Editor’s Note: Today’s Team Penske preview concludes NASCAR.com’s countdown of team previews for the 2024 Cup Series season.
Engine: Roush Yates Engines
Driver-crew chief pairings: Austin Cindric-Brian Wilson (No. 2), Ryan Blaney-Jonathan Hassler (No. 12), Joey Logano-Paul Wolfe (No. 22)
Team outlook: Team Penske drivers have wrapped up the last two Cup Series championships, with Ryan Blaney’s first title coming on the heels of Joey Logano’s second in 2022. This season, the rest of the Cup garage will be eager to unseat Roger Penske’s organization, which will start the year with the same lineup of key personnel that it had at the end of last season. Blaney will aim to sustain the momentum of the thorough finish to his title campaign, while Logano and Austin Cindric have visions of rebounding after their results tailed off year-over-year in 2023. Team Penske also stands to benefit as one of the groups best equipped to adapt to Ford’s new Mustang Dark Horse body, and a newly-forged technical alliance with Front Row Motorsports – a Ford team on the rise – should only make all parties stronger. All that said, staying on the Cup Series’ top rung has become an increasingly difficult perch to keep, with a tricky playoff system to navigate and the rise in overall parity since the Next Gen stock car’s debut.
AUSTIN CINDRIC, NO. 2 FORD
Experience: Two full seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series
2023 stats: 24th in final Cup Series standings; 0 wins, 1 top five, 5 top 10s
2024 championship odds (DraftKings): 200-1
Outlook: Team Penske and the affiliated Wood Brothers Racing team executed a crew-chief swap before last year’s playoffs in an effort to provide a chemistry boost for both. What the No. 2 team received in the deal was a reunion for Austin Cindric and crew chief Brian Wilson, who together claimed the Xfinity Series championship in 2020. Cindric said their communication and other habits have clicked since their re-pairing for the last 10 races of the year, but the No. 2 team will be under closer scrutiny this season after a subpar 2023. Road-course racing typically has been a strength for the 25-year-old driver, but measurable improvement will need to take place at a variety of tracks to push Cindric back into the top-20 (or better) conversation.
RYAN BLANEY, NO. 12 FORD
Experience: Eight full seasons plus two partial seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series
2023 stats: First in final Cup Series standings; 3 wins, 8 top fives, 18 top 10s
2024 championship odds (DraftKings): 15-2
Outlook: Last season will be hard to top for Blaney, who notched the first of his three total wins in a crown-jewel event, collecting a Coca-Cola 600 triumph that snapped a 59-race dry spell. Wins at Talladega Superspeedway and Martinsville Speedway followed when it mattered most, and that pivotal pair of victories in the Cup Series Playoffs helped to secure his title shot. His partnership with crew chief Jonathan Hassler will continue into its third season, but Blaney will have an adjustment to make as veteran spotter Tim Fedewa replaces Josh Williams, who had been in that role since 2015. The Cup Series hasn’t had a repeat champion since Jimmie Johnson’s historic run of five consecutive titles ended in 2010. An encore from Blaney would mean its own slice of history as a first in this playoff format.
JOEY LOGANO, NO. 22 FORD
Experience: 15 full-time seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series
2023 stats: 12th in final Cup Series standings; 1 win, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s
2024 championship odds (DraftKings): 12-1
Outlook: Logano equaled his top-five and top-10 totals from his title-winning 2022 run last season, but a drop-off in his results was noticeable in other statistical categories – most noticeably in laps led (308, after 784 the previous year) and in wins, down from four in 2022 to just one (Atlanta Motor Speedway in March) last season. Logano’s resulting 12th-place finish in points was his lowest since he missed the 2017 playoff field. He followed that blip with the first of his two Cup Series championships the next season. Logano made a playful jab from the stage at the NASCAR Awards last November, telling teammate Ryan Blaney that 2024 would be “my turn” to claim the title laurels. The remark was made at least partially in jest to laughs from the Nashville crowd, but the all-business undertones suggest a high level of motivation for Logano and the No. 22 team this season.
BOLD PREDICTION: All three Team Penske drivers reach the Cup Series Playoffs, and two advance to the Round of 8. Making this sort of preseason forecast shouldn’t be a singular stretch for either Blaney or Logano but will require a performance jump for Cindric as he enters his third season at the Cup level. That task will likely start in his wheelhouse at road courses, where Cindric scored five of his 13 career Xfinity Series wins, but he will need to build from there at other venues.
NASCAR.com 2024 team previews schedule
Jan. 15: Legacy Motor Club
Jan. 16: Spire Motorsports
Jan. 17: Kaulig Racing
Jan. 18: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 22: Rick Ware Racing
Jan. 23: Richard Childress Racing
Jan. 24: Stewart-Haas Racing
Jan. 25: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 26: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 29: Trackhouse Racing
Jan. 30: RFK Racing
Feb. 6: 23XI Racing
Feb. 7: Joe Gibbs Racing
Feb. 8: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 9: Team Penske