Day 4: NASCAR Sprint Media Tour Hosted By Charlotte Motor SpeedwayPress Release
2012 Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski “Hungry” at Penske Dinner – On Wednesday night of the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, Mooresville, N.C., Mayor Miles Atkins showed the area’s appreciation for Penske Racing by presenting Roger Penske and 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski with ceremonial keys to the city.
Mark Frissora, CEO of Hertz, briefly talked about his company’s 2013 sponsorship deal with Penske and gave it some historical perspective.
“The Hertz and Penske racing partnership goes back to early 1980s when we were actually the primary sponsor of Penske’s Indy program,” Frissora said. “We’re really excited to rekindle that relationship.”
Keselowski was asked how he planned to win another championship in 2013.
“Stick to what got you where you are at – hard work, dedication to people,” he said. “Ford is special to us because of their people and their commitment; that’s a key piece. What we did last year is not good enough. We have to step up another level. We know our competition is going to do the same. I’m not happy being a guy that wins one championship and goes away quietly. Look at some of the additions we’ve made [for the new season]. Bringing in Joey Logano, working on the Nationwide program to solidify two programs, having Ryan Blaney be part of that – that shows the commitment we all have to improving. I know that Joey and Ryan bring some youth and fresh ideas to make the team better. They might go out there and beat my butt, but I’m going to surround myself with the most talent because that’s what got us where we are today.”
When asked about his tendency to say what is on his mind, Keselowski said, “I care about this sport. I don’t want to be the champion of a sport that isn’t as strong as it can be. I want to be a leader in this sport, quite frankly. In order to do that, I’m going to have to be vocal.”
Logano, who just joined the Penske team for 2013 after driving off and on for Joe Gibbs Racing, was asked how it felt to start his new job.
“The move is going great so far,” he said. “Coming into a championship-winning team is a huge privilege. [Logano’s crew chief] Todd Gordon and I are learning each other at a very quick rate. I feel we have a lot of similarities.”
Ryan Blaney, who became the youngest NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner ever in 2012, will drive for Brad Keselowski Racing in the new season
When asked about his expectations for 2013, Blaney said, “I’m shocked that I’m up here (surrounded by so many accomplished drivers). Being able to drive for Roger Penske and Brad and his truck program has really meant a lot, seeing they have faith in me and put me out there. They definitely have the best people here to help a young guy learn.”
Small Teams and Big Dreams for Ford Racing – Ford Racing held a working breakfast for media on Thursday morning. On hand were drivers from Richard Petty Motorsports, Wood Brothers Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Germain Racing and Roush Fenway Racing, fielding questions during the final day of the Sprint Media Tour.
With team owner Richard Petty holding court among a throng of reporters, RPM driver Aric Almirola sat just a couple of seats away with only two members of the media. But that suits Almirola just fine as he hopes to sneak his way into this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
“I think we need to be in the top 15 in points,” said Almirola, who finished 20th in points during his first full season in the Cup series last year. “I feel like if I can run consistently inside the top 15, and we can win a race, with this new points system anything is possible – maybe even a wild-card spot.”
Marcos Ambrose, who picked up his second career Cup win last season and finished 18th in points, has goals similar to those of his RPM teammate.
“We want to compete for a championship – plain and simple,” said Ambrose. “I think we have a great team and a lot of continuity. There’s no reason we can’t make that jump (to the Chase).”
Germain Racing’s Casey Mears talked about the importance of taking his game “to the next level,” while David Ragan noted that running for a smaller team like Front Row Motorsports has given him perspective on just how tough it is to win in the Sprint Cup Series.
“You need to manage your expectations,” said Ragan, who is in his second full season with FRM after spending five seasons at Roush Fenway. “Instead of running for a championship and wanting to win six or seven races, our goals are top-15 and a top-20 points finishes, which is the hard part. But on a smaller team you’re also able to pay attention to smaller details you might not on a bigger team, and that’s an aspect I like.”
That isn’t the case for Trevor Bayne, who will be looking to pick up where Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (now running a full-time Cup schedule) left off as a back-to-back champion for Roush.
“Ricky did an amazing job, and I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but I enjoy that kind of pressure,” said Bayne. “(Ricky) left me with a terrific team and our goals are the same as his were, and that’s to bring home a third straight championship in the No. 6 Ford.”
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