Bristol, Tenn. — Brad Keselowski is part brash racer, and part pragmatist.
He was both after following Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano to the checkered flag at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night, giving the team a 1-2 finish and a continuing surge of momentum.
Logano’s third victory of the season gave him five consecutive finishes in the top six, and gave his teammate confirmation that Team Penske is as much a Sprint Cup championship contender as anyone.
“I think the results speak for themselves and we just need to keep rolling,” said the 2012 series champion, a Rochester Hills native. “We’ve got two teams that are legitimate contenders by really every stretch of the imagination.”
Logano’s sixth career victory, secured when he passed Matt Kenseth with 44 laps to go and then held off a challenge from Keselowski in the closing laps, allowed him to join Keselowski and the Hendrick Motorsports trio of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson as three-time winners this season.
It kept Kenseth, of Joe Gibbs Racing, winless, but caused Keselowski to admit that any groundswell of speculation expecting a duel between the Hendrick and Team Penske teams for the Sprint Cup Series championship is short-sighted.
“I think we’ve all got our eyes on Matt’s group and all the Gibbs cars, and I just don’t see a whole season going by without them having a dominant race car,” he said of the group that also includes Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. “I think we’re all fearful that that will happen at the Chase when it counts the most.”
Logano, sporting a clown-sized smile, is the new addition to the conversation. He’s never won more than one race in a season before this year, but in his second season with Penske, he clearly has found his comfort zone.
Departing the Gibbs shop two years ago and moving to Penske caused him to take stock of himself, he said.
“You get to walk in there as a new person, be who you want to be,” he said. “For me, it was kind of the moment I grew up and took the bull by the horns and I was able to be very fortunate to team up with the right people to help me grow.”