Keselowski: Nothing Against Hornish But Logano Is ‘Elite’
By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
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 email@example.com Comments