Roger Penske got almost everything he wanted Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
By virtue of a sixth-place result in the Ford Ecoboost 300, Penske Racing driver Joey Logano secured the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series owner’s championship for The Captain’s No. 22 squad by just one point over the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing team.
Additionally, Brad Keselowski – who got six of his seven NNS wins this season in the No. 22 – got the race win for the Penske No. 48 camp.
Of course, Penske was happier about those two things than the outcome of the NNS driver’s championship, which saw his man Sam Hornish Jr. lose to Austin Dillon by just three points.
“Without Joey and without Brad, without Sam – when you think about 14 wins in a season, in any series, is outstanding,” Penske said of his NNS program as a whole. “[It’s] really a credit to the entire team. Everyone back at the shop – we talk about the engine builder, Ford, Discount Tire, Hertz, AAA, those that have helped us – are committed to us going forward.
“I felt very sorry for Sam. I have to say I’ve never seen a race that was so important that you wait 15 or 16 laps before you have five laps to go. To me, that was very disappointing from the standpoint of the fans. Certainly, we as competitors, we came out fine. But when I think about it, it could have gone any way.”
The owner’s title for the No. 22 was truly a team effort. Four drivers earned wins in the car this season: The aforementioned Keselowski with six, Logano with three, A.J. Allmendinger with two, and Ryan Blaney with one. It’s a marked contrast to the No. 54 JGR team, which had all 12 of its wins logged by one driver: Kyle Busch, who finished third Saturday.
Penske said he wanted to see if his team could “rise to the occasion” against the JGR camp this year and that the expectation for the No. 22 camp was to win this particular title.
“I think it was just in our DNA from the beginning of the year,” he said.
As for Logano, the final laps were anxious times for him as he and Busch in the No. 54 took their battle all the way to the end. But “Sliced Bread” was able to jump six positions following the final restart with five laps to go, and it proved to be the difference.
“Coming down to the last race, last lap with the 54 team was insane,” Logano said. “We were sitting there, I think we were 12th in the last restart with five to go.
“You really don’t have an option at that point, you got to go. We had a set of tires on the thing. Like I said, coming down to the last lap – just crazy.”