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Cup preview: Penske Racing

Roger Penske, third from right, is expecting better performance from his drivers and teams in 2014. Gregg Forwerck/NASCAR/Getty Images

One in a series of 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team previews ahead of the season-opening Daytona 500:

PENSKE RACING

Principal owner: Roger Penske

Manufacturer: Ford

Engine source: Roush Yates Engines

Alliances: Roush Fenway Racing, Front Row Racing

Drivers (crew chief): Brad Keselowski (Paul Wolfe), Joey Logano (Todd Gordon)

2013's top finisher: Logano, eighth

2013 grade: B

2014 preseason grade: B-plus

2014 outlook: Last year was a mixed bag for Team Penske, with 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski ending the season as only the second defending titlist to fail to make the Chase since it was instituted in 2004. Conversely, Penske's second car performed at a higher level than in the past, as Joey Logano won the Michigan race in August and earned a spot in the Chase for the first time in his career. Penske also had a stellar year in the Nationwide Series, with 14 race wins and Sam Hornish Jr. nearly winning the championship. All of the key players in the Cup operation are back, though Hornish was dropped by the Nationwide team in favor of rising stock car star Ryan Blaney. 2013 was the first year for Penske as a Ford team and also the first time it depended on an outside source for engines (Roush-Yates), so that adjustment should be less of a factor in the upcoming season. Keselowski is eager to return to championship contention, while Logano can take another step to solidify his growth into a regular frontrunner.

Quotable: "Obviously, our goal is to win the championship. Over the last four years we've had three championships (Keselowski -- Nationwide Series in 2010, Sprint Cup Series in 2012, and 2013 Nationwide Owner's champion) and we won 16 races last year, but we've got some work to do. Consistency and continuity are key from the standpoint of our team. When I think of our drivers, I think about youth. If you take our two Cup drivers, the average age is 26 years old, and then you put Ryan Blaney in there, it's 24 years old. Certainly these drivers have the ability to win. They're winners today already. They won in their series in 2013 and we expect a lot in 2014. Last year we were getting to know our friends at Ford. We need to get to the top and it's up to us as teams. The rules are the same for all of us and what we need to do is execute. The competition has never been tougher, so our goal is to be at that head table in Las Vegas in 2014." -- Roger Penske

DRIVER LINEUP

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford): "Last year definitely wasn't good, but that was last year. You have to reset. The short-term lessons were we missed a few things and had some bad breaks. The long-term lesson was changing over with the manufacturer and learning some things about yourself and the team, after you come off a championship. We think we're where we need to be to go out and run for another championship. I feel like we've reloaded, and one of the key areas was the pit crew. Going back from 2014 to 2012, we have two of six from that same cast on the pit crew, so a lot of changes over the last few years. Another year, as well, working with Joey. That's gone really well, I think. There's a much smaller change in this year's car than last year's change, but still a change in the way they drive and what it takes to go fast, so it's about capitalizing on those opportunities. We want to be able to do what we did in 2012 every year, and I think Team Penske is getting to that spot."

2014 goal: Take back the Sprint Cup from Jimmie Johnson.

Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford): "Last year was one of those years you didn't want it to end. You wanted to keep going and keep that ball rolling, but over this offseason we've kept the momentum going and worked on staying together. If you look at last year, coming into the season, the 22 team couldn't have had more changes throughout the team and now that we've built that chemistry up between each other we're able to build off that and keep going. We're looking for a year that we try to win this championship. I feel like we're in position to do it. We've got the best owner in the business. We've got the best teammates in the business and the best crew chiefs, so we're ready to go and I can't wait for Daytona."

2014 goal: Multiple race wins and top five in the championship.