Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Homestead

Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Race: Ford EcoBoost 400
Date: November 17, 2019
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No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 8th
Stage 1: 18th
Stage 2: 21st
Finish: 18th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 265/267
Laps Led: 0
Final Point Standings: 8th

Notes:

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Brad Keselowski was credited with an 18th-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 400 Sunday evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang finished the 2019 season eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series point standing, 21 points behind seventh-place teammate Ryan Blaney and 28 ahead of ninth-place Clint Bowyer.

Keselowski started eighth in the 267-lap, 400-mile event after rain washed out qualifying. He was running eighth on lap 25 when he radioed the team that the balance on the No. 2 Mustang was tight. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver to pit road for their first stop of the day on lap 34 for four tires and a wedge adjustment. When the cycle of green flag stops was complete, Keselowski was 12th. But the handling characteristics didn’t improve as the stage progressed. He was still struggling to turn, and he fell a lap down on lap 67. Keselowski was credited with a 18th-place finish when Stage 1 ended on lap 80. Wolfe made the call for four tires and a track bar adjustment when Keselowski pitted during the stage caution on lap 84. He restarted 16th when the race went green on lap 86.

The adjustments by Wolfe improved the balance of the Discount Tire Ford. By lap 107 Keselowski said his car was turning better and was a just a tick on the free side. He was running 15th we he made a scheduled stop under green on lap 118 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. Early in the run Keselowski said his Discount Tire Ford was very good but after a few laps it began to tighten up. By lap 137 the balance had shifted to where he was way too tight again but appeared to catch a break in the form of the second caution on lap 138. Keselowski took the wave around back onto the lead lap and lined up 17th for the restart on lap 142. He stayed on the lead lap over the final laps of segment. Keselowski finished 21st when Stage 2 ended on lap 160 but pitted with the lead lap cars on lap 163 and restarted 19th on lap 166.

The final 101 laps of the race ran caution-free and was a tough stretch for Keselowski and the Discount Tire team. On lap 191 Keselowski told the team that his Mustang was “eight on a 10-scale tight” especially in the center of the corners. He pitted as scheduled on lap 206 under green for four tires and a significant track bar adjustment. Sixty-one laps later Keselowski ended his season with a 18th-place finish.

Quotes: “That certainly wasn’t the day we wanted. I’m proud of everyone on the Discount Tire team. We won three races this season and finished eighth in the points and that’s something to be proud of and build on for next season.”

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No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 7th
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 6th
Finish: 11th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 266/267
Laps Led: 0
Final Point Standings: 7th

Notes:

Ryan Blaney capped off the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season with an 11th-place finish in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The driver of the Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang ran as high as third position, but a short-pit strategy late in the race didn’t pay big dividends, leaving Blaney 11th in the final rundown. The High Point, N.C. native finished a career-high seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings. He established career-best results in top-five (11) and top-10 (18) finishes plus his overall average finish of 13.7 was a full position higher than his previous high in 2018.

Blaney started seventh and reported the balance of his Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang was tight on entry and getting back to the throttle in the center of the corners. He passed teammate Joey Logano for sixth place on lap 22 and made his first pit stop of the day on lap 35 for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment plus a piece of tape on the nose of the No. 12 Mustang. He returned to the track in sixth position where he would finish when Stage 1 concluded on lap 80. Blaney pitted during the stage break for four tires plus additional air pressure adjustments and more tape and restarted sixth when the race went green on lap 86.

Shortly after the restart Blaney passed Denny Hamlin for the fifth position. He reported to crew chief Jeremy Bullins the balance of the Menards/Richmond Ford was still tight. Blaney would slip back to seventh position prior to his next pit stop on lap 118 where the Menards crew did another air pressure adjustment plus four tires and fuel. Blaney was seventh once the cycle of pit stops concluded and he reported back to the team that he was tighter than before and had lost turn.

The second caution of the race came out on lap 138. Blaney pitted on lap 140 for four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment. Strong service by the Menards crew moved him up to sixth on the restart on lap 142. A strong restart put Blaney fourth as the conclusion of Stage 2 drew closer. The air pressure adjustment wasn’t as effective and he gave up two spots late to Martin Truex Jr. and Hamlin, scoring a sixth-place finish when Stage 2 concluded on lap 160. Bullins opted to make the first chassis adjustment of the day during the stage caution, opting for wedge and air pressure adjustments to help the tight condition on the Menards Ford.

Restarting seventh for the final stage of the race, Blaney once again reported that the Menards Ford was tight. In a strategy move after falling back to ninth, Blaney would do an early short pit on lap 202, taking four tires, track bar and air pressure adjustments. Utilizing the speed of the new tires, once the cycle of pit stops concluded Blaney moved up to third position.

Blaney remained on track hoping for a timely caution, but the yellow never waved. He made his final stop of the race on lap 252, taking four tires and another track bar adjustment, 17 laps from the finish. Blaney returned to the track in 18th position and took full advantage of the new tires. He drove up to 11th position where he would take the checkered flag on the 2019 season.

Quote: “We had a pretty good Menards/Richmond Ford today. We fought tight most of the day and really didn’t have much for the leaders. We decided to a take a chance splitting the pit window in the hopes of catching a caution, but things didn’t work out which kind of stinks. I’m proud of everyone on this team and how far we’ve come this season. Big thanks to everyone at Team Penske and all our great partners.”

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No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 5th
Stage 1: 11th
Stage 2: 7th
Finish: 5th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Final Point Standings: 5th

Notes:

Joey Logano started and finished fifth in Sunday afternoon’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. Logano’s finish was enough to secure the fifth position in the series point standings.

After starting fifth, Logano settled into the sixth position, running just ahead of his two teammates. On lap 17, the driver reported the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang had built a little loose from the drop of the green flag. On lap 35, crew chief Todd Gordon called Logano to pit road for four tires with an air pressure adjustment and fuel to finish the first stage. Following the stop, Logano reported he was freer on corner entry and exit while being tighter in the center of the turns.

As the stage continued to run green, Logano dropped to 11th position where he finished the first stage. The team elected to make a significant air pressure adjustment while also being mindful of the changing track conditions. The team also elected to make a wedge adjustment and add tape to the nose. Unfortunately, the wedge adjustment went the wrong direction which forced a return to pit road before the green flag.

In the second stage, Logano reported that the handling continued to get looser, hurting corner entry and exit. A caution with 23 laps remaining in Stage 2 brought Logano back to pit road for four tires, air pressure and a trackbar adjustment. At the end of the stage, he reported the team had tightened the car up a good bit with the adjustments. Solid pit work would send Logano out with a gain of a position into the sixth spot, where he’d settle in after the start of the final stage.

By lap 190, Logano had slipped back to the eighth position, reporting the Shell-Pennzoil Ford had gone to the tight side over the course of the run. On lap 209, Logano pitted for a potential final stop, taking four tires and fuel, returning to the track waiting for the field to cycle through stops.

As the final stage continued to run, Logano reported the balance was decent on the Shell-Pennzoil Ford, moving inside the top-five as laps continued to click off. Logano would continue to run inside the top-five until the checkered flag. The finish marked the 200th top-10 finish in his 399th career start.

Quote: “We had a solid day today. Our Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang handled decent most of the race, especially after we made a few solid adjustments in the second stage. Overall a good year for us, we’re obviously disappointed that we didn’t get to race for a championship tonight, but we’ll use that as motivation and a way to get stronger for next season.”

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