Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Sonoma Raceway
Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350
Date: June 23, 2019
No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 25th
Stage 2: 2nd
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-74)
Brad Keselowski took a gamble on Sunday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway, but a lack of caution flags hindered the drive of the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang and resulted in a 18h place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the California road course.
The Discount Tire Ford Mustang started the event in the 22nd position and Keselowski used the first stage to gauge the long-run speed of his car. Unfortunately, Keselowski began experiencing a tight condition and was only able to move up to 20th before crew chief Paul Wolfe called him to pit road on lap 17, three laps before the first stage break. He would finished stage 1 in the 25th position.
Most of the front running cars then pitted during the first stage break, allowing Keselowski to restart from the eighth position on the restart. For the second stage, Keselowski and Wolfe elected to stay out instead of pit before the end of the stage, as they previously did. The gamble worked, and despite a car that was still tight and lacking forward drive, Keselowski was able to finish second as the front runners again pitted before the end of stage 2.
After pitting following stage 2, Keselowski and Wolfe made a gamble to run as long as possible while all the cars in front of the came to pit road for their final stop, hoping a caution would allow them to make their final stop under the yellow. Unfortunately, outside of the two stage breaks, the event ran caution free. Keselowski had to finally come to pit road with just 17 laps to go. Despite falling back to 22nd, he was able to race back to 18th with the benefit of fresher tires.
The 18th-place finish dropped Keselowski one spot in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings. He is now fourth, 74 points behind leader and teammate, Joey Logano.
Quotes: “It was just a frustrating day for the Discount Tire Ford Mustang. We were tight all day long and the lack of cautions really hurt our strategy. We just need to get a little better, but we will come back stronger. No time to dwell on it, we need to look ahead to Chicago next weekend.”
No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 21st
Stage 2: 15th
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 9th (-175)
Pit road strategy and a fast car resulted in a third-place finish for Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang team at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday afternoon. Blaney captured his fifth top-five and his sixth top-10 finish of the season.
Blaney started the 90-lap race from the ninth position. He maintained his running position inside the top-10 for most of the first stage and reported to crew chief Jeremy Bullins the balance of the No. 12 PPG Mustang was tighter turning to the left than right. Playing a different strategy, Bullins pitted Blaney on lap 17, three laps before the end of the first stage for four tires, fuel and minor adjustments including air pressure. Blaney would return to the track in the 21st position where he would remain at the end of stage 1.
Blaney remained on track during the stage caution and cycled to the fourth position for the beginning of the second stage. Blaney powered his way to the third position once the race resumed but fell to fourth over the long run. Bullins called the driver of the No. 12 PPG Ford down pit road under green on lap 37, once again three laps before the end of stage 2. Blaney would rejoin the field in 15th position and was credited with 15th place at the end the second stage on lap 40.
The High Point, N.C. native remained on track during the second stage caution and again cycled to the fourth position when the race resumed on lap 44. Blaney muscled his way to the second position on the restart before settling into fourth on lap 47. Blaney communicated his No. 12 PPG Mustang was still tight on the long run. Once the fuel window opened with 34-laps remaining in the 90-lap race, teams began to make their last scheduled green-flag stop. Bullins elected Blaney to run long and pit on lap 64 for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Blaney would return to the race in the sixth position. Once the field cycled through stops, Blaney was running in the third position, pulling away from fourth-place Kevin Harvick. The remaining 20 laps were caution free, Blaney holding firm to position. He would remain in the third position at the checkered flag. He and the No. 12 PPG team remain ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 175 points behind leader Joey Logano.
Quote: “You come into every weekend expecting to run well, no matter if it is your best track or worst track. I don’t really go into any weekend expecting to run a certain way. You just try to do your best. You just do the best you can during practice to get your car where it needs to be in the race. I thought we had pretty good speed all weekend. We head top-five speed all weekend. Not winning speed. We kind of hung around all day. We were able to hang in there and stay out of trouble and able to come home with a decent day and a race car that was intact, which is good.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 4th
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (ahead of second): 1st (+1)
· Joey Logano started Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series from the third position in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang, running inside the top-five for a majority of the event before pitting late due to alternator issues, dropping the team to the 23rd position at the checkered flag. Logano maintained the points lead by way of scoring stage points in both the first two stages.
· After starting from the third position, Logano continued to run in the top-four through the opening 10 laps, reporting the Shell-Pennzoil Ford was building slightly tight in both the front and rear tires as the run advanced. On lap 14, Logano reported he was losing more front grip than rear, ultimately forcing him to relinquish the fourth position with six laps remaining in the first stage.
· Prior to the end of the stage end, Logano reported an alternator issue with the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford. Crew chief Todd Gordon instructed the driver to shut off the air conditioning unit and the brake fans prior to the end of the stage. Under the caution the team made a minor air pressure adjustment, changing four tires. A slight jacking issue, coupled with other cars pitting under the green flag before the stage end dropped Logano to the 24th position.
· Through the first 10 laps of the second stage, Logano moved forward from 24th to 13th, remaining quiet on the radio. Logano continued his rally with a slightly tight Shell-Pennzoil Ford, moving back to the fourth position before the end of the second stage. Logano reported under caution that the tight condition was hurting him the most in the carousel.
· Logano would again restart deep in the field as the field came to the green flag to begin the final stage, rolling from the 25th position after many of the lead lap cars elected to pit before the end of the second stage. From the restart on, the Shell-Pennzoil Ford continued to advance through the field, moving to the 16th position with 34 laps remaining.
· With 29 laps remaining, Logano made what could be his final pit stop of the race, taking four tires and fuel after maintaining competitive lap times throughout the first run of stage three. Unfortunately, with 15 laps remaining, Logano was forced to bring the Shell-Pennzoil Ford back to pit road to replace a battery after running the majority of the event with a malfunctioning alternator.
· The stop would foil an otherwise solid day for Logano, who’d run inside the top-five throughout the afternoon and had competitive lap times all day. Logano would ultimately end up 23rd after running in the top-five much of the afternoon.
Quote: “On the surface it would be easy to get discouraged. We didn’t get the finish we were capable of due to a mechanical failure, but overall we had good speed in our Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. I’m proud of all my guys and everyone at Team Penske for the gains they made from last year to this year.”