Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report-Darlington

September 4, 2017

Track:     Darlington Raceway
Race:      Bojangles' Southern 500
Date:      September 3, 2017

No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 6th
Finish: 15th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 366/367
Laps Led: 3
Point Standings (behind leader): 6th (-239)

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Ford Fusion team finished 15th in Sunday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway after beginning from the sixth position. Keselowski and team came into the race with a lot of confidence after leading a total of 246 laps in the last three Southern 500s. He wasted little time in working his way into the top five on the first lap and he would run in or near the top five throughout the first stage of the event despite the handling of the Ford not being exactly to his liking. The 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion radioed that his biggest issue early was a tight-handling condition just past the center of the corners. Crew chief Paul Wolfe began working on the air pressure and wedge on the car to help his driver while finishing fifth in the first stage. The handling improved in the second stage and Keselowski began to turn some of the fastest lap times on the track. He would drive the Miller Genuine Draft to a sixth-place finish in the second stage of the race. Keselowski maintained a spot inside the top 10 during the final stage of the race until lap 286 when he received a "Darlington Stripe" after making slight contact with the outside wall upon entry into Turn 1. While the contact was not heavy it dramatically affected the handling on the Ford Fusion. Keselowski dropped back through the field before bringing his car down pit road at lap 298 for four tires, fuel and small repairs. Despite the damage Keselowski fought hard over the final laps to finish in the 15th position.

Quote: "We just weren't where we wanted to be at the end of the race. I was just kind of holding on and we were going to probably run 10th or 12th and I tried a little bit too hard and brushed the wall. I ended up probably hurting our Miller Genuine Draft Ford a little bit and we finished 15th. Paul made a good call at the end there to get us into 15th when we probably could have been worse than that, so I was proud of that effort. We just need to be faster."

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 8th
Finish: 18th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 366/367
Laps Led:  0
Point Standings (behind leader):  15th (-395)

Recap: Joey Logano started eighth and finished 18th in Sunday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion. Logano, who ran inside the top-five at times in the race, entered the event in must-win mode for making the playoffs with Darlington serving as the penultimate event in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season. At the start of the event, Logano battled an extremely tight Shell-Pennzoil Ford, leading the team to adjust with air pressure on the first stop of the race at lap 17. Quick work by the pit crew gained Logano three positions on pit road, moving the driver into the top-five for the first time in the event. As the track continued to change during the second run, the handling of the Ford Fusion swung to the extreme loose side, dropping the team back to the 12th position before a lap 41 caution. The Shell-Pennzoil crew again gained Logano a position leaving pit road, but unfortunately that led to a restart on the inside line, which was a disadvantage for the majority of the race. The wedge and air pressure adjustments on the stop proved to be to the driver's liking as he was able to move forward to the eighth position before the conclusion of the first stage. Unfortunately, as Logano cut the engine off to lower the temperature as the caution came out, a sensor issue prevented the car from re-firing and dropped the team to the 16th position before pitting. On the next stop, the team handed the driver a piece of tape to place over the ignition switch to ensure the engine remained on for the rest of the event. Logano raced back to the 12th position before the end of the second stage. Logano continued to report a loose handling racecar throughout the stage, but the Shell-Pennzoil crew continued making adjustments and providing position gains on each stop. The largest gain resulted in picking up four positions at the end of the second stage, moving the team from the 12th position where they finished the stage back inside the top-10 to the eighth position. The team continued inside the top-10 into the late stages of the event before the loose condition intensified to the point that Logano lost a lap to the race leaders before pitting with 10 laps remaining, ultimately finishing in the 18th position.  

Quote: "Yeah, but we've done well here before too, but we just didn't have the speed today. The team executed really well. Our pit crew was super-fast and we had a car that was good on the long run sometimes, but never good on the short run. And then at the end it was horrible on the long run, so we just never really got the balance right. We were good in the day, but when we got to night time all hell broke loose for us. We're on to the next one."