Team Penske NASCAR Xfinity Race Report
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Race: NASCAR Racing Experience 300
Date: February 16, 2019
No. 12 Fitzgerald USA Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 14th
Stage 2: 33rd
Status: Roof Hatch
Laps Completed: 71/120
Laps Led: 0
· Brad Keselowski’s afternoon in the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway was cut short by a fault roof hatch. The driver of the Fitzgerald USA Ford Mustang experienced problems with the device from the opening laps of the race and was forced to park his car was completing 71 of 120 laps. He was credited with a 37th-place finish in the final rundown.
· Keselowski earned the ninth-place starting position during time trials on Saturday morning. But on lap 3 he radioed crew chief Matt Swiderski that he had issues with the roof hatch. Keselowski was running solidly among the top-10 in the lead draft. The team decided to pit for repairs under the first yellow, which came at the conclusion of Stage 1 on lap 30. He made three stops during the stage caution for repairs which unfortunately dropped Keselowski a lap down when the race went green on lap 37.
· The second segment of the race ran caution free and Keselowski took advantage. He got in position for the free pass back onto the lead lap as the first car one lap down and cycled back to the lead lap when the stage ended on lap 60. He pitted under caution on lap 64 for right-side tires and more repairs.
· After his stop, Keselowski’s afternoon gradually soured, when the roof flap above the hatch wouldn’t close. He made an extended stop on pit road, leaving his stall just at the green flag waved on lap 67. As he came up to speed, the roof flap still wouldn’t close and he was forced to the garage area on lap 72 where the Fitzgerald team tried valiantly to make repairs. Unfortunately, the damage was too much and Keselowski was left with a 37th-place finish.
Quote: “I felt like I was back in the ‘50’s running a convertible here on the beach. That was interesting. The roof, escape hatch, whatever it is called looks like there was a defect from the factory on the body and just nothing we could do. The guys tried to fix it but it is in a spot where you can’t get to it and work on it. It is made the way it is made. It is one of those things outside your control and sometimes that is just how things go. I hate it for Fitzgerald and Ford. I know we had a car that could win today. It broke on lap one, Turn 1, and we did everything we could for the last hour or so but it is just not something you can fix.”
No. 22 MoneyLion Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric
Stage 1: 10th
Stage 2: 3rd
Laps Completed: 120/120
Laps Led: 2
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-8)
Owner Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-8)
· Austin Cindric started off the 2019 season strong, recording his first top-five finish in the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
· Cindric started 13th and ran inside the top-15 for the entire 30-lap Stage 1. He radioed to crew chief Brian Wilson that his MoneyLion Ford Mustang was loose in the draft but held on to notch a 10th-place finish when the segment ended – and scoring one stage point. He pitted during the stage caution for two tires, fuel and adjustments and restarted fifth when the race went green on lap 38.
Cindric took the lead on lap 39 and held the top spot for two laps. The 20-year-old would remain inside the top-five throughout the second 30-lap stage, collecting a third-place finish and gaining eight more stage points. He pitted during the stage break for two tires, fuel and adjustments to the MoneyLion Mustang but was penalized for men over the wall too soon, dropping Cindric would have to drop to the rear of the field, restarting 28th on lap 67.
On the restart, Cindric wasted no time piloting his Ford inside the top-20. The race would see its third caution on lap 72 when Wilson called Cindric to pit road for fuel-only and minor adjustments. The driver of the MoneyLion Ford Mustang lined up 15th when the race went green on lap 75.
Over the next 45 laps, Cindric did a solid job of steadily working his way through the field. He climbed up to fifth position but couldn’t work any close to the front of the pack. He scored his first top-five finish in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition at Daytona and leaves the season-opening race fourth in the driver standings, eight points behind the leader.
Quote: “I was able to generate runs a few times, but it was really difficult because there were some really strong cars leading the front pack and I don’t think we had enough strong cars from 10th to fifth to really make something happened. I think we lost the 10 a little too early and could have made a run to go to the lead. I will take a top-five out of this deal. This is Daytona and this is cool, and I am happy to have a good run for the MoneyLion guys the first time out. We got stage points in each stage which is a good way to start the year.”