There was so much pre-hype surrounding Penske to start the 2010 season. Kurt Busch had just returned to prominence again. Newly-signed Brad Keselowski was poised to make a big splash in the cup circuit. Rapidly-improving Sam Hornish was supposedly ready to finally make an appearance near the front. Penske had 2 full-time Nationwide series programs in place. 2010 was supposed to make Penske the next super team.
Then came reality. Kurt Busch is pulling his weight, but no more than last year and not at an astounding level like rivals Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson. Brad Keselowski has been average at best in the Cup series, however hasn't even brought a top ten together yet (in his defense, he was well on his way to a top five when Cousin Carl flipped him over at Atlanta). Sam Hornish's improvement seems to have come to a stall. Keselowski is commanding the Nationwide series - but it is perhaps more important that Justin Allgaier be the guy doing this, because Penske NEEDS a strong prospect for more future cup series success. But it appears as though the Buschwhacking has overwhelmed Allgaier this season, as he has just 1 win thus far. Overall, Penske is actually having a decent year when you look at the pros, but their other drivers don't appear promising.
As of right now, it appears that Sam Hornish is headed out of the #77 car, which might have to close due to lack of funding. If this happens, Penske will be back down to just two cars in the Cup series, and their second attempt at having a successful 3rd full-time team would have failed (see; Brendan Gaughan/Travis Kvapil). Even sadder however, would be the fact that if the #77 team folds, there goes 1/3 of the full-time Dodges in the cup series. On the Nationwide side, rumors are swirling around Justin Allgaier as well. If sponsorship can't be found for his car, he might have to be removed in favor of someone who CAN bring funding (another cup driver *facepalm*).
This isn't to say that Penske Racing can't continue to build a solid Cup series future around Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski, but it appears as though their likelihood to become a superteam has greatly diminished.
What are your thoughts? Penske appears safe, but what is the key to them become more than just SAFE? They've tried expansion a couple times now and it hasn't been working out; what should they do to get up to 4 teams so they can properly compete with Hendrick, Roush, Childress, and Gibbs?
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