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Team Penske Toyota Owners 400 Race Preview

April 23, 2014




THE RACE

Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway (.75 - mile oval, Richmond, VA)
Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm ET
 
THE CARS

The No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion
Driven by Brad Keselowski  

The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion
Driven by Joey Logano
 

THE NEWS AND NOTES

The No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion

· A NEW SHADE OF BLUE: This weekend’s race marks the debut of the No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion. Driven by Brad Keselowski, the car features a distinctive blue-grey color that will stand out under the lights at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night. A key Alliance Truck Parts partner, Detroit Genuine Parts is a premiere brand in the transportation aftermarket that supplies remanufactured parts to commercial on- and off-highway customers around the world.

· NOT TOO LONG OF A BREAK FOR BRAD: While the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series did not compete last weekend, Keselowski could not stay out of the driver’s seat for a full two weeks. The 2012 Sprint Cup Series Champion took advantage of a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series test at Charlotte on Monday to prepare for some upcoming truck races on his calendar.

· QUARTERLY REPORT: Already a 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner, Keselowski started the season in spectacular fashion as he did not finish outside of the top three through the first three races of the season. He is also enjoying a career-best start to the season qualifying streak as he has qualified on the front row in five of the eight races run this year. Keselowski is currently well-positioned to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup as he is positioned seventh in the series point standings.

· WELL QUALIFIED: Through the first eight races of 2014, Keselowski has six top-five qualifying efforts to his name as he has earned one pole (Las Vegas), four second-place and one top-five starting positions.

· BLOSSOMING BLOGGER BRAD: Always looking for ways to share his opinion on motorsports and other topics, Keselowski has enjoyed writing his own blog this season. While it is not unusual for a driver to have a blog, Keselowski is one of the first to do a blog on his own website – www.bradracing.com. He is also one of the first to use the blog to share compelling and insightful stories that are often highly personal in nature. Thus far, he has shared topics on the blog ranging from his friendship with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to his rivalry with Carl Edwards.

· PLACES TO SEE KESELOWSKI: This weekend Keselowski will appear at the No. 2 Miller Lite merchandise unit 15 minutes after the conclusion of Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race. He will also make an appearance Saturday afternoon prior to the Sprint Cup Series race at the Miller Lite Fan Zone at 4:20 p.m. ET.


THE NEWS AND NOTES
    
The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion

· LOGANO A TRUE YOUNG GUN:  With his 24th birthday looming next month, Joey Logano is still considered one of NASCAR’s “young guns.”  At just 23 years old, younger than some of today’s rookie drivers, Logano has an amazing five full years of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series experience and four Sprint Cup Series wins, along with eight poles and 64 top-10 finishes. Logano has also put himself in a great position to qualify for this year’s Chase with his win at Texas earlier this month.

· LAPS UP FRONT:  Along with his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski, Logano is the only other driver to have led laps in seven of the eight races run so far this season. The only race where Logano did not lead laps was at Auto Club Speedway, as he had to start from the back of the field and he raced his way into the top three before experiencing a mechanical issue. Logano’s 313 laps led in 2014 ranks third among series leaders and is only 10 laps shy of his previous full-season record, which came last year when he led 323 laps all season long.

· A TOP-TWO NUMBER: Another impressive number for Logano this season is his position in the driver rating category. Often compared to quarterback ratings in football or earned run average (ERA) in baseball, the driver rating takes into account several factors such as wins, finishes, top-15 results, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under the green flag, fastest laps, most laps led and lead-lap finishes, with a maximum value of 150.  Logano is currently second in driver rating with a 105.2 mark, trailing only Jimmie Johnson, who has a 106.0.

· STILL QUALIFYING UP FRONT:  Logano continued his streak of impressive qualifying efforts last race at Darlington by earning a second-place starting spot, the fourth time he’s qualified third or better this season. He also continued his streak of being the only driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to have advanced to the final round in each of the seven “knockout” qualifying sessions run this season. His 8.0 average starting position (including the Daytona 500) is the best of his career and second-best among all drivers. Logano has an average starting spot of 4.1 over the last seven races, second only to teammate Keselowski, who has an average starting position of 4.0 over that same span.

· DIG SAFE, CALL 811: April is National Safe Digging Month, and No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Hertz Ford Fusion driver Logano will run ‘Call 811’ logos on the car during all three races in April to encourage fans to call 811 before starting outdoor digging projects. As part of the effort, the Common Ground Alliance will give one race fan the chance to watch Joey Logano race at the Quicken Loans 400 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ on November 9, 2014.  Visit www.flyawaytophoenix.com to enter and read official rules. No purchase necessary. Sweepstakes ends August 31, 2014.

 
THE Q&A

BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 DETROIT GENUINE PARTS FORD

WHEN YOU THINK OF RICHMOND, WHAT COMES TO MIND?

“In my mind, Richmond is real short-track racing. It’s a very fast short track and things happen in a hurry. This is another one of the tracks that require a driver to manage tires. The other thing that I think of when I think of Richmond is pit stops. It’s true at every track, but here with the laps being so quick a bad stop will really hurt your race. I like racing at Richmond and we are better there than our results show. This weekend is a welcome opportunity to demonstrate what we are capable of and we will do all that we can to get our Detroit Genuine Parts Ford to Victory Lane.”

PAUL WOLFE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 2 DETROIT GENUINE PARTS FORD
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TEAM’S PERFORMANCE THUS FAR IN 2014?

“We’ve had fast Ford Fusions and we had a pretty good start through the first few races. We’ve made big gains in our qualifying performance this year and we feel pretty good about that. The last few races we’ve struggled to get our results to match our potential. Our Fusion has had speed, we just haven’t executed well enough, which I think frustrates the team a little. The good news is we have great equipment and the tools that we need and this team is more than willing to do the work necessary to get back to the front.”
    

JOEY LOGANO, NO. 22 SHELL-PENNZOIL FORD

HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER THE FIRST WEEKEND OFF OF THE SEASON?

“It is refreshing, but at the same time, I would rather have been in a race car somewhere. I just love to race. There is really no getting around it for me. I couldn’t get my fix last weekend, so I spent some time out at the local go-kart track racing with my buddies. I just love to race. But the schedule is long and grueling, so it’s especially good for the guys in the shop to get a weekend off and get to spend some time with their families. That is really one of the most important things about the off weekend. We put in a lot of time away from home, so for the guys to get a break and get recharged is really important.”

HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU WITH A WIN UNDER YOUR BELT TO PUT YOU IN A GOOD POSITION TO MAKE THE CHASE?

“Well, the goal is to go out there and win more races before the Chase starts so you don’t have to worry, right?  But I just don’t know if you will see more than 16 winners in a season. Not to say that there aren’t more than 16 cars that can win a race, because if you go down through the list, I think you will find that there probably are. But you can’t forget about the points either and I don’t think anyone really is. If you aren’t going to win the race, or you don’t have a car that is capable and you don’t think you can take the chance to get that win, then you are still going to try and finish fifth rather than 15th. You want to get those points and have them at the end of the year. But ultimately, you want to win enough races to not have to worry about points at all.”