Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Race: AAA Texas 500
Date: November 5, 2017
No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Laps Completed: 334/334
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind leader): 4th (-57)
Recap: If Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion team are able to lock themselves into Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks they will likely point to Sunday’s fifth-place finish in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway as a critical race. After starting the 500-mile event from the 10th position, Keselowski’s day was nearly ended on the first lap after contact from the No. 18 of Kyle Busch resulted in a flat tire that forced Keselowski to pit under the green flag for two left-side tires. The pit stop dropped Keselowski to the 39th position and down one lap to the race leaders, but the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion refused to give up. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that his Ford was loose on corner entry and tight on exit, but he began to work his way through the field to finish 26th in the first, 85-lap segment. The second, 85-lap stage began with Keselowski in the 27th position, but a quick caution flag gave him the “Lucky Dog” award to get back to lead lap racing. With Wolfe adjusting the wedge and air pressure on the No. 2 Ford, Keselowski maneuvered his way into the 14th position by the end of the stage. The final, 164-lap stage is where Keselowski showed the grit and determination that has already made him a champion. Restarting from the 11th position on lap 178, Keselowski powered his way into the top five on lap 189. From there he routinely ran some of the fastest laps of anyone inside the top five. Keselowski would maintain this position through several late caution periods – including one red flag – to score his 15th top-five finish this season. He now holds a 19-point lead over Denny Hamlin heading into the final race of the Round of 8 at Phoenix Raceway next weekend.
Quote: “It was a long day for everybody on the Wurth Ford Fusion team. This is the best we ran on a mile-and-a-half in some time, so I’m happy about that. I’m disappointed with the way the race started. It probably cost us 10 or more points, but I’m happy with the rebound. We’ll need to go and have a solid race at Phoenix next week and hope none of the other guys win. It’s doable, but it’s going to be a nail-biter next week for sure.”
No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Laps Completed: 334/334
Laps Led: 1
Points Standing (behind leader): 17th (-3299)
Recap: Joey Logano started 36th and finished 7th in the No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion in Sunday afternoon’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. From the drop of the green flag, Logano and the No. 22 crew kept their eyes forward as the red, white and blue Ford Fusion worked inside the top-20 in the opening 20 laps. On the first pit stop of the afternoon, crew chief Todd Gordon called for an air pressure adjustment to assist Logano with center turn. The team continued their forward progress, finishing the first stage in the 15th position. On the ensuing pit stop, Gordon elected to take two tires, sending the No. 22 AAA Ford back to the track in the fourth position. Logano would race as high as third on that run, before settling into the sixth position. Unfortunately, on the next pit stop, Logano was deemed too fast entering pit road and had to serve a costly pass through penalty under green-flag conditions. At the end of the second stage, Logano was one lap down to the race leaders, scored in the 21st position. The team elected to take the wave around to regain the lap and, fortunately, a quick caution allowed the team to return to pit road for four tires and fuel, placing them back on the same pit sequence as the race leaders. The team also handed Logano a left-side spot mirror, which the driver was able to reinstall under the yellow flag condition. On the sixth run of the race, Logano battled an extremely loose condition on corner entry, while still struggling with center turn. Gordon elected to have Logano run long on the following run as most of the leaders hit pit road for green-flag stops. Fortunately for the No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford team, a caution was displayed forcing most of the cars to take the wave around, while Logano was able to pit under caution, restarting the race from the fifth position. On the following short run, Logano’s loose condition intensified which also hurt the drive off the corner. When the caution was displayed again, Gordon elected to bring the AAA Insurance Ford to pit road for a wedge adjustment and fuel. The adjustment proved beneficial as Logano was able to race back up to the 11th position when another caution flag brought the field back to pit road. Gordon again called for two tires on the stop, moving the No. 22 AAA Ford to the second position for the restart. Logano continued to run inside the top five, despite several cautions and a red-flag period. Logano would maintain inside the top-five until the closing 10 laps when the handling started to fade on his No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford, bringing home a seventh-place finish.
Quote: “We had a great run today with the AAA Insurance Ford Fusion, considering where we started and what we had to overcome. The team executed really well, had fast pit stops and my Todd (Gordon) wasn’t afraid to try some strategy with two tires and gain us track position. I felt like in the later stages of the race we could run at the front fairly well, and that was definitely a positive.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!