NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
By Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor - Archive - Email
Team Penske chasing another title
(L-R) Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have punched their tickets
to the next round in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup title.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - What a year its been for Team Penske in NASCAR and the IndyCar Series.

Last month, Will Power claimed his maiden IndyCar championship and gave Penske its first title in that series since 2006. His teammate, Helio Castroneves, finished second in the point standings. Castroneves also came up 0.06 seconds short of winning the Indianapolis 500 for a record-tying fourth time.

With the IndyCar season concluded, Team Penske is now aiming for its second championship in NASCAR's premier series in three years. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have punched their tickets to the next round in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup title -- the "Contender Round." Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion, won the Chase opener last week at Chicagoland, and Logano scored the victory on Sunday at New Hampshire. Both drivers currently sit 1-2 in the point standings, with only one point separating them.

"It's great for everyone at Team Penske," said Keselowski, who remained the points leader with his seventh-place finish at New Hampshire. "We certainly have a lot to be proud of, but there's still a lot of work to do."

Penske has been on a roll in Sprint Cup within the past month, winning four of five races. Logano won the night event at Bristol, and Keselowski took the checkered flag for the regular-season finale at Richmond.

"What you've seen from Team Penske, the Shell-Pennzoil Ford (Logano) and Miller Lite Ford (Keselowski) the last couple weeks, three wins in a row, the last four out of five races, is a testament to how this team is bringing good race cars to the racetrack," Penske Corp. vice chairman Walt Czarnecki said after Logano's win at New Hampshire.

Team owner Roger Penske was not at New Hampshire, as he is traveling out of the country on business.

Logano, a Middletown, Connecticut, native, won at his "home track" for the second time in his Sprint Cup career. His first victory there occurred in a rain-shortened race in 2009, his rookie season in the series. Since then, Logano had struggled at this flat 1.058-mile track.

"I personally consider this my worst racetrack, terrible to say because it's my home racetrack, but I've always struggled when I come here," Logano said. "To be able to win at your worst racetrack, that makes you feel like you can win anywhere. It's special to be able to do that.

"The confidence is high at the 22 team (Sprint Cup) right now. All of Team Penske, we all feel like we've got some championships to win this year, not only on the Cup side, but the Nationwide side also, and with IndyCar."

Next Sunday's race at Dover is the last in the "Challenger Round." After Dover, the Chase field will be trimmed from 16 drivers to 12 for the Contender Round, which includes Kansas (Oct. 5), Charlotte (Oct. 11) and Talladega (Oct. 19).

Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson, the six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion, has won at Dover a record nine times, including a victory there in June. Johnson is presently fourth in the Chase standings, 17 points behind Keselowski.

Eight drivers will remain in title contention when the Chase reaches the third round, known as the "Eliminator Round." It will include the races at Martinsville (Oct. 26), Texas (Nov. 2) and Phoenix (Nov. 9).

Just four drivers will be eligible for the title when the series runs its season finale on Nov. 16 at Homestead. The highest finisher among the final four there will win the championship.

"Knowing that we're in the next round is nice, but we want to go out there and win," Logano said. "We want to keep that momentum going. You never know what's going to happen later on in this Chase.

"Our goal is to win the championship, so we have to get from round to round. Just because we're in the next one doesn't mean we're going to take a week off next week."

Keselowski and Logano's teams are testing at Texas this week. Logano won the spring race at that fast 1.5-mile racetrack in April.

"Right now, my focus is on Texas," he said. "We've got a test down there. We got to make sure we're ready for Texas when we get down there and try to win down there again."

Penske also is looking to claim the owners' championship in the Nationwide Series for the second year in a row. With six Nationwide races remaining, Penske's No. 22 team has a 37-point lead over Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 54 team.

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