- Brad Keselowski survived six cautions inside the final 60 laps to score a strong fourth-place finish Sunday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang grabbed his ninth top-five of the season but is 15 points below the fourth-place cutline in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with just two races until the season-finale at Phoenix Raceway.
- Keselowski stretched his fuel mileage to perfection in Stage 1 and was rewarded with a 10th-place finish when the segment concluded on lap 105. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called Keselowski to pit road to top off his fuel just before the race restarted on lap 39. The extra gas, plus conservation by the driver, allowed to Keselowski to make it to the end of the stage. The Discount Tire Ford was loose for much of the opening stage, but the No. 2 Mustang greatly improved as the segment drew to a close. Keselowski described his car as “screaming fast” when he was in clean air. He pitted for four tires and fuel during the stage caution and restarted 10th when the race went green on lap 112.
- The balance on the Discount Tire Mustang steadily improved during Stage 2, especially on long runs. Keselowski took advantage, claiming a fifth-place stage finish. The highlight of the segment was the performance of the No. 2 crew, who gained four total positions for Keselowski in two pit stops. The assist from the pit crew kept Keselowski in contention for precious stage points during the segment. He restarted third when the race went green on the lap 216.
- With an improved handling Ford Mustang and a lightning fast pit crew, Keselowski appeared to have a better than average chance to contend for the win. The only thing he didn’t have was a long stretch of green flag racing. He overcame the rash of cautions at the end of the race and a final green-white-checkered flag finish to score his top-five finish.
Quote: “We didn’t need all those yellows. We had the car balanced really well with the Discount Tire Ford on the long runs. The last few times we have been here you get 40 or 50 or 100 lap runs at the end but today, geez, we didn’t run more than two laps at a time for the last 45 or 50 laps. That is just not what we needed. We needed the long runs to be able to keep them honest. We gained a point but we moved up from eighth to sixth so that is a nice little win for us and gives us a better pit stall for next week. If we can keep running like that and scoring high 30’s or low 40’s in points then I think we will transfer in.”
No. 12 DEX Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 3rd
Laps Completed: 334/334
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-51)
- Ryan Blaney took another step toward making it into the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway by running up front all day long and finishing sixth on Sunday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. The strong run moved Blaney to second in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.
- The DEX Imaging Ford team elected to play the early stages conservatively, taking four tires at the competition caution at lap 25 and returning to pit road for fuel at lap 39, in attempt to stretch the opening stage. Blaney drove back towards the top-five as the laps continued to click away. The strategy worked, netting Blaney the second position in Stage 1 and nine additional points.
- During the second stage, Blaney reported that he had the fastest car on the track, just needed clean air. Crew chief Todd Gordon decided to make a chassis adjustment on the mid-stage stop to trim the No. 12 DEX Imaging Mustang. Fortunately, Blaney caught a caution at lap 166 to make his stop under the yellow flag. He used the adjustments to move to the third position, where he’d finish Stage 2.
- In the third stage, Blaney reported that he was fairly balanced although he could get tight and chatter the front tires if he charged the flatter turns 1 and 2 too quickly. After netting 17 points in the opening two stages, Blaney turned his focus to maintaining top-five positioning.
- A rash of late race cautions would keep the field tight with Blaney looking to break back into the top-five from the sixth position. Unfortunate, some hard racing and tough restarts kept Blaney one spot short of a top-five finish, coming home in the sixth position.
Quote: “It was a pretty decent day. I didn’t think we had winning speed today. I thought the 5 was pretty incredible and the 24 was fast too. The 2 and me, I thought we were pretty good. Probably the third or fourth place cars. All the late race restarts at the end get so wild and crazy and you have no idea what is going to happen and who is going to get checked up and stuff like that. Not a bad day. We got good stage points and finished good and we will move on to Kansas.”
No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 16th
Stage 2: 12th
Laps Completed: 298/334
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 8th (-103)
- Joey Logano started fifth but had his day cut short at lap 298 with a blown engine in the No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang, resulting in a 30th-place finish. The end result was costly for Logano and the No. 22 Ford team, who now find themselves in an apparent must-win situation with two races remaining in the Round of 8.
- Logano ran inside the top-five early, as high as the second position, and pitted for a two-tire stop at the lap 25 competition caution. The two tires sent the AAA Racing Mustang to the loose side, resulting in Logano dropping positions and ultimately finishing Stage 1 in the 16th position as several cars elected to stretch the stage on fuel.
- In the second stage, Logano reported he needed a little more to compete inside the top-five with the crew making air pressure and trackbar adjustments at lap 161, unfortunately, the caution flag was displayed trapping the AAA Insurance Mustang a lap down, forcing the team to take the wave around for the second time in the race. Logano rallied to finish Stage 2 in the 12th position.
- With the balance much improved on the AAA Insurance Mustang, Logano simply lacked track position, racing in the back half of the top-10 in the final 50 laps of the race. Unfortunately, the engine on the No. 22 AAA Insurance Mustang expired at lap 298, dropping Logano out of the race.
Quote: “I thought it was starting to maybe give up a little bit of power in that run. We were just getting passed. Not really though. It just kind of let go. It is one of those days when nothing went right. The strategy didn’t go the way we wanted it to early in the race. Cautions didn’t fall the way we hoped they would and every time we started fighting our way back something happened and we ended up like this. Now we know what we have to do these next two weeks. We better go find a way to win.”
Team Penske PR