.
● The 34-year-old made his second scheduled green-flag stop of the day on lap 119 for fuel and four tires. After pit stops cycled through, he remained in the fifth position.
● The first caution of the race was displayed on lap 139, and Almirola reported he needed “a little bit of turn without missing lateral.”
● He pitted on lap 140 from fifth for fuel, four tires and adjustments and restarted in sixth on lap 144.
● The remainder of the stage was run under green, and Almirola completed it in fifth.
● During the Stage 2 break, Almirola visited pit road for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help with his lateral grip. He started the final stage in sixth.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

● Almirola started the final stage sixth and ended it in the ninth position.
● Almirola had raced up to fifth when the caution came out on lap 194. He pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments and restarted fifth on lap 199.
● Almirola made a scheduled green-flag pit stop from sixth on lap 230 for fuel, four tires and adjustments.
● During the last caution period of the race on lap 248, Almirola brought the No. 10 machine down pit road for the final pit stop of the season. He came in ninth and restarted ninth on lap 253.
● Almirola remained in the top-10 for the closing laps and ultimately closed out the season with a ninth-place finish at Homestead.

Notes:

● This was Almirola’s 17th top-10 of 2018 and his third top-10 in nine career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead.
● Almirola enjoyed a career year in 2018, securing his best points finish (fifth) and the most top-fives (four) and top-10s (17) in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career dating back to 2007. Almirola’s previous best points finish was 16th in 2014. His previous high for top-fives was three, earned twice (2015 and 2017), and his previous best for top-10s was seven (2014).
● Almirola finished seventh in Stage 1 to earn four bonus points and fifth in Stage 2 to earn six more bonus points.
● Joey Logano won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 21st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Homestead. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 1.725 seconds.
● In winning the Ford EcoBoost 400, Logano won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for the first time in his career, outdueling fellow Championship 4 contenders Truex, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
● Logano’s victory delivered Ford its first manufacturers’ championship since 2002 and 16th overall.
● This was Ford’s 19th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win this year, tying its own record for the second-most victories in a season. (Ford also won 19 races in 1997.)
● Logano’s triumph marked the 108th points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 677th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 26 laps.
● Only 18 of the 39 drivers in the Ford EcoBoost 400 finished on the lead lap.

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

“It was a great year for us, our first year working together. That was quite an accomplishment for us to battle the way we battled and to come out of here with a top-five in points. I’m just really proud of everybody on this Smithfield team. Ford had an amazing year. We won 19 races, so just an incredible year, and I’m really excited about getting ready for 2019. We had a great season, so it was nice to cap it off with a good run here at Homestead. We had a really good long-run car. That short run there at the end kind of hurt us a little bit, but I’m just really proud of (crew chief) Johnny Klausmeier, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and this entire 10 team. We accomplished a lot in one year, and I’m just really proud of that. I feel like we have so much potential, and we just continue to grow and get better and better, and next year is going be a lot of fun.”

Next Up:

The 2019 season kicks off with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 61st Daytona 500, the first points-paying race of the year, is Feb. 17 and will be broadcast live on FOX.

KURT BUSCH – 2018 Homestead Race Report

Event: Ford EcoBoost 400 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 6th/10th (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 7th with 2,350 points

Race Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kurt Busch started sixth, finished 10th, earning one bonus point.
Busch said on lap 31 that the car was a bit loose off.
● The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion pitted on lap 37 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment while running seventh.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Busch started sixth, finished seventh, earning four bonus points.
The No. 41 pitted on lap 83 for four tires, fuel and wedge and tire pressure adjustments.
● While sixth, Busch pitted on lap 117 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
● On lap 141 Busch pitted for four tires and fuel. He entered the pits seventh and exited seventh.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

Busch started ninth and finished 10th.
He pitted on lap 163 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment and reported that the car was “quite loose.”
● The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion pitted on laps 230 and 249 for four tires and fuel.
● Busch ended up finishing 10th.

Notes:

●  Busch earned a career-high 22 top-10s in 2018, besting his previous high of 21 top-10s, earned four times (2004, 2009, 2015 and 2016).
●  This was Busch’s seventh top-10 in 18 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead.
●  Busch finished 10th in Stage 1 to earn one bonus point and seventh in Stage 2 to earn four more bonus points.
●  Joey Logano won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 21st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Homestead. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr., was 1.725 seconds.
● In winning the Ford EcoBoost 400, Logano won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for the first time in his career, outdueling fellow Championship 4 contenders Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
●  Logano’s victory delivered Ford its first manufacturers’ championship since 2002 and 16th overall.
●  This was Ford’s 19th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win this year, tying its own record for the second-most victories in a season. (Ford also won 19 races in 1997.)
●  Logano’s triumph marked the 108th points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 677th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.
●  There were five caution periods for a total of 26 laps.
●  Only 18 of the 39 drivers in the Ford EcoBoost 400 finished on the lead lap.

Next Up:

The 2019 season kicks off with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 61st Daytona 500, the first points-paying race of the year, is Feb. 17 and will be broadcast live on FOX.

COLE CUSTER – 2018 NXS Homestead Race Report

Date:  Nov. 17, 2018
Event:  Ford EcoBoost 300 (Round 33 of 33)
Series:  NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location:  Homestead Miami-Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format:  200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/110 laps)
Start/Finish:  1st/2nd (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Point Standing:  (2nd with 4,035 points)

Race Winner:  Tyler Reddick of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner:  Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:  Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):

Custer started first after securing his sixth career NASCAR Xfinity Series pole and finished first.
● Custer dominated Stage 1 by leading all 45 laps.
● At the end of the stage, Custer said his Haas Automation Ford was loose on the restart and became tighter as the race wore on.
● Custer pitted for four tires and fuel and won the race off pit road.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):

● Custer started first and finished first.
● The driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford held the lead during the restart, where he ran for the entirety of Stage 2.
● At this point, Custer had led every lap at Homestead since lap 61 in 2017.
● Custer pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments at the conclusion of the stage.
● Caught in traffic on pit road, Custer exited in the third position.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 91-200):

Custer started third, finished second.
● On lap 98, Custer advanced to second and regained the lead over the other Championship 4 competitors.
● On lap 146, Custer pitted under green-flag conditions for four tires and fuel. He returned to the track in fifth place.
● Climbed all the way back to second, but leader Tyler Reddick established an insurmountable lead.
● Finished 6.902 seconds behind Reddick in second place.

Championship 4 Notes:  

● Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste (SHR) won the Xfinity Series owners’ championship, its first in the series.
● Custer finished second among the Championship 4 contenders for the Xfinity Series drivers’ title.
● Custer was the highest finishing Ford driver in the 2018 Xfinity Series championship.
● This was Custer’s first time participating in the Championship 4 in his two-year Xfinity Series career.

Race Notes:         

Custer led twice for a race-high 95 laps in the Ford EcoBoost 300.
● In Custer’s two career Xfinity Series starts at Homestead, he finished first (2017) and second (2018).
● Custer earned his 14th top-five of the season and second top-five at Homestead.
● Custer’s 26 top-10s this season are the most among full-time Xfinity Series drivers.
● Custer earned the most points at 1.5-mile tracks this season (369 points).
● Both Custer and his SHR teammate in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Kurt Busch, earned the most pole awards among competitors in their respective series. Busch earned a total of five poles this season.
● Only two cautions slowed the race for a total of10 laps.
● Reddick’s victory in the Ford EcoBoost 300 was the third of his Xfinity series career, his second of 2018 and his first at Homestead.

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

“First off, congrats to Tyler. I’m happy for him. He could run the wall better than I could at the end there and we were so far back from our pit stop with their strategy that once I got to him it seemed like our tires kind of equaled out and then he started running the top and I couldn’t keep up with him. It is what it is. It was a solid day. We had a fast car, we just didn’t have it play out right at the end. I’ve just got to thank everybody at Haas Automation, Gene Haas, Tony Stewart – everybody that’s been behind us all year. We were really close, it’s just sucks to be second.

“It means a lot being through this scenario. I thought we kept our calm all day. We did a great job it’s just that it didn’t play out right at the end. We still have something to hang our hats on. We still won the owner’s championship, which is really awesome, but I still wanted the driver’s one too.

“The strategy wasn’t all of it. Tyler could just run the top better than I could at the end, but looking back on it I don’t know if the call that we made, I think we would have rethought things, but you don’t want to be caught a lap down. There’s a lot of risk involved with pitting early, so it is what it is. If I could have run the top better, we probably would’ve won also.

“They (the tires) weren’t done, it’s just that you reach a certain point on tires where everything just starts to level out, and once I caught him I feel like everything just kind of leveled out and then he could run the top better than I could.

“Within my means I did as good as I could do as a driver at this point in my career. Maybe down the road if I could drive the top better we would have probably been better, but I couldn’t run the top. I don’t know. It is what it is. You run consistent and you do what you can and it just didn’t play out.

“I think I got way better as a driver this year just because I think I got way better at racing, so now it’s just a matter of kind of closing it out. That’s the biggest thing for me, but we’re really close. We’re one step away.

“We’ve come a long ways and everybody has worked really hard. It means a lot, but it’s still bittersweet when you finish second.”

Tony Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste:    

“Like Cole said, we all think it is bittersweet. We are proud as an organization to get the owners’ championship, but we wanted to do it with our driver winning the drivers’ championship. Cole did an awesome job. The whole team did an awesome job all year. That is the hard part about the last race is that it is down to a one-race deal and we just fell a little short. We might have made a mistake on the strategy on pitting too late.

“We will just come back next year and try to get him one. I am excited that we were able to get Ford their first one for the weekend and, hopefully, get another for them tomorrow. I’m excited about our Xfinity program – in such a short amount of time to have cars and the personnel that can put these cars up front each weekend and excited about having a second full-time car next year. More resources for Cole and another young driver and we are excited about the program.

“It is an awesome day for us, but it would be a hell of a lot more exciting if Cole was out there hoisting the trophy over his head for winning the drivers’ championship. We came up short but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. I am proud of Cole as a driver. He has come a long way and keeps getting better and better.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2018 Phoenix II Race Report

Date: Nov. 11, 2018
Event: Can-Am 500K (Round 35 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish: 16th/35th (Accident, completed 133 of 312)
Point Standing: 12th with 2,242 points

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

Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 75):

Bowyer started 16th and finished 14th.
Bowyer reported his car was very loose in the opening laps.
● Pitted for tires, fuel and adjustments during stage break and moved to 10th.

Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 150):

Bowyer started 10th and finished 35th.
On lap 97 Bowyer told his crew, “We are in the game now.”
Bowyer climbed to seventh and appeared ready to contend with the leaders.
On lap 133 Bowyer cut a tire, which sent the No. 14 into the wall.
● Bowyer drove the car to the garage but could not continue in the race.

Notes:

●  Kyle Busch won the Can-Am 500k to score his 51st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his eighth of the season and his second at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was .501 of a second.
●  There were 10 caution periods for a total of 61 laps.
●  Only 15 of the 39 drivers in the Can-Am 500k finished on the lead lap.

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

“I guess we cut a left-rear tire down. It’s just kind of the way our playoffs are going. It’s frustrating. We’ve had a great year getting to where we were part of this playoff situation and being in contention to be able to run for a championship. There’s a lot of pride with (crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz) and all the guys on the 14 car. It’s been a lot of fun to go to battle each and every week all across the country with these guys. Stewart-Haas, I can’t say enough about the job the men and women have done at Stewart-Haas getting all four cars in the playoffs and then obviously winning and being in victory lane, and everything Ford and everybody involved has done for us. I’m proud of our season, bummed for our day. It’s always fun to come out here to Phoenix. It’s a hell of a crowd today, appreciate everybody coming out. Unfortunately, we were a caution. You never want to be a caution.”

Playoff Standings:

Championship 4 Drivers:

1.       Kevin Harvick (5,000 points)
2.       Joey Logano (5,000 points)
3.       Kyle Busch (5,000 points)
4.       Martin Truex Jr. (5,000 points)

Failed to Advance to Championship 4:

1.       Kurt Busch
2.       Aric Almirola
3.       Clint Bowyer
4.       Chase Elliott

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2018 Phoenix II Race Report

Date: Nov. 11, 2018
Event: Can-Am 500K (Round 35 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish: 18th/4th (Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 7th with 2,316 points

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

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

● Aric Almirola started Stage 1 in the 18th spot and finished it in 11th.
● The Smithfield driver worked his way up through the field and reported on lap 25 that he “needed help rolling.”
● The entirety of the stage was run under the green flag.
● The Round of 8 contender pitted during the stage break for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help the No. 10 machine. The pit stop resulted in a 13th-place restart for Almirola in Stage 2.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

● Almirola started Stage 2 in 13th and ended it in 10th.
● The first caution of the race was displayed on lap 96 while Almirola was in 12th. Crew chief John Klausmeier made the call for the No. 10 machine to stay out on the track and restarted in ninth.
● The second caution of the race was displayed on lap 135, and Almirola came down pit road for fuel, four tires and adjustments once again. He restarted 13th on lap 140.
● The Tampa native finished Stage 2 in 10th.
● During the Stage 2 break, Almirola visited pit road for two right-side tires and fuel to start the final stage in seventh.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-312):

● Almirola started the final stage seventh and ended it in the fourth position.
● On lap 170, Almirola reported the Smithfield Ford was “very loose to get going,” and after slipping back to 10th he worked his way back up to eighth.
● The 34-year-old made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 226 from the seventh position. Unfortunately, the caution came out just after Almirola pitted.
● He restarted 16th on lap 236 and worked his way up to 13th when the caution came out on lap 240.
● The seventh caution came out with 49 to go while Almirola was in the 10th position. He came down pit road for fuel, four tires and adjustments. After a brief red flag and with varying pit strategies among competitors, Almirola restarted 12th on lap 269.
● Just after the restart, a multicar accident brought out the caution again as Almirola ran in seventh.
● The green flag dropped again on lap 275, and the Ford driver had maneuvered his way up to fourth when the ninth caution came out on lap 287. Almirola stayed out during caution and restarted fourth. He raced teammate Kevin Harvick for position until the 10th caution of the race came out on lap 296.
● Almirola restarted in the second position on lap 300 with his best shot to win the race and move on to the Championship 4 at Homestead. Unfortunately, he was overtaken by another competitor and ultimately finished fourth when the remainder of the event ran under the green flag.

Notes:

●  This was Almirola’s fourth top-five and 16th top-10 finish of 2018. This is the most top-fives Almirola has earned in a single season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
●  Almirola earned his first top-five in 16 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix. His previous best finish at Phoenix was seventh, earned in the series’ March race at the track.
●  Almirola finished 10th in Stage 2 to earn one bonus point.
●  Kyle Busch won the Can-Am 500k to score his 51st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his eighth of the season and his second at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was .501 of a second.
●  There were 10 caution periods for a total of 61 laps.
●  Only 15 of the 39 drivers in the Can-Am 500k finished on the lead lap.

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

“I thought we were a seventh- to sixth-place car, and that’s what I thought we were (on Saturday), too. Johnny and all these guys fought their guts out, and I fought my guts out inside the racecar and gave it everything we had. We took a seventh- or eighth-place car and, the next thing you know, we were in position to win the race. I’m just really thankful for this group, and these guys on the Smithfield team are awesome. This is our first year working together. You look at all the teams we’re racing and they’ve got four, five, six, seven years working together, so what we’ve accomplished in one year is a hell of a lot. Right now all I can think about is being inside of Kyle down there in the new one and two and just not being able to get the power down to get up beside him. It’s bittersweet. It was a good day for us, but today we needed to win – and we didn’t win.”

Playoff Standings: 

Championship 4 Drivers:

1.       Kevin Harvick (5,000 points)
2.       Joey Logano (5,000 points)
3.       Kyle Busch (5,000 points)
4.       Martin Truex Jr. (5,000 points)
●  Harvick will compete in the Championship 4 for the fourth time in the last five years. He won the championship in 2014.

Failed to Advance to Championship 4:

1.       Kurt Busch
2.       Aric Almirola
3.       Clint Bowyer
4.       Chase Elliott

KEVIN HARVICK – 2018 Phoenix II Race Report

Date: Nov. 11, 2018
Event: Can-Am 500k (Round 35 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish: 1st/5th (Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: Tied for 1st with 5,000 points, advanced to Championship 4

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

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

Kevin Harvick started first and finished 30th.
The Busch Light Ford led the first 72 laps before a punctured tire sent the car to pit road with two laps remaining in the stage.
The team fell a lap down during the stop and restarted as the last car one lap down.
● Harvick came to pit road for four tires and fuel following the stage. The team was ineligible for the wave-around due to a commitment line violation.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

Harvick started 28th, finished fourth, earning seven bonus points.
The Busch Light team was awarded the free pass to return to the lead lap on lap 96.
● Harvick raced his way back into the top-15 on lap 123 and up to 13th by the following caution on lap 134.
● The team stayed out under caution as many of the leaders came to pit road. The strategy allowed Harvick to restart third on lap 139.
● The No. 4 Ford held on to the fourth position to end the stage.
● The team came to pit road for four tires and fuel at the conclusion of the stage.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-312):

Harvick started 10th and finished fifth.
● The No. 4 Ford raced from 10th up to the fourth position before coming to pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 227.
● The caution flag came out while the No. 4 Busch Light Ford was on pit road, trapping the team a lap down.
● Harvick took the wave-around on lap 235 to return to the lead lap in the 11th position.
● The Busch Light team came to pit road under caution for a two-tire stop on lap 265 and came out sixth.
● Harvick narrowly avoided a multicar incident on a lap-268 restart that took out Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott.
● The No. 4 Ford was in the third position on lap 286 when the caution flag came out. He restarted second on lap 292.
● The Busch Light team chose to stay out for the final caution on lap 295 while in third.
● The team restarted third on lap 300 and held on to score a top-five finish.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Were you stressed at all in the car or did it just fuel the fire for you?

“Yeah, we’re happy about going to Miami and I think as you run you just want to make it lap by lap.”

Any indication the right-front tire was going down when it did?

“Yeah, I felt it start to go down going into turn one there and just slowed down to the point where I thought I could at least make it back to the pits and not hit the wall.  It came at an OK time because it didn’t tear the car up.  It never really drove as well after that, but we kept ourselves in position all day and there at the end it was just like with everybody wrecking and all over the place, we just needed to stay out of trouble and try to find a safe spot there.”

Notes:

●  This was Harvick’s series-leading 22nd top-five and 28th top-10 of 2018.
●  Harvick earned his 16th top-five and 21st top-10 in 32 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix.
●  Harvick finished fourth in Stage 2 to earn seven bonus points.
●  Harvick led twice for 73 laps to increase his laps-led total at Phoenix to a series-best 1,595. This is nearly twice as many as the next best driver Kyle Busch, who has led 944 laps at Phoenix.
●  Kyle Busch won the Can-Am 500k to score his 51st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his eighth of the season and his second at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was .501 of a second.
●  There were 10 caution periods for a total of 61 laps.
●  Only 15 of the 39 drivers in the Can-Am 500k finished on the lead lap.

Championship 4 Drivers:

1.  Kevin Harvick (5,000 points)
2.  Joey Logano (5,000 points)
3.  Kyle Busch (5,000 points)
4.  Martin Truex Jr. (5,000 points)
●  Harvick will compete in the Championship 4 for the fourth time in the last five years. He won the championship in 2014.

Failed to Advance to Championship 4:

1.  Kurt Busch
2.  Aric Almirola
3.  Clint Bowyer
4.  Chase Elliott

KURT BUSCH – 2018 Phoenix II Race Report

Date: Nov. 11, 2018
Event: Can-Am 500k (Round 35 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish: 14th/32nd (Accident, completed 272 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 6th with 2,318 points

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

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

Kurt Busch started 14th, finished fourth, earning seven bonus points.
Busch said the car was a bit loose, but he was up to 10th by lap 30.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

Busch started second, finished 22nd.
On lap 79, Busch pitted for four tires and fuel.
● Busch took the lead at lap 84 and held the top spot until he pitted under caution on lap 135 for four tires and fuel.
● The No. 41 Ford was issued a one-lap penalty for passing the pace car on pit road entrance. He restarted 27th, one lap down.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-312):

Busch started 21st, one lap down, and finished 32nd.
● On lap 230, after a caution, Busch was the “lucky dog” and back on the lead lap in 12th.
● Busch pitted on lap 231 for four tires and fuel.
● After not pitting during a lap-263 caution, Busch restarted second.
● Unfortunately, as Busch entered turn two on the restart, the car of Denny Hamlin brushed up against the No. 41 Ford and drove both cars into the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall. Busch’s car then struck the car driven by Chase Elliott.
● The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion could not be repaired in the allotted five-minute window, and Busch’s day was done.

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

“Erik Jones was on my inside when we restarted, and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t slip through the new one and two. If I could have been to somebody’s outside off two, then I thought we had a good shot of maintaining the lead, and I just got cleaned out. I flat out got cleaned out. I thought it was the right decision on staying out. I’m not going to look back on it. If the rule earlier in the race on the pit road of passing the pace car is black and white, I just need to get brushed up on my rulebook. I didn’t gain anything by doing what I did other than just digging from behind all day. It was a really good year for our Haas Automation Ford. Thanks to Monster Energy and everybody that put their talent into that 41 car. I just didn’t get the job done to get us to Homestead.”

You embraced Tony Stewart when you got out of the car. What did you say?

“He was just helping me out as a driver, owner. That’s what Tony Stewart does. He’s a good individual that knows how to pat somebody on the back and create clarity from the outside on what went on, because I only see what happens from the inside of the car.”

Notes:

●  Kurt Busch finished fourth in Stage 1 to earn seven bonus points.
●  Kurt Busch led once for 52 laps to increase his laps-led total at Phoenix to 809.
●  Kyle Busch won the Can-Am 500k to score his 51st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his eighth of the season and his second at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was .501 of a second.
●  There were 10 caution periods for a total of 61 laps.
●  Only 15 of the 39 drivers in the Can-Am 500k finished on the lead lap.

Championship 4 Drivers:

1.       Kevin Harvick (5,000 points)
2.       Joey Logano (5,000 points)
3.       Kyle Busch (5,000 points)
4.       Martin Truex Jr. (5,000 points)
●  Harvick will compete in the Championship 4 for the fourth time in the last five years. He won the championship in 2014.

Failed to Advance to Championship 4:

1.       Kurt Busch
2.       Aric Almirola
3.       Clint Bowyer
4.       Chase Elliott

COLE CUSTER – 2018 NXS Phoenix II Race Report

Date: Nov. 10, 2018
Event: Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 (Round 32 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (Mile oval)
Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/10 laps)
Start/Finish: 2nd/8th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Point Standing: (1st with 4,000 points)

Race Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):

● Custer started second, finished fifth.
● Custer said his Haas Automation Ford fired off loose and became tighter as the stage wore on.
● He ran inside the top-five for the entirety of stage.
● Custer pitted the No. 00 Ford for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments at the end of the stage. He gained one position on pit road.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):

● Custer started fourth, finished sixth.
● Custer battled inside the top-five for the majority of the stage and fell to sixth before the green-checkered flag waved.
● He pitted for four fresh tires, fuel, and wedge and chassis adjustments when Stage 2 ended.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 91-200):

● Custer started 10th, finished 8th.
● After a lap-136 caution, Custer pitted for four tires fuel and adjustments and moved to sixth place.
● He returned to the top-five on the restart until a lap-145 caution, but fell to eighth on the following restart due to an issue while shifting gears.
● Custer raced inside the top-10 for the remainder of the race and earned his third top-10 at Phoenix.

Notes:

● Custer automatically advanced to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami when he won last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
● Custer earned his 25th top-10 of the season and third at ISM Raceway.
● Six cautions slowed the race for 34 laps.
● This will mark Custer’s first Championship 4 eligibility of his Xfinity Series career.
● Christopher Bell won the Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 to earn his eighth career Xfinity series win, seventh of the season and first at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Daniel Hemric was 1.887 seconds.

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

“We kind of struggled all day. We tried something different this race and I don’t know if it was what we were looking for, but we’ll go on to Homestead. We just have to do everything to our full potential and we have as good a shot as anybody of winning. We just have to make sure we do everything right. We’ll be in full focus mode starting now. It’s all eyes on the championship.”

Playoff Standings:

1. Cole Custer (4,000)
2. Christopher Bell (4,000)
3. Daniel Hemric (4,000)
4. Tyler Reddick (4,000)
5. Elliott Sadler (Eliminated)
6. Matt Tifft (Eliminated)
7. Justin Allgaier (Eliminated
8. Austin Cindric (Eliminated)