Race: FireKeepers Casino 400
Date: June 18, 2017
No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Laps Completed: 200/200
Laps Led: 2
Point Standings (behind leader): 6th (-164)
Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team scored a 16th-place finish in Sunday’s FireKeepers 400 at the driver’s home track of Michigan International Speedway (MIS). After starting the race from the 12th position, Keselowski raced his way into the top 10 before the NASCAR-mandated competition caution at lap 25. Crew chief Paul Wolfe brought his driver down pit road under the yellow for four tires and adjustments to help with the handling on the Ford that was loose into turn three and tight from the center through corner exit. With many other teams electing to take only two tires, Keselowski returned to the track in the 18th position. When the action resumed, Keselowski radioed that his Ford had swung to a very tight-handling condition, which would be a hallmark on the day where the No. 2 team could not dial in the handling of the machine. Keselowski would end the first, 60-lap stage in the 14th position. After another round of adjustments during the break it appeared the team was headed in the right direction as the handling improved to the point where Keselowski was able to race up to the lead for one lap before making a green-flag pit stop at lap 114. The team was able to finish 10th in the second stage to score one bonus point. Over the final stage of the 200-lap event, Keselowski and Wolfe tried myriad adjustments and driving styles to work their way back to the front, but the handling on the No. 2 Ford deteriorated as the laps wound down. Keselowski crossed the finish line in the 16th position, the first time he has finished outside the top 10 at MIS in his last seven starts.
Quote: “I don’t know. We just weren’t really where we needed to be with the Miller Lite Ford. We had a few bright spots but we couldn’t get it there at the end. Everyone has races like that. You just hope you don’t have many of them.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Laps Completed: 200/200
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind leader): 10th(-242)
Recap: Joey Logano started seventh and finished third with the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion after an incredible late race surge gaining 17 positions in the closing 50 laps. Logano and the team started the race battling a loose condition on corner entry, but were restricted on adjustments due to the cars ability to turn in the center and exit. On the first stop of the day at lap 26, crew chief Todd Gordon called for an air pressure adjustment on a two-tire stop, opting to preserve the track position as it was at a premium. At the end of the first stage, Logano again pitted, getting a wedge adjustment and four tires. Unfortunately, the adjustment still didn’t help correct the entry issue and upset the car through the center of the corner. However, Logano would battle back and narrowly miss earning stage points at the conclusion of Stage 2, finishing 11th. Gordon elected to pit again, this time calling for more wedge and air pressure adjustments as well as four fresh Goodyear tires. Logano would again struggle with the handling, this time continuing to lose center turn and forward drive. At lap 150, Gordon called for a major air pressure adjustment and four tires, hoping to regain the lost center turn and securing the corner entry. On the ensuing restart, Logano started to work his way through traffic, reaching the 13th position before pitting a final time at lap 180. Using the advantage of the outside lane and fresh tires, Logano quickly worked from 14th to sixth in one lap before another caution flag. Again, Logano gained two positions before a final caution set the stage for the run to the finish. Restarting fourth, Logano was able to give a substantial push to eventual race winner Kyle Larson, and was able to battle his way to the third position. The finish was the first top-five finish for the team since their win at Richmond, and serves as a great boost of momentum as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels west to Sonoma Raceway where Logano has posted two consecutive top-five results, finishing third last season.
Quote: “Yeah, you have no idea how good this feels. It’s been a struggle the last month-and-a-half and it’s nice to come here to Michigan, maybe our best race track and be able to overcome a lot. I’m not sure we had a third-place car today but the team executed like they needed to get the Shell-Pennzoil Ford into the top-three. Proud of the effort. I wish I could have the last restart back. I think I could have gotten to second. I wasn’t able to stay attached to the 42. I had a good start but the whole bottom lane was able to stack up really good and push ahead and then Denny (Hamlin) slid up in front of us; just racing there. Turning the momentum a bit and bringing home a solid top-five and change things.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!