I don’t believe Penske Racing has been in the news lately, right? Or maybe they won that championship with Brad Keselowski last year. Yeah, I think that’s what made Penske Racing pretty big into the news all off-season long. I believe they also switched manufacturers from Dodge to Ford and hired Joey Logano to drive the No.22 car in 2013. Well, I guess Penske Racing was a pretty active team in the off-season with lots of news, announcements and more. Brad Keselowski put the spotlight back on Penske Racing again and the team is yet again one of the most competitive teams’ week in and week out in NASCAR.
Penske Racing made some pretty big changes in the off-season including leaving Dodge for Ford in the manufacturers business after Dodge just won Penske Racing their first Sprint Cup championship. Ford is the manufacturer that team-owner Roger Penske thinks will give the team the best shot at success so he made the move to the Ford camp this past off-season. Joey Logano also signed with Penske Racing, making him the new driver of the No.22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford. Logano will look to bring even more success to Penske Racing in the upcoming season.
Last season’s champion has a lot to look forward to this season. The perks of being the past season’s champion include the first spot in the garage area for each race in 2013 and getting your hauler parked first in the hauler section at every track. Keselowski and his team will enjoy those along with the confidence of knowing what it takes to win the Sprint Cup championship which will aid them in possibly doing it again.
Why change what’s successful? Well Penske Racing didn’t do that to Brad Keselowski for 2013 and the No.2 car will have all the same main personnel it did in last year’s championship winning season. Keselowski will still have Paul Wolfe up top the pit box as well. For Keselowski to be repeat his performance from last year he’ll need to master the Gen 6 car, win some more races and drive the car to the front often. Keselowski has the best chance heading into the season to repeat what he did last year and he should be able to do that and then some in 2013.
My Prediction- Keselowski has a shaky start to the season adjusting to the new car and a new manufacturer which creates worry for his fans but I believe Keselowski bounces back by the beginning of the summer and has a solid Chase birth. The Chase will be very interesting for Keselowski but I believe he comes very close to the championship once again but just barely misses winning his second straight Sprint Cup.
A fresh start is exactly what Joey Logano needs and he will get that this season. Switching to a new team can be a challenge especially juggling a new car and a different manufacturer but Logano can prove he’s a Chase contending driver if he is able to come out strong and stay consistent. Logano began his Cup career at such a young age and getting that early start could have been a great thing but reflecting back on it, the results some expected didn’t show up. Logano has only won two Cup races in his four seasons in the Cup series which is good for being so young but a little more time in the Nationwide Series definitely wouldn’t have hurt Logano back in 2009 when he got his first Cup ride with JGR.
Logano can prove something to all of us by coming out of the gate strong this season and having early success with his new team. A fast start is what Logano will be looking for but if he can’t keep up the consistency once the season gets rolling and we’re a few months in, he could be in trouble when it comes to his Chase hopes. A strong first season at Penske Racing for Logano will be classified as making the Chase and winning a race or two, a feat Logano is extremely capable at achieving.
My Prediction- Logano repeats his past few years’ performances and doesn’t show-up too strong. I believe Logano will have consistency issues early in the season and those issues will carry into the summer months and the Chase will not include Logano in it. When the Chase starts, however, Logano will regroup and be very close to a victory or two in the Chase races.
With Penske Racing taking home a championship last season with Brad Keselowski, they have all the confidence in the world heading into this season and that could spell trouble for the other teams. Penske Racing is primed and focused for this season and they’re concentrated on repeating their successes from last season along with then adding some more. All eyes will be on the Penske Racing stable this season to see how everything comes together and if they can take the home the championship once again. Could we see Brad Keselowski celebrating a championship in Homestead with the giant Miller Lite glass again this season? There’s a good possibility but only time will tell.
By Jason Schultz