· Lid Lifter… The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season unofficially gets underway this weekend with the start of Speed Weeks and the Shootout at Daytona, leading up to the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 26
· This Week’s Charger… The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-639during Saturday night’s Shootout at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). This is a new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.
· Shedding the Dark Horse Label… Thanks to three wins, 10 top-five finishes, 14 top-10 results and 19 races led for a total of 287 laps, Keselowski’s breakout 2011 Cup Series season should have him poised to enter 2012 as a legitimate contender for the championship.
· Driven to Greatness… Continuing one of the most-popular features of the “Blue Deuce” from 2011, the featured tag line on the rear bumper this weekend in Daytona will be “Driven to Greatness.” On the heels of a breakout season – one in which he won two races on a broken ankle – there is no one doubting the drive that Keselowski has toward winning a Cup championship for Miller Lite and Roger Penske.
· The Rest is History... In 85 combined Cup Series starts at DIS, Penske Racing drivers have recorded one points-paying win, 20 top-five finishes and 29 top-10 results. The lone victory came in the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008 as Penske Racing finished first and second with drivers Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch, respectively. The organization also scored a victory in the 2011 Shootout at Daytona, an all-star event.
Brad Keselowski on his first appearance in the Shootout
“I’m finally in the Shootout and that’s a good feeling. I love restrictor-plate racing and have always wanted to be in this race. I’ve never had the chance to go out and do this kind of racing with no points on the line. It’s going to be a great show, I can promise you that. We’ve got a lot of cars in the race and it could end up looking more like an old Duel race, back before the top-35 cars were locked in. That would be cool. Hopefully it ends with the Miller Lite Dodge in Victory Lane.”
Brad Keselowski on starting the season a week later
“You have to give NASCAR a pat on the back for making the change to start the season a week later and getting rid of the off-weekend following the race at Las Vegas. We would build all of this momentum up from our biggest race of the season and a big west coast swing and it would fizzle out. And Bristol, one of the marquee tracks, is the fourth race! We need to go into that weekend with guns blazing. I think it’s going to prove to be one of the better, albeit one of the quieter, changes in recent memory.”
Crew chief Paul Wolfe on the Shootout at Daytona
“The great thing about being in the Shootout is that it gives you another race to knock off the rust from the winter months because next week you are in the biggest race of the year. Obviously we’ll get to learn a little bit about how the track surface has aged over the last year and we’ll get a good look at who may be the team to beat in the 500, but it’s really all about having fun and getting back into the swing of things. It’s a race that I’ve always wanted to be a part of. I’m really excited about the improvements we’ve made to our cars, even since that Daytona test last month. I think this Miller Lite Dodge team can definitely win this race – as well as the Daytona 500 – if we keep ourselves out of trouble and are there at the end.”