Team Preview: Team Penske
By: John Singler on February 16, 2017 | 10:58 A.M. EST
Those who are looking for drivers who may be favored to find success 10 days from now in the season-opening Daytona 500 need look no further than Team Penske. (Photo: Getty Images)
Those who are looking for drivers who may be favored to find success 10 days from now in the season-opening Daytona 500 need look no further than Team Penske.
As Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano head into NASCAR's 69th year, the organization is toting a three-race winning streak on restrictor-plate tracks dating back to May 2016. Keselowski was victorious at Talladega Superspeedway and won again two months later at Daytona International Speedway.
Logano followed in October with a post-season win at Talladega that'll help brand his No. 22 Ford as a car to watch when Speedweeks opens Friday. As he nears his 300th career Cup Series start, Logano has high regard for the "Team" in Team Penske.
"Each one of us wants to win races and collect trophies," said Logano, whose milestone start will come in April at Richmond International Raceway just weeks before his 27th birthday. "But we also realize that if we don't work together, none of that happens. Brad and I have showed, especially in superspeedway racing, that we're able to work together, get up front and ultimately win."
Since joining Team Penske in 2013, Logano has never finished outside the top 10 in points. He was the championship runner-up to Jimmie Johnson last year and he's expecting a return to the post-season playoffs again in 2017, with NASCAR's new three-stage race format playing right into his hands.
"I have one gear and that's wide-open," Logano said. "The new format plays to the person's advantage who takes opportunities to get ahead. If you can get bonus points at the beginning of the year, they will help you get all the way to Homestead and The Championship 4."
This, according to Logano, will create an increased sense of urgency in early-season races.
"When there is change like this, the first person who figures it out is going to have a huge advantage," he said. "Figuring it out early is key. Some drivers may be racing with more intensity and taking more risks. That all makes for better competition."
Keselowski is a member of the Drivers Council and was instrumental in steering NASCAR toward the modified race format that's now in place.
"I felt very strongly that we needed to connect the regular season to the post-season, so you didn't see teams win early and then go into test mode," Keselowski said of the new structure, with regular-season points now available for individual stages and bonus points for race wins carrying through the entire post-season. "There's always resistance to change. A lot of people want to see this in action and when they do, I'm convinced they'll like what they see."
Keselowski liked what he saw from behind the wheel of his No. 2 Ford last season, particularly in the "plate" races at Daytona and Talladega that helped push his career Cup Series win total to 21. Keselowski finished 12th in the final Chase standings and is looking to improve on that now five years after his championship season of 2012.
Like Logano, Keselowski also will be making his 300th career Cup Series start this season - with his coming in October at Talladega.
Motor Racing Network will air a special edition "2017 Season Setup" preview show on Monday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. (ET). Daytona International Speedway will open for NASCAR teams on Friday with the season-opening Daytona 500 scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26. Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" will have live coverage of "The Great American Race" beginning at 1 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.
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