NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Report - Darlington

September 5, 2016

Track:     Darlington Raceway
Race:      Bojangles Southern 500  
Date:      September 4, 2016

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start:    2nd
Finish:   9th
Status:   Running
Laps Completed: 367/367
Laps Led: 47
Points Position (behind leader): 2nd (-43)
Chase Standing: 1st – Four wins in 2016

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 throwback Miller Lite Ford Fusion team came into Sunday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway with high hopes of grabbing a win in the marquee event, but an issue with loose left-rear wheels resulted in a ninth-place finish. After starting the race from the second position due to the cancellation of qualifying because of rain showers on Friday, Keselowski maintained that spot throughout the first 95 laps of the race. He radioed to crew chief, Paul Wolfe that he needed more rear stability and Wolfe began to adjust air pressure and/or wedge on many pit stops throughout the night to help his driver around the tough Darlington oval. At lap 95, Keselowski moved his Miller Lite machine into the top spot and he held that until lap 139 when the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick was able to get by as Keselowski nearly made contact with the outside wall as his Ford continued to build looser over the course of a run. The initial wheel vibration came a lap 187 and Keselowski immediately made his way to pit road for four fresh tires. Unfortunately, long-term damage was done to the wheel studs and this was an issue that would arise on two more occasions. Each time Keselowski would lose a lap on pit road, but he would race his way into the Lucky Dog position to get each lap back under the ensuing caution. As the race moved into the final 100 laps, Keselowski was still turning some of the fastest laps on the track, specifically late in a run, seemingly having the speed to contend for a win. Once the wheel issue was diagnosed on a lap 301 pit stop the Miller Lite crew made the necessary repairs to ensure it wouldn't happen again. Unfortunately, the laps wound down before Keselowski could make his way back to the front of the field. The finish marked Keselowski's fourth top-10 finish at Darlington in eighth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.  

Quote: "It was an up and down night for us out there tonight with the Miller Lite Fusion. We fought real hard but didn't get the finish out of it that we wanted. We had to fight through a lot of adversity out there tonight. Darlington will do that to you. I am proud of my team for that. They never stop fighting."

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start:  5th
Finish: 5th
Status: Running
Laps Completed:  367/367
Laps Led:  0
Points Position (behind first): 3rd (-88)
Chase Standing: 9th (one win in 2016)

Recap:  Joey Logano started fifth and finished fifth in the 1996 Throwback Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in Sunday evening's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Logano started in the fifth position after qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather. At the start of the race, Logano dropped to the bottom half of the top-10 struggling with a loose handling Ford Fusion. However, as the first run continued, Logano began reclaiming lost positions and working back to the top-six before pitting for four tires. The handling continued to be loose during the second run and crew chief Todd Gordon called for more adjustments on the second pit stop. When the first caution of the race flew at lap 95, Logano, like many of the leaders found himself trapped a lap down as pit stops had not fully cycled through. The majority of the field took the "wave around" and regained the lost lap. Throughout the remainder of the event, Logano proved to have one of the best cars on long runs, and the crew delivered solid pit stops in the closing stages of the event. Logano would close out the event in the fifth position, marking his second consecutive top-five finish in the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Quote: "Yeah, it just doesn't matter if it isn't a win. At this point I guess momentum means something so I guess something matters. We were the fastest car on the long run every time. We hit a lot of short runs at the end and that would kill us. I lost two or three spots every restart for the first five or six laps and then it would kick in and off I would go. I was fighting to get them back. My teammates were fast and we leaned on them and got our Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion better, to the point we could have won I think if we ran 100 laps straight at the end."