Day three of the Sprint Media Tour concluded with Team Penske. Penske’s lineup is somewhat different this year. Returning members are 2012 Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney. Blaney will split his time between the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series in 2014.
Keselowski, who drives the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion, had a down year in 2013 with only one victory to his credit—the fall race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Climbing back to the top of the charts is Keselowski’s main goal for 2014.
Dramatic changes were made within the middle ranks of Team Penske when it comes to the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford. The Blue Deuce’s consistent mechanical failures and gaffes on pit road were costly in 2013, enough to keep the 2012 champion from defending his title.
“We weren’t where we needed to be last year,” said Keselowski. “But we’ve revamped our pit crew and made some changes internally, at the shop, and now it’s up to me as a driver to capitalize on these positive changes.”
“We had some reliability problems and it just wasn’t as smooth as 2012,” said team owner Roger Penske. “But look, it’s racing and you’re not going to win every year. When it comes to Brad, he’s got it as a driver. He’s been to the top. Now we just have to give him better tools to get there.”
Car owner Roger Penske knows he has drivers with a great future. Looking down the line at his lineup, The Captain said, “There are three drivers with an average age of 26. That’s the future right there. Our goal as a team is no different than anyone else. We want to be at that head table at the end of the 2014 season.”
Joey Logano embraces change. His first year in the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford was respectable. He made the Chase and finished eighth, a good finish for a driver learning a new team, but changes in qualifying procedure, as well as the proposed Chase format, were to Logano’s liking.
“I think it’s great. You’re going to have a Richmond (the last race of the regular season) scenario within the Chase, almost a make it or break it every three races,” said Logano, noting NASCAR’s potential elimination Chase system. “There’s going to be some really desperate drivers taking chances and I think that’s great for the fans. It’s going to add a lot of drama.”
Ryan Blaney also wants to win a championship. The 20 year old will run 15 Nationwide Series races as well as his truck schedule for Brad Keselowski Racing. He will also make his Cup debut this season in at least two races. He will be running the No. 12 SKF Ford in the Cup Series.
“It just makes me feel really good to have people trust me to make my first Cup start, and do all these Nationwide races to try and win that Owner’s Championship,” said Blaney. “We’ve really improved our relationship with Ford, across the board, so I’m truly excited to get this season going.”