The Team Penske bunch is a curious one to figure out for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 (3:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). They’ve been so strong on the season and extremely quick this weekend at the ISM Raceway in Phoenix. But, do you go off of the on track success over the last 16 races or the past Phoenix history.
They’re the new “Big 3.”
Last year, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. stole the show. Harvick, won the spring race in Phoenix with Busch the one in the fall. But, by time we got to Phoenix in the fall, the quote on quote “Big 3” had diminished. Yes, they all made it to the Championship 4 a week later, but their dominance was halted.
Now, heading into the fourth race of 2019, if you go back to the final 13 races of last year and mix that with the first three races of this year, Team Penske and their trio of drivers have won exactly half of them (8).
They’re also 2-for-3 this season including winning both races on this new aero package. But, will Phoenix be their kryptonite?
Brad Keselowski has just two top five finishes on the race track since 2015. One of those was a runner-up finish to Kyle Busch last November. He also enters with two straight top two finishes on the season. So far this weekend, he will start fifth in his No. 2 Ford and was second, third and sixth respectively on single lap runs in practice. He was sixth and fifth respectively too on the 10 lap averages chart.
Joey Logano has two top four finishes in three tries in 2019 and was a tire problem away from being 3-for-3. But, over his last four starts at Phoenix, his best finish is 12th. He finished 19th in last year’s spring race and 37th in the fall. He was fastest though on single lap runs as well as the 10 lap average chart in final practice.
Ryan Blaney is off to a bad start in 2019. He had tire issues in each of the last two weeks, relegating him to 22nd place finishes in both. He finished 31st in Daytona 500. In six career Cup starts at Phoenix, he has never scored a top five finish. But, Blaney earned the pole for Sunday’s race and was second in both practices on Saturday. He was quickest in the lone session on Friday.
Is this the week Penske is off, or do they go 3-for-3 in aero package races in 2019?