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JUL 23, 2017 | Ford Performance Staff

Keselowski Leads Fusions with 2nd Place Finish at Brickyard 400

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SPEEDWAY, Ind. - Kasey Kahne held off Brad Keselowski on two overtime restarts to win Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It looked like the two might have to line up side-by-side for a third time, but NASCAR ruled Kahne had crossed the overtime line when a multi-car accident occured.  As a result, the race ended under caution with Keselowski finishing second, Ryan Newman third, Joey Logano fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth.

The race ended up going seven laps over the advertised distance as five cautions over the final 17 laps resulted in a wild finish that saw 19 cars of the 40-car field end up in the garage before the end of the race.  The Fusions of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and Trevor Bayne were part of that group with Bayne being the tough-luck candidate of all.

Bayne’s strategy of pitting on Lap 117 looked like it might be the winning move as he began saving fuel while all of the other contenders were forced to pit. Bayne had a 12-second lead on Matt Kenseth, who was the first driver among those that pitted.  Kenseth was slowly reeling in Bayne, but with 10 laps to go the caution came out Bowyer, Busch, Erik Jones and Jamie McMurray were involved in an accident that brought out the red flag.  That resulted in the field catching up to Bayne, and when he got bumped from behind on an ensuing restart, his race was over with a 20th-place finish.

In the end, four Fords finished in the top 10 as Kevin Harvick finished sixth and Matt DiBenedetto eighth.  It marked the second top-10 finish for DiBenedetto, who was ninth in the Daytona 500.

Next Up: The Monster Energy Series resumes Sunday, July 30 at Pocono Raceway. The Overton’s 400 will air at 3:00 pm on NBCSN.

MONSTER ENERGY CUP RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st -- Kasey Kahne
2nd -- Brad Keselowski
3rd -- Ryan Newman
4th -- Joey Logano
5th -- Matt Kenseth
6th -- Kevin Harvick
7th -- Daniel Suarez
8th -- Matt DiBenedetto
9th -- Chris Buescher
10th -- A.J. Allmendinger

REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
11th -- Danica Patrick
13th -- Aric Almirola
20th -- Trevor Bayne
22nd -- Landon Cassill
23rd -- Ryan Blaney
29th -- Kurt Busch
30th -- Clint Bowyer
35th -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
38th -- David Ragan

DAVID RAGAN (No. 38 Dockside Logistics Ford Fusion) -- Finished 38th
“I was just on the outside of the 7 car and we were on exit of turn one and I don’t know if he just pushed up the race track a little bit, but we were really tight.  Restarts are about the only spot that you can pass, so for those first three or four laps you have to be pretty aggressive.  I guess the 7 just ran over our left-rear and spun me out.” 

YOU TESTED HERE, SO HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO GO OUT EARLY?  “Anytime you wreck out early in a race it’s frustrating.  It’s one of those things where you have to be running at the end to be able to capitalize on an OK day.  With our car we were off and we made a lot of adjustments, but it was just one of those things where you’re got to race hard to get every spot you can.  When you’re wrecked that stinks.” 

WHAT HAPPENED?  “I was on the outside of the 7 and J.J. just pushed up a little bit into me.  I don’t know if I was crowding him too much or if he just didn’t know I had a good run on him, but he just clipped me in my left-rear.  I thought I was gonna be able to keep it off the wall, but just ran out of room.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. (No. 17 Sunny D Ford Fusion) -- Finished 35th
“Everybody is racing hard on the restart.  The 48 kind of pinched me and I kind of checked up.  When I did my car got loose and then when I got beside of him I was trying to get back to the gas and just got a little bit more loose.  Then I lost it and got the inside wall.  That was the best Sunny D Ford we’ve ever had here.  We were really good, a lot stronger than we were yesterday in practice.  That’s something to hang our hats on.  I thought for the most part we had a solid day running inside the top 15.  That was our goal.  I thought that we could have squeaked out a top-10 there if everything went right, so I’m really happy with our performance, it was just a little costly mistake there.” 

HOW DID THE TRACK CHANGE AFTER THE RAIN?  “It actually drove, I thought, real similar to before the rain.  Once we got 20 laps on it and got the rubber back down I thought the track was back the same.”

CLINT BOWYER (No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion) -- Finished 30th
WE SAW THE 27 GET LOOSE. IS THAT WHAT TRIGGERED THE CRASH?
“Yeah, he was getting crowded pretty hard through (Turns) three and then in four. They got together and parked in front of us and we just had to make an evasive move. I knew the 77 had a run on me there and all hell broke loose. It was a pretty hard hit. And then somebody hit me again. I don’t know when. It felt like they did. It pretty much sucks.”

BIG PICTURE WISE THIS ISN’T WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO HANG ONTO THAT FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT: “Yeah. No, it definitely wasn’t needed for sure. We’ll regroup. This is a strong team. I’m proud of the 14 bunch. I’m proud of their effort. We were a little bit off in practices and things like that, qualifying. We found a way to make it better for the race. I think we were going to have a single-digit finish. It just wasn’t our day.” 

WHAT HAPPENED? “They got together in front of us and parked and just kind of forced all of us to make an evasive move and I was already hung out a little bit loose, and I knew the 77 had a run, but I was gonna smoke the back of them or try to hope that something happened and something happened alright.”

KURT BUSCH (No. 41 Monster Energy Ford Fusion) -- Finished 29th
“Cars were spinning in front of me.  Bowyer went left, the 77 was going right.  I tried to shoot the middle and Bowyer ricocheted back up onto the track.  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

TREVOR BAYNE ( No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion) -- Finished 20th 
“I just got turned, I guess.  On the restart it stacked up and my wheels were in the air. I really had no control in either direction and I finally got turned. I've never been so disappointed in my entire racing career. We had about 10 laps to go saving fuel and had a shot to win and then I thought, ‘Man, this stinks. We had a real easy shot at it,’ and then hanging on, hanging on, third on the last restart and had a really good car. Matt Puccia and the guys gave me a great race car and I was so thankful to have a shot to win the Brickyard, but I'm just disappointed. Every week we give it our all and do everything we can through God’s Glory and trust him with the results, whether it's good or bad. Sometimes you don't really understand and it hurts because you want to win races and want to run good and make the most of every opportunity for everybody - for AdvoCare and all the people who work hard. It's really disappointing."

WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOUR STRATEGY COULD HAVE BEEN THE WINNING ONE?  “I was kissing the bricks in my head. I know it's a long way to go, but really we had a big enough lead and I was saving fuel and really making good lap times. A lot of times you watch Kyle Busch and he lifts early here and makes good lap times, so I studied that this week and it really paid off.  But with fuel strategy you save and you’re going pretty fast and saving the tires and we had a huge lead over the 20.  He was coming, but I think I could have held him off.  Man, you don’t really get many opportunities for strategy like that to play out and it was, but when the caution came out I might have bent my steering wheel a little bit, and then after that the one on the frontstretch you’re like, ‘What a day.’  It’s just really frustrating.  We’re waiting on a break.  We’ve been running really well and we want to get those results for everybody.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion) -- Finished 2nd
“We had a good, solid day. Anytime that you’re that close (to winning) you can certainly taste it. I had a taste of it in my mouth, I didn’t get to eat it.”

WERE YOU SURPRISED HOW AGGRESSIVE THIS RACE WAS RUN? “That’s how it’s got to be. That’s how NASCAR racing should be. I think that’s a good thing. The fastest car doesn’t always win. I think the 18 and 78 were the two fastest cars and they didn’t win because of all the aggression and the things we saw. That’s the part that makes this racing fun.”

KEVIN HARVICK (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion) -- Finished 6th
“It was different, for sure.  We knew before the day started with the stage racing everything that was gonna go on, if it didn’t go green and you had a caution come out in the middle of that cycle at the end you were gonna have a situation like that where you had guys staying out and guys doing different things.  There at the end we were in the lead cycle and then you had all those guys that stayed out and the next thing you knew we were seventh or eighth and we were in the middle of a hornet’s net back there.  There’s nothing you can do about that.  They did a great job with our Jimmy John’s Ford all weekend.  We just wound up on the wrong cycle there by no doing of our own.  We had a decent car, but it didn’t matter in the end.”

WHAT WAS IT LIKE AT THE END?  “We were on the lead strategy and unfortunately the strategy that wound up taking over was the strategy that was halfway through the middle of the pack.  And then when the caution comes out, you know it’s gonna happen when everything gets mixed up and then we were just stuck in a hornet’s net and wound up getting beat up a little bit.”

RYAN BLANEY (No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion) -- Finished 23rd
WHAT DID YOU SEE OF THAT LAST WRECK?
"I saw smoke. A car got sideways. I checked up and got run over. If I didn't check up, I'd run into it. I checked up and got run into. It stinks. We shouldn't have been back there. We were kind of on the bad side of that strategy there with guys out there needing a caution to come out and got pushed back to ninth or 10th. Then we got into it with the 13 and 42, got damage, had to come back in to pit and were going to ride it out to the end and got caught up in another wreck. That's the way it goes in this day and age I guess. We had a really great car, definitely the best car I've had in three years at Indy. I can't thank the Wood Brothers, Motorcraft and Quick Lane for all they do. It was a lot of fun all day running up near the front. Now we'll go to Pocono which is a good track for us."

PRIOR TO THE WRECKS, THE CAR WAS STRONG AND THE STRATEGY WAS WORKING IN YOUR FAVOR. "We were good, running top five all day long and the strategy worked great and I thought we were on the right side of things, then the yellows came out and gave the guys who stayed out some breaks to come in and get tires with us and cycle up to the lead. Before than we ran good, finished third in the first two stages. That gives us confidence to that we have our cars where they need to be going forward.

WERE DRIVERS BEING OVER-AGGRESSIVE? It's really hard to pass here. That's why I think the aggressive moves were being made. Everyone's here to win the Brickyard. We're not here to ride around. The people who it bites say it's over aggressive and the people it benefits say it's hard racing."

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE AERO CHANGES THAT THE XFINITY CARS HAD? "Yeah, it wouldn't hurt. It worked good as far as race-ability. The spoilers on these cars are so small you can't really draft up to people and it's so hard to get runs. I would encourage having something close to that."

JOEY LOGANO (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion) -- Finished 4th
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THIS RACE FOR THE 22 TEAM? 
“We’re getting better.  I thought we had a fast car today.  We didn’t execute as well as we needed to and that kind of got us back a little bit, and then we were able to gain some spots back at the end and get a top-5 out of it.  I felt like the two cars that were better than us wrecked, so I feel like that was our chance to win and we just didn’t capitalize.  The positive side is our car got faster.  The bummer is we didn’t win.”

WHAT DID YOU SEE FROM BEHIND THE WHEEL?  “A lot of crashing.  It was a little bit of survival there at the end.  I’m sure the top 10 is pretty interesting, which you would expect when you have a mess like we did at the end.  We got our car faster and that means a lot.  We scored stage points.  We scored a lot of points, which is good.  We probably didn’t need the 5 to win.  Congrats to him, though.  It’s a huge deal.  I know it’s been a while, but it just kind of stinks for us.”

THOUGHTS ON MAKING THE PLAYOFFS NOW.  DO YOU HAVE TO WIN?  “We have to.  At this point, I don’t know what it is, but I think we have to win.  There are six races left.  We gained some points on the 14, which is good.  We didn’t gain any on the 20 and we lost a cutoff spot that kind of came back one, too.  That made it a little bit tougher today, but it’s nothing our team can’t do.  We’ve got a faster car, which is good.  If we keep making our cars faster, we’re gonna get back to where we win races again.  That’s plain and simple.”

MATT DIBENEDETTO (No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford Fusion) -- Finished 8th
“A top 10 in the Daytona 500 and a top 10 in the Brickyard 400 finishing eighth today.  It’s crazy.  It was a crazy day.  It’s pretty unreal what we’ve been able to accomplish this year.  I’m so proud.  It’s not all me.  My team are the ones that deserve the credit and I’m more happy for them than myself.  I’ve worked so dang hard the old-school way to get here, countless late nights for these guys working, many sleepless nights in my career thinking it was over about 30 to 40 times and that’s not even an exaggeration, and to have these kind of races this year is just unbelievable.  It’s been fun.”

HOW DID YOU FINISH EIGHTH?  “Obviously being a smaller team we just try and get a good handle on our cars.  We come here and dial in our car the old-school way, through communication.  We have no simulation or nothing.  We just have 15 guys and we work our tails off.  Through the race we had a good handling car.  It felt good in practice, so we were able to run competitive all race, and then because we had a good handling car we were able to take advantage of everybody else’s mistakes by being competitive and being in front of a lot the guys that were racing, and being in the right place at the right time there a lot of times at the end.  Don’t get me wrong, though, we had our share of close calls.”

WERE GUYS BEING OVERAGGRESSIVE?  “Over-aggression is an understatement.  I don’t know if it just got dark and nobody could see out their windshields or what, but the thing is restarts are so important.  That’s where you make up all your spots, and once it gets single filed out, it’s really hard to pass.  So unfortunately you’ve got to really go on the restarts, which makes it fun and makes it exciting for the fans, but you’re also just hanging on for dear life and hoping you’re in the right place at the right time.”