The three Penske Racing drivers – Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney – all qualified for the Monster Energy Series Playoffs for the second consecutive year. And judging by their Las Vegas resumes, this is exactly the venue to start their championship runs off in a positive way.
Defending Monster Energy Series champion Joey Logano boasts the best average finish (8.5) among drivers with at least 10 starts and the second best all-time (to Dale Earnhardt, who averaged 7.7 in three races). The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has five top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 12 races at the 1.5-mile desert circuit and earned his first Vegas trophy just this March.
He put up a valiant fight with Kyle Busch for the regular season championship, but, although he missed out on that, will start the 10-race Playoff push ranked fifth with a pair of wins (at Las Vegas and Michigan-1), 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes through the opening 26 races.
Keselowski, the 2012 Monster Energy Series champion, is the defending winner of this Las Vegas Playoff opener – last year’s win was the third consecutive on the 2018 season for him. He has three Vegas wins in the last seven years – only four-time Vegas winner Jimmie Johnson has more. In all, he has six top-five and eight top-10s at the track.
On the season, the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford has three victories (at Atlanta, Martinsville and Kansas), nine top-five finishes and 14 top-10 finishes and is ranked sixth in the standings entering the Playoff stretch. His 966 laps led is second only to Cup championship leader Kyle Busch (1,166 laps led).
The youngest member of the powerful Penske trio, fourth-year Cup driver Ryan Blaney is holding his own statistically, even if he is still vying for his first win of the 2019 season. And Las Vegas has proven to be a good showplace for him. He has a pair of top fives, four top 10s, and won a pole position (March, 2018) in just six previous starts at the track. His average finish of 10.7 is second best in the field only to his teammate Logano’s 8.5 average finish.
Blaney has earned seven top-five and 12 top-10 finishes on the season and his 384 laps led is more than nine of the 16 Playoff drivers, including second-seeded Denny Hamlin, who is a four-race winner.