Analyzing Penske Racing’s New Personnel
After going through the appeals process, Penske Racing will be without many of its key personnel for
two races instead of the six which they were initially penalized. The penalties are in effect starting this
weekend at Darlington Raceway, and will run through NASCAR’s All-Star weekend, ending after the
Coca-Cola 600, which occurs Memorial Day weekend.
So, who exactly has one of NASCAR’s most successful teams brought in to keep its two teams in Chase
for The Sprint Cup contention? Well, for starters, defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski will
be without his crew chief Paul Wolfe.
Replacing him will be Kevin Buskirk. The former driver has been with Penske Racing as the manager
of its test teams, ensuring he has put in countless hours already into data acquisition and tire
management. Tire strategy regularly affects races at Darlington Raceway, and was what allowed Regan
Smith to capture victory two years ago at the South Carolina track.
On the engineering side, Keselowski will head to the track with Jonathan Hassler at the helm. Hassler
was lead engineer for the 22-team, which had varied results last year, and the No. 22 Nationwide Series
team, which found victory lane six times in 2011.
For Joey Logano, there is much more a sense of urgency. Logano has found himself slipping outside of
the ranks of chase contender, slipping to 18th in the Sprint Cup standings after the penalties the team
His crew chief for the next three weeks will be Steve Reis, a stark change that will hopefully lead to a
strong run for Penske’s second team. Before moving to the No. 22 team, Reis was chief engineer on the
No. 77 team of Sam Hornish Jr., a team that had mixed results before being dissolved. In the garage,
Logano will have Ben Atkins, who worked closely with his crew chief Todd Gordon.
As I explained earlier, the way in which Penske’s penalties were amended offered a dream situation for
the team. After hearing the personnel, which were named for Darlington, it seems Penske Racing will still
be a team to be contended with when teams hit the track this weekend.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486