Sprint Cup Series Race Report - Atlanta

February 28, 2016

Track:    Atlanta Motor Speedway
Race:     Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Date:     February 28, 2016
No. 2 Autotrader Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start:  17th
Finish: Ninth
Status: Running
Laps Completed:  330/330
Laps Led:  0
Points Position (behind leader):  11th (-24)
Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Autotrader Ford team showed speed during Sunday's Fold of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS), but inconsistent handling during the event resulted in the 2012 series champion finishing ninth. After starting the race from the 17th position, Keselowski wasted little time in maneuvering his Ford inside the top 10 by the 25th lap. Stability is key to running well at AMS with the significant tire wear the track causes and stability was something that Keselowski fought all afternoon. He made liberal use of his in-car track bar adjustments, while crew chief Paul Wolfe prescribed numerous air pressure and wedge adjustments to help the issue. The adjustments had a positive effect on the handling over a short run, but began to fall off as the tires began to wear. Following a green-flag pit stop at lap 150, the No. 2 Ford came to life as Keselowski drove was able to make up a lot of track position by turning the fastest laps of anyone. Unfortunately for the team the race featured many long, green-flag runs that left Keselowski with a lot of ground to make up. He did just that as he drove into the top five at laps 230, setting himself up for a shot to challenge for the win. However, as the handing on his machine began to go away, Keselowski lost a few spots over the remaining laps to settle for a ninth-place finish.
Quote: "We seemed to have real good short-run speed with the Autotrader Ford Fusion, but we didn't have the long-run speed that we needed and we didn't get a lot of short runs.  When we did, we were able to drive to the front and that was a lot of fun. I loved the way the cars drive with the lower downforce package. I understand that it takes more than my opinion to make the sport go round, but I thought it was awesome. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year with the potential this package has."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start:  26th
Finish: 12th
Status: Running
Laps Completed:  330/330
Laps Led:  0
Points Position (behind leader):  8th (-14)
Recap:  Joey Logano drove his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil to the front of the field in a hurry early in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but a mid-race penalty and lack of cautions kept the 25-year-old from contending, eventually coming home with a 12th-place finish.  Logano qualified an uncharacteristic 26th and had to fight his way through the field in the early going.  Logano was up to the challenge, racing into the top-10 by lap 30 and getting as high as fourth less than 100 laps into the event.  The Shell-Pennzoil Ford was strong on the long runs, which kept Logano at the front of the field for the first half of the race.  Unfortunately, things went south on lap 150 when, coming to pit road, Logano was assessed a commitment line violation, which resulted in a pass-through penalty.  Logano fell a lap off the pace and a lack of caution flags kept Logano from getting a shot to race for the beneficiary pass to get back on the lead lap.  Logano still ran lap times good enough to run with the leaders for the rest of the event, but only two cautions in the first 320 laps of the race kept him from getting back on the lead lap.  Prior to a green-white-checker finish at the end, Logano took the wave around to get back on the lead lap in hopes of another quick caution, but had to settle for a 12th-place finish.  After two events, Logano sits eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.
Quote:  "I had a Shell-Pennzoil Ford that was really fast and probably capable of a top-five, but I just lost focus for a second and missed my entry point of pit road.  I was trying to get everything set in my car and by the time I looked up I was past my point and I center-punched the cone.  That pass-through penalty is what set us down one lap and when you have green flag runs that are a couple hundred laps long, it never gives you an opportunity to get the lucky dog to get back on the lead lap.  One mistake cost us a possible top-five finish and it felt like every bit of a top-five car, and maybe even better than that.  I'm just frustrated with myself after that one because we don't make mistakes very often on this 22 team and I guess for making a mistake and having a 12th-place finish isn't that bad, but it kind of hurts when you know you had a better car."