Engine Woes Dash Chase Hopes
Brad Keseloski and Martin Truex Jr. saw their championship hopes dashed during Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Truex Jr. was running in the top-10 for the first 40 laps. However, his engine expired shortly after green-flag pit-stops cycled through. The expiration of the engine was a surprise for Truex Jr.
“Just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power. Originally I thought it could have been a tire because it was shaking worse and worse and worse until it was time to pit. I slowed down to hit pit road and felt the vibration still there and knew it was the engine,” said Truex.
After dominating the first round of the Chase, the second round started off on the wrong foot at Charlotte. Those struggles continued to struggle throughout the “Round of 12”. Truex described this round of the chase as a “rollercoaster”. He wishes he would have had better runs at Charlotte and Kansas in an effort to have a “free pass” this weekend at Talladega.
Despite his struggles in the second round, Truex is still confident and proud in his team. “They’ve worked so hard this year to put us in the position to battle for a championship and we felt like we could do it. This year and this sport is tough and we didn’t perform at Kansas and Charlotte the way we were capable and we had some issues there and that put us in the hole and if we could have went there and done better and maybe got a win then we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. We didn’t get the job done, but we’ve got a great team and we’ve got four more races to go out there and try to get a win and I know we can win all four of them and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
For Keselowski, his engine expired as he was running, but the problem could have been avoided. While leading the race, Keselowski had gained a piece of debris on his grille.
While leading the race, Paul Wolfe, crew chief, and Joey Mier, spotter, were arguing about what Keselowski should do to get the debris off. They finally reached a point of consensus to let Ryan Blaney get in front of Keselowski to get the debris off the grille. However, shortly after the move was made, the engine expired off the backstretch bringing out the caution.
“Something let go. I’m not sure exactly what, but it’s unfortunate. We had a really fast Miller Lite Ford and that kind of ended our day. It was a lot of fun to be leading at Talladega. I really like this track. It’s been good to us and there are a lot of great fans here today. We were doing the best we could to make a show of it and have some fun and lead some laps and just happy and proud to have a fast car,” said Keselowski.
Due to the engine issues, Keselowski and Truex Jr. were eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The plan for both drivers is to win the remaining four races of the season.
Logano Leaves Talladega Unscathed
With the Hellmann’s 500 going into NASCAR Overtime, fuel becoming an issue in the closing laps, and receiving an early penalty for removing equipment, Joey Logano was victorious at Talladega Superspeedway to advance in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Logano is the lone driver from Team Penske to advance for a championship. This is Logano’s second victory of 2016.
“It’s never a layup here at Talladega. It’s always close. You never get a big lead. A good Shell/Pennzoil Ford. Todd made some good adjustments during the race and found some speed in the car, so that was pretty neat to see some of that. We got that track position and just hung onto it. I was able to stay on the bottom and try to run the bottom and keep everyone in line, and that worked out really well. Kevin did a good job with that, which ultimately got us all a great finish. It was fun racing there at the end. I was really confused. I didn’t know what lane to pick coming to the last restart, but I knew Kevin had a lot of experience in these situations and is great at speedway racing, so he did a good job of pushing me out and then had to defend the top lane with Brian Scott, so a couple of Fords out front here at Talladega is pretty cool,” said Logano in a post race interview.
The first half saw the level of attrition at an all time high. Second-place qualifier, Brad Keselowski, took an early lead fending off three-wide racing behind him. However, Martin Truex Jr. was able to find a hole to challenge Keselowski to the lead, but was unable to gain to the lead. Chase Elliott tried to make his move on Keselowski for numerous laps to capture the lead with help from Greg Biffle and was successful. After leading a couple laps, Keselowski was able to side-draft off Elliott to regain the lead. As the first round of green flag pit stops began, the main draft split in half to go down pit road. Logano was penalized for removing his jack from pit road as Denny Hamlin was penalized for speeding. Truex Jr. had a catastrophic engine failure to bring out the first caution of the day shortly after green-flag stops. When the race went back green, Keselowski regained the lead to block the momentum from the drivers behind him. Keselowski attempted to block Elliott, but Elliott was able to gain the lead. Elliott’s lead lasted shortly as Greg Biffle challanged and gained the lead. Keselowski lost drafting help and dropped back. The field began to settle down and went single file on the high-line. As the field went single-file, Biffle reported a piece of debris on his grill. However, the conga line on the high lane broke as Keselowski dropped out of the line to make a valiant charge to the front. Elliott made a move on the inside of Biffle to regain the lead, and to knock the debris off the grille of Biffle. As green flag pit stops cycled through, Keselowski regained the lead. At the halfway point, Keselowski was the race leader, Ryan Blaney was in second, Kurt Busch was third, Hamlin was fourth, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five.
As the race entered the halfway point, Elliott tried to reform the bottom line from the Talladega Conga Line, but failed to have more drivers join him. The main draft began to spread out some instead of being bumper-to-bumper. As Keselowski was dealing with overheating, Hamlin and Blaney split Keselowski giving Hamlin the lead. However, the caution flew for a wreck involving Biffle, Casey Mears, and Jeffrey Earnhardt entering into the tri-oval. On the restart, Hamlin was able to get lead and block his lead. However, Keselowski was able to regain the lead. The race returned to the conga line at the top of the racetrack. After a few laps in a single file line, Elliott began to lead a group to form a bottom lane, but the lane never came into fruition. However, Keselowski had another piece of debris on his grille, but used Ryan Blaney to clean that debris off; however, it was too late as Keselowski slowed onto the apron as his engine expired. Logano gained the lead on the restart, but the caution shortly fell for debris on the backstretch. As the race restarted, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, who were waiting in the back, began to lose the draft. Landon Cassill saved the field from wrecking in the tri-oval as he got loose. However, Logano was reporting debris on his grille, but that caused no harm. The caution flag flew for an accident in turn three for a spin by Kasey Kahne involving Trevor Bayne and Jamie McMurray. On the restart, Logano and Harvick were head-to-head, but the caution flew for a spin by Alex Bowman. Under the caution flag, many drivers were concerned about fuel, but fuel was no issue, resulting in a victory for Logano. Brian Scott finished second, Hamlin finished third, Ku. Busch finished fourth, and Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-five.
The Chase for the Sprint Cup Series saw four drivers having to wait another year. Keselowski was knocked out after his engine blew on lap for waiting too long to get debris off his grille. Truex Jr. also saw his chances for a championship diminish after his engine went sour on lap 43 shortly after the completion of green-flag pit stops. Austin Dillon’s championship hopes were dashed as the checkered flag flew. Dillon lost in a tiebreaker with Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was able to beat Kurt Busch by .006 seconds after Harvick let off the gas to avoid wrecking Hamlin. Despite having a 12th place finish, Elliott needed a win to advance, but could not get the drafting help to make a charge to the front.
The drivers who advanced will have their points reset to 4000. Logano will be the top seed, followed by, Jimmie Johnson, Harvick, Kenseth, Edwards, Hamlin, Ku. Busch, and Ky. Busch. The eliminated Chase drivers show Truex Jr. in the top-position. Keselowski is 23 points back from Truex, A. Dillon is 28 points behind, Elliott is 35 points behind, Kyle Larson is 36 points behind, Tony Stewart is 50 points behind, McMurray is 81 points behind, and Chris Buescher is 82 points behind.
The race saw an average speed of 159.905 mph. The time of race was 3 hours, 11 minutes, and 38 seconds. The margin of victory was 0.124 mph. There were 31 lead changes among 14 drivers. The caution flew six times for 25 laps. Only three drivers were listed as out of the race. Only 14 penalties were assessed on pit road. 34 cars were able to finish on the lead lap.
All cars passed post-race inspection. 10 of the 12 Chase drivers were inspected as the cars of Keselowski and Truex were not fit to be inspected. Logano, Scott, Hamlin, A. Dillon, and Stenhouse Jr. are being taken back the R&D center for further inspection.
Despite having engine issues, Keselowski was able to lead the most laps at 90. Logano was able to lead 45 laps, Biffle led 13 laps, Hamlin led 12 laps, Elliott led nine laps, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael Annett were able to lead six laps, Blaney was able to lead three laps, Ky. Busch and Truex Jr. led two laps, and A. Dillon, Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and Tony Stewart all led one lap.
Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be at trip to Martinsville Speedway for the Goodys Fast Relief 500. Coverage from Martinsville will begin on Friday with first practice at 11:00 a.m. EST on NBCSN.
Logano Spoils Larson's Show
After a dominating performance by Kyle Larson, it was Joey Logano who was able to take the victory in the rain-delayed Drive for the Cure 300. This is Logano’s second victory of 2016
“I knew my only shot was on the restart. I knew the car was good on the short run. I knew this was my one shot,” said Logano in a post race victory lane interview.
“I really wanted to win this race. Anytime i get to run this pink car it is very sentimental to me and my family. All I could think about those last seven laps is that the door would be left open for me to win the race. It shows how hard my team works,” said second-place finisher, Elliott Sadler.
The first half went green until Ray Black Jr. spun at the time of the completion caution. Larson dominated the first 50 laps, but was passed for the lead by Erick Jones, but Larson quickly regained the lead as they battled through lap traffic. After a long green flag run, the caution flag flew for debris. However, Larson continued to show off his dominance. At the halfway point it was Larson, E. Jones, Logano, Poole, and Harvick.
In the second half of the race, the field stayed green and underwent green flag pit stops. Brennan Poole was struggling with electrical issues, but the car kept backfiring on him after the pit stop. E. Jones was having trouble finding grip. Justin Allgaier continued to struggle with his transmission issues. After nearly lapping the whole field, Larson remained the leader as E. Jones made his way to pit road and had an uncontrolled tire with 25 laps to go to bring out the caution. As the race restarted from that caution, Larson was able to gain the lead, but the caution flew shortly after from a spin by Dakota Armstrong. On the restart, Logano was able to pass Larson to take the lead to win the race. Sadler finished second, Daniel Suarez finished third, Larson finished fourth, and E. Jones rounded out the top-five.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series closes out the ‘Round of 12’ with Suarez and Sadler holding victories going into the ‘Round of 8’. Also advancing include Allgaier, E. Jones, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed, Darrell Wallace Jr., and Blake Koch.
Larson led the most laps at 165 followed by E. Jones with 21, Logano with 12, and Allgaier and Sieg both led one lap. There were 12 lead changes among these five drivers. Ty Dillon missed advancing by one point, Poole missed by five points, Sieg missed the cutoff by six points, and Brandon Jones missed the cut by 21 points.
The race saw an average speed of 143.560 mph. The time of race was 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 23 seconds. The margin of victory was 0.462 seconds. The caution flew four times for 19 laps.
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Kansas Lottery 300 from Kansas Speedway. Motor Racing Network and NBC will have the coverage.
Tagliani Captures Road America Pole
Alex Tagliani wins the pole for Saturday’s Road America 180. He outlast Michael McDowell in the final round. This is his eighth start in NASCAR Xfinity competition. This is Tagliani’s fourth career pole. However, he is looking for his first career win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
The first round of qualifying was eventful due to a couple cars going off the course. Alon Day had trouble and ended up in the gravel trap off of Canada Corner after flat spotting his tired going into the fifth turn. The session was stopped to help get Day out of the gravel trap. Owen Kelly set a new track record in qualifying with a speed of 109.604 mph. However, Kelly’s track record did not last long as Tagliani and McDowell were the only two to top that record in the first round. McDowell will hold the new record. Josh Bilicki also wrecked in the opening session bringing out the red flag after hitting the tire barriers after going into the first turn way too fast. McDowell was fastest in this round with a speed of 110.37 mph, Tagliani was second at a speed of 110.043, Kelly was third at a speed of 109.604 mph, Ryan Reed was fourth at a speed of 109.407 mph, and Justin Marks rounded out the top-five with a speed of 109.407 mph. No drivers will go home. Some notable drivers who did not advance to the second round were Darrell Wallace Jr who qualified 13th and Elliott Sadler who qualified 14th.
As the second round began, majority of the drivers jumped on the speedway, except Erik Jones, who waited to hit the track to cool down his engine and tires because of a late run in the first round. Tagliani won the pole with a speed of 109.866 mph, McDowell qualified second with a speed of 109.591 mph, Marks qualified third at a speed of 109.196 mph, Kelly will start fourth with a speed of 109.129 mph, and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top five with a speed of 108.644 mph.
The Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville will begin at 3PM EST on NBCSN and Motor Racing Network. Pre-race show for NBCSN and Motor Racing Network will begin at 2:30PM EST.
Keselowski Saves Enough
Brad Keselowski steals the show by saving enough fuel to win the Quaker State 400. Carl Edwards finished second followed by Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart. This is Keselowski’s third win at Kentucky. Keselowski continues the streak of winning at Kentucky in even numbered years.
"I’ve got to give credit to my guys, the Roush Yates Engine shop, and everybody at Ford. We knew the fuel mileage. We went out and we set a really fast pace there on that restart and was just using fuel, and then it became obvious that you were gonna have to save fuel at the end, but I already used so much. It’s a testament to our guys to have the fuel mileage that we did to be able to get back what I burnt early in the run and get the Miller Lite Ford in Victory Lane. It’s number four this year. Gosh, that’s great. Usually these repaves are kind of my Achilles heel, but to get a win here at Kentucky. I know it’s been a good track for us in the past, but this isn’t the same Kentucky, I can tell you that. These cars were tough to drive today, but a good tough. This was a hard-fought battle and I’m really proud of everybody on the 2 crew to get win number four and take that first place,” says Keselowski in victory lane.
The Quaker State 400 experienced 16 lead changes among nine different drivers. Kevin Harvick led the most laps at 128 followed by Brad Keselowski with 75, Martin Truex Jr. with 46, Kurt Busch with 10, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, and Danica Patricl all led two laps, Austin and Ty Dillon both led one lap.
The caution flag flew 11 times to tie the record set last year for 53 laps. The first caution flew for an accident by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in turn three. The second caution was the competition caution. The third caution was for an accident by Jimmie Johnson off turn four. Joey Logano brought out the fourth caution with an accident in turn three. Matt Dibenedetto caused the fifth caution with an accident in turn three. The rookies of Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott brought out the sixth caution for a spin in turn three. The ‘Big One’ involved Danica Patrick, Regan Smith, Chris Buescher, Kyle Larson, Brian Scott, AJ Allmendinger, Ty Dillon, and Cole Whitt to bring out the seventh caution. The eighth caution was brought out by Smith. Patrick and Clint Bowyer brought out the ninth caution with an accident in turn four. Allmendinger brought out the 10th caution. Landon Cassill brought out the final caution with an accident in turn two.
Kevin Harvick maintains the points lead. Keselowski is four points behind Harvick followed by Kurt Busch (-16), Carl Edwards (-33), and Joey Logano (-66).
Keselowski retakes the top seed in the Chase Grid with four wins. Kyle Busch is currently seeded second with three wins followed by Johnson and Edwards who have two wins, and Hamlin, Harvick, Kenseth, Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Logano, and Stewart.
The average speed of the race was 128.580 mph. The time of race was 3 hours, 6 minutes, and 55 seconds. The margin of victory was .175 seconds.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series packs up from Kentucky Speedway to head to the flat one-mile oval, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, for the New Hampshire 301. Performance Racing Network and NBCSN will have coverage from New Hampshire beginning at 1:30 pm eastern on July 17.