Team Penske heads to the Round of 12 not having won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race since June 10 at the Michigan International Speedway. Despite that, all three of their drivers are still championship eligible after all scored top 10 finishes in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
But, to get to those top 10’s, all three had to rebound from incidents in the opening round cutoff race.
Brad Keselowski flat spotted his tires in the second stage then had a right front tire issue in the final stage but still brought his No. 2 Ford home fifth on Sunday. It was his fifth top five finish in his last six starts on the season including eight top 10’s over the last 10 races.
Keselowski, finished 31st in this race last year.
Defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano also got into an incident and suffered damage to his No. 22 Ford in the second stage. He’d still bring his car home 10th. The problem for Logano now is, he hasn’t won in 14 races and has just one top five finish over his last 12 overall starts. Six of his last nine starts also have resulted in a finish outside of the top 10.
The best news though of the day came from the Ryan Blaney camp. They started the race off +8 in the playoff standings. Blaney, was also the defending race winner in Charlotte and had two top five finishes in as many tries on road courses this season. He was even in the top 10 in all three practice sessions this weekend and started ninth.
He finished fifth in the first stage and was well on his way to the Round of 12. At Lap 50, he was +13. Then, the bottom dropped out. Blaney, got into the wall in the final stage and had damage. He’d have to pit for repairs. That took Blaney from 11th on the race track to 36th as he was now 15 points behind the cutoff line with 43 laps-to-go.
They didn’t give up. They took fuel only on his final stop and he’d bring his No. 12 Ford home eighth as he too advances to the second round of the playoffs.