Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski has found something to take the sting out of failing to qualify for the Chase.
Keselowski can still add the one missing trinket to Roger Penske's trophy case -- the owner's championship in NASCAR's Nationwide Series.
Penske has won just about everything possible in his racing career, including 15 Indianapolis 500s, 12 Indy car championships; a Daytona 500, and Keselowski's 2012 Sprint Cup title. Only a Nationwide owner's championship has eluded Penske -- even in 2010, when Keselowski won the driver's title.
But this year, Keselowski is part of a four-man relay team in the No. 22 Ford that takes a 26-point lead over the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Toyota heading into Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.
The four drivers in the No. 22 have combined for 11 Nationwide wins in 28 starts this season -- five by Keselowski, three by Joey Logano, two by AJ Allmendinger, and one by Ryan Blaney.
Keselowski is not surprised by their success.
"Last year, the two winningest drivers in NASCAR between the two series were me and Joey," Keselowski said of their 18 combined wins in Sprint Cup and Nationwide races, though Logano was with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012.
"We figured getting into that car this year, we had 15 wins, to be quite honest. So I'm disappointed we don't have four more."
In addition to the No. 22 car, Penske's full-time Nationwide driver, Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 12, leads the driver's championship by four points, giving Penske Racing a chance to win two championships in the series.
"That's the goal," Penske said. "For Sam being able to put something in the book where he's come over to NASCAR (from IndyCar) and been able to win a championship is something that I think is foremost in his mind.
"We didn't win the owner's championship when Brad won it a few years ago, so there's no question that's high on our list."
Logano, who won last year's Nationwide race at Kansas Speedway, was to run in Saturday's event, but Keselowski is going to make the start because Logano, who is in the Chase, will have his hands full practicing on the new tires for Sunday's Sprint Cup race.
While four different drivers are teaming to give Penske the elusive owners' title, one crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, has been calling the shots.
"We've looked at this whole season as an opportunity," Bullins said. "When you have four drivers of the caliber that we've had in this car it's an opportunity to evaluate where we stand every couple of weeks."
"I keep telling everybody when you think about Roger Penske and his history, it's pretty amazing to think that there's something he hasn't won, so, for me, it's a privilege and an honor to be part of the team that's tasked with that goal."
Logano has been impressed with the way Bullins has juggled four different drivers.
"That's really, really hard to get a hold of what each driver wants . . ." Logano said. "Jeremy has done a great job with all that. It's obviously been a dream come true to race for an iconic guy like RP and to be in the Chase on the Sprint Cup side and being over here and trying to get him that owner's championship that he hasn't got yet.
"I would love to be on that list of guys that helped him get that. With five more solid races, if we do a good job we can make it happen, so hopefully we can get him to hoist that trophy for us."
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