Team Penske Seeks Better Results
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on January 29, 2014 | 7:00 P.M. EST
Keselowski: "To not win a championship is absolutely disappointing. I don’t want anybody working on my team that is not disappointed when you don’t win a championship.’"
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The key people remain the same at Team Penske but changes abound.
While Joey Logano made the Chase is his first year there, reigning champion Brad Keselowski failed to do so.
“We’ve got some work to do,’’ car owner Roger Penske said Wednesday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour.
Keselowski is motivated after scoring only one win and nine top-five finishes last season - his fewest totals in the past three years.
“To not win a championship is absolutely disappointing,’’ Keselowski said. “I don’t want anybody working on my team that is not disappointed when you don’t win a championship.’’
Such struggles led to a variety of change for the organization that includes a new nose from Ford, a new pit crew and more.
Keselowski said the pit crews have been revamped. The team hired Jim Beichner, former wrestling coach at the University of Buffalo, to oversee the team’s pit crews.
Keselowski said that Beichner has “gutted the culture of our pit department in the last month. I feel that we’re going to go from an average pit crew to the best on pit road.’’
It wasn’t just the pit crew that held the teams back last season.
“It seemed like at any given point during the year we were this close (to winning) but not there,’’ Keselowski said. “Eight of the 10 Chase races we were right where we needed to be to compete.
“We had too many mechanical failures. We certainly addressed those. Then we had too many issues on pit road, and I had too many issues behind the wheel. You remove any one of them and we’re right where we need to be to be a championship contender. We feel we’ve addressed all of them.’’
A key change on the car is the new nose from Ford. Debris could get stuck on the nose last year and cause overheating issues. Keselowski said that “caused us some severe overheating issues in two races.’’
With the new nose, debris being lodged on the nose shouldn’t be as severe.
Keselowski admits that he made mistakes trying too hard in races last year.
“I look at the plate races ... where I just made a bad move, go or go home to win the race and didn’t win the race,’’ Keselowski said. “There’s areas to improve across the board and I’m certainly one of them. I’m not going to hide from the mistakes I’ve made. I have to look forward.’’
His teammate is.
Logano finished eighth in the points, the highest among any of the Ford drivers, despite the controversy of his incident with Denny Hamlin the pre-race inspection issues he and Keselowski had at Texas that resulted in penalties in the spring.
“We went through a lot last year,’’ Logano said. “We fought thought it.’’
And he can’t wait for this season.
“I’m starting the season with the best team I’ve ever had and I feel like I have a legit shot of winning the championship this year and I don’t see anything stopping us but ourselves.’’