Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Race: Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500
Date: February 25, 2018
No. 2 Autotrader Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 1st
Laps Completed: 325/325
Laps Led: 38
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 12th (-31)
- Brad Keselowski scored a second-place finish in the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He climbed up to 12th-place in the series championship standings, 31 points behind the leader. He claimed his fourth consecutive top-10 finish in Atlanta and his sixth in 10 starts at the 1.54-mile oval.
- Keselowski started fifth in the 325-lap race and finished third when the first stage ended on lap 85.
- Two excellent pit stops put Keselowski in position to win the second stage. Speedy service on the pit lane by the No. 2 crew following the first stage gave Keselowski the lead when the second stage began on lap 93. He was running second when the third caution of the race slowed the pace on lap 160. Keselowski made a four-tire stop one lap later and restarted in the lead when the race went green on lap 164, holding off Kurt Busch in the seven-lap dash to the conclusion of the stage.
- During the third stage Keselowski ran near the front of the pack and led 15 laps in the final segment of the race. Unfortunately, he was unable to mount a serious challenge to eventual winner Kevin Harvick and held off Clint Bowyer in the closing laps in a close battle for second-place.
Quote: “We were good, but we just weren’t as good as Kevin (Harvick) was. We had a strong race car, but just couldn’t quite find that last little bit of speed we needed. There might have been a little bit of speed there, but, honestly, Kevin was better pretty much every run than we were, but we were sure trying to keep him honest. I think we know where it is that we can be better and we just have to apply it.”
No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 13th
Stage 2: 11th
Laps Completed: 325/325
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 2nd (-6)
- Ryan Blaney started 26th and finished 12th in Sunday’s Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
- This was Blaney’s best finish in two prior Cup starts in Atlanta.
- During the first two stages of the race, Blaney fought the balance of the car which started tight and went to the loose side.
- On lap 93, the No. 12 team was assessed a pit road penalty, which forced Blaney to start at the tail-end of the longest line.
- Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made several air pressure changes and chassis adjustments, making significant progress as the day progressed.
- Blaney now sits second in the MENCS points, six points behind teammate Joey Logano.
Quote: “Atlanta has been a track I’ve struggled at in the past. We didn’t have the qualifying effort we wanted on Friday, but knew with less laps on our tires we could pass a lot of cars at the start of the race. The balance of the DEX Imaging Ford was a challenge to get a hold of. We seemed to go from really tight in the beginning to really loose during the mid-point. Jeremy (Bullins) and team worked really hard to try and make our car better and I felt like the last two runs of the day were our best. To get out of Atlanta with a decent finish is important and we’ll move on to tracks that have better to me in the past.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 10th
Stage 2: 4th
Laps Completed: 324/324
Laps Led: 1
Driver Points Position (ahead of second): 1st (+6)
- Joey Logano started 16th and finished sixth in Sunday’s Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
- Throughout the first stage, Logano battled a tight handling Ford Fusion, which crew chief Todd Gordon adjusted on with air pressure on the competition caution at lap 35. Logano continued building tight through the end of the stage resulting in more air pressure and wedge adjustments at the stage break.
- During the opening laps of the second stage, Logano reported his handling was still tight, slightly better than before.
- With a late caution interrupting the second stage, the team elected to pit, making a small air pressure adjustment to help Logano’s handling continue to improve. The efforts paid off as the team restarted seventh and powered to the fourth position before the end of the stage.
- During the final stage, Logano ran as high as second with terrific pit work putting him on the outside of the front row for the restart. As the run went on, crew chief Todd Gordon elected to put the Shell-Pennzoil Ford on an alternate strategy with the rest of the field, joined only by the No. 11 entry.
- At lap 297 the caution flag was displayed, ultimately putting the entire field back on the same strategy. The team pitted and restarted in the fourth position with just over 20 laps remaining.
- Logano battled through the finish after getting bottled up on the final restart, bringing the Shell-Pennzoil Ford home in the sixth position.
- The sixth place finish along with the eight stage points moved Logano atop the point standings after the second race of the year.
Quote: “No, I don’t think they need to repave it. It’s still fun to go around this place and the strategy is actually pretty fun too. I don’t think they need to repave it. I just think we need to figure out how to be better than Kevin, that’s all. It’s like the whole field versus one car at this point. He’s the best driver at this race track hands-down. They’ve got it figured out at Atlanta whatever it is. If I knew what it is, I would do it, but the fastest car won the race as it should.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!