Track: Dover International Speedway
Race: Gander Outdoors 400
Date: October 7, 2018
No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 10th
Laps Completed: 404/404
Laps Led: 8
Playoff Standings (behind first): 7th (-47)
- Brad Keselowski’s chances for a top-five finish at Dover International Speedway were derailed in the closing miles of the race, leaving Keselowski with a 14th-place finish in the final rundown. The driver of the Wurth Ford Fusion is seventh in the MENCS driver standings, 47 points behind the leader and 21 head of the ninth-place cutoff position.
- A gutsy pit call by crew chief Paul Wolfe late in the race put Keselowski in the lead and gave him a chance to challenge for the victory. Keselowski was running fifth at the time of the third caution on lap 340. Two laps later Keselowski pitted for right-side tires and fuel, giving him the lead on lap 342. When the race went green, Keselowski settled into third-place and was racing Chase Elliott for the position when the final caution of the race waved on lap 393. Neither Elliott nor Keselowski pitted during the caution, moving them to the front row for the restart in lap 396, with Keselowski on the inside lane.
- As the field came off Turn 2, Keselowski was side-by-side with Aric Almirola in a tight battle for third-place. Almirola bounced off the outside wall and into the right-rear of the Wurth Ford, turning Keselowski sideways and into the path of Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman. Despite the damage, Keselowski finished on the lead lap.
- The bitter turn of events in the closing laps of the race spoiled an otherwise solid run by Keselowski and the No. 2 team at Dover. He started fourth and scored a sixth-place finish in Stage 1, a 120-lap segment, despite struggling to turn in the center of the corners. He was loose early in Stage 2 and tight late in the segment but scored a 10th-place finish when the segment ended on lap 240.
- Wolfe made more adjustments and improved the handling of Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford Fusion in the third and final stage. Keselowski ran among the top-five for much of Stage 3 and was in fifth position when the caution waved with just 61 laps to go.
Quote: “I thought we had a shot at a top three or four with our Wurth Ford Fusion. I was pretty confident they would wreck; I was just hoping we were going to be in front and I think I was about a foot from being in front of it. I felt like we were going to have a really great day to stay ahead of the cutoff, but we didn’t. I feel really good about next week in Talladega. We’ll see what we can do there and see how it goes.”
No. 12 PPG Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 7th
Stage 2: 12th
Laps Completed: 404/404
Laps Led: 0
Playoff Standings (behind first): 8th (-58)
- Ryan Blaney entered the Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway riding a wave of momentum from his second Cup Series victory one week ago. Blaney started eighth in his PPG Ford Fusion after qualifying was rained out and the starting lineup was set per the NASCAR rule book.
- Early in the race Blaney reported that he was fighting a tight condition over the course of the run. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins caution Blaney to take care of his tires as the opening segment of the race ran caution free. His first stop came on lap 69, where the PPG crew took four tires, fuel and wedge adjustment. Despite his handling woes, Blaney scored a seventh-place finish when Stage 1 ended on lap 120. He pitted for four tires and adjustments during the stage caution on lap 123 but a malfunction during the stop shuffled Blaney outside the top-10 for the restart on lap 128.
- During Stage 2, Blaney once again reported that his No. 12 Ford Fusion was struggling to turn, especially when he attempted run a higher line on the one-mile concrete track. When the green and white checkered flag waived to end the segment on lap 240, Blaney narrowly missed collecting stage points in the segment, scoring a 12th-place finish. Solid pit work by the No. 12 PPG team put Blaney back inside the top-10 to begin the final stage on lap 247.
- Additional pit stops on laps 319 and 341 saw the crew continue to try and help the balance of the car as the setting sun changed the track significantly.
- The fourth caution came out with seven laps to go and several teams chose different strategies to gain track position. Bullins called for right side tires for the final dash to the finish. Blaney restarted ninth on lap 396 and received minor cosmetic damage to the right-rear of the No. 12 Ford in the aftermath of a multi-car crash in Turns 3 and 4 that involved four drivers NASCAR Playoffs (Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman). After close examination under caution, the PPG tea felt confident there wouldn’t be any fender rubs when the race went back green.
- After a five minute red flag for track cleanup, the race went green on lap 402. The aerodynamically-challenged PPG Ford went from eighth-place on the restart to an 11th-place finish over the final two laps. Blaney is now eighth in the playoff standings, 10 points head of the ninth-place cutoff position.
Quote: “I thought we were okay all day. We were between a seventh and ninth-place car and it was hard to pass. We lost some spots on that last pit stop and that put us in a bad spot and we got kind of wrecked there. There are a couple good tracks coming up for us, so hopefully we can do a little bit better there.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 4th
Laps Completed: 404/404
Laps Led: 2
Playoff Standings (behind first): 4th (-37)
- Joey Logano was a consistent frontrunner all afternoon during Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway, ultimately claiming third-place in a wild NASCAR Overtime finish.
- Qualifying at Dover was rained out on Friday afternoon and the starting lineup was determined by the NASCAR Rulebook, giving Logano the sixth-place starting position. Logano quickly moved into the top-five during Stage 1 despite a tight-handling condition on his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion.
- Following a pit stop for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment on lap 73, Logano moved up to the second position before the end of the stage on lap 120, scoring nine stage points in the process.
- Quick pit work by the No. 22 crew gave Logano the lead to start Stage 2 on lap 128 but the driver of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford would eventually fall back to the fourth position at the end of the segment on lap 240.
- The final stage saw Logano slip back to ninth position. On lap 337, he ran over a large piece of debris that resulted in a large gash in the right-side of the No. 22 Ford’s sheet metal. A caution 12 laps later on lap 340 gave crew chief Todd Gordon the opportunity to bring his driver down pit road for badly needed repairs.
- Logano restarted 11th when the race went green on lap 348 and Logano raced his way into the top five – boosted by a strong restart on lap 396 that saw him vault from eighth to third in just five laps before a final caution flag on lap 398 sent the race into overtime.
- Despite the disadvantage of restarting from the bottom lane, Logano got a solid restart on lap 402. He kept the leaders in his sights over the final laps but couldn’t find a way past, crossing the finish line in the third position.
Quote: “Just a crazy finish. It seemed like a pretty controlled race for most of us. Everyone was clicking off a lot of laps. We were able to score some good stage points, a second and a fourth in the two stages, so I was proud of that. That helps us a lot in our situation going into Talladega. Talladega will look fairly similar. It will be definitely a grudge match to the finish either way, whether there's a caution or not. That's going to be quite the battle. We've got to go there and have a solid day with the Shell-Pennzoil Ford, and then we'll be looking pretty good for Kansas.”