Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course
Race: Bank of America ROVAL 400
Date: September 29, 2019
No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 2nd
Laps Completed: 109/109
Laps Led: 3
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 7th (-22)
- Brad Keselowski passed Martin Truex Jr. with two laps to go to score a fifth-place finish in the Bank of America ROVAL 400 Sunday evening at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. Keselowski claimed his third top-five in three NASCAR Playoffs races this season and will advance to the Round of 12. The driver of the Alliance Truck Parts Ford Mustang claimed his best finish in two starts at the 2.32-mile racetrack. The 109-lap race was held in unusually warm weather conditions, with the temperature in the low 90s on Sunday afternoon, creating brutal conditions for drivers and crew members. Keselowski claimed his 12th top-five of the season and enters the Round of 12 seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, 22 points behind leader Kyle Busch.
- Keselowski earned the 11th-place starting position during qualifying on Friday afternoon at Charlotte. He finished sixth in the first 25-lap stage, just behind teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney, with crew chief Paul Wolfe informing his driver that most of the time lost was in the chicanes. Keselowski didn't pit during the stage caution and restarted second when the race went green on lap 27.
- On lap 32, Keselowski radioed the team that he had flat-spotted a tire and immediately pitted under green for four tires and returned to the track in 33rd position. The third caution on lap 43 brought most of the leaders to pit road but Keselowski stayed on the track. He moved up to sixth for the restart on lap 44. Keselowski moved up to second-place one lap later and then grabbed the lead from Clint Bowyer on lap 46. But try as he might, Keselowski couldn't hold off a fast closing Chase Elliott, who found a way around the No. 2 Mustang with just two laps remaining in Stage 2. Keselowski finished second, stayed out during the stage caution and restarted second when the race went green on lap 54.
- Keselowski stayed in second position until lap 67. He was running third when he made a scheduled green flag stop for four tires on lap 74, which kicked off a cycle of stops among the leaders. When the sequence was complete, Keselowski was sixth in the running order. Wolfe called his driver to pit road decided to pit under the seventh caution on lap 90 for four tires and plus an air pressure adjustment, a move that gave Keselowski fresher tires than his competitors for the stretch run. He lined up 11th when the race went green on lap 91.
- Three cautions (plus a red flag delay for track clean up) didn't allow Keselowski to take full advantage of the fresher tires. He did work his way up to sixth position as the race entered its closing laps. On lap 108 he passed Martin Truex Jr. for the fifth-place when Truex's car wiggled off Turn 17.
"That was a hot race, pretty miserable, but we got through with a decent finish in the Alliance Truck Parts Ford and made the most with what we had. You could pass, you just had to be super, super fast and the No. 9 car (Chase Elliott) was that. We had newer tires than everybody, but it didn't really matter. The No. 9 car was so much faster than everyone. He passed everybody on old tires. I don't know what they had, but we need to come back with that."
No. 12 Menards/Duracell Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 14th
Laps Completed: 109/109
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 10th (-42)
- An eventful day for Ryan Blaney ended with an eighth-place finish in Sunday's Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. Blaney advances to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs beginning next week in Dover. He is 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 42 points behind leader Kyle Busch.
- Blaney started ninth and within the first 10 laps drove up to seventh position. He reported to crew chief Jeremy Bullins that the Menards Ford was losing overall grip and lacking forward drive. The first caution of day slowed the pace on lap 21 and was quickly followed by another on lap 24. Needing every stage point possible Blaney remained on track to score a fifth-place finish when the segment ended on lap 25. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
- Restarting just inside the top-20 through the cycle of pit stops, Blaney worked his way back to the front and was up to 13th by lap 35. Blaney pitted during the third caution on lap 43 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. He restarted 14th and would finish Stage 2 in the same position. He stayed on the track during the stage caution and restarted 11th on lap 54.
- The driver of the Menards Ford soon stormed back into the top-10 but he also made contact with the Turn 6 wall, causing right-side damage to the No. 12 Ford Mustang. The Menards crew made two pit stops for repairs during the fifth caution, which put Blaney outside the top 25 for the restart.
- From there, Blaney began to charge his way back through the field. Bullins would opt for a fuel-only pit stop on lap 77 to gain track position. He made his final pit stop of the day under caution on lap 90 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
- The final 19 laps of the race would see three cautions, including one red flag delay for track cleanup. Blaney restarted ninth and when the dust settled after the chaotic closing laps Blaney would finish eighth. He claimed his 14th top-10 finish of 2019, his fourth in the last six races, and advanced to the next round of the NASCAR Playoffs.
"We had a lot of ups and downs with our Menards Ford. I thought we did a decent job most of the day finding ourselves towards the front. There were a lot of mixed strategies with the way the cautions fell. I messed up bad and hit the fence in Turn 6 and that really set us back, but I'm proud of the whole group for fighting and getting it fixed to where we could make ground. I'm excited to move on to the Round of 12 and feel like we have some good tracks coming up to get a win and advance."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 4th
Stage 2: 22nd
Laps Completed: 109/109
Laps Led: 4
Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-17)
- Joey Logano overcame a brush with the outside wall to score a 10th-place finish in the Bank of American ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. Logano grabbed his 17th top-10 finish of the season and advanced to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs with the fourth-place finish in Stage 1 at Charlotte. He is fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 17 points behind leader Kyle Busch.
- Logano started third and held firm to the positions during the early laps of the race, struggling slightly with being too tight in the left-hand corners. As the run progressed, the balance on the No. 22 Mustang got progressively looser off the slow speed corners while remaining tight on the left-hand turns, shuffling Logano to fifth position by lap 19. Crew chief Todd Gordon kept Logano on the track during Stage 1 and finished the opening segment of the race in fourth position, scoring seven points and officially advancing the team to the Round of 12.
- The driver of the Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford led the opening laps of the Stage 2 before dropping back to the fourth position, conservatively logging laps. Logano made making his first pit stop of the afternoon under green on lap 36 for four tires, air pressure adjustments plus two rounds of left rear wedge.
- Unfortunately, Logano exited the pit lane on lap 37 with lower tire pressures and the left-front wheel locked up, damaging the left-front fender of the No. 22 Ford. He returned to the pit lane the next lap for repairs. The team would elect to pit again with a caution being displayed on lap 43, making further repairs to the left-front and left-rear of the No. 22 Ford.
- Logano continued to battle with a damaged race car during the opening laps of the final stage. Gordon kept Logano on the track during the fifth caution on lap 63 and during the yellow Logano reported that he was still battling a tight condition, made worse by the car snapping loose on corner exit.
- Logano pitted under green on lap 75 for fuel-only with the crew only making repairs to the No. 22 Mustang. He returned to the track as other leaders began their green flag pit stop cycle. A caution flag on lap 90 set up a pit stop by the 22 team under yellow for four tires, an air pressure adjustment and more damage repair.
- With the fresh tires Logano powered back into the top-10, claiming a 10th-place finish at the checkered flag. The finish might have been even better if not for three cautions over the final 15 laps, which took away Logano's advantage of fresher tires for the stretch run.
"It was brutal inside the car. The temperature was up for sure. It was a tough day. We had a pretty good Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford, something that could compete. We were in the top five there the first stage and looked like we were going to have a car that could contend and then I just made a mistake on pit road and hit the wall. It's not speed. I keep saying that. It's not that we're far off on speed, we just have to clean up the races and today is on me."