Saturday, September 25, 2021

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NNS: Team Penske scores second straight Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship

With Brad Keselowski crossing the finish line in the Ford EcoBoost 300 in eighth place, he would lock up the second straight Nationwide Series’ Owners Championship for Team Penske.

“When you think about five different drivers, it’s really a credit to Jeremy Bullins, the job he’s done in preparing the car for different drivers, and with six wins, one with Ryan Blaney, it’s obvious the Nationwide means so much to us because it’s the proving ground,” Penske commented. “It’s 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, it means a lot to us, but it also — the mechanics and the over the wall guys that we train there.

“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 until we knew we had it.  Two years in a row, I think we had four championships here over the last few years, and that’s really important to us as we go forward.”

Over the course of the season, five drivers – Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Alex Tagliani and Michael McDowell – drove the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang in hopes of scoring the most points possible towards the championship. The result was six wins, 25 top-five finishes and the owner’s championship by 23 points over Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 54 Toyota.

Jeremy Bullins says that while it’s called the “owner’s championship,” it’s actually a “team championship” as it’s dedicated towards all five drivers and the crew members who worked with them on a weekly basis to keep notching solid finishes.

“No matter who drove, no matter who worked on the car, all that kind of thing, I think if you look at the Nationwide Series the last two years, the 22 and the 54 have separated themselves from the rest of the teams, and we have two teams that are 100 points ahead of everyone else for two years in a row, are two teams that have a lot to be proud of,” Bullins commented. “There’s a lot of people at Team Penske that have been a big part of that, with everybody that drove the car, everybody played a role in it, whether it was one race or ten.

“Just really grateful for the opportunity, grateful for everything that Roger has given us to be successful and glad we were able to finish it off tonight.”

It also means that Bullins had to work with five different drivers and their different driving styles, to find out what they wanted out of the car. Bullins says his job was made easy with how close the Sprint Cup team works with the Nationwide team.

“I think with our two Cup drivers, with Joey and Brad, we’re fortunate that their Cup teams are right down the hall.  We’re able to pay attention to what those guys are working on, what those guys like in their Cup cars, feed off that information,” Bullins said. “Same thing with Blaney, we’re able to kind of keep up with him in the truck and learn and gather as much information as you can about how guys communicate, what things they like in the car, what they don’t like.  And then when we have McDowell and Tagliani this year for just a race or two here or there, it’s just a matter of spending some time with them before you go to the racetrack, get to know them as much as you can, do your homework on their history, what their strengths and weaknesses are and try to get the most out of it.”

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