Team Penske and Front Row Notes

No. 2 Wester Star/Alliance Parts Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Start: 4th 
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 1st - Sixth stage win of the 2020 season
Finish: 1st – Third win of the 2020 season  
Status: Running  
Laps Completed: 301/301
Laps Led: 184
Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-81)

• Brad Keselowski scored his third win of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season in dominating fashion Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Keselowski led the most laps, won Stage 2, and crossed the finish line -nearly two seconds ahead of Denny Hamlin to score the victory.  The driver of the Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford Mustang grabbed his second victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He is second in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 81 points behind leader Kevin Harvick. • Keselowski started fourth and was a part of some fiercely close racing throughout Stage 1. He was running second when he pitted during a caution on lap 63, just 12 laps from the end of the segment. After restarting 12th, Keselowski rallied over the final eight green flag laps to score a fifth-place stage finish. • The driver of the No. 2 Mustang ran inside the top-five throughout Stage 2. He and Denny Hamlin raced hard for the lead throughout the segment. He cleared Hamlin for the lead on lap 146 and began to pull away, building up a three-second lead as the stage drew to a close. A caution on lap 179 set up a two-lap dash to the finish. Keselowski and Hamlin raced hard for the stage win, with Keselowski edging his rival by a car length for the stage win, his sixth of the 2020 season. • Once again crew chief Jeremy Bullins made call to stay on the track during the stage caution. Keselowski was leading when he pitted during a caution on lap 205 for four tires and fuel. A mix of strategies shuffled him back to 10th for the restart on lap 208 but quickly worked his way through the field. • He passed Hamlin for the lead on lap 221 and led the final 81 laps, steadily pulling away from the field. The race stayed green and Keselowski remained out front, collecting his 33rd-career Cup Series victory. 

Quotes: “I’m really proud of my Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford Mustang team and the effort that they gave today. Thank you to everyone at Team Penske.  It’s so great to be racing back in front of fans again. I’m just really thankful.  I’m in a great spot here and hungry for more wins.  I think this is my fifth straight year with three wins, but I don’t want to stop there.  I want us to keep going and I know this team can do it.” 
No. 12 Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Start: 12th
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 20th
Finish: 20th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 301/301
Laps Led: 5
Point Standings (Behind First): 4th (-118)

• Ryan Blaney started 12th and finished 20th in Sunday’s Foxwoods 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The driver of the Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang battled all day for the track position he desperately needed late in the event. • Blaney started 12th and ran there until the first caution on lap 15. Crew chief Todd Gordon opted to pit for four tires and a significant track bar adjustment. Blaney would work his way to eighth prior to the competition caution on lap 30. • He would remain on-track, restart fourth and run as high as second behind teammate Brad Keselowski. A late-stage caution would set up an eight-lap run to the Stage 1 conclusion, and despite restarting first, Blaney would finish in the sixth position. • After driving up 14th in Stage 2, another caution would see Blaney remain on-track during pit stops. Restarting second, he would steadily fall back through the field and was forced to make a pit stop on lap 170 under green for tires and fuel. A timely caution would allow Blaney to get the wave-around, finishing Stage 2 in the 20th-position.  • During the final stage break, Blaney remained on-track and restarted from the 17th-position. After a quick cycle back up to the top-five with pit stops, Blaney would make it his final stop of the day on lap 214. Restarting 22nd, the High Point, NC native would get to as high as 16th before the ill-handle Ford Mustang would fall to 20th at race’s end. • Blaney now sits fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 118 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.

Quote: “It was a tough day for our Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang. We struggled with the balance and our strategy did not work out. We will put it behind us and focus on the Michigan double-header next week.”
No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang – Joey Logano 
Start:  9th
Stage 1: 8th
Stage 2: 3rd
Finish: 4th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 301/301
Laps Led: 0 
Point Standings (Behind First): 6th (-150)

• Joey Logano started ninth and finished fourth in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang. Logano and the No. 22 Ford team ran a solid race all afternoon despite a setback on the first pit stop of the race, consistently running lap times as fast as the race leaders. • Logano moved forward early in the race, reaching the second position before the lap 30 competition caution. A slow pit stop when the air hose got hung up on an electrical box resulted in a major track position loss for the team with Logano restarting in the 23rd position. Just prior to the stage break, the team would again pit under caution, ultimately finishing the stage in the eighth position. • As the second stage began, Logano reported he was struggling with corner entry security, so at lap 97 the team elected to make further air pressure adjustments on the AAA Insurance Mustang. Logano worked into the second position behind race leader Denny Hamlin with persistent pressure from teammate Brad Keselowski running in third. Logano ultimately finished in the third position. • Logano would begin the final stage feeling confident in the handling of the AAA Insurance Mustang, hoping the team had corrected braking issues by pulling tape on the cooling ducts. Logano reported only one time during the final stage that the brakes were getting soft, while he continued to run inside the top-five. • The final stage featured a long green flag run with Logano settling into the fourth position. The fourth-place finish was Logano’s second top-five in the last three races. The series moves next to Michigan International Speedway where Logano has three NASCAR Cup Series victories and is the defending race winner of the FireKeepers Casino 400.

Quote: “This has been a challenging racetrack and to be able to kind of work through it and have a solid run, I feel good about that.  We pitted when we probably shouldn’t have. We made a fuel-only stop to get our track position back and then the run went long, so the fuel-only made us loose. I was really hoping for a caution there at the end, but, overall, it was a solid day for our AAA Insurance Ford Mustang.”

John Hunter Nemechek
No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang

Started: 36th
Finished: 36th (out)

• Stage One: 11th • Stage Two: 18th • Stage Three: 36th (out) • John Hunter Nemechek took the green flag in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the 36th place, following a random draw for starting position. After the first handful of laps, he radioed to the team that his No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang “started off on the splitter… getting tight center off.” He pitted at the Competition Caution for 4 tires with an air pressure adjustment, fuel and a track bar adjustment. When a caution came out on Lap 62, Nemechek said the previous adjustment helped, but he still needed “more rotation through the center.” He pitted for 4 tires, fuel and another track bar adjustment under yellow. By the end of Stage 1, Nemechek had made his way into the 11th position and told Crew Chief Seth Barbour that he was “good right there… I like the way that’s going.” He and Barbour opted not to pit during the Stage Break Caution. • Shortly after Stage 2 got underway, the caution flag flew for rain at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. However, the track managed to stay dry enough that a red flag pause was not needed. Nemechek brought his No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang to pit road for 4 tires and fuel under caution. Once the race restarted, Nemechek settled into the top 20 for a longer green flag run. When the caution came out on Lap 170, Nemechek told the crew that he had “lost grip in the tires as the run went on.” He pitted for 4 tires with a slight air pressure adjustment and fuel under caution. There were only a few green flag laps remaining in Stage 2, but by the end, Nemechek said the car felt pretty good. He would take the green- and white-checkered flag in the 18th position. • Nemechek would start the Final Stage of Sunday’s race in 16th place. On Lap 197, he noted that his No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang was free to fire off. When a caution came a few laps later, Nemechek said he was still on the free side and that it was hard to predict what the tires would do while running the top line. He pitted for 4 tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. On Lap 212, Nemechek had a tire go down and hit the wall in Turn 3, bringing an unfortunate early end to his day.

Nemechek on New Hampshire:

• “That was definitely a hard hit, but I’m okay. An unfortunate end to our day in the No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang. We had a fast car and were pretty good on the short run. We struggled a little on the long run, but overall we had a fast race car. I can't thank my guys enough for how we unloaded. We unloaded with speed and felt good about our situation. We had a top-15 car today, but we pitted for tires towards the end and must have run something over and had a left front tire go down, which ended our day. Really appreciate the support from our partners at CITGARD, coming on board with us today. We’ll have them back with us again a few more times this season, so we’ll still have another chance to get them a great finish."


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 8, Posted 10:01 PM, 08.02.2020