Penske Racing drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano currently find themselves outside the cutoff point for the championship Chase in the Sprint Cup Series.
With eight races to go before the start of the Chase, Keselowski is 13th in the point standings, while Logano sits in the 15th spot. Keselowski, the defending series champion, and Logano have yet to win a race this season.
Keselowski has appeared in the Chase the past two years. In 2012, he scored an average finishing position of 7.8 in the last eight races of the regular season. In 2011, Keselowski's average finishing spot was 8.6 over those same races. He qualified for the Chase with a wild card two years ago.
"It would be really easy for me to say that we need to hit the panic button if we didn't have speed in our cars," Keselowski said. "Speed is something that can take months, or even years, to develop. That would make me really uneasy.
"But the fact is that we've been fast almost everywhere we've been. We just need execution and luck. Take last weekend (at Daytona). We came off of pit road after the final stop in second place, but we finished 21st with an intact race car. Whether that was being in the wrong line for other restarts or getting stuck three-wide with no help, those are things that are out of your control, to a certain degree. We do have some very good racetracks coming up for us, and I'm confident that our speed will carry us through to the Chase."
Keselowski is just 11 points behind 10th-place Tony Stewart, who moved up six positions following his second-place run at Daytona.
Right now, Martin Truex Jr. (11th in points) and Kasey Kahne (12th) hold the two wild card positions. Truex and Kahne have one victory each this season.
Keselowski has not won a Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire in the past but has finished sixth or better in the previous three events there.
"(New Hampshire) has become a pretty good racetrack for me," he said. "Our flat-track program at Penske Racing has been pretty solid as a whole. It's one of the tracks where (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) has experience as a driver. It's very hard to emphasize how much of a difference that can make. After testing up there two weeks ago, I feel really good about our package for the race."
Logano, who is 16 points behind Stewart, is a past winner at New Hampshire. He made series history at this track during his 2009 rookie season when he became the youngest driver ever to win a race. Logano was 19 years, 1 month and four days old when he won the rain-shortened event there. His first career start in the series came at New Hampshire in 2008.
"To finally get your first Cup win, even in a rain-shortened event, was amazing," said Logano, who hails from Middletown, Conn. "That's something they can't take away from you. But I also remember coming here as a kid. The first Sprint Cup Series race I ever went to was at this track. So I have a lot of memories here. But I'd really like to win another race - a full-distance race - and make even more memories here."
Logano had a disappointing 40th-place finish at Daytona. He made contact with the wall after his right-front tire blew. Logano dropped five positions in points. He had finished 11th or better in the seven races prior to Daytona, which had moved him from 19th to 10th in the rankings.
"This is the time where you really need to step up and become a leader for the team and make sure everyone keeps their spirits up," he said. "We were all pretty bummed with what happened at Daytona, but even after the race, the guys were positive. We all said that we've come back from a few points down already this year, and we will do it again. That is the type of attitude this team has, and that is what we need to keep doing. There is plenty of time to get right back to where we were."
Forty-three teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Camping World RV Sales 301.
Morgan Shepherd, entered in the No. 52 Toyota this weekend at New Hampshire, is scheduled to make his first Sprint Cup start since 2006, which coincidentally came at this track. At 71 years old, Shepherd would become the oldest driver to start a race in NASCAR's premier series. Jim Fitzgerald currently holds the record. Fitzgerald was 65 years, 6 months and 20 days old when he competed at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway on June 21, 1987.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, July 14. Race: Camping World RV Sales 301. Site: New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Track: 1.058-mile oval. Start time: 1 p.m. ET. Laps: 301. Miles: 318.4 2012 Winner: Kasey Kahne. Television: TNT. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.