Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report – Darlington

eam Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report

Track:                Darlington Raceway

Race:                 Toyota 500

Date:                 May 20, 2020

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No. 2 PIRTEK Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski

Start: 8th

Stage 1: 16th

Stage 2: 14th

Finish: 4th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 208/208

Laps Led: 7

Point Standings (behind first): 6th (-67)

Notes: 

  • Brad Keselowski scored a fourth-place finish in the rain-shortened Toyota 500 Wednesday evening at Darlington Raceway, for his best finish and second top-five result of the 2020 season. A gusty call by crew chief Jeremy Bullins late in the event, paired with a timely caution flag, gave Keselowski the race lead and propelled him into contention for a win. The driver of the PIRTEK Ford Mustang is now sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 67 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
  • Keselowski started Wednesday’s race eighth and he had his hands full with an ill-handling Mustang throughout Stage 1. He was also squeezed into the wall while racing Ryan Newman on lap 33 but he overcame those struggles to finish 16th when the segment concluded on lap 60. He pitted for wedge and track bar adjustments during the stage caution on lap 63, while the No. 2 crew also made repairs to the right-rear of the Ford Mustang. Keselowski restarted 25th when the race went green on lap 68.
  • During Stage 2, Keselowski gained and lost track position twice following pit stops and he continued to wrestle with the balance on the PIRTEK Mustang. He finished 14th when the stage concluded on lap 125 and he pitted during the stage caution for four tires, plus wedge and air pressure adjustments. Keselowski restarted 16th when the third and final segment began on lap 132.
  • Good fortune smiled on the PIRTEK team during Stage 3. Keselowski climbed his way into the top-10 on lap 166. As a sequence of green flag pit stops began on lap 174, Bullins made the call to keep his driver on the track. Keselowski cycled into the race lead on lap 176 and five laps later the caution flag came out, which gave Keselowski much-needed track position. He made his final stop for four tires during the 10th caution on lap 196 and he restarted eighth when the race went green three laps later. He worked his way through traffic and up to fourth position when Chase Elliott spun on lap 202 to cause the final caution. Moments later, a light rain began to fall and it quickly intensified, soaking the track and ending the race at lap 208.

Quotes: “I thought we were in a really good spot. We had made kind of an aggressive, bold move to stay out on the long run there and it was looking like it was going to pay off.  The yellow came out and we hit pit road and lost a few spots there, which was a bummer, but we cycled back to fourth right when the next caution came out and were in position to have the optimum lane and be behind a car that had older tires.  I was licking my chops, but the rain never gave us a chance. Just part of the way it goes.  We weren’t the fastest car today, but I thought we persisted and put ourselves in a spot to potentially steal a race win with our PIRTEK Mustang and just came up a tiny bit short.”

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No. 12 Menards/Moen Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney

Start: 5th

Stage 1: 3rd

Stage 2: 33rd

Finish: 21st

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 208/208

Laps Led: 0

Point Standings (Behind First): 11h (-90)

  • A strong early start for Ryan Blaney and No. 12 Menards/Moen Ford Mustang was derailed by an unscheduled pit stop in Wednesday night’s Toyota 500 at the Darlington Raceway. Blaney fought to get back on the lead lap before the race was called 20 laps from the finish, which resulted in a 21st-place finish.
  • The field was inverted following Sunday’s 400-mile race Darlington, which gave the High Point, N.C. native the fifth-place starting position. By lap 10, he worked his way up to second after the first round of pit stops on lap 27. After he was eventually passed by Martin Truex Jr. for the runner-up spot, Blaney finished Stage 1 in third place.
  • As stage 2 began, Blaney said the Menards/Moen Ford was on the tight side, especially coming off turn 4. Crew chief Todd Gordon made multiple changes during the opening segment of the race, including air pressure, track bar and tape on the nose of the No. 12 Ford Mustang.
  • Nearing the conclusion of Stage 2, Blaney’s car got loose and made hard contact with the turn 4 wall which caused an unscheduled pit stop for repairs. After Blaney returned to the track he brought home a 33rd-place finish in Stage 2.
  • Blaney and the Menards team continued to battle back and they returned to the lead lap under the final caution of the race on lap 202. Unfortunately, the race never returned to green flag conditions as rain halted the event for good on lap 208.
  • Blaney is now 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 90 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.

Quote: “I’m really proud of my No. 12 Menards/Moen team. We made big progress from where we were on Sunday. Unfortunately, I got loose off turn 4 and made contact with the wall. Darlington has been tough on our team today and Sunday, but I’m looking forward to racing in Charlotte this coming Sunday.”

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No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano 

Start:  3rd

Stage 1: 5th

Stage 2: 9th

Finish: 6th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 208/208

Laps Led: 0

Point Standings (Behind First): 2nd (-34)

     

Notes:

  • Joey Logano started third and finished sixth in Wednesday night’s Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. Logano had a night full of uphill track position battles as multiple early pit stops set the No. 22 back in the running order while the team adjusted the handling of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford. Once the performance of the car improved, Logano marched forward and reached the sixth position in the closing laps before rain brought an end to the race, 20 laps short of its full distance.
  • After starting third, Logano moved to the lead for the first time of the race at Lap 10 and led the race until the competition caution period at lap 25. Throughout the opening run, Logano battled a tight-handling condition, which prompted crew chief Paul Wolfe to make air pressure and track bar adjustments on the first stop of the race. Unfortunately, the combination of the adjustments and the changing track conditions made the No. 22 Ford too loose on the second run of the race as Logano finished fifth at the end of the first stage.
  • Logano started the second stage from the ninth position but was shuffled back to 13th after fighting the losing battle of the inside restart line. The team elected to pit again when the caution flag was displayed five laps into the run. The team restarted 22nd and rallied forward to 15th with 20 laps remaining in the second stage before the caution flag was displayed again.
  • Through the second stage, Logano battled track position and dirty air, but was able to advance inside the top-10 to the ninth position before the stage concluded. During the final stage, Logano reported the balance on the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang was neutral and the team just needed to gain track position.
  • With 34 laps remaining, the caution flag was displayed for the 10th time, prompting the Shell-Pennzoil crew to return to pit road for four tires and a slight adjustment to its setup for a run to the finish. Logano was able to rally to the sixth position before a caution flag was displayed for an accident. Unfortunately, rain moved in over Darlington Raceway and brought an early end to Wednesday night’s race.

 

Quote: “Hard fought, blue collar night for us. A lot of the race came down to where you placed yourself. You needed the outside lane on restarts. A lot of it came down to strategy. We only had one long green flag run all day, which isn’t normal. Wish we’d have had one more restart in the Shell-Pennzoil Ford at the end.”

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