Team Penske 2018 NASCAR Team Preview

Team Penske expands to three cars by adding Ryan Blaney for the 2018 season.

Brad Keselowski reached the Championship 4 in 2017. (World Copyright: Matthew T. Thacker, NKP)

Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford (Crew Chief: Paul Wolfe)

2017 stats: 4th in points, 3 wins, 15 top fives, 21 top tens, 2 poles, 23 playoff points

2017 recap:  On the track, Brad Keselowski reached the Championship 4 and notched the most wins of all Ford drivers. Off the track,  Keselowski spent the majority the season lobbying to NASCAR that Toyota had too much of an advantage to overcome. Keselowski’s comments didn’t go unnoticed by Toyota and fellow Ford drivers but the jury is still out on whether or not Toyota will seem lightyears ahead in 2018.

2018 outlook: Keselowski is the veteran member of Team Penske as yet another “young gun” joins the fold. We won’t know whether or not Keselowski’s lobbying will have any impact until we reach the intermediate tracks, but it’s safe to say with no major announcements from NASCAR or Ford, the answer is no. Keselowski would probably tell you that his team overachieved in 2017 and that might be true. He is a Cup Series champion and reaching the Championship 4 should never be truly out of the question.

Ryan Blaney moves to Team Penske from Wood Brother Racing. (World Copyright: Nigel Kinrade, NKP)

Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards Ford (Crew Chief: Jeremy Bullins)

2017 stats: 9th in points, 1 win, 4 top fives, 14 top tens, 2 poles, 9 playoff points

2017 recap: In his second full-time season, Blaney scored his first career win at Pocono and earned his first career playoff berth as well. Driving for Wood Brothers Racing, Blaney overachieved and put the rest of the series on notice by notching double digit top tens and earning two poles. Blaney was consistently was one of the fastest Ford drivers each weekend, routinely outpacing Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer.

2018 outlook:  Blaney will make the transition to Team Penske in 2018 and drive the No. 12 Ford. “We have a lot of the same people as we did last year,” Blaney said. “There are really only a handful of people that are new. The people that are coming on have known everybody on the team a long time, they have worked together at another point. I am excited for the transition and it should be pretty simple.”

With the move, Blaney will now have two teammates to try and outperform each and every week. “You want to live up to, compete with, them every weekend because they’re your teammates and they have pretty much the same equipment,” Blaney said.

A trip back to the playoffs and another win would be expected for Blaney and his No. 12 team. However, Team Penske has not had the best of luck when moving to a third full-time car in seasons past, as evident by the struggles Brendan Gaughan and Sam Hornish Jr. faced.

Joey Logano missed the playoffs in 2017. (World Copyright: Barry Cantrell/NKP)

Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford (Crew Chief: Todd Gordon)

2017 stats: 17th in points, 1 win, 10 top fives, 17 top tens, 2 poles, 1 playoff point

2017 recap: Joey Logano would like to forget the 2017 season. After scoring a win at Richmond in the spring race, the victory was ruled encumbered and he was stripped of the win and automatic playoff berth. Logano and his No. 22 team was never able to get back on the right track and he would end up missing the playoffs. Logano was a preseason favorite to reach the Championship 4 and him missing the playoffs altogether was unfathomable.

2018 outlook: Logano will look to rebound in 2018 and return to the NASCAR playoffs. The No. 22 car showed speed during the final ten races of the season but whether or not that will translate to this season is still unknown. It would be unrealistic to think Logano will miss out on the playoffs again, given his talent behind the wheel and the equipment under the hood.

Follow Matt on Twitter, @mattlovisa.

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