Track: Richmond International Raceway
Race: Toyota Owners 400
Date: April 30, 2017
No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Laps Completed: 400/400
Laps Led: 110
Point Standings (behind leader): 5th (-71)
Recap: Brad Keselowski had a dominant No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion at Richmond International Raceway, – leading the most laps in the event – but couldn’t catch teammate Joey Logano over the final run and finished second in Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Keselowski started the race in the 15th position and showed the strength of his Ford Fusion early on, when Keselowski raced from 25th to second after an early pit stop eight laps into the event. At the end of the first stage, Keselowski was scored in the sixth position as crew chief Paul Wolfe continued to make adjustments on the racecar. Keselowski would take the lead for the first time halfway through the second stage and would dominate to the green-checkers, taking the stage victory – his first of the season. The No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion continued to be the fastest car on the track – especially over the long runs – and Keselowski would lead the race on five more occasions for a total of 110 laps. With less than 20 laps to go, Keselowski would restart beside teammate Logano on fresh tires, but in the eighth position as six cars stayed on track on older tires. While Logano cleared the traffic and got to the lead, it took 10 laps for Keselowski to work his way into second. Over the course of the final 10 laps, Keselowski continued to chase his teammate down, but ultimately ran out of laps, coming home in second – his series-leading sixth top-five finish of the season. The one-two finish for Logano and Keselowski was Team Penske’s second one-two finish of the weekend, a feat matched by Simon Pagenaud and Will Power in the Verizon IndyCar Series race on Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway.
Quote: “It was just hoping for another restart or the race to get extended for another 10 laps. I think we had a ton of long run speed today. That short run at the end…half the field came, half the field didn’t. I just got stuck in a lane of cars that didn’t go. By the time I did, he had a whole straightaway on me. I got it down to a couple of car lengths at the end. All and all I’m happy for Team Penske with the 1-2 finish. We’ll take it and move on.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Finish: 1st (18th-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory)
Laps Completed: 400/400
Laps Led: 25
Point Standings: 4th (-65)
Recap: Joey Logano demonstrated the perseverance and championship fortitude of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion team on Sunday afternoon after driving from the rear of the field to take the victory in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. By the box score, Logano started from the fifth position, but when the field roared across the start finish line Logano was the 38th place car. The typical hard-charging Logano exercised extreme patience in working through the field following crew chief Todd Gordon’s directive to run at 80%. When the first yellow flag of the event was displayed on lap 6, Gordon wasted no time calling the Shell-Pennzoil Ford to pit road for four fresh tires. Logano continued to utilize the 80% mentality, but managed to crack the top-20 for the first time at lap 35. By lap 65, Logano found himself in the 15th position, when the second caution of the event was displayed. The team pitted with the field and Gordon worked to give Logano additional center turn and drive off by adjusting air pressures. By the end of the first stage, Logano had cracked the top-10 scoring one stage point. Through the second stage, Logano ran consistently in the 10thposition as the stage ran completely under green flag conditions. In third and final stage, Logano continued his steady progression through the top-10, climbing as high as the seventh position when the fifth caution flag was displayed at lap 250. On lap 366, Logano was in the fourth position when the caution flag waived for the eighth time. It was then that Gordon made the call to position the 22 team for the victory as he left Logano on the track with teammate Brad Keselowski as the rest of the pitted for fresh tires. Logano worked the restart masterfully, gaining the advantage on Keselowski and holding the lead before another caution flag at lap 377 brought Logano and most of the lead lap competitors to pit road for the final time. The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford would restart in the seventh position, but Logano wasted no time charging to the front and driving all the way to his 18th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in his 300th start, leading a the second Team Penske 1-2 finish of the weekend.
Quote: Yeah, it was really nice. Obviously I got the text yesterday from Todd when I was up in the booth talking. I thought, oh, man, this is not the place you want to start in the back for a lot of reasons. For one, you know, you have five, six laps on your tires because of qualifying, and then obviously you don’t really have an advantage on anybody. Two, being a short track, you’ve kind of got to go hard on the short run to try to not go down a lap and hope for a caution. That worked out really well. We got a nice caution five laps into the race, put some sticker tires on it when some guys still had their qualifiers on it, be able to start picking them off slowly. Took us all day to at least break into the top 5. We kind of leveled out as the fifth, seventh, eight‑place car. Seemed like everyone from fourth to 10th was about the same speed, so it was all about just gaining a little bit of track position on restarts and pit stops, and we just kind of stayed right around there. Todd made some good calls at the end, got us some good track position. We had a good pit stop at the end that maintained the track position and then some good restarts that were able to get the lead back when everyone else stayed out on old tires and just try to check out, that was the goal. It wasn’t one of those save your tires and don’t get too big of a lead. It was go as hard as you possibly can because I knew how quick Brad was. I saw it all day. He was the fastest car. He led a ton of laps today, so I knew I had to get the biggest lead I could, because he cut off a good second there at the end. Glad the race was 400 laps because if it was any shorter we probably wouldn’t have won, and if it was any longer we probably wouldn’t have won, so it turned out just right for us today.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!