The changes come after a season where all three drivers finished in the top 10 in points and combined to win six races.
“As we do after the completion of each season, we evaluated what we can do to better achieve our goals and we felt it was time to make these changes to better position us to reach our potential,” said Roger Penske. “We are fortunate that we have three very strong leaders in Paul, Todd and Jeremy, who work with experienced and talented crews. Pairing each of these winning teams with different drivers and cars should provide new energy and a fresh approach for the 2020 season.”
Keselowski and Wolfe had been together since the 2010 Xfinity season. They won the Xfinity title that year and moved to Cup together in 2011. They won 29 races together and the 2012 Cup title but had only been to the championship race once since the playoff format change in 2014.
Gordon and Logano had been together since 2013. They won 21 races together and the 2018 Cup championship.
Bullins and Blaney had been together since 2014. Blaney has made all 162 Cup starts with Bullins as his crew chief. They were together with the Wood Brothers and moved together to Team Penske in 2018. They won three races together.
The changes were made even though all three teams won races last season. Logano won two races and finished fifth in the points. Blaney won one race and was seventh in points. Keselowski won three races and was eighth in points. Last year marked the second consecutive year Team Penske had all three of its drivers place in the top 10 in points.
Keselowski and Wolfe had the longest active streak together in Cup. With them split, the longest tenure for a current driver/crew chief pairing is Rodney Childers and Kevin Harvick. The 2020 season will mark the seventh year together for Childers and Harvick.
These changes also mean that six of the top 10 finishers in the points last year have had a new driver/crew chief pairing since 2019. Other drivers who finished in the top 10 who have had a new crew chief since the start of the 2019 season are:
Denny Hamlin, who finished fourth in the points last year, was paired with crew chief Chris Gabehart entering the 2019 season.
Clint Bowyer, who finished ninth in the points last year, will be paired with John Klausmeier this season after a swap of crew chiefs with Aric Almirola.
The #2crew is family to me, and the way I see it, that family tree is growing. It’s been a privilege to work with Paul and all the guys who have supported us over the past 9 years, and I’m grateful for all we accomplished together. @TeamPenske is coming in strong in 2020.
Here’s what the table looks like for the Cup Series heading into 2020.
New Era, New Names
After serving in the role for three years, Monster Energy is no longer the entitlement sponsor of the Cup Series. With its departure also comes the end of the Cup Series’ entitlement sponsor model that had been in place since 1971 beginning with Winston.
After five decades of being the Winston, Nextel, Sprint and finally the Monster Energy Cup Series, the premier series will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.
There’s a lot of expectations for what the Cup Series schedule will look like in 2021 after the end of NASCAR’s current five-year agreement with tracks.
But 2020 also has plenty of groundbreaking schedule developments.
– Martinsville Speedway will host its first official Cup night race on May 9. The short track also will host the final playoff elimination race for all three national series, with the Cup race held Nov. 1.
– Pocono Raceway will be the site of the Cup Series’ first ever doubleheader weekend June 27-28. Saturday’s race will be preceded by a Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series event and Sunday begins with a Xfinity Series race.
– Daytona International Speedway will host the Cup regular season finale, moving its second date from the traditional July 4 weekend to Aug. 29. The July 4 weekend race is now held by Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Cup races there July 5).
– Darlington Raceway and the Southern 500 will open the Cup playoffs on Sept. 6. It’s joined in the opening round by Richmond Raceway and in the playoffs for the first time, Bristol Motor Speedway, which will be the first elimination race.
– After being the site of the first elimination race the last two seasons, the Charlotte Roval will be the Round of 12 elimination race (Oct. 11) and be preceded by Talladega Superspeedway.
– After a nearly two-decade run, Homestead-Miami Speedway is no longer the site of the championship weekend. Its place is now held by Phoenix Raceway, with the Cup championship race scheduled for Nov. 8. Miami’s Cup race will be March 22.
– Other notable changes: The Xfinity Series will compete at Martinsville (Oct. 31) for the first time since 2004. The Truck Series returns to Richmond Raceway (April 18) for the first time since 2005.
Chevrolet Cup teams will appear in Daytona with a slightly different look to their cars.
When the full Cup Series starting grid forms for the first time at the Daytona 500, there will be a lot familiar faces sporting new numbers with new teams. That includes a rather accomplished rookie class.
– Matt DiBenedetto debuts with Wood Brothers Racing in the No. 21 Ford, moving over from Leavine Family Racing and taking over for Paul Menard, who retired from full-time racing.
– Cole Custer and crew chief Mike Shiplett were promoted by Stewart-Haas Racing to take over its No. 41 Cup car, taking the place of Daniel Suarez. Suarez has not announced his plans for this season. SHR has not announced plans for its Xfinity program in 2020.
CREW CHIEF: Mike Bugarewicz (Moves to Aric Almirola’s crew chief in 2020, with Johnny Klausmeier becoming Bowyer’s crew chief)
TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing
LAPS LED: 138
TOP 5s: 7
TOP 10s: 18
POLES: One (Las Vegas II, first pole since New Hampshire in 2007)
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Recorded his best season finish since seventh in 2013. Also earned most top 10s in a season since 19 in 2013.
WHAT WENT WRONG: For the sixth time in the last seven seasons, Bowyer failed to reach victory lane (he won twice in 2018). Also, he recorded seven DNFs, the most in a single season in his Cup career.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2020: With one season left on his current contract, if Bowyer’s overall performance doesn’t pick up, 2020 could be his last with Stewart-Haas Racing, if not the end of his Cup career.
The NASCAR of 2010 and the NASCAR of 2019 offer completely different landscapes, from different postseason formats, rules packages, series sponsors and a rapidly changing driver pool driven by the “youth movement.”
A lot happened over the last 10 years, but what are the moments that defined the sport in the 2010s?
Here are 10 moments and stories as voted on by NBC Sports’ writers.
The victory on the New York road course came in Elliott’s 99th Cup start and deep into his third full-time season of competition.
Roughly two hours later and more than 300 miles away in Sag Harbor Village, New York, NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France was arrested on charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
2. Johnson ties Petty and Earnhardt, Nov. 20, 2016
Jimmie Johnson’s record-tying seventh Cup Series title did not come easily.
After starting the season finale from the rear of the field due to a pre-race inspection failure, the Hendrick Motorsports’ driver did not lead in the season finale until an overtime restart to finish the race.
He led the final three laps and solidified his name as one of the greatest to drive a stock car, alongside Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. Johnson’s seven titles are spread out over 11 years and multiple playoff formats.
3. Playoff elimination format introduced, 2014
NASCAR unveiled a new post-season format in 2014 that ensured the championship would be decided among four drivers in the final race of the season.
A field of 16 drivers are now whittled down over three rounds with the Championship 4 settled on after the Round of 8. In the finale, the highest placing driver is the champion.
Kevin Harvick claimed the first title under this format, earning his first championship in the process. So far all six championships under the elimination format have been claimed by the winner of the season finale.
Kyle Busch’s 2019 title made him the first repeat champion of the playoff era.
4. “Spingate,” Sept. 7, 2013
Richmond Raceway was the site of the 2013 Cup regular season finale and a race manipulation scandal that had far reaching consequences.
Michael Waltrip Racing was at the center of “Spingate,” which got its name from the alleged intentional spin conducted by Clint Bowyer in the closing laps of the race, one part of a plan intended to get Bowyer’s teammate, Martin Truex Jr., into the playoffs.
The plan, while initially successful, eventually backfired.
NASCAR fined MWR $300,000, the largest fine in the sport’s history, and docked Bowyer and Truex’s teams 50 points each. Truex was knocked from playoff eligibility and replaced by Ryan Newman.
Further controversy over alleged coordination between Team Penkse and Front Row Motorsports resulted in Jeff Gordon being added as a 13th driver to the playoff field the following weekend.
As a result of the controversy, NAPA Auto Parts withdrew from sponsoring Truex’s team after the season and began sponsoring Chase Elliott at JR Motorsports (and eventually at Hendrick Motorsports).
Truex wound up at Furniture Row Racing in 2014 and three years later won the Cup championship with the single-car team.
Michael Waltrip Racing closed its doors after the 2015 season.
5. Tony Stewart’s final championship run, 2011
When the 2011 Chase for the Cup began, two-time champion Tony Stewart entered the postseason with no wins and believing his team was a waste of space in the playoff field.
Then Stewart reeled off five wins in 10 races, including the season finale in Miami, where he beat Carl Edwards and clinched the title in a tiebreaker over Edwards.
Stewart remains the only Cup driver to earn their first win of the season in the playoffs and go on to win the championship.
6. NASCAR returns to dirt, July 24, 2013
Arguably one of the most anticipated NASCAR events since the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series returned NASCAR to its roots in 2013 with its first race at Eldora Speedway, the dirt track owned by Tony Stewart.
7. Juan Pablo Montoya, a Jet Dryer and a Tweet, Feb. 27, 2012
Twitter as a social media platform has existed since 2006. But NASCAR Twitter™ came into its own late on a Monday night during the rain delayed Daytona 500.
With 40 laps left the and the race under caution, something broke on the No. 42 Chevrolet of Juan Pablo Montoya as his car entered Turn 3. His car then slammed into a jet dryer, causing a fiery explosion, spilling gas across the track and destroying Montoya’s car.
Danica Patrick’s NASCAR career ended after 252 national series starts, the last coming in the 2018 Daytona 500.
Patrick never won in her time in a stock car, and the long-term impact of her time in NASCAR and her popularity likely won’t be evident for a while.
But there’s one thing that can never be taken away from her time in the sport: her pole for the 2013 Daytona 500.
That’s how Patrick started her first full-time season in Cup, by becoming the first woman to win the pole for a Cup Series race.
9(tie).Trevor Bayne’s only Cup Series win – Feb. 20, 2011
Trevor Bayne only won once in his Cup Series career and boy did he make it count.
The day after his 20th birthday, driving the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford in his second career start, Bayne survived the second green-white-checkered finish attempt of the Daytona 500 and won the “Great American Race.”
Bayne would make 187 Cup Starts, with the last coming in 2018 with Roush Fenway Racing.
9 (tie). Enter the Roval – Sept. 30, 2018
Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc. and NASCAR couldn’t have asked for a better debut for the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
It all came down to the last lap and the final turn on the new road course, which combined Charlotte’s traditional oval and the revamped infield circuit, the first of its kind in NASCAR.
Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson made contact and spun while racing for the lead, Ryan Blaney stole the win and Kyle Larson drove his battered No. 42 Chevy by the prone car of Jeffrey Earnhardt to pick up the one spot necessary to force a tiebreaker with Johnson and Aric Almirola and advance to the second round of the playoff.
Come back tomorrow for the best race finishes of the 2010s.
Now it’s your turn to vote. What was NASCAR’s most memorable moment of the 2010s?