Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Race: AAA Texas 500
Date: November 4, 2018
No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 15th
Stage 2: 4th
Laps Completed: 337/337
Laps Led: 50
Playoff Standings (behind ninth): 10th (-24)
- Brad Keselowski scored a 12th-place finish in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Keselowski is 10th in the MENCS driver standings, 24 points behind ninth-place Ryan Blaney.
- The driver of the Wurth Ford Fusion started fifth and ran well in the opening laps despite being loose and needing rear grip. He was third when he pitted during a competition caution on lap 32 but a speeding penalty entering the pits shuffled him to 25th-place for the restart. Keselowski fought his way through traffic to score a 15th-place finish when Stage 1 ended on lap 85. He pitted for four tires and air pressure adjustments during the stage caution on lap 88 and restarted 12th when the race went green.
- Keselowski was up to sixth position when he felt a vibration and pitted under green on lap 133, 17 laps before the leaders made their stops. Once the green flag cycle was complete by lap 153, Keselowski was back on the lead lap and scored a fourth-place finish when the stage ended on lap 170. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called for right-side tires during the stage caution on lap 172, moving Keselowski up to second-place for the restart on lap 176.
- Armed with track position and clean air, Keselowski grabbed the lead from Joey Logano on the restart and led the next 50 laps. The fifth caution on lap 226 set up a round of pit stops one lap later. Keselowski received four tires and no adjustments and restarted third on lap 230.
- Unfortunately, he was forced to make an unscheduled stop on lap 252 for a loose wheel, dropping him two laps behind. But the race stayed green through the next pit cycle and Keselowski was able to make up the lost distance. He was seventh in the running order when caution came out on lap 298. He said his No. 2 Ford Fusion was free on exit and tight in the center of the corner. The team changed four tires during a round of stops that followed on lap 299, but a variety of strategies among the leaders dropped Keselowski to 12th position for the restart on lap 302.
- Over the final 32 laps, Keselowski was unable to rally closer to the front. He briefly flirted with 10th-place before crossing the finish line in 12th position.
Quote: "Our Wurth Ford Fusion ran well today, but we didn't get the finish we deserved. We'll move on to Phoenix next week and try to get a win out there."
No. 12 Accella/Carlisle Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 4th
Stage 2: 2nd
Laps Completed: 337/337
Laps Led: 40
Playoff Standings: 9th
- Ryan Blaney kicked off his weekend at Texas Motor Speedway by winning the pole position Friday evening for the AAA Texas 500, his third pole of 2018 and fifth of his career. Blaney ripped off a lap of 200.505 mph in his Accella/Carlisle Ford Fusion, the second-fastest ever recorded on 1.5-mile speedway in NASCAR history.
- At the drop of the green flag, Blaney's No. 12 Ford set the early pace, leading the opening 32 circuits prior to a competition caution on lap 30. He reported to crew chief Jeremy Bullins that his car lacked rear security. The lap 32 pit stop saw the crew call for an air pressure adjustment along with four tires. He restarted fifth as several cars took two tires for track position. The remaining 51 laps of the stage were run under green. Blaney ran as high as third position, but could not find a way around Kurt Busch as the two battled for second-place. As the stage drew to a close, Blaney's car got loose in traffic, which shuffled him back to fourth when Stage 1 ended on lap 85.
- The second round of pit service came on lap 88 and Bullins made the call four tires and an air pressure adjustments to help the loose condition and tight off the corners. Solid service by the No. 12 crew got the 24-year-old driver out in fifth position when Stage 2 began on lap 92.
- The adjustments improved the handling of the No. 12 Ford dramatically but passing was difficult. In a strategy move, Bullins called Blaney to pit road under green on lap 133 for two right-side tires. Blaney moved up to second-position behind Kevin Harvick and soon thereafter reported the two tires made his car loose by himself but tight in traffic. Nevertheless he held off Martin Truex Jr. to finish second in Stage 2.
- Blaney pitted during the following stage caution four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The race went green on lap 173 and Blaney worked his way up quickly to second position behind leader Brad Keselowski and third-place Joey Logano in a Team Penske 1-2-3. Blaney was consistently running laps faster than Keselowski, but with climbing engines temperatures around lap 200, he ran a conservative pace to take a care of his engine. He pitted on lap 227, where he took four tires and fuel along with an air pressure adjustment and tape off the nose for cooling.
- Blaney was in hot pursuit of leader Kevin Harvick when he made his final stop of the day under green on lap 281. The race saw two cautions in the final 27 laps, giving the High Point, N.C. native a shot to get his second win of 2018. The restart on lap 293, saw Blaney take the outside lane but Harvick managed to hold off Blaney until the seventh caution slowed the pace on lap 307.
- Blaney was still using the outside lane and got a great restart on lap 310 to clear Harvick off Turn 2 and grab the lead on lap 311. He led next seven laps until Harvick found a way around him on lap 318.
- The final caution of the day came out on lap 332, two laps from the advertised distanced of the race, forcing the event into NASCAR Overtime. This time Harvick opted for the outside lane. At the drop of the green, Blaney received a huge push from Kyle Larson, but Harvick managed to clear Blaney off Turn 2. Try as he might, Blaney couldn't mount another challenge to Harvick and settled for a second-place finish, his eighth top-five of 2018. He remains ninth in the Cup Series standings.
Quote: "We got by the 4 on that one restart but I just couldn't hold him off. He was really good. I kind of missed one and two by an inch and he took advantage of it. We needed to be mistake free and then some. Then we had another shot at it. The last restart, he took the top, like I knew he was going to and he motored around me. It was a strong showing by our Carlisle team. I thought the 4 was head and shoulders above everyone else but I thought we were second-best for sure. That was a fun race. I really wanted to win one for Dewayne Felkel and his family. He passed away earlier this week and was a fabricator at our shop. I wanted to win for him."
No. 22 AAA Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 5th
Laps Completed: 337/337
Laps Led: 54
Playoff Standings (behind first): 4th (-24) – Locked into the Championship 4
- Joey Logano started eighth in Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. On the opening lap, Logano was able to move into fourth position and he remained there until the competition caution on lap 30. He reported that his AAA Ford Fusion had built tight throughout the opening run, primarily between Turns 1 and 2. On the pit stop, crew chief Todd Gordon made the call for four tires and added tape to the nose.
- Through the remainder of Stage 1, Logano ran as high as third position, thanks to good short-run speed, however, he drifted back to sixth-place before the end of the segment due to a tight handling condition. Logano also described his No. 22 Ford Fusion as unpredictable in traffic. The AAA crew made an air pressure adjustment during the stage caution on lap 88. Solid pit work gained Logano two positions.
- Logano scored a fifth-place finish in Stage 2, a segment that featured long green flag runs. He took two tires during the stage caution on lap 172 plus made a significant air pressure adjustment on the right-side tires.
- At lap 228 under caution, Gordon made the call for a four-tire stop plus an additional air pressure adjustment. Logano entered the pits in fourth position but left pit road with the lead, thanks to excellent work by the AAA team.
- Logano reported at lap 260 that the AAA Ford was now loose on corner entry into both Turns 1 and 3 plus tight through the center. He pitted with just over 50 laps remaining for four tires and fuel. The changes improved the handling of the No. 22 Ford and Logano claimed a third-place finish at the checkered flag, his 12th top-five finish of the season.
Quote: "It was a great effort by our AAA team all day. We struggled with being tight most of the race. At times the car was a little unpredictable in traffic, but we made good adjustments and kept working on it all race. Hats off to the guys on pit road because that's the second straight week they've really gotten it done for us."