All three Team Penske drivers made the playoffs in 2019; all of them were among the top 10, but that just wasn’t good enough for Roger. None of them were part of the Championship 4 – and to make matters worse, they watched as one of their principal rivals placed three drivers in the finale.
For Joey Logano, it was particularly frustrating and perhaps a little personal. He did not get a chance to defend his 2018 title and three of the drivers who kept him at bay were part of the organization that fired him at the end of 2012.
On Monday, Team Penske announced a wholesale reorganization of their driver / crew chief lineups that will see each racer with a different head mechanic.
Paul Wolfe will be the new crew chief for Logano.
Jeremy Bullins will be the crew chief for Keselowski.
Todd Gordon will be the crew chief for Blaney.
All of the new relationships will come after the current pairings have been together at least six seasons.
Bullins and Blaney had been together since 2014 with three wins.
Gordon and Logano had been together since 2013. They won 21 races together.
But in particular, one of these is a surprise of the same magnitude as when Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus split up or the sudden announcement that Cole Pearn would leave Martin Truex Jr. at the end of 2019 in order to run a resort in Western Canada.
Wolfe and Keselowski were long considered one of the best pairings in the field. They have been together for a decade since 2010 when they competed in the Xfinity series. In tandem, they won 29 races but made the Championship Race only once.
How will the reorganization affect fantasy players? It’s hard to know, but typically change is a good thing.
Occasionally chemistry loses it bonds. Despite winning three times during the regular season and sweeping the top five in the Round of 16, Keselowski looked stale in the Round of 12. And Before his three-race streak of top-fives in the playoffs, his best consecutive run was three straight top-10s in the summer – with the best of these an eighth at Pocono.
Wolfe is one of the most imaginative chiefs on top of the box, but his out-of-the-box strategies failed to make the difference very often in 2019.
Logano won twice during the regular season with Gordon calling the shots, but he also lost momentum. After his June Michigan win, he finished in the top five only one more time before the regular season finale at Indy. During the playoffs, he scored one top-10 in the Round of 16 and none in the Round of 12.
The mark of greatness in NASCAR is the ability to step up in pressure situations and none of the 2019 pairings were able to do that.
Pit crews will accompany their crew chiefs. The drivers will each retain their spotters.