Category Archives: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Goes West

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series kicks off its three-race NASCAR Goes West trip with Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX). Following its trip to Vegas, the NSCS heads to Phoenix before closing its West Coast road trip at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Kevin Harvick, from Bakersfield, California, dominated last season’s edition of NASCAR Goes West, winning the first two races (Las Vegas and Phoenix) and finishing second in the final contest at Auto Club.

Lower Downforce Package Produced Passing, Happy Drivers At Atlanta
The 2016 lower downforce aerodynamics package did not disappoint at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Passing increased, while drivers expressed enthusiasm about the package.

Drivers made 44 passes for the lead on Sunday, the most ever recorded at Atlanta since the inception of loop data in 2005.

The 3,717 green flag passes on Sunday marked the second-highest total at AMS since the inception of loop data in 2005.

“It was fun,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after the race. “You know, everybody just wasn’t hooked up and hauling tail. You had to drive the cars. The cars were a real challenge, and I had a great time today inside of the car and enjoyed driving it.”

Carl Edwards echoed similar sentiments, saying, “This is real racing. We’re driving hard. You can see the guys out here just digging for everything they’re worth. I’m worn out. That’s a tough race and just a lot of fun.”

L3gendary Company: Johnson Ties Earnhardt On All-Time Wins List
Jimmie Johnson visited Victory Lane in last Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to earn the 76th checkered flag of his career – tying him with Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time wins list.

It took Johnson 509 starts over 15 years to reach 76 wins compared to Earnhardt’s 676 starts over 22 years.

Coincidentally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second to Johnson on Friday, marking the 40th time Hendrick Motorsports drivers have finished first and second in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Johnson can pass Earnhardt in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he claims a track-record four wins. In 14 Las Vegas starts, the No. 48 Chevrolet driver also owns five top fives and eight top 10s. He won three consecutive races at the Nevada track from 2005-07.

Among active drivers at LVMS, Johnson also boasts the best average finish (11.6) and driver rating, (111.9) and ranks second in average running position (10.1).

Best Of The West: Harvick Hopes For Another Stellar NASCAR Goes West
Kevin Harvick, the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, dominated last season’s NASCAR Goes West trip by winning the first two races at Las Vegas and Phoenix and finishing second in the final event at Auto Club. Combined, he led 400 laps over the three races, far more than second-place in that category (Joey Logano, 82).

Harvick has started off the season strong, placing fourth in the season opener at Daytona and sixth last week at Atlanta. He has led the most laps in the Atlanta race in each of the last three seasons, but failed to win any of them.

In 15 starts at Las Vegas, Harvick has one win, four top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 13.8. His 98.8 driver rating and 10.9 average running position at the 1.5-mile track ranks third-best among active drivers.

Harvick will make an appearance at an Octagon this weekend in addition to Nevada’s favorite 1.5-mile oval. His KHI Management company manages Miesha Tate, who will fight Holly Holm for the UFC Bantamweight Championship at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Busch Brothers Back At Vegas
Las Vegas natives Kurt and Kyle Busch return to their home track to trade paint this weekend.

The Busch brothers grew up starring at LVMS’ Bullring before moving on to NASCAR’s regional touring series.

Kyle won at Las Vegas in 2009, but Kurt is still looking to wave the checkered flag in front of the home crowd. His best Vegas finish was a third-place showing in 2005.

Both Kurt (2004) and Kyle (2015) have won NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships.

Although Kyle only has one win at his home track, his loop statistics there are excellent. Among active drivers at LVMS, he has the top average running position (11.7) and the second-best driver rating (103.4).

In 14 career starts at Las Vegas, Kurt has tallied one top five, three top 10s and a pole. He has an average finish of 22.1 and an 80.8 driver rating.

Click here for an infographic on the Busch Brothers.

Truex Off To Another Hot Start
Martin Truex Jr. is proving his Championship 4 effort from a year ago was no fluke.

The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver placed seventh at Atlanta, one week after finishing second in the Daytona 500.

Since the beginning of the 2015 season, only three drivers have racked up more top-10 finishes than Truex’s 24 – Kevin Harvick (30), Joey Logano (29) and Brad Keselowski (26).

In 10 starts at Las Vegas, Truex has completed all but four of the 2,691 laps for a 99.9 percent lap completion rate. The four laps he didn’t complete were at the 2009 race.

Truex finished runner-up in last year’s Kobalt 400 at LVMS.

“I feel we’re starting out the season stronger than the way we ended last season,” Truex said. “Our new affiliation with Toyota and our alliance with JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) is really working out for us. I feel we’re only going to get better as the season moves on.”

Roush Fenway Racing Shows Some Speed At Atlanta
At Atlanta, Roush Fenway Racing had three drivers finish in the top 15 in Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the first time since Aug. 15, 2014 at Michigan when Carl Edwards started third, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 10th and Greg Biffle in 11th.

This time, Trevor Bayne started third, joined by Stenhouse and Biffle, who were fifth and 15th on the grid, respectively.

Stenhouse finished 10th, his second career top-10 showing at an intermediate track (Chicagoland, 2013). Biffle placed 13th and Bayne came in 22nd.

RFR will continue to look for more speed at Las Vegas where it boasts a track-record seven wins (Matt Kenseth, 3; Jeff Burton, 2; Carl Edwards, 1; Mark Martin, 1).

NASCAR Sprint Series Etc.
Country music star Craig Morgan, an Army veteran will sing the National Anthem prior to the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Pre-race festivities also include a flyover by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.

BK Racing Atlanta Recap.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (February 29, 2016) –  Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the No. 83 Sewanee Toyota Camry, finished in the 29th position on Sunday in the second event of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season at Atlanta Motor Speedway after suffering from a loose handling car for much of the afternoon. Teammate David Ragan, driver of the No. 23 Dr Pepper Toyota Camry, finished in the 32nd position following a multi-car accident on the last lap.
“We had a solid day, learned a lot with the handling conditions we had today,” said DiBenedetto. “I really enjoyed the new downforce package and look forward to driving that this season. It’s going to be a fun year for the 83 team!”
“It stinks to get torn up on the last lap of the race,” Ragan said. “I had a lot of fun racing with the low downforce package and working on our Dr Pepper Camry throughout the race. We’ll take the good with the bad and move on to Las Vegas.”
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 marked the 2016 debut of NASCAR’s new low-aerodynamic configuration tested in 2015. The effects of the new package were evident from the drop of the green flag as drivers slipped and slid around the speedway.
 
The first caution of the race came out on Lap 210, ending a green-flag run that started at the drop of the green flag. This is now the longest caution-free start to a race in track history.
On the final restart at Lap 328, DiBenedetto and Ragan both restarted inside of the top-30. NASCAR overtime caused havoc as a multi-car crash on the backstretch involved Ragan. As the race ended under yellow flag conditions, DiBenedetto finished 29th while Ragan officially was scored in 32nd.
Next week the BK Racing team travels to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for week one of NASCAR Goes West. The Kobalt Tools 400 will be on Sunday, March 6 with coverage beginning at 3:00 p.m. (EST) on FOX.

Jimmie Johnson Wins in Atlanta, Ties Earnhardt on Win List

 

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Johnson Earns His 76th Win And Takes Place in Record Books Along Side Dale Earnhardt

On a day that saw many green flag laps and tire management becoming a big part of the race, Jimmie Johnson in his #48 Lowes Chevrolet tied one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history Dale Earnhardt Sr. with his 76th win. Jimmie and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. are now tied for 7th

The low down force package did not lead to many cautions and at one point in the race they logged 210 green flag laps, the longest  stretch in the history of Atlanta Motor Speedway. With few cautions  and most pits stops under green only 12 cars finished on the lead lap.

A late race overtime restart in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway sealed the win for Jimmie Johnson in his  509th start. Ironically Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished right behind him in second rebounding from his crash at Daytona.  With the new overtime rules in effect a crash just before the white flag on the green, white, checker  ended  the race and put the #48 in victory lane.

February 28 2016: Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr race during the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, GA. (Photo by Stephen Furst/Myracenews.com)
February 28 2016: Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr race during the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, GA. (Photo by Stephen Furst/Myracenews.com)

That final restart proved costly for Jimmy Johns#4 Kevin Havick who lead a race high 131 laps and looked to be on his way to a victory. He spun his tires and then got shuffled back to 6th place in the final standings.

Other notables in the race:

#22 Matt Kenseth  in the Dollar General Toyota who had to serve a black flag penalty after his gas man put a wrench on the trunk while fueling which was violation, Matt had to pit to serve a penalty  because of that violation ruining a day  with a car capable of winning early on but ending up 19th 2 laps down.

#22 Chase Elliot in the NAPA Auto Parts #24 was happy to put Daytona behind him but had to fight a loose race ca through the 210 lap green flag run finishing as the highest rookie in 8th place.

The Busch brothers finished 3rd and 4th today. #18 Kyle the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion in the M & M’s Toyota got his second top 5 of the  season, moving from 3rd to 1 st in the point standings, a great day after starting in 39th. Kyle’s pole winning time was disallowed after qualifying moving him to 39th on the starting grid and with the lack of cautions made his 3rd place run even more remarkable.  #41 Kyle in the Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet started on the pole and led 51 laps himself but had to settle on finishing 5th one spot  behind his brother.

February 28 2016: Aric Almirola's car erupts in flames at the conclusion of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, GA. (Photo by Stephen Furst/Myracenews.com)
February 28 2016: Aric Almirola’s car erupts in flames at the conclusion of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, GA. (Photo by Stephen Furst/Myracenews.com)

#43 Aric Almirola’s day ending in spectacular fashion.  Aric driving the Richard Petty Motorsports Smithfields Ford. was involved in a  4 car wreck on the back stretch. The wreck pushed him back to 15th in the finishing order. His car caught fire as he circled back to the pits after his wreck but the flames were quickly extinguished, Aric was uninjured.

Next up is the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt 400 on Sunday March 6th.