Team Penske Talks 2015 on NASCAR Media Tour

January 29, 2015

Team Penske had its best NASCAR season ever in 2014 with 11 Sprint Cup Series wins and 6 Nationwide victories.  The duo of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski both qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and finished in the top five of the final point standings.  Both drivers were part of today’s Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour and discussed 2015.

ROGER PENSKE, Founder and Chairman, Penske Corporation – “When I think about 2014 it was a year we’ll really remember because it’s probably the most successful season we’ve had, both on the NASCAR side an on the Indy Car side with a total of 22 wins.  But, to me, the key thing was the continuity, the drivers, the crew chiefs, the team and the sponsors that you saw on this recent video.  We need that as we go forward.  I think we’re strong as we go into 2015.  It’s amazing in this world today that we can say that all of our sponsors have renewed with us to go forward on multiple year contracts, which gives us a great base to build on as we go into the future.  Great wins, some tough racing, both cars right down to the end there as far as the Chase.  Joey got in and obviously we didn’t get what we wanted, but I thought the format was outstanding.  The numbers that I’ve seen from NASCAR on the media and also the fan base have just been outstanding, so, for me, a great year for Team Penske and no question for our partner at Ford.  Think about it, we’ve been with them two years now and we have over 15 wins each year with the Ford Motor Company.  That’s a pretty good start for us.  We have a lot to live up to as we go forward next year.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE THE TEAMS WORKING CLOSELY TOGETHER?  “As we look back and we had the team up north, the Indy Car team, and we had the team down south and at the end of the day I think Tim Cindric said it should be Team Penske and, quite honestly, with 45,000 employees around the world people associate with a team and we thought that was the way to brand ourselves as we go forward, not only for us but our sponsors wanted that.  To me, that teamwork paid off – the way Joey and Brad worked together, the crew chiefs certainly Todd and Paul and the rest of the team was outstanding.  To me, it’s the right logo.  It stands for quality.  It stands for many years of racing and, to me, it’s gonna to be the foundation and base for us in 2015.”

WALT CZARNECKI, Vice Chairman, Penske Racing – DO YOU EXPECT TO GET A LOT BACK FROM THE WOOD BROTHERS WITH YOUR NEW ALLIANCE?  “I think that’s a fair statement, but before I begin I just want to thank everybody for being here.  As I came up I couldn’t help but think it wasn’t too many weeks ago we met in Homestead, so time has gone by very quickly and we’re ready to go again.  But back to the matter at hand.  We’re really looking forward to this association, not only with the team but with the personalities there with Eddie and Len, Glen, of course, and Leonard we’ve known for a long time.  We really view this as an opportunity to enhance the overall technical prowess of both teams.  We’ll be sharing a lot of technical information, working with them clearly with Jeremy and Corey Tuckey, who will be the car chief and has also been with Team Penske.  The shock person has also been associated with us, Darcy, so we see a very clear avenue channel of communication with both of them communications with both of them enhancing both teams and overall enhancing the Ford effort on the race track.”

HOW IMPORTANT HAS MILLER BEEN OVER THE LAST 25 YEARS WITH YOUR ORGANIZATION?  “First of all, the relationship between Miller Brewing Company and now Miller/Coors and Team Penske actually goes back about 34 years because the Miller Brewing Company became one of our very first event sponsors when we owned Michigan International Speedway as you’ll recall in the early eighties.  So we had a relationship with them on the speedway side during the 1980s.  When the opportunity presented itself in 1990 to partner with Don Miller and Rusty Wallace, Miller was just a natural extension of that because of Rusty’s relationship.  Over these past 30 years and specifically 25 years on the racing side, I really think it’s interesting to see that the Miller Brewing Company, now Miller/Coors, has gone through management changes and ownership changes and one of the consistent, stable parts of their marketing program has been their relationship with Team Penske.  That tells me that we’ve delivered, that we’ve provided the value to Miller and conversely they’ve done an awful lot for us, helping our drivers in the past elevate their profiles as well as elevating the profile of Team Penske.  So it’s a great partnership with many more years to come.”

TIM CINDRIC, President, Penske Racing – HOW IMPORTANT HAS CONTINUITY BEEN FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS?  “I know I talked about it here last year, where 2014 was the first time that we brought the same crew chiefs and drivers back since I can remember, really.  I think the results spoke for themselves.  Obviously, you can’t look at last year and expect the same, but we do.  We expect to get off on the right foot and continue to build on that, but I think although the variables are small, we continue to build continuity in our people.  When you look at not only the people, but the product – we’re racing Fords, racing the same car, the same department heads, a lot of the same things.  The rules changes, those are always the things that differentiate you and the people behind you are the ones that really dictate who gets their first, who learns the fastest, and I think we’re really at a good advantage with the people we have internally and not only the drivers and the crew chiefs, but also the people back at the shop.  With Michael Nelson and Travis Geisler and all their department heads we just continue, I think, to build better and better people.  But I think the one thing that is different this year is our association with the Wood Brothers.  Since we have half the races this year we’ll essentially have a third car on the track with our association there, so hopefully we’ll be able to learn faster than what we did last year.”

BIG CHANGES IN THE XFINITY SERIES WITH JEREMY BULLINS NOW AT THE WOOD BROTHERS.  GREG ERWIN IS STEPPING IN, SO WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THAT PROGRAM?  “Greg has been a big part of our organization.  Obviously he raced for a championship with Sam back in 2013 and last year he’s been a big part of both of our championships as far as the owner’s championships the last two years.  He’s ready to move into the 22 and have to deal with all these different personalities week in and week out, with the three or four different drivers we’ll throw at him, but it’s a proven group and I know Greg is up to the task and we’re certainly having the same expectation to be up there at the front at the end of the year.  We appreciate the role that Greg has played, not only with the Nationwide team in the past, but he’s also helped us with the Cup test team and that type of thing and he’s invaluable in terms of his experience.  Hopefully, that continues to pay off for us with the 22 car.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – WHAT HAS STOOD OUT FOR YOU OVER THESE SIX SEASONS AT TEAM PENSKE?  “Kind of playing along with what Roger, Walt and Tim have said, the first thing that came to mind when I sat up here was how sorry I felt for the photographers because it’s the same exact picture you took last year.  The same shirts, the same people.  The only change is the Ford Performance logo on the shirts, so that really speaks to where we’re at as a team and as a company.  It’s hard to believe this is my sixth year at Penske.  It’s been a tremendous ride and I’m looking forward to the years to come.  All of us driver lineup-wise, I think, are setup to be here for years to come and it’s been a heck of a ride with winning championships, winning races.  I remember when I walked in the door at Team Penske in the fall of 2009, Penske had three  teams at the time with the 2, the 77 and the 12.  I remember seeing three cars parked separate from each other and all the teams were different.  One team was in the Chase and the other two weren’t and now here we are we have all of our teams working together very closely.  We certainly have more wins than I think we’ve had in a long time as a team, and probably the best relationships inside the company that I would say probably ever and I’m just thrilled to be a part of that.”

HOW WILL THAT EXPERIENCE HELP YOU IN 2015?  “The continuity is huge.  Like I was saying before as far as how it plays forward you can’t get stuck on the past.  We talk about that all the time here at Team Penske, but we can be proud of it and we can build a platform off of it and I think for us we focus on what we have and what we have is those strong relationships.  We might not have eight cars, but I think we have three of the best and that’s three of the best teams and I feel like we have an advantage with that.  That’s part of our success last year and I think it will be part of our success for years to come.”

JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – HOW IS MARRIED  LIFE?  “It’s going great.  I’m on my second ring already, but I’ve got the same girl so that part is great.  Everything is going good.”

WHAT WAS DIFFERENT LAST YEAR THAT HELPED IMPROVE YOUR RESULTS?  “Last year we didn’t really have any changes on our 22 team and I think just being able to build on the relationship that Todd and I have, and throughout the whole 22 team, I think myself learning more of what Team Penske is like and how they go about things and building those relationships up we were able to use that to our advantage this year.  It took the first year to kind of understand all that and this year we were able to go in there knowing what we were going to be up against and came awfully close to winning the championship.  It’s something to be proud of for sure.   It’s an amazing opportunity to be there at Homestead and have a shot at a championship.  I feel like we can take a lot out of that experience, a lot of positives, and we learned a lot that we can hopefully be in the same boat this year, but a lot more prepared in knowing what we’re getting ourselves into once we get there.”

YOUR TEAM SEEMS TO GET ALONG SO WELL WITH EACH OTHER.  HOW DOES THAT DRIVE YOUR SUCCESS?  “I think it’s key that all of us, the 22 team is all at the same level and it goes across all of Team Penske.  We all work really well together.  Brad was just talking about how close the two teams work together.  That is very important.  Roger was talking about the logo – Team Penske – that trickles all the way down from Roger to everyone working at the shop building our race cars.  That’s a big deal for us to be fast on the race track and we’ve shown how important that is.  I think it’s something Brad and I work a lot is just our relationship together and doing things away from the race track.  I think that stuff is important when you’re kind of in the heat of the game and things are going on.  I think that team camaraderie throughout Team Penske and the 22 team has been a key to our success.”

RYAN BLANEY – No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang/No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – WILL IT BE DIFFICULT TO JUMP FROM VEHICLE TO VEHICLE THIS YEAR?  “We’ve been fortunate to get a great amount of races this year in all the series, announcing that we’re gonna run six more with the Wood Brothers, bringing us up to 18, and we’ll run a lot of XFINITY races coming up this year, and then a handful for Brad.  It’s nothing full, but they all add up and it’s pretty much a full schedule, so I’m fortunate to be with great teams.  Mr. Penske and Walt and Tim allowing all of us – myself and Jeremy and Corey Tucker to go to the Wood Brothers and have their support over there and for me to get a lot of Cup experience and to have Brad and Joey that I can lean on a little bit for these Cup races.  So I’m just really fortunate to be with such a great team and great organization that will let me go do this stuff as well as running the XFINITY races too.  So I’m really excited for this year with a lot of racing and hopefully we can make the best of it.”

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR FROM GREG THIS YEAR IN XFINITY?  “Greg has been great to work with.  I ran four races with him more towards the end of last year in the 12 XFINITY car.  I’m gonna get that wrong a lot, by the way.  But Greg Erwin has been a great asset as Tim was saying before.  He’s been a great asset to this team and he was a big part of winning the ’13 and ’14 championships and it was great to get to work with him at the end of last year and have solid runs.  We were in a spot to win all of those races and things didn’t play out, but I’m really excited to have him on the 22 car in this upcoming season.  He’s been a great guy to work with and I’m excited to work with him more this upcoming year, we all are, and I think there are going to be great things to come.  Hopefully, we can win that third championship in a row and we’re gonna do the best we can.  I know he will.”