---- — A 15th-place finish or better.
That is what Milford native Paul Wolfe and his No. 2 Penske Racing team need Sunday to be named the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champions.
He and driver Brad Keselowski are 20 points ahead of five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus’ No. 48 Hendrick team going into the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.
Many people are comparing the Wolfe-Keselowski pairing favorably to the duo of Knaus and Johnson, often called the best driver-crew chief combination in the Sprint Cup Series.
Their styles are very different, with Knaus having total control over the race-day calls, while Wolfe and Keselowski often discuss the best way to the run the race.
There have been many gutsy calls that have put the No. 2 team in position to win, even if they all didn’t result in trophies.
In May, ESPN columnist Terry Blount ranked Wolfe as the best crew chief in NASCAR.
We agree — and not just because he’s a local boy.
Wolfe graduated from Milford Central School in 1995. He got his start in NASCAR driving in the Busch North regional racing series in 2000, before moving to the second-tier series, then known as the Busch Series, in 2003 to 2005.
He started as a crew chief in lower NASCAR series and graduated to the second-tier Nationwide Series in 2008.
“But I was building cars before I was a driver, and now, having been a driver, it gives me experience that few other crew chiefs have,” he said in a 2010 interview with the Crier.
Wolfe joined Penske in 2010. That year, he and Keselowski won Penske’s first national series championship.
The following year, Wolfe joined Keselowski in the top-tier series, winning three races and finishing fifth for the season.
The team has five victories this year and is a decent race away from being crowned Sprint Cup champion.
We wish Wolfe the best of luck and will be cheering on the team.