NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - Martinsville
November 1, 2021
Track: Martinsville Speedway
Race: XFINITY 500
Date: October 31, 2021
No. 2 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 8th
Laps Completed: 501/501
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-2677)
- Brad Keselowski's late-race rally Sunday evening at Martinsville Speedway came up short of landing the driver of the Dent Wizard Ford in victory land and a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4. Keselowski finished third and fell eight points short of racing for a championship next week at Phoenix Raceway.
- The first stage was uneventful and productive for Keselowski. He ran among the top-five throughout the segment and claimed a fifth-place finish when it ended on lap 130. The balance on Keselowski's Mustang was loose on entry and tight near corner exit. He pitted for four tires and an air pressure adjustment during the stage caution and restarted fourth on lap 140.
- The handling characteristics of the No. 2 Ford stayed much the same during Stage 2. Keselowski still needed to turn better near the exit, but he brushed that aside to run consistently inside the top-10, scoring an eighth-place finish when the segment concluded on lap 260. He and Kyle Busch twice waged an entering battle for positions during the stage with Keselowski passing Busch for the position in the closing laps of the segment. Keselowski pitted for four tires and a track bar adjustment under caution on lap 264 and lined up ninth when the race went green on lap 269.
- Stage 3 began as a struggle for Keselowski and the Dent Wizard team as they tried to improve the handling characteristics of their Mustang. After three pit stops, the adjustments by crew chief Jeremy Bullins brought the car to life with just over 100 laps to go. Keselowski restarted 13th on lap 384 and from there the march to the front was on. On lap 391 he was inside the top-10 and on lap 423 he had climbed into the top-five. Bullins made the call to pit on lap 438 for his final stop and 2 Crew responded with a fast stop that kept Keselowski in contention. By lap 460 Keselowski was up to third and he briefly ran second before settling into fourth position as the event drew to a close. The final caution on lap 495 pushed the race into NASCAR Overtime and set up a frantic green-white-checkered finish. Keselowski restarted third for the two-lap dash but couldn't get closer to the front before the checkered flag waved.
Quote: "We gave it all we had. We just needed to be a little bit faster in stage two to get us a handful of points and be closer, and then at the end I was just too loose. I just couldn't quite get it perfectly tweaked in, but all in all, a pretty good run. We all just threw everything we had at it. I felt we were getting closer at the end. Jeremy Bullins and the Dent Wizard team really dialed the thing in as close as we could get, but that was just all we had."
No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 12th
Stage 2: 13th
Laps Completed: 501/501
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 7th (-2692)
- Ryan Blaney started eighth and finished 11th in Sunday afternoon's XFINITY 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the penultimate race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. The 11th place finish would cause the No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford team to fall short of reaching the Championship 4 next week at Phoenix Raceway. Blaney currently sits seventh in the point standings heading into next week's season finale.
- In the opening stage, Blaney struggled with a tight No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang, even after the team adjusted with two-rounds of trackbar during the competition caution at lap 60. Blaney also took significant left rear damage after contact with another competitor, forcing the team to repair the car and lose valuable track position.
- Through the second stage, Blaney reported that the adjustments were making headway, but needed a little more to contend with the race leaders. The No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang finished Stage 2 in the 13th position with the team still seeking to give the driver entry and exit security along with helping the center turn.
- In the final stage, Blaney would receive additional damage to the left rear, resulting in the team returning to pit road under caution to make repairs and also allow the team to make another adjustment on the Menards/Richmond Mustang. Blaney would continue to battle for track-position outside the top-10, trying to mount a second comeback drive in the 500-lap event. However, Blaney would fall just short of the top-10 at the checkered flag, bringing the No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford home in the 11th position.
Quote: "It was definitely frustrating. I was looking forward to today a lot. We had one run where I thought we got going pretty good and drove up into the top 10 and made an adjustment and went right back to where it was. It was kind of a head scratcher today. I wish I could tell you where we missed it at, but I appreciate all the hard work from everybody today. It just wasn't quite enough."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano
Stage 1: 9th
Stage 2: 18th
Laps Completed: 501/501
Laps Led: 9
Point Standings (behind first): 8th (-2692)
- Joey Logano started fifth and finished 10th in Sunday afternoon's XFINITY 500 from Martinsville Speedway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. Logano battled an ill-handling car through the early stages of the event with the team making continual adjustments. In a must-win situation, Logano was unable to mount a final charge to the front, resulting in the No. 22 team missing the cut for the Championship 4 race next week at Phoenix Raceway.
- During the opening 60 laps, Logano reported that he needed additional long run turn in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang, leading the team to make air pressure and trackbar adjustments at the lap 60 competition caution. Logano finished Stage 1 in the ninth position, but reported he still needed significant help over the long run maintaining center turn.
- Logano reported in the second stage that the entry and exit had improved drastically for the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Mustang but was unable to rotate the center of the corner. After Logano finished Stage 2 in the 18th position, the team elected to make a packer change on the stop, with the driver requesting a "kitchen-sink" adjustment on the stage ending stop.
- Alternate pit strategy in the final stage would move Logano from outside the top-10 into the race lead with just over 150 laps remaining in the race. After leading nine laps, Logano would run inside the top-five before fading back to the sixth position with 70 laps remaining.
- The driver would survive multiple late race restarts and one NASCAR overtime period to bring home his 19th top-10 of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. The team currently sits eight in the series standings heading into the final event next week.
Quote: "We just weren't fast enough. We couldn't get the car to turn. It was just a struggle all day. We tried different things, but the car just wouldn't fire off good and ultimately at the end you had to fire off good and we didn't have that either. We tried compromising to try and make everything better, but all that is is a compromise. The guys that win aren't compromising and it just wasn't there."
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