Blue Oval bruisers: Team Penske leading 2014 Ford brigade
Along with being arguably the fastest organization of all so far this season, Team Penske is clearly the class of the Ford camp -- and the gap back to the rest of the Blue Oval brigade isn't even close.
The Ford of Brad Keselowski (2) leads teammate Joey Logano in Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Sean Gardner / Getty Images
By Larry McReynolds
Team Penske has had nothing short of a phenomenal start in 2014. In only three races so far, the organization's two-car team has had two pole positions, two outside pole positions, one victory and five top-five finishes. On top of all that, they are obviously carrying the banner for the Ford camp. The reality is there actually is a substantial gap between the Penske Fords and the rest of the Ford entries.
Obviously, it isn't simply just one thing. When an organization is that dominate, there are a lot of pieces that make up that successful puzzle. With the new rule package, the new aero package and what these teams are having to do with springs and shocks with the new no ride-height rule, Penske is at the forefront of it all. We all know that in our sport that the competition can catch up to your advantage. Sometimes it happens as quickly as within a week.
Hendrick Motorsports isn't that far behind, obviously, as the organization already has a win from Daytona, plus Sunday in Las Vegas all four of its cars finished in the top nine. Of course, we had the drama of the No. 88 rolling the dice and trying to win the race by stretching fuel mileage. It didn't work, obviously, and thatâs why we are celebrating Brad Keselowski as the race winner this week.
The race did have 10 different leaders with 24 lead changes but only four cautions for only 18 laps. The one thing I did pick up on Sunday at Las Vegas was that a driver could pass if he had a good race car. For example, Brad restarted seventh on that final restart. I also watched Kyle Busch go from 23rd to the lead in 55 laps.
I think this is a product of NASCAR's offseason tweaks to the car with the aero and no ride-height rule. I was encouraged that no one dominated Sunday's race. That combined with what I saw of drivers being able to pass bodes well as we get further into the season. I am especially excited after we get through these next two race weekends because then we will have five different tracks with five different configurations under our belt using these new rules. After that, we'll have a pretty good picture of who the players are going to be for the rest of the season.