Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Chicagoland Speedway
Race: Overton’s 400
Date: July 1, 2018
No. 2 Stars, Stripes and Lites Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 6th
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 16
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 5th (-144)
· Brad Keselowski scored a ninth-place finish in the Overton’s 400 Sunday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway. The driver of the Stars, Stripes and Lites Ford Fusion collected his 10th top-10 finish of the season. He is fifth in the MENCS driver standings, 144 points behind the leader.
· Keselowski started seventh in the 267-lap, 400-mile race. He ran solidly among the top-five in the early laps of the event. Keselowski cycled into the race lead on lap 39 and led the next eight laps before making his scheduled stop on lap 46. Despite a loose-handling Ford Fusion, Keselowski worked his way back up to sixth position at the conclusion of Stage 1 on lap 80. He pitted during the stage caution on lap 83 for four tires and adjustments to give him more rear grip on the longer run and lined up fourth when Stage 2 took the green on lap 86.
· The driver of the Star, Stripes and Lites Ford Fusion ran inside the top-five during the early laps of second segment. Keselowski was up to third-place when he stopped for fuel and tires on lap 121 and cycled back to fourth when the sequence of stops was complete. The second caution slowed the race on lap 129 and one lap later Keselowski pitted for four tires and more adjustments. A mix of strategies shuffled him back to eighth for the restart on lap 132. Despite wrestling a tight-handling car, Keselowski worked his way up to sixth when Stage 2 concluded on lap 160. He pitted on lap 163 for fuel, tires and adjustments and restarted fifth when the final stage began on lap 167.
· Keselowski was running fourth at the time of the fourth caution on lap 178. He radioed crew chief Paul Wolfe that his car was best it had been all day so the team decided not to pit during the yellow. The move gave Keselowski the lead for the restart on lap 181 and held the top spot for the next four laps. Keselowski’s car became more of a handful as the laps ticked off. He was running sixth when the caution came out on lap 209, which gave him the chance to pit for tires and adjustments. Unfortunately, the No. 2 Ford Fusion was really tight during the closing laps of the race. In an effort to gain positions, Keselowski lightly grazed the wall (lap 218) and pushed his car sideways on traffic (lap 231) forcing him to settled for a ninth-place finish.
Quote: “We struggled with some stuff out there today. Struggled with a vibration and we struggled with grip. We were a little better, probably a fifth-place car today. I probably cost us a couple of spots but that is just the way it goes. I think we are the same we have been. We can run fifth-to-tenth at the 1.5 mile tracks but we are behind the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.), the 18 (Kyle Busch) and the Stewart-Haas cars.”
No. 12 PPG Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 7th
Stage 2: 5th
Laps Completed: 266/267
Laps Led: 19
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 10th (-241)
Ryan Blaney started from second position in Sunday’s 400-mile race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Blaney took the lead from Paul Menard heading into Turn 1 and led the first 17 laps of the race. Shortly thereafter he reported that his PPG Ford Fusion began to build loose on the entry, which also affected his drive off the corners.
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called Blaney to pit road on lap 38 and the PPG crew made a wedge and air pressure adjustment plus four new Goodyear tires. Although the changes did not make a huge difference, Blaney stayed inside the top-10, bringing home a seventh-place finish in Stage 1. During the stage break on lap 83, the PPG team made a wedge and additional air pressure adjustments to help a tight handling condition.
Stage 2 began on lap 86 and although Blaney reported his Ford was still tight, they were making progress with the handling on the No. 12 Ford Fusion. The next round of service came on lap 120, where the team made additional air pressure adjustments.
The caution flew on lap 129 for debris and Bullins opted for two right-side tires, a move to gain track position. Blaney regained the lead from Ryan Newman on lap 133 and led two laps before falling back to the cars on four new tires but still managed to bring home a fifth-place finish in Stage 2.
Blaney started the final stage on new tires, but soon fell back, reporting that his car was very free throughout the corner. A few laps later he radioed his team that he felt like he had a loose wheel, which forced him to pit road on lap 194. The unscheduled green flag stop cost Blaney a lap but he regained the lost distance when he received the free pass during the fifth and final caution on lap 209.
With a potential shortage of new tires looming, Bullins put on scuffed tires when Blaney during the final caution. Bullins was hoping for one more yellow flag and the opportunity to use his new tires at the end of race, giving Blaney a significant advantage.
Unfortunately the desired caution never came and Blaney was left with an 18th-place finish. The driver of the PPG Ford Fusion did move up to 10th in the MENCS driver standings – a gain of one position.
Quote: “It was obviously wasn’t the finish we wanted today. I felt like we had a pretty good car but that unscheduled pit stop put us behind. We were sitting in good shape if we got another caution and could put on our remaining set of fresh tires, but, unfortunately, it never came. We will move on to Daytona, where we’ve been strong as of late, and hope to bring home a win.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 8th
Stage 2: 10th
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 3rd (-119)
· Joey Logano began his weekend at Chicagoland Speedway by qualifying the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in the 12th position for Sunday’s 400-mile event at the 1.5-mile track.
· The handling of Logano’s Ford Fusion early in the race would be indicative of his racecar all afternoon long. Logano fought the classic “LTL” condition – loose in, tight center and loose off. Crew Chief Todd Gordon radioed Logano and told him most of the field was also suffering from the same issues.
· Gordon would make slight air pressure adjustments on the Shell-Pennzoil Ford all afternoon long, trying to keep ahead of a track that was slick with temperatures hovering around the mid-90s throughout the afternoon.
· Logano would finish the first stage in the eighth position and the second stage in the 10th position. As the 267-lap race wore on, Logano would continue to radio in that he was lacking overall grip and was loose, tight and loose.
· Gordon made a call for two tires on lap 178, which gave Logano some much needed track position. He ran as high as second during the late portions of the race, however, the two-tire call eventually saw him slip back to fifth as the tires wore out.
· Despite a slow pit stop on lap 209 that saw Logano restart in the ninth position, he was able to race up to sixth, but dropped back to eighth at the checkered flag. The top-10 finish, Logano’s 13th of the season, keeps him third in the MENCS driver standings – 119 back of leader Kyle Busch.
Quote: “Overall, it wasn’t a great day and wasn’t a bad day for the Shell-Pennzoil team. We just lacked some overall speed today during the race. I feel like we could have run third if we had track position and had fresh tires at the time. But we were fighting track position all day long. It was just really freaking hard to pass out here today. You are fighting the air all afternoon long. All-in-all, a good day, not a great day, for our team. I’m looking forward to getting to Daytona and trying to win another one there.”