The NASCAR Cup Series cars were clearly difficult to drive in Sunday’s race at Talladega but team owner Roger Penske believes that helped separate the best from the rest.
There were no shortages of opinions that the no ride-height rule at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway put car handling at a premium for the first time in years at NASCAR’s biggest superspeedway.
Speeds went up as well, which forced NASCAR to reduce slightly the size of the restrictor-plate following Friday practices.
Many drivers after the race said the difficult handling likely caused a reduction in the three and four-wide moves that have come to showcase races at Talladega
Penske, however, said that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“I think there’s a lot of thought, a lot of intelligence (with) those guys that are out there on this race track. They know you don’t race until the end, maybe the end of the stages,” Penske said following the win Sunday by his driver, Joey Logano.
“I think there’s discipline within the teams, even the drivers themselves. Even the younger drivers that haven’t driven here, I saw a lot of discipline.
“I kind of like it when the cars don’t just go out there and stand on the gas and run around all day. It puts the real drivers in the driver’s seat, the ones that have experience. I think you saw that, who was running up front most of the time.”
Penske also understands what fans have come to expect from races at Daytona and Talladega.
“Plate racing, people love it. You could see the stands, the number of fans that were here. It was a real credit to the (Talladega) team down here,” he said.
“Also to see the emotion, what’s going on in those grandstands. I’m in the back watching that (from the spotter’s stand). I’ll tell you, it was a good day for (NASCAR).”
Penske's plate racing success
All four of Logano’s restrictor-plate victories, including Sunday’s win which ended a year-long winless drought, have come while he’s driven for Penske. So have five of teammate Brad Keselowski’s six plate wins.
Penske was asked if he believed his drivers were currently the top two in NASCAR on plate tracks.
“Look, there’s been a lot of good plate racers. Certainly when you look at the guys that are out there today, our guys are at the top of the game,” he said. “I think anybody would say that across the garage area, the drivers and team owners and crew chiefs.
“There’s always somebody else that might win a race. I certainly feel good about the team we have.”