Team Penske playing the odds

Photo Credit: LAT Images

Joey Logano has plenty of reason to like his chances this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He is the defending winner of the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube and his No. 22 Team Penske Ford will be donned in the Pennzoil yellow. He and teammate Brad Keselowski have won three of the past six races at the 1.5-mile track.

And Logano is statistically-speaking best in class at Las Vegas. The 2017 Cup champion boasts the best average starting position (8.9) and best average finishing position (8.5) in the field. And his average running position is also tops among the competition at 9.162.

Logano has five top-five and nine top-10 finishes – only Kevin Harvick (10 top 10s and seven top fives) has more.  And a very telling statistic, Logano has never suffered a DNF in 13 starts.

The 2018 Cup Series champion had a difficult Daytona 500 – starting third and finishing 26th after a late-race accident.

He’ll be buoyed, no doubt, by the past performance of his Team Penske team which shows up undoubtedly as a pre-race favorite. Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford has three victories at Las Vegas – second all-time to Jimmie Johnson’s four wins. His seven top-five finishes tie Harvick and Kyle Busch for most all-time.  He is one of only five drivers to win from the front row, earning the 2014 Vegas trophy from second.

As with Logano, Keselowski was fast all day in Monday’s Daytona season-opener only to be collected in a multi-car accident. His 30 laps out front was second only to race winner Denny Hamlin. But his day ended early when he was caught in a 19-car accident with 16 laps remaining in regulation.

Vegas, however, should give him reason to believe in redemption. He was runner-up to his teammate Logano is this race last year and answered that with a third-place finish in the fall Playoff race. Keselowski has not finished worse than seventh in the last nine races, including three wins, a runner-up and a pair of third-place finishes in that time.

Certainly, feeling capable of running with his veteran Penske teammates will be 26-year old Ryan Blaney, whose finish in the Daytona 500 was his second runner-up showing in the sport’s biggest race in the last four years. He’s coming off a career 2019 season, when he scored a personal best 11 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes. His win at the Talladega Playoff race marked the third consecutive season he’s celebrated in Victory Lane and his seventh place in the Cup Series championship was an all-time high mark for him as well.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been a productive venue for Blaney, who has an impressive three top-five and five top-10 finishes in seven starts.

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