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Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Kansas

Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Kansas Speedway
Race: Buschy McBusch Race 400
Date: May 2, 2021


Start: 1st
Stage 1: 4th
Stage 2: 4th
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 72
Point Standings (behind first): 6th (-115)

Notes:

  • The seventh and final caution in Sunday afternoons race at Kansas Speedway spoiled Brad Keselowski’s chances to win. The driver of the Verizon 5G Ford Mustang had fresher tires than competitors, an edge that was wiped away with the waving of the yellow flag. Keselowski survived a chaotic restart and two-lap dash to score a third-place finish, his fifth top-five effort of the season. He remains sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, moving up to sixth position, 115 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
  • Keselowski started first and led the first 632 laps of the race. But as Stage 1 moved into its closing laps, the balance on the No. 2 Verizon 5G Mustang shifted to the loose side and Keselowski was unable to stay up front but he did claim a fourth-place finish when the segment ended on lap 80. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to pit for four tires and adjustments during the stage caution. Good work by the 2 Crew gave kept Keselowski in fourth position for the restart on lap 87.
  • In Stage 2, Keselowski battled both tight and loose conditions on his No. 2 Mustang. He settled into third position early in the stage but his car’s handling characteristics were tight in the center of the corner early in the stage and then swung loose at the 80-lap segment drew to a close. Keselowski held off Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott in the closing laps of the stage to score a fourth-place finish. Bullins made another round of adjustments when Keselowski pitted during the stage caution. Another solid stop by the crew gave Keselowski fifth-place for the restart on lap 167.
  • The third and final stage saw Keselowski and Bullins work their way into contention. Keselowski was running fourth when he pitted for four tires and track bar and air pressure adjustments under yellow on lap 246. He used a great restart to move up to third but was zapped by two late-race caution and neutralized his advantage of fresher tires.

Quotes: “We weren’t quite as fast as we wanted to be. The Gibbs cars were really fast and Kyle Larson was screaming fast, so a very similar race for us to Vegas, kind of right there on that edge of the top five. We just need a little bit more, but we almost stole one there with pitting and the yellow came out there with 10 to go and it was just kind of the restart chaos. We all run into each other, whether it’s me running into someone or somebody else running into somebody it’s just part of it. Not a bad day for the Verizon 5G Ford Mustang.”


No. 12 Menards/Moen Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney

Start: 7th
Stage 1: 8th
Stage 2: 6th
Finish: 21st
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-111)

Notes:

  • Ryan Blaney started seventh and ran inside the top-10 throughout the entire event with the No. 12 Menards/Moen Ford Mustang before contact on the final restart of the race shuffled the driver to the 21st finishing position. Blaney’s Ford lacked fire-off ability during several of the restarts but showed great long-run speed throughout the 400-mile event at Kansas Speedway.
  • In the opening laps, Blaney reported the No. 12 Mustang was bouncing off the track while being loose on entry and tight from the center off. On the lap 25 competition caution, crew chief Todd Gordon adjusted with tape on the nose and air pressure. Blaney continued to battle the handling on the Menards/Moen Ford through the first stage, but finished in the eighth position.
  • The handling improved for Blaney during the second stage, the team elected to pit under green at lap 120, making a significant wedge adjustment to give more entry security and help get the splitter off the track sooner in the run. Blaney finished the stage in the sixth position, asking the team to give him for front turn leading to an air pressure change on the stage ending stop.
  • At lap 212, crew chief Todd Gordon called Blaney to pit road for four tires and a stagger change with the driver reporting that he was a little tight being stuck behind the No. 4 Ford. A caution flag at lap 228 would bunch the field up and bring the No. 12 crew back to pit road, looking to fire off a little freer for the finish.
  • Late in the race, a caution would setup teams with the option to pit or remain on the track, crew chief Todd Gordon elected the latter option, keeping Blaney in position for the race win. Through another restart attempt, Blaney would move the Menards/Moen Ford into the second position.
  • On the final restart, Blaney lined up in the outside lane, but got turned sideways after a push through the center of the turn by the No. 5 of Kyle Larson, derailing a top-five day and dropping the Menards/Moen Mustang to the 21st position.

Quote: “Unfortunate end to our race on the last restart. We had a decent Menards/Moen Ford all day, especially on the long runs it was good. The pit crew did a great job executing and we were in a position to win on the last restart. Certainly a better day than where we finished.”


No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang – Joey Logano

Start: 29th
Stage 1: 20th
Stage 2: 15th
Finish: 17th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-108)

  • Joey Logano started 29th and finished 17th in Sunday afternoon’s 400-mile race at Kansas Speedway. Logano fought the handling of the No. 22 AAA Insurance Mustang most of the race and battled with a lack of track position. Logano was in position late in the race to score a top-10 when the leaders stacked up and he was forced to lift to avoid the incident.
  • After starting deep in the 29th position, Logano was able to climb up to the 23rd position before the lap 25 competition caution, reporting he was free on entry and tight center off. Logano continued to struggle with the lack of track position during the remaining laps in the first stage.
  • During the second stage, Logano reported the AAA Insurance Mustang was better, but just needed to gain some track position. At the end of the second stage, Logano reported that he was pretty decent in clean air, just slightly tight, but the car was very erratic in traffic. At the end of the stage, the team elected to work on some damage to the nose of the AAA Insurance Mustang.
  • Logano would pit again at lap 213 for four tires and tape on the nose, as the AAA Insurance Mustang had continued to make slow progress inside the top-20. With a caution at lap 228, Logano pitted with crew chief Paul Wolfe electing to take two tires to attempt to grab track position.
  • Logano would be forced to pit at lap 253 to pull-out right-side damage from slight contact with the wall avoiding an incident. Logano would avoid another incident, jumping forward to the 11th position.
  • A stack-up on the final restart dropped Logano from the 10th place battle to the 17th position. A disappointing result after a late race surge to the front after battling track position and an ill handling AAA Insurance Ford Mustang throughout the race.

Quote: “We really struggled with track position today. The balance of our AAA Insurance Mustang didn’t seem like it was that far off it’s just really tough to pass when you start deep in the field. We had the strategy call to take two tires and that was working out okay, then made a little contact with the wall there late and pitted for four tires. Worked our way back forward and then just got shuffled there at the end when they stacked up in the front.”


No. 33 MoneyLion Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric

Start: 38th
Stage 1: 19th
Stage 2: 18th
Finish: 22nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings: N/A

Notes:

  • Austin Cindric finished 22nd on the lead lap in his fourth NASCAR Cup Series start of the 2021 season on Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway. Cindric and the No. 33 MoneyLion Ford Mustang team were on track to record a top-15 finish until a late race incident resulted in damage and lost track position. After the field was set per the NASCAR Qualifying Matrix, Cindric started 38th and fought forward throughout the 400-mile race running as high as 14th.
  • Once the race started, the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion raced his way inside the top-25. During the competition caution on lap 25, crew chief Miles Stanley called his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel, and slight adjustments. Throughout the remaining laps of Stage 1, Cindric said his MoneyLion Mustang was reasonable, but the balance built a little tight. At the conclusion of the first stage, he was scored 19th. Stanley called the MoneyLion Ford to pit road once more for four tires, fuel and adjustments and Cindric restarted 20th.
  • During Stage 2, the NCS rookie continued to gain experience, communicating his No. 33 Ford was handling better but still needed more. On lap 117, Cindric made a scheduled green-flag stop from the 15th position. As the field cycled through green-flag stops, Cindric’s Ford became loose as he battled race leader, Kyle Larson to remain on the lead lap. Cindric held strong and was scored 18th, the final car on the lead lap, at the conclusion of stage 2.
  • The field restarted on lap 166 with Cindric scored in the 15th position. The Mooresville, N.C. native consistently ran his MoneyLion Mustang inside the top-20, running as high as 14th. Unfortunately, Cindric was involved in a multi-car incident with less than 10-laps remaining and forced to pit for repairs. He was able to stay on the led lap and rode out the remaining laps finishing in the 22nd position.

Quote: “Honestly, it was a really solid day. I don’t know if we were good enough to be a top 10 car, but raced our way up inside the top 20 and really held our own throughout the day, so I’m proud of that. I’m proud of being able to establish track position at a non-track position racetrack, so our MoneyLion Ford Mustang was pretty quick. I probably had a few more adjustments left to know I would be really good, but, otherwise, just late-race restarts with comers and goers. It looked like the 47 couldn’t keep his car under control and pretty much slammed us into the wall, so it’s unfortunate to come with damage, but as far as I understand it that’s our first lead lap finish, which is kind of a kick in the gut if you ask me, but past that a really solid day without the finish to show.”



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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