Several key changes have been undergone by Team Penske for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, which is set to see the introduction of the Next Gen car.
The Next Gen car will begin a new era for the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, overhauling the current team ownership business model.
But for Team Penske, the Next Gen Ford Mustang is not the only change on the horizon. The team and satellite organization Wood Brothers Racing are experiencing quite a bit of driver and personnel turnover for next year.
Roger Penske’s team is looking to ensure long-term stability in Next Gen era, as suggested by the recent moves.
No. 2 team
It was confirmed that Brad Keselowski will leave Team Penske for Roush Fenway Racing as a driver and team co-owner after the 2021 season.
To replace Keselowski, Penske has tabbed his Xfinity Series driver, Austin Cindric, to drive his flagship #2 Ford. Cindric is the 2020 Xfinity Series Champion, a 12-time winner in the series, and currently leads the point standings.
The 22-year old has made six Cup Series starts in 2021 and has an average finish of 25.0. He impressed in his start at Circuit of the Americas when he led laps on slick tires in wet conditions while the rest of the field was on rain tires.
The Mooresville, North Carolina native’s strong road course abilities are valuable to Team Penske, as there are now seven road courses races on the 36-race calendar.
No. 12 team
Ryan Blaney is set to return to the #12 Ford, as he signed a multi-year extension with Team Penske last year. However, crew chief Todd Gordon announced his intent to retire after 2021. Gordon’s greatest success came with Joey Logano, winning the 2018 championship.
Blaney and Gordon were paired together ahead of the 2020 season to improve the #12 Ford. The pair have shown speed at times, but they have only won twice and were eliminated in the opening round of last year’s playoffs.
Blaney’s 2022 crew chief has not been announced, but whoever it is will be given a tough task with a new team and a new car. For Blaney, this individual will be his third crew chief in four seasons.
No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing team
Wood Brothers Racing announced that Harrison Burton will replace Matt DiBenedetto behind the wheel of the #21 Ford after the 2021 season.
Burton is a four-time Xfinity Series race winner and has shown flashes of talent with Joe Gibbs Racing behind the wheel of the #20 Toyota.
The Huntersville, North Carolina native brings funding from DEX Imaging to the team. DEX Imaging will be integrated fully into the Team Penske camp, as the document imaging dealer also sponsors Blaney.
Burton brings youth, upside and maturity to the one-car operation. Unlike many young drivers, he is a composed, disciplined driver who is less prone to making aggressive mistakes. He will likely work with crew chief Jonathan Hassler, who replaced Greg Erwin atop the pit box of the #21 team in June.
No. 22 Team
And finally, we have the most stable team in the Team Penske camp. Joey Logano is signed to drive the #22 Ford through the 2023 season and has given no indication of any sort of dissatisfaction with the team.
Logano and crew chief Paul Wolfe have been successful, reaching the Championship 4 in what was their first year together last season. They are expected to continue competing for wins and championships together.
Logano is the 2018 Cup Series champion and a 27-time race winner, and he is now solidified as Team Penske’s franchise driver.