Penske Racing Servicemaster 200 Race Preview
November 5, 2013
Phoenix International Raceway
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Friday - Practice 12:00pm ET FoxSports1
- Final Practice 3:30pm ET FoxSports1
Saturday - Qualifying 12:30pm ET FoxSports2
- Servicemaster 200 4:00pm ET ESPN2
Saturday - Servicemaster 200 3:30pm ET MRN & SiriusXM
No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Mustang
Driver: Sam Hornish Jr.
No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang
Driver: Brad Keselowski
No. 48 AutoZone Ford Mustang
Driver: Ryan Blaney
THE NEWS & NOTES
No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Ford
• RISING IN PHOENIX: The mecca of Arizona motorsports, Phoenix International Raceway has been a place where Hornish excels. Most notably he earned his first-ever NASCAR Nationwide Series victory here in 2011. He also owns two IndyCar victories at the venue.
• SECOND AND TWO FOR SIX: Hornish trails the leader of the Nationwide Series, Austin Dillon, by just six points with two races remaining in the season. Hornish looks to improve his position here at Phoenix, where he has proven to know the way to victory circle.
• BEST EVER TO BE BEST AGAIN: The 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series season has truly been a breakout year for Hornish. As a three-time IndyCar Series champion and an Indianapolis 500 winner, the veteran driver knows what it takes to win. He is having his best year of NASCAR competition with one victory, three poles and a series leading 15 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes.
• PHOENIX FAN FAVORITE: As a multiple race winner across two distinctly different forms of racing, Hornish has a strong fan base at Phoenix. He will be participating in the Nationwide Series driver autograph session Saturday, November 9 at 9:00am local time just outside of the Turn 1 grandstand.
• ARIZONA STATE SON: Pit crew member on the Alliance Truck Parts Ford, gas man Kellen Mills hails from nearby Mesa, AZ. He played football for the Arizona State Sun Devils.
THE Q & A
SAM HORNISH JR, NO. 12 ALLIANCE TRUCK PARTS FORD
PHOENIX IS A STRONG TRACK FOR YOU. DOES THAT IMPACT YOUR APPROACH TO THIS RACE?
"It is always great to comeback to a place that has been good to you. Phoenix definitely has a lot of great memories for me. We've won a few races here and they have been the kind of races that have meant more than just a great day at the race track. We are engaged in a pretty tight battle for this championship and there really isn't a place that I would rather race this weekend than at Phoenix. As far as our approach goes, we are just going to run our race, as that has proven to bring the best results for our Alliance Truck Parts crew."
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT THE PRESSURE OF RUNNING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP. DO YOU FEEL EXTRA PRESSURE?
"I don't think about it too much really. Right now I am fortunate that I have the best people and the best equipment I've had since coming to NASCAR. I felt a lot more pressure when I first went to Cup - I felt like I had to carry the car, which I've since learned is not possible. It takes being surrounded by the right people and having top-notch equipment too. This Alliance Truck Parts Ford has been fast and consistent all year long. We have a great group of guys and a solid pit crew. All those factors make my job a little bit easier. I feel good about where we are right now."
THE NEWS & NOTES
No. 22 Discount Tire Ford
• TWO TO GO FOR THE TITLE: With two races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) season, the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang team leads the NNS owner's point standing by 26 markers. This is the one title that Penske Racing has not captured in its illustrious history.
• NUMBERS NEVER LIE: One only needs to look at the stats to see how impressive Keselowski has been in limited action behind the wheel of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang. Six wins in 14 starts with only one finish outside the top two in his last nine NNS starts.
• 26 AND COUNTING: Keselowski's win at Watkins Glen International in August gives him 26 career NASCAR Nationwide Series victories, which places him by himself in eighth-place on the all-time list.
• LIVING IN THE NOW: Keselowski has finished in the top-five in seven of the last nine NNS races at Phoenix International Raceway, but has yet to visit Victory Lane. That will be his focus this weekend.
• HOME GAME: Discount Tire, the primary sponsor of the No. 22 Ford Mustang, is headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, making this a home game for the team.
THE Q & A
BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 22 DISCOUNT TIRE FORD
LAST WEEKEND YOU GOT YOUR FIRST WIN AT TEXAS. CAN YOU DO IT AGAIN AT PHOENIX?
"Winning last weekend at Texas was big for us, not just because I finally was able to win there after being so close so many times, but because it propelled us into a nice lead in the owner's point standings. I absolutely think we can do it again at Phoenix. I've become a big fan of Phoenix over the last few years and I think our Discount Tire Ford will be stout. As far as places I have left to win in the Nationwide Series, this is right at the top of the list because I'd love to be able to share Victory Lane with the Discount Tire employees. Their support is phenomenal and I feel like I owe them one here."
HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU WITH THE 26-POINT LEAD IN THE OWNER'S POINT STANDINGS?
"I'm not at all comfortable and I don't think you will see me race that way. When you're racing the 54 car you can't be timid and cautious because you know they will be up front. If you look at the Cup battle with me and Jimmie (Johnson) last year, we had a good lead going into Homestead where we only had to finish 15th. We finished 15th after struggling with the car. So we aren't in the clear yet but I like our chances because we have very fast Ford Mustangs."
THE NEWS & NOTES
No. 48 AutoZone Ford
• WELCOME AUTOZONE: AutoZone, the nation's leading retailer and a leading distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories, officially joins the Penske Racing family this weekend as primary sponsor of the No. 48 Ford Mustang with Ryan Blaney. AutoZone has more than 5,000 stores in the US, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
• THE NO. 48?: This will be just the second time the No. 48 will mark a three-car NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) effort for Penske Racing this season. Joey Logano ran the No. 48 back at Watkins Glen International, where he led 12 laps and was en route to a possible win before running out of fuel with just a handful of laps to go.
• BLANEY LOOKING FOR TWO-STRAIGHT: The last time Blaney was behind the wheel of a Penske Racing Nationwide Series ride, he ended the night in victory lane, celebrating his first-career NNS win. Blaney has run two Nationwide races this year with two top-10s and 96 laps led.
• BUSKIRK TO LEAD AGAIN: Kevin Buskirk, the current test team manager for Penske Racing, will lead the No. 48 team this weekend. Buskirk, along with car chief Jeffry Thousand, worked on the No. 48 at Watkins Glen.
• FORMER PHOENIX WINNER: Blaney has raced at Phoenix in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event, but his best memory at the one-mile oval came in 2011. Making his first-career NASCAR West Series start, Blaney took home the victory by leading 44 of 125 laps with his family owned team. His lone NCWTS start resulted in a fifth-place finish after starting second.
THE Q & A
RYAN BLANEY, NO. 48 AUTOZONE FORD
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO GET A CHANCE TO GET BACK IN THE NATIONWIDE CAR WITH PENSKE?
"This is going to be a really fun weekend. To get a chance to run a third Penske Racing Ford with our new sponsor AutoZone is awesome. The car looks really good and it should be pretty fast. We've got a couple of great teammates to rely on with notes and setup ideas. And I've always felt like I've been pretty good at Phoenix. I've had some success here in a couple of different series, so I'm looking forward to racing the Nationwide Series car here. We are not racing for Championships like our teammates are, so we are out here just to win the race."
YOU HAVE HAD A PRETTY GOOD YEAR. WOULD YOU CALL IT A BREAKOUT SEASON?
"No I don't really look at things that way. I just go out there and try and do the best I can every time I'm behind the wheel of the Truck or the Nationwide Series car. Fortunately this year, I've been able to get a win in each series. Getting a chance to run both the Truck and the Nationwide car on the same weekend and even on the same day should give me an advantage too. You always hear the Cup guys saying that the extra track time helps them and I think it will be the same way for me. I'll be able to use what I learned in the Truck race on Friday for the Nationwide car on Saturday."