Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Phoenix

November 11, 2018

Track: ISM Raceway  
Race:   Can-Am 500 
Date:   November 11, 2018 
No. 2 Miller Lite Holiday Knitwear Ford – Brad Keselowski
Start: 12th
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 2nd
Finish: 2nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 312/312
Laps Led: 32
Point Standings (behind fifth): 8th (-11) 
  • Brad Keselowski had one of his best-career runs at Phoenix International Raceway, finishing second in Sunday's Can-Am 500, the penultimate race of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season.
  • Keselowski qualified his No. 2 Miller Lite Holiday Knitwear Ford Fusion 12th on Friday, but showed he had a lot more speed as soon as the race started, quickly driving into the top-10 just five laps into the event.
  • Keselowski was quiet on the radio and fast on the track, racing his way up to fifth at the end of stage one.  He told crew chief Paul Wolfe that his car was loose in and off on both ends of the track, to which Wolfe made an air pressure adjustment during the first pit stop on lap 78.
  • Keselowski was a constant threat inside the top-five for the rest of the afternoon in his specially-designed Miller Lite Ford.  He would finish stage two in the second position.
  • The former Cup Series champion look the lead for the first time following a round of pit stops on lap 232.  He would lead twice on the afternoon for a total of 32 laps.
  • Nearing the race's conclusion, Keselowski slipped to sixth when several competitors behind him pitted for four tires.  Another late-race caution allowed Wolfe to bring the No. 2 down pit road again for four fresh tires while the leaders stayed out
  • Over the final 20 laps, Keselowski was able to race from eighth to second with the fresh tires, but ultimately ran out of time to catch eventual race winner Kyle Busch. 
Quote: "We definitely made the right call to pit.  It just didn't quite work out.  Man, it was close.  I needed to pass the 10 like a lap earlier and we were all racing for all we've got.  It was close. I was definitely faster, it was just too much."
No. 12 PPG Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Start: 4th
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 8th                        
Finish:  34th
Status: Radiator
Laps Completed: 237/312
Laps Led: 3
Point Standings (behind fifth): 9th (-31)
  • Ryan Blaney rolled off from the fourth position in Sunday's Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway. The driver of the PPG Ford Fusion ran well in the opening laps of the 312-lap event. Despite being tight in the center of the turns, Blaney drove from fourth to third early.
  • After leader Kevin Harvick blew a tire, Blaney would come home second in stage one. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called a four tire change along with an air pressure adjustment during the first round of service on lap 78.
  • Blaney restarted fourth when stage two began on lap 80. He reported the PPG Ford had similar handling to the first stage. The second caution of the race came out with just 10 laps remaining in the stage. Bullins opted for a four tire change, while others stayed out or took two right-side tires. Blaney restarted outside the top-10 and managed to get through multiple three and four-wide scenarios, bringing the multi-colored Ford home eighth. During the stage break, Blaney and many of the cars who took four tires flipped strategy and took two right-side tires.
  • Armed with track position, Blaney raced inside the top-three for the majority of the final stage. He reported his car had gone to the very loose side on entry and tight in the middle.
  • After making what would be his final pit stop on lap 231, Blaney reported the engine's water pressure was at zero and was losing power. Blaney made an unscheduled stop on lap 237 and team was forced to retire the PPG Ford for the afternoon.
  • He was credited with a 34th-place finish and remains ninth in the MENCS standings.
Quote: "We had an awesome PPG Ford today at ISM Raceway today. This has been a track we've struggled at in the past, but we really hit on something good today. Unfortunately, we had a very freak thing happen with a lugnut going through our radiator that ended our day. I'm super proud of everyone on this team and can't thank them enough for all their hard work."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Start:  9th
Stage 1: 20th
Stage 2: 37th                           
Finish: 37th
Status: Accident
Laps Completed: 95/312
Laps Led: 0
Playoff Standings: 1st (+0)     
  • Joey Logano started ninth in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in Sunday afternoons Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway, the penultimate race of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Season. Logano entered the event as the only driver locked in to Ford Championship Weekend by virtue of his win at Martinsville Speedway in the first race of the Round of 8.
  • Through the first stage, Logano battled a Ford Fusion that was loose on corner entry and too tight to turn the center of the corner, resulting in him dropping outside of the top-10 by lap 21. On the first pit stop of the afternoon, crew chief Todd Gordon called for a major air pressure adjustment, two rounds of wedge with four tires and fuel.
  • Unfortunately, Logano's afternoon was cut short at lap 97 when a cut left rear tire resulted in contact with the front-stretch wall, ending the day for the Shell-Pennzoil crew before they were able to see if the adjustments on the first stop improved the handling of the Ford Fusion.
Quote: "There's nothing my team could do different, so there's really nothing to get depressed about. We're just staying confident and keeping our heads high because I still feel like we've got a great shot at winning this championship when we get to Miami. This doesn't affect anything. We'd be out. You can't afford to have that happen in this Round of 8. We won Martinsville and that's the reason why we're going to race at Miami. It is what it is. We'll move on from this. There's not much we can do about a tire going flat. It is what it is. We'll just go to Miami and race for a championship."