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Keselowski: Nothing Against Hornish But Logano Is ‘Elite’

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 8 2012

Brad Keselowski went to bat for his future teammate. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Gregg Ellman)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

RICHMOND, Va. – Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski admits he lobbied for Joey Logano to become the driver of the No. 22 car and notes the process to obtain the Connecticut native probably began 10 months ago.

“I felt like he had the right approach to be successful in so many different ways,” Keselowski said in explaining his position at Richmond International Raceway. “I don’t really want to define too much of that because you don’t want other people to pick up on it, but just intangibles that I saw just watching him.

“I think he’s an elite talent who has a proven track record of winning, also has a proven off-the-track record of staying out of trouble. Those are key elements for sure.”

Keselowski says Penske Racing first cast an eye in Logano’s direction last December after releasing Kurt Busch following an incident in the Homestead garage with ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch. The verbal tirade was videoed and posted on YouTube. Team owner Roger Penske replaced Busch with A.J. Allmendinger to whom the team was committed.

However, Allmendinger failed a NASCAR drug test administered at Kentucky Speedway in late June and in early August was released by Penske after his B sample also tested positive. Penske called up Sam Hornish Jr. from the Nationwide Series to the No. 22 Dodge at Daytona in July. Since then Hornish has done double-duty for Penske, competing full time in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series. Many believed Hornish had the inside track for the seat in the No. 22, but earlier this week it was announced the ride was Logano’s, beginning in 2013.

“I think it’s the wrong approach to be sad for Sam right now because that’s a defeatist attitude, as though he’s got no shot at getting back at the Cup level. I don’t think that’s the case at all,” Keselowski said Friday during preparations for Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400. “I’m a little taken back by those that are pleading for sympathy on Sam’s behalf because I think he still has got just as strong a shot as ever, especially with his performance over the last few weeks.

“I think there were some other wheels in motion that probably prevented it on this timeline, but, you know, life doesn’t always work on the timeline that you want it to. I would say by no means does Sam Hornish not landing in the 22 Cup ride full time mean that there is a fork in his career. I think that’s the wrong approach. I think he has a chance to continue to prove himself this year and to continue to put himself in the running for future opportunities.”

Keselowski lobbying for Logano was a reversal of the attitudes the young drivers initially had towards each other.

“I would say that we probably got off to a rocky start and we were both fighting for the same position in the sport,” Keselowski said about Logano. “It was kind of an alpha male thing for sure, but I think we certainly got past that when we both got to Cup and struggled. I think it reset and if anything, the struggles that we both had entering the Cup series probably brought us closer together ‘cause we could relate to each other more so than anyone else.”

Keselowski, 28, believes that with Logano, 22, Ryan Blaney, 18, and himself, Penske probably has three of the youngest drivers in the series.

“I think that brings a lot of youth and vitality to Penske Racing and that’s probably something that Penske Racing hasn’t been known for in the past, so I’m encouraged by that,” Keselowski continued. “I know that if we have two great teams at the Cup level at Penske Racing than you know we can run for a championship year-in and year-out.”

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 8 2012
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • Rusty says:

    Age definitely played a part in this. Hornish is an accomplished racer but how many more peak years will he really have, especially considering that he is still a relative newcomer to stock cars? I’m not knocking Hornish, I pulled for him in Indycar and I root for him in NASCAR, but Penske hiring Logano over Hornish is really a low risk, high reward play.

    For better or worse, Logano’s record in NASCAR is what it is. He certainly won’t run worse in that 22 car than he has in the 20. He is coming from a team where he was the “forgotten man” to a team where he will be more of a centerpiece. Hopefully that motivates, him, gives him the confidence he needs to become the driver he was hyped to be four years ago. I think that is what Penkse is banking on.

    From what I’ve read, Penske is committed to Hornish and if nothing else will have him in a full time Nationwide ride, while trying to find funding for a third Cup car. Don’t feel bad for Sam, he may not have gotten the 22, but he’s shown potential sponsors that he’s figuring out this whole stock car thing pretty quickly. That’s not going to be forgotten.

    Let’s not also forget that Shell Pennzoil, and possibly Ford, probably had input on the driver decision..

  • bomber1 says:

    How can he say nothing personal. He didn’t have sams back and after seeing Hornishs reaction you can tell he’s upset about it. He may have other opportunities but he wanted and deserved this one. Sams been testing for him and runs they have similar driving styles. I hope Sam does have another chance just hope its not at Penske. He’s done whatever asked and this is how he gets rewarded. Since brad has to live on Twitter I hope he can read what people think about the decision. The phrase “it is what it is” does not apply because it is what he helped to make it. Shitty teammate and loyalty. Good luck with Beavis

    • Chrisb59 says:

      I’m with ya! Brad is a hell of a talent but there is something to say about “Loyalty” and Sam has stepped up tremendously! To date Joey has a Rain Win and then Pocono but other than that not shown any more consistency Sam did when he was 1st in Cup. Now Sam is MUCH better and Harvick eluded to it after Richmond. He said it was like daylight and dark to the improvement Sam has made. If you look at the end of the article I believe Brad is eluding to why he wanted Joey, age! All under 30 with Brad the oldest and longest tenure of the 3. Sam is only 33 but not mentioned in Brad’s “Youth Comment” Brad want’s to be the Team Leader and Franchise guy for Penske, don’t blame him but damn, say it it is Brad!