Penske Racing Save Mart 350 Race Preview
June 18, 2013
The Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (10-turn, 1.99-mile road course, Sonoma, Calif.)
Sunday June 23, 3:00 pm ET
No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion driven by Brad Keselowski
• RUBBIN' IS RACIN': This weekend marks the first road course event of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The last time the Cup cars visited a road course - Watkins Glen International (WGI) in 2012 - Brad Keselowski helped provide one of the most exciting finishes in recent memory. He and Marcos Ambrose battled door-to-door over the final laps on a surface that had been coated with oil from another competitor's car. Rather than throw a caution flag, NASCAR let the two drivers battle it out in a jaw-dropping finish that had the crowd on its feet.
• ROAD COURSE RINGER?: Since the start of the 2011 season, Keselowski has averaged a ninth-place finish at Sonoma and WGI. In addition, Keselowski owns five top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes on road courses in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.
• PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: In preparation for this weekend's race, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team tested at both Virginia International Raceway and Road Atlanta in recent weeks.
• JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: On Thursday night Keselowski will be a guest on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." The show will air on ABC-TV at 11:35 pm ET.
• NASCAR AUTOGRAPH SESSION: Keselowski will participate in a NASCAR autograph session at Sonoma on Friday afternoon at 5:30 pm PT.
• SULLIVAN AND SON: On Monday following the race, Keselowski will fly 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.
DO YOU THINK THE ROAD COURSES HAVE BECOME ONE OF THE MORE EXCITING DISCIPLINES?
"Absolutely. The two road course races are among the most exciting of the year. I think we have the perfect blend right now of guys that are getting really good on the road courses, coupled with the fact that we only race on them twice a year. So even though we are becoming very proficient at this style of racing, there is still going to be driver error because we don't do it consistently. On top of that we are able to lean on each other more in stock cars, as compared to open-wheel or sports cars. When you have all that you can't help but have great racing."
WHAT IS A LAP LIKE AROUND SONOMA?
"Sonoma is in a beautiful part of the country, but it's a very demanding road course. It's just so technical, whereas Watkins Glen is more of a stock car driver's circuit. You have to be mindful of hitting your marks on every lap and you can't throw your car around very much. There's a lot of elevation change that makes it difficult to see around the corners, but that also makes it a fun place to race. You are as worn out mentally as you are physically when you finish a race at Sonoma."
No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion driven by Joey Logano
• CONTINUING HIS SOLID RUN: Joey Logano has been one of the hottest drivers on the NASCAR circuit since the middle of May That continued last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, where Logano led 21 laps and picked up his fifth consecutive top-10 finish (including the All-Star race) in the Sprint Cup Series. He now has four top-fives and seven top-10s this season. In addition to his recent hot streak in the Cup Series, Logano has also been red hot on the Nationwide Series. He's produced four finishes inside the top five and a near win at Michigan after leading 30 laps before he fell back to 11th after a late-race flat tire.
• ROAD COURSE PREP: Logano, along with his Shell-Pennzoil Racing Ford team, got ready for the right and left turns of Sonoma Raceway by spending two separate test days at both Road Atlanta and Virginia International Raceway doing road course testing.
• FORMER POLE WINNER: In 2011, Logano surprised the racing world, and himself, by laying down an impressive qualifying lap at Sonoma and winning his first-career road course pole. Logano, who never did any road racing until he reached NASCAR, has spent a lot of time testing various cars at Sonoma to get more acclimated to the track. In the 2011 race at Sonoma, Logano led five laps and finished sixth. He's scored two top-10 finishes in his four career races at Sonoma.
• MEET LOGANO: Logano will participate in a NASCAR Q&A session on Sunday at 9:15 am PT at the Turn 11 Fan Stage at Sonoma.
• BACK TO SINGLE DUTY: This will be the first time since the Talladega event in May that Logano will not run double-duty on a race weekend. With the Nationwide Series in Road America, Logano will focus solely on the Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma.
HOW DO YOU RATE YOUR ROAD-COURSE RACING ABILITIES?
"You know, a few years ago, all of the rage was the ‘road course ringers' that they would bring in to these two races. But they never seemed to have the success you would have thought. I think that's because the regular guys that are out here, they are some of the best racecar drivers in the world and we've all be able to adapt to racing on the road courses better and better. Now, I feel like we can all compete with each other and we are as good as any of the ringers. I feel the same way about myself. I have a lot more things I can still learn, but I have worked hard and gotten a lot better over the years."
YOU ARE A FORMER POLE WINNER AT SONOMA. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT?
"It will be interesting. However, those of us that have run in the Nationwide Series in the last few years will be familiar with it. The good thing is that if you mess up a lap, it gives you the chance to make up for it by hitting all of your braking and shifting points on the next lap. Of course, you need to be careful as to how much you run as that can affect your strategy come race time with fuel and such. It will be fun and good for the fans though."