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13th of November 2018

Sport



Team Penske is hitting on all cylinders at Darlington

Team Penske’s 1-2 finish Sept. 2 at Darlington (South Carolina) Raceway was not only historic in the big picture, but course-corrective in the near future.

The team shows up at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 (1 p.m. on NBC Sports Network) feeling as confident as ever at team owner Roger Penske’s most decorated venue.

Penske has 17 Indianapolis 500 wins — including one this May — but is still looking for his first victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ crown jewel event at the track, now the sport’s regular-season finale.

Of the three Team Penske drivers, Joey Logano boasts the best Indianapolis record with six top-10 finishes in nine starts in the No. 22 Ford, including three top-five finishes in the last four years.

Darlington winner Brad Keselowski has four top-10 finishes in eight Indianapolis starts.

The driver of the No. 2 Ford turned in his best Indianapolis Motor Speedway finish last year, finishing runner-up. His 99 laps led — over six races — is the most time out front for the Penske trio.

Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, has been the victim of some tough Indianapolis luck. He didn’t finish in two of his three starts, including the past two years.

However, Blaney led his first laps at the track last year and finished third in both the first and second stages before being eliminated in a crash in overtime.

Keselowski and Logano (Talladega) both have wins heading into the 10-race playoffs, which begin next week in Las Vegas, while Blaney has secured his playoff berth with a 12th-place season ranking.

The “Big 3” in Indy

It’s been two races since one of the Monster Energy Series’ “Big 3” last hoisted a trophy, the longest streak of the season between victories for championship leader and six-time winner Kyle Busch, seven-time winner Kevin Harvick and four-time winner Martin Truex Jr. But the three drivers arrive in Indianapolis with plenty of reason to feel optimistic about righting their dominating ship.

Busch has won two of the last three Brickyard 400s, sweeping the Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Series races in both 2015 and 2016. He has 10 top-10 finishes in 15 Indy starts. He won the first two stages last year but crashed with Truex late in the race.

Harvick won the 2003 Brickyard 400 from the pole position. He has 11 top-10 finishes in 17 starts, including the past four years. His best finish in that span was a third place in 2015.

Truex is the only member of the “Big 3” still looking for that first Indianapolis Motor Speedway victory. In fact, the tough 2.5-oval has been a challenging venue for the reigning Monster Energy Series champion.

He has three top-10 finishes in 13 starts and has led only 11 laps total. His only top five — a fourth-place finish in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota — came in 2015. He and Busch crashed out together last year.

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