The Las Vegas winner hasn’t scored a top-10 finish in the Cup Series since that weekend back in February.
That could be because this Paul Wolfe-led team is trying out new setups since they’ve got a race win in their back pocket. Or it could just be that they’re struggling.
Finishing 26th at Fontana; 38th at Martinsville; 15th at Texas and now 17th at Darlington is indicative of a team that is struggling.
The oftentimes blunt speaking Brad Keselowski was out of character following the Southern 500, making excuses for his team’s mediocre outing.
“It was a long night. We didn’t get the finish we wanted, that is for sure. We ran a lot better than where we finished,” Keselowski said in a post-race interview.
“We got used up on those last restarts and took some bad lines that didn’t go and what not. That is just part of the deal at this place and we will just have to move on to next week. The track was slick but it is the same for everybody, so that is part of the unique challenge of Darlington that we all love.”
You have to love the “…took some bad line that didn’t go and what not” part of that quote. This is a team that appears searching for help. Has it lost the handle? That's a real possibility.
Jeff Hammond with Fox Sports.com dared to compare Team Penske with Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing, a comment made in the afterglow of Joey Logano’s victory at Texas:
“Their consistency and their commitment to excellence should not surprise us in the NASCAR world, based on all the success that Roger Penske has had in all other forms of racing. So I will say this cautiously, at this point in time: Team Penske is on the same level of a Joe Gibbs Racing and a Hendrick Motorsports.”
A closer examination of their recent record shows more inconsistency than consistency, making Hammond's assumption sound a bit off base.