Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Race: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Date: June 7, 2020
No. 2 Autotrader Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 21st
Stage 2: 8th
Laps Completed: 325/325
Laps Led: 5
Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-75)
- Brad Keselowski rallied from a lap down to score a ninth-place finish in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Sunday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The driver of the Autotrader Ford Mustang claimed his seventh top-10 of the 2020 season and his eighth in 12 career starts at Atlanta. With the finish, he moves up to fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, now 75 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
- Keselowski started sixth Sunday and battled a loose-handling Mustang early in Stage 1. On lap 66, he made a scheduled green flag pit stop for four tires but was hit with a pit road speeding penalty, which dropped Keselowski down a lap and back to the 28th position. He moved up to 22nd when he caught a break in the form of the second caution on lap 96. Keselowski took the wave around and rejoined the tail end of the lead lap. When the segment ended on lap 105, Keselowski was running 21st in the field. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and a wedge adjustment and restarted 17th when the race went green on lap 112.
- In Stage 2, Keselowski rallied from deep in the pack to lead the race. He sliced his way through traffic to move inside the top-10 by lap 142 and he grabbed lead on lap 160 during a cycle of green flag stops. The driver of the Autotrader Ford Mustang was credited with an eighth-place finish when the staged concluded on lap 210.
- The final segment of the race began with Keselowski poised to score a top-five finish or better but it wasn't meant to be. He was running fourth on lap 255, just 70 laps from the finish, but he was not able to get closer to the front. Keselowski made his final stop for four tires under the green flag on lap 269 and was ninth when the pit sequence was finished. As the race drew to a close, Keselowski was in hot pursuit of the eighth-place car driven by Chase Elliott, but he ran out of laps to make a move for position and finished in ninth place.
"In the middle of the race I felt our Autotrader Ford Mustang was right there with the 4 car (Kevin Harvick). I feel like he was pretty good right there at the end. It just didn't come together for us today. Sometimes you run these races and you don't have any practice and you're like ‘perfect, don't change a thing,' and then sometimes you run ‘em and you don't have practices and you say man, if I just had one practice I could have dialed it in a little bit better. Some lessons learned and we'll apply them and move forward."
No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 10th
Stage 2: 2nd
Laps Completed: 325/325
Laps Led: 2
Point Standings (Behind First): 7th (-104)
- Ryan Blaney started seventh and finished fourth in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway driving the No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang. It marked Blaney's best finish in five career starts at the 1.5-mile Georgia track and his third top-five result in the last four races.
- Blaney fell back to 14th after struggling with the balance of his Ford Mustang prior to the lap 25 competition caution. After restarting 18th and battling a loose-handling condition, Blaney worked his way up to 12th before the caution flag flew on lap 96, nine laps prior to the end of the Stage 1. Running with fresh tires, he brought home a 10th-place finish in Stage 1.
- Blaney restarted 11th as Stage 2 began. He raced just outside the top-10 for most of the stage before finding his groove and running as high as seventh place on lap 190. A caution on lap 203, seven laps prior to the end of the Stage 2, brought the leaders back to pit road.
- Strong service by the No. 12 Advance Auto Parts crew got Blaney back on track in fourth place on the restart with four laps to go in the stage. He had a great restart and secured a second-place finish in Stage 2.
- Blaney began the final stage of the 325-lap event in sixth place on the race restart. He passed Chase Elliott on lap 252 for fifth place and then got by teammate Brad Keselowski for fourth, where he would end his day after 500 miles of racing.
- Blaney now sits seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 104 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
"We started off pretty far off to be honest and just really, really loose for the first three or four runs of the day and really wasn't going anywhere. We were kind of going backwards and then we finally started making some good headway there the second run of the second stage there and were able to close in and finish second in the second stage. We had a good pit stop and got us out fourth and from there on out just tried to manage our tires. I didn't think I had anything for the 4, 19 or the 18. They were pretty good, but I felt like a fourth or fifth-place car and that's where we ended up, so I was really proud of the effort in making our car a lot better throughout the day. That was really big gains that we did."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 11th
Stage 2: 20th
Laps Completed: 325/325
Laps Led: 10
Point Standings (Behind First): 2nd (-48)
- Joey Logano started third on Sunday and ran inside the top-10 before the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Mustang suffered damage to its right rear on a pit stop sequence. The impact dropped Logano to the 28th position where he battled back for the remainder of the event. Solid repairs and adjustments throughout the 500-mile race allowed Logano to salvage a top-10 finish on the day.
- In the opening run of the race, Logano reported the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang was handling just a little free all the way around the 1.5-mile speedway, with the issue becoming most evident in Turns 3 and 4. Logano spent the remainder of the first stage fighting the free-handling condition, as he reported the team got him three-quarters of the adjustment he needed during the lap 66 green-flag stop. A late caution in the first stage set the teams up for a return to pit road. Logano exited pit lane in the fourth position, but he got shuffled back to 11th at the end of the stage.
- On the stop near the conclusion of Stage 1, Logano's car sustained damage and he had to return to pit road to make right side repairs prior to the restart as he fell to the 28th position. Logano and the team were able to rebound inside the top-20 several times through the second stage, as the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang ultimately finished 20th at the end of Stage 2.
- Logano continued to battle back, working inside the top-15 and up to the 12th position with 20 laps remaining in the event, turning some of the fastest laps on track in the final stage. Logano continued to run strong to the end as he advanced the Shell-Pennzoil Ford into the 10th position at the checkered flag.
"We got shuffled at the end of the first stage on a bad restart on the outside lane, that put us in a bad position on pit road and took some damage. We really had to battle back on our track position, we had a really good long-run Shell-Pennzoil Ford. I know 500 miles is a long race but would have been nice to have an extra hundred there at the end with the speed we had."