Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Bristol

Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Bristol Motor Speedway
Race: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
Date: September 19, 2020
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No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 1st
Stage 1: 8th
Stage 2: 12th
Finish: 34th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 412/500
Laps Led: 82
Point Standings (behind first): 3rd (-32)

Notes:


American Muscle

A mechanical problem ruined Brad Keselowski’s chances for a good finish in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford was running 13th when he suffered a power steering issue on lap 294. The mechanical problems sent Keselowski to the garage area for an extended stay for repairs and left him with a 34th-place finish. He enters the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs is third position, 32 points behind leader Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick.

Keselowski started from the pole and led the first 17 laps before settling into second-place at the time of the competition caution on lap 30. He restarted third and took the lead on lap 43. As the run progressed, Keselowski said balance on his No. 2 Mustang became tight. He led until lap 107 before fading to an eighth-place finish Stage 1 concluded on lap 125. Keselowski pitted during the stage caution for four tires and adjustments and restarted sixth on lap 136.

In Stage 2, Keselowski was too tight to run with the leaders. The track bar adjustment during the previous stop was opposite of what the team had planned. Keselowski fell a lap down on lap 230 during a long green flag run but caught a break on lap 234 when the third caution of the race gave him the free pass back to the lead lap. He pitted under yellow on lap 238 for four tires and more adjustments and rallied over the final nine green flag laps to score a 12th-place finish when the stage ended on lap 250. He pitted under the stage caution for four tires and restarted 16th on lap 260.
Keselowski reported on lap 294 that he had lost power steering and went to the garage area on lap 311 for repairs. He returned to the track on lap 395 and was credited with a 34th-place finish.

Quotes: “It was a frustrating night, there is no way around that. I am thankful we were able to lead some laps in the Discount Tire Ford but that certainly was not what we were hoping for. We had a power steering pump issue. I am not sure exactly what it was. I will let the team guys get to that and chase it down. Obviously, it killed out chances. I don’t know what would have happened if we didn’t have that problem, but we did so we will move on to the next week and I am thankful we had the win at Richmond last week to fall back on.”

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No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 14th
Stage 1: 23rd
Stage 2: 11th
Finish: 13th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 498/500
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 15th (-1009)

Notes:

Ryan Blaney finished 13th in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The driver of the Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang battled a tight car most of the race and came away with a top-15 finish. As a result, Blaney will not advance to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs.

Blaney started 14th and made his way up to ninth by the competition caution on lap 30. He reported to crew chief Todd Gordon that the Advance Auto Parts Ford fired off loose and was building tight on exit. He made his first pit stop of the race on lap 35 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. After working his way to fifth position by lap 80, the No. 12 Ford would begin to slide back through the field. Blaney said he was extremely tight on exit of the corners.
He nursed his way to the finish of Stage 1 on lap 125 and was credited with 23rd position.

Blaney would restart 26th when Stage 2 began on lap 136. He reported slight improvements to the balance of the Advance Parts Ford. A caution on lap 234 saw Blaney make a pit stop for four tires along with an air pressure and track bar adjustment. Stage 2 would finish with a nine-lap sprint to the finish and Blaney took advantage, finishing in 11th position when the stage ended on lap 250.

The final stage began with Blaney restarting in sixth position on lap 260. He would work his way up to fifth by lap 320 but 20 laps later the tight condition from earlier in the race had returned. Blaney pitted under green on lap 354 when the fuel window opened for four tires, air pressure and a wedge adjustment. The final yellow flag waved on lap 408, prior to the end of the green flag pit cycle, trapping the Advance Auto Ford two laps down to the leaders. Blaney took waive-around during the caution and battled back for a 13th-place at the end of 500 laps.
Blaney is 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings heading to Las Vegas next Sunday night.

Quotes: “We started off tight and then that second run we got really tight after the comp caution and lost a lot of track position. We got to fifth or sixth the one time and we were super tight again. The track just swung really tight. I was kind of tight all night, but it just swung really tight on us and that was just the wrong direction that the track needed to be at. It was an unfortunate end for this 12 group, but I’m really proud of the effort this year and we’re not done. We can still go and try to win races and try to get fifth in points, so thanks to Advance Auto Parts and Menards and Ford for what they do. We’ve got seven more races. We’ll do our best.”

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No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 2nd
Stage 1: 9th
Stage 2: 4th
Finish: 11th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 498/500
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (Behind First): 4th (-45)

Notes:

Joey Logano started second and ran inside the top-five before a caution flag in the middle of a cycle of green flags pit stops with less than 100 laps to go derailed his chances for a good finish. The unfortunate turn of events dropped Logano to the 11th finishing position, two laps down to race winner Kevin Harvick. The driver of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford officially clinched a spot in the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs after scoring two points in the opening stage of the race.

After starting second, Logano ran inside the top-five for the majority of Stage 1 before fading back to the ninth position in the closing laps of the segment. Under the caution, he reported the front tires on the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang were completely worn out and it would not turn in the center. When the team pitted, crew chief Paul Wolfe made an aggressive trackbar and air pressure change, hoping to give more-long run balance. Logano clinched his spot in the Round of 12 with a ninth-place finish in Stage 1.

With the adjustments, Logano moved back inside the top-five. He ran in fourth position for the majority of the second stage before a caution on lap 234 brought the field to pit road and set up a nine-lap dash to the finish. Logano received another trackbar adjustment for the sprint, where he finished fourth.

In the early laps of the final stage, Logano ran inside the top-five, logging competitive lap times despite the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang being a little too free in and off. A loose right-rear wheel forced Logano to pit earlier than scheduled and he was zapped by the fifth and final caution flag on lap 408, pinning him two laps down. Logano took the wave around during the caution and restarted at the tail end of the field, one lap down in 14th position when the race went green on lap 418.

Unfortunately, the race ran caution-free to the end with Logano finishing 11th, two laps down. The finish was not indicative of how well the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team performed, running much of the race inside the top-five. Logano goes to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next week seeded fourth in points and is the most recent winner at the 1.5-mile speedway, having won the Pennzoil 400 this past February.

Quotes: “We had a Mustang that was probably top-five, something that was competitive. We had that longer run with a loose right-rear wheel and we tried to make it last long and it started to get pretty bad. It felt like we were late enough in the run that maybe we would start to cycle if we pit. We were so close. The caution was because of the 4 (Kevin Harvick) pitting and bottling everyone up. We were probably 10 or 15 laps from the cycle being complete and getting our lap back and being in contention for an even better finish. That is how it goes sometimes. We had a solid Shell-Pennzoil Ford and we have a lot of momentum.”


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