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Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Las Vegas

Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Race: Pennzoil 400
Date: March 7, 2021
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No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski

Start: 10th
Stage 1: 1st (First Stage Win of 2021)
Stage 2: 2nd
Finish: 2nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 27
Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-38)

Notes:

Brad Keselowski earned his first stage win of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season on the way to a second-place finish in the Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube Sunday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang claimed his second top-five result in four races this season and his 11th top-10 finish in 16 career starts at Las Vegas. With Sunday’s result, Keselowski moved up to second in the NCS driver standings, now 38 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.

Keselowski passed Chase Elliott with two laps to go to win Stage 1 as he secured his first stage victory of the 2021 season. After starting 10th, the driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang moved into the top five just seven laps into the race. Only two cautions slowed the pace in the first 80-lap segment, which featured entertaining two and three-wide racing among the leaders. Keselowski raced Elliott for the lead during the final 10 laps of the stage and took over the top spot two laps from the finish. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to pit for four tires during the stage caution and Keselowski restarted second on lap 87.

On the restart, Keselowski once again grabbed the lead but as the stage advanced, the handling of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang became a little too free. The No. 2 Ford settled into fifth position when Keselowski made a scheduled pit stop under green on lap 123 for four tires and a trackbar adjustment. After the stops cycled through, Keselowski was once again in the second position with a free-handling car. He finished second when segment ended on lap 160. The Discount Tire Ford took on four tires during the stage caution and restarted seventh when the race went green on lap 167.

Keselowski remained in contention over the final 100 laps of the race. He ran in second place on lap 216, just behind leader Kyle Larson. The two leaders pitted under the green flag on lap 225 for four tires and when the cycle was complete, Keselowski was once again in second position. Try as he might over the closing laps, Keselowski couldn’t track down the leader as he took the checkered flag in second place.

Quote: “We had a great Discount Tire Ford Mustang. If Kyle Larson wasn’t here, we’d have had a dominant day, but they were really strong. He’s got some really good equipment now and he’s going to keep showing it I’m sure.”

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No. 12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney

Start: 26th
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 5th
Finish: 5th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 1
Point Standings (behind first): 15th (-96)

Notes:

Ryan Blaney collected his first top-five finish of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season in the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. The driver of the Menards/Pennzoil Mustang collected points in both stages to score his fourth top-five result in 10 starts at Las Vegas. Blaney is now 15th in the Cup Series standings, 96 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.

Blaney started Sunday’s race in 26th position and made his way up to ninth position by the lap 25 competition caution. He reported to crew chief Todd Gordon that his car was running a little loose, but was handling well in traffic. Blaney made his first stop on lap 27 as the No. 12 Mustang received four tires and an air pressure adjustment.

After restarting eighth, Blaney made his way to fifth place prior the second caution on lap 47. He made his second stop one lap later for four tires and additional air pressure adjustments, and he reported the ride quality wasn’t quite as good. Blaney restarted the race inside the top five and he drove his way up to the third position by the conclusion of Stage 1 on lap 80.

Blaney began Stage 2 from the fifth position. With an improved Menards/Pennzoil Ford, he raced back up to third by the time green flag pit stops began on lap 123. After he rejoined the race in fifth place, Blaney was scored fifth at the conclusion of Stage 2 on lap 160.

After he began the final stage of the race in the eighth position on lap 167, Blaney moved up to third place when he made his final pit stop of the day on lap 223. Late in the race, Blaney passed Martin Truex Jr. for fifth on lap 250 and he maintained the same position through the conclusion of the Pennzoil 400.

Quote: “It was a positive race after the struggle we had getting going this year with having three very bad races. We had good speed in our Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang, just didn’t quite have enough. We lost a little bit of time on that last pit stop. We kind of had a miscommunication thing, but I don’t think we were going to catch the No. 5 (Kyle Larson). He was the class of the field, but we made it a lot better. I was a little bit tight there at the end, but proud of Todd Gordon and everybody for not letting a few bad finishes get us down. Hopefully, we can start getting on a roll here.”

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No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano

Start: 15th
Stage 1: 9th
Stage 2: 14th
Finish: 9th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 7
Point Standings (Behind First): 6th (-49)

Joey Logano started 15th and finished ninth in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the No. 22 Pennzoil Mustang. Logano battled a tight-handling car through the majority of the race, as the team adjusted the handling on each stop. Logano brought home his second top-10 result in the first four races of 2021 and continued his streak of leading at least a lap in each of the opening events of the NASCAR Cup Series season.

Logano reported the Pennzoil Ford Mustang was running tight in the opening 25 laps before the competition caution flag flew. On the team’s first pit stop, crew chief Paul Wolfe called for air pressure and trackbar adjustments on the No. 22 Ford Mustang, as fast work by the crew gained four spots coming off pit road. On lap 47, the caution flag was displayed for the second time of the race and the No. 22 remained on the track and restarted in the second position. Logano seized the lead of the race for seven laps in the first stage, before falling back to ninth on older tires.

During the second stage, the No. 22 Pennzoil Mustang continued to build tighter, prompting the crew to make a wedge adjustment on its stop at lap 121. After the stop, Logano reported that his Ford Mustang began running on the loose side, indicating that the team had made the proper adjustment on the green flag stop. Logano finished the second stage in the 14th position.

On the restart to begin the final stage, Logano used the outside lane to power back into the top-10 with the Pennzoil Ford Mustang, but his forward progress was halted with a debris caution at lap 178. The team elected to pit for four fresh tires, which put Logano in the 20th position on the restart.

Logano looked to be in good position with his final stop at lap 222, as the team took just four tires and fuel. The race continued under green flag conditions as Logano brought the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang home in ninth place.

Quote: “We just weren’t as fast as we wanted to be today. There’s a little bit of confusion at the moment to figure out exactly where it is and what we need to do better. There are two different theories and hopefully we can figure out what those are, but, overall, we tried some strategy stuff to get up there in a stage, led a couple laps, but fell off on the older tires, and then tried some more strategy stuff with tires to try to pass two cars and it just seemed like we were a ninth-place car. That’s where we were on the long runs, it’s just where we were. We’ve got a little bit of work to do to make up that difference, but it’s a top-10 finish. Hopefully, it keeps us up towards the front in points. We didn’t get many stage points. I’m not sure where we’re at yet, but we’ll head off to Phoenix.”


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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