NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Report - Chicagoland

September 18, 2016

Track:    Chicagoland Speedway
Race:     Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400
Date:     September 18, 2016  

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start:  2nd
Finish: 5th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 270/270
Laps Led:  7
Points Position (behind leader):  2nd (-1)

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team started the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup off in solid fashion with a fifth-place finish in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The two-time winner at Chicago started the race from the second position after rain forced the cancellation of qualifying on Friday afternoon and the field was set by the NASCAR rulebook. Throughout the event, Keselowski was forced to deal with tight-handling condition in the center of turns 3 and 4, with a lack of forward drive on corner exit, and this issue began to show itself early in the race. However, despite not having the Ford quite to his liking, Keselowski never dropped out of the top five in the running order. Crew chief Paul Wolfe went to work on improving the handling – beginning with the first pit stop of the day at lap 52 – by liberally adjusting the air pressure and wedge to help the car turn in the center, but also to have the necessary grip on exit. The race featured several green-flag pit sequences and on three of those Keselowski was able to stay out and lead a total of seven laps on the day to earn a valuable bonus point. A caution at lap 263 provided the final dramatic moments of the day as Wolfe called Keselowski down pit road from the fifth position. After a routine stop of four tires, fuel and air pressure, Keselowski returned to the track in the ninth position as several cars elected to stay out. With just two laps remaining in the green-white-checkered finish, Keselowski was able to race his way into the fifth position at the checkered flag. Keselowski has now scored top-10 finishes in every Chase opener since the race moved to Chicagoland Speedway in 2011, the only driver in the series to do that.

Quote: "It was a solid day for the Miller Lite Ford Fusion team out there, nothing flashy. We ended up with a pretty decent finish. You want to have solid days on days where you aren't going to collect the win and that is what we had today. We kind of ran third to fifth most of the race and I think that is probably where we deserved to be."

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start:  9th
Finish:  2nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 270/270
Laps Led: 1
Points Position (behind leader): 5th (-7)

Recap:  Joey Logano started ninth and finished second in Sunday afternoon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the first race in the 10 race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Logano started ninth with the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion after qualifying was rained out on Friday afternoon, but he and crew chief Todd Gordon were confident they'd be able to improve on the starting position as the Shell-Pennzoil Ford, carrying the Team Penske 50th anniversary mosaic scheme, had shown solid speed throughout three practice sessions. When the green flag flew, Logano quickly began working toward the top-five, reaching the fifth position by lap 76. Once in fifth position, Logano and the Shell-Pennzoil team would find themselves there throughout most of the event as track position proved to be a premium on the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway. The Shell-Pennzoil crew would make seven pit stops on the day, making only minor adjustments to the No. 22 Ford as Logano described a car that was relatively neutral throughout the runs. Late in the race, Logano made a pass on teammate Brad Keselowski, moving him to the fourth position. When a late race caution flew, sending the race to overtime, Gordon called on the Shell-Pennzoil crew to execute the seventh and final pit stop. As they had all day, the team executed a flawless pit stop, gaining Logano a position over those who pitted. The team would restart in the sixth position as three cars remained on the track during the caution cycle. On the ensuing restart Logano would again demonstrate his prowess on one of the most difficult aspects of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, jumping to the second position before the checkered flag. While the second place finish was one-position short of the team's ultimate goal, it was a tremendous kickoff to the first round of the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Quote: "It was awesome execution by the 22 team. From every angle. We had a very fast race car and were awesome on pit road. You want to talk about pressure, not just Chase pressure, but coming down at the end of the race to try to win, they executed and had an awesome pit stop and beat the 11 out and ultimately gives us a second place finish. I couldn't be more proud of the team and the way we executed and attacked today. Overall very proud of what this 22 team was able to do all weekend.  Brought a very fast racecar, one that was capable of running top three for sure.  Just took us a while to get to that point. Then anytime a caution comes out late like that, that's the definition of pressure for a pit crew.  You're in the Chase, there's a lot on the line, you're coming down to the end to win a race.  They execute and beat the 11 off of pit road. Couldn't be more proud of the way they handled the pressure and the way the pressure made them better.  That's pretty neat.  It's a big thing to look forward to through the next nine weeks, we can handle it.  Showed it today.  Can't wait to get to New Hampshire and continue this momentum. Obviously a second?place finish gives us a decent cushion for the next couple races, but we got to keep attacking the way we are right now."