Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Indianapolis

Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Race: Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400
Date: July 5, 2020
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No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 9th
Stage 1: 9th
Stage 2: 14th
Finish: 4th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 161/161
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 3rd (-88)

Notes:


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Brad Keselowski scored a fourth-place finish in the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang grabbed his sixth top-five finish of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and third in 11 starts at Indianapolis.

Keselowski is third in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 88 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.

Keselowski started ninth and inside the top-five for much of Stage 1. The final laps of the opening 50-lap segment got dicey, thanks to a caution on lap 40. Keselowski pitted on lap 42 for four tires but was shuffled back to 10th-place for the restart on lap 46, thanks to a variety of pit strategies among the leaders. He briefly fell back to 11th but passed two cars on the final lap of the stage to finish ninth. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to stay on the track during the stage caution and Keselowski restarted sixth when the race went green on lap 55.

Keselowski said the No. 2 Ford Mustang was tight at the beginning of Stage 2. He was running ninth when the caution came out on lap 73 and pitted during the yellow for four tires and an adjustment to free up his Mustang. He had a close call on lap 88 when Ryan Blaney spun and hit the outside wall while running beside him in Turn 3. Keselowski pitted for four tires during the caution and restarted 21st with just nine laps left in the stage but rallied back to finish 14th when Stage 2 ended on lap 100. Bullins made the call to pit during the stage caution for four tires and fuel and Keselowski restarted 17th when the race went green on lap 105.

Over the final 56 laps, Keselowski steadily worked his way through traffic while at the same time managing tire wear. He climbed up to third position by lap 133 when the caution flag waved during a cycle of green flag stops. Keselowski pitted for four tires on lap 134 and restarted seventh with fresher tires for run to the finish.
The call for tires proved to be a big advantage. Keselowski was sixth when leader Denny Hamlin hit the wall on lap 154, pushing the race into a NASCAR Overtime finish. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford restarted fifth in the two-lap dash to the finish. He picked off fourth on the restart and held firm to the position over the final lap to claim fourth-place finish.

Quote: “I think we were kind of up and down. We started ninth or 10th and just kind of hung around sixth or seventh and couldn’t quite make the pass. Our car was really, really fast in clean air, but I couldn’t run in traffic. We’d run up to cars and get stopped and would kind of ride. Then we started to see the tire issues and tried to be really smart about that and try not to beat ourselves, keep tires on the car.”

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No. 12 Menards/Atlas Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 12th
Stage 1: 13th
Stage 2: 31st
Finish: 32nd
Status: Accident
Laps Completed: 96/160
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (Behind First): 4th (-103)

Ryan Blaney started 12th and finished 32nd in Sunday’s Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After an early race pit road incident, the driver of the Menards/Atlas Ford Mustang was working his way back towards the front when he was involved in an accident on lap 89.

Blaney worked his way up to sixth by lap five. A competition caution would waive on lap 12 and the leaders would come to pit road. Blaney would receive right side damage when multiple cars got together near the entrance of pit road. The team would make repairs to his Ford Mustang and the High Point, N.C. native would rebound to finish Stage 1 in the 13th position.

Blaney would restart ninth after staying out under the stage break. He would fall to 12th after being stuck on the bottom lane for the restart. On lap 89 while racing the No. 95 car, the two made contact and unfortunately, Blaney ended up in the turn three wall.
The Todd Gordon-led crew would try to make repairs and reach minimum speed, but the damage proved to be too much, and team was forced to retire the Menards Ford on lap 96.

Blaney now sits fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 103 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.

Quote: “It was a tough day for our Menards/Atlas Ford Mustang. We had the incident on pit road and tried coming back through the field and got in an accident. Appreciate my guy’s hard work and we’ll get ready for Kentucky.”

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No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 1st
Stage 1: 16th
Stage 2: 18th
Finish: 10th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 161/161
Laps Led: 14
Point Standings 6th (-110)

Notes:

Joey Logano started from the pole and finished in the 10th position in Sunday afternoon’s Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. The team battled an extremely tight condition for most of the event, with Logano running outside the top-20 for a portion of the second and third stage. Logano survived a wild NASCAR Overtime and brought the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang home in the top-10.

Logano led the opening 12 laps prior to the competition caution, reporting he needed more turn from the center off on all four turns of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Throughout the first stage, Logano continued battling a tight condition, despite the team making air pressure adjustments. Unfortunately, a slow pit stop and other teams electing to take two tires dropped Logano out of the top 10, finishing 16th in the first stage.

With the loss of track position, Logano continued battling the tight handling condition in the second stage, despite making a wedge and air pressure adjustment early in the stage. The changes didn’t seem to make a major impact on the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang, especially trapped in dirty air, resulting in an 18th place stage result for Logano.

In the final stage, Logano continued reporting that the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang was struggling in dirty air, becoming too tight to turn the center of the corners. The team elected to stay on the track when others pitted, cycling Logano to the sixth position. Logano maintained in the top 10 until the team elected to pit at lap 130 for the final stop.
With NASCAR Overtime, Logano lined up in the 12th position for a potential final restart, the last car who remained on the track with the late caution. Logano survived last lap carnage and finished in the 10th position.

Quote: “That was an extremely hard-fought top-10 finish today in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. We just battled extremely tight most of the day, especially in the dirty air. Clean air we were okay, but we really struggled in traffic. The crew made changes on it all day, we’ll get it figured out and go from there.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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