Logano leads final practice, No. 14 team practices switch
Practice 2: Full results Joey Logano launched to the fastest speed in final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway . Logano, winner of the series' most recent race here last October, posted a best lap of 196.290 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. He was just .013 seconds ahead of Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Ryan Blaney , second-fastest at 196.238 mph in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford. Fellow rookie Chase Elliott was third-fastest at 196.185 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. Danica Patrick (195.094 mph) and rookie Brian Scott completed the top five in the final 55-minute prep for Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Few drivers participated in large packs, with most spending time concentrating on single-car runs to prepare for Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying (12:30 p.m. ET, FOX). But with inclement weather in Saturday's forecast, several drivers attempted to better their position in the practice order should qualifying be washed out. Among those was Blaney, one of five drivers attempting to qualify for the four starting berths reserved for open, non-chartered teams. He received aerodynamic help from Logano, whose Penske team shares an alliance with the Wood Brothers, a fellow Ford operation. Ty Dillon , on standby for Tony Stewart in his second race back from a back injury, was 16th-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. The team spent the majority of the session practicing in the garage for a quick driver change, something the team plans to do midstream in Sunday's 500-miler as Stewart eases his way back from his injuries. Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . was seventh-fastest at 193.584 mph around the 2.66-mile track. Practice 1: Full results Two-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Jamie McMurray topped opening practice. The wheelman of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet posted a fastest lap of 199.737 mph. Rookie Chase Elliott was second-fastest during the 55-minute session, propelling the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet around the 2.66-mile track at 199.729 mph. Stewart-Haas Racing 's Kurt Busch rounded out the top three with his No. 41 coming in at 199.409 mph. Busch's teammate Danica Patrick was next in her No. 10 Chevrolet (199.384 mph) while the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne earned the fifth-quickest lap (199.317 mph). The back-to-back race winner of 2016, Carl Edwards was 23rd (196.552 mph) in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Tony Stewart and Ty Dillon took turns wheeling the No. 14 throughout practice and earned 29th (195.884 mph). Dillon will fill in as a relief driver for "Smoke" during qualifying and the 500-mile event. Six-time Talladega winner, and defending race champ, Dale Earnhardt Jr . finished practice 32nd (195.150 mph).
Team Penske's history, rosters for Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano's teams
Team Penske 2016 Team Preview
Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski are both coming off sensational 2015 seasons. With Ryan Blaney running full time in the Sprint Cup Series, the three drivers have high expectations of winning the championship for Team Penske .
Keselowski leads Penske 1-2 in first Vegas practice
RELATED: Full practice results Brad Keselowski landed the fastest lap in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Keselowski powered the Team Penske No. 2 Ford to a best speed of 195.327 mph on the 1.5-mile track. He was just nine thousandths of a second ahead of Penske teammate Joey Logano , who registered a 195.263 mph lap in the No. 22 Ford. Hometown favorite Kurt Busch was third-fastest, pushing the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet to a 195.235 mph lap. Paul Menard was fourth-fastest and Brian Vickers -- subbing for the injured Tony Stewart -- fifth-fastest in preparation for Sunday's Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the third premier-series race of the season. Defending race winner Kevin Harvick was seventh-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Jimmie Johnson , last week's winner at Atlanta and a four-time victor in Vegas, posted the eighth-fastest lap in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet. Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin clocked the 13th-fastest lap in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota. He logged his speed in a reserve car after spinning and smacking the wall in his primary Toyota during Thursday's test session. The 85-minute session went caution-free, but had its share of close calls. Menard scraped the wall with his Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet on the exit of Turn 4. Kasey Kahne slid up out of the groove in Turns 1 and 2 with his Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevy, but avoided contact.
Blaney backs up Penske's 1-2 punch in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- It was a happy day for Wood Brothers Racing driver Ryan Blaney as the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate finished sixth in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , his best showing through three races in 2016. That it came on a day when Team Penske -- which has a technical alliance with Wood Brothers Racing -- finished 1-2 with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano made it more meaningful. Since the teams joined forces in late 2014, Blaney has gone from a developmental driver, to part-time, to full-time in the No. 21 Ford and has learned a lot from his Penske peers. "Our cars are extremely fast and the Wood Brothers do a great job, and we can't thank Penske enough for their support," Blaney said. "You see the 2 car won the race and the 22 finished second; we were right there. The teams are growing together and learning and so am I, so hopefully this is a good way to get our season going, here." Beginning in 2012, for 58 races Blaney piloted the No. 29 in the Camping World Truck Series, a truck owned by Keselowski. The Kobalt 400 victor began his mentoring of Blaney then. "He drove my truck for a while, so there was a lot of mentoring there," Keselowski said. "Mostly over the form of, 'Please don't wreck it, I can't afford to fix it.' Now I think he's got the right people around him with (No. 21 crew chief) Jeremy Bullins and the Wood Brothers and a lot of help and support there. I'm certainly willing to help him whenever I can, but I don't think he needs me. I just think he needs some time." Blaney started the 2016 season qualifying seventh for the Daytona 500 , a restrictor-plate track where he's shown strength. However, with his 19th-place finish there, followed by his 25th-place finish last week at Atlanta, his Las Vegas run was more on-par with where many expected the 22-year-old to be as a full-time Sprint Cup Series driver. "Especially after Atlanta last week, getting spun out on the last lap, that kind of got us down a lot," Blaney said. "To come here and have a solid run all day really ups the team's spirits." Blaney and the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing team head to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend, a 1-mile track that the driver has never raced at in NASCAR's elite series.
Team Penske extends Autotrader partnership
Team Penske announced a multi-year partnership extension with Autotrader on Thursday. A website that allows consumers to shop for cars online, Autotrader will adorn both the Nos. 2 and 22 Sprint Cup Series cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano , respectively. "We are fortunate to expand our relationship with Autotrader beginning in 2016," team owner Roger Penske said in a release. "The entire Autotrader team has embraced motorsports and the marketing opportunities that racing brings over the last couple of years and we are excited that they view Team Penske as a long-term partner. As Penske Automotive Group continues to work with Autotrader to promote our vehicles, we look forward to bringing Autotrader to Victory Lane with our cars and help them build their brand along the way." Keselowski will feature the brand for the first time in his career on his No. 2 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Feb. 28 and Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 20, while Logano will run an Autotrader scheme on April 17 at Bristol and a co-branded No. 22 with Autotrader/Shell-Pennzoil at Kentucky Speedway on July 9. The brand -- which has sponsored Team Penske since 2014 -- will also serve as an associate sponsor throughout the 2016 season. Both Keselowski and Logano will participate in the season-opening Sprint Unlimited non-points race, which takes place Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway .
Penske power evident in XFINITY owner's title
Team owner Roger Penske's NASCAR XFINITY Series operation last won the driver's championship in 2010 with Brad Keselowski , but the organization's No. 22 team has gone undefeated for three consecutive years when it comes to the owner's title. Ryan Blaney , Sprint Cup Series drivers Keselowski and Joey Logano and road racer Alex Tagliani each piloted the No. 22 Ford this season, collecting seven of the organization's eight wins in the series. "I think it's an investment," Penske said of the XFINITY Series program. "It's an investment on pit road for building guys over the wall, point number one, and point number two, to take a young driver like Blaney and get him in a car. "The top driver is just not available when you need him, so you've got to build him. You've seen what (Jeff) Gordon and (Jimmie) Johnson and all the great drivers (have done)." The No. 22 team ended the season with 1,308 points, 117 ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 54 Toyota entry and 118 ahead of the No. 60 Ford of Roush Fenway Racing . Roush Fenway Racing driver Chris Buescher clinched the 2015 driver's title. JGR finished second to Penske in '13-14 in the battle for the owner's title as well. Blaney has split his time between the XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, competing in Sprint Cup with Wood Brothers Racing . The No. 21 team will run the full 36-race schedule next season. Team Penske and the Wood Brothers outfit have a technical alliance. "From the standpoint of sponsorship, Discount Tire has been with us almost from the beginning," Penske said. "They like the XFINITY Series. They think it gives them exactly what they want. To me we've got a good sponsor. "We only run one car, occasionally we run two maybe at Watkins Glen, but to me I think it's an important part of our organization. Running two Cup cars and having the ability to work with the (Wood Brothers) I think helps us build that team , and we can move people back and forth, and then of course with the XFINITY , it's really the early stages of young guys that are coming into the sport and people that can make a difference. "You know, there's just no question that the people have moved up (to Sprint Cup ). Everybody that's at the top level today in our Cup cars have won and worked in the XFINITY Series, so I think that that's amazing when you think about it."
The Rundown: Talladega driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Breaking down the full field for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway : 1. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski stayed out of trouble all day, and that was the difference in picking up his second win of the year and fourth at Talladega. Big pushes from Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch helped, too. Keselowski led a race-high 46 laps, including the final 17. Grade: A+ 2. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. The No. 18 was stout all day and kept Busch ahead of the crashes, although the 18 did receive a nudge at the outset of the 21-car wreck on Lap 161. He finished second for the second consecutive week for his eighth top-five finish of the season. Grade: A+ 3. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Car chief Greg Osborne summed up Dillon's day on Twitter: "We pitted 17 times. Wrecked 4 times. Ran out of tires. We were 32nd 1 lap down. We NEVER quit." Dillon was thrilled with the finish and credited the team for not panicking: "It was wrecked, and we finished third!" Grade: A+ 4. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Despite being collected in the 21-car wreck on Lap 161, McMurray scored his first top five of the season. It was his seventh at Talladega, tying the superspeedway with Charlotte for McMurray's most top-five finishes. Grade: A 5. Chase Elliott, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott started from the pole and led the first 13 laps and 27 overall. Even though he posted his third top-five finish in the past four races, Elliott said the No. 24 team was "pretty lucky to get where we got to." He avoided trouble -- and all the wrecks -- by running near the front most of the race. Grade: A 6. Tony Stewart /Ty Dillon, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart made his second start of the season, but unlike last week at Richmond, he didn't finish the race. Stewart, who missed the first eight races of the season because of a back injury, gave way to Dillon -- as planned -- during the second caution. Dillon then navigated through two big, multicar accidents to bring home the No. 14 with its second top 10 of the season. Stewart gets the points and the top-10 finish, but it doesn't take away the spotlight from Dillon. Grade: A+ 7. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Bowyer survived involvement in the 12-car wreck on Lap 161 to post his best finish of the season and second top 10 in the past three races. Grade: A 8. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Busch was the catalyst for the 21-car wreck on Lap 161 when he got into the back of Jimmie Johnson while running in the top 10. Busch emerged unscathed to restart fourth. Later, he couldn't hold the lead after the last restart on Lap 186 and is now 0-for-61 in restrictor-plate races. Grade: C. 9. Ryan Blaney, No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney survived the 21-car wreck on Lap 161, and the 12-car wreck on Lap 181 happened right behind him. His good fortune resulted in his third top 10 of the season. Grade: A 10. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. A speeding penalty on his first pit stop was no omen. Bayne spent plenty of time in the top five on Sunday, while leading 22 laps. (He led 12 laps in the previous nine races.) His average running position was 8.6, fourth best, and that -- along with good fortune -- kept him out of every wreck Sunday. Grade: A 11. Landon Cassill, No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill had an eventful day to find himself just outside the top 10 with one lap to go after surviving a pit-road penalty on his first stop and eluding big trouble in the race's two biggest multicar wrecks. But his grade drops a notch because it was Cassill who started the final multicar wreck. He was running 12th when he turned Cole Whitt into Kevin Harvick , touching off a seven-car wreck and a caution just before the leaders reached the finish line. Grade: B- 12. Michael Waltrip , No. 55 Toyota, Premium Motorsports. Making his 60th start at Talladega, Waltrip posted his best finish at the superspeedway since finishing fourth three years ago. Waltrip survived an early scare on Lap 59 when Joey Logano pushed Martin Truex Jr . into the back of Waltrip, who was running fifth at the time. Waltrip went onto the apron but came back onto the track and spun, narrowly avoiding contact. Grade: B+ 13. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex was running in the top 10 immediately behind Kurt Busch when Busch made contact with Jimmie Johnson to ignite the 21-car wreck on Lap 161. Truex's Toyota returned to the track all taped up before sustaining even more damage in the seven-car wreck that happened just before Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag. Grade: B- 14. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. The multicar wreck at the finish had Allmendinger on his knees next to his battered Chevrolet, but it couldn't overshadow his fourth top-15 finish at Talladega in 13 starts and his first lap led of the season. Grade: B 15. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick raced among the leaders for most of the afternoon and led four times for nine laps before sliding across the finish line sideways in a damaged car, one of seven cars involved in a crash leading up to the checkered flag. Grade : A 16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse was able to avoid major damage in the 21-car wreck on Lap 161 but sustained heavy damage coming to the finish line when he was collected in the seven-car pileup. Grade: B 17. David Gilliland , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Gilliland survived the late wrecks for a top-20 finish in first start of the season (he failed to qualify at Daytona). It was his best finish since an 11th in the 2015 Daytona 500 . Grade: B 18. Cole Whitt, No. 98 Toyota, Premium Motorsports. Whitt was just outside the top 10 with one lap to go but couldn't improve his position before taking a hard hit against the outside wall as he approached the finish line. It was the fifth top-20 finish of his career and first since his career-best 13th at Talladega a year ago. Grade: A 19. Bobby Labonte , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing. Making his second start of the season (he finished 31st at Daytona), Labonte avoided major damage in the 12-car wreck on Lap 181 and scored his first top 20 since the 2014 Daytona 500 . Grade: A 20. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. That Biffle finished 20th should come as little surprise. His average finish at Talladega is 19.7, and he finished 20th last October at Talladega, too. Grade: C 21. Michael McDowell, No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. McDowell produced his second-best finish of the season (he finished 15th at Daytona) despite being involved in two of the day's biggest wrecks along with drawing the ire of Danica Patrick . Grade: B- 22. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The No. 48 was caught up in two wrecks, the second the 21-car monster on Lap 161, which sent the 48 to the garage for repairs. Johnson returned and finished six laps down. Grade: C 23. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hard-luck Kenseth's eventful day didn't end when his car got airborne after contact from Danica Patrick and came down on its roof on the backstretch with eight laps to go. Well after the race, he had heated words for nemesis Joey Logano , who had forced him below the yellow line with 15 laps to go. Those two events obscure the fact Kenseth led 39 laps, second only to winner Brad Keselowski 's 46. Grade: B 24. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Patrick's race ended with her hitting the inside wall violently with eight laps to go after contact from behind by Michael McDowell . "I've hit the inside wall of a superspeedway I think maybe like four times now and that was the worst," she said. "I know I got drilled from behind and turned sideways … and hello wall." Grade: C 25. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano was still sore from his wreck on the final lap of Saturday's XFINITY race, and his day ended in the 12-car wreck on Lap 181. His aggressive driving initiated the second caution, and there also was his contact with Matt Kenseth that resulted in an earful from Kenseth after the race. Logano didn't want to discuss what Kenseth said, instead saying, "Two days in a row, a couple big hits; can't wait to get out of this place." Grade: C- 26. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard was in the top 10 having a good run -- but at the wrong time. He was running beside Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson on the outside when Busch turned Johnson right into Menard's Chevrolet, setting off the 21-car wreck on Lap 161. Twenty laps later Menard's day ended in the 12-car wreck on Lap 181. Grade: C 27. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola was collected in two wrecks, with the second one, a 12-car mashup on the backstretch with eight laps to go providing the knockout blow to the No. 43. Grade: C 28. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman was running around 15th place when the 21-car wreck on Lap 161 began right in front of him. His Chevrolet sustained damage and left the scene trailing flames. He finished 10 laps back. Grade: D 29. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson led nine laps and had the lead three-quarters of the way through the race. Larson was running just outside the top 10 when Kurt Busch hit the back of Jimmie Johnson two cars in front him, touching off a 21-car accident that collected his Chevrolet. Grade: C 30. Brian Scott, No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. The rookie's promising day was derailed after the big wreck on Lap 161. He finished 16 laps back, his most off the lead this season. Grade: D 31. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin's trouble on the track extended to pit road, where he had two incidents and several penalties. He also sustained damage in the 21-car pileup on Lap 161. Grade: D- 32. Regan Smith, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith was running in the top 10 with 30 laps to go but was collected the Lap 161 wreck and finished 20 laps back. Grade: D 33. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears spun into Aric Almirola on Lap 59 after he was hit by Michael Waltrip , sending the No. 13 to the garage for repairs. It wasn't Mears' fault, but he still finished 22 laps back. Grade: C 34. David Ragan, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Ragan was running 24th and within a second of the lead when his engine expired on Lap 151. Grade: D 35. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards' two-race winning streak came to an abrupt halt. On Lap 110 "something let go" and the No. 19 ran up the track and pinned Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 to the wall, ending the day for both drivers. Grade: F 36. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. The No. 83 suffered damage in the first wreck of the race. Engine issues ended his day after 98 laps run. Grade: F 37. Chris Buescher, No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Just past the halfway point, Buescher's car became the first of the day to go airborne and flip. Buescher called the wreck "miserable" and a "bummer." He was right. Grade: F 38. Michael Annett, No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett was collected in the same wreck that sent Chris Buescher flipping. Annett's Chevrolet smashed hard into the inside wall, ending his day. Grade: F 39. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne followed his best finish of the season (fourth at Richmond) with a two-crash dud, the second a single-car accident that brought out the fifth caution. Grade: F 40. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Terrible day for the 88. Earnhardt's first crash was similar to his crash in the Daytona 500 -- the back of his car came around. "We missed something this morning," he said. "It shouldn't have been on the splitter that hard." Then when he returned to the track after repairs, his steering wheel came off. On Lap 110, Earnhardt's day ended when Carl Edwards ran up the track and smashed into his Chevrolet. Grade: F.
After 50 years, no end in sight for Roger Penske
RELATED: Best quotes from Charlotte Media Tour CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Team Penske kicked off its 50th season Wednesday night with a private function in the Crown Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center. Forty-two drivers, all Penske people at one time or another, from the open-wheel, stock car and road racing ranks were among the 1,000 or so expected to be on hand to help team owner Roger Penske celebrate the milestone. The white-haired, soon-to-be 79-year-old Penske has no plans to go gently into the night, however. "I don't know when I'm going to leave the sport. It will probably be pretty abrupt when I do," Penske said during the second day of the annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "I'm counting on this legacy will continue on. "My sons and our family love the sport, it's a … common thread through the company so there's no reason not to be involved. If we can sustain the sponsorship and the key people stay with us and will continue to help us we can go on forever and I don't see any reason we can’t do that." In NASCAR, Penske teams have won 147 times, including 93 in the premier series. Brad Keselowski , who along with Joey Logano makes up the organization's Sprint Cup lineup, scored Penske's first NASCAR premier series title in 2012. His organization has won 181 times in IndyCar, a total that includes 16 victories in the Indianapolis 500. "His work ethic is what you would expect from a 25-year-old man and then some," Keselowski said. "There have been countless times where I wake up in the morning, slept longer than (normal) and the first thing that enters my mind is 'Gosh, Roger beat me to work by a long way.' "He motivates me to work harder. He pushes me in direction that I didn't think of before. He has such a deep understanding on so many levels of what it takes to be successful that I find myself constantly trying to emulate him. … "He really just amazes me more than anything else with some of the things he does." In addition to Keselowski and Logano, among those finding NASCAR success with Penske have been Mark Donohue (the organization's first stock-car winner), NASCAR Hall of Fame members Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace, as well as Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch . RELATED: See some of Penske's best drivers through the years His lieutenants ensure that his racing entities run like clockwork and although racing is just one of his many successful business endeavors it has proven to be a crucial part. "Racing has given me the opportunity to compete on a world-wide stage," he said. "It shows execution, it shows we can handle adversity … there's no question that the partnerships that I've been able to generate with the OEMS from my business have been amazing. Without racing I would have never had the connection in the automobile business and that’s really the heart of my company." The focus on the 50th year celebration has generated much interest among those inside the organization and helped fill in a picture for those who have been part of the amazing run. "It seems like I learn a little more every day as we've gone through talking about the … anniversary," Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Keselowski, said. "And being able to be a part of things with Rusty and Rick (Mears) and just all the amazing people that have been able to work and be a part of the history with Penske , I'm just a small part of that. I'm fortunate that I've been able to." Success in the stock car ranks came slowly and Penske left the series briefly, from 1978-79, before returning for two races with Wallace in 1980. The return was short-lived; he left again and didn't return for a decade. With IROC, Can-Am, IndyCar, "and some sports car stuff," Penske said, "our plate was full. And costs were escalating." "Everybody in the world wanted to drive for Roger," Wallace said. "For me to be able to drive the car in 1980, I thought that was my big break and that I had made it." Wallace returned nearly 10 years later, in '91, with much more experience and a championship under his belt. And Penske was ready. The organization hasn't missed a step since. A celebration of five decades covers a lot of ground. But Penske insists the end isn't in sight. "I will be at the races as long as I can stand up," he said. "We're there for one reason and that's to win."
Staff picks for GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Denny Hamlin : If Joe Gibbs Racing can get organized in the same way it did at Daytona in February, the No. 11 could be the winning ticket at Talladega. -- Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Series' best plate racer has had three runner-up finishes this season. He's due. -- Kenny Bruce Jimmie Johnson : This will mark the 10th Talladega race since Johnson last won here and, quite simply, it's time. While his teammates will grab the lion's share of the attention, "Six-Time" will ultimately hold the winner's trophy -- his third. -- Holly Cain Joey Logano : Entering the weekend, I'd already pegged Joey Logano as the favorite -- then he went out and topped final practice. Seemingly due for a win and with a pair of restrictor-plate victories in his back pocket from last year, what more are you looking for? -- Pat DeCola Ryan Blaney : His best Cup finish came in this race last year and Penske , with whom Wood Brothers is affiliated, has taken two of the last three 'Dega races. -- RJ Kraft Dale Earnhardt Jr .: I'm jumping on the Junior bandwagon. He's always the one to beat at the 2.66-mile track and he'll make it difficult for the rest of the field en route to his seventh Cup win here. -- Maggie MacKenzie Brad Keselowski : The 2012 premier series champion spoils the recent Hendrick-JGR show of power, thanks to his own racing ingenuity and plenty of fast Fords with which to partner. -- Brad Norman Brad Keselowski : The Team Penske driver earned his first Cup win in 2009 at Talladega and has won twice more since. Couple that with he and teammate Joey Logano 's history of working closely together on-track -- a crucial element to plate racing -- and 'Dega Victory Lane could be calling Keselowski's name. -- Jessica Ruffin Matt Kenseth : All the bad luck that the No. 20 team has had this year has masked impressive speed. Talladega is about both luck and speed. With the former in hand as shown by his fourth-place qualifying effort, Kenseth is due for a more auspicious turn of his fortune. -- Kathy Sheldon Denny Hamlin : Hamlin saw Victory Lane two years ago at Talladega and with his 2016 Daytona 500 win under his belt, the JGR driver seems ready to dominate another superspeedway this season. -- Taylor Starer Chase Elliott : His dad won here twice and the man who drove the No. 24 before him won here six times. Talladega has been known to produce dramatic moments, so let's root for another one to happen Sunday. -- George Winkler Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !