SONOMA, Calif. – Roger Penske is excellent at many things in racing, including keeping his cards close to the vest.
So too is Josef Newgarden, who has been rumored to potentially make the shift from Ed Carpenter Racing to “The Captain’s” Team Penske for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
So, it perhaps comes as no surprise that Penske offered no hints about his lineup for the 2017 season during a post-event media availability following the confirmation of Menards in a 10-race deal for Simon Pagenaud next season.
The only thing Penske let slip is that the four-car lineup for 2017 is not necessarily guaranteed.
Commercial arrangements appear in place for Pagenaud, Will Power and Helio Castroneves, but the fourth car – currently driven by Juan Pablo Montoya – is yet to have its commercial considerations accounted for.
Penske is targeting to have his IndyCar lineup revealed within “the next 30 to 60 days.”
“Well there’s lots of speculation of what we’re going to do on our drivers. We’re really not in a position to announce the final slate of guys for next year. Our goal is to run at least three cars and potentially four cars,” Penske told assembled reporters.
Penske was non-committal on Montoya’s status.
“We haven’t made that decision yet. We’re in discussions with him. Obviously we have to look at the sponsorship available,” Penske said.
“We’ve got to put the sponsorship around him. I think hopefully in the next 30 to 60 days we’ll have an announcement on what our final lineup will be.”
Despite several attempts, Penske either smiled or offered a “no comment” when asked Newgarden’s status.
“Right now, he’s not available yet,” Penske told a group of assembled reporters.
Penske’s also been linked to a potential sports car program – which could serve as a landing spot for Montoya down the road – and he reiterated what Penske Racing president Tim Cindric has said about wanting one.
If you’re thinking from a prototype standpoint, IMSA has moved towards the new Daytona Prototype international (DPi) platform for 2017. DPi offers one of the four homologated LMP2 chassis, but with custom manufacturer bodywork available as well as a different engine.
In a FIA World Endurance Championship situation, LMP1’s hybrid is open, while in LMP2 there are only just the four chassis with a spec Gibson engine.
“I’ll say what Tim has said, we’ve wanted to run sports cars for a number of years when we were in with Porsche,” Penske said.
“Hopefully there’s an opportunity. We’ve had a chance to talk to two or three different manufacturers. That has some bearing on what we might do, vis-a-vis with the IndyCar also.”
Mark Kent, Director of Motorsports Competition – Chevrolet, did not tip his hand either on when any official GM sports car program for 2017 will be announced. Cadillac has been projected as one of the two DPi manufacturers for 2017, but GM has not made an official confirmation or announcement about its participation.
“The only thing I can say there is, stay tuned,” Kent said.