Paul Wolfe initially said no to Keselowski's offer

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm •  Published: November 14, 2012
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The win would be the first championship for Penske, the most successful owner in open-wheel history who has never won a Cup title in 29 years of NASCAR participation.

Wolfe isn't getting too far ahead of himself. The No. 2 team has gotten to this point by following a plan, and not getting caught up in outside chatter.

Johnson's win at Martinsville pushed him passed Keselowski for the points lead, and his win the next week at Texas pushed his lead to seven points as the series headed to Phoenix, one of Johnson's best tracks. Wolfe kept his team focused and didn't let outside chatter rattle them.

"Everybody wanted to look at the stat books each and every week. We didn't always have the best stats, maybe," he said. "We've grown so much as a team over the years. I think it's hard to look back at those things, and I think we've proven that throughout the Chase. We felt like we needed to go into Phoenix and win that race to put us in position to have a shot at it going into the final race."

It was clear early at Phoenix that Keselowski had the better car, and as the weekend progressed, Johnson never caught up. It never rattled Wolfe, though, who could have tried to overanalyze the situation or wonder if Johnson crew chief Chad Knaus was playing mind games with him.

"I was definitely caught off guard by the 48," Wolfe said. "I expected those guys to run much better than they did. It just seemed like they were never able to get it turned around all weekend. But we still went there and stuck to our plan and did what we needed to do."

Keselowski ran in the top 10 almost the entire race, and even passed Kyle Busch for the lead. Moments after doing so, a blown tire sent Johnson crashing into the wall and gave Keselowski the cushion he'll take into Homestead.

"Now we're in a much better situation than we could have planned for, or hoped for going into the final race," Wolfe said. "From here it's go down to Homestead. If we go down there and do the things we know we're capable of, I feel like we're going to be in good position."