Phoenix International Raceway Post-Race Report

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Brad Keselowski Racing Post-Race Report: Phoenix International Raceway

No. 19 Blue Gate Bank Ford F-150

Daniel Hemric (@DanielHemric) fought the handling of his Blue Gate Bank Ford F-150 for the duration of the Lucas Oil 150, challenged by a lack of rear grip for much of the event. Despite aggressive adjustments on pit road and savvy pit strategy, Hemric still struggled, scoring a 13th-place finish at Phoenix (Avondale, Ariz.) International Raceway.

After taking the green flag from the 15th position, Hemric quickly reported to crew chief Chad Kendrick that his Blue Gate Bank Ford F-150 had fired off very free. He pitted under the second caution on lap 13 for four tires and adjustments to his truck and topped off the fuel tank with one to go before the restart on lap 22.

Hemric restarted in the 30th position, and several cautions in quick succession initially impeded his ability to feel out his Ford F-150′s handling. When the field finally had a long green-flag run, Hemric was able to report that he was still experiencing a lack of rear grip and loss of forward drive.

Having worked his way up to the 16th position by the time the yellow was displayed on lap 65, Hemric brought his truck in for service under caution. Kendrick called for right-side tires and adjustments, and Hemric restarted sixth when the race went green on lap 73.

Unfortunately Hemric quickly lost the track position he’d gained due to a lack of rear grip. The next caution came on lap 78, and Kendrick once again called Hemric to pit road, this time for left-side tires and adjustments. The team was penalized for too many men over the wall, which meant Hemric would restart in 18th position at the tail end of the field. Hemric had to fight his way through slow and damaged trucks at the rear of the field, which slowed his progress in passing trucks for position.

He was able to advance up to the 15th position by lap 100, reporting to his crew that he was still free off the brake but had also developed a tight condition in the center of the corners. Opting not to make any additional pit stops in the closing laps, Hemric did all he could to pick off as many positions as possible, ultimately advancing up to 13th before the wave of the checkered flag.

Daniel Hemric – No. 19 Blue Gate Bank Ford F-150: “Tonight was really a struggle for our Blue Gate Bank Ford F-150 team. I was way too free at the beginning of the race and we made changes in the right direction, but it felt like the rear end couldn’t keep up with the front all night. I had no rear grip and at the end it felt like the left-rear tire was locking up. Chad was aggressive with the changes all night and we took giant swings, but we really didn’t get any better. I’m still really proud of this Brad Keselowski Racing team and all the hard work they’ve put in all season. These guys give it their all every weekend, and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”

Chad Kendrick – No. 19 Crew Chief, Blue Gate Bank Ford F-150: “The only thing I can say is that we just missed it tonight. Something just wasn’t right with our truck. Daniel and our Blue Gate Bank Ford F-150 team fought all weekend to find the speed we needed. Daniel got everything he could out of the truck tonight. We made big changes during our pit stops and our guys did a great job, but the truck just didn’t react to anything we threw at it. I know that when we get back to the shop we’re going to get to the root of the issue we had tonight.”

No. 29 Cooper Standard Careers For Veterans Ford F-150

Tyler Reddick (@TylerReddick) made a late-race rally to score a 12th-place finish in the Lucas Oil 150 Friday night at Phoenix (Avondale, Ariz.) International Raceway.  Reddick is tied with Cole Custer in the battle for ninth place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings entering the final race of the season next week at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.

The driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Careers For Veterans Ford F-150 qualified in the 13th position and ran inside the top 15 during the opening stages of the 150-lap race. Reddick steadily moved forward despite a tight handling condition and four early cautions, climbing into the top 10 on lap 32.  He was running 11th when the fifth caution slowed the pace on lap 65 and set up a round of caution flag pit stops on lap 68.

Crew chief Doug Randolph called his driver to pit lane for a change of right-side tires and other adjustments, a strategic move to give his driver precious track position.  Reddick emerged from pit lane with the lead on lap 69 – a gain of 11 positions – and held the top spot for the next four laps and through the restart on lap 73.

Reddick did an admirable job hanging with the leaders despite the fact his fellow competitors had changed all four tires. He settled into the fifth position as the race moved past the 100-lap mark.  Reddick lined up 11th for the restart following the eighth caution on lap 111. The intense racing was not kind to Reddick, who at one point was squeezed out of line near the wall in Turn 2, kicking up a cloud of dust in the process. He fell in line 13th once things settled down, and was holding firm to the position at the time of the ninth and final caution on lap 142.

Randolph called his driver to pit lane on lap 143 for a four-tire stop.  He restarted 15th for the final four-lap dash to the checkered flag on lap 147. Reddick motored through traffic to score a 12th-place finish.

Tyler Reddick – No. 29 Cooper Standard Careers For Veterans Ford F-150: “Doug made a great call in the middle of the race to get track position, but it just didn’t work out for our Cooper Standard Careers For Veterans team.  We stopped and put on four tires with just a few laps to go. You never know what’s going to happen and you don’t know how many restarts you’re going to have, so that was certainly worth the gamble. We got the balance on our Ford F-150 pretty close by the end of the race, and there really wasn’t more we could do, balance-wise, to improve our speed.”

Doug Randolph – Crew Chief, No. 29 Cooper Standard Careers For Veterans Ford F-150: “Being in clean air is huge at Phoenix and that move to just put on right-side tires got us up front. It just didn’t work out for our Cooper Standard Careers For Veterans team.  We just needed it to stay green, and I felt like if that had happened, we would have still been alright.  With the tire disadvantage, every one of those restarts was a challenge for Tyler and he did a nice job in traffic.  We were hoping that it would stay green and it just didn’t go our way. It seems like we get a caution in our races at Phoenix without running four or five laps under green, and that makes it a tough race for the drivers and crew chiefs.”

No. 2 PIRTEK Ford F-150

The Lucas Oil 150 was quite a learning experience for Austin Cindric (@AustinCindric).  The driver of the PIRTEK Ford F-150 overcame a couple of spins and other close calls to post a 15th-place finish Friday night at Phoenix (Avondale, Ariz.) International Raceway.

The first close call for the 18-year old driver came on lap 23.  Cindric, who started 21st, was up to the 16th position when he found himself on the outside of a three-way battle between Matt Tifft and Noah Gragson.  The trio ran out of room in Turn 4 with Cindric and Gragson spinning.  Cindric quickly recovered and pitted one lap later for four tires, and he restarted 31st when the race went green on lap 26.

From there, Cindric went to work.  He methodically picked his way through traffic, climbing inside the top 20 by lap 39, and was up to 17th place by lap 52 – a gain of 14 positions on a track where passing is difficult at best. He was holding firm to the position when the fifth caution slowed the pace on lap 65.  Cindric stopped for four tires and adjustments on lap 68 and lined up 15th when the race went green on lap 73.

He did a nice job on the hectic restart, moving up to 14th by lap 86.  He maintained the position despite a loose-handling condition on his Ford F-150. The seventh caution of the race slowed the pace on lap 100 and Cindric restarted 14th on lap 107. One lap later, Cindric spun in Turn 4, just in front of teammate Daniel Hemric.  He pitted on lap 109 for four tires and lined up 20th when the green flag waved on lap 111.

Once again, Cindric did a commendable job making up the lost track position.  He grabbed two positions on the restart and moved up to 17th place by lap 118. Cindric maintained that position through the remainder of the green-flag run until the ninth caution on lap 142, just eight laps from the finish.  He stayed on the track and moved up to 14th place for the final four-lap dash to the finish.  Cindric lost just one position (to teammate Tyler Reddick) during the final scramble to the checkered flag.

Austin Cindric – No. 2 PIRTEK Ford F-150: “I definitely learned a lot.  It was bit of humbling night, to be honest. That one was tough, and certainly not how I wanted to end our year. I’ve got to thank PIRTEK for their support and everyone at Brad Keselowski Racing for all of their hard work this season on our No. 2 Ford F-150. We just needed to be better on restarts because we were super loose, and that’s when the mistakes would happen.”

Brian Wilson – Crew Chief, No. 2 PIRTEK Ford F-150: “Our PIREK Ford F-150 was really free on restarts. I think tonight was a learning experience for Austin; the positive that we’re taking away from this race is that if we had track position, we could have held on to it.  He was really free on restarts, but when he was by himself, we could do fifth to 10th-place lap times.  We had the speed to where Austin could get to someone’s bumper and he could slowly work on ‘em and learn how to deal with traffic.  We were always moving forward, so that was also a positive. Austin was in a few really rough situations, but he had very nice truck control and kept it off the wall. Overall, there was progress through the weekend, but we started too far off to really be able to get where we wanted to be.”