Today’s Team Penske preview continues NASCAR.com’s countdown of team previews for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, ranked in reverse order of best finish in last year’s owner standings.
Engine: Roush Yates Engines
Driver-crew chief pairings: Brad Keselowski-Jeremy Bullins (No. 2); Ryan Blaney-Todd Gordon (No. 12); Joey Logano-Paul Wolfe (No. 22)
What’s new: For 2021, Penske will field a fourth car for reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric in a select number of events with the first being an attempt to make the Daytona 500. The limited schedule in the No. 33 Ford will help Cindric prepare for his move to the Cup Series full-time in 2022, driving for Wood Brothers Racing.
Team outlook: Team Penske’s shuffling of crew chiefs to start 2020 netted great results with all three drivers making the playoffs, including Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski reaching the Championship 4. The team collectively put eight wins up on the board, up from six the previous season. With one year under their belts to establish a notebook, the trio of drivers and crew chiefs will look to continue to build their relationships with an eye on the championship they came close to winning last season.
Racing Insights’ stats break: Major crew chief swaps in 2020 paid off with all three drivers winning and making the playoffs. Both Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski made it to the Championship 4 but neither driver left as the champion. Logano (three) and Keselowski (five) enter 2021 with long multi-win season streaks while Ryan Blaney hopes to join them by winning multiple races in 2021 for the first time in his Cup career.
Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford
Experience: 12th full season in NASCAR Cup Series
2020 stats: Second in final standings; 4 wins, 13 top fives, 24 top 10s
2020 final Fantasy Live ranking: 4th
2021 championship odds: 8-1
Outlook: Keselowski is coming off his best finish in the standings, second, since capturing the title in 2012. Keselowski’s strength in 2020 came at the oval tracks with the 750 horsepower, low-downforce package with three of his four wins coming in those races. This season will see two additional oval tracks get that package at Darlington Raceway and for the Cup Series debut at Nashville Superspeedway — places where Keselowski has already visited Victory Lane (Xfinity Series at Nashville). Along with another championship, Keselowski has made it clear he wants to add a Daytona 500 win and a victory in his home state at Michigan International Speedway to his resume.
Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford
Experience: Sixth full season in NASCAR Cup Series
2020 stats: Ninth in final standings; 1 win, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s
2020 final Fantasy Live ranking: 7th
2021 championship odds: 14-1
Outlook: While Blaney’s last two wins over the course of the last two seasons have come at Talladega Superspeedway, he’s shown strength at all types of tracks. With the increase in road course events to seven in 2021, that is one area that Blaney has excelled at as a member of Team Penske. Dating back to his win in 2018 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, he’s posted five top 10s in the six-race span. Last year, Blaney led the series with a 6.8 average finish in the 11 races at 1.5-mile tracks and posted two runner-up finishes at the Martinsville short track. This could be the year Blaney posts his first multiple-win season.
Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford
Experience: 13th full season in NASCAR Cup Series
2020 stats: Third in final standings; 3 wins, 12 top fives, 21 top 10s
2020 final Fantasy Live ranking: 6th
2021 championship odds: 8-1
Outlook: Logano and Wolfe got off to a great start in 2020 with wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway before the COVID-19 shutdown. With the loss of practice when racing resumed, it took the team time to jell, and it wasn’t until the second visit to certain tracks that things started to click. Logano returned to Victory Lane in race No. 33 at Kansas Speedway. However, like his teammate, Keselowski, Logano was strong all year with the 750-horsepower package, posting a series-best 6.4 average finish in the 10 races at oval tracks it was used. Logano also captured two top 10s last season in the two road-course races. Along with his teammate Blaney, Logano is one of eight active full-time drivers with a road course win (Watkins Glen, 2015).
NASCAR.com 2021 team previews schedule
Jan. 18: 23XI Racing
Jan. 19: Trackhouse Racing Team
Jan. 20: Live Fast Motorsports
Jan. 21: Spire Motorsports
Jan. 22: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 25: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 26: Richard Petty Motorsports
Jan. 27: Roush Fenway Racing
Jan. 28: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 29: Richard Childress Racing
Jan. 30: Non-chartered and teams outside the top 30
Feb. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing
Feb. 2: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 3: Joe Gibbs Racing
Feb. 4: Team Penske
Feb. 5: Hendrick Motorsports