Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Kentucky

Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Kentucky Speedway
Race: Quaker State 400
Date: July 12, 2020
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No. 2 Snap-on Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 6th
Stage 1: 14th
Stage 2: 1st
Finish: 9th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 34
Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-88)

Notes:


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Brad Keselowski grabbed his fourth stage win of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season on the way to a ninth-place finish in the Quaker State 400 Sunday afternoon at Kentucky Speedway. The driver of the Snap-on Ford Mustang grabbed his 12th top-10 in 17 races this season and collected his seventh top-10 in 10 starts at Kentucky Speedway. Keselowski moved up to second in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 88 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.

Stage 1 was challenging for Keselowski and the Snap-on team. Keselowski started sixth but the balance on his No. 2 Mustang was a handful, landing tight in the corners and then loose. He finished 14th when the stage ended on lap 80 and made a scheduled pit stop on lap 83 during the stage caution for four tires. Unfortunately, he was forced to pit again on lap 85 to replace two missing lug nuts and restarted 25th when the race went green on lap 87.

Keselowski used an improved handling Ford Mustang to steadily work his way through the field during Stage 2. He grabbed the lead during a cycle of stops on lap 151 and caught a huge break when a caution flag waved on lap 154 when he was making a scheduled pit stop. Keselowski then held off teammate Ryan Blaney in a one-lap dash to win the stage.

He led until lap 180 and then ran second until he pitted for four tires and a chassis adjustment on lap 224. A caution on lap 229 gave Keselowski third-place for the restart on lap 237 – 30 laps from the finish. Three cautions and the restarts that followed kept Keselowski in contention for a top-five finish but ultimately proved costly. Keselowski was fifth when he and Jimmie Johnson made contact moments after the green flag waved on lap 248 but avoided any damage. He restarted fourth when the eighth caution set up the final restart on lap 265, just two laps from the finish. Keselowski was split three-wide at the drop of the green flag, falling back to ninth-place and unable to make up the lost distance over the final lap.

Quotes: “We worked on it and got the Snap-on Ford Mustang really good in the middle of the race. We were about a fourth or fifth-place car there towards the end. On that restart it’s just mayhem. The cars have so little horsepower that you just have to push and take and take and take. I got used up on one or two of them and had one where I got into Jimmie (Johnson). It’s interesting because the restarts were the great passing opportunities, but they mix up the races so much that the finish is nowhere near indicative of who ran where, but that’s part of the deal.”

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No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 11th
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 2nd
Finish: 6th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 18
Point Standings (Behind First): 3rd (-95)

Ryan Blaney started 11th and finished sixth in Sunday’s Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway. The driver of the Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang ran inside the top-five most of the day and had a shot to win late in the race.

Blaney fell back to 16th-positon after being stuck on the bottom lane on the initial start of the race. He would drive his way to 10th prior to the competition caution on lap 25. Blaney would continue charge working his to fourth by lap 40.

Shortly after, the Advance Auto Parts Ford would pop out of gear. Quick instincts by the High Point, N.C., native would only cost him two spots under green. As a result, Blaney drove with one hand in Turns 1 and 2 to ensure the car would stay in high gear. He recovered for a fifth-place finish in Stage 1.

Blaney restarted fifth for Stage 2. After a slight air pressure adjustment by the Todd Gordon-lead crew, Blaney would work his way to the lead on lap 138 passing Aric Almirola. He pitted under green on lap 149 for four tires and no changes. An untimely caution would come out as the pit cycle concluded and Blaney would restart second next to teammate Brad Keselowski when he would eventually finish Stage 2.

Restarting second to begin the final stage, Blaney would battle with Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. for the lead. A caution on lap 250 would give Blaney the lead ahead of Truex. Unfortunately, on the restart Blaney was unable to the hold on the top spot and fell back to third. Try as he might, Blaney was unable to the find his way back to the lead and had to settle for a sixth-place finish

Blaney now sits third in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 95 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.

Quote: “I thought we had a good Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang all day. We drove up through there a lot. From the get-go it was hard to pass. We got a break there on that one restart, where we got a quick caution and we were a nose ahead of Martin Truex Jr. and I was like, ‘Okay, we’re finally back in control of this race,’ and then he got put three-wide in the top of three and couldn’t maintain the lead. And then I hit an X Games jump on the frontstretch that bounced me into (Kevin) Harvick. I was happy with our speed. We just didn’t quite catch the breaks we needed to win the race.”

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No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 2nd
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 4th
Finish: 15th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (Behind First): 5th (-111)

Notes:

Joey Logano started second and finished 15th in Sunday afternoon’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. Logano ran inside the top-five, finishing third and fourth in the opening two stages, respectively. The Shell-Pennzoil team fell victim to an ill-timed caution during a green flag pit cycle, forcing the team to take the wave around late in the race.

After starting second, Logano remained in the top-three for the majority of the opening stage, reporting the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang was a little free on entry to Turn 3 while being a little tight and on the splitter in Turn 1. The team made an air pressure change at the competition caution at lap 25. Logano finished the stage in the third position.

Through the second stage, Logano continued to lack a little entry security, particularly in Turn 3, but managed to remain in the top-three while reporting he was also on the splitter in Turn 1. Logano reached the second position, trailing teammate Ryan Blaney with 15 laps remaining in the second stage, knowing he’d have to make a pit stop prior to the stage end. Logano finished the stage in the fourth position after restarting third on a one-lap dash to the end of the stage.

Unfortunately, Logano lined up in the treacherous third starting position to begin the final stage, dropping him to the 10th position before he was able to get back into line. He worked his way back up to the eighth position by lap 175 but found himself battling a looser Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang.

Logano returned to the top-10 late in the race but got shuffled back on a restart in the closing laps, ultimately brining the car home in the 15th position, a disappointing result after running inside the top-five for the opening two stages.

Quote: “We had a good first and second stage today, scored decent stage points. Overall, the balance wasn’t bad on our Shell-Pennzoil Ford. Unfortunately, we got trapped a lap down, had to wave around, then just getting back through traffic was pretty tough.”

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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