Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Michigan

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No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 20th
Stage 1: 10th
Stage 2: 7th
Finish: 9th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 200/200
Laps Led: 6
Point Standings (behind first): 10th (-275)
 
Notes: 

  • Brad Keselowski rebounded from a tough couple of races with a top-10 finish Sunday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. Keselowski, a native of Rochester Hills, Mich., earned a ninth-place result to mark his 10th top-10 effort of the season. He remains 10th in NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, now 275 points behind leader Kyle Larson.
  • Keselowski started 20th in the 200-lap event and the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang steadily moved through the field to score a 10th-place finish in Stage 1. Keselowski reported that the balance on the Discount Tire Ford was just a little free in the center of the corners early on. On lap 55, Keselowski passed teammate Ryan Blaney for the seventh position and stayed there until the stage concluded on lap 60. Keselowski pitted during the stage caution for four tires and restarted eighth when the race restarted on lap 66. 
  • In Stage 2, Keselowski continued to run consistently among the leaders. The balance on the No. 2 Mustang was very good on the longer runs but simply too free at the beginning. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call for Keselowski to pit for left-side tires under the green flag on lap 112, eight laps before the end of the stage. Keselowski was credited with sixth-place when the segment concluded. As the stage ended, Keselowski made contact with Austin Dillion while the two battled for position. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford pitted during the stage caution for four tires and repairs to the left-front of his car and took the green flag restart from 26th position on lap 126.
  • The third and final stage saw Keselowski rally back into contention for a top-10 finish. He stayed out on track longer than others on the lead lap and led laps 168-173 before making his scheduled green flag stop. On lap 183, he pitted again for four tires and restarted 18th as the first car with fresh tires. Keselowski avoided a seven-car accident on lap 188 and he survived a frantic restart with eight laps to go to claim his top-10 finish. 

 
Quote: “We were really good in the sun. Those scattered clouds at the end took away a little too much handling, I think. We had a pretty good Discount Tire Ford. I am bummed. I wanted of course to get a win and I hate that I had that contact with the 3. That really sucks for everybody. It really hurt our day and obviously ruined his.”


No. 12 Menards/Cardell Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 3rd
Stage 1: 11th
Stage 2: 12th
Finish: 1st – (sixth career NASCAR Cup Series Victory)
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 200/200
Laps Led: 8
Point Standings (behind first): 7th (-217)
 
Notes:

  • Ryan Blaney scored his sixth career NASCAR Cup Series victory in Sunday afternoon’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Raceway, after leading the final eight laps of the race in the No. 12 Menards/Cardell Mustang. The victory provides a valuable five playoff points as the team enters the final regular season race of the 2021 season next weekend.
  • At the start of the race, Blaney overcame the splitter on the No. 12 hitting the track and the Menards/Cardell Ford handling too tight early on. The condition prompted an air pressure change at the lap 20 competition caution. Blaney continued to struggle with the tight-handling condition until the conclusion of Stage 1, as he finished in the 11th position. At the stage break, crew chief Todd Gordon directed the No. 12 team to dial back on the air pressure adjustment and the crew added packer.
  • During the second stage, Blaney reported that the performance of the Menards/Cardell Mustang was improving, especially over the course of a longer run. Blaney hit pit road on lap 111 for four tires, air pressure and a wedge adjustment, and he reported that the No. 12 Mustang was improving overall. Blaney finished Stage 2 in the 12th position.
  • Blaney told the team the No. 12 Ford was back to running tight during the opening portion of the final stage, as Gordon called his driver pit at lap 159 for four tires, air pressure and tape on the nose. Blaney was consistently turning laps as fast as the leaders while running in the fourth position prior to the pit stop. A late caution flag allowed Blaney to line up in the third position, with teammate Joey Logano running behind for the restart.
  • Another quick caution re-racked the field which allowed Blaney to power to the lead on the restart. He fought hard to hold onto the race lead over the final eight laps, as he captured his second victory of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season and the sixth of his career.

 
Quote: “Man, I’m proud of everybody on the 12 team. Man, we weren’t great to start the day off. We kept working and working and got a lot better. It’s so cool to get in Victory Lane for Ford here. This is such a huge win for Ford, Penske, Menards, Cardell, Bodyarmor. I can’t thank them enough, what they do. That was cool, man. I’m fired up. I’m fired up.”


No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start: 19th
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 14th
Finish: 33rd
Status: Accident
Laps Completed: 188/200
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 8th (-232)
 

  • Joey Logano looked to be headed for a top-10 result in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 before a late-race accident left the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang with a disappointing 33rd-place finish.
  • After starting 19th, Logano went to work early as he moved inside the topv10 just three laps into the race. The No. 22 Ford Mustang got a slight wedge adjustment on the first pit stop at the competition caution on lap 20. Logano briefly raced inside the top five before settling into the sixth position to finish Stage 1. Logano reported the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang was running a little free so the team made an air pressure adjustment during the stage-ending caution. Logano would have to return to pit road to tighten lug nuts, which resulted in taking the restart at the rear of the field.
  • Logano was able to move forward, moving back inside the top 15 by running lap times as fast or faster than the race leaders. As the second stage continued under the green flag, Logano made steady progress forward before hitting pit road at lap 112 for four tires and air pressure change. Logano finished Stage 2 in the 14th position.
  • Logano continued his rebound in the final stage, racing inside the top 10 and consistently being one of the four fastest cars on the track. The Shell-Pennzoil Ford returned to pit road at lap 162 for potentially the final stop of the race, taking four tires, fuel and adding tape to the nose. A caution for light rain with 20 laps remaining allowed the No. 22 team to be in position to fight for the race lead.
  • On the race restart, Logano was collected in a multi-vehicle incident, as his Ford Mustang suffered significant right front damage. The accident resulted in Logano finishing 33rd after running within the top 10 for the majority of the race.

 
Quote: “Positives on the day were having improved speed in our Shell-Pennzoil Mustang on a 550-track. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the finish we deserved due to the wreck late. But good to have speed and good to be moving in the right direction before the playoffs.”
 

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