Track: Pocono Raceway
Race: Gander RV 400
Date: July 28, 2019
No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 25th
Stage 2: 8th
Laps Completed: 163/163
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 6th (-129)
- Brad Keselowski scored an eighth-place finish in the Gander RV 400 Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. Keselowski recovered from an encounter with the wall on lap 4 to claim his 11th top-10 finish of the season. The driver of the Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion racked up his 12th top-10 in 20 Pocono starts. He is now sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, 120 points behind leader Joey Logano but trails fifth-place Martin Truex Jr. by just six points.
- Keselowski started 11th and was running behind Daniel Suarez in a battle for tenth position when he made contact with the wall at the exit of Turn 3. The damage forced Keselowski to pit road one lap later for repairs and right-side tires. He returned to the track in 38th-position, the final car on the lead lap and running 10 car lengths ahead of leader Kevin Harvick. The race stayed green for the remainder of Stage 1 and Keselowski stayed on the lead lap. He climbed up to 12th position when he made a scheduled stop for right-side tires on lap 41 and was credited with a 25th-place finish when the segment concluded on lap 50. Crew chief Paul Wolfe made the call for a change of left-side tires during the stage caution on lap 52 and Keselowski lined up 15th for the restart on lap 54.
- During Stage 2, Keselowski continued his march toward the front. He steadily worked his way through traffic and grabbed 10th-place on lap 79. The balance on the No. 2 Mustang was good through the Tunnel Turn (Turn 2) but he was losing time in Turn 1. Keselowski was running eighth at the time of the second caution on lap 85. He pitted for right-side tires and fuel and another solid stop by the No. 2 Crew gave Keselowski seventh position for the restart on lap 87. He survived two chaotic restarts over the final seven laps of the stage to claim an eighth-place finish when the segment ended under caution on lap 100. Keselowski pitted during the stage caution on lap 101 for left-side tires and restarted 16th when the race went green on lap 103.
- Keselowski was up to 12th position when the fifth caution slowed the pace on lap 115. He pitted for right-side tires and a full tank of fuel and once again speedy service by the 2 Crew moved him up to seventh for the restart on lap 118. One lap later Keselowski grabbed fourth on the restart before settling into fifth position on lap 124. Keselowski was running solidly among the top-five.
- But his chances for a top-five went away late in the race, thanks in large part to two cautions, the first on lap 154 for the stopped car of Josh Billicki and the last on lap 158, which forced the 160-lap race into NASCAR Overtime. Both restarts featured three and four-wide racing. Keselowski was able to steer through the chaos to claim an eighth-place finish when the checkered flag waved on lap 163.
"There were some really rough parts. I made a huge mistake the first two or three laps there. I was running hard behind the 41 (Suarez) and I slid up and tagged the wall, but I was able to get it onto pit road and get it fixed. Then whoever that car was just stopped on the racetrack and cost us a shot at the race. We weren't going to win it honest, but we put ourselves in position at the end. All in all, we came away with eighth and recovered from our struggles but gave up a win because of somebody else. That's just part of the deal."
No. 12 MoneyLion Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 20th
Stage 2: 28th
Laps Completed: 163/163
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 10th (-225)
- Ryan Blaney battled back after misfortunes before and during the Gander RV 400 to score a 10th-place finish at Pocono Raceway. The driver of the MoneyLion Ford Mustang racked up his ninth top-10 finish of the season and moved up to 10th position in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, 15 behind ninth-place Aric Almirola and 225 points behind leader Joey Logano.
- Blaney unofficially earned the 20th starting position in qualifying on Saturday afternoon, but his time was disallowed after his No. 12 Mustang failed pre-race inspection on Sunday morning. He started 30th but had gained five position by lap 5. Blaney reported to crew chief Jeremy Bullins that the balance of the No. 12 Ford Mustang was tight in all three turns. The MoneyLion crew opted to run long during the first stage of the race. Blaney made his first scheduled pit stop under green on lap 39 for four tires, fuel plus a track bar and wedge adjustments. He was credited with a 20th-place finish when Stage 1 concluded on lap 50. Bullins decided not to pit during the stage caution and Blaney restarted just outside the top-10 when the race went green on lap 54.
- The MoneyLion Mustang remained tight during the early laps of Stage 2. Blaney scraped the wall in Turn 3 and was forced to pit road on lap 61 two right side tires and fuel along with a wedge and air pressure adjustment. He would return to the track just in front of then leaders Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Eventually Blaney would lose a lap to the leaders just before second caution of the race came out on lap 85. The caution was a break for Blaney, who received the free pass back onto the lead lap. He pitted on lap 86 and began to fight his way through the field after the restart on lap 87. But as Stage 2 drew to a close, Daniel Suarez pushed Blaney into the wall off Turn 2, causing him to spin in Turn 3 on lap 100.
- The High Point, N.C. would once again return to pit road multiple times for damage repair on the both sides of MoneyLion Ford, and again lost a lap in the process. He Blaney would finally catch a break when the fifth caution of day waived on lap 115 and once again received the free pass back to the lead lap.
- After the stop, Bullins told Blaney to save fuel whenever he could as the MoneyLion team looked to try to make it to the end of the 160-lap race without another fuel stop. Everything changed when the second-to-last caution flew on lap 154 and Blaney pitted for scuffed tires.
- Blaney restarted outside the top-15 on lap 156 and armed with fresher tires began charging through the pack. The seventh and final caution on lap 158 push the finish into NASCAR Overtime. Blaney took full advantage of the three-lap dash, slicing his way through traffic to claim a 10th-place finish and ending his up-and-down day with a strong recovery.
"It was looking really bad for a while just from not being fast at all. I had to start at the back and we just didn't go anywhere. We went nowhere and we weren't really handling good. I thought at first it was dirty air, but a couple cars drove up through there and even when we got a little bit of clean air, I still wasn't very good, so that was frustrating. I thought we were going to get some track position on equal tires on that restart and the 41 (Suarez) ran into us in the tunnel. My crew did a good job of fixing what they could and just got a good last restart. I think we started eighth and ran 10th, so we salvaged something there. It was kind of a long day, a frustrating day, and we just need to be better."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 2nd
Stage 2: 3rd
Laps Completed: 160/160
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (Ahead of Second): 1st (+6)
- Joey Logano started second and finished 13th in Sunday afternoon's Gander RV 400 at Pocono Raceway. After finishing second and third in the first two stages respectively, Logano's day was derailed by a lengthy pit stop on lap 114, which forced the driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford to rally late in the race for a respectable finish.
- The driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford ran in second position for the opening 23 laps before he pitted right-side tires and an air pressure adjustment. After returning to the track, Logano reported that his Mustang was free on corner entry while being tight on exit. As the green flag pit stops cycled through, Logano held firm to second-place until the Stage 1 ended on lap 50, scoring nine points. Logano pitted during the stage caution on lap 52 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment looking to cure Logano's handling conditions from the first stage.
- Through the opening laps of the second stage, Logano reported he was still fighting loose with the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford while running in the 10th position. He began cycling forward through the running order as other cars pitted, reaching the top-five by lap 82. A caution flag at lap 85 would change the complexity of stage strategy. Under the caution, Logano reported that he was out of control in dirty air, but in clean air it was solid. The third caution on lap 93, with just seven laps to go in the stage, split the strategy again, allowing Logano to finish third when Stage 2 concluded on lap 100.
- Logano restarted third when the race went green on lap 103, but quickly picked off second position. A caution flag brought the field back to pit road at lap 115, which changed the complexion of the race for the Shell-Pennzoil team. Crew chief Todd Gordon chose a four-tire stop but unfortunately, the air hose for the rear changer got hung up on the pit wall fire hose. The extra time spent on pit road resulted in a loss of track position, shuffling Logano back to 19th position for the restart on lap 118.
- The driver of the No. 22 Mustang had climbed back to 16th position by lap 131. Gordon instructed his driver to go into an aggressive fuel saving mode for the remainder of the race. During the seventh and final caution, Logano pitted for two tires. He restarted 17th for the green-white-checkered dash to the finish, battling back to claim a 13th-place finish.
"We just lost track position on a late pit stop. It's unfortunate, we had a good car in clean air, struggled a bit in traffic but I don't think that was different than anyone else in the race. Fortunately, we scored decent stage points in both the first two stages so that minimized the hit on finishing outside the top-10."