IndyCar: Team Penske 2018 season review


Editor’s note: MotorSportsTalk continues to review how each organization in the IndyCar Series performed in 2018 and also takes a look ahead to 2019.

Thus far we have featured Juncos RacingMeyer Shank RacingCarlin Racing, Harding Racing, AJ Foyt Racing, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser SullivanDale Coyne Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Today we feature Team Penske (two more reviews remain after today: Andretti Autosport on Sunday and Chip Ganassi Racing on Monday).

TEAM PENSKE 2018 season review: Team Penske’s two-year run as the champs of IndyCar came to an end in 2018. Even though all of its three drivers fell short of earning another championship, Team Penske still had a strong season, capped off by Will Power’s win in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, Team Penske’s 17th win in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Team Penske also surpassed 200 lifetime Indy car wins during the season.

Team Penske’s three drivers all finished in the top-6 in the overall season standings: Power finished third, 2017 IndyCar champ Josef Newgarden finished fifth, and 2016 IndyCar champ Simon Pagenaud finished sixth. Had it not been for a few bad races here or there for each of the three drivers, the championship battle – and their overall season finishes – could have been much tighter and closer.



Team name: No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet

Years in IndyCar: 13 (11 in IndyCar, two in CART/Champ Car)

Career wins and podium finishes: 35 (33 in IndyCar, 2 in CART/Champ Car) and 70 (64 in IndyCar and 6 in CART/Champ Car)

Best career finish: champion of 2014 season

2018 final standing: Third

2018 final stats: 3 wins, 8 podiums, 4 poles

2018 best race finish: 1st (Indianapolis Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500, Gateway)

SEASON WRAPUP: Power enjoyed his typically strong campaign. He has become one of the most consistent drivers in IndyCar annals: since 2010, Power has finished first (2014), second 4 times (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016), third twice (2015 and 2018), fourth (2013) and fifth (2017). Of course, the highlight was winning the Indy 500 after 11 prior tries. The championship pretty much slipped away from Power in the early part of the second half of the season, when he finished 18th at Texas (crash) and Toronto and 23rd at Road America (engine). Add in a disappointing 21st place finish at Portland, and Power ultimately was just too far behind to catch points leaders Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: While winning the Indy 500 was the biggest victory of his career, Power was disappointed that the championship slipped through his hands late in the season. Look for an even stronger season from him in 2019. Now that he’s won Indy, he definitely wants to win it again – as well as a second career IndyCar championship.

QUOTE (after season-ending race at Sonoma): “It was a good year though. Roger (Penske) got his 500th win today (NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski won at Las Vegas on the same day as IndyCar’s finale at Sonoma). We won the Indy 500. We won the 200th IndyCar race for Team Penske. We won the Brickyard 400. Just couldn’t get the championship here. But overall, it was a good year for Team Penske.”



Team name: No. 1 Hitachi/Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet

Years in IndyCar: 7

Career wins and podium finishes: 10 and 22

Best career single season finish: 1st (2017)

2018 final standing: 5th

2018 final stats: 3 wins, 3 podiums, 3 poles

2018 best race finish: 1st (Phoenix, Alabama, Road America)

SEASON WRAPUP: It was a good year for Newgarden, but not as good as his championship-winning campaign in 2017. Sure, he earned 3 wins, but he had no other podium finishes (vs. 4 wins and 9 podiums in 2017). He did become a much better qualifier, earning four poles (vs. just two others in total over his previous six seasons).

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: Look for Newgarden to bounce back stronger in 2019. He admitted after this past season he was disappointed with his overall finish and he had hoped he would have finished higher and performed stronger. It’s not like Newgarden had a bad overall performance. Just a few things here or there, had they gone more in his favor, and he could have finished higher. Look for him to do just that in 2019 and be a strong contender for his second championship in three seasons.

QUOTE (following season-ending race at Sonoma): “It was a great season and a lot of great moments for the whole team and myself. We just have to work to be a little stronger next year and go for the championship and the Indy 500.”



Team name: No. 22 Menards/DXC Technology/Verizon Chevrolet

Years in IndyCar: 9 (8 IndyCar, 1 Champ Car)

Career wins and podium finishes: 11 and 28 (all IndyCar)

Best career single-season finish: 1st (2016)

2018 final standing: 6th

2018 final stats: 0 wins, 2 podiums

2018 best race finish: 2nd (Texas, Toronto)

SEASON WRAPUP: It was not a typical season for Pagenaud. After winning the championship in 2016 and finishing second in 2017, he dipped to sixth in 2018. A significant contributing factor to that drop was the fact he failed to win a race and earned just two podiums. The last time he had similar numbers was 2015 (0 wins, 2 podiums), when he finished 11th. Another disappointing part of the season: after leading 406 laps in 2016 and 187 in 2017, he led just 31 laps in all of 2018, the worst single season mark of his career. The irony of this season is that Pagenaud only had three races where he failed to finish in the top-10. To finish sixth in the overall standings, it was a good season. It just wasn’t a good enough season by Pagenaud’s normal standards and performances.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: Pagenaud, who doesn’t turn 35 until May 18, is still in his prime as a driver. 2018 was not the kind of season that Pagenaud likely envisioned heading into the first race at St. Petersburg. There’s no need for any changes on the team, just hope for – and work for – better performance and luck going forward into 2019.

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IndyCar results, points after Detroit Grand Prix


DETROIT — Alex Palou topped the results of an NTT IndyCar Series race for the second time this season, extending his championship points lead with his victory in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who also won the GMR Grand Prix (and the Indy 500 pole position) last month, holds a 51-point lead over teammate Marcus Ericsson (ninth at Detroit) through seven of 17 races this season.

Ganassi, which placed all four of its drivers in the top 10 at Detroit, has three of the top four in the championship standings with Scott Dixon ranked fourth after a fourth at Detroit.

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Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden is third in the standings after taking a 10th at Detroit. Pato O’Ward slipped to fifth in the points after crashing and finishing 26th

Here are the IndyCar results and points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:


Click here for the official box score from the 100-lap race on a nine-turn, 1.645-mile street course in downtown Detroit.

Lap leader summary

Full lap chart

Best section times

Full section data

Event summary

Pit stop summary

Here is the finishing order in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix with starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 100, Running
2. (7) Will Power, Chevrolet, 100, Running
3. (9) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 100, Running
4. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 100, Running
5. (13) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 100, Running
6. (12) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 100, Running
7. (2) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 100, Running
8. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 100, Running
9. (6) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 100, Running
10. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 100, Running
11. (24) Colton Herta, Honda, 100, Running
12. (17) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 100, Running
13. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 100, Running
14. (20) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 100, Running
15. (15) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 100, Running
16. (18) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 100, Running
17. (25) Jack Harvey, Honda, 100, Running
18. (14) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 100, Running
19. (23) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 100, Running
20. (19) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 97, Running
21. (22) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 97, Running
22. (26) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 97, Running
23. (21) David Malukas, Honda, 85, Contact
24. (3) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 80, Contact
25. (27) Graham Rahal, Honda, 50, Contact
26. (10) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 41, Contact
27. (16) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 1, Contact

Winner’s average speed: 80.922 mph; Time of Race: 02:01:58.1171; Margin of victory: 1.1843 seconds; Cautions: 7 for 32 laps; Lead changes: 10 among seven drivers. Lap Leaders: Palou 1-28; Power 29-33; O’Ward 34; Palou 35-55; Power 56-64; Palou 65; Rossi 66; Newgarden 67-68; Kirkwood 69; Ericsson 70-76; Palou 77-100.


Click here for the points tally in the race.

Here are the points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:



Engine manufacturers

Pit stop performance

Top 10 in points: Palou 273, Ericsson 222, Newgarden 203, Dixon 194, O’Ward 191, Rossi 176, McLaughlin 175, Power 172, Herta 149, Rosenqvist 148.

Rest of the standings: Grosjean 145, Kirkwood 142, Lundgaard 136, Ilott 116, VeeKay 108, Ferrucci 105, Armstrong 101, Rahal 99, Malukas 91, Daly 88, DeFrancesco 81, Castroneves 80, Harvey 78, Canapino 77, Pagenaud 72, Pedersen 61, Robb 55, Takuma Sato 37, Ed Carpenter 27, Ryan Hunter-Reay 20, Tony Kanaan 18, Marco Andretti 13, RC Enerson 5, Katherine Legge 5.

Next race: IndyCar will head to Road America for the Sonsio Grand Prix, which will take place June 18 with coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.