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Penske coy on JPM, Newgarden, targets IndyCar lineup in 30 to 60 days

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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.

Simon Pagenaud’s engineer relives 2019 Indy 500 victory on Twitter

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The Team Penske engineer for last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner is reliving Simon Pagenaud’s day by tweeting about what he was doing each moment a year later.

Starting with an observation that he awoke in his Indianapolis hotel room at 4:30 a.m., Ben Bretzman (@benbretzman) sent nearly two dozen tweets by 11 a.m. ET about how the morning before the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 unfolded.

Bretzman was through the infield tunnel and in Gasoline Alley by 6 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., he was wondering if his driver was awake yet, but he had heard for the first time from Pagenaud 45 minutes later.

‘BACK HOME AGAIN’Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, NBC

FIERCE FRIENDSHIPPagenaud, Rossi recall epic battle of 2019 Indy 500

Among other highlights: The team’s last strategy meeting was at 8:30 a.m.; final check of the weather was at 9:30 a.m. and Bretzman gave the No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet a once-over at 10:35 a.m. before it was pushed to the grid.

Follow @BenBretzman to watch the day unfold from the pit box and tune into “Back Home Again at 2 p.m. ET on NBC as Pageanud and Alexander Rossi, who are good friends off the track, recap their epic duel with host Mike Tirico.

Simon Pagenaud and engineer Ben Bretzman debrief at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IndyCar photo by Joe Skibinski).