April 16, 2021

by a NASCAR fanatic - not affiliated with NASCAR

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — It was a special day all around for Roger Penske in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

Brad Keselowski rebounded from an early pit-road speeding penalty to earn his second victory of the season at Martinsville Speedway in Team Penske’s 1,000th NASCAR Premier Series race, while Joey Logano finished fourth.

Not only was it a big win for the organization, but it was also the first time Ford Performance has earned a victory at the 0.53 Virginia track since Kurt Busch won in October 2002 driving the No. 97 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

On top of that, Team Penske snapped a Martinsville dry spell of their own, winning for the first time there since Rusty Wallace accomplished the feat in 2004.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch dominated the majority of the race, but it was Keselowski who rose to the top when it counted the most.

“When you put all that together, it’s a great day,” Penske said. “The duel between the No. 2 and the No. 18 (Busch) was clean. It was good racing.”

And it just so happens that Edsel Ford II, the great-grandson of Henry Ford and a member of the board of directors for Ford Motor Company, served as the honorary pace-car driver prior to Sunday’s event.

For Penske, that made even more cause for celebration.

“I think the commitment Ford Performance has made is a byproduct of Edsel’s commitment to the program — bringing Stewart-Haas (Racing) and the partnership that we have with the No. 21,” said Penske. “I think it was terrific to have him here driving the pace car. You couldn’t have planned anything any better.

“For me, delivering for Ford is special,” he added. “To see the cars and how competitive we’ve been since the beginning of the season makes us feel good about the next several weeks. We all know winning early is great, but you have to win late.”

Penske gave a great deal of credit to Keselowski’s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, for the making the right calls atop the pit box all day long.

The team is in the process of appealing penalties from a laser inspection violation suffered at Phoenix Raceway, which includes a three-race suspension for Wolfe. Brian Wilson served as interim crew chief for the No. 2 team at Auto Club Speedway last weekend, but Wolfe is allowed back on the box until the appeal process is completed.

“It was a real credit to Paul (Wolfe) for adjusting the car as the track changed and picked up rubber,” Penske said. “Obviously, the temperatures went down and those are things you have to take into consideration.”

Overall, pit-road penalty aside, what Penske saw from Keselowski on the race track was near perfection.

“I didn’t see Brad make a mistake all day, so it was a flawless effort,” Penske said. “Certainly, the speeding on pit road, we wonder why but we seem to be the king of that, too. We’ll have to figure that out. Overall, it was something that you can dream of.”

Apr 2, 2017; Martinsville, VA, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski (2) celebrates after winning the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

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