Team Penske Duck Commander 500 Race Preview
April 1, 2014
The Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile speedway, Ft. Worth, Tex.)
The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Hertz Ford Fusion
The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
· BACK TO THE BEGINNING: Brad Keselowski made his first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) start at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) in the 2008 fall race. The following year, he made his first-ever Cup Series start for Team Penske at Texas. Just three years later he clinched his first Sprint Cup championship. Sunday’s race will mark his 12th start at the high-banked speedway.
· TWO LOOKING FOR THREE: Team Penske owns two victories at TMS. The first came in 2003 with Ryan Newman, and the second was notched in 2009 with Kurt Busch behind the wheel.
· HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Keselowski will be among the Team Penske members that will attend a ceremony to induct Roger Penske into the Texas Motor Speedway Hall of Fame this week. The ceremony will take place on Thursday evening at the speedway.
· SECOND IS BEST TO DATE: With 11 NSCS starts at Texas to his credit, Keselowski owns a best result of second-place. The finish, which came after Keselowski earned an eighth-place starting spot, was recorded at the fall race of his 2012 championship winning season.
· NO PLACE FOR COMPLACENCY: While the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team started the season hot and has already scored a critically important victory in the quest to make the Chase, the team continues to focus on improving. The team will test at Memphis leading into this weekend at Texas.
· SOCIAL CLIMBING ADDING UP: As one of the most engaged NASCAR drivers on social media, Keselowski recently moved up to the fifth position in the Sprint Cup Series Top 10 Driver Social Rankings.
· TEAM PENSKE WELCOMES FORD: On Tuesday, Team Penske opened the doors of its Mooresville, NC., facility and welcomed Edsel Ford II along with members of the Ford executive team. Ford, a member of the Ford Board of Directors, is touring the Ford NASCAR shops in the area this week.
THE NEWS AND NOTES
The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Hertz Ford Fusion
· LOGANO REACHES 30: By finishing fourth last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, Joey Logano reached another milestone in his brief NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) career. Logano’s third fourth-place finish in 2014 represented his 30th-career top-five result. Even more impressive, nearly half of those top-five finishes (14 of the 30) have come since Logano began competing for Team Penske just over a year ago. Logano earned 16 top fives in 147 races with Joe Gibbs Racing. He has already earned 14 top fives in just 42 races with Team Penske.
· ANOTHER IMPRESSIVE NUMBER: Since NASCAR instituted its new “knockout” qualifying format this season, maybe no one has been posted more impressive results than Logano. He has qualified second, first, fourth, seventh and third in the five races since starting “knockout” qualifying. That equates to a 3.4 average starting spot. Only Logano and six-time NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson have made the final round in each of the “knockout” qualifying sessions.
· HELLO TO HERTZ: The Hertz Corporation, one of the worlds’ leading car rental and transportation companies, will serve as a co-primary sponsor of the No. 22 Ford Fusion this weekend, along with Shell-Pennzoil. Hertz has been a proud supporter of Team Penske and the No. 22 NASCAR Nationwide Series Mustang since the beginning of 2013.
· QUITE THE ANNIVERSARY: This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of what might have been one of Logano’s finest NSCS performances. After running into issues in the tech line before the race at Texas, Logano barely made it out on the track for the start of the race, pulling out of the garage area just a lap before the green flag. Then, after starting from the back of the field, Logano solidly worked his way towards the front, as he finished an impressive fifth in just his seventh race with Team Penske.
· TEXAS TWO-STEP IN 2013: After finishing fifth in the first Texas race last season, Logano backed it up with a third-place finish in the fall race at TMS. The only other time Logano has finished inside the top five at Texas came at the end of 2010 when he finished fourth.
· DIG SAFE, CALL 811: April is National Safe Digging Month, and No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil / Hertz Ford Fusion driver Joey Logano will run ‘Call 811’ logos on the car during all three races in April to encourage fans to call 811 before starting outdoor digging projects. As part of the effort, the Common Ground Alliance will give one race fan the chance to watch Joey Logano race at the Quicken Loans 400 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ on November 9, 2014. Visit www.flyawaytophoenix.com to enter and read official rules. No purchase necessary. Sweepstakes ends August 31, 2014.
BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 MILLER LITE FORD
“Our intermediate track program is strong right now. The Miller Lite Ford had a lot of speed at Las Vegas and Fontana. The Texas track falls right in between those two places as Vegas is similar in length while Fontana is similar in surface. Tire management is the key to long run speed at Texas, and that plays well with our set-up and my driving style. We’ve had cars capable of winning here the last few times that we’ve raced at Texas. We feel as though the Miller Lite team is executing and we are looking to finish up front.”
THE TEAM STARTED STRONG, BUT THE LAST FEW RACES HAVE BEEN CHALLENGING. IS TEXAS THE PLACE TO TURN THAT AROUND?
“The Sprint Cup Series schedule is a long one and the goal is to finish strong. While we always strive to win – we realize that there will be days where things just don’t go your way. Over these last three races, we ran through someone’s oil, got a flat tire while running fifth with five laps to go and had a pit-lane crash. Those are things that happen to everyone over the course of the season. The way I look at it is – our Ford Fusion’s have been fast and we have had cars that are capable of running up front everywhere we’ve been. Of course, that win makes it easier to deal with the ups and downs. We’re in excellent shape heading into this weekend, and we won’t be surprised to be in even better shape when it’s over.”
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE SUCCESS THAT YOU’VE HAD AT TEAM PENSKE SO FAR?
“I don’t think it comes down to one thing. I mean, I feel like I have clicked with my team and (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) from the very beginning. Me and Brad (Keselowski) work well together, which helps a lot in the grand scheme of things. Things are just going really well right now. I’m so proud of the guys on the Shell-Pennzoil team. They work their butts off in the shop and on the weekends. They put in a lot of time to make sure these cars are fast and that is showing on the track. But I don’t think there is anything special that we are doing. We are just working together as a team and I’m continuing to improve as a driver.”
WAS MARTINSVILLE A TURNAROUND FOR YOU AFTER TWO DISAPPOINTING WEEKS?
“It was. That was what this team needed. The thing was, at Bristol and California, we were a car that should have finished in the top five at both of those tracks, but we had mechanical problems get us. That is kind of deflating when you know you have a car that can run up front and even win and something beyond your control takes you out. But this weekend, we got back to doing what we’ve actually been doing all year long, which was running up front and showing that we are fast. We have led laps in every race except one this season. That’s an impressive stat. So we just need to keep doing what we are doing. The wins and the top fives will continue to take care of themselves.”
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