Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Race: Ford EcoBoost 400
Date: November 18, 2018
No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 9th
Stage 2: 13th
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Final Driver Points Standing: 8th
- Brad Keselowski overcame a brush with the wall and a late-race incident to score a fifth-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 400 Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Keselowski finished the 2018 season with his 12th top-five finish placed eighth in the MENCS driver standings, 11 points behind fifth-place Aric Almirola.
- Keselowski started fourth in the 267-lap event but had his hands full with an ill-handling Discount Tire Ford Fusion. He was tight in the center and loose of the corners during Stage 1, scoring a ninth-place finish when the segment ended on lap 80. During the stage caution, Paul Wolfe called his driver to pit road on lap 83 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. Keselowski restarted fifth when the race went green on lap 86.
- The No. 2 Ford Fusion was still a handful for Keselowski during Stage 2, but he managed to run inside the top-10. He was very loose on both corner entry and exit. On lap 154, he scraped against the outside wall in Turn 3 while running ninth. Keselowski recovered and was credited with a 13th-place finish when the stage concluded on lap 160. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and adjustments plus damage repair and restarted 18th when the race went green on lap 166.
- During Stage 3, Keselowski and Wolfe fought their way back to score a solid finish. He started off the final segment loose in and loose off but was tight in the middle of the corners but steadily worked his way up in the running order. Keselowski was running in 10th position when he pitted for four tires under green on lap 229. He was battling for 10th position when he was involved in an incident that collected Daniele Suarez and brought out the fifth and final caution of the race on lap 248. Good pit work moved Keselowski up to seventh position for the restart on lap 252 and passed Matt Kenseth in the closing laps to finish the season with a top-five finish.
Quote: "I want to thank everyone on the Discount Tire team for their hard work this season. I really wanted to finish the season with one more win but we came up just a little bit short. These guys never gave up. We were able to get a top-five and that's cool. Congratulations to Joey Logano and everyone on the No. 22 team. Winning the championship is so special and I'm happy for all of those guys."
No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 11th
Stage 2: 15th
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 0
Final Driver Points Standing: 10th
- Ryan Blaney started 14th in Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The driver of the Menards/Richmond Ford Fusion ran well in the opening laps of the 267-lap event. He reported early his car was tight on corner entry and loose off. Blaney would make his first green flag pit stop on lap 35 where crew chief Jeremy Bullins called for tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
- Soon after the pit stop Blaney reported that the air pressure adjustment didn't help his lack of turn on entry and he finished 11th in Stage 1. Bullins continued to tinker with the air pressure in all four tires on the second pit stop on lap 83 in an effort to improve the handling.
- Unfortunately, the No. 12 Ford Fusion continued to lack grip on the corner entry and in the center plus it was very loose on exit. The Menards crew worked with air pressure changes during a green flag pit stop on lap 117 and stop on lap 141 under caution in an effort to get the car to respond. The team improved his entry thanks to adjustments on lap 141 but he was struggling to keep pace with cars on fresh tires. Blaney was credited with a 15th-place finish when Stage 2 concluded on lap 160.
- Running just inches off the outside wall for the majority of the race, Blaney made slight contact with the outside wall on a couple occasions. During a caution on lap 196, Bullins called his driver to pit road for minor repairs to the Menards/Richmond Ford for the final 100 miles of the race.
- Blaney struggled with a tight handling race car for the remainder of the event, scoring a 17th-place finish at the checkered flag. He closes out the 2018 Cup Series season with one win (Charlotte ROVAL) and career-bests in top-five finishes (eight), top-10s (16), laps led (660) and poles (three) on the way to a 10th-place finish in the Cup Series standings.
Quote: "We had a tough day with our Menards/Richmond Ford Fusion. We just couldn't get the balance where we needed it today. Huge congratulations to Joey Logano and the entire Team Penske organization on the second Cup Series championship. I'm also very proud of my entire No. 12 team and all the hard work they've put in this year and we hope for a lot more success in 2019."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 4th
Stage 2: 3rd
Laps Completed: 267/267
Laps Led: 80 (Race-High)
Final Driver Points Standing: 1st
- Joey Logano began his quest for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Sunday afternoon from the fifth position in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Logano topped the speed charts in both of Saturday's practice sessions, and carried the speed into the early laps of the race. Logano moved into the third position by lap 4, all while battling a tight handling Shell-Pennzoil Ford.
- On the first pit stop at lap 37, the team made a four-tire stop, adding fuel and making no additional adjustments to the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion, despite Logano battling a tight condition early on. The temperatures had already begun to fall from the green flag, and the team anticipated the track taking a swing. Logano communicated at lap 45 that in fact his Ford Fusion was turning better than it had on the previous run.
- During the second run, Logano reported that what he gained following the first pit stop was the ability to move around to different lines. Ultimately, he needed the Shell-Pennzoil Ford to be freer to run the faster line around the bottom. The call on the second pit stop of the day was for air pressure, and, on the stage 2 restart, Logano quickly powered from fourth to second in the opening lap.
- Logano powered to the lead for the first time at lap 91, passing the No. 42 of Kyle Larson, proving the air pressure adjustment went the right direction. During the long runs, Logano continued to battle a lack of forward drive off the corners. On the fourth pit stop of the race, crew chief Todd Gordon called for a four-tire air pressure adjustment and added tape to the nose of the No. 22 Ford Fusion.
- At the end of the second stage, Logano reported that he was battling both loose and tight conditions depending on clean air or dirty air on the nose of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion. The team elected to go back on the left front air pressure adjustment, making no additional changes on the fifth stop of the race. With quick pit work, the Shell-Pennzoil crew sent Logano back out with the race lead.
- While leading at lap 190, Logano reported the Shell-Pennzoil Ford was turning much better in the center, but was slightly free. With a lap 193 caution, Logano reported that the balance of the Ford Fusion was the best it had been all race. A quick pit stop with only tape added to the nose kept Logano in the lead, and on the ensuing restart, maintained the lead and drove off to over a one-second lead.
- In the closing 15 laps, Logano would battle with 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion Martin Truex Jr, making an assertive pass to the outside entering turn 1, Logano would clear Truex Jr and race to his first career NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship and the 21st victory of his career.
- Logano claimed his first Cup championship becoming the 33rd different series champion. The Middletown, Conn. native is first driver from the state of Connecticut to win a Cup title. Logano is the fifth different driver to win the series championship in the elimination-style Playoff format. He finished the 2018 season with three wins, 13 top fives, 22 top 10s and a pole. During the Playoffs this season, Logano has produced two wins and six top five finishes.
- The championship is the second for Team Penske in the Cup series – previous title: 2012 with Brad Keselowski. This is Team Penske's sixth NASCAR National Series Owners Championship (two in Cup, four in NASCAR XFINITY Series).
- Logano became the eighth different driver to win a MENCS championship with Ford Performance.
- This is crew chief Todd Gordon's first MENCS championship. Gordon has 19 career Cup series wins, all with Logano.
Quote: "We did it! We won the championship! I can't believe it. I don't know what to say. The Shell-Pennzoil team gave me a great Ford Fusion that I needed at the end to do my job. I couldn't be more proud of them. We were the favorite like I said before the race started. I am so proud of everybody for rising to the occasion. We executed down the stretch like nobody's business. I have to thank everyone that supports us. Shell and Pennzoil, SKF, Ford. We got Ford not only the driver's championship but the manufacturers' championship. I can't wait to break that Mustang out next season. I worked my whole life to get here and to win a championship and we have been so close. It has been 10 seasons of fighting for this. Todd made a good adjustment at the end and we had that no quit attitude. I knew we had a short-run car. I said it before the race started that if it was anything longer than 25 laps we were going to be in trouble. It came down to the short run and we are champions."