DODGE, PENSKE RACING PARTNERSHIP PRODUCES RESULTS
Dodge Motorsports and Penske Racing proved one thing during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season: teamwork, determination and commitment produced exceptional results.
Penske’s two Dodge-powered drivers, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch, qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Only Chevrolet had more teams represented in NASCAR’s version of the playoffs. Penske Racing took Dodge to victory lane in Sprint Cup competition five times during the regular season and added wins in the Budweiser Shootout and a Gatorade Duel at Daytona. Dodge had four poles along with 18 top-five and 30 top-10 finishes. The drivers of the No. 2 and No. 22 had a Dodge Charger at the front of the field 43 times in 26 races for 1,086 laps (1,654.555 miles).
Keselowski and Busch took entirely different routes to the Chase. Busch was the only driver who remained in the top 10 in the point standings for all 26 races that determined the Chase field. It took a mid-season storybook performance for Keselowski to make the elite 12.
Keselowski clawed his way from 28th-place in the series point standings following the May event at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway to win three races and earn a wild-card berth in the Chase despite dealing with a broken ankle sustained in a testing accident in August. He finished fifth in the final Chase standings.
“It was a huge accomplishment for Dodge to have both full-time cars at Penske Racing compete in the Chase,” Keselowski said. “I’m very proud of those efforts and proud of how we finished out the year in 2011. It was a great year. I’m absolutely thrilled with the way our season went. We kind of caught some rough breaks at the end of the Chase, but in general we had a decent Chase.
“We started off with the win at Kansas in June, then ripped off two wins at Bristol and Pocono through the August month and followed that up with a great run at Watkins Glen and Michigan. It was a great stretch for the Miller Lite Dodge and certainly something I’ll look back and reflect on for years to come.”
While his teammate was busy playing the role of the Comeback Kid, Busch was the model of consistency. He ranked among the top 10 in series points for 35 of 36 races and, like his teammate, seemed to catch fire during the middle stages of the season. He claimed three consecutive poles during the month of June. One race later, he claimed his first victory of the season at Infineon (Sonoma, Calif.) Raceway and followed up with a Chase victory at Dover in October.
“Our on-track performances this past season were simply outstanding and I’m proud of all the efforts made by our teams,” said Ralph Gilles, President and Chief Executive Officer – SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “We race to compete and win and to have both Brad and Kurt run that well and make the Chase proves how our shared commitments with Roger (Penske) and Penske Racing have allowed us to accomplish some great things this past season. We look forward to the 2012 season with high expectations for continued success.”
David Bailey, Dodge’s Senior Manager – Motorsports Engineering, SRT, agreed that the 2011 was a big year for Dodge and was eagerly anticipating the upcoming 2012 season.
“Our relationship with Penske Racing continues to evolve and is exciting for both sides,” said Bailey. “We see a lot of good things now and better things coming next year with new technologies that will only make the sport better.”
Penske Racing has 71 wins in NASCAR’s premier series with 26 coming since forming the partnership with Dodge in 2003.
“We want to thank our partners at Dodge Motorsports for a terrific 2011 NASCAR season,” Penske said. “The relationship between Penske Racing and Dodge continued to grow and develop as we were able to work together and secure two spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship with the No. 2 and No. 22 Dodge Charger teams. We look forward to building on our success with Dodge Motorsports in 2012.”
Keselowski vows not to be complacent after the success he experienced in 2011. There are still areas where he and the team can improve.
“I’m not going to let last year’s success lull me into the thinking that we’re there because we still have a lot of work to do,” Keselowski said. “There are a lot of areas to be worked on. We’re very happy with the progress that we’ve made, but we need to take another step. We took one big one this year, but we need to take another one. Obviously, you’ve got to deliver results at the end of the day and the last four or five races we didn’t do that. There are some things I could have done better to make that happen, but as a whole I was happy with some of things I did to get better this year. I think there’s a list of things I still need to do.”