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Take a look inside the shop of Team Penske
Truex Jr. earns Coors Light Pole for Coca-Cola 600
RELATED: Lineup " See each car in Sunday's race CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr . crashed a Ford party on Thursday night, winning the pole for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). With his team making adjustments to the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota throughout the qualifying session, Truex saved his best lap for the round that counted, covering the 1.5-mile distance in 28.077 seconds (192.328 mph) to edge Team Penske Ford driver Joey Logano (192.007 mph) by .047 seconds for the top starting spot in NASCAR's longest race. The Coors Light Pole Award was Truex's second of the season and the ninth of his career. Both of the New Jersey driver's poles this year have come on 1.5-mile tracks, the previous one at Kansas Speedway earlier this month. "We really had to work pretty hard for it today," said Truex, whose lap in the final round of qualifying was .27 seconds faster than his fastest practice lap. "It was just one of those Charlotte deals where the track was continuously changing. "We were just chasing the race track and changing the car and really never got it close to right until that last run. I'm really just proud of the effort and proud of all my guys for that. It feels good – 600 miles, that first pit stall (the pole winner's prerogative) … We're going to be on pit road a lot on Sunday night, and that's certainly going to be an advantage. "Hopefully, we can take advantage of it and make it work for us." Logano led both the first and second rounds but couldn’t match Truex’s top speed in the third and final session. "I got a little bit tight landing in (Turn) 1 and then a little bit free off (the corner)," Logano said. "It wasn't much. And then (Turns) 3 and 4, I actually thought was a pretty good corner. "So I would say most of it was down in 1 and 2 – probably at landing and through the center is where I lost most of my momentum. It's not much. Half-a-tenth of a second doesn't take long." Logano was the best of the Ford drivers, who held three of the four top spots in the first round of knockout qualifying and swept the top four in the second. In the final round, Fords were second, third and fifth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr . qualified third at 191.428 mph, followed by Denny Hamlin (191.388 mph) and Brad Keselowski (190.968 mph). Joining Stenhouse in the top 10 were his Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle (sixth) and Trevor Bayne (10th), marking the first time since the April race at Texas in 2014 that three RFR cars have made the final round of knockout qualifying. Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start 25th after failing to advance past the first round by .014 seconds. Matt Kenseth (27th), Austin Dillon (28th) and Kasey Kahne (29th) also will have to come from deep in the field after disappointing efforts in time trials. Kurt Busch , who topped the speed chart in opening practice with the fastest lap of the day (192.843 mph), will start 13th after failing to make the final round by .08 seconds.
Polesitter Truex Jr. leads final practice at Charlotte
PRACTICE 3: Results Martin Truex Jr . topped the leaderboard in Saturday's final Sprint Cup Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 186.387 mph in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. Truex holds the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). Kurt Busch , who led the practice session earlier in the day, was right behind him in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at 185.733 mph. Rounding out the top five in the 50-minute session were Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (185.401 mph), Joey Logano in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford (185.109 mph) and Greg Biffle in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford (184.938 mph). PRACTICE 2: Results Earlier in the day, Busch led the pack at 191.002 mph. Busch, who holds the record for the fastest lap around the 1.5-mile North Carolina oval, will roll off the grid 13th Sunday. In that same session, seven-time Charlotte winner Johnson was second-fastest, propelling his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 190.617 mph. Sunday's pole-sitter Truex Jr . recorded the third-fastest lap (190.061 mph) in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, while Joe Gibbs Racing 's Carl Edwards (189.887 mph) and Roush Fenway Racing 's Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (189.414 mph) rounded out the top five. Series points leader Kevin Harvick ranked seventh on the speed charts (189.301 mph) in morning session and 24th in the final session (183.150 mph). The red flag flew late in the first 55-minute session, after smoke began blowing for the left front of Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 ride. The track returned to green shortly after Earnhardt's Chevrolet -- which was later determined to be an issue with the seal on the power steering box -- made it to the garage.
Team Penske's history, rosters for Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano's teams
Hamlin rides fresh tires to overtime XFINITY win at Charlotte
RELATED: Full Charlotte race results CONCORD, N.C. -- In an event that bore notable similarities to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race a week earlier, Denny Hamlin won Saturday's Hisense 4K TV 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a pass on the final lap. Hamlin's fresh rubber trumped the old tires of Kyle Larson and Joey Logano , who restarted ahead of Hamlin in overtime at the 1.5-mile track. In fact, Hamlin restarted sixth on Lap 205 after coming to pit road for four new tires under the eighth and final caution of the race, brought out when polesitter Erik Jones , Hamlin's teammate, slammed the outside wall and performed the coup de grace on his already wounded No. 20 Toyota. "It was a second opportunity, obviously," Hamlin said. "I was hoping for that caution there at the end, and we got it and we were able to get four tires on this Hisense Camry and took off. A little closer than what I thought -- I mean, we were just really tight those last couple laps, but what a great day." The victory was Hamlin's first of the year in his only start so far, and it was the fifth this season for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, the first four coming with Kyle Busch behind the wheel. Logano surged ahead of Larson at the restart, but Hamlin gained huge momentum on his new tires from the outside lane. With less than a lap left, Hamlin got past Logano and held on to win the race by .291 seconds over Austin Dillon , who edged Logano for second in the final corner. Dillon had opted for right-side tires only on his final pit stop. But for a timely caution, however, Hamlin would not have had the opportunity to win the race. As they had done a week earlier in the All-Star race, Larson and Logano swapped the lead, with Logano powering past Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet on lap 166 of a scheduled 200, and Larson regaining the top spot with five laps left in regulation. But when Jones slammed into the wall on Lap 199, Hamlin had the chance to come to pit road for tires under caution, while Larson and Logano stayed out to preserve their track position. With just two cars up front on old tires, as had been the case for the final restart in the All-Star race, Hamlin made short work of the cars in front of him. It was the third last-lap pass for the win in the XFINITY Series this season. Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gayle conferred before the final pit stop and ultimately opted for the fresh rubber. "It was a collaborative call," Hamlin said. "He (Gayle) leaned towards staying out, but I thought that I could get around those guys in just two laps even though we were way faster on that last run. I thought tires were the thing. "I knew if I could start on the outside that I wanted new tires and it just worked out on pit road where I came out on the outside. It all worked out and it was very exciting in that last corner, a little more exciting than what I expected." Hamlin desperately needed the final caution because his No. 18 team had drawn a penalty for an uncontrolled tire on a pit stop under yellow on Lap 160. Hamlin restarted mid-pack instead of at the rear of the field as the violation requires, because according to NASCAR, the cars at the rear of the field failed to pass Hamlin’s No. 18 Camry before the green flag waved on Lap 164. Hamlin said he left a large buffer for the laps-down car to pass him before the restart, but that they declined to do so. By the time Jones hit the wall, Hamlin had driven to third place, trailing only Larson and Logano. The similarities to the finish of the All-Star Race were not lost on Logano. "I thought it was kind of supposed to be like what the All-Star Race was with old tires and new tires, but the (my car) was the fastest it's been all year," Logano said. "We can't hold our heads down about it. We had a car that was capable of winning if circumstances went right. I felt like I was going have a good restart next to Kyle. "I felt my restarts were a little better than his all day, and I thought, 'OK, if I can clear him,' which we did I was like, 'Alright, we've got a shot,' but it was really hard to hold off those four tires. What a fun race. It got really exciting there at the end. I got passed on the top by Denny and then Kyle just kept ripping up top and had a big run into the corner, so it was fun to watch that. I was hoping they would get into each other, and I would sneak one out."
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 .
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 .
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."