John R. Elliott Hero Campaign 300 at Kentucky Speedway (1.5-mile speedway, Sparta, Ky.)
No. 12 Snap-on Ford Mustang driven by Ryan Blaney | No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang driven by Brad Keselowski
Saturday, June 27, 7:30 pm ET
The No. 12 Snap-On Ford Mustang
The No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang
· DEFENDING WINNER: The last time the NASCAR Nationwide Series raced at Kentucky Speedway – in September of last year – Ryan Blaney found himself in victory lane at 1.5-mile track, earning his first-ever career Nationwide Series victory. Blaney started second and led a race-high 96 of the 200 laps en route to the win. It was a career-defining moment for Blaney and helped the No. 22 team win the 2013 Nationwide Series Owners’ Championship.
· NOT HIS FIRST GO AROUND: Before finding his way to victory lane last season, Blaney had previously run in the Nationwide Series at Kentucky Speedway for Team Penske. Blaney drove the No. 22 at Kentucky in 2012, finishing ninth while teammate Brad Keselowski was on his Sprint Cup Series Championship run through the Chase.
· THE RETURN OF THE 12: The well-known No. 12 will make a return for Team Penske this weekend in the Nationwide Series with Blaney behind the wheel. Team Penske will enter the No. 12 in the Nationwide Series in select races this season with both Blaney and Joey Logano in the car. The No. 12 is next scheduled to run at Watkins Glen with Logano in the seat.
· SNAP-ON IS BACK: Kentucky will be the second race that Snap-on Tools will be the primary sponsor for Team Penske this season. Snap-on Tools is a leading global innovator, manufacturer and marketer of tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions for professional users performing critical tasks. Snap-on Tools is one of the largest non-food franchise companies in the world, selling its products and services through franchisee, company-direct, distributor and Internet channels. They also sponsored Logano on the No. 22 at Darlington Raceway earlier this season and will be on the car at Watkins Glen.
· BACK TO THE 22: Brad Keselowski will be making just his fifth NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start of the 2014 season this weekend at Kentucky. While he has not run many NNS events this year, he already owns one pole (Phoenix) and one victory (Las Vegas).
· BLUE GRASS STATE STATS: In six starts at Kentucky, Keselowski has earned an impressive average finish of 3.2. In those six starts, he’s accumulated two victories, two thirds, one fourth and a seventh-place finish at the 1.5-mile track.
· TOP-THREE EXCLUSIVELY: The 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion has flexed his muscle in the few NNS races that he has competed in this year. Through four NNS starts, Keselowski has not finished outside of the top three with one win, two seconds and a third-place finish.
· SECOND RACE OF THREE AT KENTUCKY: Friday night’s NNS race will be the second race of the weekend for Keselowski as he is competing in all three races this weekend at Kentucky. He will run the No. 19 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race for his own Brad Keselowski Racing and then finish up the triple with Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event behind the wheel of the Miller Lite Ford Fusion.
· SEVEN YEAR STREAK TO SIXTH ALL-TIME: Keselowski has won at least one Nationwide Series race for seven-consecutive seasons dating back to 2008. He also has 28 victories to his credit, which places him tied for sixth with Matt Kenseth on the all-time wins list.
· NAME THAT ENGINE TUNER: Kentucky Speedway is the home track of Tommy Chandler, the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang engine tuner, who hails from nearby Owensboro, Ky.
· IN THE HUNT: Once again, the No. 22 Discount Tire team is contending for an owner’s title. After the first 10 races, they are second in owner points as they trail the No. 54 of JGR by 50 markers.
Race: John R. Elliott Hero Campaign 300
Track: Kentucky Speedway
Race Start Time: 7:30 pm ET
Radio Broadcast: Live on PRN & SIRIUS XM NASCAR Channel 90
6:30 pm ET, Practice (FS1)
9:00 am ET, Practice (FS1)
3:30 pm ET, Qualifying (FS1)
7:30 pm ET, John R. Elliott Hero Campaign 300 (ESPN)
RYAN BLANEY, NO. 12 SNAP-ON FORD
LOOKING BACK ON YOUR WIN IN SEPTEMBER, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
“Kentucky was huge for me. That was one of the best nights of my career, right there with winning my first Truck Series race. I think it helped show people that I could get in the car that Joey and Brad were winning races in and also be able to win races. It also was a big help in winning the Owners’ Championship for the 22 team last season, which was really cool to be a part of. It’s still awesome to look back at it and think that we were able to win 12 races in that car with four different drivers. At least I have been able to knock out the Truck and Nationwide Series wins now, so one day when I get a chance to be a full-time Cup driver, I can win one of those and join that pretty select group.”
WILL IT FEEL WEIRD DRIVING THE 12?
“Not at all. It’s just a number of the side of the door. The cars are all the same, especially here at Team Penske. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 12 or the 22 or the 48 like I drove last year. We are all one big team, which is cool. I’m looking forward to working with Greg (Erwin) and all of the guys on the 12 team. It will be different to see the 22 car out there now that I’ve gotten used to running it this year.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 22 DISCOUNT TIRE FORD
YOU’VE GOT A COUPLE OF VICTORIES AT KENTUCKY, WHAT MAKES YOU SO GOOD AT HERE?
“Kentucky traditionally has been a strong track for Team Penske and this Discount Tire team. The track itself has some personality in terms of the surface, which requires that the driver manage the tires over the course of a run. In general, this No. 22 Team Penske Ford crew is capable of contending for the win every weekend, and we fully expect to do just that this weekend. Since I am running all three races, I feel as though the additional track time will be beneficial too. On top of all that, I just seem to do well at Kentucky and anytime you go into the weekend with that mindset you do have an advantage.”
JEREMY BULLINS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 22 DISCOUNT TIRE FORD
KENTUCKY HAS BEEN A STRONG TRACK FOR THIS TEAM, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS RACE?
“We look forward to going to Kentucky each year. It’s a place where we’ve run well. We’ve had success here, and it felt like it jump started us last season to some intermediate track wins that got us back in the championship hunt. Hopefully, we can get that going again and carry the momentum forward for the rest of the year. Our Mustangs have been really fast lately, and we feel like we are close to breaking out for some wins.”