All of the seven races of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season run to this point have been won by one of two teams; Joe Gibbs Racing scored the fourth win for that team Sunday with victory by Denny Hamlin who adds a second win this season to his credit, the first coming in the season opening Daytona 500.
The other three races have been won by Team Penske, two by Brad Keselowski and one by Joey Logano.
So they were bound to be the favorites heading into Texas.
None of the three Team Penske drivers finished on the lead lap.
Logano won the first stage, but the trouble for the team started just a few laps later. On lap 91, Brad Keselowski pitted saying his Ford had lost drive. The team was forced to take the car to the garage for lengthy repairs. He would return but finished 36th 55 laps down.
“Something broke out of nowhere,” Keselowski said. “We weren’t going very fast or anything and something in the back of the car broke and it won’t go. It’s one of those really important parts as Kenny Schrader would say.”
Logano had issues with the hood on his Ford. It appeared to be ready to vibrate at speed and fly open any second. He pitted for repairs on lap 154. He finished 27th one lap down.
“Something came apart in the bracing underneath the hood, I believe,” Logano said. “Then the hood started flaring all over the place. The hood was gonna blow off the car if we didn’t get a caution, so we were able to fix it but went down a lap and there weren’t enough cautions to ever get the lucky dog. We rode around in the lucky dog spot for a while, but never got that. That really altered the handling once we had all the bearer bond on the front.”
That left Ryan Blaney to carry the Team Penske banner. He gave it a valiant effort taking the lead on lap 173 and keeping the top spot for 45 laps. An engine issue on lap 255 slowed the driver who pitted and was soon being pushed to the garage. That’s where he finished in 37th place.
“A part broke off and leaked all the water out, so that’s the way it goes,” Blaney said. “It just seems that’s the way this season is going. We’ve had a shot to win pretty much every race and something happens. That’s getting old, but the car is fast. That’s the bright side.”
Blaney left Texas as the only Penske driver who has yet to win a race, and a spot in the season ending playoffs.
“I’m kind of tired of looking at the bright side,” Blaney said. “I want to actually start finishing where we should. It’s just one of those days.”