Dont look now, but Team Penske is making a good case for being the best team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series so far in 2017.
With Joey Loganos victory in Sundays Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway Roger Penskes squad has now won three of nine Cup races in 2017. Hendrick Motorsports has two victories, both by all-world talent Jimmie Johnson, while four other Cup teams have won one each.
Even more startling are the numbers Logano and Keselowski have posted over the entire season.
In the aforementioned nine races, Logano has Sundays victory and eight finishes of sixth or better.
Keselowski, the 2012 champion, has two victories and seven finishes of sixth or better.
So far this year, no other team not Hendrick, Gibbs or Stewart-Haas can approach those numbers.
And Sundays race capped off a weekend of Penske dominance, as Logano and Keselowski finished 1-2 less than 24 hours after Team Penske drivers Simon Pagenaud and Will Power finished 1-2 in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Phoenix.
This is a very, very special weekend for us, said Walt Czarnecki, vice chairman of Penskes racing operations.
I was reminded just as I was walking over here of a race, I think it might have been in the mid 90s when we raced here on a Saturday night and Rusty Wallace won the race, and we went to Mid-Ohio the next day and won the IndyCar race, so this is truly a special weekend, said Czarnecki.
Loganos win was especially impressive given that he had to start 37th in the 38-car field because the team made a transmission change prior to the race. Wisely, Logano took his time moving up through the field, which is not his normal style.
Joey did a great job of being disciplined on not abusing his car and just doing what he needed to maximize what we had on the first two stages, said crew chief Todd Gordon. I think we got to 10th in the first stage. I think we were 10th in the second stage. But just -- it's a hot, slick racetrack, and nobody's car was good. Our car just got in the right spot at the right time.
Which was by design.
When I got here this morning, I sat down with (Gordon) and Joey, and he kept telling Joey, 80 percent, 80 percent. So don't go out there and force the issue. You're at the back, you've got a good car, don't force the issue. And Joey said to me, You pay me to run 100 percent. I said, Well, today will be a little bit different.
Logano followed team orders, but its definitely not what hes used to.
I hate it, too. I am not wired that way, he said. I am a balls-to-the-wall type of guy, hard as I can, all the time. That's the way I'm wired. And that's what's proven to be successful at certain racetracks. Richmond is not one of them.
But it all worked out and it put Logano in good company. Since the start of the 2014 season, Logano has won 15 races. The only guy to win more in that time is Jimmie Johnson, who has won 16.
To be within one win of a legend like Jimmie Johnson is, hey, that's pretty freaking cool, said Logano. We're a strong team, but we've got to get some championships and keep winning those races. It's nice to keep stacking them up, but long, long ways to go, but at least I'm young and I've got a long ways to go.