NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Darlington

September 3, 2018

Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Darlington

Track:   Darlington Raceway
Race:    Bojangles' Southern 500
Date:    September 2, 2018

No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 13th
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 2nd
Finish: 1st
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 367/367
Laps Led: 24
Driver Point Standings (behind leader): 6th (-253)


  • Brad Keselowski's first win of the 2018 season is one he won't soon forget. Keselowski grabbed the lead from Kyle Larson with 22 laps to go and never looked back to win the Bojangles' Southern 500 Sunday night at Darlington Raceway. The win was Keselowski's first in 10 races at Darlington and his 25th in 330 MENCS starts. The victory was the first for Team Penske at Darlington since Bobby Allison swept both races at the 1.366-mile speedway in 1975. This also marked the 498th win for the organization.
  • Keselowski qualified 13th but steadily worked his way through traffic to score a fifth-place finish when Stage 1 concluded on lap 100. He pitted during the stage caution on lap 103 for tires and adjustments. Keselowski restarted fifth when the second stage began on lap 107.
  • During Stage 2, the No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Ford Fusion continued to improve. He made three pit stops during the segment and each time crew chief Paul Wolfe was able to improve the handling of the No. 2 Ford Fusion. Keselowski scored a second-place finish in the stage and after a round of pit stops under caution on lap 203 restarted fifth when the race went green on lap 207.
  • In Stage 3, Keselowski ran comfortably inside the top-five and solid work by the No. 2 pit crew kept him in contention. He was running second on lap 313 when the fourth caution came out during a round of green flag stops. He pitted on lap 317 for four tires and adjustments and restarted second when the race went green on lap 322. A yellow on lap 330 would also shuffle the running order but it was the final caution on lap 345 and round of pit stops that was the turning point for Keselowski and the No. 2 team. He was running second behind Kyle Larson when he made his final stop on lap 346. The No. 2 crew won the race off pit road, giving Keselowski the lead for the final restart on lap 348. Once in the lead, he drove away from Larson and teammate Joey Logano over the final 19 laps, officially capturing his first Darlington victory by 1.224 seconds Keselowski also scored a weekend sweep at Darlington following his NASCAR XFINITY Series win yesterday.  

Quote: "I've got to give a lot of credit to my pit crew. We were running second and that last stop they nailed it and got us out in the lead. I thought Kyle (Larson) was really good, and he was flat-out flying. I know how it goes. In 2015 we led a bunch of laps and lost it on the last pit stop and today my team won it on the last pit stop. Then it was just about me hitting all my marks and not screwing it up. How cool is this winning in Rusty Wallace's Throwback car, the Southern 500, Throwback Weekend. It's probably the biggest win of my career, especially with it being a weekend sweep at one of the toughest tracks on the circuit, and today was no different. So I'm just really, really thankful of the team effort that it took to win this race. That last pit stop put me in position. Of course we had to capitalize on it, but we were in position, and the pit crew nailed it. I got a great launch out of the pit box. I couldn't have beat Larson by more than a foot. I knew if we could get out front, we were really strong on the short runs, not as strong as he was on the long runs, but I knew if we could get out front there with 20 or so to go that we could drive away. I was just praying every lap there wouldn't be a caution. We were setting sail, and just please, no caution, please, no caution, and it came through for us."

No. 12 Menards/Duracell Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney

Start: 21st
Stage 1: 19th
Stage 2: 19th
Finish: 15th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 367/367
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 9th (-283) 


  • Ryan Blaney started the Menards/Duracell Ford Fusion from the 21st starting position in Sunday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
  • Under threating skies, the start of the race was delayed one hour due to lightning in the area. When the race finally went green, Blaney's 2003 Jasper Motorsports throwback Ford moved quickly inside the top-20. He reported early to his crew that he was very tight on exit. The first round of green flag pit stops came on lap 47. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called for a wedge and air pressure adjustment to free up the bright yellow Ford. The changes did not make a significant difference and the torrid pace set by leader Kyle Larson put the Menards/Duracell Ford a lap down around the 70-lap point. Blaney would finish stage 1 in the 19th position.
  • The second round of service came on lap 104. The No. 12 team made multiple adjustments including wedge and air pressure to help with turn security.
  • The changes didn't help and Blaney began to slide the nose on the exit of the corners. He pitted again on a lap 120 caution and reversed both changes. He tried to race his way into the free pass position, but was not able to. He would finish stage 2 in the 19th position.
  • During the race's final stage, Blaney continued to fight a very tight car to start the run and very loose to finish. Additional pit stops on lap 248 and 286 saw the Menards/Duracell crew make different chassis and air pressure adjustments to try and get the car to Blaney's liking around the 1.366 mile egg-shaped oval.
  • The final 50-plus laps saw three caution periods. Blaney managed to use the waive-around and make up both laps he was in arear to the leader. In the end Blaney crossed the line in the 15th position, a net gain of six positions from the start. Blaney now sits ninth in the Cup Series points standings with one regular season race remaining.

Quote: "First of all congratulations to Brad Keselowski and the entire No. 2 team on an awesome win. Unfortunately we just couldn't seem to get the handling where we wanted it today at Darlington. I appreciate all the hard work my team put in this weekend and we'll focus on Indianapolis next week and playoff opener in two weeks at Las Vegas."

No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 8th
Stage 1:4th 
Stage 2:3rd                 
Finish: 2nd  
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 367/367  
Laps Led: 18
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-220)


  • Joey Logano started eighth in the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Fusion in Sunday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Logano's Pennzoil Ford Fusion paid tribute to Steve Park, racing the yellow and black scheme his fellow New Englander did during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  • Logano moved from the eighth position into the top-five within the opening four laps. Throughout the first run, Logano reported the Pennzoil Ford was building tighter, a condition crew chief Todd Gordon had anticipated occurring as the team had prepared for nighttime conditions.
  • On the first pit stop of the race at lap 48, the team made a four-tire stop adding only fuel with no further adjustments made. During the second run, Logano reported the car had started to free up, and at times, ran consecutive laps faster than the race leader, maintaining the fourth position. Through the second run, Logano's car took two steps to the free side, prompting an air pressure adjustment on the second stop of the race. Quick pit work netted the 22 team one position leaving pit road, lining Logano up in the third position to begin the second stage.
  • Through the first run of the second stage, Logano reported he was loose all around the speedway so the team elected to make a wedge adjustment on the third stop. However, a miscommunication on the call led to the adjustment going the wrong direction, positioning Logano for a fight until the next pit stop.
  • At lap 155, Todd Gordon called the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford to pit lane while running fourth, for two rounds of wedge and an air pressure adjustment, kicking off a cycle of green flag pit stops. As anticipated, Logano battled loose, but was able to maintain his track position.
  • With pitting at lap 247, Logano was able to use his fresh tires to close the gap to the race leaders, who pitted almost 20 laps later, cycling the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford to the race lead with 106 laps remaining.
  • The No. 22 Pennzoil Ford team continued to operate on a strategy opposite the race leader. When the caution flag was displayed on lap 312, Logano, Larson and Keselowski were the only cars on the lead lap because the yellow fell during a cycle of green flag pit stops.
  • The race began to turn into a short-run affair thanks to three cautions over the final 54 laps. A caution flag with 23 laps remaining would bring Logano back to pit road for four tires and an air pressure adjustment to help with a loose handling Pennzoil Ford Fusion.
  • With several late race restarts, Logano would claim the second position, helping to secure the Team Penske 1-2 sweep with teammate Brad Keselowski.  

Quote: "We had a good car. We were like a third-place car and whether it was a short run or a long run it didn't really matter. We made some adjustments there at the end to take off a little bit better, but I didn't get by the 42 in time to try to run down the 2. We were just matching lap times, so I couldn't catch him enough. I was just hoping lap traffic would screw it up enough to try to catch him, but one-two for Team Penske, that's pretty cool. Brad sweeping the weekend, that's awesome for him to do at Darlington. That's no easy feat, so congratulations to them. I just keep going back to two restarts to the end. I didn't have the best of restarts and if I got to second our pit stop was good enough to get us to the lead and give us control and that's what ultimately won Brad the race was his pit crew that got him out in the lead. Once he was out in the lead, he was going to be hard to catch. I had a lot of fun on the Throwback Weekend. It's really cool to drive Steve Park's car and give it a good run. I wish I got to celebrate with him in Victory Lane and hold up the 1 that he used to drive."