Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report
Track: Martinsville Speedway
Race: First Data 500
Date: October 28, 2018
No. 2 Thomas Built Buses Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 16th
Stage 2: 10th
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 41
Playoff Standings (behind ninth): 10th (-5)
- Brad Keselowski scored a fifth-place finish Sunday afternoon in the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The driver of the Thomas Built Buses Ford Fusion scored his 10th top-five finish of the season and seventh top five at the .526-mile speedway. Keselowski is 10th in the MENCS driver standings, 18 points behind ninth-place Ryan Blaney.
- Keselowski started the race from the rear after being penalized by NASCAR for unapproved adjustments. He spent much of Stage 1 working his way through the traffic and moving toward the front, finishing 16th when the 130-lap segment was complete. Keselowski pitted for four tires and air pressure adjustments during the stage caution on lap 133.
- During Stage 2, Keselowski continued moving forward. He climbed into the top-10 on lap 167 and scored a 10th-place finish when Stage 2 ended on 260. Keselowski pitted during the stage caution on lap 264 for four tires and air pressure adjustments. Solid work on pit lane moved him up to seventh position for the restart on lap 269.
- Keselowski continued to move up the leaderboard during the final stage. He ran inside the top-five early in the segment then before settling into seventh position by lap 328. The driver of the No. 2 Ford Fusion pitted during the fifth caution on lap 368. Crew chief Paul Wolfe made the call for four tires and adjustments and the changes brought his car to life, especially on the shorter runs. Two cautions (laps 383 and 398) set up two restarts and Keselowski took full advantage, picking off positions on each restart. On lap 417, he wedged his way under teammate Joey Logano and the two raced side-by-side for the next two laps before take the lead on lap 419. Keselowski led the next 41 laps and built up a three second lead before the eighth and final caution on lap 458 wiped out his advantage.
- Keselowski pitted one lap later for four tires and lined up third for the final restart on lap 463. He closed in on Logano for the lead, riding just inches off his rear bumper. But despite his best effort, Keselowski couldn't find a way past then faded down the stretch as he struggled on the longer run and was credited with a fifth-place finish.
Quote: "We had a good run today in the Thomas Built Buses Ford Fusion. We were really good on the short runs but we struggled a little bit on the long runs and it just didn't end up playing out there for us at the end. It is good to see Joey (Logano) get to victory lane. I'm happy for everyone at Team Penske."
No. 12 Menards/MOEN Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 8th
Stage 2: 23nd
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 0
Points Standings: 9th (+5)
- Ryan Blaney scored a 20th-place finish in Sunday's First Data 500 at the Martinsville Speedway. Blaney fought back after an early race uncontrolled tire penalty to get back on the lead lap.
- Blaney qualified fourth and early in the race, his Menards/MOEN Ford Fusion was very loose early in a run costing him several positions. Once the corners began to take rubber during the race, Blaney raced his way inside the top-10 and scored an eighth-place finish in Stage 1. He said his No. 12 Ford Fusion was loose on entry and tight in the center. He pitted during the stage caution on lap 133 for four tires plus chassis and air pressure adjustments. Unfortunately the No. 12 team was assessed with an uncontrolled tire penalty during the stop.
- Stage 2 went green on lap 139 and ran caution-free. Blaney reported that he lacked overall grip. The loss of track position and an ill-handling Ford Fusion dropped him a lap down and he finished 23rd when the second segment ended on lap 260. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made wholesale changes on following pit stop, which included wedge and air pressure adjustments.
- The changes helped the handling characteristics of the Menards/MOEN Ford Fusion. Blaney fought hard to get back on the lead lap, but poorly timed cautions (on laps 367 and 383) kept the High Point, N.C., native from the free pass position.
- Blaney took the wave around back onto the lead lap during the final caution on lap 458. He fought his way through traffic to score a 20th-place finish, the final driver to complete all 500 laps at Martinsville. He now sits ninth in the Cup Series standings.
Quote: "I thought we had a pretty good Menards/MOEN Ford after practice and qualifying. We fought a very loose car at the start of the race, but when the track took rubber our car began handling better. We tried fighting back after the uncontrolled tire penalty, but just couldn't get ourselves in the right position. It's disappointing as Martinsville is a home track for me being from High Point. Congratulations to Joey Logano and the No. 22 team on making it to Homestead and racing for a championship."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 1st
Finish: 1st (20th career MENCS victory)
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 309 (Most Laps Led)
Playoff Standings (behind first): 5th (-31)
- Joey Logano won a thrilling last lap duel with Martin Truex Jr. to win the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the third time in five seasons he has raced for a championship in the NASCAR Playoffs. Truex Jr. passed Logano for the lead on lap 499 but Logano edged him to the finish line in a classic fender-banging short track finish, crossing the finish line one car length ahead of his rival (officially measured at .107 seconds).
- The win was the first Martinsville victory for Logano in 20 starts at paperclip shaped track. He won for the 20th time in 360 Cup races. He led 309 of 500 laps at Martinsville, a personal best for most laps led in a Cup race.
- Logano started tenth and was able to work forward to the seventh position, despite having to starting the race on the outside line. Through the first run, Logano reported the Shell-Pennzoil Ford was a little tight in the center, but he was able to make it rotate by moving up the track. On the first pit stop at lap 45, crew chief Todd Gordon elected to make an air pressure adjustment to give Logano more center turn.
- The adjustments made on the first stop gave Logano the additional speed needed in the No. 22 Ford propelling Logano to a second-place finish in Stage 1. On the ensuing pit stop during the stage caution, the team made no adjustments and Logano returned to the track with the lead to begin the second stage.
- Stage 2 ran green throughout with Logano leading every lap and collecting a stage win. He reported his Shell-Pennzoil Ford was a little free in and off the corners. Gordon made a minor air pressure adjustment and quick work on the pit lane put Logano when the final stage began on lap 269.
- At lap 359, Logano relinquished the lead after a spirited battle with Truex Jr., but a caution flag on lap 362 set up another round of pit stops under caution. Logano reported that his Ford Fusion was still loose in and off the corners, forcing the team make an air pressure adjustment.
- Logano restarted second on lap 377 and led until 90 laps to go when teammate Brad Keselowski grabbed the lead. Another excellent pit stop under the final caution with 40 laps to go gave Logano the lead. He held off teammate Keselowski and Truex Jr. over the next 39 laps before passing his rival on the final lap.
Quote: "That was just a hard, great race and NASCAR racing at its finest. We didn't wreck each other. We bumped into each other a lot and that is what this sport was built on. I know a lot of fans out there aren't too happy about it but it is racing and that is what NASCAR is about and what stock car racing is. I am just glad we finally won here. It has been so long and we have had so many chances and it feels like sweet redemption after everything that has happened here. Our Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion car the last run got really tight in the center and I was really losing quite a bit of rolling time and that is what was allowing cars to get to me and then it was really hard to exit with cars right behind me. Now the next two weeks we think about Miami and nothing else. We have to go there and be ready and be prepared for it. One step at a time. We are going to enjoy this moment first and then we will worry about Miami tomorrow."