CONCORD, N.C. — Roger Penske has never been afraid to shake things up.
He proved that again in early January when Team Penske shuffled its NASCAR Cup Series crew chief roster for drivers Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney.
The shakeup ended long-standing pairings for each driver and crew chief, a decision Penske said at the time was made to “better position us to reach our potential.” As part of the switch, the road and pit crews will remain with their respective crew chiefs.
Now, only a few weeks away from the season-opening Daytona 500 (Feb. 16) at Daytona Int’l Speedway, each driver is getting a better understanding of what to expect from their new crew chiefs entering the upcoming season.
Blaney, who has worked with crew chief Jeremy Bullins his entire NASCAR Cup Series career, is now paired with Todd Gordon, who led Logano to the 2018 Cup Series title. Blaney acknowledged that sometimes change is a good way to get the best out of everyone involved.
“They thought this was a good way to improve our whole organization,” said Blaney, who has won a single race in each of the last three seasons. “Getting to work with Todd Gordon has been pretty fun. Even though I haven’t been in a race weekend with him, it’s been nice to get to know everybody. It takes a long time to get acclimated with everybody. I was kind of the shortest working with my crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, but we’ve all kind of worked with the same guy for a long time. It’s nice to mix things up every now and then.”
Logano worked with Gordon for seven seasons, winning a title along the way. He’ll now be paired with Paul Wolfe, Keselowski’s former crew chief.
“It’s huge,” Logano said of the changes. “For Team Penske to make a change like this, it’s probably even bigger because this stuff doesn’t happen often in our company. No one lost their job out of this, it’s just a switch up. I was bringing up earlier, some of processes of the way Paul does things compared to Todd, the way his engineers are included in things, it’s a lot different.”
Keselowski is now paired with Bullins. Keselowski, the 2012 Cup Series champion, began working with Wolfe in the NASCAR Xfiinity Series in 2010 and the duo were united in the Cup Series the following year. In nine years, Keselowski and Wolfe shared victory lane 29 times.
Keselowski acknowledged Team Penske needs to improve to compete with Joe Gibbs Racing, which won 19 of the 36 races last season en route to the Cup Series title with driver Kyle Busch.
“It certainly shows that we have work to do and we’re committed to doing the work,” Keselowski said. “That’s why we’re making a lot of changes at Team Penske. We want to go out and be the team that dominates the sport.”