Indy 500 winner believes ‘sky is the limit’ with INDYCAR’s new owner

INDYCAR Photo
INDYCAR Photo
1 Comment

As the reigning winner of the Indianapolis 500, Simon Pagenaud has first-hand knowledge at how winning the biggest race in the world has changed his life.

Now that his team owner, Roger Penske, has agreed to purchase the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500, INDYCAR and IMS Productions, Pagenaud predicts even greater things for the grandest event in auto racing.

“I don’t think there is anybody that can fulfill the role as well as Roger Penske can,” Pagenaud told NBC Sports.com in an exclusive interview. “I’m very excited about the future. What the Penske Corporation can bring to the sport, the sky is the limit from now on.

“It’s very exciting for the future of INDYCAR, for the Indianapolis 500 and myself as a driver being in this sport.”

Pagenaud also remembered the 74-year ownership history of the Hulman George Family, that began when Tony Hulman purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Eddie Rickenbacker on November 14, 1945.

“It’s been incredible to see what the Hulman-George Family have done for the sport,” Pagenaud said. “Personally, as a winner of the Indianapolis 500, you enter that exclusive club as a winner. It was a dream to go to that track as a kid and it was a dream to win it. It was a very unreachable dream and it was made known to me when I was a kid.

“That family has done so much for me and for the sport that I love, I’m super thankful.

“Roger Penske has a very similar story except he ended up buying it in the end. It’s incredible to see the empire he has produced. I’m very proud to drive for Team Penske; very proud to see what my boss has accomplished in his career.”

At 82 years of age, Penske continues to command a “full-speed ahead” approach to his massive business empire and his legendary racing team that has won a combined 545 races all over the world including a record 18 wins in the Indianapolis 500.

“Roger is the best at knowing what to do with his schedule,” Pagenaud said. “I can tell you one thing, it’s impressive how he manages things so perfectly while being so busy. That is a trait of character for a very successful businessman and he is one of the most successful in the world.

“It’s incredible to see the desire that he has. It’s incredible that I know him personally and I’m very proud to be one of his drivers.

“The Penske drivers, when you join Team Penske you represent more than just the team, you represent the brand. That brand just expanded.

“That future is going to be more exciting for all of us.”

Pagenaud has full confidence in the Penske Corporation, INDYCAR and its staff led by CEO Mark Miles and President Jay Frye and their staffs.

“Personally, I’m along for the ride,” Pagenaud said. “I’m excited for the ride we are about to take.”

There was another life-changing moment for Pagenaud on October 25. That is when he married his longtime girlfriend, Hailey McDermott, at a small, private outdoor ceremony in Napa, California.

McDermott and Pagenaud have been together for seven years. Six weeks ago, they made it official.

“I have been married for a while to that lovely lady,” Pagenaud quipped. “I’ve accomplished all my dreams.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

Swoll Stewart injury
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
0 Comments

Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.