Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Chicagoland

Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report

Track: Chicagoland Speedway
Race: Camping World 400
Date: June 30, 2019

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American Muscle

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 12th
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 14th
Finish: 5th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 3rd (-67)

Notes:

Brad Keselowski saved his best for last Sunday evening at Chicagoland Speedway and was rewarded with a fifth-place finish in the Camping World 400. Keselowski claimed his seventh top-five of the 2019 season. He racked up his ninth consecutive top-10 at Chicagoland, a streak that dates back to 2011, pushing his average finish in 11 races at the track to 8.8.

Keselowski gained a position in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, moving up to third, 67 points behind leader Joey Logano.

The race was delayed by lightning and rain for over three hours after just 12 laps but restarted at 5:30 p.m. CT. Keselowski and the Miller Lite team struggled to find the correct balance on their No. 2 Mustang throughout the event. The driver of the Miller Lite Ford started 12th and battled a loose condition for much of the first segment. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver to pit road for a scheduled green flag stop on lap 52, early in the pit cycle. The strategy worked, as Keselowski roared through the field to claim second-place when the stage ended on lap 80. He pitted during the stage caution on lap 82 for four tires and adjustments. He restarted ninth when the race went green on lap 85.

As the laps ticked off in Stage 2, Keselowski’s Mustang was still a handful, now being too tight on corner exit, especially off Turn 2. He was running 13th at the time of the third caution on lap 104 and pitted one lap later for four tires and air pressure adjustments. Keselowski restarted 13th on lap 108 and once again struggled to make his way forward. The No. 2 Mustang was still tight off the corners but was now also sliding the back of the car through Turns 1 and 2. The end result was a 14th-place finish when Stage 2 concluded on lap 160. Wolfe made a track bar and air pressure adjustments when Keselowski pitted during the stage caution on lap 163. He lined up 14th when the race went green on lap 166.

Early in Stage 3 Keselowski said he was too loose on corner entry and too tight off but as the laps ticked away he began working his way through traffic. By lap 179 he was inside the top-10 and had just worked his way up to fifth position when the final round of pit stops began under green on lap 217. Keselowski pitted on lap 219 for four tires and was holding firm to fifth when the cycle was complete on lap 226. Try as a he might over the final 41 laps, Keselowski couldn’t closer to the front, crossing the finish line fifth when the checkered flag waved.

Quotes: “We dug really hard at the end. We had a good run at the end and made a lot of passes and made a lot of ground with some good strategy on pit road and good execution by the Miller Lite team. It wasn’t quite enough speed to run with them. We had some real good glimpses of having what it takes but it wasn’t long enough. It was a struggle all day. We couldn’t get a handle on it. We got our best at the end which is certainly what matters. We will take it and learn from it and move on.”

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No. 12 BODYARMOR Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 10th
Stage 1: 22nd
Stage 2: 21st
Finish: 6th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 1
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 10th (-178)

Notes:

Ryan Blaney battled back from an unscheduled pit stop near the end of Stage 1 to finish sixth in Sunday’s Camping World 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway. The driver of the BODYARMOR Ford Mustang now sits 10th NASCAR Cup Series standings, 178 points behind the leader.

Blaney started 10th and quickly drove his way to third when the race was halted on lap 12 for lightning and rain in the area, prompting a three-hour delay. Once racing resumed, Blaney came to pit road on lap 14 for four tires and fuel. He restarted ninth when racing resumed on lap 17 and quickly drove his way back into the top-two racing Kevin Harvick for the lead early.

A strategy move by crew chief Jeremy Bullins called for Blaney to pit for fuel-only during his second pit stop with 10 laps to go in Stage 1. Unfortunately, he would have come back down pit road for a right-rear tire that was coming apart, losing one lap in the process and finishing 22nd when the segment concluded on lap 80.

Blaney spent the entirety of Stage 2 working to get back on the lead lap. He reported the balance of the BODYARMOR Ford was tight in traffic. Blaney pitted on lap 106 during the third caution for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment. Racing resumed on lap 108 and the driver of the BODYARMOR Ford stayed in the free pass position, coming home 21st when Stage 2 concluded on lap 160.

The High Point, N.C. native would restart back on the lead lap outside the top-20, but would quickly make his way back to 12th position before the final caution of the day on lap 173. He pitted for four tires, fuel and no changes and fought his way back inside the top-10 at lap 200. On lap 221 he made his final stop of the race, receiving four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment under green. Over the final 46 laps Blaney raced his way from 10th to sixth, where he would eventually finish. He is now 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

Quote: “Both myself and two other cars blew tires at the same time early in the race and that stunk. We were running second and put a splash of gas in it to end the first stage. There were five or six guys doing that and the right-rear started peeling apart and that pretty much ruined our day. We went a lap down and had to play catch-up from that point. I think we gained seven seconds on the leader there during the last run.”

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No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 19th
Stage 1: 11th
Stage 2: 13th
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (ahead of second): 1st (+19)

Notes:

Joey Logano started 19th in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang in Sunday’s Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Logano overcame ill-handling conditions early in the race to claim a third-place finish, his ninth top-five finish of the season. He stretched his lead in the NASCAR Cup Series standings to 18 points over Kyle Busch.
In Stage 1, Logano moved forward six positions to 13th after just five laps. On lap 12 lightning and rain moved into the area, putting a three-hour halt on the race. When the event resumed, Logano pitted for four tires and fuel and restarted 14th when it went back green on lap 16.
By lap 20 he was inside the top-10. Logano climbed as high as sixth, but settled back into the seventh position as he battled a tight Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. On lap 53, pit stops began under green, particularly the cars that remained on-track when the race resumed after the first caution. Logano remained on the track, trying to stretch the fuel mileage as deep into the first stage as possible. He pitted on lap 73 for fuel only and scored an 11th-place finish when Stage 1 ended on lap 80. Logano pitted during the stage
During the stage caution, crew chief Todd Gordon elected to get aggressive with the changes to the Shell-Pennzoil Ford, making wedge adjustments to both the left and right-side of the Mustang. The extra work on the stop shuffled Logano back to 17th when the race went green on lap 85.
After the adjustments, Logano reported that the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang made a rapid swing to the free side. Logano remained on the loose side throughout much of Stage 2 but the balance shifted to neutral before the segment ended on lap 160. Gordon called Logano to pit road during the stage caution and reversed coursed on the earlier wedge adjustments.
Those adjustments brought new life to the Shell-Pennzoil Ford as Logano powered his way up to fourth position, cracking the top-five barrier for the first time in the race. He pitted on lap 216 for his final pit stop: four tires, fuel and a piece of tape on the nose, returning to the track as the green flag cycle began. Logano cycled up to third position when the pit cycle was complete, trailing race leader Alex Bowman by four seconds.
As the race drew to a close, Logano remained in the third, a remarkable rebound from where he was early in the race. The finish also moved the No. 22 team to an 18 point advantage in the regular season standings with nine races remaining before the playoff cutoff.

Quote: “It looked like after we had that last green flag cycle things were looking pretty good. We ran down the 42 (Kyle Larson). Both of us were catching the 88 (Alex Bowman). I just couldn’t get to Larson’s inside or outside and get a run. I would get right to him but not enough of a run to make a move. I just got tight at the end and he drove away at the end. We were pushing really hard on the front tires and eventually they are going to give out. Congrats to Alex on his first win. There is nothing like that. That is cool for that team.”


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