Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report

July 14, 2018

Track:                Kentucky Speedway
Race:                 Quaker State 400
Date:                 July 14, 2018
No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
: 4th
Stage 1: 18th   
Stage 2: 15th
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 38
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-169)

  • Brad Keselowski endured an up-and-down race in Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, but he and the team persevered to score a third-place finish, their fifth top-five finish of the year.
  • After starting the race from the fourth position, Keselowski maneuvered his way into the second position before the team's first pit stop of the day at lap 39. A solid stop by the Discount Tire pit crew seemed to have put their driver back on track in the same position, but Keselowski was penalized on his pit road exit.
  • The resulting pass-through penalty dropped Keselowski to 19th in the running order and he would only race his way to 18th before the end of the first, 80-lap stage.
  • The second, 80-lap stage began with Keselowski in the 18th position, but after tire pressure adjustments by crew chief Paul Wolfe his car came to life and he was able to move up near the top 10 before another pit stop on lap 111.
  • Several teams elected to take only two tires during this pit cycle while the No. 2 crew changed all four for Keselowski. He would return to the track in the 15th position where he would finish the second stage.
  • The pit stop between the second and final stages allowed Wolfe to call for a two-tire stop as Keselowski noted that he needed to find a way to pick up some track position. As a result of this call, the three-time race winner restarted from the lead for the 107-lap stage.
  • Keselowski would hold the top spot until lap 207 before being passed by eventual race winner Martin Truex, Jr. Just after relinquishing the top spot, the final caution of the day came out to give the No. 2 team a final pit stop opportunity. Keselowski would restart sixth after the pit stop, but would work his way into third place before taking the checkered flag.

"It was a good call from my crew chief, Paul Wolfe, to take two tires towards the end of the race. We had better speed than we've had at the mile-and-a-halves, but not enough to run with the 78. He eventually got by us there and I thought we might have had a shot at it if we could have restarted fourth there, but we kind of cycled back to sixth and it wasn't enough to be able to make something happen there. All in all, a decent day. I hate that I kind of dug a hole early in the race with the speeding on pit road. We were just racing the 18 off pit road and tried to get a little bit too much, but we'll take this and hopefully build off of it for the mile-and-a-halves in the Playoffs. It's going to be really important and I'm looking forward to next week in Loudon. I think we'll be really good there."
No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
: 7th
Stage 1: 4th
Stage 2: 3rd
Finish: 2nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 1
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 10th (-253)

  • Ryan Blaney started from seventh position in Saturday night's 400-mile race at Kentucky Speedway.
  • Shortly after the drop of the green flag, Blaney moved his way quickly into the top-five, clicking off laps in Stage 1. He reported the balance of his DEX Imaging Ford Fusion was tight in and loose off. On the first round of service on lap 40, Blaney took four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Those adjustments didn't help the initial fire-off speed, but provided better security off the corners as the run progressed.
  • Blaney would bring home a fourth-place finish in stage 1. During the stage caution, crew chief Jeremy Bullins called Blaney to pit road on lap 84. The DEX Imaging crew took four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment.
  • Stage 2 began on lap 87 and Blaney drove his way into the top-three on the restart. He would spend much of the next 70-plus laps trying to find a way around second-place runner Kyle Busch. He reported the DEX Imaging Ford started off tight and began to build on the loose side. Blaney continued to work with his on board track bar adjuster and the car went to the neutral side. He would finish stage 2 in the third-position. During the stage caution, the team took four tires, fuel and an additional air pressure adjustment for entry security.
  • Stage 3 began with several cars using different tire strategies to gain valuable track position. Blaney would restart outside the top-five, but would quickly work his way back to the front near the 300-mile mark of the race. He passed Kurt Busch for second and set his sights on leader Martin Truex Jr. Unfortunately the No. 78 car proved to be too strong and Blaney brought home a second-place finish. This was Blaney's best finish of 2018 and first top-five finish since Texas in April. He moved up one spot to 10th in the points standings.

"It's not a win. It's a positive, that's for sure. I hate it. I thought we were in a good spot there restarting fourth and Martin (Truex Jr.) struggled a little bit the first couple laps and I thought I could get by him, but just couldn't quite get a run on him. His car came in and mine kind of faded a little bit and he won the race. That stunk. I thought we had a shot at it tonight, but I'm really proud of the gains we made all race though, to be honest with you. I didn't think we were a second-place car at the beginning of the race, and we got a lot better throughout the night so Jeremy Bullins and everybody did a great job. I can't thank DEX Imaging and Ford and Menards enough for what they do. You said it, after the last few weeks we've had this is a very good positive for us. Hopefully, we can keep it going in the right direction."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
:  19th
Stage 1: 19th
Stage 2: 8th          
Finish: 10th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 5
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-151)   

  • Joey Logano started 19th in Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion. Throughout the opening run, Logano battled with dirty air as he worked forward to the top-15, reporting the Shell-Pennzoil Ford was a little free on entry while building tighter throughout on corner exit. Crew chief Todd Gordon elected to keep Logano on the track as other lead-lap cars pitted, running long in an effort to remain on the track at the Stage 1 break.
  • After remaining on track, Logano cycled to the lead, and would settle in to the third position on the opening lap of the second stage. By lap 97, Logano had settled into the eighth position while running on 13 lap older tires compared to the rest of the leaders.
  • With a caution flag at lap 109, crew chief Todd Gordon elected to bring Logano in for two right side tires. Logano was reporting the Shell-Pennzoil Ford as tight during the run, but he was unable to adjust the track bar due to a loose corner entry condition with another car tucked in behind.
  • Throughout the second stage, Logano reported that the Shell-Pennzoil Ford built tight through the stage, but he still couldn't use the track bar to adjust as it killed corner entry speed and made the car extremely aero-sensitive. Despite the slight handling struggles, the No. 22 team gained 11 positions from the end of the first stage to the conclusion of the second stage.
  • Throughout the first long run of the final stage, Logano was able to run solidly in the top-10, with the team making only a minor air pressure adjustment on the lap 209 pit stop. Logano would restart in the seventh position with 55 laps remaining, within the window of going the distance without another pit stop.
  • Following the stop, Logano reported that the handling of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford had swung to the loose side, something the team hadn't fought all night. Complicating matters was the fact that Logano also developed a vibration, similar to a loose wheel, but after reviewing the helmet cam footage, the team reassured him all lugnuts were securely fastened.
  • Logano battled the ill handling car throughout the remaining laps, ultimately bringing home a 10th place finish, a gain of nine positions from where the team started on a night where track position and clean air were critical.

"Yeah, it was something that we planned on doing if that first run went green, which it did, and it was something we were going to try to get track position that way.  Honestly, I thought at the beginning of the race we were probably better than we thought we'd be and were able to gain quite a few spots, and then the track was wider than we expected it to be. It rubbered out and the track was wide so it was harder to hold everybody off on the older tires.  We tried.  I don't think we got the best gain out of it.  We didn't lose any, so it was kind of a wash, and then after that it seemed we just kind of lost the handle the last run.  We were up there and maybe running in the top five and then the last run it took off super-loose and then at the end I was as tight as it could get.  I'm not exactly sure what happened there at the end, but overall we fought hard and got a top 10 out of it, which isn't where we want to be by no means, but it's consistency and we'll keep pushing hard with this Shell/Pennzoil Ford.  We have to get faster by the Playoffs.  We've got to keep pushing hard.  We're close in the points and we're hanging in on that part of it, but we've got to figure out how to get more speed in our race cars."