Track: Martinsville Speedway
Race: STP 500
Date: March 26, 2018
No. 2 Reese/Draw-Tite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 4th
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 1
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 5th (-31)
- Brad Keselowski scored a 10th-place finish Monday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway, his 11th top-10 finish at the Virginia half-mile.
- Keselowski is fifth in the MENCS Driver Standings, 31 points behind the leader.
- The driver of the Reese/Draw-Tite Ford started fourth and finished second in the first stage. He made a scheduled four-tire stop during the stage break on lap 136 with crew chief Paul Wolfe calling for adjustments to improve the car’s forward drive.
- Keselowski restarted third when the race went green on lap 142 and finished fourth in Stage 2. During the caution immediately following the stage, Keselowski made contact with Erik Jones, punching a small hole in the nose of the No. 2 Ford Fusion. He pitted on lap 265 for four tires and adjustments and restarted fourth when the final stage began on lap 271.
- Unfortunately, the car’s handling just wasn’t the same as it was earlier in the race. Keselowski slipped back through the top-10 in the running order as he struggled to get the front end of the car to turn in the corners. He was sixth with 42 laps to go but faded to 10th-place down the stretch.
Quotes: “I tore up the car a little bit on the nose and bent up the splitter and the car wasn’t quite the same after that. I just made a mistake there.”
No. 12 Menards/Libman Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 1st
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 145
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 3rd (-24)
- Ryan Blaney started fifth and finished third in Monday’s 500-lap race at Martinsville Speedway. Blaney ran the majority of the race inside the top-five following the competition caution on lap 50.
- Blaney fought a loose condition throughout the entire first stage. The crew made several air pressure adjustments to assist both the entry and exit which allowed Blaney to finish third in Stage 1.
- Great pit service got Blaney first off pit road to start Stage 2. Following a short early battle for the lead, Blaney held on to win his second stage of 2018 (first since Daytona).
- Blaney restarted with the lead in Stage 3, but an ill-handling race car forced him to give up several spots early. Blaney, however, fought back and brought the Menards/Libman Ford Fusion home third, his career-best Martinsville finish in four prior Cup Series starts at the facility.
- Blaney jumped from fifth to third in the standings, leaping over teammates Keselowski and Joey Logano.
Quote: “It was a good showing for us, for sure. I think the track tightened up a good bit there towards the end and we just got a little bit behind. It was fun for us to come out of here and lead a bunch of laps, win a stage and run third here at Martinsville, where I usually run terrible. That says a lot about this team and the preparation that they did getting ready for this race. We just need to be a little bit better.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 9th
Stage 2: 9th
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-25)
- Joey Logano started third in Monday afternoon’s 500-lap race at Martinsville Speedway. Logano ran inside the top-five through the opening 50 laps, before a pit stop at lap 52 dropped the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion into the ninth position where Logano ultimately finished the opening stage.
- During Stage 2, Logano reported that the Shell-Pennzoil Ford was building looser over the duration of the long green-flag run. On the third pit stop of the race at the conclusion of the second stage, crew chief Todd Gordon called for another wedge adjustment, looking to give Logano the exit security he needed. Logano finished ninth in the second stage.
- After starting seventh in Stage 3, Logano drifted back to the 10th spot by lap 296. Logano would later slip to the 11th position where he’d ride until the fourth caution flag was displayed on lap 384.
- The team made another wedge adjustment, looking to provide the driver with additional corner exit speed. Quick pit work positioned Logano back inside the top-10 for the restart.
- While final adjustments on the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford would prove to be the correct ones, Logano was only able to fight his way back up to the sixth position with track position being at a premium on long green-flag runs.
Quotes: “At the start of the race we may have made some bad changes over the snow break and weren’t really good compared to where we were in practice. The team made some good adjustments and got to the end there and were probably a third-place car, but it was too little, too late. I drove back up to sixth. I was catching up to fifth and wanted a top-five stat because it at least sounds a little better than sixth. I’m proud of the fight and proud of everyone that keeps building these good, solid, consistent cars. Pit road is always consistent, so that’s nice. We’ve just got to go a little faster.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!