Track: Phoenix Raceway
Race: Season Finale 500
Date: November 8, 2020
No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 4th
Stage 2: 1st
Laps Completed: 312/312
Laps Led: 16
Final Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-5)
- Despite a valiant effort by Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Discount Tire team, they will finish second in today's Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway and as the runner up in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) standings. Keselowski charged hard and raced within the top-five most of the day, but ultimately fell short to 2020 NCS Champion, Chase Elliott.
- Keselowski started third and ran second behind teammate Joey Logano to the competition caution on lap 30. The balance on the Discount Tire Ford was too free during the run and crew chief Jeremy Bullins made a track bar adjustment plus four tires during the stop under yellow on lap 33. Keselowski restarted eighth when the race went back green on lap 36. For the remainder of the stage, the balance on the Discount Tire Ford swung to the tight side but Keselowski overcame the handling and scored a fourth-place finish when the segment ended on lap 75. He pitted during the stage caution for a left-rear wedge adjustment and restarted fourth on lap 83.
- In Stage 2, Keselowski was running fourth when a vibration forced him to pit under green on lap 128, earlier than scheduled. Fortunately, the race stayed green and Keselowski emerged third when the pit cycle was completed on lap 155.
- The third caution of the day slowed the pace on lap 160 and Keselowski restarted fifth after pitting for four tires and air pressure adjustments. From there he drove to the front grabbed the lead from Elliott on lap 173. He and Elliott waged an entertaining battle for the lead over the final 17 laps of the stage with Keselowski making the pass to win the segment on lap 190, the final lap of the segment. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and restarted eighth when the race went green on lap 200.
- Keselowski had great long-run-speed throughout the third and final stage of the 2020 season. Throughout multiple pit stops to help the handling on the No. 2 Ford, Keselowski continued to gain positions on the track. Keselowski managed to pass teammate, Joey Logano, late in the third stage, but unfortunately could not chase down the leader. Keselowski would finish the race in the second position to secure his best finish in the series standings since his 2012 championship season.
Quote: "I would have liked to have one of those late-race yellows like we saw in the truck race and the Xfinity race. I thought we were pretty good there and just didn't have the track position to make it show. I knew we had a good shot at the end of the second stage and just couldn't keep it up in a spot to where we could have the lead. I am really proud of the speed we had in the Discount Tire Ford. It was a solid day. I just wish we had one more spot."
No. 12 Menards/Moen Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 5th
Laps Completed: 312/312
Laps Led: 1
Final Point Standings (behind first): 9th (-2704)
- Ryan Blaney ran near the front of the field for the entirety of Sunday's Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway before finishing fifth. The driver of the Menards/Moen Ford Mustang collected his 17th top-10 finish to close out the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
- Blaney started fifth and made his way up to fourth by the competition caution on lap 30. He would pit on lap 33, taking four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment. After restarting in the sixth position, Blaney would make his way back to fifth when Stage 1 concluded on lap 75.
- Blaney began Stage 2 from the sixth position before making his way up to fifth by lap 100 and fourth by lap 120. He would pit under green on lap 136 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. Blaney would cycle back to the fifth position when the third caution of the day flew on lap 162. Blaney would pit again for tires and an air pressure adjustment on lap 163 before restarting sixth. He would make his way to fifth when Stage 2 ended on lap 190.
- Blaney would start the final stage of the race from the fifth position on lap 200. The race's longest green flag run would ensue and Blaney remained fifth through the final cycle of green flag pit stops. Unfortunately, Blaney would report rising water temperatures as a piece of debris covered the nose of the Menards/Moen Ford Mustang. As a result, Blaney would fall back to sixth when the checkered flag waived after 312 laps.
- Blaney concluded the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series ninth in the final standings, tying career-best in top-five finishes and surpassing the most laps led by him in a season with 668.
Quote: "We had a really good Menards/Moen Ford Mustang today. We worked on slight balance changes throughout the race and felt like we had a top-five car. We got something on the grille late and I was losing power, so I lost a spot late which stunk. Big thank you to Todd Gordon and this entire team. I felt like we made a bunch of progress throughout the season with communication, even with the challenges of this year. I look forward to coming back stronger in 2020."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 1st
Stage 2: 3rd
Laps Completed: 312/312
Laps Led: 125
Final Point Standings (behind first): 3rd (-6)
- Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang team finished third in Sunday's Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway. The driver of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang was in contention before fading to third late in the event. The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Champion led four times on the day for 125 laps.
- After taking the lead on the opening lap, Logano took control of the race for the opening 30 laps despite fighting a loose-handling Shell-Pennzoil Mustang on corner exit. Under the competition caution, crew chief Paul Wolfe made air pressure and wedge adjustments to work on the corner exit condition. Logano would continue to lead until the end of the first stage, reporting no balance change with the first round of adjustments, leading to an air pressure and stagger change on the stage ending stop.
- Logano continued to lead the early laps of the second stage before fading to third as the laps progressed after reporting a small pulsation in the brake pedal, despite not losing braking power. The team adjusted the air pressure and trackbar on the third stop of the race at lap 135. Following the stop Logano reported the balance was decent on the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford and the vibration was gone. A caution late in the second stage would bring the field back to pit road with Logano exiting in the fourth position.
- As the second stage concluded with Logano in the third position, the driver reported the No. 22 Ford Mustang was as good as it had been all race in terms of balance, but he still needed more drive off the corners. Under the caution, the team again adjusted air pressure and added a significant amount of tape to the nose of the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang. Quick work by the team netted Logano a position leaving the pits.
- As the final stage continued, Logano ran in the second position reporting only oil and water temperatures to the team as the laps continued to click off. A pit call at lap 259 by Paul Wolfe brought the Shell-Pennzoil Ford to pit road for the final pit stop, one lap before then race leader Chase Elliott, allowing Logano to leapfrog into the lead as the cycle completed.
- Try as he might, Logano tried to hold off Elliott before giving up the lead on lap 269. Eventually Team Penske teammate and fellow title contender Brad Keselowski would pass him second position late and Logano would cross the line in the third position.
Quote: "I just didn't have the speed at the right time. Early in the race our Shell Pennzoil Mustang was really fast. Our pit crew was on it. Our strategy got us out front there at the end, but the 9 seemed like he lit off there pretty good there and that last run was able to go really fast, and then got another vibration there towards the end of the run and lost the turn and was still a little free off. We were close. Everyone executed and did their job and that's what we should be most proud of and is how far we've come from the beginning of the season to now as a team. There's a lot to be proud of. It stings not winning. I'm not going to lie, it hurts, but at the same time we're stronger because we went through it."