Penske Racing Quaker State 400 Preview
June 26, 2013
The Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway (1.5-mile oval, Sparta, Kentucky)
Saturday June 29, 7:30 pm ET
No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion driven by Brad Keselowski
• PUTTING THE BLUE DEUCE ON TOP IN THE BLUEGRASS STATE: Keselowski enters this weekend's Quaker State 400 as the defending race winner. He led three times for a total of 68 laps at Kentucky last season en route to his seventh career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) victory.
• STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: In the two NSCS races at Kentucky Speedway, Keselowski ranks second in several key categories including: Average Running Position, Driver Rating, Fastest Laps Run and Average Green Flag Speed. Keselowski has run 526 laps inside the top 15 (98.5%), which is tops in the series.
• FIRST PITCH: During a media advance visit to preview this weekend's race, Keselowski threw out the first pitch of the Cincinnati Reds-Colorado Rockies game on June 5.
• TRIPLE DUTY: This weekend Keselowski will do "triple duty" for the first time this season. In addition to the Cup Series race, the former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion will return behind the wheel of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang on Friday night. Keselowski will also pilot his own team's No. 29 Reese Towpower F-150 in Thursday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event.
• MEET KESELOWSKI: Keselowski will make an appearance at Dickmann's Café located at 479 Orphanage Road in Ft. Wright, Kentucky beginning at 8:30 pm ET on Wednesday night.
• SULLIVAN AND SON: On Monday, Keselowski flew to Los Angeles to film an episode of the TBS sitcom, "Sullivan and Son." The show, which is produced by Vince Vaughn, just began its second season.
YOU SEEM TO HAVE REALLY TAKEN TO KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY. WHY DO YOU THINK YOU EXCEL THERE?
"Kentucky is such a rough racetrack and that just seems to fit my driving style. There aren't many of those tracks left on the schedule. The groove is very wide which comes with being an older surface. I feel like we could be sitting here as the two-time winner of this race, but we just weren't able to get it done two years ago. All of us on the Miller Lite Ford team have circled this race as one where we can jump back in the conversation of championship contenders because we have that much confidence at Kentucky."
WHAT IS A LAP LIKE AROUND KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY?
"If you can get your car where it's comfortable over the bumps in Turns 1 and 2, that's obviously going to be the fastest way around Kentucky. Sometimes that is easier said than done so some drivers will choose to enter a bit higher to avoid the bumps. Usually that will establish a second groove around the middle of the race, which can lead to some great side-by-side racing over the final laps. It's definitely a place with a lot of character."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion driven by Joey Logano
• THE KENTUCKY KING: Before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ever visited Kentucky Speedway, Logano was long considered the "Kentucky King" in Nationwide Series competition at the track. Logano won three straight Nationwide Series races at Kentucky between 2008 and 2010, with each of those wins coming from the pole. His win in 2008 was his first Nationwide Series triumph and made Logano the youngest winner in NNS history.
• SOLID FINISHES CONTINUE: After leading 10 laps last weekend in Sonoma, Logano was able to log an 11th-place finish on the 1.99-mile road course. While the result broke Logano's streak of five straight top-10 finishes (including the All-Star race), it kept his streak of solid race performances alive. Logano has finished 11th or better in eight of the last 12 races this season.
• TESTING, TESTING, TESTING: Logano and his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team, along with his Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team, are testing Tuesday and Wednesday this week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The test is being run in conjunction with the Roush-Fenway Racing teams as the Ford programs work together to maximize the time testing.
• MEET LOGANO: Logano will sign autographs at his merchandise trailer on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm ET. Fans can check at the trailer for ticket distribution times.
WILL YOUR PAST KENTUCKY SUCCESS TRANSLATE OVER TO THE CUP SERIES?
"I always loved Kentucky in the Nationwide Series. We always ran well there and the place is pretty special to me because I was able to get my first NNS win there. But once we started going there in the Cup Series, it seemed like that success didn't translate over. We just struggled with our cars there the last two years and you need a really good handling car to get around the place because it's rough. So I think we will have a better handle on it this year and I'm looking forward to getting back there."
DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU COULD BE IN THE POINTS WITHOUT THE BACK LUCK FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR?
"No. What's done it done. There is nothing you can do about the issues we had earlier this year. Sure, you could say we would be sixth or seventh (in the points) without those, but a lot of guys can say that about a few races. We just need to keep moving forward from where we are and keep learning together. I think we are getting closer and closer and that first win with the 22 team could come at about anytime."