By David Morgan, NASCAR Contributor
With Brad Keselowski’s dominant win at Daytona in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 and his Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, coming home fourth, team owner Roger Penske had nothing but good things to say about the duo that has combined for four wins on the season.
Keselowski proved he would be a threat for the win at Daytona early on, taking the lead for the first time on lap nine and staying in the lead for 115 of the 161 laps in the race. The win was not only Keselowski’s first win at Daytona and third win of the season, but it also marked a milestone for Team Penske as the team’s 100th win in its existence.
“I think winning a race on the 4th of July weekend and thinking about all the people that support our country and make our country safe, I just am proud to be an American I guess is the most important thing on the 4th of July weekend,” said Penske.
“To win 100 races with the competition that we have in this sport is amazing, and it comes down to the people. I guess Paul and I get to sit up here, but it’s all the hundreds of people that work for us every single day that make a difference, and there’s no question that Ford has stepped up. You could see with the qualifying, certainly with Greg, and the car was strong. I think it was a complete package tonight.”
“It couldn’t come at a better time. 16 years ago we won our first 100th race in IndyCar, so it took a long time to get here on the NASCAR side. But pretty important night for us.”
After touching on how special the 100th win is for his organization, Penske wasted no time in defending the criticism that Logano has received in his career, which was brought up after Logano and Kurt Busch made contact on the last lap Saturday night.
“Joey has taken, I think, some undue criticism from my perspective based on some of the things that have happened. Certainly you can go back, and I could name three or four things that certainly weren’t his fault,” Penske said.
“But quite honestly, I think he’s one of the best drivers on the racetrack out there day in and day out, and sure, people make mistakes. A lot of these drivers can knock somebody off the track, and they say, hey, I’m sorry, you follow me, and they move on. They don’t let Logano do that. As far as I’m concerned, I’m behind him 300 percent.”
Penske then turned his focus on how special Keselowski is as a part of his team and how confident he is in the pairing of Keselowski and Logano and their abilities.
“I think that he’s a calculating guy, and you’re not with him every day like we are in the shop and what he brings to the race team. He came early on, he said, look, I’m going to help you get a championship team. We did that. He helped to attract Paul Wolfe to the team. Look, this is not a popularity contest, and anybody that thinks it is, you know, we shouldn’t be sitting here tonight.
“This is racing, and unfortunately some people have different ideas. But look, I’ve got — I wouldn’t trade these two drivers for anyone. They’re young, they’re aggressive, they win races. They work well with the sponsors, and they’re high-integrity guys, so move on from there.”
Through the first 17 races of the season, Keselowski and Logano sit second and fourth in points, with Keselowski scoring three wins and Logano with a win of his own. Both drivers also have seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes each, as well as average finishes of 9.7 and 10.6, respectively. With those kinds of statistics, the Team Penske duo should be two to watch out for as the season progresses and the Chase begins.