Team Penske takes late-season surge to Dover, where it’s struggled


Team Penske has a lot to be happy about entering the second round of the Cup playoffs.

It began September as an also ran in Cup competition with just one win through the first 24 races (Joey Logano, Tallagea). It ended the month as the hottest team on the circuit, winning four of the five races held in September.

They had won four times in the previous 58 races.

To continue its streak this weekend at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on Sunday on NBCSN), Team Penske may need more luck than Ryan Blaney had in his win on the Charlotte Roval.

Penske’s streak began in the the Southern 500 when Brad Keselowski led the final 22 laps to win, earning the first crown jewel victory of his career.

He followed that up with wins in the Brickyard 400 (after leading nine of the last 25 laps) and the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It was the first time Keselowski had won three straight races and the Vegas win was the 500th overall in motorsports for Team Penske. The team also placed three cars in the top five for the first time.

Two races later, Blaney won Stage 2 at the Charlotte Roval and then stole the win after Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson wrecked in the final turn on the last lap. That was after Keselowski led 29 laps and wrecked out with six laps to go.

The win was Blaney’s first in 50 races. In addition to Logano’s Talladega win in April, Team Penske is the only multi-car team to have all its drivers visit Victory Lane this season.

Penske joins Stewart-Haas Racing as the only multi-car teams to advance all of its cars to the second round of the playoffs.

Despite having eight Cup wins on the Monster Mile, Penske hasn’t fared that well in Dover since Keselowski won there in September 2012.

In 23 combined starts since Keselowski’s win, Penske’s drivers have only earned six top fives. The last came with Keselowski in the September 2016 race. In the 11 races since the 2012 win, they’ve led 315 laps and finished runner-up twice (Keselowski in both 2014 events).

Since the 2012 victory, Team Penske has won 36 times on 20 different tracks.

In the May race, Keselowski led 108 laps and placed in the top five in each stage before finishing sixth. Logano placed 13th and Blaney placed eighth.

Keselowski is the only Penske driver with any real success on the 1-mile track.

In five career starts, Blaney has finished eighth twice. He failed to finish better than 23rd in the other three starts.

In 19 starts, Logano has three top fives but the last came in the September 2014 race.

Not counting the Charlotte Roval, Dover is the track Logano’s led the fewest laps at in his career with just four.

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