CHASE BRISCOE – 2020 NXS Las Vegas II Race Advance

Event:  Alsco 300 (Round 27 of 33)
Date:  Sept. 26, 2020
Location:  Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Layout:  1.5-mile oval


Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest


•  The NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs begin at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday with the series’ return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Alsco 300. Chase Briscoe is the No. 1 seed in the 12-driver playoffs thanks to a dominating performance during the regular season. His seven victories are two more than any other driver, and combined with his five stage wins, Briscoe takes an impressive 50 bonus points into the playoffs.
•  The Xfinity Series playoffs feature the top-12 drivers. There are three rounds, with the 12-driver field whittled down to eight after the first round and then to four after the second round, with those four drivers competing for the championship in the season finale Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway. The first round begins at Las Vegas followed by Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Oct. 3 and the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval on Oct. 10. The top-eight drivers after Charlotte move on to the second round, which is comprised of Kansas Speedway on Oct. 17, Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 24 and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 31. The top-four drivers after Martinsville compete in the Championship 4 at Phoenix, where the highest finishing driver is crowned the 2020 Xfinity Series champion.
•  This is Briscoe’s second straight playoff appearance. He finished fifth in the Xfinity Series standings last year, narrowly missing out on advancing to the Championship 4 and competing for the series title. He did, however, win the rookie-of-the-year award.
•  Beyond being the No. 1 seed to start the playoffs and having a series-best seven wins, there are other numbers that bolster Briscoe’s championship aspirations:

•  Briscoe has already led 538 laps this season, 341 more laps than he led all last season.
•  Briscoe has already scored 14 top-fives, one more than he earned last year.
•  Briscoe’s average starting position this season is 7.1, an improvement over his 8.8 averagestarting positon last year.
•  Briscoe’s average finishing position is 7.6, bettering his 8.2 average finishing positon in 2019.
•  Briscoe comes into Las Vegas with momentum. He won the series’ most recent race last Friday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, feasting in the Food City 300. Briscoe led three times for 11 laps around the .533-mile oval, but it was the final six tours in the 300-lap contest that proved the most important. The 25-year-old racer from Mitchell, Indiana, muscled his way into the lead on lap 295 and pulled away with more than a half-second advantage over his nearest pursuer when the checkered flag dropped. It was Briscoe’s ninth career Xfinity Series victory, but his first at Bristol.
•  Briscoe is also the most recent Xfinity Series winner at Las Vegas. The first of his seven victories this year came on Feb. 23 in the Boyd Gaming 300. Briscoe led five times for a race-high 89 laps and his margin of victory over second-place Austin Cindric was an impressive 2.874 seconds.
•  Briscoe has made four career Xfinity Series starts at Las Vegas with two top-10s. He also made a NASCAR Truck Series start at the 1.5-mile oval in September 2017, starting third and leading the first 40 laps before finishing third in a Ford F-150.
•  Briscoe’s No. 98 Ford Mustang from Stewart-Haas Racing will carry the colors of FIELDS for the Alsco 300. FIELDS, one of the Sports Fields Inc., companies, is the preeminent builder of fields and sports parks in the country. FIELDS is committed to “Building Sports Parks of Distinction.” The fields produced facilitate peak team performance and are constructed using the industry’s best resources and embody the essence of durability, precision, technological innovation, service and quality.

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 98 FIELDS Ford Mustang:


You’re coming off you’re seventh win of the year last weekend at Bristol and now you’re headed back to the location of your first win of 2020 this weekend at Las Vegas. Is team confidence at an all-time high for the start of the playoffs?

“Yeah, Bristol was a huge momentum builder for our team. This is the time of the year when you want your momentum and confidence to be high. For us to win Bristol was big, and if we could go to Las Vegas and go back to back it would be great for our team confidence. It would also send a message to these other teams that we’re serious and, hopefully, we’re going to be the team they have to go through. This is the time when teams can really come together and thrive or fall apart. I feel like our team has been great all year long at fighting adversity and continuing to battle. That’s what the playoffs are all about.”

Is there a race in this first round that holds more importance in terms of advancing?

“Las Vegas is probably the most important race of the year outside of the championship race at Phoenix because if you have a bad race at Las Vegas, you can get knocked out of the playoffs even with the points buffer we have. You never know what could happen at Talladega or the Roval, so this weekend is super important if we want to be safe and advance to the next round. I don’t think either round plays into our favor, but we don’t have any bad tracks. We just need to make the most out of this weekend with our FIELDS Ford Mustang and continue to add playoff points and wins until we reach Phoenix.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2020 Las Vegas II Race Advance

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the NASCAR Cup Series, continued his career-best season last weekend when he secured his sixth top-five finish of 2020 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and advanced in the NASCAR Playoffs to the Round of 12 for the second time in his career.

His six top-five finishes surpass his previous best of four in a season in 2018. In addition, his 288 laps led is a career-high for a season, and his 17 top-10 finishes tied his season-best. While a win in 2020 still has eluded the No. 10 Ford team, the goal for Almirola is to race for a championship – the ultimate high point of any Cup Series driver’s career.

“This year has been like no other,” Almirola said. “The chemistry of this team is unmatched and the results are showing it. To have the best year of my career with a brand new crew chief says a lot. The first time we visited Las Vegas (site of Sunday’s South Point 400) we were still working through our communication. It was the second race of the year with a new crew chief and driver combination and we’re coming back 28 races later with a solid championship-caliber team.”

Almirola is not only optimistic due to the season stats he’s racked up, but applauds NASCAR for giving the drivers and fans a playoff schedule that crowns a champion utilizing all track configurations.

“You can’t just be good at your short-track program or your 1.5-mile program or superspeedway program,” he said. “It all has to be good. I think that is really, when you crown a champion, what you want to identify. You want to crown somebody who has been successful at every different type of racetrack throughout the year. Incorporating that into the playoffs is awesome.”

Almirola has run toward the front of the field this year at every kind of track. At intermediate-style tracks like Las Vegas, Almirola has six top-10s. And when the series races next week at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, it marks a return to Almirola’s first top-three of the season – a third-place drive in June where he crossed the finish line backward upon spinning while vying for the lead. That result tied the record of eight consecutive Talladega top-10s set by Dale Earnhardt Jr., between April 2001 and October 2004. If that front-running consistency can be repeated, it should set Almirola up well for the next cutoff race Oct. 11 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval – where a solid points cushion can mitigate the adversity that seems omnipresent on the Roval’s tight and circuitous layout.

While Almirola and the team continue their journey to reach their career high point, HighPoint.com, a leading customer service and technology solutions company, will sponsor Almirola’s No. 10 car at Las Vegas with a slick blue, black and white paint scheme for the first time this year.

It’s a proper partnership, as Almirola is one of the more tech-savvy drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series. Even before COVID-19 led to remote competition meetings via Microsoft Teams and countless media availabilities by way of Zoom, Almirola managed life via his phone and laptop.

“It’s amazing how much we rely on technology to help manage our lives,” he said. “You kind of take it for granted until you step back and realize the complexity of it all. And when it comes to what we do at Stewart-Haas Racing, the mechanical parts and pieces we use out on the racetrack don’t work as well if the IT isn’t there to support our efforts. Everything we do is engineering-based and measured in thousandths. Tape measures are long gone. It’s all about IT.”

Technology has played an increased role in 2020, with no practice or qualifying in advance of races during this COVID-19 era. Almirola and the No. 10 have embraced this brave new world and thrived, with a win being the next item on their to-do list. Las Vegas loves winners, so Almirola and the No. 10 HighPoint.com team are in the right place.

 

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

 

How much confidence has your crew chief given you this year?  

“Mike (Bugarewicz) has been great to work with. He is a very passionate and intense crew chief and I enjoy that about him. He works really hard on the racecars and pays attention to all the details on the car and the simulation side of things. That is kind of where he came from. He had been an engineer for most of his career and then graduated to being a crew chief, and a good one at that. He has been a lot of fun to work with. He is certainly fiery and competitive and I appreciate that about him. He certainly expects the most out of me as the driver and he expects the most out of our team. All the guys rally around that and we do our best to make sure we give our best – and we do that anyway, but Mike expects that out of us.”

Looking at this round with Las Vegas, Talladega, and the Charlotte Roval, what are your feelings with some wild-card races in that group?

“I like it. I really enjoy the excitement that this schedule has put into our playoffs. Our playoffs are already intense and exciting and, from a fans perspective, I just think the way they have set this schedule for the playoffs is incredible. You go from the 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas, a downforce track, to Talladega, which is certainly exciting and a little bit of a wild card, and then to the Roval. It is three distinctly different racetracks. I think it is just really awesome for the fans. From the driver standpoint, I like it, too. It really sets up for that versatility and makes sure you have to be good everywhere.”

COLE CUSTER – 2020 Las Vegas II Race Advance

For the final NASCAR Cup Series race of September, Cole Custer and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) venture out to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s South Point 400. The season’s second stop at the mile-and-a-half desert oval will be Custer’s 33rd Cup Series start.

Las Vegas marks the first race of the Round of 12 in this year’s Cup Series playoffs. Custer qualified for the playoffs in his rookie season. He finished 12th at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and 14th at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in the opening two races of the Round of 16, but missed advancing to the next round by 28 points after finishing 23rd at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last Saturday night after battling an ill-handling Mustang. Nonetheless, the season isn’t a wash for Southern California native. He can finish as high as fifth in the championship points. “I studied as much as I could going into Bristol to figure things out, but I just missed it somewhere,” Custer said. “We’ll keep trying, though, even though we aren’t moving on to the next round.”

In February at Las Vegas, Custer started 17th and finished 19th after fighting a tight-handling car throughout the day. He also made a Cup Series start in 2018 at Las Vegas in a Rick Ware Racing-owned entry, starting 30th and finishing 27th in his first ever Cup Series outing.

In addition to the HaasTooling.com paint scheme on the No. 41 Ford Mustang, Custer will have two special people riding along with him this weekend. In support of the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and the NASCAR Foundation’s Cancer Heroes program, Custer will have the names of Kieran Ecker above the driver’s side door and Margaret Evelyn Crosby above the passenger door. Ecker who was nominated by his wife Bethany, was diagnosed with diffuse large b-cell lymphoma last year. Ecker continued to work at Ford Motor Company while undergoing treatment. Evelyn Crosby was nominated by Joe Custer, Cole’s father. Crosby is the rookie driver’s great grandmother and was diagnosed with leukemia and succumbed to the disease in 1937.

In the Xfinity Series, Custer has five starts at Las Vegas from 2017 to 2019 with three pole awards and four top-10 finishes. In total, Custer has an average Xfinity Series starting position of 5.4 and an average finishing position of 7.2, along with 54 laps led. Custer has one 2016 outing in the Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series at Las Vegas. He started and finished third.

So far this season, Ford has won 17 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 (Del.) International Speedway. Ford captured its first victory on June 25, 1950. Ford drivers made up 50 percent of this year’s starting playoff field, with eight drivers representing the Michigan manufacturer in the Round of 16, and five drivers continuing on to the Round of 12.

With Custer’s Cup Series win July 12 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, 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.

In 47 starts at Las Vegas, SHR has three wins with team co-owner Tony Stewart capturing the first in March 2012, and Harvick adding wins in March 2015 and March 2018. In total, SHR has three pole awards, eight top-fives and 16 top-10s along with 994 laps led at Las Vegas.

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:

 

What has been the hardest thing for you to adapt to this season as a rookie?

“The 550 package on the mile-and-a-halves that we run. It’s been strange getting used to that. It’s so different from what we ran in the Xfinity Series. You can look at as much data and video as you want, but you really don’t get to feel it until you’re out there. It was really confusing to me at the beginning of the year, honestly. Now I feel like we know what I want in the cars and what I want on the track. Now it’s just trying to be consistent with it.”

What does it actually mean from the driver’s perspective when you talk about the difference between the 550 and 750 package?

“Well, the aero is different, so how the car works traffic is a lot different. The gas is a lot different because you’re carrying so much more throttle time. How you work the brake, how you work the restarts, everything about it is just different. So if you’re not hitting it 100 percent as good as you can in all of those areas, you’re going to get eaten up. You’re trying to perfect it and know exactly what you need to do in each situation.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given on how to get to that next level in your career?

“I think the best piece is just taking it one step at a time. Find ways to make yourself better and still stay hungry. You’re going to stress yourself out too much if you don’t take it one step at a time.”

You’ve raced against Kyle Busch a lot in the Xfinity Series. He’s having a tough year in the Cup Series without a win, yet, but he is the defending series champion. Regardless, how hard and tough is it to beat Kyle on the track?

“Kyle is one of the best out there and can do impressive things in the car. It’s a huge deal to get to race with him. You can learn a lot from him and his year goes to show that you have to have all of the pieces of the puzzle come together to win a race. It’s not easy, and some of the best out there go through some dry spells.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2020 Las Vegas II Race Advance

Clint Bowyer has some lofty goals for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval, the first of three races in the Round of 12 of this year’s playoffs.

Obviously, Bowyer wants to win the 400-mile race and earn the free pass to the next round. If not a victory, then he’d like to begin scoring enough points so he will be in the top eight after the Oct. 4 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the Oct. 11 race on the “roval” at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, when NASCAR trims the playoff field from 12 to eight drivers.

While he is making his wish list, Bowyer also would like to find a cancer cure.

“We’ve got to get out to Las Vegas and swing for the fence,” Bowyer said, talking about his competition strategy and certainly describing efforts to fight the elusive disease.

“These are the playoffs – you don’t base hit it,” he said. “‘Steady Eddie’ got us through the first round, but from here on you’ve got to get up to the plate and swing for the fence every time, and every decision, and that’s in the car and out of the car. We’ve got to lay it on the line and go for it, and that’s why these playoffs are fun.”

Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Mustang will carry the colors of longtime supporter One Cure, whose mission is to find a cancer cure through research benefiting man’s best friend – the dog.

The One Cure project is led by the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University. It is founded on the principle that cancer affects all creatures and that treatment breakthroughs come through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with people and animals. This approach is known as comparative oncology and it is the guiding concept of One Cure and the Flint Animal Cancer Center. The center works to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pets, and teams with the human medical field to translate research findings that will help people with cancer.

The center, located in Colorado State’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, sees more than 1,500 new animal cancer patients every year, with approximately 130 of them enrolled in carefully monitored clinical trials specific to their cancer type. The canine and feline patients are helping pioneer cancer research, moving cutting-edge treatments out of the laboratory and into clinical practice, ultimately providing hope for the next generation of animal and human cancer patients.

Bowyer’s Las Vegas paint scheme will call special attention to the Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study (VACCS) created to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention of cancer. If successful, this study could provide important justification for eventually looking at a similar approach in humans.

VACCS will be the largest clinical trial conducted to date for canine cancer. Its goal is to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention, rather than treatment, of dogs with cancer. Healthy dogs of certain breeds, 5.5 years or older, will be randomized to receive either a series of vaccines similar to other routine vaccines that are given to dogs currently, or placebo vaccines. Dogs will live at home and be checked two to three times yearly for five years after enrollment.

The hope is that vaccinated dogs will have a lower rate of cancer development. If so, this could lead to advances to prevent cancer, in the first place in pets, and perhaps also in people. A financial incentive will be offered to defray the cost associated with diagnostics and treatment of any cancers that dogs develop, regardless of whether they are receiving vaccine or placebo.

The goal is to enroll 800 dogs in the study. Race fans interested in enrolling their pet to play a key role in helping find a vaccine to prevent cancer, or those interested in donating, may do so at www.Vaccs.org.

The paint scheme of Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Mustang at Las Vegas will picture two dogs already enrolled in the study.

“I hope what One Cure is doing will make life better for pets and humans in the coming years,” he said. “Anyone who knows me knows how much my family and I value animals. Whether it’s our dogs, pigs, goats or any of our farm animals, there have always been pets around my house. And everyone knows someone whose life has been touched by cancer. I couldn’t think of many things better than finding a cancer cure.”

The decal on the roof of Bowyer’s racecar that normally displays his name will be replaced Sunday by the name of 10-year-old cancer survivor Claire Kochenower of Houston, Texas. Her name will ride on Bowyer’s car as part of the Martin Truex Jr., and NASCAR foundations’ Nominate a Cancer Hero program. Bowyer has been a favorite of the Kochenower family, and even one of Claire’s teddy bears is a Bowyer fan.

Bowyer hopes to take her name to victory lane on Sunday, or at least get a good start in the Round of 12. More importantly, maybe the attention generated by Bowyer’s paint scheme and the work done by One Cure can lead to an even greater victory for Claire and millions like her.

 

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

How are you running heading into the Round of 12?

“I feel comfortable we’re getting back to our consistency. I guess for a long time in my career I was kind of ‘Steady Eddie,’ and that’s what it takes in these playoffs – to go the rounds. You can’t make mistakes. I said that going into these playoffs. For our team, we’ve got to live up to our capabilities and, if we can do that and race to our capabilities and not make the mistakes we were making through the summer months, we can contend and move forward rounds in this playoff system. And that’s what we’re doing.”

What is your strategy Sunday?

“I’m looking forward to getting out to Sin City and having some fun out there. Hopefully we can double down, get some stage points and continue to march forward up through this playoff system and the points.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2020 Las Vegas II Race Advance

In December 1991, Nintendo released Tecmo Super Bowl to a worldwide audience.

Tecmo Super Bowl was for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and included the names and attributes of the National Football League. It was based on the 1990-91 NFL season, which was 30 years ago.

The game has a cult following and is still popular with players who use emulators to play the game on other systems and computers with updated NFL teams, or even college teams. So the University of Florida Gators could be playing the Purdue University Boilermakers. Or the Brown University Bears could battle the Princeton University Tigers.

In the original NFL version, Lawrence Taylor from the New York Giants was an unstoppable defender, while Bo Jackson from the Los Angeles Raiders could not be defended, and the Buffalo Bills, led by Jim Kelly, were quite good. Tecmo had a 16-game NFL schedule and then a playoff format in which a player could lead his chosen “team” to the Super Bowl. But as the playoffs progressed, the games got more and more difficult.

For Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), he begins the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and knows, like Tecmo, the races and competition will get much more difficult.

Fortunately for Harvick, he’s led the point standings since March and has a big advantage behind a career-high nine wins and counting.

As always, he will have the help of Mobil 1 as a sponsor and partner at Las Vegas, and that relationship has paid off nicely for Harvick with those nine wins in 2020. Included in those wins was the early August doubleheader weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where with just one Ford engine in more than 90-degree air temperatures both Saturday and Sunday, he totaled 634 miles and came home with two trophies thanks to the advantage Mobil 1 technology gave him and the No. 4 team.

In the late-August doubleheader weekend at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Harvick finished fourth Saturday and won Sunday, and his engine went 622 miles with air temperatures in the 80s. Afterward, Harvick said simply, “Thank you to Mobil 1. They put a lot into the oils and lubricants in these cars and grinding to find more horsepower and less drag. It is an honor to drive for these guys.”

Harvick opened the playoffs with a win in the crown jewel Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, which is known for tearing up racecars during the Labor Day-weekend heat. It didn’t affect Harvick or his team this year as he led 32 laps en route to victory.

Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR team with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 18th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.

Harvick now heads to Las Vegas for Sunday’s South Point 400. Las Vegas is a place where Harvick has had a lot of success, with wins in March 2015 and 2018 and a Busch pole in March 2019.

In 2015 at the 1.5-mile oval, he started 18th, led five times for a total of 142 laps and beat runner-up Martin Truex Jr., by 1.640 seconds. In the March 2018 race, he started second and dominated by leading 214 of 267 laps en route to beating runner-up Kyle Busch by 2.906 seconds.

Harvick has six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s at Las Vegas. The 44-year-old driver has led 679 laps, has an average starting position of 15.8, an average finish of 13.9, and has completed 93.9 percent – 5,541 of 5,900 – of the laps he’s contested there.

He also has 2004 and 2010 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at Las Vegas and started three NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races there in the late 1990s.

It’s also going to be a special race for the family of the late Terry Chesbro as Harvick and the No. 4 team support the Martin Truex Jr., Foundation and the NASCAR Foundation. Chesbro died on July 3, 2019 after a long cancer battle and, sadly, that was also the birthday of Chip Chesbro, his younger brother. Chip Chesbro is a big Harvick fan, but his brother Terry was his hero. Terry’s name will appear above the driver’s door of Harvick’s Mobil 1 Ford Sunday as a tribute to the fight against cancer.

The Round of 12 starts Sunday and Harvick is hoping to win to lock himself into the Round of 8, get more points and make the family of the late Terry Chesbro happy.

Plus, if anyone has ever won a playoff game in Tecmo Super Bowl, it’s usually quite the celebration.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

 

A lot was made about the points cushion you had entering the playoffs, but you proved quickly that you didn’t even need to worry about using the cushion, capturing two wins in this first round. How important is it for you to stay consistent throughout the playoffs like you did in the opening round?

“Yeah, I think for us you just want to keep doing what you’re doing. You don’t want to get out of rhythm, you don’t want to start thinking about what could happen or what did happen. You just go and do what you do on a week-to-week basis, climb in the car, drive it as hard as you can. The guys are going to put what they think is the best setup in the car for that particular week, and everybody wants to achieve the same goal, so nobody is trying to have a bad night or a slow car. Everybody is coming to the racetrack trying to do everything that we can, but the thing I can tell you is when things aren’t going 100 percent correctly on a race weekend, we’ve got a great group of guys on pit road, we’ve got a great group of guys back at home helping us and on the pit box and doing all the things that it takes to try to climb back in the race or strategize our way back in the race. Sometimes those weeks, and I think Darlington is a great example of that, we just kept ourselves in the race and wound up in a position that capitalized on winning the race even though we weren’t really in contention to win. You just want to stay in rhythm. It’s kind of like basketball or football and you look at the teams that get the first-week bye and then they go to the next week and it always makes me wonder if you wouldn’t just rather keep playing to stay in that rhythm, because I know for us staying in the rhythm and just thinking the same way that we have all year is the best way to do it for us.”

A lot of people want to look at the second round and talk about all the potential pitfalls. You’ve always talked about looking at just one race ahead of time. How did you get that approach? How tough was it to kind of focus in this playoff system where it can be easy to get wrapped up? And do you see other people getting wrapped up with, ‘Oh, look, here’s Talladega, here’s the ‘roval, here’s all these bad things that can happen, I-have-to-do-more-in-Vegas’ type of thing?

“I think for us, you just don’t want to read anything that’s happening in the sport, honestly, at this particular time of the year. You just want to keep your mind as clear as possible. We’ve made a decision of how we want to think and what we want to talk about and pay attention to, and it’s us. I know that sounds selfish, but the thing that I can tell you is it’s way less mentally exhausting than worrying about where you need to have a good race and where you need to have a bad race. It’s how do we get the most out of this week, and once you start the race, it’s, ‘OK, what do we need to do to our car? Are we good? Are we bad? Where do we need to work and just try to be productive and proactive of thinking toward what we need to do next?’ I don’t have the capacity to think more than one week ahead, anyway, and trying to overthink things just takes way too much space in my brain for me to function during the week.”

Why do your prefer Mobil 1 synthetic?

“I’m a synthetic guy because, in 1993 when we were sitting in the engine shop, we dumped Mobil 1 synthetic in and that’s all we did and gained seven horsepower. From that day on, we would actually save our money and then go to the local auto parts store because, at that time, it was like $5.50 a quart and the conventional and other oils were like $3.50. At the big races, we would put the Mobil 1 in the car and the regular races would put the regular oil in there. You know I’m going to say synthetic.”

CHASE BRISCOE – 2020 NXS Bristol II Race Advance

Event:  Food City 300 (Round 26 of 33)
Date:  Sept. 18, 2020
Location:  Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
Layout:  .533-mile oval

 

Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest

 

• The NASCAR Xfinity Series rolls into the hills of eastern Tennessee this Friday night to race under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway. Chase Briscoe comes into the half-mile, high-banked oval looking to finally stand atop ol’ Rocky Top after back-to-back second-place finishes in his last two starts at the track. A victory in the Food City 300 would give the 25-year-old racer from Mitchell, Indiana, seven wins this season and put him in prime position for the NASCAR Playoffs, which begins Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – the site of Briscoe’s first victory of 2020.

• In a season where Briscoe has scored a series-best six wins, earned 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes and led 527 laps, expectations are justifiably high for the driver of the No. 98 Ford Performance Racing School Mustang. So after three straight finishes outside the top-10, Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are looking to bounce back and return to the kind of front-running consistency that has them locked into the playoffs and second in the championship standings.

• Briscoe’s most recent victory came Aug. 23 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, a track that shares two main characteristics with Bristol – a concrete surface and high banking. Dover’s corners are banked at 24 degrees and Bristol features progressive banking beginning with 24 degrees at the bottom and 28 degrees at the top. Dover, however, is a 1-mile oval while Bristol is a .533-mile oval.

• Briscoe has made five career Xfinity Series starts at Bristol and has finished fourth or better in his last three starts at the track – all of which have come with Stewart-Haas Racing. Briscoe’s best finish is second, earned twice (August 2019 and June 2020).

• In addition to his Xfinity Series experience at Bristol, Briscoe has one NASCAR Truck Series start at the half-mile bullring. In 2017, Briscoe started 15th and finished 12th in the UNOH 200.

• While fellow Ford driver Austin Cindric clinched the regular-season championship last Saturday at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Briscoe is second in the standings, four points ahead of third-place Ross Chastain. However, Briscoe is tied with Cindric in playoff points with 35. Briscoe finished fifth in the title race last year, narrowly missing out on advancing to the Championship 4 and competing for the series title. Nonetheless, the performance earned Briscoe the 2019 rookie-of-the-year award.

 

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 98 Ford Performance Racing School Ford Mustang:

 

Is Bristol the place for you and the No. 98 team to get back on track before the playoffs begin?

“We’ve raced at some tracks where I’m not as comfortable and familiar with what I need to be fast and run well, but that’s not the case with Bristol. We’ve run really well there in the past and I feel like this is where we can turn things around. The biggest thing is being ready for anything. Things happen so quickly and you can get caught up in a mess that could end your day. If we can avoid that, we’ll be in a good position to take the Ford Performance Racing School Mustang back to victory lane.”

You’re already locked into the playoffs, so what is the goal for this race?

“The goal is always to win. Those playoff points are a big deal. We’ve got a good amount of them, but if we can come out of Bristol with a few more, that would certainly help down the line – especially with a first round that includes Talladega and the Roval.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2020 Bristol II Race Advance

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the NASCAR Cup Series, will compete in the final race of the Round of 16 of this year’s playoffs in hopes of advancing to the Round of 12.

In order to advance to the next round, Almirola needs to remain inside the top-12 in the playoff standings. He sits in 10th place with a seven-point cushion ahead of the playoff cutoff line.

“We’re seven points ahead, which is good, but not good enough to race without pressure to advance to the next round,” Almirola said. “We have to run a smooth race, earn some stage points, and hope to not get involved in any wrecks.”

Almirola’s closest competitors for top-12 playoff positions and their points differentials are ninth-place Kyle Busch (+18), 11th-place Kurt Busch (+7), 12th-place Clint Bowyer (+3), 13th-place William Byron (-3) and 14th-place Cole Custer (-8).

A look at the finishing order of this year’s May race at Bristol shows Almirola in 29th and his cutoff-line competitors in the top-10, but in the first stage of that race, Almirola raced inside the top-five and gained seven bonus points until a loose wheel forced him to the pits. Even after that incident, Almirola was able to climb back to third before another loose wheel demoted him yet again. Finally, he was involved in an accident on lap 470.

“I have all the confidence we will have a fast Smithfield Ford at Bristol,” he said. “We have every time we’ve shown up. We have yet to finish a clean race after running top-five there every time. I’m excited knowing what we can do there.”

Almirola finished eighth last weekend at Richmond (Va.) Raceway to advance two spots in the playoff standings.

“What has really killed us is small mistakes and not being up front at the end of each stage,” he said. “We’re two-for-two on top-10 finishes so far in the playoffs, but that only has us seven points to the good. It goes to show how important stage points are when you’re in this position. A good run in the first stage could set us up to just need a decent finish, but no stage points at all could really hurt us, and it also depends on the guys we’re competing against. It’s going to be a thriller for the fans.”

Almirola has one top-five and three top-10s in 20 starts at Bristol since 2007. His best finish there was third in the Food City 500 on March 16, 2004. In addition to his Cup Series experience at Bristol, Almirola has seven NASCAR Xfinity Series starts with four of those resulting in top-10 finishes.

This is Almirola’s third playoff appearance in a row since joining SHR. He advanced to the Round of 12 in both of his previous playoff runs with SHR.

The No. 10 Ford driver has enjoyed a career-best season with five top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and 287 laps led. In his last 17 races, he has 12 top-10s and five top-fives.

Smithfield Foods, Inc., who sponsors Almirola’s No. 10 Mustang for a majority of the races this season and will again this weekend, is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 40,000 U.S. employees are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly®” and have made it one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies. It has pioneered sustainability standards for more than two decades, including many industry firsts, such as an ambitious commitment to cut carbon impact by 25 percent by 2025. The company believes in the power of protein to end food insecurity and has donated hundreds of millions of food servings to neighbors in need. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com, and connect on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram.

Almirola is back with season two of his documentary series Beyond the 10, where fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

Almirola is no stranger to pressure when it comes to the playoff cutoff line. In 2018, he advanced to the Round of 12 by one point at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway roval. He went on to advance to the Round of 8 after winning at Talladega (Ala.) Motor Speedway and finished fifth in the season standings.

 

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

 

How demanding is Bristol? 

“Bristol is the ultimate test of physical stamina mixed with finesse of how you position your racecar. You’re on the edge of your seat every lap and the slightest mistake can set you back. It helps to be in great shape for races like Bristol when you get toward the end of the long, green-flag run. I stay busy with my workout regimen to prepare for races like this with heat training and cycling.”

Do you enjoy racing at Bristol? 

“Bristol is a track I always look forward to going to. We just haven’t had luck on our side the last few races there. I feel confident there, too. We just need some things to go our way to actually finish a solid race.”

How does Bristol’s track surface change during the race?

“Bristol is one of those places where the track changes throughout the run, especially in the last couple of years, when they put the (traction) compound down on the bottom groove. That has tended to get rubbered up and get really slick as the run moves on and the cars migrate to the top of the racetrack. The top of the racetrack is not very good when it’s clean but, when it starts to rubber up, it actually gains momentum and gets faster, so the groove moves around a lot from run to run and throughout the run, and that makes it fun and it makes it exciting. As a driver, it gives you the option to search around and look for speed.”

COLE CUSTER – 2020 Bristol II Race Advance

This weekend, Cole Custer and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 team head to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s 500-lap NASCAR Cup Series race. The Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team heads back to the high-banked concrete oval for the third time in five months. Saturday night marks Custer’s 32nd Cup Series career start.

It’s the final race in the opening Round of 16 of the playoffs, and Custer and the No. 41 team have one final shot to gain enough points to advance to the Round of 12. The rookie driver is currently eight points below the cutoff line. Custer sits 14th in the playoff standings after his 12th-place finish at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway two weekends ago, and a 14th-place finish at Richmond (Va.) Raceway last Saturday.

Custer and his fellow Cup Series competitors have raced at Bristol twice already this season – once in a Sunday 500-lap race on May 30, and for the Wednesday-night Cup Series All-Star Race on July 15. The California native finished 35th in the May event after an accident ended his day just before the halfway point of the race, and he had a 16th-place result in the All-Star Race.

Custer must have a strong performance Saturday night if he is going to advance to the next playoff round. Even though he needs to make up several points, he has a positive attitude going into the weekend. “I don’t feel like we are in a desperate position,” he said. “I feel like we are in a position where we can control a lot of what happens. If we have a good night, run well and can get stage points, we can point our way in. It also depends a little bit on how the guys around us run, obviously. However, I feel like if we have a good night at Bristol, then we can get ourselves into the next round. I think we’re still in a very manageable spot.”

In the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Bristol, Custer has six starts at the half-mile track. The Ford driver started on the pole twice and in the top-10 the other four times, giving him an average starting position of 3.8. Custer has a best Xfinity Series finish of third with an average finishing position of 13.2 at the Tennessee track.

HaasTooling.com will share the livery on Custer’s No. 41 Saturday with Autodesk Fusion 360. Autodesk is a leading designer and supplier of software for the architecture, engineering, construction, media and entertainment, and manufacturing industries. Autodesk’s Fusion 360cloud-based 3D CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software brings enterprise-grade capabilities, data services, and a support network to teams of any size, uniting people, products, and processes across the product development process. The company empowers customers, like SHR, to push their boundaries and shape a thriving future.

So far this season, Ford has won 16 races, and Custer and his SHR teammate Kevin Harvick have both earned wins for the Blue Oval. This season they have combined for a total of nine victories. Harvick captured Ford’s milestone 700th win in the Cup Series Aug. 23 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Ford captured its first victory on June 25, 1950. Ford drivers make up 50 percent of this year’s playoff field, with eight drivers representing the Michigan manufacturer.

With Custer’s Cup Series win July 12 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, 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 two wins at Bristol with Harvick capturing the win in August 2016 and former SHR driver Kurt Busch winning in August 2018. In total, SHR has two pole awards, 11 top-fives and 30 top-10s along with 873 laps led at Bristol.

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/Autodesk Fusion 360 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

How does this experience in the playoffs compare to your previous experience in the Xfinity Series playoffs?

“It’s definitely intense. I think in some ways it’s a little less intense than usual because you don’t have practice, qualifying, and all of those moments throughout the weekend. Now, you just have to race, and it is what it is with how the car is going to unload and how it’s going to be on the first lap. There’s only so much you can stress about. You have to do your homework and make sure you’re prepared, but there are not as many places for you to mess it up during the weekend. The hard part is still the unknown, though, with not knowing what you’re going to have.”

How has running twice at Bristol already this season going to be helpful for this weekend?

“It’s definitely nice to go back to a track that we’ve raced at twice already. We’ve had a chance to try a couple of different things with the cars there, but we’d definitely like a practice for us rookies so we could try some things. At the same time, we should hopefully have a little bit of a notebook to work with at Bristol. It will be interesting because without practice you have to hit it perfect right off of the truck. If you don’t hit it right, which is very hard to do, you spend a lot of your day scratching and clawing your way.”

If you don’t make it out of the first round of playoffs, will you still consider it a successful season? Or will you be more disappointed that you’re not going on to the next round?

“I know I’m not going to be happy if I don’t make it out of the first round. If you get knocked out of the playoffs at any point, you’re not going to be happy. If it happens, I know we can hold our heads high on our accomplishments this year. We’ve definitely grown as a team this year and, when we hit it right, we can go and compete with these guys.”

“How nervous are you headed into this Bristol race knowing so much is on the line?”

“I’m sure when we get to Bristol and I’m about to take the green, I’ll be pretty nervous because it’s a pretty hectic race and a lot can happen. At the same time, I think I’ve learned being nervous and stressed is not going to help me. You have to make sure you have a plan and study as much as you can coming into the race. The hard part is just the unknown. You don’t know what you’re going to have the first lap and hope that you hit it right.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2020 Bristol II Race Advance

Kevin Harvick will be part of a wild 500-lap race Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will be one among 40 competitors on the high-banked .533-mile oval. And with this being the final race in the Round of 16 in the NASCAR playoffs, four drivers will not advance to the next round.

Thankfully for Harvick, he has already guaranteed his spot in the Round of 12 via his Sept. 6 victory in the playoff opener at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. So while it may be wild around him, he won’t be as worried as those still fighting for a spot to advance in the playoffs.

Harvick has two wins, one pole, 12 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and has led a total of 912 laps in his 39 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol. His average start there is 16.5, his average finish is 13.8 and he has a lap-completion rate of 96.8 percent – 18,901 of the 19,527 laps available.

He has competed in 29 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Bristol with five wins, 15 top-fives and 24 top-10 finishes with two pole positions. He has driven in five NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series events at Bristol and has one win and four top-10s.

If Harvick gets to lap 274 at Bristol, he will pass the late Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Cup Series laps completed. Harvick is 16th all-time in laps completed with 202,615 after Saturday’s race at Bristol.

He reached 200,000 laps completed on lap 222 of the July 19 race at Texas. Harvick is the leader among active drivers and could pass Earnhardt, who is 15th with 202,888, this week at Bristol.

Harvick is having a stellar year as he has led the points since March 8 after the race at Phoenix International Raceway. He has a series-high eight wins, 18 top-five finishes which are the third-most in his career, behind the 23 he had in 2015 and 2018. Harvick also has 23 top-10s, which continues his streak of more than 20 top-10s since the 2013 season. He has also led 1,190 laps, which is the fifth time in the last seven years he has accomplished that feat.

While Harvick won’t be part of the wildness this week, he’d love to get victory number nine – and more points.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Is it difficult to communicate inside the racecar at Bristol because everything happens so fast?

“It’s definitely loud and hard for the teams to hear. One of the hardest things at Bristol is just to see what’s going on. I have crashed at Bristol and gone back to watch it on TV and you’re like, ‘What in the hell were you doing? You just ran into four or five cars that have been sitting there for two seconds.’ But, Bristol is a very demanding racetrack. It’s very hard because things happen so fast, communication is hard. It’s easy to make a mistake or pile into a wreck. It’s easy to wreck somebody or to get into a fight. It’s easy to do a lot of things because there is just so much happening. It’s a tough place to race, to put it all together, and it’s mentally and physically exhausting.”

Back in May, did you think we would ever get to this point where we would be all caught up on the schedule starting the playoffs and actually start having fans back at races?

“You know, I think back in May, I probably thought that, but as we went through so many different situations of things happening, and you see all the things in the world that are happening and just the way that so many things were changing so rapidly, as we got those last five or six races announced, you didn’t really know if you were actually going to get to go to some of these racetracks. And then you see Watkins Glen pulled, and then we go to Daytona. I think it says a lot about the plan that we actually have – has NASCAR done a great job of navigating everything and having backup plans? I don’t think it’s over yet, either. I think there are still some things to navigate – it sounds like as we go forward, so it’s just, ‘You just kind of roll with the punches.’ And honestly, I just quit paying attention because it’ll wear you out. But everybody has done a great job to get us back on schedule and had a great plan, and it’s pretty unbelievable to see where we are today.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2020 Bristol II Race Advance

Here we go again.

For the third consecutive year, Clint Bowyer’s chances of advancing to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs comes down to his performance in the third and final Round of 16 race, when four drivers will be eliminated from 2020 championship contention.

Unlike the last two seasons, when the final race of the opening round took place on the 17-turn “roval” at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Saturday night’s race will be on the treacherous half-mile, high banks of Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Bristol is chaotic during the regular season. Now that it’s a playoff transfer race for the first time in NASCAR history, it’s obvious why drivers are nervous and fans are excited for short-track racing with so much at stake.

“This is what the playoffs are all about and supposed to be all about,” said Bowyer, who has scored 10th-place finishes in the Round of 16’s first two races at Darlington (S.C.) and Richmond (Va.) Raceway. “You want the nerve-wracking, nervous, pressure-packed races. I’m a fan and that’s what I would want if I was sitting in the grandstands or watching on television.”

Bowyer arrives at Bristol 12th in the 16-driver playoff standings, just three points ahead of 13th-place driver William Byron in the battle for the final transfer position.

“We’ve got to go to Bristol and perform,” he said. “I like the track. We’ve got some top-10s going and we’re definitely better, but we’ve got to be great this week. We can do it. That’s a good track for us and a lot of fun and a track that I feel like I can win at some day, so there’s nothing to be scared about going to a track like that. You’ve just got to go there and have fun with it like you always do on a short track and race your a**** off and hopefully that will be enough.”

While he owns a three-point cushion for the final transfer spot, Bowyer is just 15 points out of ninth. This playoff pressure is becoming old hat to Bowyer.

Last year, Bowyer entered the final race in the Round of 16 on the Charlotte ROVAL four points shy of the final transfer position. He racked up 16 bonus points in the first two stages of the race while surviving three- and four-wide racing before finishing fourth. It boosted him to ninth in the final Round of 16 points and easily advanced him to the next playoff round.

In 2018, Bowyer entered the opening round’s final race 13th in points, just four markers outside the top-12 cutoff. A third-place finish was enough to propel Bowyer to the Round of 12.

“For me, yeah, it’s nerve-wracking or whatever, but it’s also fun,” he said. “It’s fun to feel that way. It keeps you alive. That’s what racing is all about. That’s what competition is all about. You go into a weekend and if it’s just no big deal, hell, that ain’t any fun.”

Bowyer couldn’t pick a much better track to stage the Round of 16 finale in 2020 than the iconic Tennessee short track. He owns eight top-five finishes and 16 top-10s in 29 starts there, including five consecutive top-eight finishes. In this year’s May race there, he staged a late run that saw him move from ninth to second in the last 30 laps to post his best finish of the season.

Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford will carry a Rush Truck Centers/Cummins paint scheme for the most important race of the season Saturday night.

Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner for the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived at SHR in 2017 and has been with the organization since 2010. With Bowyer’s background working in his dad’s towing service in Emporia, Kansas, Bowyer understands the importance of keeping trucks up and running.

That is why Rush is proud to partner with Bowyer and support the trucks that haul the racecars, as well as customers across the country with its total service management package, RushCare Complete. This all-inclusive solution provides dedicated concierge service, vehicle telematics, mobile service, express routine maintenance, real-time service updates and a comprehensive source for all-makes parts.

Cummins makes its third appearance of the 2020 season with Bowyer. The Indiana-based company from car owner Tony Stewart’s hometown of Columbus is no stranger to victory lane with its racing lineage dating back to the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911, when company founder Clessie Cummins was on the pit crew of the race-winning Marmon Wasp of driver Ray Harroun.

Since its founding in 1919, the company now employs approximately 61,600 people and serves customers in about 190 countries and territories through a network of some 8,000 wholly owned and independent dealer and distributor 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.

For Bowyer the strategy Saturday night is clear-cut.

“We have to get some bonus points the first two stages and be there at the end,” he said. “We can’t make any mistakes and have to avoid getting taken out by somebody else’s mistakes. That all sounds easy, but 40 other maniacs are thinking the same thing. It’s going to be a pretty wild Saturday night.”

Hopefully for Bowyer, it will be a third consecutive year of turning in a great performance when it’s most needed and advancing to the Round of 12.

 

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

 

What will Bristol be like as a cutoff race?

“It’s going be insane. It’s like they were just wanting to make the end of the regular season and these playoffs as nerve-wracking as possible. I mean, we’re talking, like, ulcer-level, nerve-wracking situations and they found it. The ROVAL, Bristol, Daytona – I mean, it can’t get any more nerve-wracking than that.”

What are your thoughts on Bristol Motor Speedway?

“Anybody who hates Bristol shouldn’t be in racing because this is the mecca of all racetracks. This is the granddaddy of them all. There’s no question. Look at this place. Look at the grandstands. I mean, there’s nothing like this place, and tracks like this we need all across the country. A fan, if they want to be a fan of this sport, they need to learn short-track racing and they need to learn about Bristol Motor Speedway. There’s not a fan, a family member, a friend, anybody I know who I wouldn’t point in the direction of Bristol Motor Speedway. So, as a racer on the racetrack, it’s no different.”

What makes Bristol so special?

“Just the unknown, being able to go for it, being able to not worry about an aero push or horsepower deficit or whatever the case may be – get ahold of the steering wheel, get ahold of the gas pedal and make something happen and this is a track where you can do that.”