Paul Wolfe might be open to the change taking place at Team Penske, but he’s trying to keep track of which hauler to walk into.
After spending a decade working with Brad Keselowski, the 42-year-old Wolfe is now the leader of Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford team. Wolfe has moved away from the only driver he had worked with in the Cup Series. He and Keselowski began their relationship with a 2010 championship season in the Xfinity Series.
In nine years together at the Cup level, Wolfe and Keselowski won 29 races, and the 2012 championship. However, team owner Roger Penske noted making the changes should “better position” the organization for more success.
“We didn’t have a bad year,” Wolfe told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “If you look at the start of the season, we came out of the gates and won three races, and were one of the cars to beat early on the in the season. But within a matter of two or three months, you feel like you’re playing catch-up again.”
Wolfe and Keselowski picked up their first win in the second week of the season at Atlanta. They had won three races by the time the series hit the All-Star Race break in May. But they never won again, and were eliminated from the playoffs in the second round, finishing eighth in points.
“It’s tough, especially when you are successful, because you find yourself not wanting to get too far away from what’s worked for you,” continued Wolfe. “But man, if you don’t keep trying and learning and trying to find the next way to be faster, you end up falling behind. We just didn’t compete at the level we needed to toward the end of the season as to how the season started.”
It has been a week since the announcement was made, and Wolfe has been adjusting to working with a new driver with the understanding that the early challenges will be learning how Logano goes about approaching races, and his communication style. The two have already spent time together in the simulator.
Keselowski will work with Jeremy Bullins beginning this season. Bullins had been Ryan Blaney’s crew chief. Todd Gordon, who had been overseeing Logano’s efforts, including the 2018 championship, is now paired with Blaney.
Until the split, Wolf and Keselowski had been the longest-running active crew chief/driver pairing in the series.
“It’s definitely bittersweet, for sure,” said Wolfe. “Brad and I have been fortunate to have a good 10 years together; we’ve obviously won some pretty special races and a championship, done some really cool things. It’s always tough when you make a change like this, but yeah, there’s frustrations from time to time and Brad and I have shared plenty of those together. That’s just being competitors and wanting to get the most out of everything is all that is.
“It’s tough. It’s tough when you have to leave something like that, but you’re always looking forward and trying to figure out how to be better, and I think as you look at our company as a whole, I think the boss man thought this could shake things up and maybe spark some new ideas and things.
“[It’s been] Just a short time Joey and I have been together [and] it really gets you thinking about things that kind of became natural for you when you’ve been with someone, with a team, for 10 years. Just the way you go about business every day, and how you look at things, and your approach into a race weekend, just kind of becomes natural and when you make a change like this, it’s learning each other again and trying to understand how everyone likes to go racing.”