Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – New Hampshire

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No. 2 Freightliner eCascadia Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start:  11th
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 1st
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 293/293
Laps Led: 53
Point Standings (behind first): 9th (-198)

Notes: 

  • Brad Keselowski grabbed a third-place finish in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Sunday evening at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Keselowski grabbed his seventh top-five finish and second stage victory of the season. He moved up to the ninth position in the point standings, 198 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
  • Keselowski started11th in a race that was halted by rain after just eight laps. The event resumed nearly two hours later and the driver of the Freightliner eCascadia Ford Mustang bean to methodically work his way to the front, despite needing more rear grip on corner entry and exit. He and Chase Elliott waged an entertaining battle for second-place as the segment drew to a close, with Keselowski edging his rival for the position by a few car lengths. Keselowski pitted during the stage caution on lap 78 for four tires and wedge adjustment on lap 82 and restarted fourth when the race went back to green. 
  • In Stage 2, Keselowski scored his second stage win of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. He was running fourth when he pitted during the fourth caution on lap 131 for four tires and a track bar adjustment. He restarted third on lap 135 and used a great restart following the fifth caution to grab the lead on lap 146. The driver of the Freightliner eCascadia Ford held firm to the top spot for the remainder of the segment. Following the stage, crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to pit for four tires and adjustment. Great work by the 2 Crew kept Keselowski in the lead when the race returned to green on lap 192. 
  • Keselowski led until lap 197, but unfortunately couldn’t find a way to get back to the front. He was running third when he made his final stop of the race under green on lap 247. The move by Bullins briefly put Keselowski in front of eventual winner Aric Almirola during the cycle of green flag stops, but Almirola was simply too strong. NASCAR officials called the race for good on lap 293, eight laps short of the advertised distance, leaving Keselowski with a third-place finish.  

Quotes: “The 10 was just lights-out fast that last run, or the last two runs, and just drove by everybody.  It was pretty amazing.  We were good, but we weren’t great, so a solid day.”


No. 12 Menards/Tarkett Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 7th
Stage 1: 1st ( Fourth stage win of the season)
Stage 2: 3rd
Finish: 5th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 293/293
Laps Led: 64
Point Standings (behind first): 8th (-185)

Notes:

  • Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Menards/Tarkett Ford Mustang has one of the fastest cars all day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but a late-race pit cycle kept the team from contending for the win, leading to a fifth-place finish in the Foxwoods Casino 301 on Sunday afternoon.
  • After starting seventh, Blaney worked his way forward and missed a multi-vehicle wreck when rain began to fall early in the race.  After racing resumed, Blaney continued working his way forward to the third position before a caution slowed the field at lap 33. Blaney charged to the front and claimed the lead for the first time at lap 62. Blaney held the lead until the stage conclusion, claiming the No. 12 Menards crew’s fourth stage win of the 2021 season.
  • Blaney continued running inside the top-five, with the team making an air pressure adjustment and adding tape to the nose of the Menards/Tarkett Mustang at lap 132. Blaney finished Stage 2 in the third position, with NASCAR announcing the race would likely be shortened due to darkness.
  • Blaney engaged in a spirited battle with teammate Brad Keselowski at the beginning of the final stage, with the duo swapping the lead several times before Blaney began to stretch the lead. Despite the possibility of being shortened due to darkness, the race continued on, with the field hitting pit road under green. The No. 12 team elected to take four tires with a slight air pressure change.
  • Late in the race, the handling began to fade on the Menards/Tarkett Mustang and Blaney slipped back to the fifth position as the race was shorted by nine laps.

 
Quote:  “I thought we were pretty good.  We just got loose when the sun started to go down and as it got darker we got looser and just couldn’t really keep up with that.  We kind of fell off the pace there at the end.  When we had the lead I was kind of riding around and I knew Aric and the 2 were there and I was trying to manage my tires, but as soon as Aric got by the 2 he was on me incredibly quick and I couldn’t push any harder.  Overall, not a bad run.  The three best cars in the top five is not bad, just still have to keep doing a little work, but we’re getting there.”

 
No. 22 Autotrader Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 15th
Stage 1: 30th
Stage 2: 15th
Finish: 4th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 293/293
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 6th (-141)

Notes:

  • Joey Logano had one of the fastest cars on the track on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but an early two-lap penalty forced the team to fight from behind all day.  However, despite the penalty, the team battled back and persevered all day long, and eventually earned a fourth-place finish in the Foxwoods Casino 301.
  • The race went green on schedule, but was quickly delayed for rain after a multi-vehicle incident occurred in turn 1. Under the red flag, the No. 22 Autotrader team was assessed a two-lap penalty after NASCAR deemed the team worked on the car by taking a photo under the hood flap of the potential sticking throttle. A caution at lap 33 allowed the team to get one lap back.
  • Still trapped a lap down, Logano continued turning impressive lap times, working to maintain the free pass position in Stage 2. At lap 133, the Autotrader Mustang hit pit road for four tires and a trackbar adjustment as Logano continued to battle to get back on the lead lap. Logano caught the break he needed by getting a caution on lap 139 and regained his-lost lap.
  • Logano was credited with a 15th place finish in Stage 2 as the team pitted what might have been their final stop as darkness began to fall over New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After the restart, Logano charged into the top-10, running lap times as fast as the race leaders. The race continued with Logano pitting at lap 250 for four tires and fuel, no other changes.
  • The impressive late-race surge continued with Logano moving into the top-five and racing as high as the fourth position as NASCAR deemed it to dark to continue, posting 10 laps remaining. Logano’s charge to the front was cut short, with the former series champion earning a fourth-place finish.

Quote: “We had a really fast Autotrader Mustang.  When you come to your home track all you want to do is win.  A straight kick to the gut to start the race with a piece of rubber getting in the linkage, the throttle linkage, and not letting me get wide-open.  All we did was take a picture under the red flag, underneath the hood to see what was under there.  We took a picture with a camera phone and they gave us a two-lap penalty for that.  I understand the rules are the rules, but it’s also a safety factor and the last thing you want is a throttle to stick and get hurt.  I don’t know.  Hindsight is 20/20, but you would never know what it was if you didn’t take a picture, but it still had the piece of rubber in it.  It’s frustrating.  We got a good finish out of it, but it’s frustrating when you’re at your home track and you feel like you could have got a win out of it, out of a safety issue that we got a penalty for.”

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