[media-credit id=100 align=”alignright” width=”224″][/media-credit]Since the end of Tums 500 qualifying session at Martinsville Speedway, media reports, social media and television have been buzzing about series points leader Brad Keselowski’s 32nd place starting spot. Making matters worse, Keselowski’s closest competitor, Jimmie Johnson, put his No.48 Lowes Chevy on the pole. Instantly there was a buzz through the garage area. Given Johnson’s amazing record at the flat half mile track, the question being asked is not whether he will takeover the points lead, but rather by how much.
While Johnson’s record is phenomenal, six wins in 21 starts, Keselowski has five starts and just two top ten finishes. Keselowski, however, has ran extremely well this season and did finish a respectable ninth in the spring Martinsville event.
Another interesting fact is that due to the poor qualifying effort, the team’s choice of pit spot is less than optimal. They did choose a spot immediately behind a team that was likely to be a start and park team. This morning however, the No.32 Ford of Ken Schrader had purchased a supply of tires from the Mike Bliss No.19 car that did not make the field, so it would now seem they are going to attempt to run the entire race. That makes one wonder who may have paid the bill on those tires.
In garage area however, the team seemed relaxed and not bothered by the enormous amount of media hype. I spoke with a team representative and asked if there was a different strategy planned given the circumstances. He responded, “Just try to get some track position early, and once we get there stay out front as long as we can.” he also pointed out that they aren’t using anything different in chassis setup and, “It sorta simplifies things for us, we know we just have to go to the front.”
Given the relaxed, business as usual attitude of the Penske team, they may leave Martinsville in the same position they arrived with, in the drivers seat of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship!