What Drives Ford Performance at Restrictor-Plate Events?
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— With the win in the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford Performance has won six of the last races at either Daytona or Talladega.
For many teams, beating any of the Ford drivers at a restrictor plate event is crucial. Brad Keselowski, Stenhouse Jr., and Clint Bowyer discussed the power of Ford Performance this weekend at Daytona. That success is also attributed to the power of Roush-Yates Engines.
“I think that every year we see seem to see different cars and teams and manufacturers have strengths and weaknesses. I think we’re starting to see at this point and time in the season where the Fords have distinct strengths and weaknesses. Probably more that we’ve seen in the last four or five years with the manufacturers. The Fords right now are the best cars on the speedway tracks for a number of reasons. One of which is the power in their engines is very strong a the higher rpms. And with the current gear rules and current engine packages at Daytona and Talladega, the engines sustain higher rpm for the duration of running in the pack,” said Keselowski. “And I think with the bodies, the Ford body on the Gen 6 car lends itself to well to the restrictor plate tracks with having high-efficiencies with respect to its drag characteristics. I would agree that the Fords have some strengths right now on the restrictor plate tracks and probably behind on the other race tracks. Like anything, if your golf game is good on the greens and not good on the driving range you have to make the putts. So the Fords are doing a good job at that. I would like to see it be a little more balanced out with our strengths and weaknesses but with the current landscape that’s where it is right now.”
“Let me just say this: Those Roush Yates engines are phenomenal. Doug does such a great job, puts a lot of emphasis on this plate stuff, takes a lot of pride in it, and he should. Those things run amazing. They take a beating out there. At the end of that thing, I was overheating, blowing water, doing all the things that you know are going to happen when we get like that. I mean, I was pushing him all the way down the back straightaway all the way through 3 and 4. It was just kind of one of those deals,” said Bowyer in his post-race media availability. “We were up against the wall, and I was shoving, and the water temperature was pegged and blowing water. But it's just -- those things are phenomenal. It's amazing any of these engines make it through this stuff. I'm just blown away if you really think about it and look at the mechanics of what those on in them things each and every week, you're looking back at last week, all the rpms and everything that turns, I'm just proud to have that Roush Yates power under our hood.”
“I think it's really strong. I think obviously qualifying showed that our Ford Performance cars are really strong, and I think I kind of echo what Brad said maybe on the broadcast before the race is the high RPM tracks we feel really, really good at. I feel like that's why we run the top of the racetracks, a lot of the racetracks we go to, and the engine package, the bodies, everything is just working really well for the speedways,” said Stenhouse Jr. “And then we work well together. We all practice together, and it was nice to be able to use your Ford teammates throughout the race to keep us up front, and even -- all the Fords, David Ragan's car was fast there. He's a good speedway racer. So we feel like we've still got work to do on other racetracks, but it's nice to capitalize on -- when you have the opportunity to, and that's what it's all about. The fastest cars don't always win at speedways, but it's nice that we've been able to capitalize on that for Ford, for Roush Yates, and particularly for Roush Fenway.
With the dominance of Ford Performance at restrictor-plate tracks, can anybody stop them when Cup heads to Talladega in October? That is a question that will be interesting to watch.
Harvick Scores First Career Cup Win At Sonoma
In a game of saving fuel and varying strategies on pit road, Kevin Harvick scored the victory in the Toyota Save Mart 350 from Sonoma Raceway.
“I am so excited. I think as you look at it, getting our first win with Ford, this has been a great journey for us as an organization and team. Kurt winning the Daytona 500 and we have run well. Everybody from Bush, Jimmy John’s and Mobil 1, Outback, Hunt Brothers and everybody,” said Harvick. “It is a great day. It finally all came together and we were able to not have any cautions there at the end. Rodney had great strategy and I was able to take care of the car and get out front. I felt like the 78 was the car we had to race and then he had problems and from there we were in control.”
This is Harvick’s first victory of 2017 and his first victory at Sonoma Raceway. Harvick also won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race from Sonoma the day before. This is Harvick’s 36th career victory. This is Ford’s 656th win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
After a spin earlier in the race and a late race charge, Clint Bowyer finished in the second position.
“You get there back in traffic and you’re so much faster than them you have to check up to save a mistake. You run over them and you don’t mean to; you get frustrated and get a little bit farther behind and a little bit farther behind. I saw the 42 check up and I get into him and I was thinking, ‘Well, we’ll both survive this’. And then all of a sudden the 47 was coming through him and I smoked him and hurt the left front,” said Bowyer. “We were fast all weekend. With clean air and an long run, that’s always my strong suit. We got the long run, we just hard to start dead last to get it.”
After pitting from the lead for fresh tires and fuel with 22 laps remaining, Brad Keselowski was able to finish in the third position.
“The Freightliner Ford was really good today. We didn’t have the qualifying fun we wanted. We had amazing race pace. That’s a credit to everyone at Team Penske. It felt really good. I just wish I could run this race again I think I might have had better car than driver today and I learned a lot. Just an amazing fun day,” said Keselowski
Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-10.
There were 13 different lead changes among 10 different drivers. Martin Truex, Jr. led the most laps at 25. The caution flag flew six times for 12 laps.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a return trip to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400. The race will be on Saturday, July 1st on Motor Racing Network and NBC beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
NXS: Keselowski Victorious at Pocono
After a late race charge and a last lap, Brad Keselowski was the victor in the Pocono Green 250 from Pocono Raceway.
“Hell of a race. Really happy for the 22 team. It's been a while. I think it's been well documented that they haven't been in victory lane. Discount Tire has been a part of this program for a long time. They deserve it. Without them I probably wouldn't have a career in NASCAR. They're on the car today...SKF...proud of them guys. It's good for Ford and everybody. It feels good for me, the team. They deserve it,” said Keselowski post-race.
This is Keselowski’s first victory in 2017. This is his 35th career victory in 245 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts.
On the final restart with 17 laps to go, Keselowski was the race leader, but dropped all the way back to 12th after Elliott Sadler pushed his tires in the air. Keselowski dropped all the way to 12th. Once he regained the momentum, Keselowski worked his way back through the field. Keselowski was able to pass Kyle Larson in the first run on the last lap as Larson was battling tight conditions on corner exit. Keselowski went below Larson to gain the lead and the victory.
Allgaier was a dark horse through much of the race. However, pit strategy brought Allgaier towards the front of the field and ultimately to a second place finish after passing Larson when he lost momentum from the bump and run from Keselowski.
“We knew we had speed in out Chevy. We knew it was fast. We just needed track position. We got behind early, but when we made that call and able to cycle back through, a good restart helped, but fresh tires were what it was all about at the end. Unfortunately, we tried to make it interesting, but didn’t have the speed to pass the 22, but all in all, a good day,” said Allgaier post race.
Larson was the leader on the white flag lap, but lost momentum in the first turn to drop to third. Larson also used pit strategy to work his towards the front of the field to finish in the third position.
“I thought I was a third to fifth place car at best. The 22, by far, was better than anybody else. Disappointed I didnt get the win, but great day for everyone on the Enos team. They did a good job, good pit stops. They made the car better throughout the race. Just not good enough there at the end, but still a good run for us,” said Larson post race.
Sadler, Daniel Suarez, Brendan Gaughan Cole Custer, Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric, and Matt Tiff rounded out the top-10.
Allgaier holds a one point lead over Sadler. Byron is third in points, 62 points behind Allgaier. Darrell Wallace Jr. sis fourth in points 88 points behind Allgaier. Hemric rounds out the top-five in points 95 points behind Allgaier.
The Xfinity Series will head to Michigan International Raceway on Saturday, June 7th. The race will be on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network shortly after 1:30 p.m. EDT.
Day Ends Early For Elliott, Keselowski
CONCORD, N.C.— The days for Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski ended early in the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Both drivers finished the race 38th and 39th respectively.
As Jeffrey Earnhardt was coming off the fourth turn on lap 21 something broke in the rear end of the car. The object that broke went into the front end of Elliott’s car causing a fire. Keselowski was coming from behind and rammed into the back of Elliott, due to “oil” on the track.
“Somebody broke and there was just oil everywhere and I couldn’t turn. I ran into the back of Chase. Somebody broke in front of him and then he ran over what they broke and then he broke, so there were two cars broke in front of me and just oil everywhere,” said Keselowski. “You couldn’t stop and turn. You couldn’t do anything. It’s a real bummer four our team. We had a really fast Miller Lite Ford and I think we had a shot at winning tonight, but that’s how it goes.”
“This is so disappointing. Our NAPA Chevy was going to be all right as the night went along. But the No. 33 (Jeffrey Earnhardt) broke something, I guess, and I hit it hard and I saw some fire. And I guess I was laying down some oil all at the same time. And Brad (Keselowski) couldn’t get stopped. I hate it. It’s such a bummer. We’ll just go after it again next week,” said Chase Elliott.
Although the drivers involved claimed there was oil on the track, NASCAR officials saw no oil on the track during the caution period.
Elliott finished 38th, Keselowski finished 39th, and Earnhardt finished 40th.
Blaney Scores First NXS Charlotte Win
CONCORD, N.C— After multiple restarts in the final 20 laps, Ryan Blaney scored his first win of 2017 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Hisense 4K TV 300.
“It was really tough. We kept having tons and tons of cautions,” Blaney said. “We lost the lead on a pit stop when we kind of got blocked in and I wasn’t sure I was going to get a shot at it. It worked out where we could put ourselves in position to get the win and we capitalized on it. Everybody did a great job.”
This is Blaney’s first win since September of 2015 at Kentucky Speedway. This is his fifth victory 56 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, and his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Blaney and his father, Dave, are the first father-son duo to win at Charlotte.
Blaney was able to hold of Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick on a late race restart with four laps remaining. Blaney worked his way towards the front of the field after starting in the rear due to unapproved adjustments after the car was impounded after qualifying.
Harvick finished second in the race after not being able to receive any help on the final restart by Blaney and Brad Keselowski. This is Harvick’s 18th top-10 finish in 28 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and his third top-10 of 2017.
“If I could do (the final restart) again I would probably do it differently. I felt like the 12 (Blaney) had the best car on restarts. He was the one who helped us get the lead. Just wasn’t able to get going through one and two. I needed to be clear by the time I got to three and four. I hadn’t been taking the top but I felt if the 12 and 22 got paired up on the top, I would be in double trouble,” said Harvick. I had a heck of a time today. All in all, I just got beat there by the 12. He did a good job all day there on the restarts. I’m really proud of everybody on the team. We ran well and led a bunch of laps.”
Dillon finished in the third position in the race following having to go to the rear after an initial start violation in the opening laps. Dillon dropped to the rear, but was able to work his way to the third position by race end. This was Dillon’s sixth top-10 finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We did a really good job. Our Chevy really came to us. I hate it for our pit crew there. I messed up on the start. There at the end, I had a Penske sandwich. I couldn’t do much about it. I got hit on the restart but it wasn’t enough to carry me to the front. We had a lot of fun today,” said Dillon. “The track changed and we are trying to figure out what we need here. We’re getting closer.”
Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Cole Custer, Brennan Poole, Brendan Gaughan, and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-10 in Saturday afternoon’s event.
The race was slowed 12 times for 52 laps by caution. There were 12 lead changes among seven drivers with leading the most laps at . The average speed of the race was 113.720 mph. The time of the race was two hours, 38 minutes, and 17 seconds. Blaney beat Harvick by 0.244 seconds,
Elliott Sadler remains the point leader after his 35th place finish by six points over teammate Justin Allgaier, 57 points over William Byron, 79 points over Daniel Hemric, and 83 points over fifth place driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.
Next up for the Xfinity Series is the OneMain Financial 200, a Dash4Cash event, from Dover International Raceway. The race will be broadcasted on Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1 on June 3rd at 1:00 p.m. EST.