Team Penske 5-Hour Energy 400 Race Preview
May 8, 2014
5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway (1.5-mile speedway, Kansas City, Kan.)
Saturday, May 10, 7:30 pm ET
The No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion
Driven by: Brad Keselowski
The No. 12 SKF Ford Fusion
Driven by: Ryan Blaney
The No. 22 AAA Ford Fusion
Driven by: Joey Logano
THE NEWS AND NOTES
The No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion driven by Brad Keselowski
· BACK TO STRONG SUIT: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Wurth Ford team have a formidable record when it comes to NASCAR’s intermediate tracks. The 2012 Cup Series Champion has five wins on the 1.5 mile intermediate tracks. He also owns 11 top-five finishes on this track configuration.
· A FAMILIAR RING: Keselowski knows the way to Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway as he notched a win at the spring race at the track in 2011 when he drove all the way from 25th to first. The result marked his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and his first-ever victory as a Team Penske driver.
· WURTH IT: This weekend the No. 2 Team Penske Ford will be adorned in the red and white Wurth paint scheme for the second time this year. The Wurth Ford Fusion made its debut at Fontana earlier in 2014.
· DRIVEN TO DRIVE: Despite it being a short week from last Sunday in Talladega to a Saturday race at Kansas, Keselowski spent Tuesday testing at Iowa Speedway to assist the team in preparing for the upcoming race at the Midwest track.
· TELLING INDICATORS: Now 10 races into the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Keselowski leads the series statistics in two critical areas – Green Flag Speed and Fastest Drivers Early in a Run. As he already owns one victory, these two performance indicators bode well for Keselowski to make a return trip to Victory Lane.
THE Q & A
BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 WURTH FORD
YOU HAVE A WIN AT KANSAS AND YOU’VE WON ON AN INTERMEDIATE TRACK THIS YEAR. HOW DOES THAT AFFECT HOW YOU APPROACH THIS WEEKEND?
“It is always nice to return to a track where you have won. Kansas was my first victory as a Team Penske driver so it does have a little extra significance. Our Wurth Ford has been strong on the intermediate tracks this season. We’ve qualified well on them this year and that certainly contributes to the team’s confidence. This weekend will be the perfect opportunity for us make a statement and have a strong showing. It will be especially nice to be able to give my Mom a nice Mother’s Day weekend win.”
PAUL WOLFE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 2 WURTH FORD
YOU’VE HAD FAST FORD FUSIONS, BUT THE RESULTS HAVEN’T BEEN THERE OVER THESE LAST FEW RACES. IS KANSAS THE PLACE TO TURN THIS AROUND?
“We definitely have not had the results that we are capable of over the last month or so, but it’s a long season and we know that we will have ups and downs. We expect to contend every weekend and we know what we are capable of as a team. This stretch is just part of it. We have plenty of racing to do yet this season and we plan on making the most of it starting with this weekend at Kansas as our Ford Fusions have been pretty good on the 1.5 mile tracks so far this year.”
THE NEWS AND NOTES
The No. 12 SKF Ford Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney
· A LONG TIME COMING: This weekend, Ryan Blaney will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) debut behind the wheel of the No. 12 SKF Ford for Team Penske. Blaney will run two NSCS races for Team Penske in 2014, with the second scheduled for Talladega in October.
· NATIONWIDE TEAM MOVING UP: Jeremy Bullins and the No. 22 Team Penske NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) team will crew the No. 12 SKF Ford this weekend in Kansas, along with a few additional team members. It will be the first time Bullins will get a chance to serve as crew chief of a NSCS team. He’s earned 15 wins since taking over as crew chief of the No. 22 NNS car at Team Penske in 2012.
· IN THE PITS: The regular over the wall crew for the No. 22 NNS car - Hunter Masling, Devon Armstrong, Chris Conklin, Dewayne Ogles, Andy Shahan and Chris Williams will pit the SKF Ford this weekend at Kansas.
· RACING WITH DAD: Blaney will get a chance to race alongside his father, veteran NASCAR and Sprint Car driver Dave Blaney, in Kansas. The elder Blaney has made 468 NSCS starts and 121 NNS starts over the course of his career, and he has found Victory Lane once, coming in a NNS race in 2007. Son Ryan has won twice in the Camping World Truck Series and once in NNS competition in his young career.
· KANSAS HISTORY: Blaney has raced at Kansas once in NNS, scoring an 11th-place finish behind the wheel of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang in 2012. He also has one start at Kansas in the Camping World Truck Series, where he finished third last season.
THE Q & A
RYAN BLANEY, NO. 12 SKF FORD
WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY GOAL THIS WEEKEND?
“As a racer you want to go out there and win the race. But realistically, I know this is my first Sprint Cup Series race and this will be the first race for Jeremy Bullins as a crew chief, so we really want to go out there and just be competitive and get the best finish that we can. We know we are going to be racing against the best of the best in our sport. These are the 43 best stock car drivers in the world on the track, so to get to be a part of that is pretty cool. It will be fun to get to race against Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) as well. We rarely get the chance to all compete against each other. But really, we just want to go out there and compete and have a fun and bring the SKF car home in one piece.”
JEREMY BULLINS, NO. 12 SKF FORD CREW CHIEF
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO CREW CHIEF YOUR FIRST SPRINT CUP SERIES RACE WITH RYAN?
“It’s more than just myself or Ryan each making our Cup Series debuts this weekend, it’s really about the whole team that is getting to step up to the plate and test ourselves out against the best. These are the best teams in racing, so it will be fun to see how we stack up against them. I’m sure we are all going to rely on our teammates for help – myself with Paul (Wolfe) and Todd (Gordon) and Ryan with Brad and Joey. But it will be a fun experience for sure.
THE NEWS AND NOTES
The No. 22 AAA Ford Fusion driven by Joey Logano
· THE NUMBER ONE SEED: Despite the fact that there are 16 races before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the No. 22 AAA team and Joey Logano can hang their hat on the fact that they currently hold down the number one seed for the Chase based off of their two wins and points position. Kevin Harvick is the only other driver to have won twice already in 2014 and Logano holds in the edge against Harvick in terms of points position – Logano is sixth while Harvick is 19th.
· A DIFFERENT DOUBLE DUTY: Logano will return to double duty this weekend in Kansas, but it will not be the type that he’s used to. Logano will run in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race for Team Penske and the Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event for Brad Keselowski Racing. Logano has made four NCWTS starts in his career with two top-five finishes, including a second-place at Rockingham last season. Logano is looking to join an exclusive club and become the 24th driver in NASCAR history to win a race in the NSCS, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NCWTS.
· ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END: By qualifying 16th in last weekend’s knockout qualifying sessions at Talladega, Logano did not reach the final round of qualifying for the first time all season long. Logano had previously made all eight final round qualifying sessions in NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying format, the only driver to do so.
· BEST IN CLASS DRIVER RATING: By leading 25 laps (and extending his streak to nine races led in 10 starts in 2014) and running in the front of the pack for most of the day at Talladega, Logano moved to the top of the charts in terms of driver rating among all other NSCS drivers. Logano’s yearly rating of 105.9 is ahead of second-place Jeff Gordon, whose rating is 104.4.
THE Q & A
JOEY LOGANO, NO. 22 AAA FORD
HOW DOES IT FEEL KNOWING YOUR TEAM WOULD BE THE NUMBER ONE SEED IN THE CHASE?
“We can’t look at that too much, because we know that there are still 16 races to go before the Chase even starts and there are a lot of things that can change before then. But the one thing that shows is how strong our team has been so far this season. We have been strong on short tracks, on intermediates and on bigger speedways. We have been good on restrictor-plate tracks too, but we haven’t had the results to show for it. Our team is really hitting on things right now and its showing each weekend at the track. We just need to keep doing what we have been doing. Hopefully we can win a couple of more races and it would be cool to go into the Chase as one of the top seeds.”
ARE YOU EXCITED TO BE RACING IN THE CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES AS WELL THIS WEEKEND?
“I’m really looking forward to the getting behind the wheel of Brad’s Ford F-150 Friday night at Kansas Speedway. The NASCAR Camping World Truck races are just so much fun and there really is no pressure there. We just go out there and try and win the race and try and have fun. Brad (Keselowski) has put together an impressive program, so it’s cool to get a chance to race. I think we will have an opportunity to run well and have a chance to win the race. I really want to win and be able to say I’ve won in all three national series. That would be a pretty awesome achievement.”