NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Report - Watkins Glen

August 7, 2016

Track:    Watkins Glen International 
Race:     Cheez-It 355 at the Glen
Date:     August 7, 2016  

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start:  12th
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 28
Points Position (behind leader): 1st
Chase Standing: 1st – Four wins in 2016

Recap: Brad Keselowski led the most laps in his Miller Lite Ford Fusion in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International, but a series of late-race misfortunes left him with third-place finish on a day when he was a driver that could contend for the win. After starting the race from the 12th position, Keselowski let the race settle in for the first few laps before beginning his assault towards the front of the field. It took him just 19 laps to move inside the top five before crew chief, Paul Wolfe, brought him down pit road under the green flag for left-side tires. Being one of the first cars to hit pit road meant that Keselowski made his way back on the track, deep in the field, in the 32nd position. Yet he showed tremendous patience while other competitors made their pit stops and was scored in the second position when all the green-flag pit stops finished cycling through. As the race moved past the halfway point, Keselowski began to show what his Ford could do as he quickly began turning the fastest laps on track, at times each one better than the previous. He assumed the lead on a lap 57 restart and held it until a lap 81 restart when he and the second-place driver, Kyle Busch, both slid through turn one due to oil dry still on the track. He was able to keep his Miller Lite machine inside the top-five for the remainder of the race, eventually giving himself a final shot at a win before making contact with the No. 78 of Martin Truex, Jr. However, Keselowski was still able to finish in the third position, his fourth career top-five finish at Watkins Glen.

Quote: "I thought we had a really good Miller Lite Ford Fusion and got pushed back on a couple of the restarts. I was trying to sort my way back to the front and just couldn't quite get there at the end. I got right up to the bumper of the 78 and couldn't do anything there. He made a move to get by the 11 on the inside and the 11 blocked him. I went high and the 78 went high and by then I was already deep in the corner and got into him and turned him. That was really unfortunate and the last thing I wanted to see. This track here, when you drive into the corner, you commit and sometimes you don’t know what will happen when you commit. The last thing I wanted to do was turn him."

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start:  7th
Finish:  2nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 8
Points Position (behind leader): 6th (-75)
Chase Standing: 9th – One win in 2016

Recap:  Joey Logano started seventh and finished second in a wild Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on Sunday afternoon. Logano entered the event looking for his second-consecutive weekend sweep on the historic road course and the weekend got off to a promising start as Logano claimed the victory in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 on Saturday afternoon. Logano wasted little time in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, working his way to the top-five in the first ten laps, then claimed the lead for the first time on lap 27 as the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion team stretched the first tank of fuel until lap 33. Unfortunately, Logano received a pit road speed penalty, as did other competitors on the first sequence, and the subsequent drive-through penalty would drop Logano to the 27th position. However, crew chief Todd Gordon remained steadfast to his race strategy and by lap 49 the team found themselves among the top-three cars. Logano was also aided by the wedge and air pressure adjustments made on the first stop as the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford was consistently running the fastest laps on the track. The team would make their final pit stop at lap 53 for fuel only and set the 26-year-old New England native up for the run to the checkers. Logano later received right-front damage on one of the late-race restarts and had to battle the aerodynamic disadvantage for the remainder of the race. However, multiple late-race restarts and determination would help bring the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion home in the second position.

Quote: "It was crazy any way you look at it. Typical Watkins Glen. I mean, it's just awesome, crazy racing, full contact. Just insane out there. So a lot of fun from the driver's seat and I'm sure the fans loved it as well in front of a sold?out grandstand. It was pretty cool when I pulled over for the red flag in front of the grandstands and I could hear just fans screaming and yelling and loving it. I thought, 'Man, this is really cool to be in the driver's seat right now.' Having those moments, I thought it was neat. Overall our car was really good today. Driver shot himself in the foot a little bit with getting some damage in the Bus Stop when we were working our way back through the field. Ripped the splitter up. That was kind of the beginning of the end. Really hurt our racecar through the fast parts of the racetrack, so through the "esses", the Carrousel, a little bit in 11. Didn't hurt us in the Bus Stop, that's where we were the fastest car. We got ourselves in position to win the race, but I didn't have the speed in the racecar to make it happen.  It wasn't anyone's fault but mine.  A little mad at that. Got close to that sweep again here at Watkins Glen, winning yesterday, getting second today. Just so close. Wish I could take one corner back out of the whole race and we'd probably be sitting in Victory Lane right now. I thought we were faster than the 11 through the parts that we needed to be early in the race to be able to beat him. Unfortunately, we're sitting here second. But not awful considering what our car looked like."