Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Charlotte

May 26, 2019

Track:                Charlotte Motor Speedway
Race:                 Coca-Cola 600
Date:                 May 26, 2019
No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 21st
Stage 1: 1st
Stage 2: 1st
Stage 3: 14th
Finish: 19th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 398/400
Laps Led: 76
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-69)
  • A late-race brush with the wall and spin derailed Brad Keselowski's chances for a solid finish in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600. Keselowski was running eighth when he brushed against the wall on lap 385 of the 400-lap, 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. On lap 392, just eight laps from the finish, Keselowski spun off Turn 4, bringing out the 16th and final caution. He made multiple pit stops for repairs during the yellow but returned to the track to collect a 19th-place finish. The driver of the Miller Lite Ford is fifth in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, 69 points behind leader Kyle Busch.
  • Keselowski started 21st in the Coca-Cola 600 and steadily worked his way through traffic during Stage 1. He climbed into the top-10 by lap 36, saying that his Miller Lite Ford was so much better than last week in the All-Star race. He avoided all five cautions that slowed the segment and beat Kevin Harvick in a five-lap dash to win Stage 1. He stayed out on the track during the stage caution and restarted in the lead when the race went green on lap 107.
  • The driver of the No. 2 Ford Mustang briefly dropped to third at the beginning of Stage 2, but rallied back to take the lead from teammate Ryan Blaney on lap 134. He led the next 29 laps before pitted on lap 163 during the eighth caution. Keselowski grabbed the led from William Bryon on lap 168 and led until lap 189. He pitted one lap later for four tires and adjustments and restarted 11th for the final eight-lap sprint to end the stage. Keselowski quickly motored his way through the field, grabbing the lead from Alex Bowman with two laps left to win Stage 2. His stage wins earned Keselowski two valuable playoff points.  
  • The complexion of the race for the Miller Lite team changed when Keselowski pitted during the stage caution on lap 204. A possible loose wheel forced his back to pit road before the race went green, shuffling Keselowski back to 11th-place for the restart on lap 208. The extra stop forced the team to put on a set of scuffed tires during their next stop on lap 253.Keselowski had his hands full for the remainder of the segment with a Ford Mustang that was too tight in traffic. He finished when Stage 3 concluded on lap 300. He made a stop for four tires on lap 303 and lined up 13th when the final stage went green on lap 307.
  • Keselowski clawed his way back into contention during the final segment of the race, surging up to fifth-place by lap 329. But on lap 354, he said he felt "a big push" and pitted under green one lap later, for four tires. On lap 361 the 15th caution came out, putting Keselowski a lap down. But fortunately he was first car one-lap down and received the free pass back onto the lead lap.  Keselowski pitted for four tires under the yellow and lined up 16th when the race went green on lap 365.
  • Keselowski was up to eighth position when he tagged the wall on lap 385. The contact led to a cut right-rear tire, which triggered his spin on lap 392, wiping away any hopes for a good finish. 
Quote: "We had power steering issues and I got into the wall late in the race. A few laps later I cut the right-rear tire and spun. That pretty much ended our night."       
No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 19th
Stage 1: 10th
Stage 2: 7th
Stage 3: 4th
Finish: 13th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 400/400
Laps Led: 2
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 9th (-152)
  • A late-race loose wheel spoiled a great run for Ryan Blaney in the 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the DEX Imaging Ford Mustang battled back late in the 400-lap, four segment event for a 13th-place finish.
  • Blaney started 19th and reported to crew chief Jeremy Bullins the DEX Imaging Ford was sliding the nose in the center and exit of the corners. He made his first pit stop of the night on lap 24 under caution for four tires and fuel along with a wedge and air pressure adjustment. The first 100-lap stage would see five caution periods and Blaney would make additional pit stops on laps 51 and 75. Both stops would see the crew work on air pressure to combat an aero tight situation in traffic. Blaney's lap 75 pit stop would see only tires and fuel for the DEX Imaging Ford. Stage 1 ended with a five-lap sprint and Blaney would restart on the bottom and manage a 10th place finish.
  • Blaney came to pit road under stage 2 caution on lap 103 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Unfortunately he was caught speeding forcing him to restart at the tail of the field. To make up track position and get on equal tires, both Blaney and teammate Brad Keselowski would remain on track during the caution on lap 128. Blaney would take the lead four laps later from teammate Keselowski, only to give it back two laps later. Blaney would continue to lose spots to the fresher tires of the cars that pitted on the lap 128 caution period. He would get a break when the caution flew on lap 162. He would pit for four tires, fuel along with a track bar and pressure adjustment and piece of tape on the nose. The ninth caution of the day flew on lap 190 and Blaney would come to pit road for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. The restart saw Blaney get bottlenecked on the bottom line. He managed some late moves to bring home a seventh-place finish in stage 2. Blaney would remain on-track during the stage 2 caution.
  • Stage 3 would see the High Point, N.C. native utilized his track position to run inside the top-five. He reported the balance of the DEX Imaging Ford was tight. A lap 252 pit stop saw the No. 12 team make a four tire stop, along with a wedge and air pressure adjustment and additional piece of tape on the nose. Blaney would try to find his way around Chase Elliott for third, but would settle for a fourth-place finish when stage 3 concluded on lap 300.
  • Under the stage 3 break, Blaney pitted on four tires, fuel and additional air pressure adjustment to help with center turn. For much of the final stage, Blaney raced inside the top-three battling Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott and teammate Joey Logano. He reported the balance of his car was neutral for much of the run, but began to go the tight side as run continued. He would visit pit road under the 15th caution of the race on lap 361.
  • Blaney would battle during the final 35-lap sprint to the finish. Unfortunately riding in a solid third-place, Blaney was forced to come to pit road on lap 392 for a wheel that worked itself loose. He managed to stay on the lead lap, but lost all track position. Once racing resumed, Blaney would gain some positions back, but would cross the line 13th at the race's conclusion. Blaney now sits ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings.
Quote: "We had a pretty good DEX Imaging Ford tonight. I felt like we had a shot at Martin (Truex Jr.) and Joey (Logano) late. Unfortunately a late race issue with a loose wheel ruined our night."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Start:  7th
Stage 1: 7th
Stage 2: 10th
Stage 3: 8th                                  
Finish: 2nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 400/400
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (Behind First): 2nd (-6)
  • Joey Logano started Saturday night's Coca-Cola 600 from the seventh position in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. Unfortunately, Logano would drop out of the top-10 and then out of the top-20 by lap 18 as he battled an extremely tight Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. A caution flag at lap 22 would provide an opportunity for the Shell-Pennzoil crew to make a major wedge adjustment and air pressure adjustment on the first stop of the race.
  • On the second run of the race, the Shell-Pennzoil Ford fired off a little loose, but then took a swing back to the tight side after 10 laps. Logano reported at lap 48 under caution that he was a three-and-a-half tight. During the second pit stop, the team elected to adjust with four rounds of track bar and another sizable air pressure adjustment.
  • On the third run of the race, Logano reported that the handling of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang had gone to the loose side slightly. A caution flag at lap 72 would set the stage for another round of pit stops and adjustments for the 22 team. The call would be for air pressure back out from the previous stop. Logano rallied from outside the top-20 to finish the first stage in the seventh position.
  • Early in the second stage, the caution flag would fly again, prompting the 22 team to remain on track as they'd already used four sets of Goodyear Racing tires. Unfortunately, after restarting third, Logano dropped back outside the top-20 to the 23rd position by lap 144. On a cycle of green flag stops, Logano dropped two laps down, regaining one and then waiving around on the next caution flag.
  • With a caution with 12 laps remaining in the second stage, Logano would return to pit road for a two-round track bar adjustments and four tires, returning to the track for an eight-lap shootout finish the stage. Using the adjustments, Logano rallied back forward to the ninth position before the end of the stage.
  • Logano ran inside the top-five for the first time of the evening in the opening laps of the third stage before dropping to sixth as he reported the handling taking a swing back to the tight side after being good during the first 40 laps. At the end of the third stage, Logano reported the balance was as close to neutral as it had been all night, being only slightly loose up top and a little tight on the bottom groove.
  • On the start of the final stage, Logano moved from the tenth position, to fifth before a quick caution bunched the field up for another restart. In the later stages of the final stage, Logano moved solidly inside the top-five. A caution with 42 laps to go set the stage for teams to potentially make their final stops of the night.
  • Logano would restart sixth after pitting from fourth, but quickly rally his way into the second position, trailing only the No. 19 of Martin Truex Jr. A caution with nine laps remaining brought the leaders back to pit road, with Logano returning to the track in the fifth position. Surviving a wild restart, Logano raced back to second, falling just short of his first win in the Coca-Cola 600.
Quote: "If you'd have told me at lap 20 we'd finish second I'd have taken it. Obviously it's disappointing when you're that close to winning the Coca-Cola 600 and come up just short, but the team kept fighting all night and made solid adjustments, took some big swings at the handling of our Shell-Pennzoil Mustang. We'll build on that and go to Pocono next week."