Team Penske NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Charlotte
May 31, 2021
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Race: Coca-Cola 600
Date: May 30, 2021
No. 2 Keystone Light Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 16th
Stage 2: 16th
Stage 3: 13th
Laps Completed: 400/400
Laps Led: 6
Point Standings (behind first): 10th (-185)
- Brad Keselowski scored an 11th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the Keystone Light Ford Mustang is 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 185 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
- Keselowski started 13th in NASCAR's longest race and battled a loose-handling Mustang throughout Stage 1. He was the last of the lead lap cars to pit during the first round of green flag stops, leading six laps before pitting for four tires and adjustments on lap 56. Keselowski was unable to make significant progress towards the front, leaving him with a 16th-place finish when the stage ended on lap 100. He pitted on lap 103 for four tires and a round of adjustments and restarted 14th on lap 107.
- Unfortunately Stage 2 was more of the same Keselowski. The balance on the Keystone Light Ford stayed loose throughout the segment. He pitted on lap 146 for four tires and the team was unable to make a full adjustment in the left-rear wedge. He pitted under the second caution on lap 174 for tires and more adjustments but those changes didn't make any big gains. Keselowski fought off the handling issues to claim a 16th-place finish when the segment ended on lap 200. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins took another big swing when Keselowski pitted during the stage caution, opting for four tires and an adjustment in the left-rear wedge. Keselowski restarted 21st when the race went green on lap 207.
- The adjustments and never give up attitude added up to an improved race car for Keselowski in Stage 3. The handling on the No. 2 Mustang improved. He climbed up to 14th position by the time he made a scheduled green flag stop on lap 246. Even with a better handling car, Keselowski had to be careful not to overdrive Turns 3 and 4 during the remainder of the segment and was credited with a 13th-place finish when Stage 3 ended under caution on lap 300. He pitted during the following caution on lap 301 and restarted 10th when the race went green five laps later.
- The restart was not kind to Keselowski. He was shuffled back to 14th but clawed his way up to 11th position by lap 323. Keselowski made his final stop on lap 349 for four tires and another round of adjustments. As the race neared its conclusion, Keselowski closed in on Kevin Harvick but unfortunately couldn't find a way around his rival and was forced to settle for an 11th-place finish.
Quote: "That was a blue-collar night for sure. Jeremy and the guys on the Keystone Light team got us the best we were all night there at the end and we almost got a top-10."
No. 12 BODYARMOR EDGE Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 28th
Stage 2: 21st
Stage 3: 16th
Laps Completed: 400/400
Laps Led: 2
Point Standings (behind first): 7th (-151)
- Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 BODYARMOR EDGE Ford Mustang team started 11th and finished 13th in the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Blaney rebounded after suffering a lose wheel and speeding penalty, which put the No. 12 team in a battle for track position throughout the 600-mile race.
- Blaney raced his way to the ninth position before early misfortune of a loose wheel plagued the BODYARMOR EDGE Mustang team on lap 46. After making back-to-back pit stops, Blaney found himself in the 28th position at the conclusion of the first 100-lap stage. Over the course of the long run, Blaney reported his Mustang became freer. He pitted again under the yellow flag for tires, fuel, and adjustments.
- As stage 2 got underway, Blaney fought up to the free pass position on lap 120 but lost the spot during green flag stops on lap 154. Shortly after the caution was displayed the No. 12 team took the opportunity to waive around and rejoin the lead lap with 23 laps remaining in the second stage. During the remaining laps of stage 2, Blaney's Ford started to run tight with heat cycles on the tires and he was scored 21st at the conclusion of the second stage.
- Blaney restarted the third stage 16th on lap 207 and worked his way to 12th before making his scheduled green flag stop on lap 245 for four fresh tires, fuel, and adjustments. Throughout the third stage his car began to free up even more as the track conditions changed and was scored 16th at the end of stage 3. Crew chief Todd Gordon called his driver to pit road once more during the stage caution for four fresh tires, fuel, and major adjustments including air pressure and packer. Unfortunately, Blaney was caught speeding on pit road, forcing him to restart at the tail end of the longest line.
- In the final stage, Blaney continued trying to work his way forward and he moved inside the top the top-15. He visited pit road on lap 344 for four tires, air pressure and adjustments and was credited with a 13th-place finish.
Quote: "Had the loose wheel early in the race and we were able to take the waive around, got back on the lead lap and then the pit road speeding penalty hurt us. We had a better car than our result tonight, but we'll keep fighting."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 14th
Stage 2: 11th
Stage 3: 11th
Laps Completed: 398/400
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-127)
- Joey Logano started 16th and finished 17th in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. Despite running in or near the top-10 through most of the night, an unscheduled pit stop at lap 320 would put the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang in a deficit. The additional unscheduled stop resulted in Logano finishing two laps down to the race leaders.
- Through the opening 46 laps, Logano maintained track position near where he started, pitting from the 15th position for a trackbar and air pressure adjustment to work on the tight condition keeping the Shell-Pennzoil Ford from moving forward. With the adjustments, Logano reported the handling went from tight to loose, struggling the most in dirty air. Logano finished the opening stage in the 14th position, getting an air pressure adjustment and tape on the ensuing pit stop.
- During the second stage, Logano raced into the top-10, running there until his lap 149 pit stop where the team made a wedge adjustment. At lap 174, the team elected to make a two-tire stop, cycling Logano to third position off pit road. Unfortunately, the older left side tires would cause Logano to fade to 11th by the end of Stage 2.
- In Stage 3, darkness fell over the Charlotte Motor Speedway and as the track temperatures dropped the conditions continued to free up for the Shell-Pennzoil Ford, prompting crew chief Paul Wolfe to call for a major trackbar adjustment on the team's stop at lap 245. Logano narrowly missed being collected by the No. 6 Ford as a right front tire went down with five laps remaining in the third stage, effectively ending the stage with Logano in 11th, fighting a tight Ford Mustang.
- Logano was forced to hit pit road at lap 320 for a severe vibration, putting the Shell-Pennzoil Ford a lap down to the race leaders and needing an additional stop to make it to the end of the race. Unfortunately, the race continued green forcing Logano to make an additional stop at lap 383, dropping him two laps down to the race leaders. Logano would finish the race in the 17th position, a disappointing end for the Shell-Pennzoil team.
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Quote: "We struggled a bit tonight to find the right balance. We fought both sides of it, loose, tight and then we had the unscheduled pit stop for the vibration. We had about a 10th place Shell-Pennzoil Mustang tonight, it just didn't work out that way."
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