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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
October 14, 2018

Track:               Talladega Superspeedway 
Race:                 1000Bulbs.com 500 
Date:                 October 14, 2018                                         

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No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 18th
Stage 1: 34th
Stage 2: 10th
Finish: 27th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 193/193
Laps Led: 21
Playoff Standings (behind first): 9th (-63)

Notes: 

  • Brad Keselowski's chances for a good finish at Talladega Superspeedway moments before the final restart when his fuel tank ran dry.  The frustrating turn of events shuffled the driver of the Miller Lite Ford Fusion from a top-10 finish 27th in the final rundown.  Keselowski is ninth in the MENCS driver's standings, one point behind the cutoff position.  
  • Keselowski started 18th and ran well in the opening stage of the race. He was running sixth on lap 40 when he made an unscheduled green flag stop for a loose wheel.  When Stage 12 ended on lap 55, Keselowski was 34th in the running order, one lap down.  He didn't pit during the caution that followed, opting to take the wave around back to the tail end of the lead lap when the race went green on lap 60. 
  • The move worked, thanks to a yellow on lap 63. Keselowski pitted one lap later for four tires and fuel and restarted near the tail of the field when the race went green on lap 66. He wasted little time slicing his way through traffic and getting to the front of the pack, moving into the top-10 by lap 82. He made a scheduled pit stops during the fourth caution for four tires and fuel and over the final four laps to score a 10th-place finish when Stage 2 ended on lap 110. 
  • Crew chief Paul Wolfe chose not to pit during the stage caution following the second segment of the race, moving Keselowski into the lead on lap 112. He held the top spot for the next 10 laps, then retook the lead on lap 127, staying in front for the next 11 laps. Keselowski was leading on lap 137 when the sixth caution slowed the race. He pitted one lap later for right-side tires and fuel and lined up second for the restart on lap 141.
  • From there Keselowski ran solidly in the lead draft. But on lap 182, Keselowski and Alex Bowman raced side-by-side for seventh position – allowing the other leaders to pull away. The other concern for the team fuel mileage, but they calculated they could make it to the finish on lap 188.  Those concerns were amplified when the final caution waved on lap 187, forcing the race into overtime just one lap from the scheduled conclusion of the event. Keselowski made to lap 191, but not before the restart when he ran short of fuel. 

Quote: "We ran out of gas from what I could tell. The 88 (Alex Bowman) was in there and he was kind of bonsai, win at all costs and just kept making moves that killed everybody else and didn't help himself. I kept trying to get my teammates with me and every time we about got lined up somebody would bonsai them and we just couldn't do anything."

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No. 12 REV Group Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney

Start:  19th
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 9th                    
Finish: 29th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 193/193
Laps Led: 6
Playoff Standings (behind first): 10th (-67)    

Notes:

  • Ryan Blaney's day ended with disappointment after having to make an unscheduled pit stop for fuel coming to the green, white, checkered restart at Talladega Superspeedway.
  • Blaney started 19th in the 188-lap, 500 mile event at the 2.66 mile superspeedway. He reported the handling of his REV Ford Fusion was loose on entry and in the tri-oval and tight on exit of the corners.
  • The first round of pit service came on lap 13, where crew chief Jeremy Bullins called for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Strong pit service by the No. 12 team gained Blaney five spots and put him in the lead on the lap 58 restart.
  • The caution quickly came back out on lap 63 and Blaney returned to pit road for a fuel-only pit stop. The 24 year-old driver narrowly avoided incoming traffic and left pit road in the top-10.
  • As the race passed the halfway point, Blaney had no significant complaints about the handling of the No. 12 Ford, crossing the finish line ninth to finish stage 2. Service on the Lap 111 stage break saw the REV crew take four tires and fuel with no chassis adjustments.
  • As the race neared its conclusion, Blaney was instructed while in the draft to try and conserve as much fuel as possible. The final round of scheduled pit service came under caution lap 137, where the REV crew took two right side tires.
  • The final laps saw Blaney work with teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski to make their way back through the field. Blaney worked his way into the top-five when the caution came out on lap 187, which set up a green, white, checkered finish.
  • Unfortunately coming to the green flag, Blaney's Ford Fusion ran out of gas, which forced an unscheduled pit stop. He would cross the line in the 29th position after gaining a few spots from a multi-car crash on the last lap.
  • Blaney now sits 10th in the MENCS playoff standings heading into the elimination race at Kansas Speedway next Sunday afternoon.

Quote: "Really disappointing way to end our day. We didn't have the fastest car today, but we were in a good spot before the caution came out. We have a lot of work to do to keep our championship hopes alive, but Kansas has been a good track for us in the past."

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No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start:  20th
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 9th                      
Finish: 5th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 188/188
Laps Led: 0
Playoff Standings (behind first): 3rd (-21)    

Notes:

  • Joey Logano started 20th in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in Sunday afternoon's 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Logano worked his way into the top-15 during the opening five laps as most competitors began forming up single file. Under the first pit stop at lap 12, the Shell-Pennzoil team made a wedge adjustment and added fuel for the tight condition.
  • After pitting, Logano led Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney forward towards the top-five, joining Ford Performance teammates from Stewart-Haas Racing leading the field around the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Logano would finish the first stage in fifth position. On the stage ending stop, crew chief Todd Gordon elected to make an air pressure adjustment on the four-tire stop, working to give Logano added front turn on the long run.
  • The handling of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford improved during the second stage, with Logano acknowledging the adjustments got about half of the tightness out of the car that he needed. A late stage restart would position on the outside line in sixth, unfortunately, Logano would slip back to the ninth position in the five lap dash to the green-checkered flag.
  • The air pressure adjustments worked as Logano powered to the second position by lap 128, trailing only teammate Brad Keselowski for the race lead. Logano would make a move to try and capture the lead on lap 130, but lost his drafting help and was shuffled back to the fourth position when the caution flag was displayed at lap 137. Under the caution, crew chief Todd Gordon elected to add tape to the nose of the car and take four tires when many of the leaders took two tires.
  • Logano remained inside the top-ten until a caution flag at lap 160 for an uncontrolled tire in the front stretch grass brought out the caution flag with 28 laps remaining. Logano reported he was still slightly loose in the tri-oval and only slightly tight in the center of the turns. Crew chief Todd Gordon elected to keep the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford on the track with the rest of the leaders while the majority of the cars outside the top-15 elected to pit. 
  • Logano would persevere through the green-white-checkered finish to bring the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion home in the fifth position. Heading to Kansas Speedway next week, Logano and the No. 22 Ford team find themselves third in the playoff standings.

Quote: "Those Stewart-Haas cars drove great and they were really, really fast.  They showed it in qualifying and they were so committed to each other and they did a great job.  They probably would have finished 1-2-3-4 if they didn't run out of gas, so they were definitely quick.  We had a pretty good Shell/Pennzoil Ford, not the winning car, but definitely a top-five car, the best of the rest you could call it.  We scored some stage points and then a solid top five, so I'm proud of that.  I don't know where that puts us in points, but I think it puts us in a decent spot to where we can go to Kansas and race hard, so not that we didn't race hard today, but it was just gonna take a lot to beat the teamwork and the cars that they had today."

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