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Team Penske Pocono 400 Race Preview

June 3, 2014




THE RACE

Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway (2.5-mile speedway, Pocono, Pa.)
Sunday, June 8, 1:00 pm ET

THE CARS

The No. 2 Redd’s Apple Ale Ford Fusion
Driven by Brad Keselowski

The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion
Driven by Joey Logano
 

THE NEWS AND NOTES

The No. 2 Redd’s Apple Ale Ford Fusion

· REDD’S APPLE ALE RETURNS: This weekend at Pocono the No. 2 Team Penske Ford Fusion will feature the red color scheme of Redd’s Apple Ale. The unique red machine will make its second consecutive start at Pocono after it ran at the second race at the venue last season.

· POCONO PROWESS: Keselowski owns one victory at the “Tricky Triangle.” He led 19 laps on the way to his lone win at the historic track during the second race in 2011. The 2012 Cup Series Champion has eight starts at Pocono and he has completed every lap of competition in those eight races (1382 or 1382). He also has two top-five and three top-10 finishes at Pocono to his credit in his career.

· FRONT ROW TALLY: Keselowski and the No. 2 Team Penske Ford have earned two poles and eight front row starts this season. The effort marks a career best in terms of qualifying results to start a season for Keselowski. The eight front row starts in 2014 are the most of any Sprint Cup Series driver this year as Team Penske has adapted very well to the new “elimination” style qualifying format that NASCAR instituted this earlier this year.

· HOME STATE SHOCK: Pennsylvania is home to Penske Shocks and to No. 2 Penske Ford shock specialist, Chris Hill. The home office of Penske Shocks is located in Reading, Pa. and Hill is a native of Pittsburgh.

· TEAM PENSKE POCONO HISTORY: Dating back to 1975, Team Penske has earned nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories at Pocono. A total of five different drivers have earned wins for the organization at the historic venue. The team also owns six poles and 19 top-five finishes at the 2.5-mile tri-oval.

· A HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: Keselowski is looking to experience another kind of racing while at Pocono this weekend. The veteran NASCAR driver intends to make his way to Belmont Park in Elmont, NY on Saturday after Cup Series practice to witness his first ever Triple Crown horse race. The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the three races that make up the Triple Crown. The first race took place in 1867.


THE Q&A

BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 REDD’S APPLE ALE FORD

WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK OF POCONO?

“It is a very unique track – it is almost like a mix of an oval and a road course. I tend to find things that I like about all the tracks that we race on, as that is the optimal way to approach the weekend. The variation in corner speed, the length of the long straight and the configuration of the corners are unlike any other circuit. The track is also uniquely situated geographically as most race tracks on the Cup circuit are relatively close to a large city. Having won there in 2011 makes it standout in my mind as well as that was a big win for us without a doubt.”

PAUL WOLFE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 2 REDD’S APPLE ALE FORD

POCONO IS UNIQUE TRACK. DOES IT OFFER UNIQUE CHALLENGES?

“It does present unique challenges, but they are the same for everyone. The track is almost like a mix of an oval and a road course the way we set up for it and with the braking and downshifting. I’d say most people set their car up to be optimal at the exit of Turn 3 as it seems to be the most critical corner time wise. The length of the track and the relatively new surface give us options in terms of pit strategy too. The lap times are long enough that we can pit under green flag conditions and not lose a lap which offers us room to be creative with strategy as well. So yeah, I’d say it is unique in a lot of ways.”

 

THE NEWS AND NOTES

The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion    

· THE ROAR OF LIONS:  Joey Logano admits that one of the reasons he became a racecar driver is because he wasn’t very good at other sports.  However, on Tuesday afternoon, Logano got a chance to work on his football skills at the Detroit Lions training camp. Logano visited with Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell, along with players Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson and several others. Logano also got a chance to do some passing and receiving with the players, as part of a promotion for the upcoming race at Michigan, where Logano won last season.

· A FORMER POCONO WINNER:  Logano will return to Pocono as a former winner at the “tricky triangle.” Logano beat one of his childhood idols, Mark Martin, for the win at Pocono back in 2012, scoring his second-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. That day, Logano won the pole and led a race-high 49 of the 160 laps en route to the victory.

· SPECIAL GUESTS: The Shell-Pennzoil team will host a couple of special guests for the start of the Pocono 400 this weekend.  Stars of the new movie “22 Jump Street” – Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill – will sit atop the pit box for the “22” team when the race goes green on Sunday.

· POCONO STATS:  The three-turn Pocono Raceway has been a hit or miss track for Logano during his 10-career starts at the 2.5-mile track. In addition to his win, Logano has earned two other top-10 finishes at the track, both coming with Team Penske last season, where he finished 10th and seventh in the two races respectively. Logano has also earned two of his eight career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series poles at Pocono and has completed every lap in each of the 10 races he’s run.

· CLOSE TO HOME:  Even though he spends most of the season on the road seeing the sights of the country, Greg Sorber, one of the two truck drivers for the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team, will be close to his old hometown of Shickshinny, Pa. this weekend.  Shickshinny is just 60 miles from Pocono.

 
THE Q&A    

JOEY LOGANO, NO. 22 SHELL-PENNZOIL FORD

DOES BEING A FORMER WINNER GIVE YOU ANY ADVANTAGE HEADING INTO POCONO THIS WEEKEND?

“It can give you a little bit of confidence knowing that you can win at the track, but really that is about all it gives you.  Every single year things change so much so it’s not like you can take a lot from one year to the other.  Especially this year, with the new ride height rules and the changes that we are dealing with. You really are going into the year with a blank slate. But there is still confidence knowing that you go into a track as a former winner.  Every driver out there wants to win these races on every weekend, so to know that you were able to win one of these, and the way we won that race running against Mark (Martin) with just five laps to go, that’s something you will remember for the rest of your life.”

YOU HAVE NOW WON AT SEVERAL DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRACKS. DOES THAT SHOW YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO IT EVERYWHERE?

“I think I can do it everywhere we go.  We really are only missing a restrictor-plate win and a road course win, and I think I’m capable at winning at either of those types of tracks.  But I think more than anything is shows that we can do it here at Team Penske. We build great cars and we can tune them for any type of track. I’ve always felt like my strong suit was the 1.5-mile tracks, but winning earlier this year at a short track like Richmond was a big confidence booster, because that’s probably been my worst type of track over the years.  But I just want to keep running well on whatever type of track that we run next. That’s always my number one goal.”