Race: First Data 500
Date: October 29, 2017
No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Laps Completed: 505/505
Laps Led: 108
Point Standings (behind leader): 3rd (-38)
Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion team did everything necessary to win Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway before untimely, late-race incidents resulted in a fourth-place finish for the team. Keselowski began the race from the seventh position, but began to show early in the event that he had one of the cars to beat on the day. The 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) champion raced his way into the third position before the first caution of the day on lap 36, during which he radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe not to make any adjustments to the Ford as he was happy with the handling. A solid pit stop – a hallmark for the Miller Lite pit crew all race – for four tires and fuel propelled Keselowski into second place for the restart on lap 45 and he quickly made his way into the lead on lap 49. After restarting the race from the 11th position following a pit stop on lap 89 where other drivers stayed out, Keselowski maneuvered his way back to the front to pick up the win in the first, 130-lap stage. Despite lacking forward drive throughout the second, 130-lap stage – which ran caution free – Keselowski scored another stage win to set up an opportunity to sweep the stages. Wolfe made small adjustments on a few pit stops during the race and Keselowski radioed that each had a great effect on the handling of the Ford. As a result, he was able to maintain his position inside the top five for most of the final, 240-lap stage. When a caution was displayed on lap 458 with Keselowski running in the third position, Wolfe brought his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Great pit work again by the Miller Lite team pushed Keselowski into the lead for the restart. He would stay at the front of the field until lap 492 when the caution came out for a spin, setting the stage for a wild Martinsville finish in the first race under the lights in the long history of the oval. Keselowski restarted from the lead at lap 497, but contact between him and the No. 24 of Chase Elliot pushed Keselowski out of the groove and several cars made their way around him. Yet another caution flag two laps later gave Keselowski an opportunity to regain some of the lost track position, which he did by driving through a multi-car wreck on the last lap to finish fourth. He remains third in the MENCS Playoff standings going into next weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway
Quote: “There was a lot of hard fighting here because it’s a short track. That’s what short tracks are kind of about is rooting and gauging. You try not to take anybody out, but you’ve got to sometimes rub a little bit. But we had a really great Alliance Truck Parts Ford. We were able to lead laps and win the two stages and bring home a solid finish and that’s something to be proud of.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Start: 1st (19th career MENCS pole)
Laps Completed: 504/505
Laps Led: 59
Point Standings (behind leader): 17th
Recap: Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion started from the pole position in Sunday afternoon’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway, and finished 24th after a late-race tire issue dropped them down a lap to the leaders late in the event. Logano started from the pole and led the opening 48 laps of the race, despite having a Ford Fusion that struggled on initial takeoff. Logano reported the Ford’s handling to improve around the 10th lap of each run, as he would run inside the top five for the majority of the race. Crew chief Todd Gordon made only small wedge and air pressure adjustments to the Shell-Pennzoil Ford in an effort to stay with the changing track conditions as temperatures continued to fall. The team would finish the first two stages in third position, as Logano continued to capitalize on the long run potential of his car. In the final 240-lap run to the finish, the team would slip back as far as ninth in the running order with varying pit strategy, but Logano wasted no time charging back inside the top five on a long green-flag, late-race run. Unfortunately, following a late-race restart, contact from eventual race winner Kyle Busch would result in a cut left-rear tire for the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford and would drop Logano from the lead lap and out of the ensuing chaos to the finish. The team led 59 laps on the afternoon, one of only six cars to lead at least one lap in the race, which featured numerous long green-flag runs with the bulk of the races cautions coming in the final 40 laps.
Quote: “The Shell-Pennzoil team brought a great Ford Fusion this weekend. We knew Saturday we had a good piece in the two practices and qualifying on the pole today felt really good. We were a really good long-run car, struggled a little bit on the short run. Unfortunately, the cut tire put an end to what was a great race. Our guys executed really well in the pits all day and I wanted to win that one really bad. We’ve got three races left and we’re not going to quit.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!