Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Darlington

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No. 2 Freightliner Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 1st
Stage 1: 20th
Stage 2: 27th
Finish: 24th  
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 290/293
Laps Led: 4
Point Standings (behind first): 9th (-150)

Notes: 

  • Brad Keselowski was credited with a 24th-place finish in the Goodyear 400 Sunday afternoon at Darlington Raceway. The driver of the Freightliner Ford Mustang dropped to ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 150 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
  • Keselowski started first and led the first four laps of the 293-lap event, but just past the lap-10 mark he began to lose positions. The balance on the No. 2 Freightliner Mustang was loose on corner entry and exit while he was struggling to turn in the center of the corners. The team made two pit stops during Stage 1, but was unable to improve the car’s handling. He fell a lap down just before Stage 1 ended on lap 90 and was credited with a 20th-place finish. Keselowski pitted during the stage caution on lap 95 for several chassis adjustments plus four tires and restarted 22nd when the race went green on lap 97. 
  • The main objective in Stage 2 for the Freightliner team was to work their way back onto the lead lap. Keselowski raced Ross Chastain and Austin Dillon for the free pass early in the stage, but his handling woes were just too much to overcome. On lap 165, the Freightliner Ford wiggled between Turns 1 and 2 and Keselowski immediately pitted for four tires, which dropped him another lap down to the leaders. He was credited with a 27th-place finish when the stage concluded on lap 185. 
  • Acting crew chief Grant Hutchens and Keselowski made the call to stay on the track during the Stage 2 caution, taking the wave around to the tail end of the one lap down cars while hoping for a quick caution to make up a lap. The desired yellow never came and Keselowski made his scheduled stop for four tires and fuel on lap 211. Now trapped two laps down, Keselowski soldiered on to the finish and was credited with 24th-place in the final rundown.   

 
Quotes: “Not the day we wanted with our Freightliner Ford. We’ll bounce back next weekend at Dover.”


No. 12 Advanced Auto Parts Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 16th
Stage 1: 7th
Stage 2: 9th
Finish: 8th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 293/293
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-124)

Notes:

  • Driving the throwback No. 12 Advanced Auto Parts Ford Mustang, Ryan Blaney started 16th, ran inside the top-10 all day long and finished eighth in Sunday afternoon’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. Blaney and the No. 12 Ford team remain fifth in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, 124 markers behind leader Denny Hamlin.
  • During the opening run of the event, Blaney ran 12th until the first caution flag flew on lap 25. Blaney reported the No. 12 Advanced Auto Parts Mustang took off tight and continued to run a little tight in traffic. As Stage 1 progressed, the handling of the No. 12 Mustang improved and Blaney raced his way to seventh to finish out the first Stage. Crew chief Todd Gordon elected to bring his driver to pit road for an air pressure adjustment, stagger, four tires and fuel on the No. 12 Ford.
  • Blaney restarted the second stage in 10th place and remained inside the top-10. He raced his way to eighth before making a green flag stop on lap 140 for fuel and four tires. As the run progressed, Blaney remained inside the top-10 with a tight handling Mustang and was scored ninth when the caution flag ended the second stage. The Advanced Auto Parts team elected to pit for four tires, fuel and adjustments. 
  • Blaney began the final stage from the eighth position. After making two green flag pit cycles, Blaney was scored fifth but slipped to ninth after marking contact with the wall and ultimately finished in eighth place.

Quote: “Not a bad day. We ran kind of top-10 all day and just kind of hit the wall one too many times. I hit it a few times and the last time I really got into it trying to protect fifth there. I just hurt it a little too much. Overall I am proud of the effort. Here and Richmond are places that I have struggled at in the past and we have had some decent runs at those this year and I am really looking forward to coming back to these two places in the playoffs, so that is big that we seem to be learning a lot.”


No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 12th
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 7th
Finish: 13th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 293/293
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-123)

Notes:

  • Joey Logano started 12th and finished 14th in Sunday afternoon’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, after running inside the top-10 for the majority of the event in the Mario Andretti-inspired throwback Shell-Pennzoil Mustang. Logano flashed speed inside the top-five at times but struggled with rear grip for the first two-thirds of the event. Unfortunately, on the final pit stop of the race, Logano was penalized for speeding, trapping the team a lap-down in the 13th position, derailing a would be top-five result.
  • During the opening stage, Logano raced inside the top-10, reporting that the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang was battling tight through compression and a loose condition on corner exit. Despite the handling woes, Logano maintained pace with the race leaders. On the first two stops of the race, crew chief Paul Wolfe adjusted with wedge and trackbar to work on the overall handling condition. Logano finished the opening stage in the sixth position.
  • During the second stage, the team elected to adjust initially with air pressure, giving Logano some of the desired center turn he’d been looking for, but the team continued to fight the loose exit. At lap 141, the team pitted for a wedge adjustment and four tires to work on the exit security. Logano spent the majority of the second stage inside the top-five, but faded to the seventh position in the final three laps of the stage as the rear grip completely left.
  • In the opening portion of the final stage, Logano spent time inside the top-five and never fell out of the top-10, reporting that he just needed the rear grip to maintain longer into the run. With 40 laps remaining, Logano made a pit stop for four tires. Unfortunately, the team was penalized for too fast entering on the stop, forcing a pass-through penalty, dropping Logano from the fourth position to a lap down. Logano ran in the lucky dog position, but the lack of a caution flag kept the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang trapped a lap down.
  • Logano would finish the race in the 13th position as he was unable to regain his lost lap for the pit road speeding penalty, ending a potential top-five result.

Quote: “Not really sure what happened on the final pit stop there. I felt like I’d done the same thing all race, but we’re pushing it to the absolute limit. Hate it for my guys, they had great pit stops all race and then we just didn’t have the results to show for it at the end of the day.”

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