Keselowski Steals One At Talladega

Brad Keselowski
On the Longest Day at Talladega—in a war of attrition that required three red flags and left 14 cars running at the finish—Brad Keselowski powered his No. 2 Team Penske Ford past the No. 31 Chevrolet of Ryan Newman on the final lap to win Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Two laps after the final restart on Lap 186 of 188, Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano ganged up on Newman, who held the runner-up position after Keselowski shot past him. Trevor Bayne ran third in a damaged No. 6 Ford, with Logano and Aric Almirola finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Denny Hamlin came home sixth, the only Playoff driver other than Keselowski whose car wasn’t heavily damaged in one of the myriad wrecks that punctuated an event that consumed 3 hours, 53 minutes, 17 seconds—not including the three stoppages that totaled 35 minutes, 29 seconds.

But in winning for the fifth time at Talladega, the third time this season and the 24th time in his career, Keselowski claimed the important prize—a ticket into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Round of 8.

In his final run at Talladega in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, pole winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. restarted third after the 11th and final caution, tried unsuccessfully to push Keselowski to the lead through the first two corners and fell back to seventh at the finish.

“I feel like only eight cars finished the race,” said Keselowski, who gave Ford its seventh straight victory in restrictor-plate races, despite running much of the final stage with a broken radio antenna and intermittent communication with his spotter and crew chief. “It was one of those crazy days. I think we’ve seen that at the plate tracks this year—a lot of attrition…

“This is still sinking in. It’s a special place to get to race and a special place when you win here. It was really a collaborative effort with the team and getting a real fast car and making the right moves as a driver and a lot of help from up above with staying out of those wrecks. It really takes all three and we had them all today.”

Though Newman surged to the front after the final restart, he assumed his stint at the point would be short-lived.

“We held them off longer than I expected,” Newman said. “I couldn’t tell how much nose damage I had and I hadn’t led all day, so I didn’t know what to expect. I saw the No. 2 car in the mirror backing up and then he lost his draft and then he backed up again and he caught the No. 22 (Logano). That was all it took for him to get a good run.

“I would have maybe played it differently and backed it up in hindsight, backed up to them in hindsight, but I don’t think it would have made a difference. They were double-teaming me, and it was still a good race to finish second with the Caterpillar Chevrolet.”

Any of the 10 Playoff contenders whose cars were heavily damaged in wrecks throughout the race would have gladly settled for second. Jamie McMurray was out of the race after 25 laps, his car destroyed in a six-car collision off Turn 4. That was a harbinger of the intense action to come. Playoff drivers Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick all suffered varying degrees of damage in a 16-car accident triggered by series leader Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 172.

“Well, I tried to get into a hole that was closing up at the wrong time,” said Truex, who already had earned a berth in the Round of 8 by winning last Sunday at Charlotte. “By the time that I got in the brakes trying to get out of there I got into the 38 (David Ragan) a little bit on the right rear and he got squirrely out there and all hell broke loose. Just was trying to get to the end and get some track position and try to get towards the front and have a good day and ended up causing a wreck.

“So I hate it for everybody. We definitively had nothing to lose today, but at the same time, you don’t want to be the person that causes others problems. Even though I feel like I’ve never been that guy here before, it looks like today I was, so I hate it for all of those guys and all of their teams. I wish I didn’t make that mistake. Just 18 (laps) to go at Talladega, trying to get going and trying to fill a hole. Bad judgement and should have been more patient.”

That wreck caused the first red flag. The second came after a Lap 178 accident that ended Harvick’s day and that of Playoff contender Ryan Blaney, who had led 27 laps, second only to Logano’s 59.

The final caution on Lap 183—followed by the third red flag—wiped out the Chevrolets of Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson, who were fighting for position at the front of the field when contact from Daniel Suarez’s Toyota ignited a six-car melee that raised the crash toll of Playoff drivers to 10.

The enormous attrition set up a scramble for the final six Playoff positions entering next Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas Speedway. Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Stenhouse and McMurray are below the current cut line, but only 29 points separate Harvick in fourth place from Busch in ninth.

Check out the unofficial results of the Alabama 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway.

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

Team Penske Did Not Fare Well At Charlotte

Brad Keselowski
Track:                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

Race:                   Bank of America 500

Date:                   October 8, 2017

 

No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 6th

Finish: 15th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 337/337

Laps Led: 0

Point Standings (behind leader): 10th (-64)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion team endured a tough opener to the Round of 12 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a 15th-place finish in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After a solid qualifying effort on Friday night, Keselowski started the 500-mile race from the sixth position. From the drop of the green flag the 2012 MENCS champion needed stability on corner entry and exit, something that would plague the team for the entire race. Following a pit stop under a NASCAR competition caution on lap 36, Keselowski fell back to his lowest running position of 22nd on the ensuing restart. He was able to rally a bit to finish 14th in the first, 90-lap stage. The second, 90-lap stage began with Keselowski in the 12th position after a pit stop for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment during the break. With the handling condition much the same, Keselowski was able to keep his Alliance Truck Parts Ford in the top 15 for the duration of the stage to grab a 13th-place finish in stage two. The final, 157-lap stage was much of the same regarding the handling of the No. 2 Ford. Crew chief Paul Wolfe made all possible adjustments to air pressure and wedge, but nothing seemed to cure the ills of the Ford. Despite the handling, Keselowski was able to turn some very fast laps at times and he entered the top 10 again following a green-flag pit stop on lap 225. With two caution periods at the end of the race, Keselowski was still in position to grab a solid finish. However, he was not able to hold his position over the waning laps as the race went into overtime and Keselowski crossed the finish line in the 15th position.

Quote: “It wasn’t the day we wanted for the Team Penske/Alliance Truck Parts Ford, so we’ve got two races left to go and we need to have two strong races. I was probably more frustrated with not being as fast as we wanted to be.  That makes the day a lot longer, but a little bit of heat, that’s what this sport is about.”

 

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 28th

Finish: 26th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 335/337

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings:  18th

 

Recap:  Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion team entered Sunday afternoon’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway looking to improve upon their 28th place starting position. On the first run of the event, Logano ran in the bottom half of the top-20, battling a car that was free on corner entry. Complicating matters, when Logano moved to the track’s low line he found the handling to be moderately tight. When Logano attempted to run the track’s top two-lines, which had been treated with the PJ1 Track Bite compound, he found the handling of his car to be extremely loose. On the first pit stop at lap 36, crew chief Todd Gordon elected to make a wedge adjustment. The team gained seven positions on pit road, unfortunately, an issue with fueling brought the team back down pit road, dropping them to the 28th position. On the ensuing restart, Logano received significant damage to the right front of his Ford Fusion after a multi-vehicle incident on the backstretch led to contact with the left rear quarter of the No. 72. The Shell-Pennzoil team would begin a lengthy repair process spanning multiple pit stops. On the first run following the incident, Logano was forced into preservation mode as the water and oil temperatures quickly climbed above the limits set by Roush Yates Engines. The team would have to wait for another opportunity to continue repairs to improve the engines cooling ability. Over the next several caution flag periods, the team would continue making multiple pit stops, completing repairs to the nose of the Fusion. However, the high-speeds achieved at Charlotte Motor Speedway would continue to collapse the right front, slowing the lap times Logano was able to run considerably. Nevertheless, the Shell-Pennzoil crew continued to fight throughout the race, led by Gordon and Logano, to ultimately bring home a 26th place finish.

 

Quote  “Unfortunate day for our Shell-Pennzoil team to say the least. We were optimistic we’d be able to move forward from our 28th place starting position. It was a bummer to get the damage so early in the race because it really hurt our ability to move forward or really learn much today. We’ll move on to Talladega, the last two fall races there have been good for us and hopefully that’ll continue.”

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

Team Penske Reviews The ISM Connect 300 At Louden

Brad Keselowski

Track:                  New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Race:                   ISM Connect 300

Date:                   September 24, 2017

 

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 13th

Finish: 4th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 300/300

Laps Led: 0

Point Standings (behind leader): 4th (-43 – Clinched a berth in the Round of 12 on points)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team continued their strong start to the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a fourth-place finish in the ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) on Sundayafternoon. After struggling a bit in the Friday qualifying session, Keselowski started the first, 75-lap stage from the 13th position. However, he quickly raced his way into the top 10 at lap 14 on the strength of exceptional forward drive off the flat, NHMS corners. The first stage ran caution-free allowing Keselowski to show the strength of his Ford to finish seventh in the first stage. A great pit stop by the Miller Lite crew propelled their driver to the third position for the start of the second, 75-lap stage. Keselowski would maintain his position inside the top five throughout the second stage. The final lap of the stage concluded with a multi-car incident that involved some of the leaders, allowing Keselowski to finish third in the stage to score eight bonus points. The final, 150-lap stage began with Keselowski in the fifth position. As the stage began he radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that the balance was great on the Miller Lite machine but he needed to turn a bit better in the center of the corners. With the balance squared away Wolfe made minor adjustments all day and Keselowski did his part behind the wheel to stay inside the top five for the rest of the stage. The 2012 MENCS champion crossed the finish line in the fourth position to lock himself into the Round of 12 of the playoffs.

 

Quote: “It was great execution. The pit crew was really solid today and a pretty good setup on the Miller Lite Ford Fusion. Paul Wolfe and the engineers did a good job putting the right stuff under the car. I felt like we were where we needed to be to win and to run up front with the pit crew and the setup, just kind of lacking a little bit with aero stuff to keep up, but this type of track aerodynamics are a little less important and I felt like it helped us run a little bit higher this week.”

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 39th

Finish: 10th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 300/300

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings (behind leader):  17th (-1430)

 

Recap:  Joey Logano started 39th and finished in the 10th position with the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in Sunday afternoon’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Logano and his team missed the final practice session on Saturday afternoon as they served a penalty for pre-qualifying technical inspection issues on Friday; however, the team would press on, determined to overcome the major setback of the lost practice session. From the drop of the green flag, Logano set his sights on the front of the field and methodically gained positons throughout the first stage. Logano reached the top-15 by lap 40, despite the race running green for the entire opening stage. At the stage break Logano reported his Ford Fusion to be only slightly loose on corner entry and exit, and minimally tight in the center of the turns. Crew chief Todd Gordon adjusted with air pressure, sending the team back on the track in the 12th position, one spot better than where they had finished the opening stage. In the second stage, Logano continued in the 12th position battling a lack of forward drive-off and entry security. Gordon would again elect to adjust with air pressure at the stage break, sending Logano back to the track where he’d battle his way forward to the 10th positon. As the run continued, Logano reported that the adjustments hadn’t helped, and the team elected to go back on the changes on the stop at lap 222. Unfortunately, Logano had to check-up late coming into his box to avoid another competitor, and the team was assessed a penalty for a crewmember over the wall to early. The penalty dropped Logano to the 16th position where he’d again be forced to battle back in the closing 75 laps to finish in the 10th position. The finish marked the 150th top-10 of Logano’s career in his 319th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start.

 

Quote “We worked our way up into the top 14 or 15 the first run from last and that was the highlight, and then we just kind of stayed right there around 10th the rest of the day and finished there. I don’t know, you can say if we started a little closer to the front we could hold a few of them off, but we’re just not fast enough really. I sound like a broken record, but we’re just not fast enough.”

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

Team Penske Recaps The Tales Of The Turtles 400 At Chicagoland

Brad Keselowski Pit Stop
Track:                  Chicagoland Speedway

Race:                   Tales of the Turtles 400

Date:                   September 17, 2017

 

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 5th

Finish: 6th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 267/267

Laps Led: 1

Point Standings (behind leader): 4th (-41)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team got the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs going with a solid sixth-place finish in the Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday afternoon. After starting the first, 80-lap stage from the fifth position, Keselowski settled into the seventh spot while fighting a handling condition that was loose on corner entry and tight just past the center. Following a strong, green-flag pit stop at lap 40 – which would be a hallmark of the day for the Miller Lite crew – Keselowski cycled to the sixth position where he would finish the stage to earn five additional race points. The 2012 series champion began the second, 80-lap stage from the same sixth position, but radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that he was turning better in the center of the corners following the two rounds of adjustments. Another strong pit stop, under the green flag at lap 124, allowed Keselowski to cycle up to the fourth position. He would cross the finish line to end stage two in the fifth spot to earn six additional race points. Keselowski began the final, 107-lap from the fourth position and he was able to keep his Miller Lite machine inside the top five for most of the remaining laps. On the last restart of the day at lap 216, Keselowski was able to use a strong move to jump to the third position, but he was not able to advance any further, ultimately sliding back to the sixth position at the checkered flag. He will go into the next race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway sitting fourth in the playoff standings.

 

Quote: “We can be happy with sixth (place finish). We scored a bunch of stage points and had a solid day up front with the Miller Lite Ford Fusion. One more of these races either Loudon or Dover and we should be good to advance to the next round. I think we can pull that off. We are still looking for a little speed but execution today was really, really strong. Great day on pit road, great restarts. All that stuff was what you look for, we just need to marry that up with some speed and we can win any of these races.”

 

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 7th

Finish: 7th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 267/267

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings (behind leader):  17th (-1410)

 

Recap:  Joey Logano started seventh and finished seventh in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in Sunday afternoon’s Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. When the green flag fell to start the race, Logano moved forward to the sixth position, running lap times consistent with the top-five as the field stretched out, eventually cycling through a round of green flag pit stops. The trend of solid pit work continued for the Shell-Pennzoil crew as they were able to move Logano forward, helping him secure the fifth position by the end of the first stage. Logano reported he was battling a loose in and off condition through the opening stage, which prompted crew chief Todd Gordon to call for air pressure adjustments on three of the cars four corners, and added tape on the second stop. Throughout the second stage, Logano reported the handling of his Ford Fusion to be near neutral, indicative of the aero-balance gains that have been made in recent weeks. However, track position would prove to be critical in Sunday’s race as the high speed Chicagoland Speedway makes passing extremely difficult. Logano finished the second stage in the seventh position and reported his Ford Fusion to be slightly tight in the center of the turn, and only slightly loose on corner exit. The team again made an adjustment with a small air pressure change on the fourth stop of the day. Near the end of the first run in the third stage, Logano radioed the team and reported his Ford was as loose as it had been all day, which led to a bigger air pressure adjustment on the final pit stop of the race at lap 211. The race continued the green-flag trend of the day and Logano brought the Shell-Pennzoil Ford home in the seventh position. The finish marked the second consecutive top-10 result for the team as they continue their fight back to victory lane before the end of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

 

Quote “We executed well with the Shell-Pennzoil Ford. We ran in the top-10 the whole race and had no issues, nothing crazy, just not fast enough to compete for the win. We made gains the last few weeks to get closer but we have just caught up to our teammates. That is where we are at now, the same as our teammates but not good enough to go up there and win. I thought I would run seventh today and I ran seventh. We just have to go faster, that is all.”

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

Keselowski Starts Off The Playoffs With A Sixth Place Finish

Brad Keselowski

For a driver who stirred up controversy before the start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, Brad Keselowski had a relatively uneventful afternoon in Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Before qualifying on Friday, Keselowski raised the issue of parity in the sport, ascribing to the Toyota camp a significant performance advantage. True enough, Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. ran away with the playoff opener. Keselowski didn’t have the speed to match Truex’s Camry. Then again, no one else did either.

But for Keselowski, the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, it was the sort of solid start to the playoff he needed, leaving him fourth in the standings heading to next Sunday’s race at New Hampshire.

“Yeah, we can be happy with sixth,” Keselowski said. “We scored a bunch of stage points and had a solid day up front. One more of these races—either Loudon or Dover—and we should be good to advance to the next round.

“I think we can pull that off. We’re still looking for a little speed but execution today was really, really strong. Great day on pit road, great restarts. All that stuff was what you look for. We just need to marry that up with some speed, and we can win any of these races.”

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

Keselowski Continues His Twitter “War” With Kyle Busch And The Toyotas

Kyle Busch
Fresh from a Twitter war with Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch proved a point with his pole run at Chicagoland Speedway—and may just have proved Keselowski’s.

“We are all in for a rude awakening,” Keselowski tweeted two hours before Friday’s knockout qualifying session at the 1.5-mile track, site of Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400, the first event in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff.

“Haven’t let a manufacturer get this far ahead since the ‘70s.”

The tweet was a reference to Toyota’s recent dominance in NASCAR’s foremost series, and after a snarky social media exchange with Keselowski, Busch let his No. 18 Camry do the talking, leading all three rounds of qualifying and capping the session with a blistering 28.792-second circuit at 187.963 mph in the money round.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin (186.168 mph) was second in the final round, 0.277 seconds off Busch’s pace.

The Coors Light Pole Award was Busch’s first at Chicagoland Speedway, his seventh of the season and the 26th of his career.

“You’d like to be doing your talking on the race track, and they (Keselowski and Team Penske) were earlier in the year,” Busch said. “They were doing their talking on the race track and again, we kept our head down and went to work and did our job to make our stuff faster.

“Now he’s doing the opposite. As far as having Twitter wars or whatever else, I don’t know. I’d like to not have to. I guess somebody needs to take it off my phone.”

Ten of the 16 Playoff drivers advanced to the final round, with regular-season champion Martin Truex Jr. qualifying third in the No. 78 Toyota. Kevin Harvick was the top Ford driver in fourth, followed by Keselowski in fifth. Kyle Larson in sixth had the fastest Chevrolet.

Joey Logano in seventh and Clint Bowyer in 11th were the only two non-playoff drivers to crack the top 12.

Kasey Kahne was bumped out of the top 24 in the final minute of the first round and was the only Playoff driver who failed to advance beyond that point.

The disparity between the third-round runs of Busch and Hamlin had the latter wondering where his teammate found such blazing speed when it counted.

“It wasn’t because his car was that much faster,” Hamlin said. “He must have done something inside the car better than I did, so I’ll have to look at the data and see what line he took and how much throttle he used, because I know there’s not three tenths between our cars, for sure.”

Busch had a ready answer.

“It’s because I’m in a Toyota—that’s why right?” he said, taking another not-so-subtle dig at Keselowski. “Just great adjustments there, because we were kind of free there the first couple of runs and were trying to get the balance there.

“And the last run, our balance was way better, and we were able to attack it and get the most out of it. That’s all she had.”

Note: Ryan Blaney qualified 12th, failing to make a qualifying run in the final round. The reason? His No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford was out of fuel. Trying to keep the car as light as possible, the team filled the car with just enough fuel to complete three rounds.

But a red flag for Erik Jones’ spin in the second round canceled one of Blaney’s laps in progress and forced him to run extra laps—and to run the car out of gas.

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

Keselowski In And Logano Out For The Playoffs

Joey Logano
Track:                  Richmond Raceway

Race:                   Federated Auto Parts 400

Date:                   September 9, 2017

 

No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 15th

Finish: 11th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 404/404

Laps Led: 9

Point Standings (behind leader): 4th (-34)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Fusion team put forth a strong effort in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway, but late-race contact resulted in the team finishing in the 11th position. After winning Fridaynight’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Richmond, Keselowski began the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event from the 15th position. The 2012 series champion wasted little time in maneuvering through the field as he found himself inside the top 10 by the first caution flag of the day at lap 35. Keselowski was routinely one of the fastest cars on track during the first, 100-lap stage before staying out under a lap 87 caution period to preserve tires for later in the race on the tough Richmond surface. All of the other lead cars elected to pit for tires and on the restart, Keselowski was moved up the track by the No. 18 of Kyle Busch to, ultimately, finish 21st in the first stage. Keselowski restarted 20th for the second, 100-lap stage after received service under the break, but again he moved through the field with ease. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that his Ford had great balance. The racing action in the second stage ran caution free and that allowed Keselowski to drive up to the fifth position before the end. Over the final, 200-lap stage Keselowski radioed that his Fitzgerald machine was losing rear grip, but he was still able to keep his Ford inside the top three for most of the stage. A solid call by Wolfe to pit early on lap 320 allowed Keselowski to cycle to the lead at lap 349 and it looked like he may challenge for his second win in as many days. However, a late-race caution set up an overtime scenario and as Keselowski restarted fourth at lap 403 he was contacted from the rear by the No. 41 of Kurt Busch. The contact moved Keselowski up the track and allowed several cars to pass underneath his Ford. As a result, Keselowski finished in the 11th position. The No. 2 team will head into the 2012 MENCS Playoffs as the fourth seed on the strength of two wins and 11 top-five finishes.

 

Quote: “We had a really fast Fitzgerald Glider Ford. Early in the race I thought we were going to drive up and win it, and then the last two or three runs we just kind of lost the handle, but all in all a strong day. We’re still looking for some rear downforce in the Fords. I think if we had that, we might have had a shot at it, but, all in all, we ran solid and ran competitive, so that’s good.”

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 12th

Finish: 2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 404/404

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings (behind leader):  14th (-1401)

 

Recap:  Joey Logano started 12th and finished second in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway in the No. 22 American Red Cross/Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion, coming up one position shy of the needed victory to qualify for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. At the drop of the green flag, Logano worked forward from the 12th starting position reaching the sixth position by the end of the first stage. The team pitted twice during the first 100 laps, working on corner entry and exit with wedge and air pressure adjustments. The No. 22 Ford pit crew did not disappoint all night, executing the first two pit stops with positional gains, keeping with the trend of being one of the fastest crews on pit road over the last month. By the middle of the second stage, Logano reported the American Red Cross Ford Fusion to be slightly free on corner exit, but overall a great handling car as he raced his way inside the top five, running lap times as fast, or faster, than the leaders throughout the stage. At the conclusion of the second stage, the team would pit from the fourth position and again gained a position off pit road, moving into the top three. As the third stage began, Logano reported that he was losing forward drive and crew chief Todd Gordon called for wedge adjustments on the fifth stop of the race in hopes of giving the No. 22 Ford the needed forward drive. The team continued inside the top 10, including surviving a green flag pit cycle and battling with cars who had fresher tires before a late caution brought all the lead lap competitors back to pit road. Logano would start in the tenth position for the final restart of the race. With a playoff position on the line, chaos ensued with competitors scattering entering turn 1. Logano worked masterfully through the first and second turn. As the field entered turn three, additional cars would begin sliding as the No. 22 American Red Cross/Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion raced forward, reaching the second position as the white flag flew. The yellow flag would be displayed for the final time as Logano pursued eventual race winner Kyle Larson down the backstretch, stopping the team one position short of clinching a playoff berth.

 

Quote “We came into the weekend saying second would be a failure and we finished second, so one spot short with the American Red Cross Ford Fusion.  But, overall, I’m proud of this team.  We came in here with the pressure on us and we executed the best we could.  We scored some good stage points, which don’t mean anything, but it means we’re up front at least.  We just came up a little bit short there at the end.  I had a good restart.  The last run before that we short-pitted and we lost a lot of speed that run.  For whatever reason we lost all of our track position and fell out of the top five, and then just fought hard there at the end to try to make something happen.  Hopefully, there was another caution.  They all but brought out a caution, but overall we’ve got 10 races to go and we’ll make it exciting for everyone that’s in the Playoffs when there is a car running for the win that’s out of it.  It’ll be interesting for us.  That’s the end of our championship run, but it’s not the end of our season.  We’ve still got a lot to race for.”

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

Team Penske Recaps The Virginia529 College Savings 250

Brad Keselowski

Track:                     Richmond Raceway

Race:                      Virginia 529 College Savings 250

Date:                      September 8, 2017

 

No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski

Start:  3rd

Finish: 1st (36th career NASCAR XFINITY Series win)

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 250/250

Laps Led: 34

 

Recap: Fans were treated to a classic NASCAR XFINITY Series battle between Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch in Friday’s night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Raceway. In the end, Keselowski was able to drive his No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang to Victory Lane for his 36th career series victory. After starting the race from the third position, Keselowski quickly established himself as one of the top contenders for the win as he quickly moved into second place. He assumed the lead at lap 47 and held it until a caution flag at lap 53 allowed other competitors to visit pit road for fresh Goodyear tires. Those tires made the difference on the restart as Keselowski fell to fifth at the end of the first 75-lap stage. As the second, 75-lap stage began, Keselowski and Busch began to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Keselowski raced his way to the back bumper of Busch and made a late-stage pass to score his eighth stage win of the season. The 2010 series champion began the final, 100-lap stage from the third position and he immediately began to put the pressure on Busch to use his equipment harder than he may have wanted. As a result, Keselowski moved back to the lead at lap 235 and held on for the victory. The win extended the team’s lead in the NASCAR owner point standings to 115 markers.

 

Quote: From my view that was one of those race wins that was extremely personally gratifying. To know you are probably not as good as someone on the short run and just try to wear them down every lap and knowing that if you can get a long run you’ve got a shot and it and we did – we got a long run and I still had to make the right moves with the Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang. It was a grinder, that is what that race was. A grinder in a good way. I think it shows the beauty of having the stages with the short and long runs because you see the races really just break apart like that one did where someone is good on the short side and someone is good on the long side. It is also part of the beauty of this track. You really have to focus in on being smooth and smart with how you use your car and manage it. That makes for passing at the lead at the end. It was really a thriller of a race at the end.”

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

Team Penske Misses The Setup At Darlington

Brad Keselowski
Track:     Darlington Raceway

Race:      Bojangles’ Southern 500

Date:      September 3, 2017

 

No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 6th

Finish: 15th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 366/367

Laps Led: 3

Point Standings (behind leader): 6th (-239)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Ford Fusion team finished 15th in Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway after beginning from the sixth position. Keselowski and team came into the race with a lot of confidence after leading a total of 246 laps in the last three Southern 500s. He wasted little time in working his way into the top five on the first lap and he would run in or near the top five throughout the first stage of the event despite the handling of the Ford not being exactly to his liking. The 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion radioed that his biggest issue early was a tight-handling condition just past the center of the corners. Crew chief Paul Wolfe began working on the air pressure and wedge on the car to help his driver while finishing fifth in the first stage. The handling improved in the second stage and Keselowski began to turn some of the fastest lap times on the track. He would drive the Miller Genuine Draft to a sixth-place finish in the second stage of the race. Keselowski maintained a spot inside the top 10 during the final stage of the race until lap 286 when he received a “Darlington Stripe” after making slight contact with the outside wall upon entry into Turn 1. While the contact was not heavy it dramatically affected the handling on the Ford Fusion. Keselowski dropped back through the field before bringing his car down pit road at lap 298 for four tires, fuel and small repairs. Despite the damage Keselowski fought hard over the final laps to finish in the 15th position.

 

Quote: “We just weren’t where we wanted to be at the end of the race.  I was just kind of holding on and we were going to probably run 10th or 12th and I tried a little bit too hard and brushed the wall.  I ended up probably hurting our Miller Genuine Draft Ford a little bit and we finished 15th.  Paul made a good call at the end there to get us into 15th when we probably could have been worse than that, so I was proud of that effort.  We just need to be faster.”

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 8th

Finish: 18th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 366/367

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings (behind leader):  15th (-395)

 

Recap: Joey Logano started eighth and finished 18th in Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion. Logano, who ran inside the top-five at times in the race, entered the event in must-win mode for making the playoffs with Darlington serving as the penultimate event in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season. At the start of the event, Logano battled an extremely tight Shell-Pennzoil Ford, leading the team to adjust with air pressure on the first stop of the race at lap 17. Quick work by the pit crew gained Logano three positions on pit road, moving the driver into the top-five for the first time in the event. As the track continued to change during the second run, the handling of the Ford Fusion swung to the extreme loose side, dropping the team back to the 12th position before a lap 41 caution. The Shell-Pennzoil crew again gained Logano a position leaving pit road, but unfortunately that led to a restart on the inside line, which was a disadvantage for the majority of the race. The wedge and air pressure adjustments on the stop proved to be to the driver’s liking as he was able to move forward to the eighth position before the conclusion of the first stage. Unfortunately, as Logano cut the engine off to lower the temperature as the caution came out, a sensor issue prevented the car from re-firing and dropped the team to the 16th position before pitting. On the next stop, the team handed the driver a piece of tape to place over the ignition switch to ensure the engine remained on for the rest of the event. Logano raced back to the 12th position before the end of the second stage. Logano continued to report a loose handling racecar throughout the stage, but the Shell-Pennzoil crew continued making adjustments and providing position gains on each stop. The largest gain resulted in picking up four positions at the end of the second stage, moving the team from the 12th position where they finished the stage back inside the top-10 to the eighth position. The team continued inside the top-10 into the late stages of the event before the loose condition intensified to the point that Logano lost a lap to the race leaders before pitting with 10 laps remaining, ultimately finishing in the 18th position.

 

Quote:  “Yeah, but we’ve done well here before too, but we just didn’t have the speed today.  The team executed really well.  Our pit crew was super-fast and we had a car that was good on the long run sometimes, but never good on the short run.  And then at the end it was horrible on the long run, so we just never really got the balance right.  We were good in the day, but when we got to night time all hell broke loose for us.  We’re on to the next one.”

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

Team Penske Reviews Bristol

Track:                  Bristol Motor Speedway

Race:                   NRA Bass Pro Shops Night Race

Date:                   August 19, 2017

 
Brad Keselowski

No. 2 Autotrader Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 17th

Finish: 29th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 493/500

Laps Led: 0

Point Standings (behind leader): 6th (-223)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Autotrader Ford Fusion team were forced to deal with difficult circumstances to finish 29th in Saturdaynight’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. After starting the race from the 17th position the race was significantly altered for the team following an incident on lap five. While trying to avoid another competitor that had brushed the wall another car made contact with the left side of the Autotrader machine, cutting down the left-rear tire. Keselowski immediately came to pit road for four fresh tires, but with the quick lap times turned on the fast half-mile oval he returned to the track four laps down to the race leaders. Keselowski was quickly able to pass the leader to gain one lap back before the first caution of the night was displayed at lap 61. The caution, however, put crew chief Paul Wolfe in an impossible position to either pit and stay out following the end of the first, 125-lap stage, or to stay out for the wave around in hopes of a quick caution that would allow him to bring Keselowski down pit road for service. The team elected to take the wave around to get back to two laps down to the leaders but, unfortunately, the caution never came before the end of the first stage and Keselowski was again passed by the leaders to finish the stage three laps down. Despite showing solid speed over the course of the race the team was never able to find themselves on the positive side of the track-position battle. Over the remaining laps of the race, Keselowski was able to pick up a few more positions to cross the finish line in the 29th position.

 

Quote: “Tonight was one of those races that no driver likes to have here at Bristol, but they can happen from time to time. When you have to pit under green that early in the race and lose that many laps it makes for a long night. Credit goes to my Autotrader Ford team as they never gave up but we were in a big hole after that and could not claw our way out of it.”

Joey Logano

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 8th

Finish: 13th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 500/500

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings (behind leader):  14th (-368)

 

Recap:  Joey Logano started eighth and finished 13th in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. At the drop of the green flag, Logano quickly used the advantageous outside line to move forward, climbing inside the top-five by the time the first caution flag was displayed at lap 61. Logano described the handling of his Shell-Pennzoil Ford to be tight overall, but lacking in corner entry security. Crew chief Todd Gordon elected to make minor air pressure adjustments on the first stop, and the Shell-Pennzoil crew executed a flawless stop, returning Logano to the track in the fifth position. However, the inside line would prove to be a disadvantage for the first 10 laps of a run, resulting in a loss of four positions on the opening lap. The team would gain one of those spots back before the conclusion of the first stage at lap 125, finishing in the eighth position. Logano quickly emphasized that the handling of the car had gotten worse, so Gordon elected to reverse direction on the first changes, setting the car up for the start of the second stage. Quick work by the crew gained Logano a position leaving pit road, but unfortunately put him on the inside line again where he lost another three spots on the restart. While the fire-off speed slowly came to the team, Logano proved to have a car more suited for the long-run, but with the loss in track position it proved difficult to fully utilize the potential of the car. With a caution at lap 231 and the team finding themselves outside the top-10, Gordon elected to call the Shell-Pennzoil Ford back to pit road, this time for the first of numerous chassis adjustments in addition to air pressure. At the conclusion of the second stage, the Shell-Pennzoil team found themselves in the 17th position; they would however, cycle forward back toward the top-10 as the remainder of the field pitted. In the third stage, the team had to rebound from being a lap-down by utilizing the free-pass. Logano and the team continued to fight forward but a long green flag run to the finish with a lack of restarts halted their advance when the car was finally at its most competitive position of the night.  Logano would bring the Shell-Pennzoil Ford home in the 13th position.

 

Quote “The handling just really wasn’t consistent tonight with the Shell-Pennzoil Ford. We’d find times where we’d fire off and go and then we’d lose the center turn, at other points we lacked entry security. Then we’d have 10-20 lap runs where the car handled great and we could pick up positions. The guys kept digging all night and we made some big adjustments on the car in the second half of the race. We’ll keep fighting on to Darlington.”

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