TALLADEGA, Ala. - Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano put on a charge nearing the end of Stage 2, with rain looming, securing the runner-up and third=place positions before caution flags and the eventual checkered flag flew at soggy Talladega.
The race was halted on lap 117, a day after it was postponed altogether, with Bubba Wallace taking the race win, followed by the Team Penske duo.
Chris Buescher (6th), Kevin Harvick (8th) and Anthony Alfredo (10th) rounded out the top-10 Mustangs with Harvick leading the most laps on the day, with 16. Ford led 48 of the 124 laps among seven different drivers.
Fellow Ford playoff driver Ryan Blaney finished 15th and now finds himself sixth in the playoff standings, 15 points ahead of the cut-off line heading into the final race of the round next weekend. Logano is third, 21 points ahead of the cut line with Keselowski fourth, 20 points ahead. Harvick finds himself just outside of the top-eight, currently ninth and looking to make up nine points.
The second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs concludes Sunday, Oct. 10 at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval Course (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM).
PLAYOFF STANDINGS FOLLOWING TALLADEGA
Denny Hamlin 3116 (advanced via win)
Kyle Larson +22
Joey Logano +21
Brad Keselowski +20
Martin Truex Jr. +20
Ryan Blaney +15
Chase Elliott +9
Kyle Busch +9
Kevin Harvick -9
Christopher Bell -28
William Byron -44
Alex Bowman -52
NCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
13th -- Cole Custer
14th -- Chase Briscoe
15th -- Ryan Blaney
17th -- Michael McDowell
21st -- Ryan Newman
25th -- Joey Gase
26th -- Aric Almirola
30th -- BJ McLeod
31st -- Josh Bilicki
34th -- James Davison
35th -- Matt DiBenedetto
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang
“It was a good day for us, not the win. Gosh, if I would have known it was gonna rain right then I had a move I could have made and I was like, “No, we’ve got five laps in the stage left, I don’t want to burn that move yet,’ and then it rains, so I feel like I kind of let one slip away here. All in all, it’s still a great day. We scored a lot of stage points, which is really positive and put ourselves in a good position next week to go to the Roval.”
WHEN DID THE INTENSITY PICK UP?
“I think we all knew when the second stage started that we were on borrowed time, for sure.”
TALK ABOUT THE END OF YOUR RACE?
“A very intense Talladega race and wouldn’t expect anything different. We put ourselves in a good position the whole race and I’m really proud of that. We were really close to making a move on Bubba to win the stage and the race, but I didn’t need that rain. I needed another two or three laps.”
HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THE RACE AND PLAYOFF SITUATION NOW WITH WHERE YOU FINISHED?
“I think it was a good race for us and we put ourselves in position to not have to go to the Roval and have a hero day. We can have just a solid day.”
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR RACE TODAY?
“We just stayed in contention all day, real smart and great execution.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN THE RAIN CAME THE LAST TIME?
“I was thinking, ‘Oh, geez. I wish I would have made that move.”
WHAT MOVE WAS THAT?
“I was right behind Bubba and had a chance to make the move to take the lead, but just felt like it was a little too soon with four or five laps left in the stage and I didn’t want to get swallowed back up, but I picked the wrong move.”
BUBBA MADE A CROSSOVER MOVE TO THE HIGH SIDE AFTER A BLOCK. HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE HOW HE DID?
“It was the right move at the right time. I had a counter to it and I left it in my pocket, so I feel bad about that.”
HOW HARD ARE YOU ON YOURSELF AFTER THIS IS OVER AND YOU GO TO THE ROVAL?
“Not too hard, just proud of our day, to be quite honest. Things could have been a lot worse. We went from being one point above the cutline to I think almost 20 and that’s a good day.”
HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THE ROVAL?
“A tough race for us. Road courses have been really tough, but thankfully we don’t have to go there and win.”
WALKING OUT OF HERE HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THINGS?
“Talladega is a race that we know we’re strong enough to go win, so I don’t want to set the expectation lower than that, but we’re also thankful for a solid day where we scored a lot of points and put ourselves in position to win at the end.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang
INTERVIEW ON PIT ROAD DURING RAIN DELAY
“There was a lot of good racing there, very intense racing. You add weather to a superspeedway, you might as well just call it the end of the race earlier. Everyone is pushing and shoving. You feel it coming, you feel the wreck coming. It’s not comfortable, I can tell you that much. Unless you’re up front it’s not comfortable and for the majority of that run we were towards the back. I was able to find a good drafting partner in Brad. Brad and I work so well together at these superspeedways, so once I found his back bumper I was like, ‘Here we go,’ and we freight trained it towards the front. He had a run into one. He could have taken it. He didn’t take it and that might have been the difference in winning or not, but, I think we’re second so if it rains out, considering our situation in points, I will be very happy and walk out of here.”
WHEN DID YOU FEEL THE INTENSITY RAMP UP?
“As soon as they said there was weather in the area, which was right when they said we were was close to halfway and there was weather in the area everybody just kicked it into high gear.”
CAN YOU TALK MORE ABOUT THE SITUATION YOU AND BRAD HAD JUST BEFORE THE RAIN AND A CHANCE TO TRY FOR A PASS ON BUBBA WALLACE?
“He had a run on the 23 to take the lead and enough push from me to be able to kind of continue that and try to get the both of us clear. Hindsight is 20/20. He didn’t know that they were gonna crash on the backstretch and there is still five to go in the stage. It took probably three or four minutes after they crashed before it actually started raining, so it probably would have got to the end of the stage. It would have been kind of hard to decide when to make that move or not to. Overall, though, take that piece out of it and with the points we scored today it’s a big win, I think, for us. The 23 winning doesn’t hurt anybody because he’s a non-playoff contender, so no big deal there and able to score solid stage points. They had us second, but then changed us back to third, so I don’t know. We’ve got to kind of go back and see where we actually finished, but, either way, it was a good points day and puts us in a good spot.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE ROVAL?
“I feel better than I did when we were six points above the cut line. I don’t know exactly where we’re at in the points right now, but considering what happened to some other cars today it put us up there a little bit more.”
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED TODAY?
“Absolutely, mission accomplished. We came into here saying we’ve got to be 25 or so points above the cut line to feel semi-comfortable next week. I’m not sure we’re 25 points, but I’m sure we moved up spots in points as well, which is helpful. I don’t know where we’re at. When I see that I can maybe comment more on it, but I’d say after my last few Talladega races -- one, I didn’t have the wheels off the ground at any point, so that was a success and the points we were able to score and lead laps, we’re really good at the speedway races. I’m really proud of my team and Coleman. We have good strategies and everything kind of worked out. I finally didn’t crash one of these things, which is a nice feeling for sure.”
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light #Hunt4Busch Ford Mustang
“We got a little bit behind. I got shuffled out there too late for the rain storm, but our Ford Mustang was fast and we were able to make up some ground and get back up closer to where we needed to be. I hate that it started raining. Our car was fast.”
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GOING TO THE ROVAL IN BETTER SHAPE THAN YOU STARTED?
“I’m not sure if they’re awarding second stage points or is the race over? I don’t really know, but I know we’re better than I thought we would be or could have been, so we’ll go from there and see what happens.”
THE RAIN WAS COMING. WAS STAGE 2 JUST GO-TIME?
“Yeah, I wanted to get to the end of stage two because i felt like we could finish towards the front of it and get some points, but got shuffled and didn’t make it to the end, and wound up not getting back up to the front, but it was still a good day.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BUBBA WINNING TODAY?
“It’s great for Bubba. Obviously, it’s been a long road to get here and I think he’s just a good dude, so I think as you look at that it’s a big moment.”
RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Maytag Ford Mustang
“I would have liked to finish better. We kind of just got shuffled out there saving gas and couldn’t really get back up towards the front. I didn’t pick the right lane once or twice and just could never get back up there. I think we all knew we were racing to the rain. We saw rain coming and just couldn’t get back up through there.”
THOUGHTS ON THE ROVAL AND YOUR SITUATION IN POINTS?
“I would have liked to have been a little bit more points to the good. I think we’re 17 or something like that, which is nothing to complain about by any means, but coming out of here less than what we came in here with points to the good is like, ‘Man, I wish we could have capitalized a little bit more,’ but that’s the way it goes. We could definitely be in a worse spot, so we just have to go and have a good race next week.”
YOU AND BUBBA A SUCH GOOD FRIENDS. HOW DO YOU FEEL FOR HIM?
“I’m just excited for him. He did a good job of getting through the field before the end and picked a couple right lanes and was able to hold everybody off. I’m happy for him. It’s cool for him and that team to get their first win. It should be a fun night, too, that’s for sure.”
MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 21 Quick Lane Ford Mustang
“We went up there early and led some and were feeling our car out. We had good speed and was as good as always. The Quick Lane Mustang and Wood Brothers always bring really fast race cars here and really wanted to feel it out. We got shuffled a little and was just riding. We were committed to that before the day started. Leverage the situation to our advantage that we don’t need stage points, so we were gonna cruise and let the wrecks happen and then in stage three go and try to run up front and go for the win, but Mother Nature threw a little kink in our plans here and obviously we see what happened.”
HOW AGGRESSIVE WAS THE RACING?
“It was nuts. We were on borrowed time for sure, but when the weather obviously became a factor and everyone was communicating it to all the drivers you saw it just instantly pick up and everyone was on full blast mode there at the end. We didn’t have the track position since we were committed to riding and then we had to go and just not the right situation. It was circumstance Mother Nature threw a big kink in our plan, but we had another fast car. We’ve got some good races left. We’ve been on a roll. Our team has been doing awesome, so we’re gonna take that momentum and try and snag a win.”