Skip to content

Penske, Ganassi NASCAR programs rise to fore in Phoenix

Mar 3, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

The Profit On CNBC 500 Getty Images

The Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing NASCAR teams had themselves quite a solid weekend in this weekend’s The Profit on CNBC 500.

Both teams had past experience in knockout-style qualifying with their IndyCar programs. And while NASCAR’s first crack at it wasn’t going to be identical, there were enough similar elements for them to know when to make their runs and set times.

Penske nailed it doubly so, with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano locking out the front row. For good measure, Keselowski added the pole for Saturday’s Nationwide race as well.

“We had a really fast car, and there is some pride to be taken in being the first one to win a Sprint Cup pole in this format,” Keselowski said after Cup qualifying. “I am sure it will undergo a few adjustments along the way, but it is very rewarding and a testament to my team and how fast of a car they gave me.”

In some respects, their finishing third and fourth was a disappointment. But for Keselowski, it’s his second third-place finish in as many races to open the season, and for Logano, it was his best finish on the reconfigured Phoenix track (finished third in fall 2010 on the old configuration).

Logano went for it on several restarts, with good pushes of Harvick, but couldn’t get any closer.

As for Ganassi’s squad, much was made of the addition of new crew chief Keith Rodden to Jamie McMurray‘s No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet, which was a consistent top-five to top-10 performer all weekend.

Rodden, an ex-Hendrick Motorsports engineer, joined up at the start of the year and with Phoenix less of a lottery than the restrictor-plate race at Daytona, the CGR cars were well-prepared for the Phoenix mile. McMurray qualified third and Kyle Larson seventh, so they also put both cars in the final round of knockout qualifying.

McMurray enjoyed a consistent drive to 10th in the race, while Larson took the necessary bounce back step after his rough Daytona 500 and finished best of the eight rookies in 20th.

“This was a really good day for our Cessna team,” McMurray said. “I felt coming here to Phoenix would be the first real test of the season for where we might be as a team. We were fast all weekend and turned that into a strong finish. I am really proud of all the guys on this team and the effort that they put forth this weekend.”

Added Larson, “Our Clorox Chevy showed good speed today, and my guys did a great job on pit road. We got caught a lap down early in the race on one of the long green flag runs. We battled to get position back on the lead lap, but couldn’t seem to catch a break. Finally with just a handful of laps to go we got the lucky dog, but we just didn’t have enough time to make more a of a charge to the front.”

Latest Posts
  1. GP3 unveils new car for 2016 season at Monza

    Sep 3, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    © GP3 Series © GP3 Series

    The GP3/16 breaks cover at Monza ahead of its introduction next year.

  2. Mercedes uses remaining development tokens to upgrade power units

    Sep 3, 2015, 2:39 PM EDT

    A track marshal waves the checkered flag as Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday Aug. 23, 2015. (Andrej Isakovic/Pool photo via AP) AP

    Mercedes goes all-in ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, fully upgrading the power units on both of its cars.

  3. FOM satisfied Pirelli not to blame for Spa tire failures

    Sep 3, 2015, 1:23 PM EDT

    A Ferrari technician works on tires outside the Ferrari pits at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. ormula One tire supplier Pirelli blamed debris on the track and prolonged usage for a "highly unusual number of cuts" at the Belgian Grand Prix, which was marred by frightening tire deterioration on the cars of Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    FOM comes out in support of “first class partner” Pirelli.

  4. F1 2015’s silly season is proving to be a let down, but who could yet spice it up?

    Sep 3, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 23, 2015 in Spa, Belgium. Getty Images

    Silly season has been a let down in 2015. Perhaps it is therefore fitting that McLaren is now the team to watch in the driver market.

  5. Lewis Hamilton’s blonde hair brings back memories of when Villeneuve, Vettel also did so

    Sep 3, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT

    LewisBlonde AP

    Hamilton goes blonde for Monza. He’s not alone in F1 annals.

  6. Perez keen to remain at Force India for 2016 season

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26:  Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India walks in the paddock before the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Perez expects to confirm his plans for 2016 in the next two weeks.

  7. Pirelli: Debris to blame for Belgian GP tire failures

    Sep 3, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    A Williams technician walks over Pirelli tires at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015.  Formula One tire supplier Pirelli blamed debris on the track and prolonged usage for a "highly unusual number of cuts" at the Belgian Grand Prix, which was marred by frightening tire deterioration on the cars of Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) AP

    Debris, not structural problems, to blame for tire failures at Spa.

  8. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Italian Grand Prix

    Sep 3, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 07:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams celebrates his thrd place during the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 7, 2014 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno make their picks ahead of this weekend’s race at Monza.

  9. 2015 Italian Grand Prix Preview

    Sep 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Fans wave with a giant Ferrari flag after the Italian Formula One Grand Prix motor race at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on September 7, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN        (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The European season comes to a close at Monza this weekend. Can Lewis Hamilton enter the final run of flyaways with an even bigger lead?

  10. James Hinchcliffe on the comeback trail for IndyCar driving return

    Sep 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    HinchComeback AP

    James Hinchcliffe a few weeks away from his driving return.

  11. Bottas and Massa to remain with Williams for 2016

    Sep 3, 2015, 5:38 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams drives ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Williams confirms an unchanged line-up for 2016, keeping Bottas and Massa together for a third season.

  12. Mardenborough set for GP2 debut at Monza with Carlin this weekend

    Sep 2, 2015, 2:36 PM EDT

    Photo: NISMO Photo: NISMO

    Jann Mardenborough steps up from GP3 into GP2 this weekend.

  13. James Hinchcliffe describes how inspired he was by Justin Wilson

    Sep 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Hinchjw AP

    Hinchcliffe recalls racing, commentating on Justin Wilson.

  14. NHRA: Leah Pritchett climbing mountains as she continues to grow career

    Sep 2, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    All Photos: Gumout/Dote Racing All Photos: Gumout/Dote Racing

    Leah Pritchett looks to make her mark even more in NHRA Top Fuel, going into U.S. Nationals.

  15. Dixon: “I don’t think anybody had a stellar season”

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:22 AM EDT

    DixonJPM AP

    Dixon offers a rebuttal to Montoya’s dig about a “poor” season.

  16. Hulkenberg: Force India recovery influenced new deal

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT

    xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 22, 2015 in Spa, Belgium. Getty Images

    Hulkenberg reveals he held talks with Haas F1 Team about a seat for 2016 before opting to remain with Force India.

  17. Takuma Sato ends 2015 on a good note

    Sep 1, 2015, 6:37 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy TakumaSato.com) (Photo courtesy TakumaSato.com)

    Sato improved four spots in the driver standings over his 2014 result.