What Drivers Said after Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto


Given the chaotic nature of Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto, it’s not surprising that drivers had lots to say afterward.

Here’s What Drivers Said:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) — WINNER: “I’m worn out, man, that was a physical race. It was definitely easy to pick up lots of debris on the tires out there, and I think that’s what happened to Josef (Newgarden) on that restart where we took the lead. He tried to go a little bit fast into the last corner there in Turn 11, got into the gray and that was pretty much it. I can’t thank PNC Bank and the crew enough, we just needed some clear air and we were able to check out. What a great win for the team and everyone associated with this No. 9 car program.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet) – finished 2nd: “It was a good time. It was a great race, you know, Toronto supports the Verizon IndyCar Series so well. Thanks to the fans for showing up; it was packed today. The track was beautiful. Tough racing out there. You know, the (new aero) package is a lot less grip in the corners, it was a lot more straightaway speed. The tires really struggled in the heat. There was a lot of marble – a lot of dust. Restarts were ice racing. It was a lot of fun, and obviously, it turned out in our favor. I think we showed that we’re back this year. We’ve done a lot of work in the background. I want to thank Team Penske, DXC Technology and Chevy for doing all the work they do in the background to help me understand this (new aero) package. We saw it this weekend, all three Penske cars were in the (Firestone) Fast Six. It was a great improvement.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda) – finished 3rd: “We did have a great car in the race. I don’t think anyone had anything for Scott (Dixon) today. Dixie was kind of in a class of his own, but to go punch for punch with him in the second stint…I thought we really showed some great strides, some great improvements on the Lucas Oil car from warm-up to now. The final stint, I don’t if it was damage from the fight with (Simon) Pagenaud, but I had too much understeer and I couldn’t maintain that pace. If not, I think it would have been a fun fight between Simon and I at the end. I thought maybe second (place finish) was in the cards for me, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Thankfully, I’m not an overly teary guy, but that (finishing on the podium in Canada) was really cool. I can’t thank these Toronto fans enough. I mean, this whole week has been such a whirlwind of emotions, and to stand on the podium in my first professional home race, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda) – finished 4th: “Our start didn’t go great, and obviously we were battling for position with Robbie (Wickens) there and got shuffled back behind Marco (Andretti). That really was kind of the start of the end of a great result for us because we had pace, we just couldn’t get by him. We burned a lot of push-to-pass trying to get by him, but just couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate to waste so much time in the beginning of the race. On that restart melee, we got tagged by Takuma (Sato), which I should know better than staying on the inside of him in a corner like that. I bent the toe link, and from there, it was a bit of a struggle to feel the car out and see how it was going to change with the bend in the suspension. Honestly, the Arrow Electronics car was still pretty great, and in that last stint, we were chasing down the leaders. Who knows what could have been, but ultimately happy with Robbie being on the podium and two SPM cars in the top five.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet) – finished 5th: “I’m just really proud of the Carlin guys. They fight and work so hard, weekend in and weekend out. They’re the first ones here in the paddock in the morning and the last ones out at night. We struggled a little on Saturday, but on race day we were able to bring it. We showed up in Toronto with a great foundation from Detroit Race 2, a top-10 car, and we were able to make it a little better this weekend. The No. 23 crew had two fantastic pit stops – that second stop was just rock solid. To be able to come out with a top five, leaning on fourth at the end, was a great way to cap off the weekend. Really pleased to bring home Carlin’s first top-five in the Verizon IndyCar Series and my first top five of the season.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – finished 6th: “Great day for the ABC Supply team – we finally had everything going our way. We had good stops, good passing and obviously, we had a couple people do us some favors on the racetrack – that’s the way this race goes. It’s the best result for the team so far – top six on a street course where we’d been improving our car all weekend. Really happy for ABC, Larry (Foyt, team president) and for A.J. (Foyt, team owner). He’s (A.J.) not here, so I wanted to give him a good result.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda) – finished 7th: “It was a heck of a fight today, honestly. Starting 22nd, we knew we had our work cut out for us to get to the front, but we had great pit stops and great strategy. The guys did exactly what I needed them to do on the car on each pit stop, as far as adjustments, and it just came to us at the end. I’m really thankful for Andretti Autosport and Relay to be able to have such a good run up here in Canada. I’m ready to go to my hometown now and see if we can get into the top five.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) – finished 8th: “It’s a pretty disappointing result. I don’t think we had the car to beat Scott (Dixon), but for sure with the problems that everyone had, we could’ve finished second. It’s been a difficult string of races. We had contact with Will (Power), and he had a bit of a problem going into Turn 3 and I misjudged the closing rate, so I had a front-wing change that put me to the back of the field. Then (Graham) Rahal spun around and I stopped to avoid it, but then Ryan (Hunter-Reay) hit me and I went airborne. We changed the wing again and stopped a couple more times. The fact that we finished eighth is a huge testament to the NAPA AUTO PARTS team and I’m so thankful for them. It was a difficult day and they kept me in it. We’ve had a lot of mistakes lately and there’s not a lot of time off, so we have a lot of work to do.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet) – finished 9th: “It was a tough race. Making contact with the wall didn’t help. I don’t know what it was to be honest with you, it was either marbles or dust from the sweepers; they’re trying to clean off the track and that yellow, when we already had tons of marbles 27 laps in. I don’t know what to tell you, I went straight into the wall. And part of that is my fault, just making a mistake, but I didn’t expect it; I’ll tell you that. I just had no idea the car was going to do that. I knew it would be low grip, but not zero grip. I just lost the front end completely. I feel terrible, it’s not fun to make a mistake. This No. 1 Hitachi Chevy was quick today, I think it was capable of being in the top three or potentially winning the race if I didn’t make the mistake, but you have days like this in racing. We have to move on now and try to pick it back up. With the championship battle, we’ve got a long way to go. This doesn’t help but look, we have plenty of racing. We need to keep our head up here. We’re going to be just fine, we’ve got fast cars and the best in the business. If we get our mistakes sorted out, we’re going to be just fine.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 Oberto Circle K / Curb Honda) – finished 10th: “I’m really disappointed. I just hate it for the Oberto boys because we had top-four pace all weekend and the only time we didn’t show it was in qualifying. We should’ve maybe had a shot at podium, but definitely fourth. We were pretty good on cold tires. Everybody had a ton of pick up, so it made it a lot of fun when people were sliding around so we were able to capitalize. I saw the collector light come on with two laps to go and my heart sunk. We’ve had street course pace all year, we’re just not doing what we need to do as far as results and I’m pretty disappointed with that, to be honest.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet) – finished 11th: “The first few laps were quite tricky, being on blacks (Firestone primary tires) while everyone was on reds (Firestone alternate tires). With the incident this morning, we weren’t 100 percent sure where we were with the car. I maybe struggled a bit more in the first stint than I did at the end of the race, I’ll put my hand up for that one. We got to the lead on strategy and once we were in clean air, the pace was quite good. Tim (Broyles, ECR General Manager) was telling me what was happening, so I was quite happy. And literally, just about as we were going to come into the pits, no more than 100 meters from the pit commit line, the yellow came out and my heart just sank. It was almost perfect. That dropped us to the back of the field, but I had a couple of good restarts with the yellows that were later. On the last restart, I got pushed a little bit wide and it took me about three laps to recover, just trying to get the dirt off the tires. Those two things were a little bit annoying, but overall, I thought our pace was good. It was a great job by the Fuzzy’s Vodka guys to get me back out in time for the race and I am glad I could perform for them. It was a decent result, but if the dice had rolled differently for us as we came into the pits, I think we could have been set for a solid Top 10, maybe even a bit higher.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) – finished 12th: “Well that wasn’t the day we wanted to have. We knew the car had good speed, but things just didn’t seem to go our way this weekend with the NTT DATA car. With some early pit stop strategy and the way the race played out we were able to make up 9 positions, but we want more than that. Hopefully we can come back stronger in Mid-Ohio in a few weeks.”

CONOR DALY (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet) – finished 13th: “I just want to thank Harding Racing and Chevy for this opportunity, it’s so nice to be back in a car. There’s something about this car that we need to sort out mechanically on heavy fuel loads, the car was really beating me up. I think we had good race pace. I got shoved into the wall a few times, which I didn’t really like, but it is what it is. I could have used a bit more cooperation from the No. 18 car, as he was a few laps down. But anyway, I’m just so thankful to be back out here and we made a lot of progress technically this weekend, so hopefully that helps the team in the future.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda) – finished 14th: “It was a fun race, we had quite a bit of yellow today and I think that helped us with our pit strategy. I let the race come to us, and I didn’t take any unnecessary chances in my No. 19 Paysafe car. A lot of people had different issues and I stayed out of trouble and it led to a decent finish. It’s been a fun season and I want to thank Dale Coyne Racing and Paysafe for giving me the opportunity to do these nine races with them this year. Now I get to cheer on Pietro (Fittipaldi) when he comes back for the next race.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – finished 15th: “I’m a bit disappointed with the result we had today. I got hit on Lap 20 and got hit again after a restart, so we had to do two extra pit stops. From then on, my day was over-not much we could do. It’s a pity because I think we could have finished in the top 10.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda) – finished 16th: “It’s was a very unfortunate day and a big loss for us in points. The DHL Honda was running comfortable in third and pushing hard, but I had too much front brake lock and found the tire barrier – that’s my fault. Then after that, we got caught up in a wreck, which put us a lap down. From there we just fought to stay in front of the leader.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet) – finished 17th: “The first stint of the race on Firestone red (alternate) tires went pretty well. We had good pace and were running as high P11 at one point in the race. Unfortunately, I lost positions after one of the restarts and my tires got dirty in the marbles. I was not able to recover the positions and had to settle for 17th. I am ready to move past this event and focus on Mid-Ohio in two weeks.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) – finished 18th: “That was definitely a very physical race. In the last corner, I brushed the wall and bent a rear toe link, so the car was a little bit out of whack. I didn’t even know that (Alexander) Rossi and I touched. I was just kind of trying to hang on until we got a yellow and could pit. I’ve never had so many DNFs; not DNF for this race, but like a DNF in a season. Still, it’s kind of how this sport can go. We’re just going to keep pushing away with the No. 12 Verizon Chevy and focus on the double points in Sonoma. That can be a 100 point swing, so we’re still in the game.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team Mouser/Molex Honda) – finished 19th: “It was a tough weekend all around for the Mouser Electronics/Molex team. I thought we had something pretty good in qualifying that could help us accomplish the usual good starting position in Toronto, but I wasn’t comfortable enough with the conditions (wet track) to challenge the car for the one lap. I didn’t do a good job, we didn’t make it through and that put us at the back of the field. We tried something for the warm-up this morning and the car was far worse than it had been. So, we un-winded that and threw a Hail Mary at it for the race, but the car still wasn’t quite there. It was OK on the Firestone red (alternate) tires, then we made a couple of changes during the first stop and put black (Firestone primary) tires on. As soon as we put on the blacks, the car became extremely catchy, snappy and unpredictable. I made a couple of mistakes where I almost crashed, then I got into Turn 1 and I have no idea what happened. It felt like I didn’t really slow down. The car started to crab and go sideways under braking and from there I couldn’t recover. I went backward into the tires, not bad enough to put us out of the race, but bad enough that I had to come in and change the rear wing. We lost two laps, and from there it was just about collecting data and bringing it home. It was just a very disappointing weekend. I really wanted to do a lot more for the Mouser Electronics, Molex guys, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be this weekend.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet) – finished 20th: “I got a lot of marbles on my right front tire and it just took off on me. I was along for the ride. It is a shame, we had moved up quite a lot. The Preferred Freezer Services car was handling pretty well, so it’s frustrating because we threw away a lot of points. It is what it is, but it’s really frustrating. I feel bad for my guys.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rousseau Honda) – finished 21st: “I’m disappointed; there isn’t anything else to say. Obviously, as we showed there at the end once we got back in the race, the car was fast. The start was awful; we got boxed in and just couldn’t go anywhere, so that was disappointing. The blacks (Firestone primary tires) were OK to start, it was really that we just got boxed in and that was my fault. I just didn’t get the right lane and it bit us a little bit. Overall, the Rousseau car was fast and I feel bad for the guys. We wanted better and we expected better and it hurt us a lot in the championship. We go on to Mid-Ohio after opportunities lost again.  We’ve just got to make one (win) happen soon.” (About the Lap 34 restart): “I had a really good run and was going to the right, and then (Jordan) King popped out and hit the brakes. I went left to try to avoid him, got into the back of (Max) Chilton just a little bit, but we were kind of OK. We started to get to mid-corner and were OK, and then, wham, I got absolutely drilled from behind. I don’t really know by whom, but ultimately, obviously, I started the whole train of it. I just don’t know what happened behind me.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda) – finished 22nd: “All weekend we were competitive. Obviously, the weather situation for qualifying was tough for us, but still, we were competitive again in the warm-up before the race.  Then, in the race we had some issues, but the car was fast all day.  I feel sorry for the boys who gave me a great car the whole weekend.  I think we have great momentum. I’m looking forward to going to Mid-Ohio.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet) – finished 23rd: “It was just a really unfortunate day for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet and the whole Carlin Gallagher Racing crew. We were given a penalty under yellow that I’m not sure I completely agreed with, and then when we did go back green, everyone’s tires were still so dirty from driving through the caution zone that the contact was somewhat inevitable. A car spun out in front and then we were hit from behind, causing quite a considerable amount of damage. We were able to limp back around to pit lane, but once we got there, the team decided the damage was too extensive to continue. Just a tough break for the team, especially with how much I love racing here in Toronto.”

‘You can feels some tension’: Team Penske’s bid to win another Indy 500 for ‘The Captain’

Team Penske Indy 500
Nate Ryan/NBC Sports

INDIANAPOLIS – In the middle of the Team Penske nerve center in Gasoline Alley sits a battered table that’s been a key to winning the Indy 500 for a half-century.

From 1973 to 2006, the table was in a conference room at the team’s former shop in Reading, Pennsylvania. For the last 15 years at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s sat in the center of a neatly organized bank of humming monitors and tidy engineer workstations. Its yellow top and fading wooden bullnose molding seem out of place in such a high-tech hub.

But the table is where virtually every major move – from strategy plays to driver hiring to car and engine innovations – was consummated for a team that has a record 18 Indy 500 victories.

So when the team left Reading, the table went to the Brickyard. In recent years throughout May, it’s where team owner Roger Penske and Team Penske president Tim Cindric have camped out to oversee the machinations of the most storied team in Indianapolis 500 history.

“I wanted to keep the table because in any meeting with Roger, that’s where you were,” Cindric told NBC Sports. “Any decision relative to Penske Racing happened on that table.

“I decided this table is going to Indy and will be in our conference room for the rest of time.”

During its run in the Reading shop, the table was in a room with another keepsake.

It’s a photo of Roger Penske surrounded by 14 Baby Borgs (the team ran out of room to Photoshop in the latest spoils) in front of a mural of Al Unser’s 1987 Indy 500 winner by famed artist LeRoy Neiman.

When the Reading shop was inundated in 2006 in a flood so massive there were fish inside from the Schuylkill River, the water line stopped at 4 feet — just below the photo.

After being rescued, the photo was relocated when the team moved into the mammoth headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina, that also house Penske’s NASCAR and sports car programs.

The photo now hangs in a conference room titled “Indianapolis,” where “The Captain” now is keeping a figuratively watchful eye on all of the work being done to end a four-year drought in the race that means more to the multibillion-dollar business and racing magnate than anything else in the world

“Our idea with the photo was that Roger always would be at all the meetings at that table,” Cindric said a few weeks ago in the Mooresville shop. “And so now he is here, too.”

Penske’s most recent victory was in 2019 with Simon Pagenaud, and much has changed since. After buying the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar Series, he has put some professional distance between himself and the team he founded more than 57 years ago. Penske no longer is in his team’s pit stall on race day – today, he will deliver the prestigious command to start engines.

But though his presence with the team has declined, his passion for winning the world’s biggest remains singularly unquenchable. And he has been dropping hints he has a victory total in mind.

Team Penske managing director Ron Ruzewski heard it while sitting with the boss at the head table of the 2019 Indy 500 celebration.

“He said, ‘Well, now I want to win 20,’ ”  Ruzewski told NBC Sports. “If we can give him that, that’s everything.”

At 86 years old, the detail-oriented Penske still is feeling hale enough to tour his pristine 550-acre property on a nearly weekly basis.

But he also is cognizant that the clock is ticking on his time for celebrating at the track that he fell in love with as a 14-year-old in 1951.

“We’ve had longer times we haven’t won the race,” Cindric said. “The difference is Roger has less patience these days than what he had before. He’s always been completely competitive, but when we didn’t win the Indy 500 from 2009-15, there wasn’t nearly as much discussion as now because the expectations have been higher.

“From my perspective, I’m more motivated than ever to win it because I want him to be on that (winner’s) stand on the end of the day, and where he started the race saying the command. He’s brought the enthusiasm back to the start of that race because he puts a lot of energy into it. I want to end the day with him. That is as big a motivator as anything anyone can say or do.”

Within the walls of the Mooresville facility, the sense of necessity for a Penske victory is palatable – even for those on the NASCAR side of a sprawling facility of more than 250,000 square feet.

“They’ve been working hard because honestly the last couple of years, they haven’t been very good at Indy,” Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney told NBC Sports while recently sitting in that Indianapolis conference room. “They’ve lacked speed. Everyone knows about it. Roger has said it in meetings. You can sense the urgency to at least be in contention and have the speed to win it. You can feel some tension in the air. It’s good to have it sometimes.”

Though he never has attended the race, Blaney has gotten a strong read on what the Indy 500 means to the team during his decade as a Penske driver. He occasionally checks in on the IndyCar side of the shop and has stood on top of the famous IMS pagoda beside Roger Penske during the IndyCar road course race in the summer.

“He watches all his monitors there and knows everything that’s going on,” Blaney said. “You see how much every race means to Roger, but obviously especially the 500 and especially now owning IndyCar and IMS.

“It’s way more important, even on our (NASCAR) side. To win at Indy is huge for him.”

Will Power, who won the 2018 Indy 500 for Tea Penske and will make his 16th start today, said Roger Penske has asked “a lot of questions from the drivers and everyone” about the team’s recent dip at the Brickyard.

“It’s crazy we went back to back (with wins in) ’18-19 and then just took a big hit and suddenly there’s a big performance deficit,” Power told NBC Sports. “In the ’20 offseason, we did a lot of work and weren’t fast in ’21. Then we did a lot of work and in ’22, we weren’t fast.

“We’ve worked extremely hard. I think we’re going to be closer, no question.”

As with any championship-contending IndyCar team, the preparation for the 107th Indy 500 began several months ago.

Last September, Team Penske crews in Mooresville began “rubbing” on the cars that Scott McLaughlin, Josef Newgarden and Power will race at the Brickyard.

“I always ask whose car was the first and the last one to be done,” Power, who lives nearby and checks weekly on his cars, told NBC Sports with a laugh. “Because generally the last car to be done should be the best from having the experience of all the cars beforehand.”

It’s a meticulous process that doesn’t happen for any other race. Team members smooth out every inch of the cars’ bodies to eliminate any edges or seams in the endless quest for smooth aerodynamic perfection and optimal downforce levels.

And then they do it again. Ruzewski said the cars are in their third iteration when they arrive at the Brickyard in May.

“We put them together once at Christmas and inspect the fit for what needs to be changed and  improved,” he said. “Then we do it again and prime and paint them. We look at them again and then we do them again, rubbing the fit and finish really nice and getting all the decals flat. The attention to making them all the same is a big push. We’ve got three championship-caliber drivers, and we try to make them all the same.”

That task also falls on Team Penske production manager Matt Gimbel, who oversees a staff of 30  in the machine and carbon fiber composite shops.

With Team Penske also competing at the premier level of NASCAR and IMSA, these are the departments that feature the most intersection between the diverse racing series. With the trio of teams each facing marquee events in the next 30 days, Gimbel helps ensure there’s no dropoff in effort.

“I’ve got three customers, and each one is a priority, especially looking at May,” Gimbel told NBC Sports. “The Indy 500, you can’t say enough how important that is to RP. You’ve got the (Coca-Cola) 600 the same month, which is a crown jewel of the NASCAR series. Throw the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, and it can get pretty interesting.

“There are no favorites. Anything that can be done for either program is a priority. It’s a balancing act at the end of the day. We try to keep them separate as we try to get everything done. No is not an acceptable answer. We just figure out a way to get it done.”

Until the switch to the Next Gen, the workload in the machine and composite departments generally tilted 70-30 in favor of NASCAR.

But since NASCAR’s adoption of a more standardized vehicle that is similar conceptually to the spec Dallaras used in IndyCar, it’s become a 50-50 split with both series essentially adhering to the same competitive philosophies.

It’s put more of an emphasis on the Cup stock cars of refining parts in a way that’s been commonplace for 11 years in IndyCar.

Travis Geisler, Penske’s NASCAR competition director, said it’s another way that has helped make the Indy 500 an overriding concern in Mooresville – even though the chief priority for a couple hundred employees is trying to win the Coca-Cola 600 later Sunday night.

“Having the IndyCar program in house, we all feel May now as a special month because it is so intense in the building,” Geisler told NBC Sports. “You can tell the energy level. Anyone you interact with that has exposure to IndyCar, whether they be in the machine shop, paint, body, pit departments. There’s just this extra level of energy and attention to detail. In that way, peer pressure is good for us as a company. Because it really just drives everybody to have this we need May to be a perfect month.

“You walk through the shop floor on the IndyCar side, and you can see and feel that. That energy bleeds over. The tone of our whole place is set by the top. And that’s why it’s such a great place to work because Roger has an intensity for racing that’s above anything I’ve ever seen. His intensity for Indy is above anything anybody has ever seen. You add those together, and it runs down from the top. It’s a fun place to be a part of in May, and it’s amazing what we can accomplish in this month if we do it well.”

The crossover between the IndyCar and NASCAR teams is far from lip service.

In scouting the Next Gen transition, Geisler attended some IndyCar events in 2021 to get a handle on the new vehicle that has bridged the gap of open wheel and stock cars.

“It’s much more similar than what it was before,” Geisler said. “When we were building spindles, chassis and everything all over the place, it was very different than how IndyCar teams were doing it. Now it looks much more like how IndyCar is doing it. So especially since last year, we’ve been able to really tap into some of their processes of how do you beat other teams when you all have the same parts.

“They were able to accelerate our learning curve and mental processes on what’s this really going to be like? Because none of us really knew.”

There’s been some degree of payback after the IndyCar team benefited from watching the NASCAR side annually building 100 cars virtually from the ground up while trying to maintain a consistently excellent production line. With measurements to the thousandths of an inch, many of the quality control procedures have been adopted by the IndyCar teams.

“They had a manufacturing company and a race team, and we were always just race teams,” Ruzewski said. “When they were building cars, a lot of that understanding can flow over into how you understand these spec parts better. They were definitely ahead in certain areas. NASCAR led the charge in understanding the components while building cars with 100 cars all the same. They refined processes and some are certainly applicable to help us out that we still are learning from it.”

With the Next Gen switching the Cup Series to single-lugnut pit stops long in place for IndyCar, the pit crews also became interchangeable to an unprecedented level.

“We have NASCAR guys come over to work here, and it is a benefit on many fronts,” Power said. “There is so much crossover from the performance standpoint.”

Even though the cars are totally different, some of the aerodynamic R&D also has become more transferable.

“It’s closer now than ever as far as the spec side and where do you find speed,” Blaney said. “We’ve always had that philosophy of combining different minds and picking the brain of this strategist or crew chief on this side or that side. We’re all bouncing ideas off each other. Maybe it doesn’t always specifically help you, but it’s nice to have different mindsets and outlooks.”

It’s extremely effective in the most burgeoning sector of development in motorsports: The impact of information technology, particularly on setup simulations and race strategies.

“Where is technology going and how you use it in racing, those are the areas that we’re starting to work together on more,” Geisler said. “The world is changing at a pace in that field that it’s hard to keep up.”

It’s also complicated for Team Penske, which runs Chevrolet in IndyCar, Ford in NASCAR and Porsche in IMSA.

Each multinational automaker has their own intellectual property safeguards on sophisticated data and simulation systems that have become instrumental.

“I have to be the gatekeeper from a technology standpoint and respect the boundaries of the OEMs in racing Chevrolet, Ford and Porsche in the same building,” Cindric said. “In the first meeting about running Ford in Cup, Edsel Ford asked, ‘How does that work?’ I said, ‘The best way to answer that is if it doesn’t, you’ll let us know.’

“We’ve evolved all facets of our racing with the exception of technology. We’ve kept engineering separated so we can keep the boundaries up and respect the integrity of the OEMs without cross-pollinating their proprietary information. They have whole teams that move from one manufacturer to another, and that hurts their dissemination of IP much more than us. We don’t move around. We’ve been a Chevy team from the point there was a choice (in 2014) and with Ford since 2013. We have different disciplines, but the continuity we have with manufacturers and people protects the IP much more so than drivers going from team to team.”

Team Penske is the only team in the country racing in the top three national series and having the IMSA, IndyCar and NASCAR teams under the same roof has its challenges.

“Certainly from my perspective, it’s easier to manage one discipline in one building,” Cindric said. “When I was in Reading, Pennsylvania, running just the IndyCar team, I knew everybody and all their families and how many kids they had. I had everyone at my house for a pool party after we won Indy in ’01. I cooked burgers and brought the race cars over and just had a big time. You can’t do that in the same way here. I enjoy having that atmosphere more than this big thing you’re trying to keep connected and moving.”

But with the “recipe for success for racing in general is getting more similar, and the differentiator is the people,” Cindric said there are human resources advantages to the team’s structure. He meets monthly with management leads and discusses potential promotions and crossover of employees across series.

“I call it our ‘90-Day Return Policy,’ where you can take this person, and if it doesn’t work, you can return them, and they’ll do just fine in their previous role,” he said. “But it works 90 percent of the time.”

When it ends or mothballs programs (such as its Xfinity team and its sports cars teams multiple times), Penske also can avoid layoffs by absorbing employees into other areas “to keep good people engaged. You’re not as susceptible to the pluses and minuses of the economy in a place like this.

“There definitely are more opportunities here for people to grow and do different things,” he said. “In racing, the ceilings are all pretty low for where you can go, how you get there and how you justify getting raises. This gives people opportunities they wouldn’t have had elsewhere without moving, changing jobs or losing tenure.”

While the manufacturer allegiances have been compartmentalized, the barriers have come down between IndyCar and NASCAR in the halls of Team Penske, where a long concrete corridor cheekily referred to as “the Mason-Dixon Line” separates the teams’ work areas.

At the outset in the relocation of 60 IndyCar employees from Reading to Mooresville, uniting as one organization under one roof was far from harmonious.

“I hate to say it, but I felt like an outcast,” said Ruzewski, who remains one of a few dozen who remain since making the move in 2007. “You were one of those guys from Penske North. There wasn’t a lot of collaboration on things.”

The vibe shift began to happen around 2011 when the entire organization was rebranded as “Team Penske” (Penske Racing previously had been the moniker with a “South” attached to the NASCAR teams). Ruzewski recalled the 2013 switch to Ford in Cup as another marker, and Cindric pointed to the 2009-14 stretch of Team Penske going winless at the Indy 500 while the NASCAR team won its first two championships (Xfinity in 2010 and Cup in 2012).

“Ever since then, we’ve continued to evolve where we are three different disciplines under the same roof, but everyone benefits when Team Penske wins,” Cindric said. “Everyone monetarily benefits and winning the Indy 500 benefits the most relative to IndyCar.

“The awareness is there, and everyone feels part of that tradition and wants to be part of Roger’s legacy at Indianapolis.”