MotorSportsTalk takes a look through the Verizon IndyCar Series field for 2015 heading into the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener on March 29. To kick things off, we examine the defending champions, Team Penske.
Team: Team Penske
Engine/aero kit: Chevrolet
Sponsors: Verizon (Nos. 1, 2), PPG (No. 2), Hitachi (No. 3), Penske Truck Rental (No. 22)
Wins: 5 (Power 3, Castroneves 1, Montoya 1)
Podiums: 17 (Power 7, Castroneves 6, Montoya 4)
Pole Positions: 8 (Power 4, Castroneves 3, Montoya 1)
Fastest Laps: 6 (Power 2, Castroneves 2, Montoya 2)
Points: 1866 (Power 671, Castroneves 609, Montoya 586)
Laps Led: 1072 (Power 623, Castroneves 282, Montoya 167)
Championship Position: 1st (Power), 2nd (Castroneves), 4th (Montoya)
2015 LINEUP (Engineer in parentheses)
1 Will Power (David Faustino)
2 Juan Pablo Montoya (Brian Campe)
3 Helio Castroneves (Jonathan Diuguid)
22 Simon Pagenaud (Ben Bretzman)
Few things went wrong for Team Penske in 2014. OK, Helio Castroneves was just short of his fourth Indianapolis 500 win, Juan Pablo Montoya’s road and street race qualifying left a tiny bit to be desired and Will Power’s champion’s speech at the banquet went all kinds of goofy, crazy haywire. But when those were the worst things that occurred in a year when the team won five races and ended first, second and fourth in points, it was a pretty good year.
Team Penske makes the bold step to add a fourth car for Simon Pagenaud alongside the established fearsome threesome of Power, Castroneves and Montoya. All four have reason to be optimistic this year. Power has the confidence of a title finally in hand; Castroneves is consistently a threat on ovals and road courses; Montoya will undoubtedly be better now that he’s had a year to reacclimatize back to open-wheel racing; Pagenaud has the opportunity with one of IndyCar’s best teams to showcase his talent on an even larger scale. Penske is a strong favorite to score its first Indianapolis 500 win since 2009, which would give them that and a Daytona 500 in the same year. Beyond that, a top four sweep of the points standings is not an impossible goal, although choosing between them is a difficult task!