Category Archives: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Ryan Blaney Heading to Penske Racing in 2018

Courtesy: RyanBlaney.com

NASCAR Monster Energy Cup driver Ryan Blaney awaits driver introductions prior to the Quaker State 400 on July 8, 2017 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 26, 2017) – Team Penske announced today that Ryan Blaney will join the organization as a full-time driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) beginning in 2018 as the team returns to a three-car operation in NASCAR’s premier series. The 23-year-old Blaney, who also signed a multi-year contract extension with the team, will pilot the No. 12 Ford Fusion, beginning with the annual non-points “Clash” event at Daytona International Speedway in February.

“For some time now, we have wanted to bring Ryan in to run a third car for us, but things just needed to make sense from a timing and business perspective,” said Roger Penske. “We have been working on making this a reality and 2018 is the right opportunity to make this move and return our organization to a three-car team. The benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood Bothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.”

Blaney made his MENCS debut in 2014 for Team Penske and has driven for Wood Brothers Racing full-time the last two seasons. One of NASCAR’s rising “young guns,” Blaney earned his first-career Cup Series win earlier this season at Pocono Raceway, giving the Wood Brothers team its first MENCS win since the 2011 season. Blaney also scored his first Cup Series pole this season at Kansas Speedway. He finished second in the 2016 MENCS Rookie of the Year standings.

Blaney has been a part of Team Penske since 2012 and has earned five NASCAR XFINITY Series wins for the team and was part of the No. 22 team’s three-straight NXS Owners’ Championships from 2013-2015.

“This is a huge opportunity for me and my career,” said Blaney, a third-generation driver from High Point, NC. “I’ve always enjoyed racing whatever car I was in and trying to win each and every race. I’ve had some great moments with both Team Penske and the Wood Brothers over the last few years. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where I am today without Roger (Penske), Eddie and Len (Wood) and the opportunities their organizations have given me. I’m thrilled knowing that Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) are long-term teammates for me at Team Penske and Paul (Menard) will have input with our team now that he’s with the Wood Brothers organization. Hopefully we can go out there and win races and compete for championships year after year.”

Earlier this season, Team Penske announced that it signed Joey Logano to a multi-year contract through the 2022 season and beyond. Just yesterday, the team announced it has come to terms with Brad Keselowski for a multi-year agreement, giving the organization a solid foundation for the future.

While the No. 12 Ford Fusion has made a handful of starts in the Cup Series over the last few years, Team Penske has not competed as a full-time, three-car team since the 2010 season with Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. Despite the fact that the team has only run two full-time cars since the 2011 season, Team Penske has produced 40 MENCS victories, along with the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series title, and the 2015 Daytona 500 Championship.

More details surrounding the No. 12 team, including sponsorship and crew chief, will be announced in the near future.

Kasey Kahne Snatches Improbable Victory at the Brickyard

Courtesy: NASCAR Media

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — In semi-darkness, as the sun set behind the frontstretch grandstand at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne did all he could to dispel the shadow overhanging his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and his racing career. 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 23: Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, kisses the yard of bricks with his crew after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

With a phenomenal restart in the second overtime of Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400, Kahne cleared race leader Brad Keselowski through the first two corners and crossed the overtime line on the backstretch before NASCAR called the record 14th caution of the race. 

That ended the event with Kahne in the lead, and when he took the checkered flag under yellow a lap and a half later, the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet had his first victory since an eleventh-hour win at Atlanta in August of 2014 that propelled him into NASCAR’s postseason. 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 23: Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kahne was breathless with exhaustion in Victory Lane, the result of withering heat inside the cars in a prolonged race that featured three red flags, one for rain and lightning and two for incidents. But the implications of the triumph weren’t lost on him. 

“The career is big, for sure—but the win and the history here,” Kahne said. “To win at this track is unreal. We used to always be really close. We lost to Jeff (Gordon) and we lost to Tony (Stewart); just some fast cars back then. 

“Today, strategy got us here. This Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was great once I got out front. I just had to get there. I’m exhausted. But, an unbelievable win. The team just kept working. We had great pit stops.” 

The pit stop that mattered most occurred on Lap 150, when Kahne came to pit road moments before a vicious wreck on the frontstretch eliminated the cars of Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Erik Jones, all of whom had been running in or near the top 10 throughout the afternoon. 

Kahne had fresh rubber and stayed on the track when the cars ahead of him came to pit road for tires on Lap 151. Suddenly at the front of the field, Kahne battled Keselowski on three successive restarts before the decisive second overtime. 

Kahne status in the No. 5 car has been grist for the rumor mill this season. Asked Sunday morning about plans for the ride next year, team owner Rick Hendrick would say only “That’s another day,” during a press conference heralding Alex Bowman as the successor to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 23: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, drives on the apron after an incident during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

Asked post-race what the victory does for Kahne’s future, Hendrick replied, “It puts him in the (playoff).” 

But the uncertainty that surrounds Kahne’s status in the No. 5 did nothing to diminish his accomplishment at the vaunted Brickyard. 

Keselowski had taken the lead during the first overtime restart, but a huge wreck on the frontstretch—triggered when Trevor Bayne turned sideways after a push from Michael McDowell as the cars approached the start/finish line—aborted the attempt. 

For the second overtime, Keselowski chose the outside lane, leaving Kahne on the bottom in a racing groove covered with Speedy Dry fluid absorption material. But Kahne pulled off a magnificent restart and powered into Turn 1 at full steam. 

“Well, the one before just didn’t work,” said Kahne, who picked the outside lane and lost the lead on the short-lived restart for the first overtime. “Everything went wrong. On the final one, everything went right. And once I got to Turn 1, I had good power and was able to clear him off (Turn) 1. I’m exhausted. And, it’s pretty crazy.” 

Keselowski, who was trying to give team owner Roger Penske a first Brickyard 400 victory, gave credit where credit was due. 

“Kasey did a heck of a job today and drove a hell of a race,” Keselowski said. “I’m happy for him. I thought we were in the right spot. You had seen the same thing all day when you’d get somebody on the outside, and in the corner you got real loose. 

“He drove in there and it just stuck. I don’t know. I may have had the wrong lane there or made the wrong call. I’m not sure. The car was on edge and then some.” 

By the time Kahne took the checkered flag, the two fastest cars in the race had long since been eliminated—in the same wreck. Polesitter Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 87 laps, was racing side-by-side with Martin Truex Jr. after a restart on Lap 111 when Truex’s No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota got loose underneath Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, causing a collision that crippled both cars. 

Ultimately, it was Kahne who seized the opportunity their exit presented. 

Notes: The victory was the first for Kahne’s crew chief, Keith Rodden… Kahne visited the infield care center for treatment after Victory Lane ceremonies in which Kahne looked drained. … Jimmie Johnson, with his eye on a record-tying fifth Brickyard victory, spun in Turn 3 while battling Kahne and Keselowski for the lead on Lap 159, causing the caution that set up the overtimes that eventually took the race seven laps past its scheduled distance.

Pocono Access to NASCAR Driver Introductions

Pocono Raceway made another fan-friendly move earlier this year and brought Driver Introductions closer to the fans. It was such a success during last weekend’s race, that we are excited to announce Driver Introductions will be remain on a stage, located on the frontstretch and next to the Start/Finish Line, for our Pennsylvania 400 on Sunday, July 30th.

With that move comes the opportunity for you to enjoy introductions from track level, standing on the racing surface right before the Green Flag drops!

If you don’t have your Pennsylvania 400 tickets yet, check out our new Driver Introduction Ticket Package. It includes a shaded 300-Level ticket for the Pennsylvania 400 on July 30th, a Pre-Race Pit/Paddock Pass and exclusive, front-stage access to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Driver Introductions.

Click here for more information and to get started on your purchase today!

If you already have your Pennsylvania 400 ticket and your Pre-Race Pit/Paddock Pass, a pre-race All-Access pass is available. This will give you front-stage access to the concert and introductions.

See you next month, race fans!

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