Roush Fenway Racing seems to have been dominating the headlines thus far in the 2011 NASCAR season, but how about another race team emerging as one of the more dominant? Both of Roger Penske’s teams are becoming legitimate contenders for this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup field.
In the last two weeks, Team Penske has already had two poles and a race win, which is a sign that all things are pointing up for their organization. In last weeks STP 400, Kurt Busch secured the pole and then lead a race-high 152 laps, something he has not been able to say in quite sometime. Brad Keselowski was in the right place at the right time Sunday, and won the race by winning the fuel mileage battle. Busch was told to pit with just nine laps remaining, costing him a top five finish.
The month of May turned out to be a great month for Penske. Keselowski finished the month with a top five finish at Darlington, a pole run in Charlotte, and a great finish of second for the All-Star Showdown.
Busch, currently sixth in points, has turned things around since racing at Richmond in late April. Busch had been complaining of the poor performance of both his team and his car, but all of that seems to have changed in the weeks after.
Keselowski currently sits 21st in points, but has still emerged as a chase contender. “If we deserve to be in it, we’ll get in it” Keselowski said.
The one thing that will definitely help out both the 2 and 22 machines is the newly revised Chase format. The twist this year is the “wild card” spots, drivers who sit outside the top 12 in points have the option of claiming those treasured spots. Positions 11 and 12, will go to the drivers who have the most wins, with the only stipulation of being in the top-20 at that time.
Keselowski is only seven points outside the top-20 after winning in Kansas, this is why no one should be a bigger fan of the new changes than him at this very moment.
Needless to say, Roger Penske seems to have what it takes to secure two Chase spots. Penske hasn’t been fully represented in the Chase since 2005, when drivers Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace were in the field.
Can they continue to show that they are in “Championship form”, or is this just a phase that will eventually pass before we get to Chicago later in the season? It certainly seems like they have everything in place to make a run at it!