Kevin Harvick may be the class of the Ford field right now in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series but Team Penske isn’t far behind.
Although none of its three drivers has yet made it to Victory Lane this season, all three finished in the top 10 of Sunday’s Auto Club 400, with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano both in the top-five.
Truex untouchable at Fontana
Logano, who finished fifth in his No. 22 Ford, even managed to lead nine races in the race, which was dominated by winner Martin Truex Jr.
“The 78 (Truex) had a great car,” Logano said after the race. “I was in front of him for about five laps and I was like, ‘Hey!’ But it was short-lived.
“We ran top-five all day long from the first run all the way to the end. My pit crew was incredible. It was one of the most unbelievable days on pit road I’ve ever seen, so they were on fire.
“Are we as fast we need to be yet? No, but we’re getting closer.”
Logano is third in the series standings and Keselowski moved up to fifth after his fourth-place finish on Sunday.
Keselowski didn’t lead any laps Sunday but ran consistently up front the entire race. He was fourth in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2.
“We kind of got the most we had out of it today,” he said. “We had some decent short run speed that could run and keep those guys honest. But after about five laps, we were just kind of holding on, running it out, trying to hope for a late race yellow or something to have something for them.”
Catching up to fellow Ford driver Kevin Harvick
While Keselowski, Logano and their teammate, Ryan Blaney are all off to strong starts this season, Keselowski believes in comparison to Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team, there is much work still to do.
“I think Kevin has been off to a great start. The rest of us maybe just kind of so-so,” he said. “We haven’t really competed – I don’t feel like – for a win anywhere. We’ve been right in that fifth-to-10th range I think over the last four or five weeks.
“Maybe you could argue we’re capable of a lot more. We were capable of winning at Daytona (and) that turned into what it was. It’s still pretty early, but Kevin is making it look pretty easy when things go his way.”
Blaney overcame his own issues in Sunday’s race and rallied to finish eighth, leaving him fifth in the series standings behind his teammates.
He brushed the wall early in Stage 1 and was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop, after which he went a lap down. He used the wave-around late in the race to make it back to the lead lap, where he remained until the finish.
“The team did a great job repairing the car and we finally managed to work our way back on the lead lap late. I feel like I set us back, but we worked hard and managed to bring home a solid finish,” he said. “It stinks we didn’t get any stage points.”