Team Penske gunning for a championship trifecta this weekend

Leave a comment

Team Penske’s list of accolades in motorsports is staggering. But one of American racing’s greatest outfits may pull off its greatest feat yet this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

At the end of this past summer, Will Power brought Penske its first Verizon IndyCar Series championship since 2006. Now, Roger Penske’s boys are out to capture a pair of major NASCAR titles – the Nationwide Series owner’s title today in the Ford Ecoboost 300, and the Sprint Cup Series driver’s title with Joey Logano in Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400.

“I think, if memory serves, we would be the only team in North America ever to win two major championships [in a single year], let alone three, ever,” Penske Corp. vice president Walter Czarnecki said as he filled in for “The Captain” during this week’s Championship 4 team owners’ press conference. “So that will be quite an accomplishment, and certainly we’re aiming for that…Arguably, it would be the greatest achievement in the history of our company.

“To be able to accomplish this would be really quite something, and that was really our goal from the beginning of the season. Maybe we didn’t verbalize it quite that way, but we really felt we were going to be competitive in all three of these series, and the results have demonstrated that.”

Indeed.

Power rattled off three wins and seven podium finishes en route to his 2014 IndyCar title for Penske. Add in the production of teammates Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya, and altogether, Penske IndyCar drivers were responsible this past year for five wins and 17 podiums.

In NASCAR, Penske has been even better. Logano and Brad Keselowski have combined for 11 Sprint Cup race wins, the most that the team’s ever had in a single season.

It took 29 years before Keselowski gave Penske its first Cup crown in 2012. Now, it’ll be up to the 24-year-old Logano – who jumped to Penske in 2013 after a tumultuous four-year run with Joe Gibbs Racing – to give them their second.

“If you look at some of the drivers that Team Penske has had win championships for him, not just in NASCAR but in all the other series that they’ve raced in before, to have your name on that list as a Team Penske champion would mean a lot,” Logano said about the opportunity.

“There’s definitely some legends that they have there. When you get to walk through the shop, you see a lot of the trophies and you see all the [Indianapolis] 500 championship trophies there and all that, so it would be really cool to be able to add your name as a champion driving for Roger and Walt.

“I think that would be a dream come true on top of just winning the championship in general. For anyone, it would be amazing, but doing it for Team Penske is my goal.”

And in the Nationwide Series, a six-win season (five from Keselowski, one from young gun Ryan Blaney) has put the Penske No. 22 car on the verge of the owner’s title – it’s up 29 points on JGR’s No. 54 going into the NNS finale.

Logano’s also contributed with eight Top-5 finishes in 10 NNS starts this year, but with him focusing on winning the Cup title, it’ll be up to Keselowski to get this particular piece of hardware.

“The way it worked out, I get a chance to win another race and, ideally, sew up Team Penske’s second Nationwide Series owner’s title,” Keselowski said this week. “This No. 22 Hertz Ford team prepares Mustangs that are capable of winning each time we race. We’ve been strong every time I’ve been in the car, and they’ve been solid all year long.

“I am looking forward to this race. I was fortunate enough to win the last two Nationwide Series races that I’ve run [at Homestead], and making it a three in a row is a perfect way to cap off the year.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.