Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report-Talladega

October 15, 2017

Track:                  Talladega Superspeedway  
Race:                   Alabama 500  
Date:                   October 15, 2017

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 6th
Finish: 1st (24th-career NASCAR Cup Series victory)
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 188/188
Laps Led: 7
Point Standings (behind leader): 2nd (-19 – Advances to the Round of Eight with the win)

Recap:  Making his 300th NASCAR Cup Series start, Brad Keselowski somehow overcame radio problems and made it through several multi-car accidents to take the win in Sunday's Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and, in the process, lock himself  and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion into the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs.  Keselowski started the race in the sixth position and quickly raced his way into the top-five, a position he would find himself in all afternoon long. As is typical at restrictor-plate tracks, Keselowski looked for his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano and other fellow Ford drivers and tried to make moves to keep him in position to stay up front. He was able to outduel Logano during a one-lap dash to win stage one and followed that up with a second-place finish to end stage two. That is when things got interesting for the former Champion. Before the start of the final stage, the radio antenna on the top of the Miller Lite Ford broke off, which cut out communication from Keselowski to his spotter and crew chief. The Michigan-native continue to race with minimal radio communication despite trying to fix it on several ensuing pit stops. Finally, on lap 157, crew chief Paul Wolfe called Keselowski to the pits and the team replaced the antenna, allowing Keselowski to have regular communication with his team for the final 30 laps. That communication came in handy as Keselowski was able to miss several multi-car accidents, which ultimately took out several key contenders. Keselowski then mastered the draft over the final laps and used a push from Logano to grab the top spot coming to the checkers. The win, the 24th of his career, locked Keselowski into the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs with one race remaining in the Round of 12.

Quote: "This is still sinking in. It is a special place to get to race and a special place when you win here. It was really a collaborative effort with the team and getting a real fast car and making the right moves as a driver and a lot of help from up above with staying out of those wrecks. It really takes all three and we had them all today. It was one of those crazy days. I think we have seen that at the plate tracks this year. A lot of attrition. Everything that could happen to us today did happen. From the radio problem to coming from the back a couple of times, we just were up against it today.  Thankfully, with the moves we were able to make and the help of got from my spotter (Joey Meier). We just stuck with it and we were able to win. It's nice to be locked into the next year, but then again, we still have work to do. We aren't going to be happy until we are racing in Homestead for a Championship."

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 3rd
Finish: 4th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 188/188
Laps Led:  59
Point Standings (behind leader):  17th (-2326)

Recap: Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion started third and finished fourth Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway despite suffering late race damage in a multi-car incident on the track's treacherous back straightaway. Logano, who had the dominant car on the afternoon, led the opening 13 laps of the 188-lap event before pitting under green flag conditions to setup the run to the end of the first stage. The team would elect to go with gas only on the first stop, cycling Logano back to the lead by lap 31. At the conclusion of the stage, Logano was scored second behind teammate and eventual race winner Brad Keselowski. On the second stop of the afternoon, the team went with four tires, wedge and air pressure attempting to correct the loose condition Logano was facing. With strategies varied through the midsection of the event, the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford team wouldn't reassume the lead until lap 149, where Logano would lead until lap 170, bringing his total laps led to a race high 59. Unfortunately, while battling near the front of the field, Logano was shuffled four-wide and contact with the No. 6 Ford would set-off a multi-vehicle chain reaction incident that also collected Ford Performance teammate Ryan Blaney. The No. 22 crew would use several late race caution-flag periods to work on the damaged Fusion, preparing for the stretch run to the finish. On the final restart, Logano was able to work forward from the 11th position, linking up with Keselowski and propelling him on to a victory, which would secure a Round of Eight birth for the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford.

Quote: "Brad and I worked well together and we were able to help him win the race today, which was good. I wish we could have won the race. I had a good enough run, but the damage and all – even though the guys did a good job fixing it – you could tell the speed wasn't there as much at the end, but we were still able to pick up enough to keep some speed in it and get a fourth-place finish. It's a good way to recover after a crash to finish fourth.  I guess you should be proud of that, but I'm still mad I didn't win. I wanted to win this one really bad.  Anything besides winning right now hurts."