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NASCAR’s youth movement could help fuel Monster Energy’s promotions in sport

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Monster Energy’s push toward a younger audience could help NASCAR reach a new crowd and comes as the premier series is going through its own youth movement.

With Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart having retired from the series since last year and other stars, including seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and former champions Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth over 40 years old, the sport is changing.

Now comes Monster Energy as the new entitlement sponsor for the premier series (the series name and length of the deal were not revealed in a Thursday press conference).

There’s no doubting Monster Energy’s reach is with a younger crowd.

“Young people set trends in fashion, and then older people adapt, and I don’t want to say old,’’ said Mark Hall, chief marketing officer for Monster Energy on Thursday. “Fashion is set by a small group of influencers. The challenge is to make your product relevant to that group and then have them influence the others. If we’ve been successful in the past, we’ve followed that model.’’

Monster Energy, which already sponsors Kurt Busch’s car at Stewart-Haas Racing, also could rely on some of the sports younger drivers as well to reach a younger crowd.

This year’s Chase included Chase Elliott, who turned 21 this week, 24-year-old Kyle Larson, 24-year-old Chris Buescher, 26-year-old Austin Dillon and 26-year-old Joey Logano, who competed in the title race for the second time in three years.

“It’s pretty cool to see everybody kind of on the rise to the Cup series, all the other young kids that are out there,’’ Larson said this week in Las Vegas for Champion’s Week. “I think NASCAR is in a great spot and (am) excited to see kind of what is in the future.’’

At least a quarter of the 40-car field could feature drivers under 30 years old. Also included in that group will be 2017 rookies Ty Dillon, who is 24 years old, and Erik Jones, who is 20. Also in the series is Ryan Blaney (22 years old), Trevor Bayne (25), Matt DiBenedetto (25), Landon Cassill (27) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (29).

There are more who could be on the way.

Xfinity champ Daniel Suarez is 24 years old. William Byron, who won a series-high seven Camping World Truck Series races, is 19, has signed with car owner Rick Hendrick and will drive in the Xfinity Series in 2017 for JR Motorsports. Christopher Bell, who ran for the truck title at Homestead, turns 22 later this month. 

There are more behind them as the sport looks to get younger in the coming seasons.

 

Two crew chiefs fined for loose lug nuts at Kentucky

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NASCAR has issued two fines to crew chiefs for loose lug nuts last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Brian Wilson, crew chief for Paul Menard in the Xfinity race, was fined $5,000 for a loose lug nut. Menard finished ninth.

Kevin Bellicourt, crew chief for Justin Haley in the Camping World Truck Series, was fined $2,500 for a loose lug nut. Haley finished 10th.

There were no other penalties.

NASCAR America: ‘Big 3’ achieves mark not reached since 1974

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The drivers labelled the “Big 3” keep reaching new milestones as they tear through the 2018 Cup season.

Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the only drivers to win on 1.5-mile tracks this season, sweeping all seven so far.

They’ve combined to win 14 of the first 19 races this season, with Truex claiming the latest on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.

Truex’s win gives him four this season while Busch and Harvick have five each.

With Truex’s victory, the “Big 3” are the first trio of drivers to win four or more races each through 19 races since 1974.

That year, the “Big 3” were Cale Yarborough (eight wins), Richard Petty (six) and David Pearson (four).

On NASCAR America, Steve Letarte said despite their dominance so far, he doesn’t believe all three members of the “Big 3” will make the Championship 4 in November.

“I don’t think the three in any way shape or form are guaranteed to make Miami,” Letarte said. “Everybody’s ready to put the ‘Big 3’ in Miami in the final four, I’m not. There’s way too many challenges along the way. I’m confident that all three won’t be at Homestead.”

Watch the videos above and below for more.

Cup teams to test Charlotte road course today

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The second half of Cup tests on Charlotte’s road course will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET today. It is open to the public.

Testing today are: Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Austin Dillon, AJ Allmendinger, Trevor Bayne and Ty Dillon. Chris Buescher is in a Chevy wheelforce car.

Last week, several Cup drivers tested on the course for a day. Bubba Wallace crashed early and left the test because his team did not have a backup car.

Jimmie Johnson had the fastest lap in last week’s session, according to NASCAR timing and scoring. Johnson had a lap at 1 minute, 17.4 seconds. Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin each had a lap at 1:17.5 last week.

 

 

 

NASCAR America: Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. among winners, losers at Kentucky

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On Monday’s NASCAR America, Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton discussed the winners and losers among drivers in Saturday’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.

Letarte singled out Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as one of the losers after he failed to overtake Alex Bowman in the playoff standings. Bowman entered the race as the last driver above the cutoff line for the 16 driver field in the playoffs.

Bowman earned his first DNF after he crashed from a flat tire and finished last.

Meanwhile, Stenhouse finished 26th, one lap down after he had to pit twice early in Stage 1, the first time for a cut tire. He is now nine points behind Bowman for the final playoff spot.

“To only gain 10 points on a driver who finished last in the field is a huge missed opportunity,” Letarte said. “When you look at drivers scoring 30, 40, 50 points each, Paul Menard picked up over 30. So the chance was there to gain (on) that bigger group and he just didn’t do it. So when I look at what Ricky Stenhouse did, he really missed probably 15 or 20 points. I know it was a flat tire, there’s always a reason. But in the end you have to make the playoffs, you have to go out there and take it from Alex Bowman, who has put him in that position.”

Burton picked Menard as a winner. The Wood Brothers Racing driver placed 11th Saturday after finishing fifth in Stage 1 and 10th in Stage 2.

He is now 18th in the standings, 23 points back from Bowman

“They performed well, got good stage finishes and did what they needed to do,” Burton said. “This team is starting to get a little bit better every single week. I find it very interesting that back there for that 16th spot it’s really a fight of mediocrity, to be honest with you, and who is going to not mess up.”

Watch the above video for more.