Given the way Team Penske performed last year, you really shouldn’t expect major changes for 2015. In fact, you should not expect any changes at all.
The team’s drivers, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, performed admirably. Both made the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Logano was one of four drivers in the running for the championship at Homestead.
Logano completed the year fourth in points with five victories.
Keselowski fell short of the final four. But he did finish fifth with six wins. Combined, the Penske drivers won 11 Sprint Cup races in 2014.
That was just two victories short of the total compiled by Hendrick Motorsports’ four drivers, none of whom made it to the championship round at Homestead, by the way.
Penske scored more wins than Joe Gibbs Racing (eight) and Roush Fenway Racing (none).
Hendrick, a strong, winning organization for years, has been the team by which all others are measured.
And in 2014, Penske measured up pretty darn good.
Team owner Roger Penske said that last season was his team’s best ever. And he intends for things to get better.
“Teamwork paid off,” he said. “To me it’s going to be our foundation in 2015. Something that isn’t broken, let’s not fix it.”
After his tenure at Gibbs, Logano hit his stride at Penske. Yes, he won three times in four years with Gibbs, but he has six wins in two years with Penske – not to mention a shot at the title.
Logano believes that his accomplishments may not have been reached without the rapport he has at Penske. That won’t be forgotten. Nor will some of his past on-track escapades.
“There’s no such thing as bygones being bygones in this sport,” Logano said. “Everyone seems to remember. Stuff carries over for a long time.
“There was a lot of drama last year but I don’t think it will affect 2015. Hopefully none of us are involved in it this year and we will just get to race.”
It’s fair to say most of the drama in 2014 centered on Keselowski, an outspoken competitor who isn’t afraid to take chances – particularly if they end up in victory.
“I made guys mad racing for the win,” Keselowski said. “It wasn’t racing for 20th. You get into a wreck racing for 20th, heck, that doesn’t make Sports Center.
“If you do it racing for the win or a championship then you are probably doing the right thing.
“When I get called for it, I see it as a compliment. That may not be the way others see it, but I do.”
Keselowski has seen first hand the changes at Penske. When he arrived six years ago, he said he saw three different teams operating under the same banner but sharing very little.
So it’s not difficult to understand why results varied. In 2010, Keselowski and teammate Sam Hornish Jr. did not win and ranked 25th or worse in points. Kurt Busch, with two wins, made the Chase.
“Now, the difference is we have all our teams working together closely,” Keselowski said. “We’ve earned more wins than we’ve had as a team in a long time.
“And we probably have the best relationships inside the company and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”
This year, Ryan Blaney joins Penske as its principal XFINITY Series driver. He will compete in selected Sprint Cup events and race a limited schedule with the Wood Brothers, which has a technical alliance with Penske.
Although smaller than Hendrick, Gibbs or Roush Fenway, Penske has thrived. There’s a reason for that, according to Logano.
“We’re all on the same level,” he said. “You hear all the time how important it is to work really well together and for us, that is what is happening.
“And, yes, that is very important.”
If you say Keselowski and Logano will enter 2015 as title contenders, well, they won’t argue with you – nor will anyone else.
They have already proven their mettle.
“We have two or three of the best cars,” said Keselowski, an expectant father. “No, we aren’t the largest. But I think that is to our advantage.
“It was part of our success last year and it will be this year.”