Keselowski finished 1st while Logano finished 18th
Race winner Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Ford
Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team started the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) from the 23rd position on Saturday night. The reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion patiently began to work his way through the field at the start of the event while dealing with the “dirty air” from other cars that comes with running in the back of the pack. Keselowski was running in the 14th position before he visited pit road under the green flag at lap 73 for a four-tire stop with no adjustments. A great pit sequence by driver and pit crew resulted in the team gaining six spots as the pit stops cycled through. Shortly after getting back up to speed, Keselowski radioed that he had a severe vibration in one of the rear tires. Fortunately, a caution flat at lap 83 gave the team an opportunity to make another four-tire pit stop to solve the vibration. Unfortunately, Keselowski pulled out of his pit stall with the jack still underneath the No. 2 Ford. He had to come back down pit road to have it removed, while serving a penalty for leaving the stall with pit equipment. Despite restarting at the rear of the field, Keselowski was pleased with the handling of his Miller Lite machine as it displayed great long-run speed. He raced his way to the top spot before making a pit stop at lap 134. After his pit service, Keselowski again showed the strength of his Ford as he continued to make up valuable track position. After a lap 278 pit stop for four tires and fuel, crew chief Paul Wolfe informed Keselowski that he was a couple of laps short of making it to the end of the race. Fortunately, a lap 307 caution eliminated the need for Keselowski to go into a fuel-save mode and it allowed him to race hard for the win. Wolfe called for air pressure and wedge adjustments, along with four tires instead of two, on the team’s final pit stop. Keselowski restarted the race in the sixth position, and one of the first cars on four fresh tires. Following a hard-fought battle with Kasey Kahne, Keselowski took the lead for the final time at lap 326 and held on for his 10th career NSCS victory. The victory was Keselowski’s first in the Cup Series with Ford Racing and his first NSCS win at CMS. With the victory, Keselowski moved up one spot to 14th in the NSCS driver’s point standings.
HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO BE THERE AT THE END WHEN IT MATTERED TO PICK UP THE WIN?
“It was just a never-give-up night. We had a lot of struggles tonight. We didn’t qualify well, but we kept working our way forward. I knew we had a good Miller Lite Ford Fusion. I’m not sure we were as good as the 48 or the 5 (cars). I never got to really race them until the end and they had two tires, so I think we were probably pretty even. When (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) made the call to take four tires and I saw we were that close to the front, I knew we could get them.”
WHAT’S KEPT YOU POSITIVE DURING A TOUGH SEASON?
“I think when I look at Roger (Penske) and putting together the 22 Nationwide team and the success we’ve had over there, that re-instills confidence in myself. I think I look at some other things that have happened – the truck team runs really well, that makes me feel good – and I know too in the back of my mind that we’ve had strong runs with this car and with this team and we just haven’t finished it off enough times this year. You know it’s there. You know that all you have to do is put all the pieces together.”
Joey Logano, Penske Racing Ford
Joey Logano qualified the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Hertz Ford Fusion in the 12th position for Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With an average career finish of ninth at Charlotte, Logano knew from the start of the race that he and the team needed to work on the No. 22 Ford Fusion in order to get it to his liking. Logano radioed in that he had no drive off the corners and the car was really loose on corner exit, meaning he couldn’t drive the all-important high line at the 1.5-mile track. Logano fell to 20th position as the car was still handling extremely loose off the corners. Despite some big changes made during the first stop, the car’s performance didn’t really improve, which resulted in crew chief Todd Gordon calling for even bigger adjustments on the next stop. As the first 100 laps wore on, Logano was able to claw his way back up to 14th place. However, a missing lug nut during a round of pit stops forced Logano to make two trips down pit lane and restart at the back of the field. A long green-flag run then then caught Logano a lap down as the leaders set a torrid pace. For the remainder of the race, Logano fought an ill-handling car and tried to get back on the lead lap. For nearly 70 laps, Logano held onto the free pass position but he was never able to catch a caution when he needed one to return to lead-lap racing. Logano was able to race back to 16th but he remained one and eventually two laps down to the leaders as just a handful of cars were on the lead lap. As he was not able to make it to the end of the race on fuel, Logano couldn’t take the wave around during a late-race caution. After he restarted in the 20th position, Logano was able to pick up two additional positions before the checkered flags waved, giving him an 18th place finish. With the result, Logano has now finished inside the top 20 in nine of his 10 career NSCS starts at Charlotte. Logano now sits 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, less than 20 points out of the sixth position
YOU HAD A TOUGH RUN. WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOUR RACECAR?
“It seems like you end up saying this a lot sometimes, but we really had a car that was better than where we finished. I think we had about an eighth to 10th-place car tonight and we finished 18th with it. That is frustrating and we need to work on making these days better. We were just too far off at the start of the race and by the time we were able to get the car to my liking, we were already a couple of laps down. Then, you get no cautions and you just don’t have the chance to make those laps up. We had some slow pit stops and a few problems in the pits and that put us down a couple of spots too. It was just not a very good night for the Shell-Pennzoil/Hertz Ford. We need to get by this and focus on the next race. But we need to be better. You only have a limited number of races at the end of the year and you have to make every one of them count. Now we have five more and we have to make the most out of those five.”