Team Penske celebrates sweet sweep in NASCAR, IndyCar – USA TODAY
RICHMOND, Va. — Team Penske knew it would be celebrating a milestone Sunday at Richmond International Raceway, but no one in the organization could have known just how momentous the weekend would become.
Joey Logano triumphed in his 300th career start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, holding off hard-charging teammate Brad Keselowski to give Penske its second sweep in less than 24 hours after Simon Pagenaud and Will Power took first and second in the Verizon IndyCar Series event at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday.
So it was no surprise that Team Penske vice chairman Walter P. Czarnecki was beaming when he addressed the news media after the celebration in victory lane finally tapered off.
“This is a very special weekend for us,” Czarnecki said. “I was reminded of a race, I think it may have been in the mid-1990s, when we raced here on a Saturday night and Rusty Wallace won the race and then we went to Mid-Ohio the next day and won the IndyCar race. … To finish 1-2 today, it’s really gratifying.”
The biggest surprise for the Penske organization, though, likely was which of its drivers walked away with the victory. Keselowski looked like he had the dominant car for long stretches of Sunday’s race, leading 110 laps and winning the second stage (pole winner Matt Kenseth went wire-to-wire to win the opening stage).
“The fastest doesn’t always win,” Keselowski said. “I’m frustrated not to bring it home but proud of the effort and the speed we had today. … Joey and I push each other to be the best. I think it’s really healthy.”
For Logano, the race was nowhere near as smooth, and the 26-year-old acknowledged that his teammate had the faster car.
“I knew how quick Brad was,” Logano said. “He was the fastest car today. Glad the race was 400 laps because if it was any shorter we probably wouldn’t have won and if it was any longer we wouldn’t (have) won. It turned out just right for us today.”
After starting at the rear because of a transmission change in his No. 22 Ford, Logano had to rely on patience to make his way through the field, something he says does not come easily. But that only added to the sweet taste of victory and his milestone accomplishment.
Logano became the fifth driver in series history to win in his 300th start, joining Denny Hamlin (Talladega 2014), Kyle Busch (Texas 2013), Kasey Kahne (Charlotte 2012) and Rusty Wallace (Atlanta 1993).
“How about that crazy stat,” Logano said. “That’s pretty cool.”
Logano has 18 career wins in NASCAR’s premier series and 15 wins over the last four seasons, trailing only seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson (16) for most wins over that stretch.
“That’s pretty nice company,” Logano said. “But here I am starting my 300th race and he’s approaching his 100th win (Johnson has 82), so … but to be within one win of a legend like Jimmie Johnson – at least in the past four years – is pretty freaking cool.”
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