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Bill Fleischman: Crew chief prepping Keselowski for first race at Pocono

ASK PEOPLE from the Mid-Atlantic area how they started working in NASCAR and they may jokingly reply, "Headed south on I-95."

ASK PEOPLE from the Mid-Atlantic area how they started working in NASCAR and they may jokingly reply, "Headed south on I-95."

Jay Guy's introduction to NASCAR began differently. Guy, in his first season as crew chief for Brad Keselowski, traveled with his family to races in Dover, Del., from their Lancaster, Pa., home. Dave Marcis, a veteran NASCAR racer, stayed across the hall from the family in a hotel near Dover International Speedway. They became friendly, and eventually Guy's father, Jay, worked weekends on Marcis' crew. Guy worked summers for Marcis.

Guy says he left for North Carolina and his first NASCAR job the "morning after" he graduated from Manheim Township High. Guy's first full-time position was as a mechanic with car owner Richard Jackson, who died this week.

Guy, now 37, served as crew chief for several other drivers before joining Penske Racing to work with Keselowski.

"I was like a sponge: I worked with a lot of smart guys in the sport," Guy said Tuesday. "I didn't really have a goal of being a crew chief. I just wanted to race."

This weekend, Guy will guide Keselowski in his Pocono Raceway debut. Returning to the area gives Guy the opportunity to reunite with his family and friends.

Pocono also is a familiar place to the Keselowskis. Brad's father, Bob, the 1989 ARCA series champion, finished 41st in his only Cup start at Pocono in 1994. Brad's uncle, Ron, won the 1974 USAC stock-car race at Pocono.

Guy enjoys his role with Keselowski and the No. 12 Dodge team.

"It's always fun to be on the coattails of a young kid coming into the sport," Guy said. "They're so full of energy. This is a really long season and you're traveling all the time. Having somebody with Brad's enthusiasm keeps everybody pepped up a lot. He's entertaining to watch."

Keselowski, 26, is in his second full Cup season.

"He's a very calculating and cool driver," Guy said. "He's a student of the game. He watches a lot of race tapes [and] makes very smart decisions. Sometimes he gets labeled as aggressive, but that's just the way he calculates everything in his mind."

In the season's fourth race at Atlanta, Carl Edwards thought Keselowski needed some payback for racing too aggressively and sent Keselowski's car airborne. Fortunately, no one was injured. NASCAR placed Edwards on 3 weeks' probation.

"It was a shame that it happened," Guy said. "I put my trust in NASCAR that they would do the right thing. I didn't like how it happened or why it happened. The biggest thing is, Brad walked away from it. It showed how safe these cars are. I think it's all behind us."

Standing 25th in points, Keselowski shows no signs of contending for this year's Chase for the Championship. His best finishes are two 12th places.

"We've had a better year than what it shows points-wise," Guy said. "I think we're a top 15 team. At the end of the year, if we're not there, I'm going to be very disappointed."

Guy joins a growing list of Sprint Cup series crew chiefs from Pennsylvania: Malvern's Pat Tryson is with Martin Truex Jr.; Hatboro's Greg Erwin is with Greg Biffle; Bensalem's Frank Kerr is with Marcus Ambrose, and Cranberry Township's Travis Geisler is with Sam Hornish Jr.

Bob Osborne, crew chief for Carl Edwards, was born in Chester and graduated from Penn State.

This week's race

Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500

Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.

When: Sunday, 1 o'clock

TV/Radio: TNT/WNPV (1440-AM), WDSD (94.7-FM)

Course: 2.5-mile trioval

Distance: 500 miles/200 laps

2009 pole: Tony Stewart

2009 winner: Tony Stewart

Qualifying record: Kasey Kahne, 172.533 mph, June 11, 2004

Winners: Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin (3 each); Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch (2 each); Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman (1 each).

Track facts: Stewart won last year's race from the rear of the field in a backup car after he damaged his No. 14 Chevrolet in practice. Stewart led 39 laps, including the last 37. Carl Edwards was second, David Reutimann was third . . . Denny Hamlin won the August race at Pocono . . . Jeff Gordon's four wins at Pocono top full-time active drivers. Hamlin and Bobby Labonte have three W's each . . . Points leader Kevin Harvick has two top-five finishes at Pocono, but has never led a lap at the track . . . Mark Martin has a record six runner-up finishes at Pocono. He's winless in 46 starts at the track . . . Jamie McMurray has three second places in the season's last five races. He has climbed to 15th in points, just 26 points out of 12th.

Wins: Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, 3 each; Kyle and Kurt Busch, 2 each; Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, 1 each.

SPRINT CUP STANDINGS: Through 13 of 36 races

1. Kevin Harvick 1898

2. Kyle Busch 1869

3. Matt Kenseth 1781

4. Jeff Gordon 1760

5. Denny Hamlin 1732

6. Kurt Busch 1726

7. Jimmie Johnson 1694

8. Jeff Burton 1657

9. Greg Biffle 1648

10. Mark Martin 1635

11. Carl Edwards 1602

12. Ryan Newman 1547

13. Clint Bowyer 1543

14. Martin Truex Jr. 1533

15. Jamie McMurray 1521

16. Tony Stewart 1520

17. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1493

18. Joey Logano 1461

19. David Reutimann 1422

20. Juan Montoya 1371

Up next: Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips 400, June 13, Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich., 1 p.m.; TV: TNT; last year's winner: Mark Martin.