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Penske, Menards announce extension for 10 IndyCar races in 2017

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Team Penske and Menards have announced an extension of their partnership for 10 races in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, including the 101st Indianapolis 500.

Menards’ luminous yellow livery graced Simon Pagenaud’s no. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet for the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, starting what initially was set to be a three-race deal.

The partnership eventually expanded to five races as Pagenaud raced in Menards’ colors for Road America, Iowa and Pocono, and will do so a further 10 times in 2017 after a long-term deal was announced.

Here’s the release from Penske on the deal:

Team Penske announced today that it has reached a partnership extension with industry-leading home improvement store company Menards for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season and beyond.

The easily-identifiable bright yellow paint scheme of Menards will continue to shine on track with 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship contender Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Dallara/Chevrolet for 10 races in 2017, including the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28.

“Partnering Menards with our Verizon IndyCar Series program just makes sense. The company’s deep Midwest roots are a perfect fit with the IndyCar fan base,” said Roger Penske, whose team will prepare to clinch its 14th IndyCar Series Championship this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

“Menards is a great example of a partner that is completely engaged with our program at Team Penske. They not only make the most of our partnership by building brand awareness, Menards also helps market and promote the series, as well as our other team partners. We are excited to continue to build with them for the future.”

The partnership between Team Penske and Menards began in 2016. The relationship started out with Menards serving as a primary sponsor on the No. 22 Team Penske Chevy for three races before it grew to a total of five races this season.

In 2017, Menards will continue to enhance its presence with primary sponsorship on the No. 22 car with Pagenaud at 10 races, focusing on events and areas where the company has strong marketing presence.

“Menards is an institution in the Midwest and it’s an honor to represent them,” said Pagenaud, who carries a 43-point lead in the series championship over teammate Will Power into the final race of the season at Sonoma on Sunday.

“Every time I walk into one of their stores I’m amazed. There’s nothing you can’t find there. More importantly, though, is the friendly atmosphere the store associates create. Everyone at Team Penske is looking forward to growing with Menards next year and into the future.”

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”