Team Penske comes up short of Brickyard 400 victory once again
Roger Penske has won everything there is to win as a car owner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
That is, everything except the Brickyard 400.
"The Captain" has a record 16 Indianapolis 500 victories in the IndyCar Series, but never has Penske kissed the bricks after a hot July afternoon in NASCAR’s Premier Series.
Team Penske drivers have come close multiple times in years past, though.
Rusty Wallace finished second three times — 1995, 2000 and 2002. Wallace led 114 laps in the 2000 Brickyard 400, only to relinquish the lead after Bobby Lobonte made a late charge for the win.
Joey Logano also recorded a runner-up finish in last year’s event at the 2.5-mile track.
In Sunday’s Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard, Logano and Brad Keselowski tried once again to get the iconic Brickyard 400 hardware that has eluded Penske since 1994.
The Penske brigade tried using pit strategy early in the race by keeping Keselowski and Logano on track longer, while others pitted during the first round of stops.
Staying out longer on each fuel run meant the Penske Fords would have to make one less stop than the rest of their competitors.
It was a good idea in theory and both drivers were able to lead laps, but as luck would have it, cautions fell at the wrong times for both teams to make any headway with their strategy.
And to make matters worse, Keselowski got caught up in a Turn 1 wreck triggered by Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman during a restart with just seven laps to go.
Keselowski would go on to finish 17th.
"It was a long, hard day," Keselowski said after the race. "We just weren’t quite as fast as the (Joe) Gibbs cars, but we were competitive. I had a shot at it at the end when we came in and put tires on, but got caught up when the No. 19 (Edwards) spun out."
"I thought we actually had a shot at winning it and kind of stealing one on tires, but when that wreck happened it took away any shot we had," added Keselowski. "There was too much damage, but that’s just part of it. There was nowhere to go, but that’s definitely not the result we wanted for sure."
Logano, on the other hand, was able to put himself in good position to give eventual race winner Kyle Busch a run for his money, as Busch led a record-setting 149 during his dominant performance.
In a repeat of last year’s showdown, the No. 22 Penske driver started alongside Busch during the pair of overtime restarts, which led to the race going 10 laps past the scheduled 160-lap distance.
But, Logano was unable to make a strong enough run to stick with Busch on the final restart, fading back to a 7th-place finish.
"It just was not good," Logano said of the last restart. "I had a decent restart the first time, and the second one I probably had just as good of a restart, but the No. 20 (Matt Kenseth) got underneath me and I was kind of stuck from that point and kind of fell into the clutches of the tires behind me. I was trying to stay down and be where I needed to be to get in front of them, but they just kept turning underneath me."
"I hate that we finished seventh, but it’s probably where we deserved to finish from a speed point of view," Logano added. "I thought our execution went very well today to give us an opportunity to win, but we couldn’t quite get it done when it mattered."