Keselowski seeks another title round in Penske’s final season | Archives

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) – Brad Keselowski has joined the Penske team to become NASCAR champion and industry leader.

He achieved his first goal in 2012 when he won the Cup title, the first for team owner Roger Penske in NASCAR competition. Keselowski also took Penske’s 500th victory and passed in 2019 Mark Donohue as the most successful driver in the story of Penske.

Keselowski’s time with the Penske organization is in his home stretch over two races, and he would love nothing more than to walk away with a second Cup title. To win that latest trophy on the way out, Keselowski will have to make his way to the championship final on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

He’s six points below the cup line with three spots up for grabs at Martinsville. Kyle Larson is the only driver already qualified for the decisive final on November 7 in Phoenix.

Keselowski doesn’t need to win Martinsville to secure one of the remaining championship spots.

“Even if we don’t win the race, realistically, if we rack up a lot of stage points and do all of these things, we have a good shot, so I’m feeling pretty good for this weekend”, a- he declared.

The competition is tough. The four drivers above the cup line are Hendrick Motorsports teammates Larson and Chase Elliott, the defending Cup champion, as well as Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

Below the cup line are Team Penske’s three drivers – Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano – along with JGR driver Martin Truex Jr. Logano is probably the only one who needs to win Sunday to advance, as he l did in 2018 to make the championship final.

Keselowski, winner of the Martinsville Grandfather Clock Trophy in 2017 and 2019, wanted to focus only on Sunday’s race and not use his final days to reflect on his driving time for one of the most popular organizations. most respected motorsport.

Keselowski leaves to become a driver and co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, where he will achieve his goal of having an important voice in the sport after 12 driving seasons for Penske which included 34 Cup wins, one Cup title, one Xfinity Series title. and the successful recruitment of Logano into the organization.

But he’s looked back a bit since he made the decision to leave.

“I’ve let my head go into this space a few times,” Keselowski said. “It’s a dangerous place to enter because it distracts from the goal of putting it all together, so I tried to shut my brain off that as soon as he entered that place, but clearly that would mean the world for me to be able to (win another championship for Penske) and do it for our team during our last year together.

Right after the Phoenix final, Keselowski will get to work at Roush as the leader of the competition. He is expected to hire Chip Ganassi Racing’s Matt McCall as crew chief on the No.6 Ford – Keselowski will replace Ryan Newman in that car – and take on one of the organization’s most important leadership roles. that he takes in terms of competition.

He plans to build on the lessons he learned while working for Penske for more than a decade.

“I think Roger has always had a somewhat contagious and inspiring level of professionalism. His attention to detail is incredible, ”said Keselowski. “Obviously he’s got great business acumen. He’s really in my mind known for his contagious work ethic. You’re not going to outdo Roger Penske and I respect that about him so much.

“My goal is to take everything I learned from him and be stronger as a result and apply it with my own personal experiences and build a great team, a great company that can endure and win championships. for years and decades to come. “

But first, he’ll try to drive the # 2 Ford to the championship on the way out.

What has been the best Cup season of Ryan Blaney’s career took a heavy blow last week in Kansas when he was crushed by non-playoff driver Austin Dillon.

The end-of-race wreckage dropped Blaney from second place on the playoff grid below the cut line, one point behind Kyle Busch. It was heartbreaking for the winner of three races, who believes that there is only one place available on Sunday between five drivers.

Blaney believes Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin have enough points to advance regardless of Martinsville’s outcome. But he counts Martinsville among his best tracks and has finished in the top five four times in the last five races.

“There are four of us who can score points quite easily so I think there is no better track for that,” said Blaney.

He tries to qualify for his first championship race and rewards team leader Todd Gordon, who retires after Phoenix. Gordon won the 2015 championship with Logano. This is Blaney’s third time in the round of 16.

“I just haven’t been able to compete in the championship race yet,” he said. “I think it’s a big obstacle for us, or for me personally. It would be a great accomplishment to be able to do that, and not just for me but for everyone working on the 12 car and to give Todd a chance to race for a championship in his final season. “

Martin Truex Jr., winner of three of the last four races at Martinsville, is the 10/11 favorite according to Fan Duel. from any track. Chase Elliott did it last year and won his first title sweeping the last two races of the year. … A victory for Kyle Larson on Sunday would make him the ninth different Cup driver in the modern era to win four or more races in a row. Jimmie Johnson in 2017 was the last to win four in a row.

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