For Team Penske, the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season brought winning, running at the front of the talented series field and an opportunity for all three of the organization’s teams to contend for the Cup Series title. Though Team Penske didn’t reach its goal of repeating as Cup Series champions, the season included plenty of highlights and achievement in 2019.
Team Penske drivers Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski all qualified for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and both Logano and Blaney reached the Round of 8 before their championship hopes came to an end. Along the way, the talented trio combined to win six races, six poles, and rack up 36 top-five and 58 top-10 finishes. Together, the group combined to lead 2,884 miles (2,406 laps) in series competition.
Keselowski scored the first victory for the team when he won the second race of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway at the end of February. The victory in the No. 2 Autotrader Ford Mustang marked Keselowski’s 60th since joining Team Penske in 2010 and it allowed him to eclipse the great Mark Donohue to become the all-time winningest driver in team history. The result was Keselowski’s second win in his 11 career Cup Series races at Atlanta.
Exactly one month later, Keselowski enjoyed one of the most dominating victories of his career at Martinsville Speedway in the sixth race of the season. Driving the No. 2 Reese/Drawtite Ford Mustang, Keselowski led twice for 446 of 500 laps and crossed the finish line .594 seconds ahead of Chase Elliott. The win was Keselowski’s second in 19 races at Martinsville. The No. 2 pit crew pitched the equivalent of a perfect game at Martinsville. The group made six pit stops during the 500-lap race and kept Keselowski in the lead after every visit to the pit lane.
Keselowski’s third victory came in the season’s 12th race, in May at Kansas Speedway. He grabbed the lead from Alex Bowman with 11 laps to go in the Wurth Ford Mustang and survived a NASCAR overtime finish to produce his 30th career Cup Series win and his second victory at the 1.5-mile speedway. The triumph also marked the fourth consecutive season Keselowski won three or more races in NASCAR’s premiere series.
Keselowski also captured three pole positions in 2019. His pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July ended a 68-race drought dating back to Michigan in August 2017. It marked Keselowski’s fourth pole in 19 races at the 1.058-mile New England superspeedway, his most poles won at any track. Keselowski also captured the top starting positions in the fall races at Michigan International Speedway and Richmond Raceway.
“I didn’t even know how to put the win at Atlanta into words,” said Keselowski reflecting back on the season and the record-setting first win of 2019. “Any win means a lot, but 60 wins at Team Penske is a big number. It was a tremendous honor (to break Mark Donohue’s tea record) and I was so excited for everyone on the team. Martinsville was a good day. Our pit crew did an excellent job gaining or retaining our track position all day, which is critical at that racetrack. I felt like I could have won eight races at Martinsville, but I was still glad to come home the winner. Kansas was good because we kind of outexecuted our speed that we had for much of the race. I don’t want to say we stole a win, but we got one where we weren’t the fastest car through execution, and I was really proud of that.”
One week after Keselowski’s victory at Atlanta, Logano began the defense of his 2018 Cup Series championship by capturing the checkered flag in the third race of season – the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The win was his first in 12 races at the 1.5-mile Nevada speedway, as he edged teammate Keselowski by just .236 seconds – about one car length. The victory in the No. 22 Pennzoil ford Mustang clinched a Playoff spot for Logano to mark his seventh appearance in NASCAR’s post-season since joining Team Penske in 2013.
Logano’s second victory of 2019 came in June as he won in convincing fashion at Michigan International Speedway. Racing on Monday after rain forced a postponement on Sunday afternoon, the reigning series champ captured the lead from William Byron with 18 laps to go and he survived a NASCAR Overtime finish to produce his third career win at Michigan, crossing the finish line .147 seconds ahead of Kurt Busch.
"We had a big Pennzoil dinner the night before the Las Vegas race and the talk was I was going to do some donuts in the grass at the end of the race. To be able to do that was super cool,” said Logano of the season-opening victory before looking at the season overall. “It is so hard to have perfect days like the one we had at Michigan. It felt so good to get into victory lane. I got to thank the fans, everyone that stuck it out through the rain on Sunday and came back Monday to watch a great race and a wild ending. You don't want to see cautions there at the end when you are the leader but as a fan that is like the one thing you do want to see. I am glad we got the best of both worlds. Not advancing in the Playoffs stinks. We scratched and clawed and made a race out of it with a lot of adversity throughout these playoffs.”
Logano emerged as the top series superspeedway racer in 2019. He finished the season with more points (144) and more laps led (144) and miles led (268) at Daytona and Talladega than any other Cup Series driver. He also led all NASCAR Cup Series drivers in laps completed during the 2019 season, completing all but 34 laps (10,221 of a possible 10,255) for an impressive 99.67 percent rate. He won two pole positions at spring races in Martinsville and Michigan. Logano has now won at least one pole position for 10 consecutive seasons and has captured 22 career Cup Series poles. For the year, Logano and the No. 22 Ford team produced 12 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes.
Competing in his first full Cup Series season for Team Penske, Blaney showed good speed early and consistency throughout the season. He won the pole in the No. 12 MoneyLion Ford at Phoenix in just the fourth race of 2019. After a solid middle of the season, Blaney made a late-season rally to create a deep run in the NASCAR Playoffs. Racing the No. 12 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang, Blaney made a dramatic pass around Ryan Newman within sight of the finish line to win the October race at Talladega Superspeedway. The victory was Blaney’s first of the 2019 season and it propelled the No. 12 Ford team to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. The official margin of victory was measured at .007 second, approximately one foot in distance. Blaney led three times for a race-high 35 laps and won for the first time in 11 Talladega starts. The race started on Sunday afternoon, but a steady rain halted the race, which forced the event to conclude on Monday.
“It was an amazing effort over two days at Talladega from my Dent Wizard team. We spun out early on Sunday, missed some big ones on Monday and we were able to weave our way through. I can't thank Aric Almirola enough for helping me out there at the end,” said Blaney after the Playoff win and his third career Cup Series victory. “It stinks that you miss advancing in the Playoffs, but we had a solid day at Phoenix. We ran third and I thought we got better all day. I was proud of our whole group for how we can at Phoenix and for the Playoffs as well. We’ll have the same car next year, so everyone will spend the offseason trying to figure out the most efficient way to build these cars. We’ve got to do our homework. I’ve got faith in the whole Penske group to really find some stuff that will give us an edge.”
After posting 11 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes, Blaney earned his third Playoff berth and he finished seventh in the final Cup Series standings for the best-ever championship finish of his young career.
With all three drivers returning to their teams in 2020, Team Penske is poised for another strong run this coming season. The new year officially begins with the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 16 as Team Penske will look to earn its third victory in the “Great American Race” and begin its pursuit of its third NASCAR Cup Series championship.