Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Kentucky

Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report

Track: Kentucky Speedway
Race: Quaker State 400
Date: July 14, 2019

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American Muscle

No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 3rd
Stage 1: 11th
Stage 2: 25th
Finish: 20th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 268/269
Laps Led: 3

Driver Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-116)

Notes:

Brad Keselowski had an uncharacteristic race in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, falling a lap down before finishing in the 20th position.

The three-time NASCAR Cup Series winner at Kentucky started the race from the third position, tying his best starting position of the year. However, from the drop of the green flag he felt something was amiss with his No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang.

After dropping just outside the top five, Keselowski radioed that he was losing both front and rear grip. This especially hurt his handling in traffic.

On the first pit stop of the day at lap 49, crew chief Paul Wolfe called for a fuel-only stop that put Keselowski at the front of the field for the restart. He would quickly relinquish the lead on the restart and had to carry the used tires to the end of the first stage.

The second stage started with Keselowski struggling in the Kentucky Speedway corners, eventually losing a lap to the race leaders on lap 136. On the fourth pit stop of the day the crew raised the hood on the Ford to see if any issues with the engine could be determined as the culprit.

Unfortunately for Keselowski and team an opportunity to take a wave-around pass to get back on the lead lap never presented itself and he crossed the finish line one lap down in the 20th position.

Quotes: “I don’t know, we’ll need to get back to the shop and figure out what happened tonight. We just didn’t have the speed with the Discount Tire Ford Mustang. I thought we had a good shot to compete for the win but that just wasn’t the case.”

No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 15th
Stage 1: 24th
Stage 2: 8th
Finish: 13th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 269/269
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 11th (-211)

Notes:

Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 DEX Imaging team overcame being two laps down early in the Quaker State 400 to salvage a 13th-place finish Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway. Blaney and the DEX Imaging team remain 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 211 points behind leader Joey Logano and seven points behind 10th place of Aric Almirola.

Blaney earned the 15th starting position during Friday’s qualifying session at Kentucky Speedway. Once the green flag waived to start the 267-lap, 400-mile race Saturday evening Blaney dropped to the 19th position. He reported to crew chief Jeremy Bullins the balance of the No. 12 DEX Imaging Mustang was loose in turns one and two but tight in turns three and four.

Green flag stops started on lap 41 and Bullins called the driver of the No. 12 Mustang to pit road on lap 42 for four tires, fuel and adjustments including air pressure and wedge. An untimely caution fell on lap 46, trapping the No. 12 DEX Imaging team two laps down to the leaders in the 34th position. During the caution Bullins elected to take the wave around, gaining one lap back. Blaney would restart 34th still one lap down from the lead lap on lap 52. Blaney raced his way into the free pass position by lap 60. The caution waived on lap 63 and Blaney would rejoin the lead lap cars in the 31st position. The race restarted with 13 laps remaining in the 80-lap stage and Blaney was able to race his way to 24th at the end of Stage 1.

To gain track position, Bullins elected to remain on the racetrack and not pit during the stage caution, allowing Blaney to start the second stage fifth on lap 86. He held his own inside the top 10 settling into the seventh position by lap 91. He communicated to his crew he still needed more grip. Bullins called Blaney down pit road under green on lap 131 for two tires, fuel, as well as an air pressure adjustment and wedge. He would rejoin the field in the 25th position. As the field cycled through green-flag stops, Blaney was scored in the eighth position at the end of the second stage. The High Point, N.C. native would visit pit road during the stage caution for left-side tires and fuel.

Blaney was scored in the ninth position as the final stage started and fell to the 11th position when the pace was slowed once more on lap 178. Once the race resumed the driver of the DEX Imaging Ford radioed his No. 12 Mustang was very tight and the handling was not consistent. He would fall to the 12th position by lap 200. Green flag stops started again on lap 205, Blaney pitted on lap 218 for right-side tires and fuel.

Blaney would return to the race in the 21st position. Once the field cycled through stops, Blaney was running in the 12th position. A late race caution fell on lap 261 setting up for NASCAR Overtime. Blaney would remain on track during caution and restart 10th. Blaney avoided near disaster on the hectic restart, slipping up the racetrack after contact and slip to the 13th at the end of at the checkered flag.

Quote: “You come into every weekend expecting to run well, no matter if it is your best track or worst track. I don’t really go into any weekend expecting to run a certain way. You just try to do your best. My team did a great job overcoming adversity early in the race to get us back on the lead lap. Our DEX Imaging Ford Mustang was just so tight. The last restart was crazy and almost got into the wall. We will move on to New Hampshire.”

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 11th
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 4th
Finish: 7th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 269/269
Laps Led: 19
Point Standings (Ahead of Second): 1st (+11)

Notes:

· Joey Logano started Saturday’s Quaker State 400 from the 11th position in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang, ultimately bringing home a seventh-place result after leading late before an untimely caution flag.

· On the initial start, Logano dropped from his 11th starting position to the 13th spot, reporting the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang was too tight on fire off. By lap 10, Logano reported the handling was good as he’d worked his way back into the top 10, running lap times on par or faster than the race leader. With a two-tire stop at lap 48, Logano would restart sixth for the second half of the first stage, through quick work, Logano moved to fourth for another quick restart and then into second place on an ensuing restart. With 13 laps remaining in Stage 1, Logano would restart second along side race leader Kurt Busch, but be forced to settle for the second position at the end of the second stage.

· Under the stage ending caution at lap 82, Logano and the Shell-Pennzoil crew elected to pit for four tires and fuel, while seven cars remained on track and others pitting for two tires, it would line Logano up in the 15th position, the deepest track position of the night to that point. Logano would work his way forward to the top 10 but was forced to make a four-tire stop under the green flag at lap 120 for a vibration, which ended up being a chunked right rear tire.

· Logano would use the four tires to rally back to the fourth position, a net gain on the stop and ensuing run to the end of the second stage. Under the caution, Logano reported he needed the front of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford to turn better, but with the track losing grip, he couldn’t afford to be any freer in the rear of the car. On the stage ending stop, the team would adjust with air pressure and four tires.

· Logano would continue to race forward, reaching the second position before pitting at lap 226 for a two-tire stop along with race leader Kyle Busch. Logano and Busch would leave pit road separated by only three car lengths.

· After battling door-to-door with the No. 18, Logano was able to secure the lead with 19 laps remaining. Logano drove out to an over two-second lead before a caution with six laps to go brought out the yellow flag. Crew chief Todd Gordon would elect to leave Logano on the track as his lap times had remained at the top of the field.

· On the ensuing restart, Logano found himself shuffled to the middle lane as other competitors with fresher tires raced around, ultimately yielding a seventh-place finish for the Shell-Pennzoil team.

Quote: “The caution came out at the wrong time. It happens. You try to think through your notebook on how to have a good restart. I thought I was going to have a decent one, but I got stopped on the left rear there when Kyle (Busch) got into me. That is what it is. That stopped all my momentum. The 1 had a huge run and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t block them all. I tried to stop the 18 on his right rear by side-drafting. I saw the 1 coming and felt like if I could get in front of him that we were so low at the time if I blocked the 1 he would just go to the middle and pass me. I felt like I couldn’t stop the 1. I was in a bad spot. Once I got stopped on the left rear on the restart I was a sitting duck and they just went by me on both sides.”


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