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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Kansas
October 21, 2018

Track:               Kansas Speedway  

Race:                 Hollywood Casino 400   
Date:                 October 21, 2018


No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 5th
Stage 1: 16th
Stage 2: 13th
Finish: 6th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 26
Playoff Standings: 10th (-18)

Notes: 

  • Brad Keselowski made a late-race rally to score a sixth-place finish Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway. But despite claiming his 17th top-10 finish of the 2018 season, the driver of the Discount Tire Ford Fusion fell 18 points short in his quest to advance to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs. Keselowski leaves Kansas 10th in the driver standings, 18 points behind ninth-place Ryan Blaney.
  • During Stage 1, Keselowski had his hands full with a loose-handling Ford Fusion. On lap 62, during the first caution of the race, crew chief Paul Wolfe made the call for right-side tires only and adjustments. Keselowski was still loose after the race went green but he held on to score a 16th-place finish when the stage ended on lap 80.     
  • Although they came up short in their effort to keep their championship hopes alive, Keselowski and the team did everything in their power to advance. Crew chief Paul Wolfe twice long-pitted Keselowski in Stage 2 in an effort to gain track position, needing only a timely yellow flag to make the strategy work. Keselowski took the lead on lap 122 during a sequence of green flag stops and led until he was forced to pit on lap 138. The race ran caution free until the stage ended on lap 160 and Keselowski was credited with a 13th-place finish. He pitted during the stage caution on lap 163. Excellent work by the Discount Tire team moved Keselowski up to ninth-place when the race went green on lap 166.  
  • Wolfe tried the strategy again late in the race.  Keselowski was eighth when a cycle of green flag stops began on lap 212. He kept Keselowski on the track 10 laps later than his completion (laps 214-223) hoping for a caution that would put Keselowski in position to contend for the victory. But race stayed green and Keselowski was shuffled back to tenth position when the cycle of stops was complete on lap 235. 
  • The good news was that the handling woes No. 2 Discount Tire Ford were gone. Keselowski began to slice his way through traffic.  He was up to eighth-place by lap 248. He passed Joey Logano for seventh on lap 258 and two laps later moved by Ryan Blaney for sixth. Try as he might, Keselowski couldn't climb further up the leaderboard over the final seven laps, crossing the finish line in sixth position.

Quote: "I would say about the end of that first stage it was pretty obvious that we needed something. We just weren't as good today as we were yesterday and I am not sure why. Everyone else seemed to find a little from practice and we were about the same, maybe a little worse than we were in practice. I am proud of what we did down the stretch of the year, winning three races and all that. I feel like we can go win Martinsville next week so I am excited about that but of course the ultimate goal is to win a championship and we won't have an opportunity to do that this year."


No. 12 Menards/Wrangler Riggs Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney

Start: 4th
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 2nd                        
Finish: 7th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 9
Playoff Standings: 9th

Notes: 

  • In nearly a win-or-go home scenario, Ryan Blaney and No. 12 Menards/Wrangler Riggs Ford Fusion team came up just short of advancing to the next round of the Cup Series playoffs at Kansas Speedway this afternoon.
  • Blaney qualified fourth and was very pleased with the handling of his Ford Fusion throughout the two practices on Saturday afternoon. Sporting the Wrangler Riggs brand colors for the first-time in 2018, Blaney hoped to not only give them a trip to victory lane, but also punch his way into the Round of 8 in the Cup Series playoffs.
  • Blaney used the outside lane on the initial start of the race to quickly move into the second position behind teammate Joey Logano. He reported early to his crew that his car was building tight especially in the center of the turns. The first round of service for the leaders came on lap 40, when crew chief Jeremy Bullins called for an air pressure adjustment and a piece of tape on the nose.
  • The first caution of race came out on lap 62 for the expired engine of William Byron. The No. 12 team elected for two right side tires. Solid pit work gave Blaney the lead on the lap 64 restart. He would lead until lap 71, when teammate Logano passed him for the top-spot. He would eventually lose second-place to Kevin Harvick. The 24-year-old driver managed to hold on for a third-place finish in Stage 1.
  • Blaney came to pit road on the lap 83 stage conclusion and reported his Menards/Wrangler Riggs Ford Fusion was too loose on two tires. The team changed all four tires and made an air pressure adjustment to help the overall balance.
  • The second stage saw the groove begin to widen as cars ran from the bottom to inches off the outside wall. Blaney reported he was getting tighter the closer he ran to the wall. As Stage 2 drew to a close Blaney was running third and turning the fastest laps on the track. He passed teammate Logano late and began to set his sights on leader Kevin Harvick. Unfortunately, time ran out and Blaney settled for a second-place finish in Stage 2 but racked up valuable stage points. The penultimate pit stop of the day came on the lap 164 stage break where the crew made both a wedge and air pressure in preparation for a major shift in track conditions.
  • Blaney restarted fourth when the race went green on lap 166. Blaney scraped the wall between Turns 1 and 2 turn s1-2 wall, causing him to fall back to the fifth-position. He made his final stop of the day on lap 216 where the crew made a four-tire stop with air pressure adjustments plus made certain the right-side fenders had clearance following his brush with the wall.
  • The 24-year old driver clawed as much as he could to the make up lost ground, but when the checkered flag waived on lap 267, Blaney was left with a seventh-place finish, six points behind eighth-place Clint Bowyer.

Quote: "Obviously it was a mistake I made trying to work hard to catch those guys and I pushed too hard and got in the fence. It's all my fault. Whether it would have worked out for us or not, I don't know. I don't think we had the speed the 9 (Chase Elliott) or 4 (Kevin Harvick) had. The 9 was superfast. I messed up and it cost us. I want to thank Wrangler Riggs, Menards and Ford for their support. The whole 12 team deserves better than that. That was unfortunate on my part."


No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start:  1st – 20th career MENCS pole position
Stage 1: 1st – 4th stage win of 2018
Stage 2: 3rd                        
Finish: 8th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 100
Playoff Standings (behind first): 6th (-40)    

Notes:

  • Joey Logano started from the pole for the 20th time in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday afternoon's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.  The driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion led the opening 40 laps of the event before making his first pit stop of the afternoon. Logano had been relatively quiet on the radio during the first run, saying only that the Fusion had built a little free. Crew chief Todd Gordon elected to adjust with right rear air pressure and sent Logano back onto the track.
  • Logano cycled back to the lead on lap 53. However, a caution flag at lap 57 would bring the leaders back to pit road with just over 20 laps remaining in the first stage. Gordon chose to put four tires on the Shell-Pennzoil Ford, while other teams took two tires. Logano restarted fifth but powered back to the front on lap 72. He held on to win Stage 1, his fourth stage win of the season.
  • Logano led the opening laps of the second stage before pitting on lap 120. Unfortunately, he lost time leaving pit road when another car slowed, dropping Logano behind Kevin Harvick and teammate Ryan Blaney. Logano would ultimately finish third in Stage 2. Thanks to his win in Stage 1 and third-place in the second stage, Logano officially clinched a spot in the Round of 8.
  • During a pit stop in the stage caution, the air hose was caught under the front splitter, a costly sequence that dropped Logano to the seventh position for the restart. He ran inside the top-10 before pitting with 50 laps remaining in the race. Crew chief Todd Gordon made a wedge adjustment, looking to give Logano added drivability in the upper groove.
  • Logano made slight gains on the high-line soldiering on to an eighth-place finish.

Quote: "We did a great job this round with two top-fives and a top-10. Today we won a stage and finished third in the other stage. We were scoring points, which is good enough to get you through these rounds, but I feel like this next round we are going to have to get a win to advance. Maybe they will have enough issues that you can build up enough points but I think we need to win. It was a solid weekend with the pole and stage win and I am proud of that. We just have to focus hard on getting more."

 

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