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Team Penske Daytona 500 Race Preview

February 18, 2014

Photo courtesy of Autostock

Sunday, February 23, 2014


No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
Driver: Brad Keselowski

•    THE ORIGINAL LITE: While it has been a high-profile car for many years as “The Blue Deuce,” the Miller Lite Ford Fusion has garnered a remarkable amount of attention in Daytona over the last week. The new paint scheme on the No. 2 Ford, which supports The Original Lite beer from Miller, has been named the “White Lite” and “Blanco Deuce” by fans in the social media sphere.
•    BEST BEGINNINGS ARE STRONG FINISHES:  Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team started its 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign in strong fashion as the team finished second in The Sprint Unlimited. On the way to the runner-up result, the “White Lite” led on three different occasions for a total of eight laps.
•    THIRTY AND AN ANNIVERSARY: Keselowski, who recently celebrated his 30th birthday, is beginning his fourth season in the renowned Miller Lite machine. This weekend’s Daytona 500 marks the anniversary of Keselowski’s reign in the No. 2 – a pairing that already produced a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in 2012.
•    BEST TO DATE IN DAYTONA: With four starts in “The Great American Race,” Keselowski owns a best result of fourth place, which came last year after he started the race from 15th on the starting grid.
•    WHY REST WHEN YOU CAN TEST: Even after all the recent on-track activity at Daytona International Speedway, the No. 2 Miller Lite team is still looking for more. The team tested in Nashville today as it prepares for the season ahead.
•    NEW LOOKS, COMING ATTRACTIONS AND APPEARANCES: Keselowski will make several public appearances in the coming days. He will be at Sam’s Club located at 1175 Beville Road in Daytona Beach, FL at 11:45 am ET on Wednesday, February 19. He will also make a post-race appearance with Luke Bryan on Sunday, February 23 at the Buffalo Wild Wings located at 2479 W. International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach, FL. The time for this is appearance is still to be determined depending on the outcome of the Daytona 500.


BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 MILLER LITE FORD
HOW MEANINGFUL WOULD A DAYTONA 500 VICTORY BE TO YOU?

“Just being able to participate in this race is a massive deal and a tremendous opportunity. The list of drivers that have won a 500 is an elite list, and it is one of the elite races across the globe. It is empty on my resume. There are some other things I have accomplished that a Daytona 500 win would fit quite well with. I think it is undeniably on my list of things I want to accomplish in this sport before my time comes to an end.”

PAUL WOLFE, CREW CHIEF NO. 2 MILLER LITE FORD
HOW MUCH DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR SECOND-PLACE RUN IN THE UNLIMITED?

“We had a strong run the other night in the Unlimited. I think that we learned a few things that will translate into the Duel and also into the 500. Brad undoubtedly came away with a better idea of what he will need from the Miller Lite Ford over the next two events here at Daytona. We have been talking it over and we feel good about where we are right now. We were very pleased with the way the Unlimited played out for us – bringing our car home in one piece gives us a decent idea of how to approach the rest of the weekend.”    


No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion
Driver: Joey Logano

•    ANOTHER SOLID START TO THE SEASON:  For the second-straight year, Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team started the season with a top-five finish at Daytona International Speedway in last Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited. Logano finished fourth in the event, following up a third-place finish last season. Logano led twice for 11 laps and finished with the third-best driver rating of all those entered on Saturday.
•    DUEL HISTORY – THE GOOD AND BAD:  Following his 15th-place qualifying effort this past Sunday in Daytona 500 time trials, Logano will start eighth in the first of the two Duels on Thursday evening.  Logano has competed in five Duel events over the course of his career, producing four top-10 finishes.  His best finish in the Duels came in his rookie season of 2009 when he finished fourth.  He’s competed in the first Duel twice and the second Duel on three occasions.
•    TAKING NO TIME OFF:  With the unique schedule around Daytona Speedweeks, most teams have Monday and Tuesday off as the garage at Daytona International Speedway is closed. However, Team Penske and both the No. 2 and No. 22 teams are spending those two days preparing for the upcoming season. Both teams will test at Nashville on Tuesday before flying back to Daytona as action resumes on Wednesday.
•    ANOTHER DAYTONA RACE?:  Logano’s Daytona stats don’t just include NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races – but also an ARCA start. In 2009, prior to his first Cup start at the famed track, Logano started third and finished second in the ARCA event at Daytona.
•    OFF-SEASON FUN:  During the first week back at the track, one of the most commonly-asked questions asked of drivers by both fans and media is “how was your off-season”  Logano had a productive but quiet off-season leading into Daytona. The 23-year-old, who got engaged to long-time girlfriend Brittany Baca at the end of 2013, spent a lot of time wedding planning.  He also tested with both his No. 22 team and the Team Penske test team at Nashville, Daytona and Memphis. Logano also welcomed new Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya by participating in his charity go-kart event in Columbia. He finished second in one of the two races behind his other Team Penske IndyCar teammate Helio Castroneves.


JOEY LOGANO, NO. 22 SHELL-PENNZOIL FORD
WHAT WERE YOU ABLE TO LEARN IN THE UNLIMITED THAT WILL CARRY OVER TO THE DUELS AND THE 500?

“We all learned that the cars drive different in the pack than they did last year. We will have a little bit of an advantage in the Duels over the guys that didn’t get to run the Unlimited but after that, everyone will have figured it out and will know how their car is going to handle.  The biggest difference is it feels like the bottom lane isn’t a killer this year. Last year, you had to be on the top. This year, the bottom lane can make a move. That is going to make the racing a lot better, I think, come Thursday and Sunday.”

IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO GET A GOOD FINISH IN THE DUEL OR TO MAKE SURE YOU CAR COMES BACK IN ONE PIECE?
“Well, you always want your car to come back to the garage with minimal damage.  You don’t want to have to go to a backup and start at the back of the 500. But, if there is any track and any race that you can overcome starting from the back, it’s here and at Talladega.  But, you also want to get as good of a finish in the Duel so you can start up front in the 500.  The best way to stay out of the mess that could happen in the 500 is to be way in front of it all and leading laps. So you have to find a balance.”