Team Penske NASCAR XFINITY Series Race Report
Track: Watkins Glen International
Race: Zippo 200 The Glen
Date: August 4, 2018
No. 12 Wabash National Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 13th
Stage 2: 7th
Laps Completed: 82/82
Laps Led: 26
Owner Points Position (behind the leader): -571
· Brad Keselowski scored a 10th-place finish in the Zippo 200 at The Glen Saturday afternoon at Watkins Glen International. In four series starts this season, Keselowski has finished 10th or better in all four series starts this season and claimed his ninth top-10 finish in 10 starts at the 2.450-mile road course.
· Keselowski kicked off his afternoon at Watkins Glen by claiming the second-place starting position for the race, just being edged out for the top starting position by teammate Joey Logano.
· The 82-lap race had a bit of everything, from racing in the rain to intense side-by-side racing. Keselowski rain second during the early laps of Stage 1, saying that his No. 12 Wabash National Ford Mustang was loose and needed more rear grip. He made a scheduled green flag stop on lap 18 for four tires and adjustments and was credited with a 13th-place finish when Stage 1 finished on lap 20. The call by crew chief Matt Swiderski paid off when other cars ahead of Keselowski pitted during the stage caution, moving the driver of the Wabash National Ford Mustang into the lead when Stage 2 went green on lap 24.
· Keselowski was leading when rain drops began to fall on lap 28. During the third caution period on lap 30, NASCAR opened the pits so teams could install wet weather tires. Keselowski pitted on lap 30 and lined up in 10th-place for the restart on lap 32. As the rain intensified, Keselowski stayed on the racetrack and out of harm’s way. Swiderski chose to pit under caution on lap 37 and put on dry weather tires for the two-lap dash to end Stage 2. Keselowski gained seven position during those two laps, finishing seventh in during the second segment. Once again Keselowski would cycle back into the lead when the final stage went green on lap 44.
· Keselowski was leading the race on lap 51 when he made his final stop for four tires. He cycled back into the race lead on lap 63 holding off Kyle Larson. He held the lead for the next 10 laps until the restart following the seventh caution. Keselowski restarted as the leader but found himself in the middle of a three-wide battle for the lead on entering Turn 1. He emerged in second, just behind teammate Joey Logano. For the next five laps, the Team Penske drivers raced hard for the lead. At the entrance to Turn 1 with three laps to go, Keselowski’s car slipped sideways in hot pursuit of the leader. Keselowski spun but quickly recovered to finish in 10th-position.
Quote: “I’m really proud of Matt and all the guys at Team Penske for giving me such a great Wabash National Ford Mustang. We just came up a little short today.”
No. 22 Snap-on Tools Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 1st – 35th career NXS pole
Stage 1: 1st
Stage 2: 6th
Finish: 1st – 30th career NXS win
Laps Completed: 82/82
Laps Led: 31
Owner Point Standings (Ahead of Second): 1st (+19)
· Joey Logano started from the pole in Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International, his fourth consecutive pole position at the 2.450-mile road course. Logano maintained the lead throughout the first stage, claiming a valuable playoff point for the No. 22 Snap-on Tools Mustang team.
· During the stage break, Logano reported he needed additional turn in the No. 22 Ford, noting that he could sacrifice a little of the left turn security to help his right turns. Crew chief Brian Wilson made an air pressure change as the teams maintained a watchful eye toward the threatening sky.
· Logano restarted outside the top-10 for the start of Stage 2, but within two laps he was back inside the top-five before his progress was halted by a caution flag on lap 26. Under caution he reported that he was slightly free in Turn 3, but overall the Snap-on Tools Mustang was good everywhere else. At lap 35, NASCAR deemed the track wet, opening pit road for teams to install Goodyear wet weather tires.
· The heavy rain lasted only a few minutes, but the race halted on lap 37 for track repair following a single car incident in Turn 1. The track began to dry during the delay. Logano reported to his team that the surface would be dry in only a few laps of racing.
· During the final stage, Logano worked his way forward as other leaders began cycling through green flag pit stops. Crew chief Brian Wilson elected to run long, not pitting until 25 laps remaining in the race. As other leaders chose to take fuel-only, the No. 22 Snap-on Tools crew opted for four fresh tires for their run to the finish.
· The complexity of the race changed thanks to the sixth caution on lap 68. Logano was closed in on the leaders, lining up in the fifth position for the restart. He was up to third position before the seventh and final caution waved on lap 73.
· On the final restart, Logano moved inside of teammate Brad Keselowski in Turn 1, grabbing the lead at the exit of the corner and never looking back. He officially scored his third NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Watkins Glen International by 3.362 seconds ahead of AJ Allmendinger. The victory was also Logano’s 30th in 173 career starts.
Quote: “I thought that was going to be my best shot, but I really honestly thought I would have a shot afterwards, so I wasn’t going to go all-or-nothing. I was able to have a good restart and dropped to the inside. He (Keselowski) and I was able to get all the way door-to-door with him and we barely touched each other about the two-thirds of the exit point of the corner. It was just a small, little touch that didn’t even upset our cars. It’s hard racing at the end and I would expect him to do the same thing to me when he’s trying to win a race. We were going for it.”