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Earlier this week, Penske Racing announced that Joey Logano was making the move from the No. 20 seat at Joe Gibbs Racing to drive the No. 22 Penske Ford in 2013. According to Logano, current Penske driver and future teammate, Brad Keselowski, played a major role in the Logano-Penske deal. During media availability at Richmond (Va.) International Raceay recently, as teams prepare for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at the track, Brad Keselowski talked about his soon-to-be teammate. Here is a partial transcript from that interview with Keselowski:
YOU ARE GETTING A NEW TEAMMATE FOR NEXT YEAR. CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK JOEY LOGANO WILL BRING TO THE TEAM? DID YOU HAVE ANY INPUT INTO THE DECISION? ARE YOU EXCITED THAT HE’S GOING TO BE ON THE TEAM?
“Yeah, you know, I’m thrilled, I really am. I’m happy for him and I’m happy for Penske Racing. I’ve enjoyed the time with Sam (Hornish Jr.) in the 22 Cup car and I know he’s going to continue to have a position at Penske Racing, so I’m happy that it worked out for everybody. Joey is going to be a great move. I think you’re looking at a driver lineup next year where three of the four drivers are the youngest in the series with Ryan Blaney and you know Joey and myself. You know, I’m not saying that Sam is old but he’s right there with everyone else. I think that brings a lot of youth and vitality to Penske Racing and that’s probably something that Penske Racing hasn’t been known for in the past so I’m encouraged by that. I like Joey’s approach and I think that he has all the things that it takes to be successful. For whatever reason, it didn’t work at Gibbs. To me, it’s a fresh start for him and I think he’s bringing the right mentality to be successful. I know that if we have two great teams at the Cup level at Penske Racing that you know we can run for a championship year in and year out.”
IN SPEAKING WITH JOEY, IT SOUNDED LIKE YOU LOBBIED FOR HIM. DID THAT HAPPEN?
“I certainly did. I felt like he had the right approach to be successful in so many different ways. I don’t really want to define too much of that because you don’t want other people to pick up on it but just intangibles that I saw just watching him. I think he’s going to be a great fit for Penske Racing.”
HE SAID THAT YOU GUYS HAVE A GREAT RELATIONSHIP NOW BUT THAT WASN’T ALWAYS THE CASE. DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT THAT WAS ALL ABOUT?
“Yeah, absolutely. I would say that we probably got off to a rocky start and we were both fighting for the same position in the sport. It was kind of an Alpha Male thing for sure. But I think we certainly got past that when we both got to Cup and struggled. I think it reset and if anything the struggles that we both had entering the Cup series probably brought us closer together ‘cause we could relate to each other more so than anyone else. I think that probably grew the relationship when it might not have started on the right foot. I think it’s stronger than ever right now.”
WITHIN THE LAST 30-45 DAYS YOU MADE THE STATEMENT THAT YOU HOPED YOU GOT A PARTNER THAT WOULD GREATLY ENHANCE YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP ABILITIES AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP ABILITIES OF THE WHOLE PENSKE RACING ORGANIZATION. HOW DOES JOEY LOGANO FILL WHAT YOU WERE SAYING BACK THEN?
“Well, I think he’s an elite talent who has a proven track record of winning, also has a proven off the track record of staying out of trouble. Those are key elements for sure. And so I look at that and with some other things that you know, not to go too far into what I said earlier about some of the intangibles, but I just have a feeling, man. Sometimes you just believe it.”
YOU’VE WORKED WITH SAM AS A TEAMMATE TO VARYING DEGREES. DO YOU KIND OF FEEL FOR HIM A LITTLE BIT? HE’S A PROVEN CHAMPION IN INDY CAR AND HE’S DONE WHAT EVERYONE HAS ASKED HIM TO DO IN NATIONWIDE AND THINGS LIKE THAT. WHAT’S THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU TWO?
“I think I have a good relationship with Sam. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how things have worked out over the last few weeks. I think he’s done a phenomenal job. I think that he will still have a place within Penske Racing, will have opportunities for success. I think that it’s the wrong approach to be sad for Sam right now because that’s a defeatist attitude as though he’s got no shot at getting back at the Cup level. I don’t think that’s the case at all. So I’m a little taken back by those that are pleading for sympathy on for Sam’s behalf because I think he still has got just as strong a shot as ever especially with his performance over the last few weeks. I think he’s got just as strong a shot as ever of getting back into a great Cup car at Penske Racing. I think there were some other wheels in motion that probably prevented it on this timeline but you know life doesn’t always work on the timeline that you want it to. I would say by no means does Sam Hornish not landing in the 22 Cup ride full-time mean that there is a fork in his career. I think that’s the wrong approach. I think that he has a chance to continue to prove himself this year and to continue to put himself in the running for future opportunities.”
YOU SAID A WHILE BACK THAT YOU HAD A SPECIFIC DRIVER IN MIND FOR THE 22 CAR. IS IT THE DRIVER THAT WAS HIRED?
“Yeah, I mean it’s something that’s been a work of progress for quite a while and I think Tim Cindric, in his comments this past Tuesday, went over it pretty well. It was something that was probably 10 months in the making, you know after everything happened last December. And you know, it was a square peg in a round hole then and now it’s the round peg in the round hole and it came together.”
JOEY TALKED AT LENGTH THIS WEEK ABOUT HOW MUCH INFLUENCE YOU SEEM TO HAVE ON DAY-TO-DAY DECISIONS AT PENSKE AND THAT HE GOT THE AUDIENCE WITH ROGER. HOW LONG HAVE YOU HAD THAT INFLUENCE? DID THAT COME ABOUT LAST YEAR WHEN YOU BECAME A CHASE CONTENDER?
“I don’t want to overstate the position that I have at Penske Racing. I’m happy with what it is. I’m trying to grow it but you know I think that certainly the more success you have, any driver with a race team, the more pull you have. So, I spend my time focused on being successful and knowing that’ll turn around to opening up other doors to be a leader. Certainly, when those doors open I’m not afraid to walk through ‘em.”
WAS THE WHOLE SITUATION WITH A.J. ALLMENDINGER JUST A VERY SHORT DEAL THAT YOU WEREN’T LOOKING AT HIM STAYING FOR VERY LONG?
“I don’t think that at all. You know, like I said, it was a round peg in a square hole with Joey and once we’d gone through the process with A.J. I think everyone was committed to making it work. Obviously, it did not. I think we all know what happened there. But that just reopened the door and made the square hole round.”
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