If the 2012 season was a case of getting the monkey off Team Penske’s back in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and finally winning a first Sprint Cup championship, then the 2014 season is a case of the monkey running wild over the rest of the competition in its search for a more dominant, second, Cup championship.
Arguably the team of the year, the pairing of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano has exceeded almost all expectations and the respective Nos. 2 and 22 teams have been firing on all cylinders since day one this season.
Keselowski took his sixth win of the season Sunday in Talladega – one he absolutely had to have to advance – and Roger Penske declared post-race that some of the field might be jealous of Brad and his success this year.
Meanwhile Logano, with five wins, has exceeded his career total this year alone in the breakout season many expected years ago but one that’s finally occurred in his sixth full-time season in the series.
Penske’s team now has its single best season in the sport, with 11 wins between them, and ideally looking for more to come. Penske reflected on that in yesterday’s post-race press conference.
“I think when you look at the statistics, I think we’ve won four out of the six races in this bracket,” he said. “But I think today really showed the teamwork. With Joey we were about 16th or 17th, and Joey pushed Brad up to the front. We talked before the race it was going to be a team effort. Certainly the moves at the end there, Brad’s tremendous driving, gave us the win.
“For me, I’ve been in NASCAR a long time, this is 11 races we’d won, 10 was our best season with Rusty. We set a record today for the team. Obviously put us in a position to go forward in the next bracket.”
Still, there was a good chance Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports would have been down to one car apiece after yesterday’s last race of the Contender round. And that would not have done justice to the season either of them have had.
But after Keselowski’s must-win win, Penske still has both its bullets left in the holster while Hendrick is down to just Jeff Gordon after losing Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne on Sunday.
The dream stays alive then, as Penske still has 100 percent of its contenders alive going forward into the final four races. Considering their prowess this season, it would be hard to bet against further wins and further advancing happening.
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