Team Penske and Front Row Motorsports Texas 1 Reports

No. 2 WURTH Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 6th 
Stage 1: 25th
Stage 2: 14th
Finish: 9th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 334/334  
Laps Led: 15
Point Standings (behind first): 3rd (-106)

• Brad Keselowski scored a ninth-place finish Sunday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the WURTH Ford Mustang collected his 13th top-10 finish in 18 NASCAR Cup Series races this season and his ninth at Texas. Keselowski is third in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 106 points behind leader Kevin Harvick. • Keselowski started sixth and had his hands full with the balance on the No. 2 Mustang throughout Stage 1 – mainly struggling to turn in Turns 3 and 4. He was one of the final cars to pit during a cycle of stops on lap 94 and finished 25th when the stage ended on lap 105. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call for a four-tire stop and a major adjustment during the stage caution and pitted again during the third caution on lap 118. • The adjustments by Bullins improved the handling on the WURTH Mustang. Keselowski worked his way through the running order. As they did earlier in the race, Keselowski was one of the final cars to pit during a cycle of green flag stops in Stage 2, stopping on lap 189 and finished 14th when the segment ended 18-laps later. Bullins chose to change left-side tires during the stage caution.  • Keselowski grabbed the lead on the restart and held the top spot for the next 15 laps. But the No. 2 Mustang got more and more loose and the laps ticked off in the stage. As the race entered its final quarter, Bullins made the decision to once again leave Keselowski on the track. A caution on lap 307 in the middle of pit cycle gave Keselowski track position and an opportunity for tires and adjustments for the closing laps of the race. He was seventh when the 10th and final caution set up a two-lap dash to the finish. Keselowski restarted seventh and crossed the finish line ninth when the checkered flag waved.  

Quote: “We started off really struggling and took us a little while to figure out what was wrong. A little before halfway we made some adjustments and the car was just hitting the racetrack really bad and I couldn’t make any speed.  I had to slow down a bunch in the corners, so we worked on that under yellow and kind of gave up our track position working on it and was able to work the cycle to get back up towards the lead, but still didn’t quite have enough speed. So we worked on it again some more and got up to right about fifth and sixth and that was about all we had.  We ended up the last restart on the bottom lane and fell back a spot or two to I think ninth, but, all in all, a decent finish. It’s not the day we were hoping for, but a decent finish and we keep piling in on the top 10s and top fives, which is a good feeling. Our strategy has been really good. Jeremy and I are really clicking on all of those things, just looking to be a little bit faster.  If we can combine our execution with a little more speed, we’re going to be a serious threat to win week in and week out. We’re just not quite there yet.”
No. 12 Menards/Maytag Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 2nd
Stage 1: 1st (First stage win of 2020)
Stage 2: 1st (Second stage win of 2020)
Finish: 7th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 334/334
Laps Led: 150 (Most laps led)
Point Standings (Behind First): 2nd (-91)

• Ryan Blaney started second and finished seventh in Sunday’s 500-mile race at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the Menards/Maytag Ford Mustang had the dominant car all day leading 150 laps and winning both stages, but a late race caution hampered the chances at securing his second victory of 2020.  • Blaney started second and would run there until the lap 20 competition caution. He would pit under the competition caution and restart eighth. Blaney would drive his way to fifth when the pit cycle began on lap 64. Crew chief Todd Gordon would opt to run the fuel window long and Blaney would pit on lap 90 for routine service. Blaney would inherit the lead and go on to win Stage 1, his first stage win of 2020. • Stage 2 began with Blaney restarting first. After falling back to third he drove back to the lead passing Denny Hamlin on lap 126. Through another cycle of green flag pit stops he would go on to win Stage 2. • During the Stage 2 break, Blaney visited pit lane for four tires, fuel, and no changes on No. 12 Ford. Restarting first he would once again fall back to third. Blaney worked his way back around Hamlin for the lead on lap 238. He would make his final pit stop of the day on lap 287.  • Unfortunately, a caution on lap 307 ruined the strategy for Blaney and the No. 12 team. Having to take the waive-around Blaney restarted 16th and managed to work his way back to seventh at race’s end. • Blaney now sits second in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 91 points behind leader Kevin Harvick, entering Thursday’s race at Kansas Speedway.

Quote: “It was a strong start to the day. We were able to start on the front row and get the lead there. We pitted on the competition caution, which I thought was a good call, and that inherited us the lead later and was able to win us that stage with just being fast and being able to make up all the time. Then we were able to do the same thing in the second stage, and I thought we had a good strategy for the last stage and the caution came out maybe eight to ten laps before all the other guys that were on the different strategy would have had to pit, so that just stunk. We had to take the wave around and lined up 15th or something and could only get back to seventh in that short amount of time. It is a disappointing finish, for sure. We had a dominant car all day, especially on long runs, but really proud of that and just unfortunate with the way it ended for us.”
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang – Joey Logano 
Start: 9th
Stage 1: 20th
Stage 2: 2nd
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 334/334
Laps Led: 22
Point Standings (Behind First): 4th (-114)

• Joey Logano started ninth and finished third in Sunday afternoon’s 500-mile event at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang struggled early with the car on the splitter, but positive adjustments throughout the race put the driver in a position to contend in the closing stages of the race, ultimately finishing third. • Through the opening stage, Logano struggled with the splitter hitting the track aggressively through turns 3 and 4, resulting in lost lap time having to lift off the throttle. The team adjusted on the first stop with wedge and on a green flag stop at lap 92, the team elected to add packer to the right front, raising the nose of the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang. Logano finished the stage in the 20th position. • Logano and the Shell-Pennzoil team elected to remain on the track at the end of the first stage, moving to the sixth position with Logano jumping to fourth at lap 114. Logano continued his forward march, reaching the second position, pursuing teammate Ryan Blaney. The team continued improving the car with Logano reaching the second position to finish Stage 2. • In the third stage, Logano continued to run inside the top-10, often inside the top-five reporting the balance was fairly solid on the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang. Logano would race inside the top-five through the closing stages of the race, ultimately finishing in the third position with the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. 

Quote: “Air-pressure is what cost us there. Air-pressure in the tires, just on the splitter too much firing off. It took us 15 laps to get rolling. Our long run speed was incredible, but it took too long and the guys up front were smart, they put fuel only and kept their car off the splitter in three and four over the bumps and maintained the clean air and just couldn’t do it. I could make runs, but I’d get to three and four and start chattering up the racetrack and had these big moments. Overall, I’m proud of what the Shell/Pennzoil Ford team did today, scoring a second-place in the second stage and a third in the finish. It’s not a win, especially when you come to Texas and all the fans here. Thank you guys for coming out, but it’s not the win we were hoping for as I look at the fire in Victory Lane is super-cool, but it’s progress. We’ve had a little rough streak on these 550 (horsepower) races, so I’ll take it as a little bit of a momentum-builder.”

Michael McDowell
No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | Speedco Ford Mustang

Started: 34th
Finished: 15th

• Stage One: 26th • Stage Two: 27th • Stage Three: 15th • Michael McDowell and his No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | Speedco Ford Mustang took the green flag from the 34th position on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Under the Competition Caution, McDowell told the team that his Love's Travel Stops | Speedco Ford Mustang was "bouncing pretty good through 3 and 4 over the bumps" and would pit for 2 tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. With less than 20 laps remaining in Stage 1, McDowell would pit under green for fuel only and would go on to finish Stage 1 from the 26th position. Under the Stage 1 caution, he noted that his No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | Speedco Ford Mustang was "really tight in traffic" and pitted for 4 tires, fuel, a packer and wedge adjustment. • The caution flag would fly early in Stage 2 and McDowell would pit for 4 tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Later in the stage, as the laps began to wind down, the yellow flag would fly again and Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer would call the No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | Speedco Ford Mustang down pit road for 4 new tires, fuel and another track bar adjustment. McDowell would go on to finish Stage 2 from the 27th position. Under the Stage 2 caution, McDowell pitted for 4 tires, fuel, and wedge, track bar and packer adjustments. • In the final stage of Sunday's 500-mile race, Michael McDowell and the No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | Speedco team battled hard both on track and pit road to make adjustments and find speed. The team would rally their way to a Top-15 finish, taking the checkered flag from the 15th position at Texas Motor Speedway. 

McDowell on Texas:

• “That was a long and hot day at Texas Motor Speedway. I'm really proud of my team; they did a great job. We started off really rough and the car was bouncing really bad over the bumps through Turns 3 and 4, but luckily Drew and the guys were able to work on it and get some good adjustments in; move some packer around and finally get it to where the car stopped bouncing and we were okay. From there, we were able to get back on the lead lap and come out with a Top-15. I really appreciate everyone at Love's Travel Stops for coming on board today and I appreciate everyone that has been working on our No. 34 Ford Mustang at Front Row Motorsports. We battled hard today for 500 miles and got a good finish."   Front Row Motorsports   John Hunter Nemechek
No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang

Started: 28th
Finished: 22nd

• Stage One: 21st • Stage Two: 23rd • Stage Three: 22nd
• John Hunter Nemechek took the green flag in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway in the 28th position, following a random draw for the starting lineup. In the first 10 laps, Nemechek radioed that his No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang “fired off loose, but not terrible.” At the Competition Caution on Lap 20, Crew Chief Seth Barbour made the call to try and tighten up the car by pitting for 4 tires, fuel, track bar and packer adjustments, and grille tape. In the remaining laps of Stage 1, Nemechek felt that he couldn’t predict what the rear of the car was going to do, particularly in Turns 1 and 2. Nemechek would take the green- and-white checkered flag in 21st place and pit under the Stage Break Caution for 4 tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment and more grille tape.
• Shortly after Stage 2 began, Nemechek noted that his No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang’s tires were “really slick” and the car was still unpredictable. He stayed quiet on the radio for much of the stage, trying to see where he could run in order to find more grip on the track. Unfortunately, by the time he took the green- and-white checkered flag, the handling still had not improved. Nemechek would finish Stage 2 in 23rd place.
• Shortly after the Final Stage got underway, a wreck happened among the lead cars, causing Nemechek to slide his tires through the grass in order to avoid getting caught up. He pitted for 4 tires and fuel after a brief red flag pause, but still was not satisfied with the handling on his No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang. On Lap 242, Nemechek would spin coming off of Turn 2 after the car “just snapped loose” and spun around on him. He avoided significant damage, but still would be unable to recover for a lead-lap finish. Nemechek took the checkered flag in 22nd place.
Nemechek on Texas:

• “It was a tough day in our No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang. We had some issues and struggled to find a good balance throughout the day. And in the final stage, I think, it just snapped loose on me and spun me around. It’s certainly not the day we were hoping for, for our partners at CITGARD and FleetPride. We’ll talk through it at the shop this week and look for a better run at Kansas."

Ron Fleshman

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2020, Issue 7, Posted 10:28 PM, 07.19.2020