Wolfe Hungry for Championship

Paul Wolfe

"Our mindset going into this weekend is not a whole lot different than what we've done the first nine races of the chase." (Photo: Getty Images)

Crew chief Paul Wolfe is anxious for a chance to guide Brad Keselowski to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Keselowski has a 20-point lead over Jimmie Johnson heading into the season finale, but Wolfe promises the Miller Lite Dodge team will not waver from the approach that put them in position to challenge for the title.

“Well, our mindset going into this weekend is not a whole lot different than what we've done the first nine races of the chase,” said Wolfe. “We just want to continue doing the things we've done up to this point, and we feel like if we do that, we should have a shot to close this deal out on Sunday.

“The guys have done a great job to this point on the Miller Lite Dodge, and, they're preparing the car as we would any other week and just trying to stay in our normal routine. The last thing we need to do is try to do something we've been doing different all season. I think that's how mistakes are possibly made.”

Wolfe is well aware how mistakes or misfortune can change the scenario the Penske Racing team finds itself in this weekend. Last week’s cut tire and trip into the wall by Johnson in Phoenix is reminder enough to not take anything for granted until the final checkered flag flies Sunday night.

“We felt like we needed to go into Phoenix and win that race to put us in position to have a shot at it going into the final race,” said Wolfe of what turned out to be a sixth place finish. “I was definitely caught off guard by the 48. I expected those guys to run much better than they did. It just seemed like they were never able to get it turned around all weekend, and then they had the tire issue.

“But we still went there and stuck to our plan and did what we needed to do. Now we're in a much better situation than we could have planned for, or hoped for going into the final race. From here it's go down to Homestead.”

Wolfe is proud of the accomplishments he’s made in a career that started from humble beginnings and a dream of just simply working in NASCAR. But he was given a chance to join the Penske organization and then paired up with Keselowski in what has blossomed into one of the most potent combinations in the sport.

Wolfe is thankful for the chance and the connection he shares with Keselowski.

“Well, it's been a long road and a lot of hard work,” said Wolfe. “Just continuing to try to put myself around good people and learn the sport. I feel like I've been able to do that. It's put me in with a great company in Penske Racing, and a great driver with Brad.

“I think Brad and my relationship is a big part of it and the communication. I look forward to our future together. I feel like as a team we're still not probably at our full potential yet. So it's definitely encouraging to be into our second year and challenging for a championship. We're going to hopefully challenge for a lot more here in the near future.”

Wolfe is also cognizant of what the championship would mean to not only his life and Keselowski’s career but also team owner Penske, who has yet to win a Sprint Cup title.

But he also careful not to get too caught up in emotions and risk losing focus on the matter at hand on Sunday.

“Well, I think it's huge,” Wolfe said of what it would mean to his driver. “His family history and how they got started. How hard he's had to work to get to this point. I don't know how much time he's spent thinking about this. I know me personally I know it's human nature and hard not to do, but I try to block it out and not let my mind go there. We still have our work cut out for us this weekend.

“Obviously, it will be huge, huge for Penske Racing and everyone involved. But to be honest with you, like I've said, I tried not to let my mind go there right now and stay focused on trying to go to Homestead and contend for the win.”

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