Team Penske Kobalt Tools 400 Race Preview
March 5, 2014
Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile superspeedway, Las Vegas, Nev.)
The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion
THE NEWS AND NOTES
The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
· TWO THIRDS GOOD FOR SECOND: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team have started the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) strong by producing consecutive top-three finishes. The impressive start to the season has resulted in the team holding down second place in the point standings. Keselowski enters this weekend trailing series leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. by just six points.
· NEW ADDITION TO THE NO. 2 TEAM: Crew chief of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, Paul Wolfe, opened his arms to a new “crew member” this past Sunday. While the team was racing to a third-place finish at Phoenix, Wolfe and his wife, Aleah, welcomed their first child. Baby boy Caden Paul Wolfe weighed in at 7 lbs. and 10 oz.
· FROM ONE DESERT TO ANOTHER: While less than 300 miles apart, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) and Phoenix International Raceway are each located in a different desert. This week’s race location of Las Vegas is in the Mojave Desert while last week’s location of Phoenix is in the Sonoran Desert. Keselowski and the Miller Lite Ford team hope to build on their recent desert success this weekend.
· LAST TIME AROUND BEST TIME AROUND: Qualifying was rained out for last year’s race at Las Vegas, which gave Keselowski the pole position as the field set by the 2012 championship standings. Keselowski went on to finish third in the event for his best career result at LVMS as he led 12 laps along the way.
· TERRIFIC ON TWITTER: As one of the most active NSCS drivers on Twitter, Keselowski has also earned a reputation as being one of the most engaged and interesting drivers on the social medium. He currently has over 474, 000 Twitter followers.
· SOUTHERN STOP: Though the week between the Phoenix and Las Vegas races is a busy one with travel home to the East Coast figured in, Keselowski found some time for an appearance with a key sponsor. The 2012 NSCS champ traveled to Orlando, Fla. on Tuesday to attend a conference on behalf of Alliance Truck Parts.
BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 MILLER LITE FORD
THE TEAM IS OFF TO A STRONG START, HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING TO LAS VEGAS THIS WEEKEND?
“Our No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team has come out strong in the first couple of races and I am proud of the effort. Now we just have to get that last little bit in order to win races. We will continue working with winning in mind in order to ensure we position ourselves to be in the new championship playoff format. It’s nice to be sitting second in the points early in the season. The best part is that we’re just getting started.”
WITH THE BIRTH OF YOUR SON YOU HAVE TAKEN ON A NEW ROLE AS A FATHER. WILL IT BE DIFFICULT TO GO TO LAS VEGAS?
“This is a fascinating experience. You see other guys on the team go through it, you hear about the way it impacts people, but until it happens to you – you just don’t truly grasp what it means. Aleah and I are grateful to have a healthy baby. I am really impressed with how strong my wife is – wow – being there with her for the birth was a magical moment. As to leaving this weekend, yeah it will be a little tough, but I am excited to get back to the track and continue to build on the strong start the 2 car has had and work on getting that first win of the season. It’s hard to put all these feelings into words and while all parents have things in common, we all bring our own feelings to the experience. I am very happy and thankful too.”
The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion
· NEAR THE TOP IN MANY CATEGORIES: With Joey Logano’s strong run at Phoenix International Raceway last weekend, the 23-year-old backed up his solid start at Daytona by leading 71 laps and coming home fourth in the desert. Logano never ran worse than fourth under green-flag conditions last Sunday, as he continued to leave his mark on the NASCAR stat sheet through two races this season. Logano is currently third in average running position (7.6), fourth in driver rating (114.2), fourth in fastest laps run (38), third in fastest drivers on restarts, second in green flag speed and second in laps led (73) entering Las Vegas.
· TESTING THE WATERS AT VEGAS: Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford team will participate in the series open test on Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The test, open to all teams, will help crews get ready for the first race at an intermediate track with the new rules set forth by NASCAR in 2014. The No. 22 team will utilize its backup car for this weekend’s race, chassis No. 844, as the test car on Thursday.
· HEAD WEST, YOUNG MAN: Before flying to Las Vegas, Logano will take a detour through the beautiful town of San Diego, Calif. Logano will address the crowd and participate in an autograph session at the annual Jiffy Lube convention. Jiffy Lube is a major partner of Team Penske sponsor Shell-Pennzoil and Logano will help Pennzoil launch a new product to those in attendance.
· THE 22 CREW: On February 14th, five different groups of students from the Southeast Career and Technical Academy (SECTA), Culinary Division (Las Vegas), competed for the chance to deliver lunch to the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil crew members on Friday, March 7th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The winning group will deliver lunch to the crew at 1:30 pm PT at the track as part of the Shell Fuel For Success Program. Visit www.facebook.com/FuelForSucess.com for more info.
JOEY LOGANO, NO. 22 SHELL-PENNZOIL FORD
LAST WEEKEND, YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING FOR THE WIN LATE IN THE RACE. WILL THE NEW POINTS FORMAT CHANGE HOW YOU RUN?
“Yes and no. I mean, you are going to take more chances at the end of the race. That is what happened with us last weekend. At the end, I thought I would try and stick it in there three-wide and make a pass for the lead. That is what you have to do to try and win one of these things. We lost a spot because of it, but that’s not a big deal. But you aren’t going to try something if you could lose a bunch of spots, because points are still important. A fourth is still better than a 20th. So it will be a case-by-case thing, but I think you will see a lot more of people ‘going for it’ at the end of races.”
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS OF THE NEW KNOCKOUT QUALIFYING FORMAT LAST WEEKEND?
“I think it was a lot of fun. I mean, like anything else, there are some tweaks that you can make and I think that you will see NASCAR make a few over the next couple of weeks. We need to find a better way to help cool the cars down. If you can get the cars cooled down faster, you will see guys making more runs. But it takes 15 minutes or more to get these cars cooled down, so you really can only make one run unless you are on the bubble and you will try and make a second one. But the format and the idea is great and cool for the fans. Thankfully in Phoenix, we laid down a good lap time early and didn’t have to worry about it. I wouldn’t want to be sitting 11th or 12th with a couple of minutes to go, that’s for sure.”
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