NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Report - Axalta 400

June 7, 2016

Track:    Pocono Raceway
Race:     Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400
Date:     June 6, 2016

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start:  1st – 1st pole position of 2016
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 160/160
Laps Led:
Points Position (behind leader):  3rd (-48)

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team overcame two potentially-disastrous obstacles to finish third in the Axalta "We Paint Winner" 400 at Pocono Raceway on Monday afternoon. After qualifying for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position of 2016 – and the 12th of his career – Keselowski and the rest of the field had to wait a day to get the race going as rain showers cancelled the show for Sunday afternoon. When the green flag was finally waved Keselowski surrendered the top spot to his teammate, Joey Logano, before eventually settling into the second position. On lap 24, just as the race was to restart following a caution period, the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford was shown the black flag for an unapproved body modification on the team's first pit stop of the race, resulting in Keselowski making two trips down pit road as a penalty, one to fix the modification and the other to serve the mandatory green-flag pass through since the black flag was shown under caution. With determination in his voice, Keselowski quickly began working his way back through the field. It took most of the race but he moved into the top 10 at lap 101 to put his team back in contention for the win with the help of solid pit stops by the Miller Lite crew. While running in the sixth position at lap 123, Keselowski was hit in the right-rear quarter panel by a spinning Jimmie Johnson. Amazingly the damage was not severe and he was able to continue without coming down pit road for repairs and giving up a lot of track position. Over the remaining laps of the race, Keselowski appeared to have the fastest car of anyone in the top five. He was able to make his way around the No. 24 of Chase Elliott for third place, but he ran out of laps before he could seriously challenge for the victory. However, Keselowski moved up to third in the point standings, 43 markers out of the lead.

Quote: "All in all, a pretty decent weekend for us with the Miller Lite Ford and Team Penske.  I'm proud of that effort to run up front and have another solid weekend.  We've had a lot of those lately and it doesn't go unnoticed by me.  I'm really proud of my team for those efforts.  We just want to keep it going.  I want to turn them into wins, but, all in all, a lot to be proud of and we’ll keep on going.  We go to Michigan next week and hopefully we can get those two more spots."

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 2nd
Finish: 5th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 160/160
Laps Led: 17
Points Position (behind leader):  8th (-80)

Recap:  Joey Logano started second and finished fifth in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion on Monday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. Logano jumped out to the early lead over teammate Brad Keselowski and led the race's opening 17 laps. At the competition caution, crew chief Todd Gordon stayed with the pre-race strategy of taking four tires while other teams employed two-tire stops and some teams remained on the track. Logano immediately began reclaiming the track position, however, contact with another competitor on a subsequent restart would cost the team valuable track position. Under caution at Lap 62, Gordon called the Shell-Pennzoil Ford to pit road to repair the damage to the left-rear quarter panel and bumper area. After restarting at the tail-end of the lead-lap competitors, Logano again found himself working to regain track position. The team worked themselves back to the top five on Lap 99 and ran inside the top-10 until they pitted at Lap 119. Again, the team went with four tires while others took two tires or remained on the track. Logano restarted 17th but quickly worked inside the top-10 within three laps, and then back to the top-five where he ran until the checkered flag.  

Quote: "We battled hard today. I got us behind by getting that damage. I rallied back a little bit with some good pit strategy by Todd Gordon and the guys on the box. We were able to rally through on the restarts. The restarts are fun. You win half of them and lose half of them. I had a couple winners and a few losers. Once you get through the restarts it kind of is what it is. It was a fuel mileage game at the end to try to save enough to stay where we were but not give up any spots. Nobody ran out though."