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NASCAR Cup Series

Newman Eyeing First Top-10 of the Season

Four races into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, and Ryan Newman is still searching for his first top-10 finish of 2019.

This is Newman’s first year driving the No. 6 machine for Roush Fenway Racing but his performance hasn’t been the worst. The Indiana native is averaging a 15.8 finish and is currently 17th in the overall standings. The performances have shown him race in the top-10, but just hasn’t been able to hold on to the spot.

The team is looking for improvements as the weeks go by, with his 12th-place finish at ISM Raceway leaving him satisfied with the steps Roush Fenway Racing is taking with their program.

“We definitely showed improvement from last week, which is a good sign for the weeks to come,” Newman said. “Our No. 6 Oscar Mayer team worked hard after practice yesterday to make some changes, which showed once we took the green. Although we wanted a top-10, we’ll take the result, improve and move on to Fontana next week looking to capitalize on the momentum.”

Heading into Auto Club Speedway, Newman looks for his first top-10 finish at the wide two-mile track since 2015 where he placed fifth.

In looking to improve results, Newman could help his chances by starting better as he has yet to reach the final round of qualifying this season. The session could be interesting at Fontana with the rule package in place. Will everyone wait till the last few minutes to go out on the track, or will drivers make a lap at the beginning? The draft could play a big role in qualifying and that’s something that Newman can try to take advantage of.

Performing well this week could be a great morale boost as the No. 6 team will be debuting with Performance Plus as the primary sponsor for the first time this season. Fontana also marks the close of the West Coast swing so drivers like Newman’s are looking forward to head back east.

“We’re excited to get to Fontana to close out the West Coast swing on a high note,” he said. “Auto Club is a rough track that carries a ton of speed and we’re anxious to see how the new package will apply to it. We definitely showed improvements last week at Phoenix and had a solid run going, so our goal is to maintain that momentum this weekend in Fontana.”

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Stenhouse Showcasing Performance with Strong Start

LAS VEGAS, Nev — Another week into the 2019 season, and yet one more solid performance by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The 31-year-old started the day eighth and ran as high as second early in the afternoon, before finishing the Pennzoil 400 in the sixth, a career-best for him at any mile and a half speedway on the schedule and his first top-10 at an intermidate track since the Coca-Cola 600 last year.

The No. 17 Ford also managed to score stage points throughout the 267-lap event, with a sixth and eighthplace finish in the first and second stages.

For a team that missed the playoffs a season ago, this impressive start seems promising for the year ahead. While Sunday may have been the first top-10 of the season, their strength has been felt. They were able to lead laps in the Daytona 500 and had enough speed to hang with the leaders late despite being trapped a lap down a weekend ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Ultimately, it feels as if their performance Sunday is a statement saying that this is a team that can be competitive despite the lack of success Roush Fenway Racing has had recently.

However, Stenhouse is not letting these early runs get to head just yet, as he continues to keep his focus strictly on a week-to-week, rather than getting caught up in the moment.

“Yeah, it feels good. We’re doing what we need to do, but it’s a long season. We’re only three races in,” Stenhouse told POPULAR SPEED. “Definitely need to continue our progress and keep pushing forward. But, all in all, really, really happy.”

Through three races, the No. 17 team sits seventh in the standings 34 points behind leader, Joey Logano. With the next race on the schedule being at ISM Raceway next weekend, Stenhouse will hope to see the results he had in 2017, where he finished both races in the top-10. Notably, last season he ended both events at the track outside the top-20.

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Cindric Optimistic With Current Schedule

JOILET, IL — For many, running a full season with multiple teams would be a tall order to ask. For Austin Cindric it’s become normal, as throughout most of his young career he has spent time jumping from ride to ride in various series. This year, he is splitting the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule with Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing.

“I have been pretty accustomed to switching back forth between teams. I’m not sure I’ve done the same thing two years in-a-row, or really ever in my career, so I’ve had the great opportunity to work with a lot of different drivers in a lot of different series in a lot of different situations,” Cindric told POPULAR SPEED. “I think that’s kind of played to my advantage this year with adjusting to different crews and different personal and different methods of doing things. I think it’s a best-case scenario for me trying to get a full season in.”

For a driver who is also a rookie in the series, the situation at hand oddly provides itself as a great learning tool as he has two championship organizations to lean on during his first full season in NASCAR’s second-tier.

“It gives me a lot of perspectives, especially going back and forth between Roush and Penske,” Cindric said. “Two really successful organizations in this sport and the way they do things between each is. Nothing right or wrong, just a process you have to go through as a driver within the team is just different and to learn from both processes and to be able to pull things out that I can apply to make myself a better driver has been a great opportunity.”

Through 15 races, the 19-year-old currently sits 10th in the points standings after facing both ups (five top-10’s) and downs (five finishes outside the top-20). Despite the inconsistency though he still holds a 90-point advantage over the cutoff. While his current edge over 13th should be enough to secure himself a spot in the postseason, his focus for the rest of the regular season is to put himself an even better position for when the playoffs start in September. A process that begins with winning stages and races.

“We are trying to get playoff points with stage wins and winning races, and obviously you want to run as well as you can, but we are really looking forward to trying to get as much momentum heading into the playoffs,” Cindric said.

After making the final four last year in the Camping World Truck Series, he believes he can accomplish the same this year and maybe even follow in the footsteps of Chase Elliott and William Byron, both of whom won a championship in their rookie season.

“I think we can be a championship contender and I think with the amount I’m learning each weekend and with the cars, we’re bringing to the racetrack, I really think we can be in the final four at the end of it,” Cindric said. “It’s all just building up to the playoffs and making sure we’re as prepared as possible.”

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Wallace Gets Third Straight Top-10 Finish

AVONDALE, Ariz. – After an unfortunate start to the season with an accident in the Powershares QQQ 300 that left him in 33rd place, Darrell Wallace Jr. has made an impressive comeback finishing sixth in each of his last three races.

The driver of the No. 6 Ford said that after being eliminated in last season’s playoffs when another crash ended his run in the Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix, his focus going into this season was “not living on the past.”

“We’ve made some good changes with personnel, equipment, everything coming into this season. I think that’s what has helped out a lot, just letting last year be last year,” he said.

After seeing how competitive the field will be this season at Daytona, Wallace said he and his team have been working to keep the car balanced and to maintain consistency on the track. Although it’s still early in the season, he’s already thinking about what will bring his Roush Fenway Racing team the most success, especially with the new points system being implemented in the races this year.

“As long as we keep top six-ing them to death, it’s what we need to just stay right there in the hunt,” Wallace explained. “We still got a little bit of speed to be gained to be a frontrunner, but we’re getting there.”

Next stop for Wallace in the West Coast swing is Auto Club Speedway, where he finished third last year in the TreatMyClot.com 300.

“The biggest thing is trying to get some front grip, get your car working really well, get a good balance, have some decent speed and continue on,” he said about competing in the 300-mile event next weekend.

Last year, Wallace and fellow driver Ryan Blaney made headlines with their hilarious antics on their drive to California from the race in Phoenix. When asked if fans would get to see something like that this week, Wallace mentioned that NASCAR asked the pair if they could top last year’s success.

“Good luck topping that. We’ll see, we’re always coming up with something good.”

Vivian Meza is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL VIVIAN AT vivian.meza@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Stenhouse Stays Out Late to Earn First Top Five at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Not pitting for tires in the closing laps at a hot, slick Phoenix Raceway on a sunny afternoon might not seem like the best strategy for victory, but somehow it paid off for race winner Ryan Newman and Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Newman led the field on the final restart of the Camping World 500 with Stenhouse on the inside of his No. 31 while the leaders pitted. Stenhouse finished fourth — marking the first top five of 2017 for RFR.

“[Brian] Pattie (crew chief) wanted to stay out and I kind of questioned it. Then when it came down to it, ‘Hey, everyone is coming!’ but I already committed to staying out,” Stenhouse said. “I think his gut instinct was right to stay out and that’s what I went with.”

The fifth-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver knew the cars behind him had fresh tires for the last restart, including new points leader Kyle Larson, who finished second for a third consecutive week.

“I thought the 42 (Larson) would run around the top. I was hoping I could get back to the 31,” Stenhouse said. “It didn’t fire off as well as we wanted and I was really loose. I was glad it got all the way to the checkered because if it were to have caution after caution, it’d have been trouble.”

Stenhouse has had a tough start to the season. He had finishes of 31st, 13th and 33rd in the first three races and found himself sitting 29th in the standings after Las Vegas. But he hasn’t lost confidence in his No. 17 team and believes he’ll contend for wins this year.

“It’s kind of hard to see [hard work] pay off. We’ve had some mechanical failures, bad restarts at the end, and getting fenders torn up,” he added. “We thought we could have finished top-five in Atlanta. In Vegas, we had a 15th-place car, and we had a mechanical failure.

“I think the speed is there — we’re just fine tuning to make sure we don’t make mistakes.”

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
News

Majeski to Make XFINITY Debut in the Midwest

Last week, it was announced 22-year-old Roush Fenway Racing development driver, Ty Majeski will make his XFINITY Series debut at Iowa Speedway in June.

The young talent has garnered much attention around the Midwest, and now the rest of the country is beginning to take notice. He made four starts in the ARCA Racing Series in 2016 for Roulo Brothers Racing, finishing as high as fourth at Madison.

Now, Majeski is ready to take on a new challenge and officially begin his NASCAR career.

“It’s a huge step, but I can’t just go out there and simply finish the race. I need to go out and perform, just like anyone else,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I know it’s a hard goal to reach, but I’m aiming for a top 10 there.”

Majeski will feel somewhat at home, as Iowa Speedway is the heart of the Midwest and it’s close to his native Wisconsin. There will be a break-in period, though, as Majeski has never raced at Iowa Speedway.

“I’ve never been to Iowa Speedway, so it doesn’t make much of a difference if it’s Iowa or any other track I’ve never been to. I just want to learn as much as I can before we get there,” Majeski said.

Majeski fits among NASCAR’s new-age drivers in the way he prepares to race at tracks he’s never seen.

“iRacing is a huge tool for learning how to drive racetracks and simulate live race conditions like tire falloff and track surfaces,” he said. “I’ll also spend some time in the Ford simulator as well.”

He’s also leaning on people who have racing experience. One of the people he goes to with questions is Cale Gale, a former development driver for Kevin Harvick Incorporated and competed at both the Truck and XFINITY levels.

“Cale Gale is a guy who I’ve been able to lean on and gain valuable information just through our conversations,” Majeski said.

One of the things Majeski and his team prides themselves in is working hard and letting their performance do the talking, not money. He wasn’t fast-tracked to be the next superstar. Instead, he spent time in each of the ranks and gained experience, and more importantly, learned how to race.

“We’re doing it the old-fashioned way,” Majeski said. “It’s really special to go out and win races and make it through the ranks the right way. When you surround yourself with good people, good things happen, and that’s a testament what this team has been able to do.”

Majeski has high hopes for 2017, as he is set to make five or six starts in the ARCA Racing Series in an attempt to gain valuable experience competing on 1.5-milers before going full-time in either the Camping World Truck Series or the XFINITY Series beyond this year.

You can watch Majeski make his XFINITY debut in the American Ethanol E15 250 on June 24th.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Roush Fenway Believes More Good to Come in 2017

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Ryan Reed won his second career NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, and although his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. crashed out on Lap 29, both drivers and team owner Jack Roush were exceptionally pleased with the organization’s performance throughout Speedweeks.

RFR went winless in both the XFINITY and Cup Series last season. The team has struggled the last two years, despite winning the XFINITY title in 2015 with Chris Buescher.

But now it is a two-car effort in both series as Greg Biffle left the No. 16 Cup car in the offseason.

Speedweeks went well for the organization — most notably since Reed qualified second for the PowerShares QQQ 300.

“Speedweeks is kind of a race within itself … Ryan had an awesome qualifying lap there,” Wallace told POPULAR SPEED. “It kind of gave everyone in the shop a little shot in the butt, and I think we had great speed. We’re just bummed out that we got to the front early and I thought we’d be OK, but we just didn’t get lucky, but it’s just part of it.”

Reed won the XFINITY season-opener in 2015. He said since that race, he comes to every superspeedway with the confidence of contending for the victory.

“The guys take pride in it, and if the driver does his part, he keeps out of trouble,” Reed said. “I’ve never had any doubt in my mind that we can come to any restrictor plate race and win.”

Jack Roush added, “The cars ran really well over the winter. Doug Yates has given us great engines for all of our Fords. It sure looks like we’ve made a move on the field and we are better than we were in relation to last year.”

Wallace thinks the speed will translate on the Cup side too and be sustained this season. Trevor Bayne has two full Cup seasons under his belt, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is entering his fifth full season in NASCAR’s top level.

“We’ve been working hard with a lot of changes,” Wallace said. “I think those guys [Bayne and Stenhouse] are smart enough and old enough to see what kind of racing goes on out here.

“It’d be cool to see another Roush Fenway Ford in Victory Lane soon.”

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Wallace Facing Sponsorship Concerns Entering the Season

Sponsorship is a key in NASCAR. This is no secret.

So, as Speedweeks nears closer and closer, it’s no surprise many drivers and teams in the garages are hurrying to find the necessary funding to compete full-time in NASCAR’s top-tier series. This includes Roush Fenway driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.

Wallace confirmed Wednesday that he and the No. 6 team are going to need help if they want to run the full 33-race schedule this season.

“We have the first six races right now with a 99 percent chance we’ll have more after that,” Wallace said. “The biggest thing is we haven’t had the best year the last two years, so we just need better results to bring and a more positive outlook.  I believe the changes we have made, along with the new format coming up for the whole sport of NASCAR, will help that out.  I couldn’t be more excited about this season.  Yeah, it’s not set in stone that it’s a full season, but that doesn’t change my outlook or my attitude or anything.  I’ve still got the same old guy that walks around trying to put a smile on everybody’s face, and go out there and deliver out on the race track.”

He and his team won’t be completely sponsor-less though, as Leidos, a military defense company who severed as a sponsor last season, will return to the team for a “handful of races.”

Wallace is coming off a year where he scored three top-fives and nine top-10s. He also made the Chase and put himself in the championship conversation before being eliminated after the Round of 8.

Despite the sponsorship concerns, the goal remains the same for the 23-year-old – be in the hunt for the title come the season-finale.

“We’re in kind of a little tight spot here.  We’re trying to figure out the rest of the game plan, but our goal is to be at Homestead for the season finale and win the XFINITY Series championship.” Wallace said. “We just have to overcome some obstacles, get over a couple hurdles to get to that point, but we will be at Daytona.  We’ve still got the same mindset of going in to win every race, do the best we can each and every weekend and put ourselves in the right position, especially with this new format.  I’m gonna really enjoy it.”

Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Roush Fenway Announces 2017 Plans

The off-season changes continued at Roush Fenway Racing on Tuesday, as the organization announced their plans for the 2017 NASCAR season.

RFR will become a two-car team next season as Trevor Bayne will continue to pilot the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will once again be behind the wheel of the No. 17 Fastenal Ford in NASCAR’s top series.

The team will lease its charter from the No. 16 car and driver Chris Buescher to JTG Daugherty Racing next season.

Veteran crew chief Matt Puccia will continue to call the shots for the No. 6 team and Brian Pattie, who served as crew chief for Greg Biffle and the No. 16 car last season will now be on the pit box for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team. Nick Sandler, who served as the No. 17 crew chief the last two seasons, has been named Director of Engineering.

Also, Kevin Kidd and Tommy Wheeler will lead Roush Fenway’s overall competition efforts going forward. Kidd will assume the role of Competition Director and Wheeler will serve as the team’s Operations Director.

“We have been able to shore up our plans for 2017 and we feel that this will continue to move us in a direction that will yield improved performance and results,” said Roush Fenway co-owner Jack Roush. “We saw improvement in our cars and made substantial gains in our performance at times last season, and we will continue to build on that by maintaining a robust engineering group in order to take the next step by consistently running up front.”

Roush Fenway, the winningest team in NASCAR history, is looking to rebound from a dismal 2016 campaign, which saw zero wins and all three of its Cup Series teams fail to finish inside the top 20 in points. Notably, Biffle already announced he was leaving the organization to look for another opportunity, while Robbie Reiser was relieved of his role as general manager but will have a new position within the organization.

EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Reed Ready for Cup Debut

Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Reed will attempt to qualify and make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 23. Reed will pilot a fourth team car for Roush Fenway, the No. 99 Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association Ford Fusion.

“I am really looking forward to Talladega and racing in the Sprint Cup race, he said. “For anyone that has ever had the chance to get behind the wheel of a race car, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the ultimate goal.”

In 2011, Reed was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and doctors told him he would never race again.

The doctors were wrong in their assessment of Reed’s future.

Fast-forward to 2016, and Reed finds himself in his third full-time season at the XFINITY Series level, contending for a championship in the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase. Heading into Dover this weekend, Reed is fourth in the standings and trails points leader Elliott Sadler by 16 points.

“To realize that dream and to have been able to do it properly managing my diabetes means a lot to me and the people that have stood beside me,” Reed said. “My goal is to qualify for the race, have a strong performance and continue to show people that with the proper management and support team you can overcome the obstacle in front of you – even diabetes – and accomplish your dreams.”

In his XFINITY Series career at Talladega, which spans three races, he has qualified inside the top-10 each time and has led 10 laps, with a best finish of 24th.

Reed has one career XFINITY Series win in 99 starts, which came at the 2015 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.

The No. 99 Ford has a rich history and was a weekly NASCAR Sprint Cup entry from 1996 through 2014, with Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards, the primary drivers in that span. In those eight seasons, the No. 99 went to Victory Lane 40 times and led over 9,500 laps in Sprint Cup.

The Alabama 500 from Talladega Superspeedway is set to go green on Sunday, October 23 at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN and MRN.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com
TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.