Tag Archives: MENCS

Truex Jr Wins Homestead and Championship

(Courtesy: NASCAR Media)

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 19: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – At the end of a riveting, breathtaking battle that had fans in the grandstands on their feet long after the checkered flag, Martin Truex Jr. held off Kyle Busch by .681 seconds at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win Sunday’s Ford Eco-Boost 400 and his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title. 

In Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last race in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Truex—one of Earnhardt’s closest friends—kept Busch behind him during a 34-lap green-flag run to the finish. 

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 19: A “Thank You” message for Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AXALTA Chevrolet, is displayed on a flag towed by a pickup truck during pre-race ceremonies for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

“It’s just overwhelming,” a tearful Truex said in Victory Lane. “To think about all the rough days and bad days, the days that we couldn’t run 20th, to be here—I never thought this day would come, and to be here is so unbelievable.” 

The victory was a timely gift for Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser, who is back home in Denver, Colo., recovering from a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery. It was also a gift to Truex’s long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who has been battling ovarian cancer. 

“A lot of it was for her,” said Truex, who won for the first time at Homestead and the 15th time in his career. “A lot of it was for me. A lot of it was for this team – just, I don’t even know what to say. We just never gave up all day long. We didn’t have the best car. I don’t know how we won that thing. Never give up. Dig deep.” 

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 19: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The victory also was entirely appropriate. For the bulk of the season, Truex was the top driver in the series. Sunday’s victory was his eighth of the year, a series-best, and his seventh on 1.5-mile intermediate speedways. Truex had the No. 78 Toyota out front for 78 laps on Sunday, bringing his season total of laps led to a career-best 2,253, also tops in the series. 

With an excellent long-run car, Busch slipped to fourth after the final restart on Lap 234 of 267 and needed nine laps to pass the stubborn No. 22 Ford of Joey Logano. Seven laps later, Busch slipped past fellow Championship 4 contender Kevin Harvick into second and set his sights on Truex. 

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 19: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, race during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Busch closed rapidly, but Truex found a line that allowed him to maintain an edge that shrank to as little as two car lengths. But Busch never could pull alongside his fellow Camry driver, and Truex inched away over the last four circuits. 

“I told my guys we were going to dig deeper than we ever have today, and (with) 20 (laps) to go, I thought I was done – they were all better than me on the long run all day long,” Truex said. “I just found a way. I found a lane that I could use, and I found a lane that was blocking enough of their air that they couldn’t use it and just made it happen. 

“I can’t believe it. I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid and just never give up. Just never give up on your dreams, no matter what happens and what kind of crap you go through. And thank you, Barney. I wish you were here, buddy.” 

Kyle Larson finished third, closely trailing the championship battle after moving past Harvick for third on Lap 252. Harvick came home fourth, after debris from David Starr’s Chevrolet punched a hole in the nose of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. 

“I was just really loose the whole last run,” Harvick said. “When it started to get dark, we started to get tight in the corner, and then we got a hole in the nose. We got that fixed and just couldn’t quite get it where we needed to be to make good times. 

“Some runs we fell off. Some runs we were tight on entry. There at the end we were just too loose.” 

Chase Elliott and Joey Logano ran fifth and sixth, respectively. Playoff driver Brad Keselowski finished sixth, ending the season fourth in the series standings. 

Busch opted for a one-pit-stop strategy during the final stage of the race and appeared headed for the title until his brother, Kurt Busch, spun in Turn 4 on Lap 227 to bring out the fifth and final caution of the event and bunch the field for the restart on Lap 234. 

“Yeah, it wasn’t quite what we wanted there at the end,” Busch said. “I thought we had a really great race car. Especially on the long runs, we were really, really good. Just came down to there at the end, not having enough tire when I got to the 78. 

“So I just overused my stuff, and I knew I overused my stuff when I was running with the 22 (Logano) trying to get by him and just overworked everything, and got to the 4 (Harvick), got by him pretty quick. I tried to make sure that I could do that pretty quick so then I could have at least a little more tire life, but didn’t seem to pay me off any when I got to the 78.”

Larson Captures Third Straight Michigan Victory on Final Restart

(Courtesy: NASCAR Media)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Sitting in his racecar during a red flag delay near the end of the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Kyle Larson pondered the possible routes to an overtime victory. He was in fourth-place and would restart for the final two-lap shootout behind leader Martin Truex Jr. 

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 13: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Larson hadn’t had a fast racecar all day at Michigan International Speedway, but he thought with a gutsy move on the restart, he could steal a win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Ahead of him, Truex, the race leader, was in the opposite positon. He had had a fast racecar all day, and he figured he needed a strong restart to repel whatever move Larson or somebody else would throw at him. Like Larson, he was trying to figure out which scenario would be most likely to take him to Victory Lane.

As it turned out, Larson and Truex both drew up the same plan—they both wanted Larson to hit Truex on the restart. They just had different ideas about what would happen after that.

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 13: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Truex hoped the contact would push him forward and to the victory, and for a very brief second, that seemed possible. But Truex spun his tires, which played right into Larson’s strategy.

“I wanted to time it and get to his bumper and act like I was pushing him out to the lead and duck underneath him and get to his left-rear quarter and pull him back,” Larson said. “It’s crazy how when you get to someone’s left rear quarter how much it slows them down. It did just that.”

Larson bounced off of Truex as he passed him, and for a split second the race fanned out four wide. That never ends well—especially not on the penultimate lap when all four drivers are going for the win. But somehow they all stayed off each other, and afterward, rookie Erik Jones, one of those drivers, was at a loss to explain how. “I was pointed at the infield for half of (Turns) one and two,” said Jones, who finished third. 

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 13: Erik Jones, driver of the #77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

After the pass, Larson’s car was loose for the rest of the restart lap and the white flag lap. But he put enough distance between him and Truex that Truex couldn’t catch him and had to settle for second. Those were the only two laps Larson led all day. The thrilling win in a car that had no business doing so looked like a career defining move for Larson, the young driver from California.

The win was an exclamation point on an already great week of racing for Larson. He finished second late Saturday night in the Knoxville Nationals, one of the biggest dirt races in the world. His contract forbids him from running on dirt the night before he has to be on track for NASCAR, be it practice, qualifying or a race. But on Thursday, he talked team owner Chip Ganassi into making an exception.

Ganassi harbored misgivings about the decision—he thought Larson, who didn’t get back to Michigan from Knoxville, Iowa until 2:30 a.m. Sunday might be too worn out for the 400 mile race, and those doubts grew bigger in the middle of the race as Larson languished in the middle of the pack. But after the win, Ganassi joyously shook team members on the pit box and planted a kiss on Larson. 

It was Larson’s third consecutive win at Michigan. The only other drivers to accomplish that are David Pearson and Bill Elliott, both of whom are in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The race was slowed by five cautions for 28 laps.

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 13: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, races Daniel Suarez, driver of the #19 ARRIS Surfboard/McAfee Toyota, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Michigan native Brad Keselowski won the first stage. He dominated the first half of the race, leading five times for 105 laps. But he faded to 17th. Truex led three times for 57 laps and won the second stage. Truex kept his position atop the points race, but finished runner-up.

Paul Menard to Fill Vacancy Left by Blaney at Wood Brothers Racing

Courtesy: Wood Brothers Racing

STUART, VA (July 26, 2017) – Wood Brothers Racing, the oldest active NASCAR team and one of the winningest teams in series history, and veteran driver Paul Menard, will join forces for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENSC) season, the two parties announced today. The new partnership will see the team continue to compete full time for the coming seasons with Menard driving the legendary No. 21 Ford Fusion.

Menards, the industry-leading home improvement store company, will sponsor the No. 21 Ford for 22 MENCS races.  Additional sponsorship, including plans for long-time partner Motorcraft/Quick Lane, will be announced at a later date.

“It’s fantastic to have the ability to continue to race in the highest level of motorsports full-time and something we look forward to doing with Paul for years to come,” said Eddie Wood. “I know this will allow us to continue to perform as an organization and will give Paul a great opportunity to go out there and compete for wins. Paul is not only a great driver with a lot of experience in the Cup Series, but he’s great with partners, which is a big part of what we do these days. We are looking forward to finishing out this season with Ryan (Blaney), going for more wins and maybe even a championship, and continuing that with Paul in 2018.”

Over the course of its history, the Wood Brothers Racing team has amassed 99 MENCS victories, the most recent coming this season with current driver Ryan Blaney at Pocono Raceway. Legendary drivers such as AJ Foyt, David Pearson, Curtis Turner, Tiny Lund, Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnett, Buddy Baker and Dale Jarrett have all earned victories for the team. Both Glen and Leonard Wood have been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The team’s relationship with Roush-Yates Engines and the technical partnership with fellow Ford Performance organization, Team Penske, will also continue in 2018.

Menard has competed full-time in MENCS since the 2007 season. He won the 2011 Brickyard 400 at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway and qualified for NASCAR’s Playoffs in 2015. In addition to his Cup Series victory at Indianapolis, Menard has also earned three NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) wins over the course of his career.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in NASCAR and as a Cup Series driver, but to get the chance to drive the iconic No. 21 for the Wood Brothers is the coolest thing I’ve ever got a chance to do,” said Menard. “I’m looking forward to working with the team, working with Roush Yates, Ford Performance and Team Penske to see what we can do. Ryan (Blaney) has done a fantastic job and is a constant threat to run up front. Hopefully, we can do the same thing and keep the momentum going into 2018 and beyond.”

In addition, Menard will run a handful of NXS races for Team Penske beginning in 2018.

The 2018 MENCS season will begin Feb. 18 with the 60th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

Wood Brothers Racing

Wood Brothers Racing was formed in 1950 in Stuart, Va., by Hall of Famer Glen Wood. Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team and one of the winningest teams in NASCAR history. Since its founding, the team won 99 races (including at least one race in every decade for the last seven decades) and 117 poles in NASCAR’s top-tier series. Fielding only Ford products for its entire history, the Wood Brothers own the longest association of any motorsports team with a single manufacturer. Glen’s brother, Leonard, is known for inventing the modern pit stop. The team currently runs the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney in the famous No. 21 racecar.

About Menards
With 306 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it’s no wonder their famous slogan – “SAVE BIG MONEY” – is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right – the company’s strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere. For more information, visit www.menards.com.