Track: Darlington Raceway
Race: Cook Out Southern 500
Date: September 6, 2020
No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 31st
Stage 2: 18th
Laps Completed: 367/367
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-51)
- Brad Keselowski recovered from a brush with the wall early in the Cook Out Southern 500 to grab an 11th-place finish Sunday night at Darlington Raceway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford is now fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 51 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
- Keselowski started fifth and ran inside the top-10 until he bounced into the Turn 3 wall while racing Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola on lap 80, bringing out the second caution and dropping him a lap down. The race went green on lap 86 and five laps later Keselowski moved into the free pass position as the first car one lap down. But leader Martin Truex Jr. lapped another car just before the stage ended on lap 115, keeping him a lap behind. Keselowski pitted during the stage caution on lap 119 for tires, adjustments and more repairs and restarted 31st when the race went green on lap 122.
- The Discount Tire Ford ran lap times comparable to the leaders early in Stage 2. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins had just called his driver to pit road during a cycle of green flag stops when moments later the caution waved on lap 181. The fortunate turn of events put Keselowski back on the lead lap. He pitted under caution three laps later and restarted 19th on lap 185 and was credited with an 18th-place finish when the stage ended on lap 230. He pitted during the stage caution and good work on the pit lane by the Discount Tire crew moved him up to 15th for the restart on lap 235.
- Keselowski was running 14th when the sixth caution waved on lap 245. A round of pit stops followed on lap 247 and once again the Discount Tire team gained positions on pit road, moving Keselowski up to 12th position for the restart on lap 250.
- He had just made a scheduled pit stop and passed leader Chase Elliott to unlap himself when the final caution waved on lap 322. Keselowski pitted for four tires and restarted 17th on lap 326. He steadily worked his way through traffic and gained six position over the final 41 laps, capped off by a pass by Cole Custer on the final lap to grab 11th position.
"Jeremy Bullins and everyone on the Discount Tire team did a great job tonight. I made a mistake early in the race, but we worked together and made a good recovery."
No. 12 Menards/Maytag Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 7th (Started at the rear of the field)
Stage 1: 14th
Stage 2: 20th
Laps Completed: 366/367
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (Behind First): 16th (-90)
- Ryan Blaney finished 24th in Sunday night's Cook Out Southern 500 at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The driver of the Menards/Maytag Ford Mustang battled a lack of track position along with an unscheduled pit stop and eventual nose damage.
- Blaney would start the rear of the 39-car field after the No. 12 car was found to have improperly mounted ballast during inspection prior to the race. A five-pound bag of lead that is typically used during setup at the shop to simulate fluid weights prior to the race engine being installed was accidentally left in the car. The team was docked 10 driver and owner points and crew chief Todd Gordon was ejected from the track. Competition director Travis Geisler served as crew chief.
- Blaney would quickly make his way to 21st by the lap 25 competition caution. After restarting 16th in lap 31, Blaney would fall as low as 19th. A late caution in Stage 1 on lap 82 would see Blaney restart 13th and battle Tyler Reddick for that position with Blaney coming home in the 14th-position in Stage 1.
- Stage 2 began with bad luck as Blaney was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop prior to the green flag waving on lap 122 for a flat left rear tire. He would battle to stay on the tail-end of one lap down and luckily catch a caution on lap 181. This enabled him to make his pit stop and take the waive-around back on the lead lap. After restarting 23rd he would finish Stage 2 in the 20th position.
- The final stage began, and unfortunately bad luck befell the Menards/Maytag crew as slow restart caused damage to the nose of Blaney's Ford Mustang. After repairs on a lap 246 caution, Blaney soldiered home for a 24h-place finish.
- Blaney now sits 16th NASCAR Playoffs 90 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
"Definitely wasn't our night for our Menards/Maytag team. We had the inspection penalty and lost points before the race started and had some bad breaks. We'll get ready for Richmond and Bristol and try to gain ground back in the playoffs."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 7th
Stage 2: 17th
Laps Completed: 367/367
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (Behind First): 3rd (-46)
- Joey Logano started 13th and finished third in Sunday evening's Cookout Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. While Logano scored his seventh top-five result of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, the path to the third-place result was anything but easy. After a calm first stage, Logano suffered damage from a cut tire coming to the conclusion of the second stage, and on the restart to begin the final stage, suffered significant damage to the rear of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford. Perseverance from the No. 22 Ford team and great work in the pits positioned Logano for a run in the latter stages of the race to regain his track position and come home with a solid top-five result.
- After starting 13th, Logano moved inside the top-10 to the eighth position before the lap 25 competition caution, reporting the balance of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang was good overall. Logano pitted again at lap 73 and elected to have the crew make no changes to the car as the balance was fairly good overall. By the end of the stage, Logano reported he had gone significantly to the free side as the sunset over Darlington Raceway. The team elected to make a trackbar and air pressure change at the stage ending stop.
- Logano raced inside the top-five through the opening portion of the second stage, showing solid long run speed. At lap 172, the team pitted for four tires a slight air pressure adjustment and a small trackbar change. With two laps remaining in the second stage, Logano had a tire go down, and made slight wall contact with the right side, resulting in a long stage ending stop.
- With the crew making repairs, Logano lined up in the 26th position for the final stage start, but suffered more damage as the field stacked up coming to the green. Logano made a forward rally, cycling back inside the top-10 after the team elected to make two stops to get to the end of the race instead of stretching the run out and risking another tire failure.
- A caution flag with 48 laps remaining in the race gained the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil crew valuable track position, bringing all the lead lap competitors to pit road for a potential final stop of the race. Logano ran in the top-five late in the final stage, moving to third after the race leading Nos. 9 and 19 made contact with the wall.
- Logano maintained the third position until the checkered flag, salvaging what would have been a disaster race after sustaining damage on three of the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang's four corners. The 22 crew heads to Richmond International Raceway third in the playoff standings, 27 points above the cutline.
"We fought hard. You've got to do it for Bobby Allison. You've got the coolest paint scheme on the racetrack you've got to do the best you can to try to get a victory. Man, hard fought. We kind of were decent, it's just so hard to pass with these big spoilers on the car at this racetrack. That makes it challenging. We had a right-front go down the last lap of the second stage, hit the wall and we did a good job fixing the car and then strategy worked well, so Paul did great there, and then they had an amazing pit stop the last stop, had a good restart and all of a sudden I was like, 'Shoot, we could win this thing. To see what the left-rear looks like after that I was pretty impressed to get whatever we got. It's funny how the team always tells you, 'How does the damage look?' 'It looks great. It looks great.' You get out and you're like, 'Whoa!' Overall, that's what we needed to do. We need to come out of these playoffs running hard and having a solid top three finish to start the playoffs with a couple stage points is a good way to start."