Team Penske has been fielding entries in the Cup Series off and on since 1972 and on Sunday it still found something new to accomplish.
The Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway ended with three Team Penske cars in the top 10 for the first time.
The Fords of Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finished fifth-sixth-seventh in the race after spending most of the day in the top 10.
This is Penske’s first year fielding three full-time cars since 2010.
The day was made better by Wood Brothers Racing’s Paul Menard finishing ninth. The Wood Brothers have a technical alliance with Team Penske.
Blaney, who started from his third Cup pole and his first with Penske, led only the first lap before eventual race winner Kevin Harvick took the lead.
Blaney’s top five is his first with Penske in five starts (he made his first two Cup starts with Penske in 2014).
“I thought it was a solid day for us,” Blaney said. “We had a pretty decent Ford all day. The first run we weren’t great and we got better. I thought our strongest run was right before the last green flag pit stops. We lost a little speed the last run there. Overall it was a good weekend for us. That is what we need to do, just have good, consistent weekends like that.”
Logano was the only other Penske driver to lead the race. He led twice for 25 laps. He took the lead the second time early in the final stage following a caution on Lap 177. When the field came to the pits, Logano was only driver to take two tires.
The No. 22 took the lead from Martin Truex Jr. on the restart. Truex had stayed out under the caution.
Logano led 12 laps before Harvick reclaimed the point position.
“We were better than seventh,” Logano said. “We were the only car that took two (tires) and the run went really long and we lost a lot of track position there as we fell back on the two tires. We never got a caution to kind of reset and get those spots back. We faded back to seventh, a little further back even, but were able to get a couple spots back. Overall we have been solid with the Pennzoil Ford all season.”
With his result, Logano is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in the first three races of the season. He trails Harvick by three points in the standings.
It’s a good start for a team that missed the playoffs last year after Logano’s only win was disqualified for failing post-race inspection.
“We have okay speed in the car,” Logano said. “We aren’t anywhere close to (Harvick), but we are competitive with the rest. We will keep working toward that. … We are running hard and running strong right now. We just have to find a bit more to be able to beat Kevin.”
Keselowski earned his second top 10 of the year after placing second last week at Atlanta.
“We had really good short-run speed, and I thought we would be really good on the long runs today, but it turned out we were really good on the short runs,” he said. “That wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The short-run speed was really strong, but I just couldn’t get anywhere to capitalize on it.”
Las Vegas has proven to be kind to Team Penske’s drivers over the last few years.
Blaney earned his third consecutive top-10 at the 1.5-mile track. Keselowski has six top 10s in a row and Logano has five in a row.
Menard, in his first season with the Wood Brothers after replacing Blaney, earned his fourth top 10 at the track, but his first since 2014. He has two top 10s in the first three races of the year. He earned three in each of his last two seasons with Richard Childress Racing.