August 21, 2011 in Sports

Busch, Keselowski lead resurgent Penske team at Michigan


Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski appear to be on their way to NASCAR’s season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup after combining for seven top-10 finishes in the last five races.

This weekend, they compete in Michigan – meaning there might be a bit more at stake for the Penske Racing duo.

“It’s a big race for a lot of us,” said Mike Nelson, Penske’s vice president of operations. “We always like to come up here and represent Dodge well. Roger and all his businesses – we look forward to it any time we come here. We put the pressure on ourselves to perform.”

Owner Roger Penske isn’t expected to be on hand this weekend, but his drivers look primed for more success in a race that takes on a little extra significance for the team. Penske Automotive Group is based in the Detroit area, and Penske played a leading role in the city’s successful bid to host the 2006 Super Bowl.

Keselowski qualified in sixth place for today’s race in his No. 2 car, and Busch was 13th in his the No. 22.

“For us at Penske, we’re one of the big teams, it’s just that we don’t have four teams out there every week,” Busch said. “I feel like we’re doing everything that those top teams are doing, except we only have two cars out there each week instead of four.”

Although Penske runs an esteemed IndyCar operation, his NASCAR branch has produced mixed results. Keselowski went without a top-10 finish in his first nine races this year, and Busch earned all sorts of notoriety with a radio tirade against his race team at Richmond in May.

Soon after that, however, both drivers began improving. Busch won three straight poles in June, part of a five-race stretch in which he finished in the top 11 each time. He capped that stretch with an impressive run at Infineon Raceway, earning his first career road course victory.

Busch is sixth in the points standings with four races left before the Chase, and Keselowski is in good shape as well. He’s 14th in the standings but with two victories, meaning he has the inside track to a wild card spot.

Nationwide Series

Marcos Ambrose survived a collision with Jacques Villeneuve to win the NAPA Auto Parts 200 NASCAR Nationwide race on Saturday in Montreal.

Ambrose took the lead on a restart with 10 laps to go as he blew past Alex Tagliani and held the top spot through the sixth caution of the incident-filled race to claim victory on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Tagliani finished second and Michael McDowell was third.

Trucks Series

Kevin Harvick stayed out of danger after speeding past Mark Martin and Parker Kligerman on the inside to take the lead – moving into the clear just before the other two drivers brushed against each other, starting a five-car wreck – and held off Timothy Peters to win the NASCAR Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

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