By: Ashley McCubbin
Last year through eight races, Brad Keselowski had already visited victory lane once, with five top-10 finishes in total. This season has not been the same story, with only three top-five’s to match two results outside of the top-20.
“I think we’ve had a lot of speed a lot of weeks and circumstances have prevented us from getting some of the finishes we wanted,” crew chief Jeremy Bullins told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “I felt like we were in a good spot in Daytona and that didn’t work out. I felt like we had a couple other races — Phoenix, we were just a little bit off. We were so close, but come home fourth, and had a power-steering issue this weekend that kind of put us in a bad spot. We just had little things that have crept up that bit us and that’s part of it and that’s part of racing.
“I’d rather get that stuff out of the way now, but I feel like we’ve had times where we’ve had cars that were fast enough to compete and I feel like we’ve got some great racetracks coming up for us in the next few weeks and no reason we can’t turn our season into a really good season with a couple of wins.”
The organization’s strength so far has been speed through the beginning two stages, but has been plagued on multiple occasions in the final segment. While Keselowski has been unable to capitalize so far, he is the only driver within Team Penske to have not won an event in 2021. Austin Cindric has done so in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with both Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano accomplishing the same feat in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Bullins knows what his teammates can do behind the wheel, having worked with Blaney for six seasons in Cup, along with 23 races in the Xfinity Series with Logano.
“I always try to explain to people that they all have pretty much equal buckets of talent,” Bullins commented. “If they had a bucket of experience, obviously Brad’s is more full than Ryan’s. I think the thing about working with Brad is he’s a veteran in the sport. He’s been to all these places so many times and he has a lot of knowledge about what happens on a race weekend and how the tracks change throughout the weekend and how the races play out — all those things that these veteran guys are able to leverage.
“In Ryan, you see that as he’s continued to progress and you see that every year he gets better and better, and all that is is a matter of combining the talent these guys have with the experience of knowing how your car’s got to drive during practice or how the race is gonna change throughout the weekend — from start to finish through a race of how you need to stay ahead on adjustments.
“The things that Ryan has learned over the years to have him where he’s at now to where he’s a lot more competitive than he was when he first started and it’s just a matter of experience. He’s always had the talent and all these guys that drive here at Team Penske are really talented.”
With a talented spread of drivers, as evident by championships for Logano and Keselowski, it should only be a matter of time before the driver of the No. 2 will join them as winners in 2021.