With 1-2 Bristol finish, is Team Penske now the 2014 title favorite?
Aug 24, 2014 at 1:38a ET
While many Sprint Cup Series drivers and teams left Bristol Motor Speedway frustrated about potential opportunities missed on Saturday night, Team Penske couldn't be riding any higher.
While it is certainly rare for an organization to finish a race with two drivers atop the scoring pylon, Saturday's result wasn't exactly a shocker, either. That's because outside of Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske has been hands-down the Sprint Cup Series' best overall organization this season.
And with Saturday night's outcome, Logano and Keselowski both boast three wins apiece in 2014, joining Hendrick drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson as the season's only three-time winners.
This means that if the Chase for the Sprint Cup began today, there would be a five-way tie at the top among the two Penske drivers and the three Hendrick winners.
Does Saturday night's 1-2 sweep in Thunder Valley serve notice that a Penske driver is now the odds-on favorite to collect the organization's second title in three seasons when the Sprint Cup Series gathers for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in mid-November?
"They can think whatever they want to think, but I know inside this 22 team, this whole 22 team feels like we're contenders to win this championship," said Logano, who after joining Team Penske in 2013 made the Chase for the first time in his career. "It would be really weird if we didn't think we were. We've got three wins right now. We've got a really good shot. We've been fast at every single racetrack and that's because this 22 team, and all of Team Penske, but in particular this 22 team is always looking for that next bit.
"No one is just doing their job and said, 'I did my job and that's enough.' They're always looking for that extra little bit and how they can become better and how they can make our race car better, and that's what it takes, so it's definitely the best shot I've ever had at winning a championship -- I can promise you that. So I feel very confident going into it."
Keselowski, who delivered team owner Roger Penske a long-awaited first Sprint Cup championship in 2012, believes his No. 2 team is also poised to make a title run.
"Joey and I both have three wins," Keselowski said. "We're entering the Chase strong in a lot of different ways, and I think we're both legitimate threats to win the championship this year, and I'm proud of that."
But if the Penske boys ultimately end up racing each other for the championship -- a plausible scenario, without a doubt -- could that affect information sharing between the two drivers and teams?
"I don't really, respectfully, want to get into any of the other details about our teams and what they do," Keselowski said. "That's kind of proprietary to our group and something we're proud of, and want to keep our cards close to our chest, but I think the results speak for themselves, and we need to keep rolling. We've got two teams that are legitimate contenders by every stretch of the imagination."
Team Penske executive vice president Walt Czarnecki doesn't anticipate a potential championship fight between Logano and Keselowski to put any kind of strain on the relationship between the respective drivers and teams.
"When he came on board with us, we told Joey, 'There is no No. 1. There is no No. 2. Everybody is equal. We all contribute. We all have the same access to information, the same access to resources,' and I think it's really demonstrated in the performance of the team this year with six wins," Czarnecki said. "If you think about it, we might have even had one or two more along the way, so I think that's probably a fair assessment."
Sitting beside Czarnecki in Saturday night's post-race winner's press conference at Bristol, Logano concurred.
"I agree," he said. "That was a good answer."
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