Monster Energy Cup Series

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2018 Cup Season in Review: Kevin Harvick

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Kevin Harvick

CREW CHIEF: Rodney Childers, 34 races; Tony Gibson served as crew chief for final two races of the season following Childers’ suspension.

TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing

POINTS: Third (Previous best: 2014 championship)

WINS: Eight (Atlanta, Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Dover I, Kansas I, New Hampshire, Michigan II and Texas II. Career-best; previous best was five in 2014)

LAPS LED: 1,990 (Third-best behind 2,294 in 2015 and 2,137 in 2014)

TOP 5s: 23 (Tied with 2015 for career-best)

TOP 10s: 29 (Career-best; previous best was 28 in 2015)

POLES: Pole (Second-best behind eight in 2014)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Came out of the gates strong with three wins in the first four weeks … Earned top fives and a seventh in 13 of his first 21 races … Through the second race of the playoffs (Race 28), Harvick never went two consecutive races without earning a top five … Became the first driver to qualify for the Championship 4 four times since the current knockout-style format was instituted in 2014.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Suffered crash damage three of the first 13 races to finish outside the top 30 … Numerous mistakes in the pits by both the driver and team kept Harvick from recording double-digit wins during the season. Had a five-race streak from the Charlotte Roval through Martinsville during which he failed to earn a top five … Two incumbered victories (illegal back window at Las Vegas in the spring and with the spoiler at Texas in the fall) marred his season.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2019: The new rules package will create uncertainty at the beginning of the season, but Stewart-Haas should be able to pick up where they left off in 2018 … The driver expects his team will remain just as aggressive in 2019 and will push the limits of the rules … Will redouble efforts at Pocono, Kentucky and the Charlotte Roval – the only active NASCAR tracks on which he has not yet won.

2018 Cup Season in Review: Aric Almirola

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Kurt Busch

CREW CHIEF: Johnny Klausmeier

TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing

POINTS: Fifth (Previous best 16th in 2014)

WINS: One (Talladega II; second career victory and first since 2014)

LAPS LED:  181 (Career-best; previous best 78 in 2012)

TOP 5s: Four (Career-best; previous best three in 2015 and 2017)

TOP 10s: 17 (Career best; previous best seven in 2014)

POLES: None

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Began season with top 15s in 14 of the first 16 races … Came within two corners of winning the Daytona 500 before getting spun out of the lead by Austin Dillon … Was never worse than 14th in the points standings during the regular season.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Entered the playoffs with only one bonus point based on a stage win at Chicagoland; added five bonus points with his Talladega win, but still trailed the eventual Championship 4 by nine or more points … Sustained crash damage in back-to-back races at the Charlotte Roval and Dover in the fall … Led 70 laps at Chicagoland before losing a lap late in the race to finish 25th … Led 42 laps at New Hampshire but failed to win and finished third.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2019: Second year with Stewart-Haas will allow Almirola to develop more chemistry with the organization. All four of his top fives came in the second half of the season and he should be able to carry that momentum forward.

Bubba Wallace, RPM extend sponsorship with World Wide Technology

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Richard Petty Motorsports and World Wide Technology (WWT) announced Thursday they will extend their partnership into 2019. The agreement includes multi-race primary sponsorship and associate sponsorship on Bubba Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet as well as a technological alliance.

WWT was also named the official Technology and Analytics Partner of RPM.

The number of races for which they will serve as primary sponsor and the race dates will be announced at a later date. WWT served as primary sponsor seven times in 2018 including five consecutive races from the Brickyard 400 through Dover’s fall race.

“Our partnership with WWT allows us to use our own data in a way that is most useful for us,” said Wallace in a press release. “This isn’t something that is shared, but rather data that (crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) and our engineers now use during the race weekend and the actual race itself.

“This season was just the beginning for WWT, and I think we are just scratching the surface of their capabilities. They are also giving us the sponsorship that we need to be better on the track – that’s something that we’re all looking forward to. They are a great company and I’m looking forward to working with WWT more in 2019.”

In 2018, WWT created a proprietary dashboard that contributed to a seven percent increase in average running position and a 10 percent increase in the average finishing position, according to the release. Utilizing this data allowed RPM to make better decisions regarding their pit stop strategies.

“In a short time, we’ve seen the immediate impact World Wide Technology can make on our race program with their big data analytics,” said Brian Moffitt, chief executive officer, Richard Petty Motorsports. “Their continued partnership will have a significant impact on the performance of our race team through data analytics, application enhancements and creation of proprietary performance focused applications.”

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Top 18 moments from 2018 NASCAR season

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NBC Sports took a look back at the top 18 moments from the 2018 season, highlighted by chaotic last laps, historic first wins and championship runs.

No. 18: Tyler Reddick‘s first Xinity Series win of the season came in the first race of the year at Daytona; his only other win of 2018 was in Miami in the season ending race to win the championship.

No. 17: Christopher Bell won three in a row in Xfinity, the first driver to do so since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999.

No. 16: Erik Jones gets his first Cup win and breaks the dominance of the Big 3 at Daytona in July.

No. 15: Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn snooker Kevin Harvick at Sonoma to force them into a two-stop pit strategy.

No. 14: The 2019 Hall of Fame Class was announced to include Jeff Gordon, Jack Roush, Roger Penske, Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki.

No. 13: The “War of the Words” between Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. following July’s Daytona race.

No. 12: Harvick gives son Keelan Harvick a ride to Michigan’s victory lane.

No. 11: NASCAR reveals a version of the new rules package in the All-Star race at Charlotte. Harvick won.

No. 10: Clint Bowyer snaps a 190-race winless streak at Martinsville in the spring.

No. 9: Hailie Deegan gets a historic win as the first female in a major NASCAR series at Meridian (ID) Speedway.

No. 8: “Sliced bread” Joey Logano becomes the toast of NASCAR with his championship win. Mark Martin gave Logano his nickname before he ever entered the Cup series.

No. 7: Ross Chastain shoulders the pressure and gets his first Xfinity win at Las Vegas. “I’m just a watermelon farmer from Florida,” he said at the start-finish line.

No. 6: Logano bumps Truex out of the lead in Turn 4 at Martinsville in the fall to win and clinch his spot in the Championship 4.

No. 5: The Kyle and Kyle show gets physical on the last lap at Chicagoland. Kyle Larson knocks Kyle Busch out of the lead. Busch returns the favor. Dale Earnhardt Jr gets a catch phrase with “Slide Job!”

No. 4: Austin Dillon kicks the season off in style by spinning Aric Almirola out of the lead on the last lap of the Daytona 500 and become the first driver to secure a spot in the 2018 playoffs.

No. 3: The end of an era. Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus part ways after 17 years together.

No. 2: Chaos on the Charlotte Roval including one the wildest last laps of the season. Ryan Blaney wins after Truex and Johnson crash in the final chicane.

No. 1: The beginning of the future. Chase Elliott wins at Watkins Glen after finishing second eight times. His Hall of Fame father Bill Elliott scored his first win on the road course of Riverside International Raceway after finishing second eight times.

Bubba Wallace, RPM reinlist US Air Force as two-race sponsor

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Richard Petty Motorsports will continue to receive support from the United States military. On Friday, they announced the US Air Force will continue as a primary sponsor in 2019 as well as a major associate sponsor throughout the season on Bubba Wallace’s No. 43.

The two races for which the Air Force will be the primary sponsor are Saturday, July 6 at Daytona International Speedway (4th of July weekend) and Sunday, Nov. 10 (Veteran’s Day weekend) at ISM Raceway. Last year during his rookie campaign, Wallace finished in the top 15 in both of those races. He was 14th in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona and 10th at ISM.

“The Air Force continues to see benefits from our partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and driver, Bubba Wallace,” said Major Ross McKnight, Chief, Air Force National Events Branch at Air Force Recruiting Service in a press release. “Wallace Jr. and his personality align well with our target audience’s interests and the Air Force’s commitment to teamwork and technology. The combination of Bubba Wallace and the iconic No. 43 provides a continuing sponsorship opportunity that reflects our Air Force core values of Integrity, Service and Excellence, as well as has a positive impact on generating public awareness about the U.S. Air Force, our people and our mission.

“Like NASCAR, much of our work is based on science, technology, engineering and math principles combined with teamwork and training. This sponsorship is a great way to highlight that connection.”

Last year, Wallace visited four Air Force bases. He participated in drills at each and flew in an F-16 with the 77th Fighter Squadron “Gamblers” at Shaw AFB in South Carolina.

“I was really impressed with all the different aspects of the Air Force, and the different opportunities they offer,” said Wallace Jr. “I was able to visit different bases and see the Airmen in action and actually participate myself. That gets me excited and then I’m able to talk to inspiring students who are looking at a career in the Air Force. I’m pretty humbled to represent the Air Force.”

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