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Team Penske Auto Club 400 Race Preview

March 18, 2014




THE RACE

Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway (two-mile superspeedway, Fontana, Calif.)
Sunday, March 23, 3:00 pm ET

THE CARS

The No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion
Driver: Brad Keselowski

The No. 22 Auto Club of Southern California Ford Fusion
Driver: Joey Logano


THE NEWS AND NOTES

The No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion

· FONTANA FIRST FOR WURTH: The No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion will make its competition debut this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Wurth is entering its third year as a partner with Team Penske. The leading supplier of top-quality automotive chemicals, fasteners, hand tools and electrical supplies will be a primary sponsor at a total of four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events this season.

· WELL QUALIFIED TO LEAD FROM THE FRONT: Keselowski has qualified on the front row for the last three consecutive races. He won the pole in Phoenix and then qualified second at both Las Vegas and Bristol.

· NOW ON TOP: Despite coming off its worst result of the season – a 14th-place effort at Bristol – the No. 2 Team Penske Ford team is where it wants to be in the standings. The team claimed first place in the rankings with last week’s finish and carries a 10-point lead heading into this weekend’s action at Auto Club Speedway.

· A FAN IN KESELOWSKI: Keselowski has made no secret of his fondness for the racing surface at the Auto Club Speedway. As one of the older track surfaces in NASCAR, Fontana offers the drivers the ability to manage their tires and choose a variety of racing lines.

· TEAM PENSKE PLACE IN THE PAST: The two-mile speedway in Fontana, Calif., was originally built and operated by Roger Penske. The team has two wins at the largest speedway on the west coast. The team earned consecutive victories in 2000 and 2001 with Jeremy Mayfield and Rusty Wallace.

· WURTH THINGS FIRST: Keselowski will launch Wurth’s first-ever Sprint Cup Series weekend with a visit to the Wurth facility located in Brea, Calif. He will tour the plant on Thursday and meet with employees.

· FORD FOR THE FANS: Keselowski will appear at the Ford Display in the Fan Zone on Sunday morning at 9:10 a.m. PT.

    
THE NEWS AND NOTES

The No. 22 Auto Club of Southern California Ford Fusion

· READY TO BOUNCE BACK:  Despite the final results showing a 20th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend, Joey Logano and the No. 22 Ford team know their performance heavily outweighed the results. Logano led laps early, but experienced power steering problems just over a quarter of the way through the event.  After fixing the problems behind the wall and falling three laps off the pace to 42nd place, the team rallied and was able to earn a top-20 finish and keep themselves sixth in the standings, just 22 points behind leader and teammate Brad Keselowski.

· STILL LEADING LAPS:  Logano paced the field for 12 laps in Bristol, bringing his season total to 129 laps led.  Logano has been at the front of the field in each of the four races run this season (plus the non-points Sprint Unlimited). It marks the first time he’s ever led laps in four straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events.

·CAR GUY MEETING A CAR GUY: While on the West Coast on Thursday, Logano – an avid car buff – will get a chance to meet another car guy, former Tonight Show host and stand-up comic Jay Leno. Logano will visit Jay Leno’s Garage in Burbank, Calif. and get a tour of Leno’s automobile collection. The two will also tape a segment talking about the No. 22 Ford Fusion that will air online at www.jaylenosgarage.com.

· BRACKET BUSTER:  While Logano knows quite a bit about racing, he’s challenging his fans to test his knowledge of college basketball. Logano will fill out an NCAA tournament bracket and invite his fans to compete against him in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. More info can be found via www.joeylogano.com.

· QUALIFYING UP FRONT:  In the three “knockout qualifying” sessions that have been run this season, Logano has started an impressive second, first and fourth. Out of the seven “individual sessions” that have been run in qualifying this season (two at Bristol, three at Las Vegas and two at Phoenix), Logano has led on four occasions (first session in Phoenix, second and third sessions in Las Vegas and the first session in Bristol).
 

THE Q&A

BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 WURTH FORD
YOU HAVE ONE VICTORY AND THE SERIES POINTS LEAD HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND. DOES THAT INFLUENCE YOUR APPROACH TO THIS RACE?

“The win is a feather in our cap without a doubt. The new Chase format dictates that we have to win and we feel better having checked that box early in the season. The points lead shows that we have been consistent and it is always enjoyable to be on top. I can’t say that these two factors influence our approach other than they give us indications of what we are doing well and the areas we have to improve upon. I am excited to run the Wurth Ford this weekend as it will be the first Cup race for that organization, and we will be doing everything we can to make this a great weekend for them.”

THE SURFACE AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY HAS SOME AGE. HOW DOES THAT AFFECT THE COMPETITION?

“Tracks take on personality with age, which means that a driver has to be cognizant of how they manage their tires over a run. On top of the well-aged racing surface, Auto Club Speedway is wide too, which offers a lot of lane choices to find the balance and speed in the car. I think that this will be a fantastic race for the fans for those reasons. Our Wurth Ford team is off to a strong start and we look to keep that going this weekend.”
    

JOEY LOGANO, NO. 22 AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FORD

LAST YEAR’S RACE AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY WAS ONE OF THE BEST OF THE YEAR.  DO YOU THINK THIS YEAR’S WILL BE MUCH OF THE SAME?

“It will be hard to tell with the new rules package that we have. I think we are going to have to see how it plays out. It could be a lot like Vegas, but you also have a lot more room to move around in California. I am sure the key, like on a lot of these tracks, will be being out front and having clean air. But last year we did put on a pretty good show there. There was a lot of passing and back and forth action. We had a shot to win there last year and just missed out on it by a little bit. I’d like to go out there and win this weekend. I feel like our two-mile program is really strong and has been here at Team Penske. Hopefully, we can keep it up on Sunday.”

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SECRET TO QUALIFYING UP FRONT?

“There is no secret really. I think Team Penske has just been building really fast cars this year and that shows on Fridays in qualifying. I don’t think we are doing anything different than the rest of the field in qualifying.  We just try to get a great setup in the car, go out there and bust off a good lap and regroup for the second round and the third round. I just think the guys have been working extra hard and that shows. Then, it shows on Sunday because it’s really important to start up front each and every week.”