Texas Motor Speedway

Team Penske has chance to win historic double title

Dream season.

That’s how Joey Logano would describe it.

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No race team in history has won an IndyCar and NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in the same season, but Team Penske has a chance to do it this year.

Will Power has already taken care of the first part, earning his first career IndyCar championship in late August. Now it’s up to Logano or Brad Keselowski to finish off the remarkable feat on the Cup side for team owner Roger Penske.

“It has already been a dream season for the 22 car with a lot of top-fives and five wins, but we aren’t stopping there,” Logano said. “We want more. We want to get Roger that Sprint Cup championship trophy. That is why we are both still working together, doing everything we can to make that happen.”

The odds are at least one of them will be among the final four drivers competing for a championship at the season finale in Homestead-Miami. Keselowski leads the Cup series in wins with six and Logano is second with five, although it’s Logano who is in the best shape to advance.

Logano is sitting third in the points standings after a fifth-place run at Martinsville last week to open the Eliminator Round and will start 10th in this Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway — the same starting position as when he won here in April.

That marked the first win of what has become a career year for Logano and he’s been the best driver throughout the Chase with two wins and the top average finish of 4.29.

“Anytime you come back to a racetrack you were able to win at in the spring races brings a little added confidence,” said Logano, who has finished in the top five the past three TMS races.

“We have to be able to come out of here with at least a top-five finish and hopefully get that win again.”

Keselowski, meanwhile, is in a more treacherous situation to win his second Cup championship. After finishing 38th at Martinsville, he essentially needs to win Sunday or next week at Phoenix to secure one of four championship berths in the season finale.

He didn’t do himself any favors in qualifying and will start 26th. He’ll need to make a big charge during the race to get to the front, but it has been done before. Matt Kenseth started 31st in 2002 and won.

“Didn’t quite have the qualifying round we were looking for,” said Keselowski, whose best finish at TMS was a second-place run in the fall of 2012. “But that’s part of the game and there’s a lot of weekend left. Just trying to be fast when it counts … very optimistic we can be fast on Sunday when it does count.”

It’s hard to count Keselowski out, though. This is the same guy who delivered Penske his first Cup championship after 21 years in 2012 and pulled off a similar feat last round.

Keselowski had arguably the most impressive win this season at the always unpredictable Talladega, when he needed it to survive and advance. Keselowski might rub some the wrong way with his driving style, but there’s no denying that the win was the highlight of the Chase to date.

“That was incredible,” veteran driver Jeff Gordon said. “I think we can all agree on that. Under that kind of pressure, at that type of a track, to pull off the win to transfer through was amazing. That is something that we’ve really never seen happen before to put yourself in position to become a champion.

“Penske has been rock solid.”

And not only in stock-car racing. Team Penske finished 1-2 in the IndyCar Series with Power and Helio Castroneves, and they could do the same in Cup.

Everybody at Penske would love that to happen, starting with Power.

“It’s been an unbelievable season so far all-around,” Power said. “Very, very strong. It just shows the strength of this team right now.

“Roger has done a great job and he just trusts us to do our job, so that’s a good feeling. He likes us racing hard, not just for points, for wins.”

Sounds like a championship formula.

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This story was originally published October 31, 2014 10:08 PM.

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