Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Race: Coca-Cola 600
Date: May 27, 2018
No. 2 Stars, Stripes and Lites Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 26th
Stage 2: 17th
Stage 3: 3rd
Laps Completed: 400/400
Laps Led: 2
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-136)
- Brad Keselowski started fifth in the 400-lap event and faced adversity early in the race. He wrestled a loose-handling Stars, Stripes and Lites Ford during Stage 1 and lost track position when he missed his pit stall during a sequence of stops under caution on lap 85. In an effort to score stage points, he remained on the track for the final 12 laps of the segment but was no match for those on fresher tires, finishing Stage 1 in 26th position.
- Neither Keselowski’s luck nor his car’s handling improved in Stage 2. His car continued to be a handful, especially on corner exit, and the team was forced to make an extra pit stop under caution on lap 117 for loose lug nuts. As the stage drew to a close, Keselowski went a lap down but finished the segment as the first car a lap down, earning him a free pass back on the lead lap. He made a four-tire stop plus adjustments on lap 204 and lined up 15th when Stage 3 began on lap 208.
- The third segment of the race saw Keselowski’s fortunes begin to turn. The handling on the No. 2 Ford improved. He was eighth on lap 274 when the ninth caution slowed the pace. Most of the leader stayed out during the yellow but crew chief Paul Wolfe made the call for a four-tire stop on lap 275. Thanks to the fresh tires, Keselowski rallied through the field and finished third in Stage 3. He pitted again during the stage break on lap 303 and restarted second when the final 100 lap segment began on lap 308.
- Armed with track position and clean air, Keselowski maintained a strong presence inside the top-five. He ran as high as second-place during the final segment before settling into third position on lap 366. On lap 382, he slipped back to fourth after battling Denny Hamlin for the position but held firm to the spot over the final 18 laps.
- Keselowski’s seesaw night in the Coca-Cola 600 ended on a positive note. He overcame a handful of difficulties to score a fourth-place finish Sunday night at CMS, his third top five and seventh top-10 finish of the season.
Quote: “I thought the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was really strong. He and the 18 (Kyle Busch) were probably pretty close. They were just in another league. I ran as hard as I could tonight and the team did a great job the last few stops to put us in a position and that was just kind of what we had. We’ll go back to the drawing board and try to find some more speed. If we keep this execution that we had tonight, then we’ll get some wins, but we’ve got to have more speed.”
No. 12 PPG Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 14th
Stage 3: 36th
Stage 4: 36th
Laps Completed: 278/400
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 11th (-198)
- Ryan Blaney started from the eighth position in Sunday’s night’s Coca-Cola 600.
- Blaney raced his way into the top-five early in Stage 1. His PPG Ford Fusion handled well in Turns 1 and 2 but was loose in Turns 3 and 4. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called for a wedge and air pressure adjustment plus added tape to the nose. Blaney gained three positions on the pit stop thanks to great service by the No. 12 crew. He remained inside the top-two positions and brought home a second-place finish when the first segment of the race ended on lap 100.
- Stage 2 saw Blaney restart inside the top-five. But near the end of the stage, Blaney reported an issue with the engine of the No. 12. He rode out the remainder of the segment, scoring a 14th-place finish. During the stage break, the team looked under the hood but unfortunately, nothing could be fixed on pit road.
- Blaney was left to nurse the sick engine to the finish of the race but it wasn’t meant to be. On lap 280 power plant broke, ending Blaney’s night in flames. The young driver safely hopped out of his car but his evening was over.
- Blaney was credited with a 36th-place finish and now sits 11th in the Cup Series driver standings.
Quote: “We had a cylinder let go maybe around lap 150 and we were just trying to limp it home. When they go that early you don’t expect it to last all race, but it lasted a lot longer than I thought and then it finally let go into one. That stinks. I thought we had a really good car. I would have liked to see how the race would have progressed for us, but we won’t see that anymore. Hopefully, we can go out and have a good run at Pocono and then at Michigan.
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 13th
Stage 2: 26th
Stage 3: 13th
Laps Completed: 399/400
Laps Led: 12
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-67)
- Joey Logano started second in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 and led the first five laps of the 600-mile event. Logano struggled with entry security and an extremely loose Ford, especially over the bumps in Turns 3 and 4. The handling conditions dropped Logano from the lead to the 12th position before the first caution flag at lap 36. Crew chief Todd Gordon called for substantial air pressure and chassis adjustments on the first stop.
- Logano reported the adjustments helped the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford on initial takeoff. Unfortunately, the car’s handling built extremely tight and Logano dropped to the 16th position before the caution on lap 83. On the third stop at the conclusion of Stage 1, the team made another wedge and air pressure adjustment, attempting to give Logano the turn he needed in the corners.
- At lap 120, Logano made contact with Jimmie Johnson’s spinning car in Turn 4, damaging the left-rear of the No. 22 Ford. Logano restarted in the 30th position. The spin would also force the team to run long on a green flag cycle of pit stops, dropping Logano a lap down to the race leader before the conclusion of the stage, forcing him to take the wave-around to regain the lost lap.
- The Shell-Pennzoil crew made multiple repairs over Stage 3, repairing damage from the earlier incident. Logano continued to report he was loose on corner entry, tight in the center and loose off. Crew chief Todd Gordon continued making air pressure adjustments to the car as the track continued to cool as the race transitioned to from daylight to night.
- On lap 325, Logano radioed the team and reported the handling was the worst it had been all night. Gordon elected to bring Logano to pit road early, just inside the window of making it all the way to the conclusion of the event. The team made a major chassis adjustment, removing a left-rear spring rubber for the run to the finish.
- Logano continued battling handling conditions for the remainder of the race, much of which stemmed from damage to the left-rear quarter panel. He was credited with a 22nd-place finish and remains second in the driver standings, 67 points behind the leader.
Quote: “We had a really tough night. We started out with fire off speed, but the handling went away quickly during each run. I didn’t have much for grip overall, then we got into the spin at lap 120 and suffered some left-rear damage. From that point, it was an uphill battle. The guys didn’t give up, but it was just a tough day for our Shell-Pennzoil team.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!