Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Race: Daytona 500
Date: February 17, 2019
No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 16th
Stage 2: 4th
Laps Completed: 207/207
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 11th (-20)
Brad Keselowski overcame a rough and tumble afternoon to score a respectable 12th-place finish in the Daytona 500 Sunday evening at Daytona International Speedway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford was involved in three separate incidents during the afternoon but overcome to altercations and the resulting cosmetic damage to his Mustang to finish on the lead lap. Keselowski leaves Daytona 11th in the MENCS driver standings, -20 points behind the leader.
Keselowski had worked his way into contention as the race entered its closing laps. He lined up seventh in line when the race went green on lap 184, just 16 laps from the scheduled finish of the event. But Erik Jones failed to come up to speed on the restart, bogging down the inside line of cars and shuffling Keselowski all the way to the tail end of the pack.
On lap 188, Keselowski cut a tire and spun at the exit of turn 4 but surprisingly avoided contact with other cars but fell a lap down to the leaders. He pitted for four tires and rejoined the pack.
Keselowski avoided a multi-car accident on lap 192 and received the free pass back onto the lead lap. He restarted 17th in line when the race went green on lap 194. Two laps later Keselowski was hit by Ty Dillon as they scattered to avoid a seven-car car incident triggered by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Larson but the damage was minimal and he restarted 11th on lap 198.
On lap 200 Keselowski again found himself in the middle of a melee. This time he, William Byron and Brendan Gaughan bounced off each other in turn 3 in the midst of a nine car pileup. But even though Keselowski made contact with both his fellow competitors and the outside wall, he was able to continue – stay on the lead lap. He survived the final restart of the race on lap 205 and two laps later collected a 12th-place finish.
Quote: “We got in a good spot with about 20 or so to go and I guess the 20 car (Erik Jones) ran out of fuel. The line failed and we all the way to the back. And then we got caught up in two wrecks not of our making. We just never can get anything to go our way on these deals. I’m confident when they do we can win. We don’t have to have good luck but we can’t have all the bad luck we’ve been having.”
No. 12 Menards/PEAK Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 1st
Laps Completed: 190/207
Laps Led: 13
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 15th (-25)
· Ryan Blaney’s strong run in the 61st Daytona 500 at was spoiled by a multi-car crash in late in the 207-lap event to kick off the 2019 Cup Series season. The driver of the Menards/PEAK Ford Mustang showed speed throughout the event before being caught up in a 21-car pileup on lap 192.
· Blaney started 14th and reported early his Ford Mustang was a free on entry to the corners early in the race. The No. 12 team joined a majority of the Ford teams who pitted together under green on lap 16 with crew chief Jeremy Bullins making the call for fuel and a wedge adjustment. Those changes helped entry security and over the next run and Blaney made his way up solidly into the top-10. Working with teammate Joey Logano, Blaney his way into the top-five bringing home a fifth-place finish when Stage 1 ended on lap 60.
· Blaney opted to stay out during the stage caution and keep track position. Once again the majority of Ford teams pitted together, this time under green on lap 73. The Menards/PEAK team once again took on only fuel. Once returning to the track, Blaney and teammate Joey Logano led a large group of 15-plus cars that all pitted together, while other lead lap cars ran long in the hopes of keep their track position. The caution waved on lap 108 and once again the Menards/PEAK team opted not to pit, choosing to remain on track in the hopes of gaining maximum stage points. Blaney led the field back to green and utilizing drafting help from teammate Brad Keselowski over the next 12 laps to win Stage 2.
· Under the stage caution, Blaney took four tires, fuel along with a wedge and air pressure adjustments. Because of many teams pitted during the previous caution, Blaney was shuffled back in the running order after his stop but he was able to fight his way back into contention as the race entered his closing laps.
· On lap 190, just 10 laps from the scheduled conclusion of the race, Blaney was running just behind the leaders in tight formation when Paul Menard and Matt DiBenedetto made contact, triggering a 21-car pileup between Turns 3 and 4. Blaney was unable to continue and was credited a 31st-place finish in the final rundown.
Quote: “We were racing the heck out of each other tonight. There wasn’t one bit of single-file racing. I thought it was a good race. It was exciting and it was a lot more intense than what it has been all of Speedweek and that’s good. That is what everyone wanted to see. I thought our Mustang was really fast. We had a good run down the back and I think a couple guys were trying to push and got squirrely and next thing I know I am in it. That stinks for Menards and Peak. I thought we had a good shot when we won that stage.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 10th
Laps Completed: 207/207
Laps Led: 11
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 2nd (0)
· Joey Logano started Sunday‘s Daytona 500 from the fourth position in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang after winning his Duel Qualifying event on Thursday night. Logano raced to the second position by lap 16 before pitting with the majority of the Ford teams. The teams elected to take fuel only before returning to the track for the remainder of the first stage.
· On the first caution of the race at lap 21, Logano reported that he felt the cars would be a handful by the lap 60 stage break, reporting his Ford Mustang building looser through the opening run. Crew chief Todd Gordon confirmed that, but told Logano he had one of the best cars on the track during that opening run.
· Logano and his team elected to pit at lap 51 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. Logano would restart in 13th but would power to the third position before the conclusion of the first stage.
· Through the second stage, Logano felt the handling of his Shell-Pennzoil Mustang was on the loose side, until late in the run when traffic formed up two-by-two and the handling swung to the tight side. Caution at lap 105 setup a scenario for the team to pit for four tires and fuel prior to the conclusion of the second stage. Logano would finish 10th in stage 2.
· During the opening part of the final stage, Logano was able to push forward and race in the front several rows as the field maintained two-by-two formation. When the caution flag was displayed at lap 160, the team elected to pit for four tires, fuel and tape on the nose of the No. 22 Ford Mustang. The call would line the team up in the 16th position as the laps began to wind down.
· With a caution flag at lap 171, the team elected to pit again for four tires and fuel after being trapped in the middle of the pack and dropping back to the 21st position. The fresh tires would prove beneficial as Logano would battle into the top-10 before a caution flag with 13 laps remaining due to a spin off turn 4.
· Logano narrowly missed “The Big One” with 10 laps remaining, positioning himself in the sixth position. The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang sustained only minor damage to the left-rear quarter panel from contact with the No. 17 Ford as the two competitors raced away from the wreck.
· With the elimination of cars through multiple incidents in the closing 10 laps of the event, Logano found himself without teammates and inside the top-five to battle three Joe Gibbs Racing cars. Unfortunately, Logano would be forced to settle for the fourth position after racing as high as second with two laps remaining.
Quote: “We had a really good Shell/Pennzoil Ford. I actually felt like we had the car to beat and just couldn’t get there. It’s so hard to get to the front. Once I got to the front I felt like we had a really good car, but I had a good push from behind with the 47, which is pretty cool. We’re both from Connecticut and we race quarter-midgets against each other, so I thought it was really neat to be working together in the Daytona 500. How neat is that? So it shows you that dreams can come true for little kids, so that was pretty cool.”