Team Penske Aaron's 499 Race Preview
April 29, 2014
Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile superspeedway, Talladega, Ala.)
The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion
THE NEWS AND NOTES
The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
· FIRST WIN MEMORIES: Brad Keselowski led only one lap, and it was the only one that he needed to lead, on the day that he scored his first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Talladega in the spring of 2009.
· TWO TIMES AT TALLADEGA: Keselowski owns two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories (2009 and 2012) at Talladega Superspeedway. Talladega is one of two tracks that the 2012 Cup Series Champion has multiple wins. The other is Bristol, where he has also scored a pair of victories.
· CERTAINLY A STRONG STARTER: Keselowski has now started on the front row in six of the nine races contested thus far this season. The effort to date represents his best-ever string of starting positions to begin a season.
· IT’S THAT (MILLER) TIME AGAIN: The fan favorite white No. 2 Miller Lite Ford will be back in action again this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
· FANTASTIC STATISTICS: Through the first nine races of the 2014 season, Keselowski has the top rank of fastest driver early in a run and he is first in green flag speed. Keselowski ranks second in average running position, second in laps in the top 15 and second in quality passes. He also has the third-highest driver rating; he is fourth in fastest laps run and fourth in laps led.
· STATE REPRESENTATIVES: Three members of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team hail from Alabama. Truck driver, Mike “Bama” Williams is from Blue Springs, and brothers Jeremy (front tire carrier) and DeWayne Ogles (tire runner) are from nearby Birmingham.
· RACE DAY AT MILLER LITE PARTY DECK: Keselowski will appear at the Miller Lite Party Deck on race day morning at 9:00 a.m. CT.
· MEET BRAD: Keselowski will be at the Wal-Mart located at 165 Vaughan Ln, Pell City, Ala., on Friday, May 2 at 6:00 p.m. CT.
· TEAM PENSKE PRODUCTION: While it is still early in the 2014 season, Team Penske has already tallied wins and poles in all three series in which it competes – the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series and the Verizon IndyCar Series. The historic organization currently has produced 389 major race wins and 441 pole positions.
BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 MILLER LITE FORD
YOU’VE HAD A COUPLE OF BIG VICTORIES AT TALLADEGA, WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK HEADING INTO THE WEEKEND?
“Talladega has been a great track for me. It has been the backdrop for a couple of self-defining moments. My first Cup victory comes to mind each time we head to Talladega. Our superspeedway program is strong and our Ford Fusions have speed. We came up just a little short at Daytona, so I am feeling particularly motivated this weekend. We will look to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves and do our best to be there at the end.”
PAUL WOLFE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 2 MILLER LITE FORD
EACH TRACK PRESENTS DIFFERENT CHALLENGES, WHAT DOES TALLADEGA BRING THAT’S UNIQUE?
“It feels a little funny to say this, but most of the hard work is done before you get to Talladega. The Team Penske engineers, fabricators and set-up people do the lion’s share of the work. Our speedway Ford Fusions are strong right off of the truck, and there is not too much we can do to improve upon them at the track. The race itself is a bit intriguing in terms of where to you want to be on track to avoid the big one, but a lot of that is circumstances beyond our control. We also have one of the best speedway drivers out there in Brad, so that makes my job pretty straight-forward.”
The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion
· LOCKED INTO THE CHASE: With his second win of the 2014 season last Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, Joey Logano is now all but officially locked into the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Chase. With two wins to Logano’s credit and the 16 drivers with the most victories (or highest in the points with no wins) qualifying for the Chase, Logano is all but assured of his spot in NASCAR’s post season.
· TRACK TYPE DOESN’T MATTER: The win at Richmond International Raceway was the first short track win of Logano’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. Now, all five of Logano’s career wins have come on different size tracks. He’s won on a 0.75-mile (Richmond), one-mile (New Hampshire), 1.5-mile (Texas), two-mile (Michigan) and 2.5-mile (Pocono) track.
· CELEBRATE IN STYLE: With a short-week following his Monday win at Texas in early April, Logano had more time to celebrate Saturday night’s victory at Richmond with his friends, family and team members. Logano and several team members spent Sunday on Lake Norman in North Carolina enjoying the win. He also participated in a new Team Penske tradition, Happy Hour, where he toasted all of the team employees in the shop on Monday afternoon.
· LEADING LAPS: Logano has now led laps in eight of the nine events this season, tallying 36 more laps out front in Richmond. That brings his season total to 359 laps led through the first nine events, third best in the series. It is also 36 laps more than his previous single-season career-best, which was 323 laps led throughout the entire 2013 season. Logano also passed the 1,000 career laps led mark at Richmond.
· PENSKE PERFORMANCE: In the year-and-a-half that Logano has been driving for Team Penske, the 23-year-old’s performance on the track has skyrocketed. Logano led 337 total laps in his first four-plus years in the Sprint Cup series, but has led 682 since joining Team Penske. He has also amassed three wins, 16 top-fives aHE Q&A
JOEY LOGANO, NO. 22 SHELL-PENNZOIL FORD
WITH TWO WINS THIS SEASON, DOES YOUR FOCUS CHANGE BETWEEN NOW AND THE CHASE?
“I don’t think so. I think we want to go out there and win more races. We would love to be able to go into the Chase as the number one seed, which is where we would be right now. But we all know that can change in an instant, especially with Talladega around the corner. So we still want to win races. And we would love to see our teammate (Brad Keselowski) get a second win, so we know we are both pretty much guaranteed for the Chase and we can really focus on that. So I don’t think anything really changes, other than maybe taking a chance or two when the timing is right.”
HOW MUCH OF A WILD CARD IS TALLADEGA?
“I think it is a Wild Card race because there are a lot of times that your outcome is out of your hands. You might have a really fast car, but if you get stuck in the wrong lane or make one wrong move, you can drop back outside of the top 20. And if someone else makes a mistake, you can get swept up in it. But it’s something that we’ve all come to deal with and understand. We just try and make the best of it as we are out there and try to keep ourselves in a good position to the end of the race. You want to win, but if you can come out of Talladega with the car in one piece and possibly a top-five or top-10 finish, it’s a pretty successful weekend.”
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