Erik Jones Still Dreams About Winning At Michigan International Speedway

Erik Jones

Winning at his home track of Michigan International Speedway?

Of course Erik Jones thought about it. How could he not?

With the race halted by a red flag for a little over five minutes with just two green flag laps left in the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Jones let his mind wander to what it would be like to win the race.

Not only would it have been the first win of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career and lock him into the postseason, but it would have come at his home town track. A native of Byron, Mich., Jones grew up 99 miles from the racetrack.

“(The red flag) gives you a lot of time to play through scenarios on the restart and how you want it to work out. It’s very rare it ever works out the way you picture it in your head,” he said. And this one didn’t, either. Instead,  Jones settled for third.

He would have had to beat his teammate to get that win. Jones was second on the final restart alongside his Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr.

Before the question could even be asked, Truex said flatly Furniture Row Racing does not have so-called “team orders” and that there was no chance he would let Jones win.

Jones cannot make the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs on points, and will have to win one of the next three races to make the postseason.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Daniel Suarez Breaks His Top 10 Finish Streak At Michigan

Daniel Suarez
Coming into this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Suarez was on a streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and was looking to make it five. Unfortunately his day was cut short after tangling with Kasey Kahne late in the race.

Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS, was attempting to pass Daniel Suarez for position on Lap 139. But he pulled up before he cleared Suarez. The contact slammed Kahne’s right side into the outside wall just past Turn 2 ending his day. He finished 38th.

“We had to fight from the back and had a good LIFTMASTER Chevrolet,” Kahne said. “We kept working to get up there. Daniel (Suarez) was going backwards and I was going by and I ran the bottom. I expected we could be close off the corner, and I was just coming off and then we hit.”

Suarez was having another good run in the first stage of the race in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, but in the final stage he started to struggle with a tight racecar before the incident.

“I was trying to give him some room, but actually I got out of the throttle at that point, but I don’t know if he was told it was already time to go up – I don’t know. It’s just unfortunate because we came from a streak of top-10s, and now this is going to be the end of it,” said Suarez, who finished 37th. “We’re going to regroup and come back stronger next week.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Clint Bowyer: “We Didn’t Have Much Go Right At Michigan”

Clint Bowyer & Matt Kenseth
Date: Aug. 13, 2017

Event: Pure Michigan 400 (Round 23 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)

Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/82 laps)

Start/Finish: 11th/23rd (Running, completed 202 of 202 laps)

Point Standing: 10th (623 points, 310 out of first)

Note: Race ended in overtime, going two laps past its scheduled 200-lap distance

 

Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

● Clint Bowyer qualified 11th and finished 12th.

● Climbed as high as 11th in the early going as most of the field ran single file on the high-speed track.

● Car started getting loose late in the stage after a green-flag pit stop.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

● Started 14th and finished 13th.

● Penalized for speeding on pit road at lap 63 and dropped to the back of the field.

● Used a two-tire stop midway through the stage to regain lost track position, briefly climbing into the top-10.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-202):

● Started 23rd and finished 23rd.

● Penalized again for speeding before the green flag fell on the final stage and dropped to 23rd.

● Forced to pit road on lap 150 due to right-front damage after contact with another car.

● Fell to 28th and a lap behind the leaders before battling back to a 23rd-place finish.

 

Notes:

●  Bowyer remains 17th in NASCAR’s 16-driver playoffs with three races left in the regular season. He trails Matt Kenseth by 31 points for the final playoff spot.

●  There were five caution periods for a total of 28 laps.

●  Kyle Larson won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was .310 of a second.

●  Truex leads the championship standings with 933 points and a 129-point advantage over his nearest pursuer, Larson.

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Nature’s Bakery Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We didn’t have much go right today. We had something off on our readings, and that led to the two penalties. We were trying to be real conservative on pit road all day. There at the end everyone got slowed up in front of me, and another car turned left over the front of us. That tore our car up pretty good.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, Aug. 19 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Erik Jones Pockets A Third Place Finish In The Pure Michigan 400

Erik Jones
Two late-race restarts in Sunday’s Michigan Pure 400 gave Erik Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team chances to earn his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in storybook fashion but he instead took the checkered flag with a career-best tying third-place finish at Michigan International Speedway.

The Byron, Mich., native lined up next to race leader and Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. twice in the final 10 laps. But it was Kyle Larson who slipped past both in the two-lap NASCAR overtime shootout after a red flag to spoil the Denver, Colo.-based team’s 1-2 finish. Truex’s runner-up finish and Jones’ third was still Furniture Row Racing’s best result as a two-car team.

The third-place finish on the two-mile oval was also Jones’ third straight top 10 and eighth of the season. It equaled his season best of third at Pocono Raceway in June. He is currently 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings after 23 races, just 12 points behind Ryan Newman in 15th place.

“I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be (inside lane) on the final restart, but I thought we could get a good enough restart where we could at least battle through (turns) one and two and hopefully make something happen into (turn) three,” said Jones. “Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, both of us couldn’t get going – Martin was spinning his tires and I was spinning my tires. He got a push from the 42 (Larson) and he passed us both. It’s unfortunate; I thought it was going to be a Furniture Row one-two (finish) either way. Wish the 5-hour ENERGY Camry could have had a shot at it, but it was a good day for us.”

It appeared Truex and Jones were going to finish 1-2 with both drivers having a safe margin in track position late in the race. But a caution for a multicar accident with four laps remaining in the scheduled 200-lap race first slowed the field then stopped it to allow track workers to clean up the debris resulting from the wreck.

 “I thought this might be my day for a few moments and then the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) really kind of picked it up there the last 50 laps or so and he was really fast,” said Jones. “We were kind of in our own league there for a long time – we were kind of matching lap times, he would go faster and I would go faster. I really thought that whoever was out front was going to win, unfortunately neither of us got it done. Neither of us really got going great after that last restart. I spun my tires, he spun his and it just wasn’t what we needed at the end.”

After qualifying eighth, Jones was steady all day in his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry. He led twice for five laps and the strategy devised by interim crew chief James Small and his team of engineers seemed to be playing out perfectly. From Lap 134 on, Jones ran second to Truex for a majority of the stretch run to the checkered flag on the track just 70 miles south of where he grew up.

The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Ryan Newman, Trevor Bayne, Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch.

The race had 14 lead changes among seven drivers. There were five cautions for 28 laps and one red flag for nearly six minutes.

The next race is Saturday night, Aug. 19, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Ryan Blaney Salvages A 15th Place Finish In The Pure Michigan 400

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/SKFteam salvaged a 15th-place finish in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway after a mid-race setback knocked them out a chance to contend for the victory.

Even so, Blaney and his Wood Brothers team gained a spot in the championship standings to 12thplace. More importantly, a race victory by a previous winner (Kyle Larson) secured Blaney and the Motorcraft team a spot in the playoffs, the 10-race run to the championship that begins after three more races.

For the early portions of Sunday’s 400-miler, Blaney and the No. 21 Fusion showed their usual speed.

Blaney started 12th and was running sixth after just one lap. He maintained that spot until pitting for tires.He was 11th at the end of Stage One.

In Stage Two, Blaney worked his way back to sixth place at the finish and collected five bonus points.

It was the 18th time this season that Blaney has scored stage points, and it ran his total for the season to 164.

In the third and final stage, Blaney restarted fifth but received damage to the right front of the No. 21 Motorcraft/SKF Fusion just after the restart. He made an unscheduled pit stop for repairs, and his team spent the rest of the race working to regain the lost ground.

Blaney received the free pass to rejoin the lead lap and then began running good lap times despite the body damage to his car. His team’s strategy was foiled by a late caution, and they took the wave-around late in the race.

Just when it looked as if the No. 21 team was headed for a finish outside the top 15, Blaney gained five spots on a green-white-checkered-flag run and took the 15thposition.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Blaney said in his post-race comments. “We had a fast car and things just didn’t work out. We have fast cars every week and that gives us something to look forward to.”

Team co-owner Eddie Wood also took heart in the speed of the No. 21 Fusion.

“We had a fast race car early on and had some damage that set us back,” Wood said. “We were honored to have Mr. Edsel Ford II on our pit box again this weekend, and we were hoping to have a better result for him.”

“But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft team will return to work this Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kurt Busch Finishes 11th In The Pure Michigan 400

Kurt Busch

Date: Aug. 13, 2017

Event: Pure Michigan 400 (Round 23 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)

Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)

Note: Race ended in overtime, going two laps past its scheduled 200-lap distance

Start/Finish: 15th/11th (Running, completed 202 of 202 laps)

Point Standing: 14th (554 points, 379 out of first)

 

Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

● Kurt Busch started 15th, finished 15th.

● Busch jolted his Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion to the 12th position before noting grip issues on lap three.

● On lap 42, he pitted for four fresh tires and fuel.

● When the green-flag pit stops cycled through, Busch was left in the 13th position.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

● Started 15th, finished 15th.

● At the beginning of Stage 2, Busch continued to battle front and rear grip issues.

● On lap 107, crew chief Tony Gibson called Busch to the pits for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments to correct loose-handling conditions.

● At the conclusion of Stage 2, Busch pitted for four more tires and fuel.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):

● Started 18th, finished 11th.

● After a lap-139 caution, Busch restarted in the 10th position.

● Busch ran as high as third place in the final stage.

● On lap 173 Busch pitted for two tires, fuel and wedge adjustments under green-flag conditions.

● Following a lap-196 red-flag caution, Busch restarted from the 17th position and battled his Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion just outside the top-10.

 

Notes:

● This was Busch’s 34th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan and his 599th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 28 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 39 drivers in the Pure Michigan 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Larson won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was .310 of a second.

● Truex leads the championship standings with 933 points and a 129-point advantage over his nearest pursuer, Larson.

 

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

“We were solid today, but we didn’t do anything right, and we didn’t do anything wrong. We’ll pull together and work hard for next week in Bristol.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Danica Pulls Off A 22nd Place Finish At Michigan

Danica Patrick
Date: Aug. 13, 2017

Event: Pure Michigan 400 (Round 23 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)

Format: 200 laps, broken into three segments (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)

Note: Race ended in overtime, going two laps past its scheduled 200-lap distance

Start/Finish: 18th/22nd (Running, completed 202 of 202 laps)

Point Standings: 28th (340 points, 593 out of first)

 

Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

● Danica Patrick started 18th and finished 25th.

● The No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion team lost ground on the initial start and dropped back to 25th. Patrick was able to get back up to 23rd before green-flag stops started at lap 38.

● Patrick said the car felt like it was out of the track. The team elected to take right-side tires and fuel when the they pitted at lap 43.

● Patrick went a lap down to the leader at lap 59 but was awarded the free pass when the caution flag waved at the end of the stage, which put her back on the lead lap heading into Stage 2.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

● Started 23rd and finished 20th.

● Crew chief Billy Scott called for a two-tire stop at lap 106, and Patrick raced her way up to the 20th position before the end of the stage.

● The No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment between stages.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):

● Started 20th and finished 22nd.

● Patrick was scored in the 23rd position when the caution flag waved at lap 139. A piece of debris from an accident hit the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford, so Scott called Patrick to pit road twice under caution for tires, fuel and repairs to the racecar.

● On lap 165 the team pitted under green for a fuel-only stop. When the caution flag waved at lap 186 for debris, Patrick was scored 20th, one lap down, as some teams had yet to pit. The No. 10 team took the wave-around to get back on the lead lap.

● When the caution flag waved at lap 196, Scott called Patrick down pit road for tires and fuel. She lined up 21st for the final restart and took the checkered flag in the 22nd position.

 

Notes:              

● This was Patrick’s 10th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan and her 177th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

● Patrick earned 15 points in Sunday’s race, which puts her at 340 points so far this season. She is ranked 28th in the driver point standings.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 28 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 39 drivers in the Pure Michigan 400 finished on the lead lap.

Kyle Larson won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan International Speedway. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was .310 of a second.

● Truex leads the championship standings with 933 points and has a 129-point margin over his nearest pursuer, Larson.

 

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We just weren’t as good as we needed to be today. Then the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford was just too loose there at the end, and we weren’t able to make up any ground on that last restart.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kevin Harvick Finishes 13th At Michigan

Kevin Harvick
Date: Aug. 13, 2017

Event: Pure Michigan 400 (Round 23 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)

Format: 202 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/82 laps)

Start/Finish: 3rd/13th (Running, completed 202 of 202 laps)

Point Standing: 4th (787 points, 146 out of first)

 

Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet) in overtime

Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

● Kevin Harvick started third, finished second and earned nine bonus points.

● The Busch Light Ford Fusion raced up to the second position immediately following the drop of the green flag.

● Harvick came to pit road on lap 43 for four tires and fuel.

● The No. 4 teamcame to pit road for two tires and fuel at the conclusion of Stage 1 and came off pit road in the third position.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

● Started third, finished third and earned eight bonus points.

● Harvick reported the two-tire stop caused the car to handle too tight at the beginning of Stage 2.

● The Busch Light Ford gave up the third position on lap 110 to come to pit road for four tires and fuel.

● Stayed out at the conclusion of Stage 2 to maintain the third position.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-202):

● Started third, finished 13th.

● The Busch Light Ford came to pit road while racing in the sixth position for four tires, fuel and air pressure and wedge adjustments to correct a loose-handling condition. The stop caused him to fall a lap down to several cars that didn’t pit on the same strategy.

● Harvick remained a lap down to the leaders until taking the wave-around under caution on lap 189.

● The No. 4 Ford restarted 17th on the lead lap on lap 190 but continued to battle a loose-handling condition.

● The team came to pit road a final time on lap 197 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment.

● Harvick raced from the 19th position to 13th in the final, three-lap dash to the checkered flag.

 

Notes:

● Harvick finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points and third in Stage 2 to earn an additional eight bonus points.

● The race featured 14 lead changes among seven drivers.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 28 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 39 drivers in the Pure Michigan 400 finished on the lead lap.

Kyle Larson won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was .310 of a second.

● Truex leads the championship standings with 933 points and has a 129-point margin over his nearest pursuer, Larson.

 

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

“We were just terrible loose when the sun came out, and then the strategy just went the wrong way, and we wound up a lap down.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Larson “Lets The Big Dog Eat” In An Overtime Restart!

Kyle Larson
Sitting in his racecar during a red flag delay near the end of the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, “Young Money”, aka 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. on the outside line.

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 the push/hit.

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 and nobody is willing to lift! 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.

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 Elk Grove, California.

The win was an exclamation point on an already great week of racing for Larson. He (Larson) 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.  It also didn’t hurt that thousands of sprint car fans inundated Ganassi’s Facebook page and emails asking him to let Larson race at Knoxville.

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 “Awesome Bill From Dawsonville”, both of whom are in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The race was slowed by five cautions for 28 laps.

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.

What Larson showed the NASCAR world at Michigan was that he willed himself to win that race.  He proved to all that he wanted the victory more than the rest of the field!

Check out the unofficial results of the Pure Michigan 400.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Blaney Dominates Practice, But Will Start 12th At Michigan

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/SKF team were a couple of bobbles away from sweeping the day on Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

Blaney was fastest in practice with a best lap at 203.591 miles per hour. Then in qualifying, he topped the first two rounds with laps at 201.686 mph in the first round and 203.120 mph in the second.

But in the third and final round he had to back off the gas after getting loose in Turn One. From that point on, any hope of winning the pole was lost and he wound up in 12th place after a lap at 201.235 mph.

“I just got loose over there [in Turn One],” Blaney said in his post-qualifying comments. “You lose time in one corner, and you can’t make it up.”

Still, it was the 16th time in 23 tries this season that he’s earned a starting spot of 12th or better.

“I’m proud of the first two rounds,” Blaney said. “We didn’t tighten the car up for the last round.”

And the fast times he turned on Friday have him feeling good about the rest of the Michigan weekend.

“We have good speed in our car,” he said. “Hopefully we should be able to drive up through everybody in the race.”

Team Penske, which shares a technical alliance with the Wood Brothers and their Motorcraft/SKFteam, swept the front row with Brad Keselowski taking the pole and Joey Logano earning the outside pole.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!