NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Charlotte ROVAL
October 11, 2021
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL
Race: Bank of America ROVAL
Date: October 10, 2021
No. 2 WURTH Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 23rd
Stage 2: 7th
Laps Completed: 109/109
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 8th (-57)
- Brad Keselowski advanced to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs on Sunday, surviving a rollercoaster afternoon at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. Keselowski overcame two different spins and minor damage to WURTH Ford Mustang to finish 20th and keep his 2021 championship hopes alive. He enters the Round of 8 in eighth position in the driver standings, 16 points behind fourth-place Ryan Blaney.
- Keselowski started second and was running fourth early in the race when he was nudged from behind by Alex Bowman in the backstretch chicane and spun. He quickly recovered and rejoined the field in the 38th position. On lap 21, Keselowski pitted for four tires under the second caution and was credited with a 23rd-place finish when Stage 1 ended on lap 25. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to stay on the track during the stage caution and Keselowski moved up to 15th when the race went back green on lap 29.
- In Stage 2, the balance on the No. 2 WURTH Mustang was a handful for Keselowski during the segment, as the car struggled with a lack of grip. Bullins made the call for Keselowski to remain on the track when other leaders chose to pit on lap 47, three laps from the finish of the stage. But Keselowski firmly remained inside the top-10 and was rewarded with a seventh-place finish.
- Keselowski hovered around the cutline in the point standings throughout Stage 3. By lap 86, the balance of WURTH Mustang had improved and he was in position to advance. On lap 90, Keselowski spun again in the backstretch chicane, dropping all the way back to 31st in the running order. He pitted for repairs during the caution and restarted 28th with 14 laps to go. With 10 laps to go, Kevin Harvick (who was ahead of Keselowski in the battle for the final playoff position) was eliminated in an accident in Turn 1. The race went green on lap 101 and Keselowski picked up 11 positions in the closing laps, taking the checkered flag in 20th position.
Quote: "I'm glad I don't have to do that again. We got out of here and advanced and we'll move on to Texas and focus on that. You fight them one at a time and that's what we did today. The WURTH team did an excellent job helping me fight through it. We built a good enough cushion at Talladega to be able to afford a little bit of a rough day and get through it. My team has been so good all year with respect to the pit stops and all those things, and they've kind of carried us in so many different ways."
No. 12 DEX Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 4th
Laps Completed: 109/109
Laps Led: 10
Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-41)
- Ryan Blaney had a solid, uneventful day and finished ninth on Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, allowing he and the No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Mustang to move onto the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs.
- After starting sixth, Blaney maintained a position inside the top-five, taking the lead from teammate Joey Logano on the restart following the lap 10 competition caution. Blaney maintained a position inside the top-five, finishing third in the first stage and collecting eight stage points in the process. On the first pit stop, crew chief Todd Gordon made air pressure adjustments to the DEX Imaging Mustang looking to give Blaney additional grip. Blaney led nine laps in the opening stage.
- During the second stage, Blaney radioed the team that he was struggling with left-rear drive while continuing to pass cars who'd opted for a different strategy in the opening stage, working his way back towards the front and additional stage points. Blaney remained on the track as the laps expired in Stage 2, moving into the top-five to collect another seven more points with his fourth-place finish.
- Blaney continued his forward march and back into the top-10, reaching the seventh position by lap 70, prior to the pit window opening for teams to make their potential final stop. Blaney hit pit road at lap 77 with many of the other playoff competitors, electing to utilize the early window opening to make it to the end of the race.
- With the race taking a turn toward the chaotic side, Blaney would find himself back in the top-10 and in contention to challenge for another top-five finish with a lap 98 caution flag bunching up the field. Blaney would go on to finish ninth, allowing him to easily make it into the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs.
Quote: "It was a solid day. We did well in the stages and got some good stage points. We had to cycle back to the back a couple times, but with the spot we were in a lot of people they just wanted good stage points and we did a good job of that. At the end with all of those late cautions and people in desperation mode you just don't want to get wrecked. You want to just try to finish the race and not get turned around and put yourself in a really bad spot, so was kind of little bit cautious at the end, but we did what we needed to do today and move on. It's nice."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 5th
Laps Completed: 109/109
Laps Led: 4
Point Standings (behind first): 7th (-52)
- Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team survived a late-race incident to still grab a seventh-place finish on Sunday afternoon at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. With the top-10 finish, and a pair of fifth-place finishes in the first two stages, Logano was able to move into the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs, beginning next week at Texas Motor Speedway.
- After starting third, Logano maintained inside the top-five, taking the lead just before the lap 10 competition caution. Logano continued to battle a loose condition on the rear of his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Mustang through the first stage, ultimately finishing the first stage in the fifth position.
- Mired deep in the field following the Stage 1 strategy flip, the No 22 Ford team elected to pit at lap 35 under caution for four fresh tires and fuel. Logano used the tires and charged hard through the field, working his way towards the top-10, then passing other cars as they pitted near the end of the second stage. Logano finished Stage 2 in the fifth position.
- Logano continued his forward march after being cycled back with the team opting for stage points to secure their way into the Round of 8, he continued to run lap times as fast as the race leader when he had clean air as he worked into the 13th position by lap 71, prior to final pit stops. Logano hit pit road at lap 76, allowing the team to stretch the fuel to the end of the race without the assist of another caution.
- In prime position following a caution flag pit stop, Logano worked back into the top-five, being scored fifth before a lap 98 caution flag. Logano would get into a little bit of trouble late, causing damage to the hood of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford. However, Logano would continue to have speed in his car, grabbing a critical seventh-place finish.
Quote: "So much for keeping it clean. That was the plan, but just ended up having a rough day, but ended up finishing seventh and even a shot at a top five or top three towards the end of the race. I'm proud of our Shell/Pennzoil team. I got into Preece and dumped him early in the race and that was my mistake. I just went in there too hard and needed all the racetrack, so the good thing for him is I don't think it affected his day, but, overall, we're moving onto the Round of 8. It's a great accomplishment. We're proud of that. It's onto the next three and try to score a bunch of points maybe or get a win. That might be the easiest way of doing it."
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