Penske Power: Logano, Keselowski top Cup quals at Chicagoland

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After being put on probation for the rest of the year by NASCAR, Penske Racing delivered a message of its own by sweeping the front row for Sunday’s Chase-opening GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Chase contender Joey Logano (pictured, right) will roll off from the pole position after posting a lap at 189.414 miles per hour around the 1.5-mile oval, just ahead of teammate and defending Chicagoland race winner Brad Keselowski (pictured, left), who turned in a lap at 189.248 mph.

Earlier today, NASCAR announced that both Penske and Front Row Motorsports would be on probation until Dec. 31 thanks to radio communications between the two squads during the closing laps of last Saturday’s race at Richmond International Raceway.

That decision was overshadowed by NASCAR’s other edict that came this afternoon: Making Jeff Gordon a part of the Chase as a 13th driver. Logano, who has defended his place in NASCAR’s post-season stretch, didn’t have much to say about Gordon being added to the Chase field.

“It isn’t my decision who is in the Chase and who isn’t,” Logano said this afternoon. “I drive the race car and NASCAR makes the call they feel is right. All I really care about is that this Shell Pennzoil Ford is in the Chase and we have a shot at a championship. Anything outside of that, I don’t really care.”

As for Keselowski, who will be unable to defend his Sprint Cup title of one year ago after failing to make the Chase, he’s looking forward to showing that he and his team are still very much competitive.

“It was a decent lap for sure and the Penske cars – we have put a lot of effort into this weekend and getting the Chase started off on the right foot,” Keselowski said. “I wish we were a part of it, but it shows the speed we will have. I look forward to the next 10 weeks and putting some wins on the board.”

In all, seven of the now 13 Chasers will start from inside the Top 10 for Sunday’s race: Logano from the pole, Kasey Kahne from fourth, Gordon from sixth, Greg Biffle from seventh, Carl Edwards from eighth, Jimmie Johnson from ninth, and top seed Matt Kenseth from 10th.

As for the other Chasers: Kyle Busch will go from 12th, Kurt Busch from 16th, Kevin Harvick from 17th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. from 18th, Ryan Newman from 20th, and Clint Bowyer from 24th.

MRTI: Juncos signs Carlos Cunha for Pro Mazda campaign

Photo: Juncos Racing
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Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.

Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.

“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”

Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”

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