Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Pocono

Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Pocono Raceway
Race: Gander Outdoors 400
Date: July 29, 2018

No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Start: 4th
Stage 1: 7th
Stage 2: 7th
Finish: 38th
Status: Accident
Laps Completed: 121/160
Laps Led: 1
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 7th (-247)

Notes:

· Brad Keselowski was sidelined by an accident during the final stage of the Gander Outdoors 400 Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. Keselowski was pressuring Jimmie Johnson for 12th position when the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion snapped sideways at the entrance to Turn 2. Keselowski spun and made contact with the outside wall, causing considerable damage to the rear of his Ford Fusion. He made it back to the pit area where the Alliance Truck Parts team hastily made repairs. But despite their efforts, the damage to severe for Keselowski to continue. He was credited with a 38th-place finish and is seventh in the MENCS driver standings, 247 points behind the leader.

· Keselowski started fourth and ran third during the early laps of the 164-lap race. He pitted on lap 23 for four tires and adjustments but his car was a handful to drive. Keselowski finished seventh in Stage 1 and pitted under caution on lap 53 for four tires and fuel. He restarted 11th when the race went green on lap 56.

· Keselowski gained three positions during the next eight green flag laps before his Fusion started to lose grip. He was running in second position during a cycle of green flag stops when the second caution slowed the pace on lap 84. One lap later Keselowski pitted for four tires and more adjustments. A mix of pit strategies shuffled him back to 17th for the restart on lap 87. Despite driving a car that was “super-loose,” Keselowski was able to work his way up to seventh-position by the end of Stage 2 on lap 100. He pitted for four tires during the stage caution on lap 102 and restarted 13th when the final segment began on lap 105.

· Keselowski was running ninth when he and Kyle Larson made contact in Turn 3 racing for position on lap 109, costing him seven positions. He quickly recovered and began working his way through the field. The driver of the Alliance Truck Parts Ford was up to 12th when he spun on lap 121, ending his afternoon.

Quote: “We just blew a rear tire in the corner and backed into the wall. The car wasn’t terrible but wasn’t enough to get fixed in the time that was allowed so we limped it back to the garage and they made me come to the care center. That is just the way it was today for the Alliance Ford. We are fighting hard trying to get the most of everything we can get. We are in a position where we are pretty much locked into making the playoffs so now we are just driving the hell out of it trying to make something happen.”

 

No. 12 PPG Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Start: 33rd
Stage 1: 10th
Stage 2: 9th
Finish: 12th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 164/164
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 10th (-279)

Notes:

Ryan Blaney qualified the No. 12 PPG Ford Fusion in 18th position during Saturday’s qualifying session for the Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway. However, he was forced to start from the 33rd position after the No. 12 was one of 13 cars that failed post-qualifying technical inspection.

Over the course of the first 50-lap stage, Blaney radioed to crew chief Jeremy Bullins that he was too tight on exit of all three Pocono corners, the worse being on the on exit of Turn 2.

During the first pit stop of the day – under the green flag at lap 25 – Bullins adjusted the air pressure and wedge in the No. 12 Ford, plus four tires. The adjustments had a positive effect, but led to a loose-handing condition on corner entry. Blaney fought off the condition to finish 10th in Stage 1.

When the second 50-lap stage began, Blaney radioed that he too tight, especially in traffic. The plan for the stage was to run longer than other competitors to set up the strategy for the final stage. Unfortunately, a caution at lap 83 forced Bullins to call his driver down pit road early for service, leading to a ninth-place finish in Stage 2.

Throughout the final 60-lap stage, Blaney radioed this team that he needed help turning around the tricky, three-turn track. Bullins continued to make adjustments to help his driver, who maintained a position solidly inside the top-15.

On lap 138, Blaney and the No. 14 of Clint Bowyer made contact, knocking him out of the racing groove. The incident shuffled Blaney back to 18th in the running order, but the young driver rallied back through the field down to the stretch to claim a 12th-place finish at the checkered flag.

Quote: “It was a long weekend. We struggled a little bit off the truck with the PPG Ford Fusion and just could never really get where we were very good. I was hopeful that we would get a little better in the race but we never really did. We have work to do. Hopefully we can get there.”

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Start: 30th
Stage 1: 22nd
Stage 2: 11th
Finish: 27th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 164/164
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-201)

Notes:

· Joey Logano started 30th in Sunday afternoon’s Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion. Logano suffered minor damage to the nose of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford on the initial start when Corey LaJoie slowed significantly in Turn 1. The team patched the nose on the first pit stop of the afternoon after Logano described the handling of the car as “inconsistent” at the start of the race, battling both tight and loose conditions.

· The Shell-Pennzoil crew was able to repair the nose successfully during a pit stop in lap 27 while also completing a four-tire stop complete with an air pressure adjustment. Logano reported the car was slightly free on initial takeoff and added that the gear temperatures were high. Logano would be credited with a 22nd-place finish in the opening segment of the race. During the stage caution on lap 53, crew chief Todd Gordon made additional repairs to the nose, replacing their original work with a more detailed fabricated patch on the hole.

· Throughout the second stage, Logano reported that he felt a vibration down the straightaway. Under caution, the temperatures would subside and the vibration would minimize. Handling-wise Logano still lacked security on entry in Turns 2 and 3, despite multiple air pressure adjustments but he rebounded to score an 11th-place finish in Stage 2.

· Throughout the final stage, the handling of the No. 22 Ford Fusion improved as Logano worked his way from 18th to 12th position. A flat right-rear tire forced Logano to make an unscheduled stop under green on lap 140. The misfortune not only dropped Logano a lap down to the race leaders but also used up the team’s final set of sticker tires. Logano would soldier on over the final 24 laps to collect a 27th-place finish.

Quote: “We started the day behind and struggled a bit to get the handling right on our Shell-Pennzoil Ford. Unfortunately, once we got the car right, I made contact with the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) in the Tunnel Turn and ended up cutting a right rear. From there we just struggled to the finish. We’ll regroup and head to Watkins Glen International next week.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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