The Mustang started racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series full-time in 2011 and since then all it has done is won championships. 2014 marks the fourth consecutive year Mustang has won a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, winning two driver’s and two owner’s titles in that span.
This was made possible Saturday as Mustang claimed another NASCAR Nationwide Series championship with the No. 22 Discount Tire/Hertz team won the owner’s championship for the second straight year. Mustang won back-to-back driver’s championships with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011 and 2012 before this latest run by the 22 team the last two seasons.
The 22 team won six races this season with Brad Keselowski winning five times and Ryan Blaney once. Mustang has won 43 races in four full NASCAR Nationwide Series seasons.
ROGER PENSKE, Car Owner – No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang – PRESS CONFERENCE – “It was a great day. I thought that race would never get over. I think we had a green-white-checker and all we had to do was finish 25th, but you never know with all the action up front. Brad ran a great race and when you think about five different drivers it’s really a credit to Jeremy Bullins and the job he’s done in preparing the car for different drivers and with six wins, one with Ryan Blaney, it’s obvious that Nationwide means so much to us because it’s the proving ground, the testing ground for our crew chiefs, young drivers and there’s no question when you see Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson and the people who come up through that series that it means a lot to us. It’s also the mechanics and over-the-wall guys that we train there, so, to me, this was a team effort at Team Penske. Everyone did so much to make this happen and obviously it didn’t come down until the last lap there that we knew we had it, so two years in a row. I think we have four championships here over the last few years and that’s really important to us as we go forward. Tomorrow is a big day, but I’ve got two boxes checked off now. I get one more tomorrow.”
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO BE THE ONLY OWNER TO HAVE THE INDY CAR TITLE, NATIONWIDE OWNER’S TITLE AND A CUP TITLE TOMORROW? “It would be a dream come true, there’s no question. It’s a goal that the team had when we started at the beginning of the year. It got a little bit more real as we came to the Chase and we saw how competitive we were in that series. We knew that we had a strong car in Nationwide, so, to me, we can’t count our chickens before they’re hatched. We’ve got some tough racing to do tomorrow. You could see it today with this track, it’s a different track, and to me it would mean a lot to our team. When I think about the overall season I have to say that 22 races we’ve had winners and that’s a record for us as a team for over 50 years, so to me I can’t say it’s a bad year one way or the other, but our goal is to win tomorrow.”
WHAT ARE THE PLANS FOR RYAN BLANEY IN NATIONWIDE NEXT YEAR? “I’ve got a high-class problem. I’ve got three great drivers that want to drive the car, so hopefully we’ll divide next year’s season up by three and with Blaney running the 21 car at least 12 races and hopefully more we’ll have a full season, and we might run a car a couple extra races or a couple cars a couple extra races, so he’ll have some opportunities, but he’s gonna make the step up to the Cup side with the 21. We’ve got a great technical alliance there going forward next year, so, to me, it’ll be divided up by the three drivers.”
WILL IT BE A DISAPPOINTMENT NOT TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP TOMORROW? “I can tell you I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the championship, point number one, but we all signed up for the new format. I think it’s been exciting. I’ve seen television ratings. I’ve seen more people in the stands, so it’s working and what we’ve got to do is execute tomorrow. When I step back and think about our season it will be one of the best we’ve ever had.”
KEVIN HARVICK HAS TRIED TO PLAY MIND GAMES WITH JOEY. HAVE YOU HAD ANY ADVICE FOR HIM? “I know Kevin quite well and known him for a long time from Bakersfield, where Mears came from. I remember when he used to think Mears was a superstar. I respect him a lot, but I can tell you this – that 24-year-old Joey Logano no one gets in his head. You could see that when he got down last week in Phoenix. We’re standing behind him and, to me, he’s gonna be one of the guys who is gonna have to get beat. Harvick is gonna have to beat him to win, so I think it’s gonna be a level playing field and the best guy is gonna win tomorrow.”
WHERE DO YOU HAVE ALL YOUR TROPHIES? “Trophies are an important part of winning and I have an archives back in Detroit and a place that we keep a lot of the memorabilia and trophies. We have our little bit of a museum out in Phoenix and we have some there, so I guess we spread them around because it’s exciting. If you come to our headquarters in Detroit we try to have the current ones on display there so it’s pretty exciting. I’d like to get one more tomorrow.”
“We had a good night. Towards the middle part of the race we were really good and we got the lead and it was really going good. I was really happy with our car. It fell off a little in the long run but we kind of over adjusted and got too tight toward the late stages. That last 25 lap run we were back to where we were good in the middle of the race but it just didn’t end up going as good. We got too tight. I am happy to finish it up out here and be part of that 22 owners championship. It is a lot of fun.”
CHRIS BUESCHER – No. 60 Humalog Ford Mustang – Finished 5th
“That was crazy, but one of the most fun races I’ve run in a long time. I think Darlington is my favorite track coming into this one, but I think after that race this is a close second. It was a ball out there. Our Humalog Ford Mustang was pretty good there at the end. We got in the middle of the race and I think we got a little off, but we rebounded really well. The guys were awesome on pit road today. It was just a really good effort and I’m really proud of them. I’m really looking forward to next year.” HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO END ON A HIGH NOTE? “It’s big. It’s such a long off-season and I say that, but it’s gonna sneak up on us. We want to end on a high note. It’s the last Nationwide Insurance Series race, so that’s really cool. We really appreciate what they’ve done for our sport and we have a ball doing it. That’s a good run. It leads into 2015 and we’re very much looking forward to it. We’re gonna show up at Daytona and be good off the truck.”
“It was disappointing. We had a top-10 car all night. We were smart about it and saved our stuff. We were running top-10 and the 5 car on a restart just buried it in there and knocked us out of the way, put us in the fence and we cut a tire down after that on the last restart. It was just stupid. It is unfortunate because we wanted to end the season on a good note and I am disappointed we couldn’t give them the result they were looking for.” THOUGHTS ON YOUR ROOKIE SEASON? “Ups and downs. I think this is an example of what we had going as a team. The speed we had tonight. I think we have a strong program and a great group of guys. There were a lot of things I needed to learn and I feel like I did a good job learning those things and we can go into 2015 and really step up our performance.”
TREVOR BAYNE, No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Mustang – Finshed: 11th
“That was tough. I wasn’t very good on restarts so I was having to get it all on long runs and run the very top and got too high one lap and caught the right rear and eventually cut the right rear down. That isn’t the finish we wanted because I thought we had a top-five car throughout the day and a race winning car on a very long run. It was hard to pass with no room to move up today. Typically this track has plenty of room up top. I made a mistake and cost the guys a top five run and a shot at the win. I am proud of these guys and the season with AdvoCare. We did all we could. Left it all out there today.”
OWNER CHAMPIONSHIP PRESS CONFERENCE – JEREMY BULLINS
JEREMY BULLINS, crew chief, No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang – TALK ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WINNING THIS OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP FOR TEAM PENSKE? “I think the things we have talked about this week that gets lost a little with the owners championship is it is a team championship. No matter who drove, who worked on the car, if you look at the Nationwide Series the last two years the 22 and 54 have separated themselves from the rest of the teams and have two teams that are 100 points ahead of everyone else for two years in a row, those are two teams that have a lot to be proud of. There are a lot of people at Team Penske that have been a big part of that. With everyone that drove the car, everybody played a role in it, whether it was one race or 10. I am really grateful for the opportunity and for everything Roger has given us to be successful. I am glad we were able to finish it off tonight.”
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE EVERYTHING EACH OF THE DRIVERS NEED AND KEEP STRAIGHT WHAT EACH IS LOOKING FOR IN THE CAR? “I think with the two Cup drivers, Joey and Brad, we are fortunate that their Cup teams are right down the hall. We are able to pay attention to what those guys are working on, what they like in their Cup cars and feed off that information. It is the same thing with Blaney. We are able to keep up with him in the Truck and learn and gather as much information as we can about how guys communicate and what things they like in the car, what they don’t like. When we have the other guys for a race or two each it is a matter of spending time with them before going to the race track, spend as much time as you can and do your homework on their history and what their strengths and weaknesses are and try to get the most out of it.”