No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 15th
Stage 2: 10th
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings: 9th (38 ahead of 10th-place)
- Brad Keselowski held off Denny Hamlin in the closing laps to score a third-place finish in the First Data 500 Sunday evening at Martinsville Speedway. Keselowski claimed his 13th top-five finish of the 2019 season and his ninth top-five in 20 starts at Martinsville. He sits ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, 38 points ahead of 10th-place William Byron.
- Keselowski started 15th in the 500-lap race and was struggling with the balance on the Alliance Truck Parts Ford Mustang during Stage 1. He was losing time through the center of the corners, especially being too tight two-thirds of the way through the corner. He scored a 15th-place finish when the stage ended on lap 130. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and air pressure adjustments and restarted 14th when the race went green on lap 139.
- As the laps ticked off early in Stage 2, the balance on the No. 2 Mustang improved. Keselowski said he was turning better in the both corners. He climbed back into the top-10 by lap 184 despite contact with Jimmie Johnson while leaving the pits under caution on lap 180. He was running eighth as Stage 2 entered its final laps. The fourth caution slowed the pace on lap 253, seven laps from the finish of the segment. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver to the pit lane during the yellow for four tires and air pressure adjustments. He restarted 10th on lap 257 and held firm to the position over the next three laps. Keselowski didn’t pit during the stage caution and restarted ninth when the race went green on lap 268.
- During the final stage, Keselowski’s Ford improved, and he steadily worked his way up the leaderboard. He said his Mustang was turning better as track cooled with the setting sun. Keselowski was up to eighth-place when he pitted under caution on lap 348 and during the next run the balance improved again. He was running sixth when the ninth caution on lap 450 set up the final round of stops. Keselowski took four tires and added a piece of tape to the nose of the No. 2 Mustang and restarted sixth on lap 455.
- From there the driver of the Alliance Truck Parts Ford Mustang made one final push to the front but it wasn’t without a close call with teammate Ryan Blaney. Blaney blocked Keselowski as they raced for third on lap 468 and Keselowski nudged his teammate out the way in Turn 1. One corner later Keselowski got loose and gave Blaney room to make a clean pass for position. Keselowski made the pass for good on lap 481 and held off Hamlin in the final laps to claim his top-five finish.
Quotes: “I think that’s about all we had or maybe a little more than what we had. We just kind of kept our head on our shoulders all day and made the most of what we had. I was proud of our Alliance Truck Parts team for that effort. It was tough to pass. When you get behind somebody that you are way faster than, that big spoiler would just kill you. It was a good day for us. I had somebody right on my butt and Blaney came down to block and I couldn’t let him in, and I about spun him out. And then I got to the other end and I about spun out and I was like, ‘Just go, Blaney. I about spun you out last time.’ My car ran better behind other cars, so that was it.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!