Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Richmond Raceway

by Official Release On Sun, Apr. 22, 2018

Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Richmond Raceway
Race: Toyota Owners 400
Date: April 22, 2018

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No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Start: 28th
Stage 1: 12th
Stage 2: 8th
Finish: 8th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 402/402
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-112)

Notes:

Brad Keselowski rallied from a disappointing qualifying effort to score an eighth-place finish in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on Saturday night. Keselowski claimed his fifth top-10 finish in nine races this season.

Keselowski is fifth in the MENCS driver standings, 94 points behind the leader.

The driver of the Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion started 28th in Stage 1 but did not stay there for long. Keselowski steadily worked his way through the field and by the end of the segment on lap 100 had climbed up to 12th-place. He pitted during the stage break on lap 105 for four tires and adjustments to improve his car’s loose in, tight in the middle of the corners handling condition.

Keselowski continued to steadily climb up the leaderboard in Stage 2. He climbed into the top-10 by lap 167 and had worked his way up to eighth position when the segment concluded on lap 200.

In Stage 3, Keselowski ran solidly inside the top-10 and climbed inside the top-five as the race entered its final quarter. But as the laps ticked away, Keselowski’s car was more and more loose. He was running fifth at the time of the fifth caution on lap 391 and pitted one lap later for tires and adjustments. He restarted sixth on lap 394 but chaotic, three-wide racing shuffled him back to eighth position. A caution for debris on lap 397 pushed the race into an overtime finish and Keselowski held his own through another chaotic restart, holding firm to eighth-place in the two-lap dash to the finish.

Quotes: “We ran about fifth all night in our Alliance Truck Parts Ford and that’s about where we finished. After last week at Bristol it was nice to finish a race.”

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No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Start: 13th
Stage 1: 15th
Stage 2: 14th
Finish: 22nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 402/402
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 8th (-133)

Notes:

Ryan Blaney started his No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Fusion from the 13th position in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

In the first, 100-lap stage the young driver radioed that he needed help with forward drive off the corners, in addition to being loose on corner entry. He would finish 15th as the stage ran green for all 100 laps.

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made significant adjustments during the break, allowing Blaney to begin the second, 100-lap stage with a better feel underneath his No. 12 Ford. However, the handling began to deteriorate over the course of the stage that also ran green for 100 laps.

Over the course of the second half of the race, Blaney told Bullins that rear grip was his biggest issue as the temperature continued to drop around the track.
While pitting under the green flag at lap 326, the No. 12 Ford was issued a pit road penalty for an uncontrolled tire during the pit stop. This resulted in Blaney having to make a drive-through penalty that cost him one lap to the race leaders.

On lap 354, Blaney was contacted from behind by the No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on entry into Turn 4 to bring out a caution. While the damage was not terribly severe it took several trips to pit road to make the necessary repairs, which also cost the team one lap to the leaders.

Two more cautions allowed the team to take the wave around and get both of the lost laps back. A final caution gave Bullins an opportunity to call Blaney to pit road for fresh tires to make a strong run to the end, but unfortunately the team had to settle for a 22nd-place finish.

Quote: “Honestly, this is not one of our better tracks and we just never got a handle on the No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Fusion this weekend. We were probably going to finish somewhere around 15th because that’s really where we ran most of the night, but the uncontrolled tire and the accident with the 17 car dropped us back in the field and we had to plat catch up from that point. Disappointing but we go to Talladega with a lot of confidence in our restrictor-plate program.”

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No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Start: 3rd
Stage 1: 1st (First stage win of the season)
Stage 2: 1st
Finish: 4th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 402/402
Laps Led: 92
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-56)

Notes:

Joey Logano started third in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion. Logano quickly moved to second, running there for the opening 37 laps before claiming the lead at lap 38.

Throughout the run, Logano said the car was good, only struggling with loose at corner exit once the rear grip had deteriorated.

Logano would lead from lap 38 to lap 100 as the entire first stage ran under green flag conditions, claiming the first stage win of the season for the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford.

During the second stage, Logano would drop as low as fourth before working his way back to the lead in the closing laps of the stage; taking the lead with 20 laps remaining in the second caution-free stage of the race.

Logano restarted in the lead for the final stage, but drifted back and at lap 245, fell out of the top five for the first time of the night, drifting back to the 10th position before green-flag stops at lap 270.

Following the round of green-flag stops, Logano worked his way back to the top five, but dropped behind teammate Brad Keselowski on lap 313, into the sixth position. Despite dropping back, a late race caution would allow Logano the opportunity to race back into the top-five. However, on the penultimate pit stop of the night, the air hose on the front air wrench got caught on the splitter, lengthening the pit stop and dropping the team from the fourth position to 10th for the 22-lap race to the checkered.

A caution flag with 10 laps remaining, brought the team back to pit road where the Shell-Pennzoil crew gained Logano four spots, putting him in the fourth spot for the restart. The team would maintain there through the closing stages of the event, bringing home a fourth place finish and a solid points day, having scored 20 points and two playoff points by winning the first two stages of the event.

Quote: “It was a lot of fun. There was a lot of speed in that Shell/Pennzoil Ford, especially early in the race and grabbing a couple of stage wins. That was really cool. I wish they were at the end of the race and not necessarily in the beginning and middle, but I’m proud of what the guys did there. We lost the handling a little bit that last stage and I fell back to sixth. We made some adjustments to get the speed back and then we were able to make some good adjustments to get the short-run speed where we were lacking early in the race. Then we had a really good pit stop at the end, which put us in position but not quite close enough to make something happen. We just kind of needed everyone to run into each other and be in the right place to make that happen, but, overall, I’m proud of this Shell/Pennzoil team. We have a good package here at Richmond. We run really well here and it was fun to be leading laps again up there. That was a lot of fun to see that clean air and passing cars and racing to the end of the stages was a lot of fun, but I wish it was for the win at the end. We scored a lot of points, so we’re proud of that.”

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