Team Penske NASCAR XFINITY Series Race Report

October 8, 2017

Track:   Charlotte Motor Speedway
Race:    NC Drive for the Cure 300
Date:     October 7, 2017          

No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang – Sam Hornish Jr.

Start:    31st
Finish:   2nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 200/200
Laps Led: 0
Owner's Points Position (behind leader): N/A

Recap: Sam Hornish Jr. started 31st and finished second in the No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang in Saturday night's NC Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Despite the deep starting position, the Defiance, OH native, wasted no time working his way forward at the drop of the green flag. In the opening 10 laps, Hornish wheeled the colorful PPG Mustang inside the top-20, reaching the 16th position before the first caution flag of the race at lap 28. Hornish reported the handling of his Mustang to be slightly loose on corner entry and tight in the center. Crew chief Brian Wilson elected to leave the PPG Ford on the track with only a handful of teams taking the opportunity to pit. Hornish continued his forward march during the remaining laps in the first stage, reaching the 10th position when a caution flag at lap 42 ended the stage. Wilson elected to adjust with wedge, also having the crew add tape to the nose to give Hornish more forward turn. When the second stage resumed, it was more of the same for the No. 12 PPG Mustang, consistently running the fastest lap times on the track while marching inside the top-five and finishing the second stage in the third position. The handling had swung to the free side on corner exit during the second stage, so Wilson elected to adjust with track bar on the second stop of the night. The No. 12 Team Penske crew gained a one position on pit road, allowing Hornish to restart on the front row for the beginning of the final stage. The No. 12 Mustang struggled on restarts, but after 10 laps proved to be the fastest car on the track. On the third pit stop of the night, Wilson elected to leave the car alone, servicing it with just four tires and fuel. Unfortunately, the track would take another swing, adding grip as the conditions continued to cool off, and Hornish would have to battle a car that was too tight. When the caution flag was displayed for the final time at lap 160, Wilson called the No. 12 PPG Ford into the pits for the final time, adjusting with track bar, and additional tape on the nose preparing for the sprint to the finish. Several of the lead lap cars had pitted on the lap 141 caution, which shuffled the No. 12 team to the ninth position on the ensuing restart. Again, wasting little time, Hornish charged forward, battling teammate Ryan Blaney for the second position where he would finish the night.

Quote: "I think if it had been anybody else other than my teammate or Bowman winning I'd probably been pretty disappointed with tonight for as fast as we were, but the fact that we stuck with it. The car was great. We needed long runs and didn’t have any early on in the race. Finally got the car adjusted right where we thought we needed to be and kind of overstepped it. On that last restart I kind of got stuck on the bottom and it also freed the car up a little bit right there too, knowing that we're gonna be back in traffic. It took us a little bit longer. The top lane rolled and the 2 and the 42 were able to make a lot of ground on us there early, and it was everything that Alex needed to be able to win and it was a bit of fighting for me to be able to get back second.  By the time I had a slip-up underneath the 22 car. I'm really glad we didn't end up getting together. I figured I kind of slid around the corner long enough that I figured I wasn't gonna correct until he was past me again, and made the right-rear tire mad and it took us about five or six laps to get that calmed back down, go back after him and just not enough time there at the end."

No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney

Start:    2nd
Finish:    3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 200/200
Laps Led: 38
Owner's Points Position (behind leader): 2nd (-8)

Recap: After an extensive rain delay at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS), Ryan Blaney finished the NC Drive for the Cure 300 in the second position, capturing his 34th career top-five finish. Blaney and the No. 22 Discount Tire team started the 200-lap event second after Saturday's qualifying session was rained out and the field was set by the rule book. During the first 45-lap stage, Blaney raced within the top three, battling a loose Ford Mustang. The first stage saw two cautions where Blaney communicated to his team the Ford had no turn or drive on take-off. Blaney would remain in the third position until the end of the stage. Crew chief, Greg Erwin called the third-generation-driver down pit road, under caution on lap 47 for minor adjustments to help tighten up the Ford and help on take-off. The 23-year-old would restart from the third position once the second stage started on lap 51. Shorty after, Blaney captured the second position making it three-wide. Over the course of the long run, Blaney's Ford became increasingly free, dropping to the fourth position by the end of the second stage on lap 90. Blaney raced his way up to the second position on lap 97 before the race fell under caution once again on lap 104. During the restart, Blaney would battle hard for position, almost capturing the race lead before settling into the second position. Erwin called Blaney down pit road on lap 123 for a scheduled pit stop under caution. The No. 22 team won the race off pit road and Blaney would restart as the race leader with 74 laps remaining. The race would see yet another caution on lap 147, gambling the caution would come out again, Erwin elected to stay out while other teams came to pit road. Blaney would go on to lead 38 laps before the caution flew again on lap 160. Blaney came to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and minor adjustments on lap 162. Blaney would restart eighth and drive up to the second position before falling back to third at the end of the race. Blaney’s third place finish was his fourth top-10 finish in six races at CMS.

Quote:  "I thought we had a pretty decent car. We started off great. I thought we lacked a little bit of speed and I was real loose. We did a pretty good job of getting it tighter to where it might be a little bit better.  We got the lead on pit road, which is good. They did a great job on pit road all night with really fast stops and that helped out a bunch.  On that last restart we got running there and some cars stayed out. They gambled a little bit and we got stuck behind the 5 a little bit. The 42 did a good job. He got a big run on the top and drove away from us. He was better than us that last run anyway. We lost a little bit of speed there. It stinks we couldn't have won that race, but I thought we learned a little bit and hopefully we can apply that tomorrow."