NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Talladega
October 14, 2019
Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Race: 1000Bulbs.com 500
Date: October 14, 2019
No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 3rd
Laps Completed: 182/188
Laps Led: 22
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-36)
- Brad Keselowski was sidelined by an accident six laps from the finish of the rain delayed 1000Bulbs.com 500 Monday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. The driver of the Miller Lite Ford Mustang was credited with the 25th-place finish after leading six times for 22 laps. He is fifth in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, 36 points behind leader Denny Hamlin and 20 points ahead of the eighth-place cutoff position.
- Keselowski qualified sixth on Saturday and grabbed the lead on lap 2 of the 188-lap race on Sunday afternoon. He was squeezed out of line on lap 19 and fell back in the lead pack. Keselowski made a green flag stop for fuel-only under green on lap 36 and caught a break when the first caution waved just two laps later, cycling the driver of the Miller Lite Ford into the lead. The race went green on lap 40 and featured intense three-wide racing in the lead pack as drivers jockeyed for all-important stage points. Keselowski finished fifth when Stage 1 ended on lap 55. A steady rain began to fall during the stage caution and on lap 57 the race was halted. The rain didn't let for the remainder of the afternoon, forcing to the event to conclude on Monday.
- When the event resumed, the engine in Keselowski's No. 2 Mustang didn't immediately fire off until he received a push midway down the backstretch, shuffling him back to 24th position when the race restarted on lap 62. He worked his way through traffic and grabbed the lead on lap 84 thanks to a push from teammate Joey Logano. Keselowski was leading when he made a scheduled pit stop on lap 93 for fuel-only and when the green flag sequence was complete, he was third. Keselowski seesawed back and forth near the front of the lead pack as the laps ticked away in Stage 2. The third caution on lap 108 forced the stage to end under yellow with Keselowski in third-place. He made a four-tire stop on lap 112 and excellent pit work by the No. 2 crew moved their driver into the lead for the restart on lap 116.
- He was running sixth when a caution for debris on lap 133 set up a round of pit stops. Crew chief Paul Wolfe made the call to change four tires and Keselowski restarted 11th when the race went green on lap 137. Keselowski was mired in traffic during this run and was 19th when the sixth caution slowed the pace on lap 154. He pitted for four tires on lap 155 and stopped on lap 156 to top of the fuel tank before restarting 21st on lap 157.
- He was up to 12th position by lap 164 when he narrowly avoided an eight-car accident on the backstretch. The driver of the No. 2 Mustang lined up seventh when the race went green on lap 169. On lap 181 Keselowski was moving toward the front of the pack in the outside lane behind Brendan Gaughan. He was fifth and surging to the front down the backstretch when Kyle Busch swerved to the right, pinning the No. 2 Ford against the outside wall and triggering an accident that collected 11 cars. Keselowski limped back to pit road where the No. 2 team changed tires and sufficiently cleared sheet metal so he could complete one more lap, which moved him up one more position in the final rundown.
"I got wrecked, but I haven't seen the replay. We were about to take the lead. I was pushing Brendan Gaughan and was really excited about how it was looking there for a minute and it just didn't work out."
No. 12 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 10th
Stage 2: 6th
Finish: 1st (Third Career Cup Series Victory)
Laps Completed: 188/188
Laps Led: 35 (Most of all drivers)
Point Standings (behind first): 9th (-58) Advances to the Round of 8
- Ryan Blaney made a dramatic pass around Ryan Newman within sight of the finish line to win the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. The victory was Blaney's first of the 2019 season and propelled the driver of the Dent Wizard Ford Mustang into the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Blaney, who led three times for a race-high 35 laps, won for the first time in 11 Talladega starts.
- Blaney started 10th and quickly began working his way towards the front. Working with fellow Ford driver Kevin Harvick, he drove his way to the lead on lap 19 and would lead the next 14 laps. He would come to pit road for his first stop of the day on lap 34.
- Unfortunately, Blaney would spin when getting onto pit road. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins would audible to a four-tire pit stop and would serve a penalty for speeding on pit road. Luckily, the caution would wave on lap 38, allowing the Dent Wizard crew to top-off on fuel and Blaney would begin his charge to the front. He worked multiple lanes and climbed up to 10th where he would finish Stage 1. A steady rain began to fall after the segment concluded and the race was postponed until Monday afternoon.
- When racing resumed, Blaney came to pit road on lap 59 for right-side tires and fuel. He restarted 10th but worked his way back to the lead on lap 70 and held the top spot for the next 12 laps. Blaney made a scheduled stop under green on lap 93 for fuel-only. He returned to the track near the tail of the field but eventually caught back up to the lead pack. Blaney would narrowly miss the spinning car of Alex Bowman during a big crash a lap 108, which forced Stage 2 to end under caution and left Blaney with a sixth-place finish. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and fuel. Strong service by the Dent Wizard team moved Blaney up to fourth for the restart on lap 116, a gain of two positions.
- Over the next 20 laps, Blaney would work with teammate Joey Logano and fellow Ford driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. holding firm to third position until his next pit stop on lap 134 under caution. He remained third until his final pit stop of the day under caution on lap 155 for fuel only.
- Blaney avoided two big crashes over the next 19 laps. The driver of the No. 12 Mustang moved into the lead on lap 182 just before the ninth and final caution. When the race went green on lap 186, the driver of Dent Wizard Ford battled Aric Almirola and Newman. Newman moved to the outside of the No. 12 Ford Mustang in Turns 3 and 4. A strong push by Almirola moved Blaney back to Newman's inside and he beat Newman to the checkered flag by no more than foot – officially measured at .007 of a second. The victory by Blaney was Ford's sixth straight Talladega Cup Series victory in the Playoffs.
"It was an amazing effort the last two days from my Dent Wizard team. We spun out early yesterday, missed some big ones today and we were able to weave our way through. I can't thank Aric Almirola enough for helping me out there at the end. I knew I wasn't going to be able to block that big push that Newman and Denny Hamlin got. They were coming so fast and they wanted to split me. I wanted to stay to the bottom and kind of pulled the No. 11 (Hamlin) off the No. 6 (Newman) and then had a big enough run to get to Newman. We kind of hit above the line and that pushed me below the line. That is a big judgement call. You never know. I wasn't going to go below the line before we made contact. It has been super-fun the last couple of days. We are moving on and that's super cool."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 2nd
Laps Completed: 188/188
Laps Led: 16
Point Standings (behind first): 6th (-38)
- Joey Logano started 10th and finished 11th after surviving heavy damage to his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang in Monday's continued 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. Logano flashed speed throughout the race, prior to receiving the significant damage, finishing second in both the first and second stages and leading 16 laps on the afternoon.
- After starting the race in the 10th position, Logano found himself shuffled outside the top-20 for the opening laps before working back towards the top-10 in the next 10 laps. By lap 20, Logano had powered to the third position, following Ford Performance teammate Kevin Harvick and Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney. Logano reported the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang was a little free landing in the corners and slightly tight on exit. The No. 22 team elected to pit with most of the other Mustangs on lap 33 with Logano receiving fuel only.
- A caution flag at the end of the green flag pit stop cycle bunched the field up for a run to the end of the first stage. Logano was initially shuffled out, dropping all the way to the back of the pack, but with a late surge powered him to second position at the end of the stage. Before pit stops could take place, the race was halted overnight as persistent rains moved over the Talladega Superspeedway.
- When the race resumed Monday afternoon, Logano came to pit road for four tires and fuel in preparation to start the second stage. Logano immediately powered to the second position on the restart, later claiming the lead at lap 73 as the field began to form up three wide behind the leaders. On lap 78, the driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford found himself shuffled to the back of the top-10. On lap 93, Logano pitted with his fellow Ford Performance teammates for fuel and a wedge adjustment to work on the loose handling condition.
- Late in the second stage, Logano was in position to take the lead when a late block from Alex Bowman resulted in contact and a multi-vehicle incident, bringing out the caution, ending the second stage under yellow flag conditions with Logano crossing the line in second position.
- To begin the third stage, Logano restarted fifth in the less preferred inside line. At the drop of the green flag, Logano battled ultimately settling into a single file line around the top groove in the ninth position. A caution flag on lap 121 would again line Logano up in the eighth position, restarting on the outside line and quickly working forward to take the lead.
- On lap 153, Logano brought the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang to pit road for a potential final stop of the race, taking fuel only and returning the track, just outside the top-10. Unfortunately, Logano was swept up into a multi-vehicle accident on the backstretch, resulting in heavy damage. The Shell-Pennzoil crew worked to repair the damage to the left side of the car, only losing one lap in the process.
- With additional incidents with other lead lap competitors and the solid work by the No. 22 team, Logano was able to move forward and finish in the 11th position, moving him 18 points ahead of the cut line as the series heads to Kansas Speedway next Sunday.
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"I was riding around and everything was good in second place and, ‘Boom.' The next thing I know I'm sideways and up in the air. My team did an amazing job today because when we got done with the crash the hood was up and I couldn't see. The car was barely rolling with four flat tires and everything else, and they got it to where it would run and then got through another crash to get the lucky dog and finished 11th on the day. Two second places in the stages and an 11th-place finish with a crashed race car isn't ideal, but it's way better than it could have been, so I'm proud of that."
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