Keselowski: Team Penske's safety changes worked during Watkins Glen wreck
Brad Keselowski speaks to several changes Team Penske made following a 2011 testing wreck, which help Brad walk away from his No. 2 Ford following a crash during testing at Watkins Glen International on Tuesday.
Team Penske : Back-to-back babies to go along with wins
RELATED: Where does 2 crew stack up midseason? Team Penske's No. 2 crew members had double the reason to celebrate Brad Keselowski 's back-to-back victories at Daytona and Kentucky in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That's because jackman Braxton Brannon and gasman Nick Hensley both added to their families during the joyous past two weeks. Anyone who has ever been involved in the waiting process understands the stress of having a baby. The due dates were only three days apart and both guys had been on wait for the past two weeks. But the babies arrived safely on opposite ends of the Kentucky weekend and the crew members didn't miss a beat. For the Brannon family it was their first child. They welcomed a baby girl on July 7. For the Hensley family, they welcomed their second boy on July 11. "It was a tough decision to go to that race while they were still in the hospital," Brannon said. "Caroline told me to go and I think it was the right decision. Caroline is doing great now and the baby." Hensley echoed his feeling of relief. "I knew the next two races (after Sonoma) were Saturday night races, and close enough to home that Team Penske would do everything they could to get me home in a hurry if something happened," Hensley said. "I was more nervous for Braxton, this was my second child and I had stayed home from the Talladega race in 2014 for the birth of my first child, and I didn't want him to miss that special moment with his family." So three weeks ago the No. 2 crew had two wins on the season and a total of one kid between the six over-the-wall guys. Now, two weeks later, the team has two more wins and two more family members. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
Roger Penske defends Logano and Keselowski after Daytona
Roger Penske joined SiriusXM radio defending both Team Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski after the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Kenseth, No. 20 team penalized for failed inspection
NASCAR levied penalties to the race-winning Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota team Wednesday after last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. As a result of infractions found in a post-race pass through the laser inspection station (LIS), the No. 20 team was docked 15 championship points in the team owner standings and driver Matt Kenseth absorbed a 15-point deduction in the Sprint Cup drivers' standings. The points penalty moved Kenseth, a two-time winner this year, from eighth to ninth place in the standings. The P3-grade penalty also carries a $25,000 fine for No. 20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff. The No. 20 Toyota driven to victory by Kenseth in the New Hampshire 301 was found out of compliance during Sunday's post-race trip through the LIS platform. The car was sent to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, for further evaluation this week. A host of other teams were issued written warnings Wednesday by the sanctioning body: -- The Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet team for driver Austin Dillon and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevy for driver Kevin Harvick were both handed written warnings and docked 15 minutes of practice time during this weekend's activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The No. 3 team failed LIS three times pre-race and pushed their current warning total to four. The No. 4 entry failed body template inspection three times pre-qualifying. -- The Team Penske No. 22 Ford team for driver Joey Logano and the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota of driver Carl Edwards both failed LIS twice. The No. 22's violation came in pre-race inspection; the No. 19's was in pre-qualifying. Both teams received written warnings (their first). -- The following Sprint Cup teams received written warnings for failing pre-qualifying template inspection twice: Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 1 (driver Jamie McMurray ) and No. 42 ( Kyle Larson ), Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 ( Austin Dillon ), Roush Fenway Racing's No. 6 ( Trevor Bayne ), Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 10 ( Danica Patrick ) and No. 14 ( Tony Stewart ), HScott Motorsports' No. 15 (Clint Bowyer), Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 19 ( Carl Edwards ), Wood Brothers Racing's No. 21 ( Ryan Blaney ), JTG Daugherty Racing's No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger) and BK Racing's No. 83 (Matt DiBenedetto). -- The Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet team for driver Ty Dillon in the NASCAR XFINITY Series was also issued a written warning for failing template inspection three times before qualifying. </p>
Did you know ...? Team Penske fast facts at win 100
Saturday night's win at Daytona International Speedway by Brad Keselowski was the 100th for Team Penske in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. The historic victory came during a season in which Team Penske is celebrating its 50-year anniversary. The journey to 100 is, of course, filled with numbers and some quirky stats. Here are some interesting tidbits, courtesy of Team Penske : • In two of Team Penske's 100 wins, the winning driver led only one lap. Both times in 2015 with Brad Keselowski at Auto Club Speedway and Joey Logano at Watkins Glen. • Fifteen of Team Penske's 100 wins have come from the pole position. • Brad Keselowski dominated at Richmond International Raceway in 2014, leading 96 percent of the laps. That is the highest percentage of laps led by a winner in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition for Team Penske . • Team Penske drivers have scored 12 wins at Bristol Motor Speedway, the most wins at a single track for the team . Rusty Wallace leads all Team Penske drivers with seven victories at the .533-mile track. • Both Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch won their first race with Team Penske at Bristol. • The No. 2 for Team Penske has scored 64 victories. Rusty Wallace has 37, Brad Keselowski has 19 and Kurt Busch has eight. • In Team Penske's 100 victories, winning drivers led 12,295 laps en route to Victory Lane. • Rusty Wallace scored 10 victories in 1993, the most wins for a Team Penske driver in a single season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. • In 2014, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano teamed to score 11 victories, the most for Team Penske in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. • Rusty Wallace started 33rd at New Hampshire in 1993, the deepest a Team Penske driver has started and won. • Team Penske's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win came in the 1973 Winston Western 500 at Riverside International Raceway with driver Mark Donohue. • In addition to the familiar 2, 12 and 22 numbers for Team Penske , the team also fielded the No. 16 for NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison in the 1970s, with Allison scoring three of the car's four victories. • Rusty Wallace and Joey Logano are the only drivers to win three races in a row for Team Penske . Wallace accomplished this twice, in 1993 winning Bristol, North Wilkesboro and Martinsville in succession, and in 1994 winning Dover, Pocono and Michigan. Logano accomplished this in 2015 by winning at Charlotte, Kansas, and Talladega in the Round of 12 of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. • Forty-nine of the 100 wins came with the winning driver starting within the top five. • Team Penske has scored a Sprint Cup Series victory every year since 1991.
Hard tires, reworked curbing present challenges at repaved Watkins Glen
RELATED: Before and after: Watkins Glen repave WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams wrapped up a two-day organizational test Wednesday at newly repaved Watkins Glen International, emerging with better ideas of the challenges they'll face when the series returns for the Aug. 4-7 race weekend. Among those challenges: reworked curbing, a fast circuit and a harder-compound tire that has made grip elusive. A total of 16 Sprint Cup teams -- one permitted from each organization -- tried to unlock the novelty of the $12 million resurfacing project, using a Goodyear tire that emphasizes durability at the expense of traction and wear. The rubber compound chosen is similar to that used July 9 at Kentucky Speedway, site of the Sprint Cup Series' most recent race on a repaved track. At Kentucky, the tire selection made for treacherous conditions in certain spots and made passing a delicate process. Though road courses don't lend themselves to the multi-groove racing seen at several well-aged oval tracks, Watkins Glen might still be a tricky place to maneuver when the series reconvenes for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. "The main thing we've learned so far is how hard the tire is," said Jamie McMurray, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet. "It just seems to be no wear at all or lap time fall-off right now. This place didn't ever wear tires like Sonoma, but it seems like the tire is pretty hard." Sonoma, the other road course where the Sprint Cup Series races, is a much more intricate circuit with qualifying speeds roughly 30 mph slower than at Watkins Glen's open, free-wheeling layout. The Goodyear tire compound designated for both the Watkins Glen test and the race weekend is the same used for right-side tires in XFINITY Series competition at Iowa Speedway. Those Iowa right-sides will be used at all four corners for the Sprint Cup event at the 2.45-mile road course. Racing with a softer tire with more adhesion would potentially introduce the threat of excessive wear or blistering. It's a trade-off that Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Elliott says he's willing to accept. "I think a lot of it is just having a fresh surface like this, you've got to have a tire that's pretty hard," said Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports' driver representative for the two-day test. "It's fast, and to ask a tire to hold up, you've got to bring something that's durable. It puts Goodyear in a tough spot, but I think they do a good job of trying to make the most of tough situations. There's been a lot of repaves here lately and I know they're working hard." David Groseclose, NASCAR's lead tire engineer, said Wednesday that the benefits of competing with a more rigid rubber compound outweighed the potential drawbacks. "As with all repaves -- same thing as Kentucky -- if you don't have a hard tire, you're going to blister them up," Groseclose said. "The way that works is if you've got a soft compound and you use it, the soft compounds tend to retain heat. It's just the nature of a soft compound. But on a repave, it's not going to wear so that heat's not going to be dissipated out of the tire. It has nowhere to go, so it stays in the tire, so that's why it blisters up. That's what we saw at Kentucky with the XFINITY and Truck Series." In addition to the surface itself, the track features new concrete for the rumble strips that border the circuit's turns and run-off areas. Some drivers found the differences barely noticeable, but Kurt Busch discovered a distinction the hard way with an early Tuesday spin as he bounded over the apex points in the backstretch chicane on one of his initial laps. "It's a lot different," said Tony Gibson, Busch's crew chief on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet. "Kurt's like, 'I've got to learn all the curbs again.' The curbs over in the bus stop (chicane) are probably the biggest change. They're way more aggressive, and they've tightened up, so it's a lot tighter lane through there." Said Elliott, who will race here in Sprint Cup for the first time next weekend: "Some of the curbs may be a little different here or there, some a little rougher, a little smoother just depending on how they laid the asphalt in or however it worked. It's as close as you could make a track from an old surface to a repave, for sure." Five Sprint Cup teams participated in a Goodyear tire test May 10-11, and another 16 were present for this week's organizational test. For the remaining half of the field, the work toward finding the proper handle begins with opening practice on Friday, Aug. 5. "If you get your balance right, it'll be a no-drama," Gibson said. "Man, I told Kurt earlier, 'I'd hate to know I had to come here next Friday and hit the track for the first time and try to figure out these curbs and how much the race track has changed.' It'll be a handful in the short amount of time we get to practice. "It'll be interesting to see when we come back who has issues and who doesn't. But it's definitely going to be a plus to come and learn the race track, even if your car is not right or whatever, just getting here and getting behind the wheel and getting time on the race track is going to mean more." Pit notes: -- The full roster (in alphabetical order) of drivers and teams participating in the test: AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing), Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing), Clint Bowyer (HScott Motorsports), Chris Buescher (Front Row Motorsports), Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing), Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing), Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing), Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports), Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ), Michael McDowell (Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing), Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing), Casey Mears (Germain Racing), Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports), Regan Smith (Tommy Baldwin Racing), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing), Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing). -- Casey Mears turned the fastest lap in the two-day test, which was divided into four sessions of four hours apiece. Mears pushed the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet in the closing session to a best lap of 126.7 mph, a good bit slower than the track qualifying record of 129.491 mph set by Marcos Ambrose in August 2014. -- Brad Keselowski returned to the track Wednesday, one day after his severe, nearly head-on crash in Turn 1. He turned 74 laps over both sessions in a reserve Team Penske No. 2 Ford. -- Two teams -- Furniture Row Racing (driver Martin Truex Jr.) and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (driver Michael McDowell) -- were absent from testing's opening day, arriving in the Watkins Glen garage Wednesday in time for the two closing sessions. -- Wednesday's final session was extended 30 minutes to a 5:30 p.m. ET close because of a nearly hour-long clean-up for fluid on the track. After Chase Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet suffered a broken axle, Clint Bowyer's No. 15 Chevy ran over the part, damaging the car's transmission. -- NASCAR XFINITY Series teams are scheduled to turn their first laps on the new Watkins Glen surface next Thursday. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will stage a support race the following day on the 2.45-mile course.
Keselowski talks safety, details Watkins Glen wreck
LONG POND, Pa. -- Brad Keselowski's bone-jarring crash at Watkins Glen International earlier this week was the result of an improperly installed brake line on his No. 2 Penske Racing Ford. "There was an installation error with the brakes," Keselowski said Friday at Pocono Raceway, site of Sunday's Pocono 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "The brake line wasn't installed in the proper way and it broke." Keselowski's accident occurred July 26 during the first day of a two-day organizational test for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams at WGI. The series is scheduled to compete there Aug. 5-7. Moments after completing a session-leading lap of 124.572 mph on the 2.45-mile road course, Keselowski's Ford went off track and nose-first into the tire barrier located at the end of the frontstretch. He was not injured in the high-speed impact, and was back on track the following day in a backup entry. "I understand the whole tire barrier concept," Keselowski, said. "In general, I'm not comfortable with tracks that have runoffs that lead to very harsh angles, and that's certainly the situation that (WGI) has, and always has had it. "Road courses remain the most dangerous tracks in motorsports for a good reason because of that, but we know that going in. Some place has to be the safest and some place has to be the most dangerous." Safety advances made by NASCAR as well as many of the teams competing today have lessened the likelihood of serious injury, but the threat remains. In 2011, Keselowski won at Pocono less than a week after chipping a bone in his ankle during a hard crash during testing at Road Atlanta. That incident led to a complete evaluation by the organization of its safety protocols. The result was a redesign of the pedals, floorboard and seat, he said, and the evolution of steering wheels and other interior pieces have lessened the threat of serious injury as well. "From what I can tell at this moment, all of the pieces that we were able to redesign performed very well," Keselowski said of the WGI incident. "The one piece that we weren't able to redesign was the steering column. That's probably the weakest link in those type of impacts at the moment." What else needs to be done? Keselowski admitted he doesn't have the answer. "The answers I do have," he said, "is that there's only so many of those hits you are going to take before someone gets killed. It's just the way it is. "It's not something I'm comfortable with, but I think as a sport there are a lot of different ways to look at it. At the end of the day I'm still standing here. "That's something that the smart guys that work on that stuff are going to have to figure out some time."
JRM, JGR, Penske XFINITY Series teams assessed P2 penalities
Six NASCAR XFINITY Series crew chiefs have been placed on probation through Dec. 31 after receiving P2 Level penalties for irregularities discovered following pre-race inspection for this past weekend's American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway . All six of the vehicles in question were singled out for right-side body panel modifications; five of the six drivers of those vehicles finished in the top 10 in Sunday's race, including winner Sam Hornish Jr . Those penalized were: • Chris Gayle, crew chief of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Hornish made his first start of the '16 season when he was called on to fill in for driver Matt Tifft ; • Chris Gabehart, crew chief of the JGR No. 20 Toyota driven by Erik Jones . Jones finished 27th; • Team Penske crew chief Brian Wilson; driver Brad Keselowski finished third in the No. 22 Ford; • David Elenz, Kevin Meendering and Jason Burdett, all crew chiefs for JR Motorsports, were among those placed on probation as well. Elenz heads up the No. 88 Chevrolet for JRM. The entry uses a variety of drivers throughout the year and saw Alex Bowman finish fifth with the team at Iowa. Meendering is crew chief for driver Elliott Sadler (No. 1 Chevrolet); Sadler finished sixth. Burdett oversees the No. 7 Chevrolet with driver Justin Allgaier for the organization. Allgaier finished seventh. In addition to the P2 Level penalties, the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team with driver Ryan Reed received a written warning for failing the laser inspection station three times during pre-race inspection. As a result, the team has been docked 15 minutes of practice time at the series' next event. Also failing the LIS on two occasions, and receiving written warnings only, were the teams of Sadler, Daniel Suarez (JGR No. 19) and Harrison Rhodes (MBM Motorsports No. 13 Chevrolet). The XFINITY Series is off this weekend and returns to action Friday, July 1 at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Harvick, 4 team aim to close deal at New Hampshire
RELATED: See what happened to Harvick last fall LOUDON, N.H. -- During the past two years, Kevin Harvick has led more laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway than any other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Yet in each of those four starts, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver failed to come away with the victory. Harvick, the 2014 series champion, has led 379 of 1,209 laps at the 1.058-mile venue located in Loudon, New Hampshire. He led 216 at NHMS last year in the fall race, the second of 10 that made up Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff. But his No. 4 Chevrolet ran out of fuel with less than three laps remaining, and after pitting, Harvick finished 21st . His two previous starts at NHMS had resulted in third-place finishes after leading 59 laps in the July race of '15 and 104 the race the previous fall. "That's one I want to win really bad because I feel like we've given so many away there," Rodney Childers, Harvick's crew chief, said earlier this week. "Last fall we had a stinking good car, didn't get it full on the last stop, didn't realize it wasn't full. We ran probably the whole last run still leading the race and still ran out." Harvick has one win this year, at Phoenix, and has been the series points leader for much of the season. His return as one of 16 Chase competitors for this year is all but guaranteed. Only one of his 32 career wins have come at the "Magic Mile" however, and that took place nearly a decade ago. While Harvick has done nearly everything but win at Loudon in recent years, the victories have gone to others. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch swept the two races last season and Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski were in Victory Lane in '14. Keselowski is the only other competitor in the same vicinity as Harvick when it comes to laps led at NHMS, with 321 to his credit. He's the series' most recent winner, claiming back-to-back victories at Daytona and Kentucky. Childers has one New Hampshire victory, guiding Brian Vickers to the win in 2013. It was the final win for the now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing organization. Helping put Harvick back there would be big. Coming off a ninth-place run at Kentucky was a nice rebound after finishing 39th at Daytona a week earlier. "Every time we've been (to New Hampshire) we've been really good so hopefully we can go up there and be good again," Childers said. "I think having that good run last week at Kentucky gave everybody a little bit of confidence back. It's time to start ramping things up and get ready for the Chase." On Friday, Harvick qualified eighth in the 40-car field. He was 21st in Friday's opening practice and fourth in Saturday's two sessions. The New Hampshire 301 is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Team Penske celebrates 100th NSCS win
Roger Penske talks about the significance of reaching 100 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins.