Keselowski Will Lead Them To The Green Flag At Michigan

Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski will start on the pole for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, after taking the top spot from fellow Ford driver Ryan Blaney, who had posted the fastest times to that point, but bobbled twice in his run in the final qualifying round on Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

Keselowski grew up in Rochester Hills, Mich., a Detroit suburb 99 miles from Michigan International Speedway. He is a big fan of Detroit and University of Michigan sports teams and long has said how badly he wants to win at MIS. He has five top fives, but no wins at his home track. He has often said that a win here would be of similar importance to winning the biggest races in the sport. He joked that if he followed up today’s success with a win on Sunday that the victory celebration would be the type for which he has to ask for forgiveness.

“When I saw that we were going to win the pole, those last few seconds of qualifying, it sent chills down my body. It’s a special track for me to have any kind of success at,” he said.

Clouds moving in and out affected the speeds dramatically—the more clouds, the faster the cars go. Because of changes in the cloud cover, and the fact his team had made last-second changes to the car, Keselowski was skeptical when he pulled onto the track for his final lap. But the changes made his car faster, and his time of 35.451 (203.097 mph) stood up as the best of the final 12. It is the 14th Coors Light pole of his career, his second of 2017 and his first in 17 tries at Michigan.

“A driver’s home track, where his family and friends are all present, it just feels like a bigger event. Michigan, for me, feels like a bigger event,” Keselowski said. “You want to make those people proud when you have the opportunity. When you have the smallest sliver of success, it feels magnified. It feels bigger. That’s what today is for me.”

Keselowski will be joined on the front row by his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano. Keselowski is locked into the playoffs, but Logano isn’t. He is 18th in points and an insurmountable 95 points out of the 16th and final playoff spot. With just four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races left in the regular season, he is in a must-win situation.

“I think you do get a little bit desperate,” Logano said following qualifying on Friday at Michigan. “You’ve got to win. There is no second option, so the intensity is very, very high. You have to be on-point all the time. Every change has to be a good one. Every lap has to be a good one.”

Earlier this season, Logano finished third and Keselowski finished 16th at Michigan.

It will be an all Team Penske front row for the Pure Michigan 400.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Did Not Fare Well At The Glen

Brad Keselowski
Track:                  Watkins Glen International

Race:                   I Love NY 355

Date:                   August 6, 2017

 

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 8th

Finish: 15th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 90/90

Laps Led: 20

Point Standings (behind leader): 6th (-200)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski started Sunday’s I Love NY 355 at Watkins Glen International from the eighth position before finishing 15th in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion. As the race began, Keselowski quickly moved into the top five despite struggling for forward drive on the exit of each corner of the seven-turn road course. He would maintain that position through the end of the first, 20-lap stage to pick up six bonus points. After coming to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment during the break, Keselowski restarted the second, 20-lap stage from the 14th positon. Still, the handling was not quite where the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion needed it to be, but he was able to maneuver his way to a seventh-place finish in the second stage. As the third stage of the race began at lap 45, Keselowski restarted in the same, seventh-place position after not pitting during the break. On the first lap back to green, while entering the interloop section of the track, Keselowski and Kyle Busch made contact that sent them both spinning but able to continue with only slight damage. Unfortunately, Keselowski developed a vibration five laps later and had to come to pit road for four tires, an air pressure adjustment and to work on the damage from the incident. This did not put the team in their fuel window, but Keselowski grabbed the lead when the other competitors began making their final pit stops. The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford continued to pace the field while Keselowski and team needed a caution to make their final pit stop. However, the race stayed under the green flag and Keselowski had to pit on lap 87 of the 90-lap race. To make matters worse, he drove through too many pit stalls upon exiting pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty that placed him 15th at the end of the event.

 

Quote: “Tough break today for the Miller Lite Ford team. I guess I drove through too many pit stalls leaving on our last pit stop. Gosh, it’s a bummer. We weren’t the fastest car today but we raced real hard and with a lot of heart. That put us in position. I hate that I cost us a top-five to a 15th. Good effort all around.”

 

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 13th

Finish: 24th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 90/90

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings (behind leader):  13th (-339)

 

Recap:  Joey Logano started 13th and finished 24th in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in Sunday afternoon’s I Love NY 355 at Watkins Glen International. Logano, the 2015 race winner and 2016 runner up entered the afternoon seeking a victory to secure the 22 team’s place in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. On the initial start of the race, Logano worked his way into the top-10, reaching the ninth position by lap 3, and continuing to push forward through the first stage. At the completion of the stage at lap 20, Logano and company found themselves in the seventh position. On the initial start of the race Logano reported that the balance of the car was loose through turns two and three, while maintaining a tight center in the circuit’s sweeping right handers. Crew chief Todd Gordon elected to adjust the No. 22 Ford with air pressure on the first stop of the day. Unfortunately, the team would battle getting the wheel indexed onto the studs on the right front and drop several positions in the process. In the second stage, Logano started to battle a loss of rear grip, while continuing to be tight through the center of the corners and loose on exit. Despite improved lap times, he reported that the handling had worsened. To complicate matters, contact was made on lap 27 with the No. 10 Ford, which knocked the toe out on the left front of the Shell-Pennzoil Fusion. The team elected to stay out at the end of the second stage and finished in the 12th position. Gordon would bring the team to pit road for the second time of the afternoon when the caution was displayed at lap 51. The stop dropped the team outside of the top-20, with other teams electing to remain on the track. On the restart, Logano was able to work back inside the top-20 but continued to lose ground with an overall lack of rear grip. Not wanting to play the fuel mileage card, Gordon elected to pit the Shell-Pennzoil Ford at lap 75, taking four tires and fuel in an effort to let Logano run hard to the finish in hopes of a late race caution. With the race running green to the completion, the team was forced to settle for a 24th-place finish.

 

Quote “Best case scenario we were going to finish top-10 which does nothing for us. A top-5 or a win is the only thing that is going to help us, so we went for it by pitting and putting four tires on and hoping to get a caution and maybe cycle ahead of cars with new tires. Unfortunately it went green all the way and we didn’t get a good finish. We need to win the next few races here.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Let Their Presence Be Known At The Zippo 200

Joey Logano
Track:                     Watkins Glen International

Race:                      Zippo 200

Date:                      August 5, 2017

 

No. 12 Snap-on Ford Mustang – Joey Logano

Start:  1st (33rd career pole)

Finish: 2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 82/82

Laps Led: 0

 

Recap: Joey Logano started first and finished second in the No. 12 Snap-on Tools Ford Mustang in Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International. Logano, who was seeking his third-consecutive victory on the historic circuit, claimed his 33rd career pole earlier in the day in qualifying. On the initial start, Logano dropped into the second position and rode there until the end of the first stage. Crew chief Brian Wilson called for a track bar adjustment on the first stop, attempting to help Logano with the tightness in turn 1 and through the carousel. The changes helped, but only incrementally as Logano reported he had a great short run car, but struggled to maintain forward turn over the long run. The pit stop also shuffled the team back to the 13th position as numerous cars had pitted prior to the end of the first stage. On the ensuing restart, Logano made quick work of the cars in front, moving to the top-five on the first lap, then into the top-three by the next lap. Logano continued forward, ultimately moving into the second position by the end of the second stage. The team would opt to remain on the track, continuing under green flag conditions until lap 49 when Wilson called Logano back to the pits for the final time of the afternoon. Over the final run, Logano reported the car was loose on the left turns and slightly tight on the right-hand corners. Unfortunately, the final caution only allowed four laps of racing so track position became too important to pit the Snap-on Tools Mustang so Logano was left to fight from the third position. On the final restart of the day, Logano was able to battle teammate Brad Keselowski for the second position, where he ended the afternoon.

 

Quote: “It’s fun. Dang, I wish it was for the win and not for second. I had such a good short run car, just in the wrong position to start that last run. I feel like if I was second I could have won the race. I just had a really good short run car. Our long run speed was off a bit and that’s when the 18 and 22 would drive by us and we were a third-place car on the long run but probably a winning car on the short run. By time I cleared the 22 the 18 was gone. If we had another four or five laps (he would have drove off again). I needed a caution”

 

 

No. 22 REV Group Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski

Start:  5th

Finish: 3rd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 82/82

Laps Led: 6

Owner’s Points Position (behind leader): 1st (+101)

 

Recap: After starting Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International from the fifth position Brad Keselowski fought his way to a third-place finish on the 2.45-mile road course. The 2013 winner of this event, Keselowski raced his way into the lead at lap 17 and would go on to win the first, 20-lap stage that ended under the caution flag. Following a four-tire pit stop during the break the No. 22 team won the race off pit road and line up fourth on the restart, behind drivers that made their pit stops before the end of the stage. The REV Group Ford was very loose at the start of the second, 20-lap stage, but Keselowski was able to hang on to it to finish third in the stage. Crew chief Greg Erwin left his driver on the racing surface during the break between stages as their strategy was to make the end of the race on two pit stops. After racing back into the lead at lap 47, Keselowski made his final pit stop of the day on lap 49. He would cycle to the second position after all pit stops had been completed, behind eventual race winner Kyle Busch. A lap 77 caution gave Keselowski another shot to win but he could not make his way around Busch and would cross the finish line in the third position behind Busch and his teammate, Joey Logano. The finish is Keselowski’s fourth-consecutive top-five finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

 

Quote: “Probably needed a little bit everywhere. I gave it all I had. Joey and I were racing for best in class and he did a good job. It was a heck of a race there at the end.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Had A Mixed Results At The Overton’s 400

Track:                  Pocono Raceway

Race:                   Overton’s 400

Date:                   July 30, 2017
Brad Keselowski

 

No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 11th

Finish: 5th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 160/160

Laps Led: 6

Point Standings (behind leader): 5th (-174)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion team started 11th in Sunday’s Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway for the second-consecutive weekend, and just like last week they were able to parlay that into a top-five finish after a fifth-place result Sunday afternoon. Crew chief Paul Wolfe made a great call to pick up valuable track position by making a green-flag pit stop at lap 15 to set the No. 2 Ford team up to finish fourth in the first, 50-lap stage of the day to earn seven bonus points. When a quick caution flag was displayed at the start of the second, 50-lap stage, Wolfe again brought his driver down pit road for a fuel-only pit stop that would have given the team a great opportunity to score a win in the stage. Unfortunately, an untimely caution flag flew at lap 70 to disrupt that play, but pit strategy would continue to be a hallmark of the race for Wolfe and the team. After a four-tire pit stop, Keselowski restarted in the fourth position at lap 75, and would finish the second stage in second to score nine additional bonus points. Keselowski began the final, 60-lap stage from the 11th position following his pit stop for four tires and fuel, but with an aggressive restart he was able to race his way into the fifth position in one lap. He would keep the Alliance Truck Parts machine inside the top 10 for the remainder of the race and would cross the finish line in the fifth position. The finish, combined with the 16 bonus points for the stage finishes, resulted in Keselowski garnering the second-most points on the day behind race winner, Kyle Busch.

 

Quote: “A strategy day for sure. Our Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion was okay, decent speed. I thought we had the best strategy out there, we just needed a little bit more speed.”

 
Joey Logano & Ryan Blaney

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 10th

Finish: 27th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 159/160

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings (behind leader):  13th (-298)

 

Recap:  Joey Logano started 10th and finished 27th on Sunday afternoon in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in the Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway. When the green flag fell, Logano worked forward, reaching the eighth position by Turn 2 before the caution flag was displayed for an incident on the opening lap. When green-flag action resumed, he reported the handling of the car as loose on corner entry but tight through the center of the turns. When crew chief Todd Gordon called the Shell-Pennzoil Ford to pit road for the first time at lap 17, the team adjusted with wedge and air pressure in attempt to give Logano both the entry security and the center turn he needed. The adjustments marginally improved the handling, but Logano was stuck battling dirty air until the conclusion of the first stage at lap 50, where he finished 11th. The next pit stop, Gordon would call for additional wedge and air pressure adjustments, however, an issue on the right front would slow the stop and cost valuable track position. The race would be slowed again by caution at lap 59, where Logano reported the handling to be better and the team pitted for fuel only. On the next run, Logano reported that the entry security was better, but the car was still tight in the center of the turn. The team continued to fight forward, but being out of position for stage points at the end of the second stage, Gordon called Logano to pit road at lap 97. The team would wrap up the stage in the 27th position but cycle forward after the leaders pitted at the caution. Running just outside the top-10, Logano reported his car was more competitive, and he consistently ran times comparable with the top-five. On lap 127, Logano pitted again under green, but was unfortunately deemed too fast entering pit road and was forced to serve a pass-through penalty. Further compounding the situation, the tires were flat spotted as he entered the pits for the penalty and required an additional pit stop, thus requiring an additional trip down pit road to serve the penalty. Logano would continue on and bring the Shell-Pennzoil Ford home in the 27th position.

 

Quote“Unfortunately we had too many setbacks today. We had a car towards the middle part of the race that we could run in the top-10 with if we could get the track position and then a speeding penalty cost us the opportunity for that. We just have to execute together as a team and continue to fight on and we can win. We can’t get down on ourselves here, we have to keep looking ahead and trying to get ourselves into the playoffs.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Keselowski Thinks Adding Blaney To Team Penske Adds Much Needed Depth

Ryan Blaney
In a heavy news week for Team Penske, 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski inked a long-term contract extension, and the organization announced the addition of a third Cup team with driver Ryan Blaney for 2018.

Given the current embargo against discretionary testing in NASCAR’s top-three divisions, Keselowski believes the addition of Blaney’s No. 12 Ford will be a positive.

“Hopefully, it means more depth,” Keselowski said on Saturday. “More ability to extend resources engineering where you can make the car faster. The biggest battle that we have right now in motorsports is aerodynamics. The teams keep pushing aerodynamics further and further to improve that. It’s just really the time and energy that you can spend on it.

“The more people you have, the more revenue you have, the more that you can work in those areas with engineering tools or experiments to get better. There’s a lot of hope with respect to that. It’s not just aerodynamics. It also carries over to the engine side with Roush Yates Engines and a number of other categories of depth, whether it be pit crews or shop mechanics, fabricators and beyond.

“Assuming that it’s pulled off and executed in the right way at those levels it should be a gain for everybody at Team Penske.”

 TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske And Brad Keselowski Reach A Contract Agreement

Brad Keselowski

Team Penske announced today that the organization has reached an agreement with Brad Keselowski to remain with the team as the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion well into the future. The multi-year extension ensures that the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) Champion and 23-time MENCS race winner will continue to be an integral part of Team Penske – the only team he has driven for full-time over the course of his 10-year MENCS career.

The announcement follows the news that No. 2 team crew chief, Paul Wolfe, has also agreed to a multi-year extension with Team Penske.

“In the time that Brad has driven for Team Penske, he has risen to the top echelon of stars in NASCAR,” said Roger Penske. “Brad and Paul have established a terrific, winning combination and they are both real leaders within our team. More than just wins and championships, Brad is an important part our relationship with Ford Performance and his work with the Checkered Flag Foundation shows what kind of person he is away from the track. There is no question he continues to be a great fit for our organization.”

Since joining Team Penske in 2009, Keselowski has earned 22 MENCS wins and the 2012 series championship while driving the iconic No. 2 Ford Fusion. In addition, the Rochester Hills, Michigan native has scored 29 NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) victories, won the 2010 NXS Drivers’ championship and he’s been a part of three NXS Owners’ titles while driving the No. 22 Ford Mustang. Keselowski has produced two MENCS victories and one NXS win so far this season and has qualified for his sixth trip to the NASCAR Playoffs.

“Roger and everyone at Team Penske have given me everything we need to win championships at the highest levels of NASCAR,” said Keselowski. “As I have said all along, Team Penske is where I want to be and I am thrilled to continue with the organization well into the future. I have a lot of years left in the sport and I truly feel our best years are ahead of us.”

Keselowski first came on board at Team Penske toward the end of the 2009 MENCS season and Wolfe joined him prior to the 2010 NXS campaign. The two promptly won the 2010 NXS Drivers’ championship with six wins and an NXS-record 26 top-five finishes. Wolfe then joined Keselowski on the No. 2 MENCS Ford and the duo earned their first win at Kansas Speedway in just their 13thseries start together. In their seven-plus MENCS seasons, Keselowski and Wolfe have become one of the premier driver-crew chief combinations in the sport and have earned six trips to the NASCAR Playoffs.

“There is no one I want helping make my racecars go fast more than Paul Wolfe,” continued Keselowski. “We have a lot of continuity between the two of us, and really the entire No. 2 Ford team, which is so important in today’s NASCAR. With partners like Miller Lite, Alliance Truck Parts, Wurth, Autotrader, Fitzgerald Glider Kits, Discount Tire and Ford Performance in our corner, I feel like we have the strongest overall program in the sport.”

Keselowski has recorded 51 wins while driving for Team Penske, making him the second-winningest driver in team history. He is just eight victories away from tying Team Penske Hall of Fame member, Mark Donohue, for the top honor.

“Mark Donohue is the driver that Roger was able to build this team around over 50 years ago, a man who won our first NASCAR Cup Series race and our first Indianapolis 500. I am truly blessed to be close to tying his record for wins with Team Penske and this extension will allow me to place my name beside such a legendary driver,” added Keselowski.

Keselowski continues to climb the ranks of NASCAR’s all-time greats. His 23 career MENCS victories tie him with Ricky Rudd for 33rdon the career wins list. With 35 career NXS victories, he ranks fifth in all-time series wins. Keselowski is also one of only four drivers to win both a MENCS championship and NXS title in their career.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Had A Very Good Day In The Brickyard 400

Brad Keselowski

Track:                  Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Race:                   Brickyard 400

Date:                   July 23, 2017

 

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 11th

Finish: 2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 167/167

Laps Led: 23

Point Standings (behind leader): 6th (-179)

 

Recap: With just two laps remaining in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) it appeared Brad Keselowski would give Team Penske their first win after triumphs in a record 16 Indianapolis 500s, but Kasey Kahne was able to maneuver around the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion to take the win in a race that spanned over six hours due to inclement weather. Keselowski began the race from the 11th position and when the green flag fell it was clear that the No. 2 Ford was not handling like a car that would contend for the win in one of NASCAR’s biggest races. Keselowski radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that he was wickedly loose in and off the flat IMS corners, but super tight in the center. After completion of only 17 laps NASCAR red-flagged the race and IMS cleared the grandstands as lightening, followed by heavy rain, was detected in the area. Nearly two hours later the race resumed and Wolfe began working on the handling of the Miller Lite machine. Unfortunately, Keselowski was only able to finish 20th in the first stage but the car was improving with each pit stop. An early caution at the start of the second stage allowed Wolfe to bring Keselowski down pit road for a fuel-only pit stop in hopes that the stage would stay green the rest of the way as they now had enough fuel to make it to the end. A lap 71 caution, nine laps before the end of the second stage, thwarted those plans, but Keselowski was able to score a ninth-place finish in the stage to pick up two bonus points. After starting the final stage from the ninth position, Wolfe made another fuel gamble and kept his driver on track longer than any other crew chief, in hopes of scoring a timely, late-race caution that would force other teams to follow Keselowski down pit road late in the race to preserve their track position. At lap 150 their perseverance paid off when Keselowski was scored as the race leader when a caution was displayed. Only two cars stayed out and a great pit stop by the Miller Lite crew set the No. 2 Ford team up to challenge for the win. Restarting third, but on much fresher tires, Keselowski worked his way through two more caution periods to grab the lead as the race went into an overtime scenario. After choosing to restart in the outside lane at lap 166, Keselowski was not able to hold off Kahne just as dusk was starting to set over IMS and crossed the finish line second to give Team Penske five runner-up finishes in the race.

 

Quote: “You know, we just have to take our result and move on. We weren’t necessarily the fastest car today, but the Miller Lite Ford team did a hell of a job executing. I wish I could have executed a little bit better to bring home the win. I’m not sure what that would have took. But all in all, good to have a top finish at this track. I think our best finish coming to this race here was ninth. Kind of checked this one off as at least getting a top finish. Maybe not a win, but, you know, a top‑three, top‑two finish. So it’s nice to check that off and hopefully we can come back here next year and improve one more spot.

 

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 7th

Finish: 4th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 167/167

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings (behind leader):  13th (-265)

 

Recap:  Joey Logano started seventh and finished fourth in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Logano dropped several spots on the initial start after he had to lift for the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin entering the first turn. Logano was able to work his way back to the top-five before the end of the first stage, after waiting out a nearly two-hour rain delay. Much of the team’s track position gain in the early stages of the race came from fast pit work by the Shell-Pennzoil crew, who in the first stop, gained the team four positions. The crew continued the work gaining positions on the next two stops, all while making adjustments to the Ford Fusion to improve the handling in each of the speedway’s four turns. Varying pit strategy relegated the team to the back half of the top-10, but Logano was able to rebound and climb to the seventh position before the end of the second stage. The team moved as high as third, but then pit strategy once again would put them on the offensive as other teams pitted off sequence and then cycled to the front of the field. In the closing stages of the race, Logano was able to survive numerous accident, escaping with no damage to the Shell-Pennzoil Ford. On the final restart, the team would line up fifth and once again had their momentum stalled as the field entered turn 1. However, Logano would make the move to the inside of the backstretch and miss the final accident of the afternoon, which marked the end of the event. The fourth place finish was the team’s first top-five since Michigan in June, and was also a step in the right direction in terms of on-track speed. The team will move on to Pocono where Logano is a former winner as they look to secure a victory and lock themselves into the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

 

Quote“We’re getting better. I thought we had a fast Shell-Pennzoil Ford today. We didn’t execute as well as we needed to and that kind of got us back a little bit, and then we were able to gain some spots back at the end and get a top-5 out of it. I felt like the two cars that were better than us wrecked, so I feel like that was our chance to win and we just didn’t capitalize. The positive side is our car got faster. The bummer is we didn’t win.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Had A Rough Day At Louden

Brad Keselowski

Track:                  New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Race:                   Overton’s 301

Date:                   July 16, 2017

 

No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 11th

Finish: 9th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 301/301

Laps Led: 0

Point Standings (behind leader): 8th (-194)

 

Recap: Perseverance was the word of the day for Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Wurth team in Sunday’s 301-lap Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  Keselowski had a car that appeared capable to win early in the race, but struggled with the handling of his Ford Fusion through the middle portion of the race before fighting back to grab a ninth-place finish.  Keselowski started 11th and drove his way up to fifth in just 30 laps before coming to pit road during a competition caution.  Unfortunately during the stop, the Wurth team had an issue with the jack which resulted in Keselowski dropping from fifth to 22nd.  Once again, Keselowski raced towards the front half of the field and got back to 15th before the end of stage one.  Following a short red-flag for track repairs, Keselowski resumed the race in hopes of again gaining positions on the track.  Unfortunately, as the sun continued to beat on the one-mile oval and as the traction-enhancing VHT wore off, the Wurth Fusion began to lose its handle.  Complaining of a loose-in condition, Keselowski slipped all the way back to 20th.  Crew chief Paul Wolfe continued to try and make major adjustments and instructed Keselowski to continue experimenting with the track bar.  Finally, with less than 50 laps to go, Keselowski came back to life and the former series champion was able to race his way back into the top-10, finishing a respectable ninth.  With the finish, Keselowski remains eighth in the Cup Series point standings.

 

Quote: “Yeah, that was a reasonable finish for us for sure. We weren’t probably as fast as we wanted to be, but we stayed very persistent as a team and that is good. The pit stop was a bummer. I am not sure what happened there. Nobody wants to see that happen. I don’t know if the compound made things any racier. It was certainly different but I don’t know if it was — I have to think about that one.”

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 13th

Finish: 37th

Status: Running

Laps Completed:  269/301

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings (behind leader):  13th (-286)

 

Recap:  Joey Logano started 13th and finished 37th after running inside the top-10 in the early stages of the Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. At the drop of the green, the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion struggled with security on corner entry and a tight condition through the center of the corner. Crew chief Todd Gordon called for an air pressure and wedge adjustment on the first pit stop of the race. Logano reported that the car fired off better, allowing him to gain several positions on the restart. The gains were only short lived as the car became even more unsettled entering the corners and was loose on exit. On the second stop of the day, Gordon elected to go the opposite direction on changes from the first stop. That change hurt the initial fire-off speed of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, but Logano was able to move forward in the middle section of the run before fading late. Following the team’s third pit stop of the race, Logano finally had a car he could compete with, but an unfortunate mechanical failure in the rear suspension sent the team to the garage for a lengthy repair. Relegated to the 37th position, the team continued to battle, making small changes trying to establish a balance that Logano could run lap-times near those of the race leaders. Those changes will hopefully serve the team well when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.

 

Quote: “Yeah, we were in this spot two times last year in the playoffs. Must win. Back against the way. We won both times. The team has it in them. We just have to get faster to be able to do that. Our team executes well, we just have to have something to race with a little bit.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

The 2017 “Silly Season” Is Now In Full Swing

Matt Kenseth

The announcement of Erik Jones as the replacement for Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota by Joe Gibbs Racing could be the first in a multitude of driver moves for the 2018 Cup season.

There are many drivers, sponsors and teams whose plans for next year have yet to be put to paper, solidified, and published.

Here is a rundown of who could be headed where and with whom:

ANNOUNCED RIDES

Erik Jones will be in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota, thus forcing Matt Kenseth out of the JGR stable of drivers, and a free agent for 2018.  This fact we know for sure!

OPEN/POSSIBLY OPEN RIDES

No. 88: Team owner Rick Hendrick hasn’t revealed what direction he will go to fill the HMS No. 88 for 2018, telling reporters at Daytona there was no timetable for naming Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s replacement.  Rick Hendrick has a few options for this team, he could hire Matt Kenseth to fill in for the short term while his young star, William Byron, gets another year of experience in the Xfinty Series.  He could also stick young Alex Bowman in this ride in the interim as well, or put him in the JR Motorsports No . 9 if Byron is promoted to Cup.

–No. 5: This car virtually has no sponsorship announced for next season, and Kasey Kahne’s status is uncertain. It is believed that Kahne is under contract to HMS through the end of 2018, with HMS carrying the option.  With Kanhe not being very productive throughout his stint with HMS, Hendrick would very easily terminate that contract and move in another direction with a new driver, possibly Kenseth, or HMS’ test driver, Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, or possibly Paul Menard.

Is appears that Hendrick Motorsports seems committed to remaining a four-car team next year.

No. 77: Jones is returning to Joe Gibbs Racing after one season in Furniture Row Racing’s new car. Team owner Barney Visser said after Kentucky that “we have nothing concrete. … Our hope is to have two cars.” 5-hour Energy has an option to return in 2018 and can’t leave for another team. There is speculation Furniture Row Racing might move 5-hour Energy to the 78 with Martin Truex Jr., which would seem to leave this ride’s future in doubt.

If Visser is to keep the No. 77 viable and functioning, then the driver selected to fill the slot would have to bring turn-key sponsorship with him to Denver!

No. 10: Sponsorship has yet to be announced for next season, and Danica Patrick’s contract is in its last year with the team.  With the trouble securing proper sponsorship for Patrick this year, it would appear that the interest in Danica Patrick by corporate America is declining.  Therefore, the SHR No. 10 may have a different driver in the cockpit in 2018, and if Cole Custer is promoted to Cup, a different number as well.  Custer has been using the 00 number on his NCWTS and NXS rides, which was one of the numbers that Gene Haas has used when he started up his Cup team.

No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing is facing a sponsorship problem.  NASCAR and SHR sponsor Monster is mulling whether to return as a team sponsor in addition to its series title sponsorship. Monster must inform NASCAR within the next few months if it’s picking up the option on its series title sponsorship (which is a two-year deal with a two-year option). Co-owner Gene Haas has indicated Stewart-Haas Racing wants to stay at four cars. But if sponsorship isn’t there, contraction could become an option for the team.

No. 2: The news on whether Brad Keselowski will be re-signed to a Team Penske contract has not been revealed yet.  If he were to leave, Miller Lite is expected to stay and is said to like Ryan Blaney as a possible replacement driver (whose social media persona and youth would seem a good fit for a beer company).

AVAILABLE DRIVERS

Brad Keselowski: Still hasn’t re-signed with Team Penske. There are conflicting reports on whether the deal is virtually done or negotiations are at an impasse. The sticking point is believed to be more support from Ford for his Brad Keselowski Racing truck team, similar to the way in which Toyota Racing Development helps subsidize Kyle Busch Motorsports’ trucks. (Keselowski sparked an interesting discussion last week by saying that NASCAR needs more manufacturers.)

Matt Kenseth: Is out at Joe Gibbs Racing but wants to remain in a championship-caliber ride. Hendrick’s Nos. 88 or 5 seems the most likely landing spots, and he has a good friend in Dale Earnhardt Jr. to lobby on his behalf. Stewart-Haas Racing seems as if could be a possibility to fill either the No.41 or the No.10 rides.

—William Byron: Hendrick Motorsports has gauged the 19-year-old’s comfort level about a promotion to Cup. Rick Hendrick and Axalta (which has sponsored Byron in Xfinity races and likes his personality and potential) would like to move him up.

Kurt Busch: The 2017 Daytona 500 winner said at Daytona he is waiting for Stewart-Haas Racing to pick up his contract option and was optimistic that it would because “I deliver for the team.” Also mentioned there were many “moving parts” involving Monster and NASCAR.

Kasey Kahne: Has a deal through next season, but the team controls the option to keep him, and it’s widely thought it could be his last year at Hendrick.  If this is his last year at HMS then he too could be a key player in the silly season.

Ryan Blaney: Roger Penske said recently he wants to bring Blaney into the fold as early as next season, possibly in a third full-time car (or perhaps in the No. 2 if Keselowski were to leave).

Danica Patrick: In her final year with Stewart-Haas Racing. She said last month she intends to drive next season, but the sponsorship uncertainty leaves her status murky for next year.  Looking at the sponsorship difficulties have have prevailed for her this year, Patrick may be forced out of the NASCAR arena in 2018.

Alex Bowman: If Hendrick goes young, he possibly could be in play for the No. 5 if the team puts Byron in the No. 88. Also in play for the No. 9 at JR Motorsports if Byron goes to Cup.

Paul Menard: Hasn’t been announced as returning to Richard Childress Racing, and the Menards sponsorship could be on the move (it already sponsors Team Penske in the IndyCar Series).  However, as long as his father, John Menard, wants to write the big check, Paul will have a ride with some team.

Aric Almirola: He hasn’t been announced yet as returning to RPM next season. Almirola has been tied closely to sponsor Smithfield, which also had been mulling a move in its contract year, but which just had a key decision-maker leave.

GMS Racing/Spencer Gallagher: The team is mulling a move next season to Cup from the Xfinity Series. At Kentucky, Gallagher told SiriusXM that racing in Cup “definitely is a subject that has been broached, and we’ve put a lot of thought into it. We’ve always known that is our long-term goal to be racing in Cup. We’re looking at different ways we might do it and different times in which it would be best. It’s still in the formative stages.”

It is July, just barely past the the halfway point of the season, and “The Silly Season” is now in full swing.  The aforementioned drivers and teams is just the tip of the iceberg that may come into play as the 2017 season shifts into high gear.  There is no doubt that there may be a few more players, teams as well as drivers, that will be put into play before the season ends at Homestead.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Recaps The Quaker State 400

Joey Logano
Track:                  Kentucky Speedway

Race:                   Quaker State 400

Date:                   July 8, 2017

 

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 10th

Finish: 39th

Status: Accident

Laps Completed: 89/274

Laps Led: 0

Point Standings (behind leader): 8th (-174)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team entered Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway as the winningest team in the short history of the event, but an accident on lap 88 kept them from contending for their fourth win at the track. After starting the race from the 10th position, the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion struggled with the handling of his Ford at both ends of the tricky, 1.5-mile oval as both ends of the track are drastically different. A tight-handling issue in Turns 1 and 2 gave way to a loose-handling condition on the entry of Turn 3. As a result, Keselowski dropped several spots before the competition caution at lap 30 gave crew chief Paul Wolfe a chance to make adjustments. The air pressure and wedge adjustments had a positive effect on the tightness, but Keselowski continued to build loose at the other end of the oval. He would cross the finish line in the 12th position at the end of the first, 80-lap stage. A solid pit stop by the Miller Lite crew pushed Keselowski up to the seventh position at the start of the second, 80-lap stage, but upon entry into Turn 3 the No. 2 Ford stepped out from underneath Keselowski, collecting both the No. 14 of Clint Bowyer and the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson. After quick diagnosis it was determined that the damage was too severe to continue and Keselowski was credited with a 39th-place finish.

 

Quote: “I just got in an aero wake and it pulled me around. I knew I was in a bad spot. I was trying to lay up but there is only so much you can lay up here because you get ran over from behind. The air pulled me around. It sucks. I feel bad for everyone on the Miller Lite Ford team and I think I tore up two or three other guys and that sucks for them. I don’t know. It is kind of a tough spot to be in on these tracks where they are kind of one groove. You can’t just lay up every time. You give up too many spots or get ran over from behind. If you drive in with someone close to you the car just spins out. It just sucks but it is what it is. We have to find a way around it and we didn’t today.”

 

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 11th

Finish: 8th

Status:

Laps Completed:  274/274

Laps Led:  7

Point Standings (behind leader):  12th (-239)

 

Recap:  Joey Logano started 11th and finished eighth in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford Fusion. Logano, who started inside the sixth row, quickly worked his way inside the top-10 in the opening laps of the event, however, the short-run speed didn’t translate to long run success in the opening stage as Logano drifted back outside the top-15, finishing the first stage in 18th position. During the first stage, Logano radioed crew chief Todd Gordon and reported that the brake pedal was getting soft and that he had to work extremely hard at preserving the brakes throughout the entire run. On the second pit stop of the evening, Gordon elected to pull tape from the nose, allowing more air to reach the brakes. The fix worked as Logano didn’t report another issue about the brakes for the remainder of the event. Although the soft pedal was fixed, Logano continued to battle an ill handling racecar through turns one and two, reporting the car was landing both loose and tight simultaneously, complicating matters was that Logano felt he had one of the strongest cars through turns three and four. The team tried a variety of adjustments, utilizing air pressure, spring rubbers and wedge to correct the condition. At the conclusion of the second stage, Gordon opted to leave the Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford on the track, handing the lead of the race to Logano and positioning the team for an eventual top-10 finish. Logano held the lead for seven laps before dropping to second where he ran until he made his green flag pit stop at lap 205. Fortunately, Gordon’s strategy call played out as the other leaders cycled through the pits under green. At lap 255 Logano was lapped while running in the ninth position, however, a caution with two laps remaining presented the team with the free pass. Logano missed a multi-car incident on the front stretch as the field took the white flag, bringing the car home in the eight position. The finish was the second top-10 for Logano in the past three races as the team works to build momentum and secure a playoff berth. Earlier in the day, Logano had raced his way to a top-10 finish in the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang in the rain delayed NASCAR XFINITY Series event, bringing the drivers total miles completed to over 700 for the day.

 

Quote: “We got an eighth out of a car that was probably not much better than 13th or 14th. We just have to get faster. The 78 and 18 were just – we aren’t even close. What I am trying to say is that we were really slow and need to get faster. That is the biggest thing. We need to pick up some speed. We just were scrapping, trying to get what we can. The team did a good job at least trying to scrap up something out of it but we just have to get faster than that.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!