Friday, 19 September 2014

Penske as strong as ever in 2014

Roger Penske's motorsport empire is rarely far from the front, being top contenders in everything they compete in. But 2014 looks set to be one of the American institution's best years yet.

Penske, an automotive and transport tycoon, became a big name in American open-wheel competition, scoring an impressive 13 open wheel titles and 15 Indianapolis 500 victories as an owner since his team made their debut at the 1968 Indianapolis 500. However, until this season, Penske has had to watch as others have walked away with the crown.

The wait for Penske's next IndyCar title has, by his team's standards, been a long one. Sam Hornish Jr. was the last driver to triumph for 'The Captain' in 2006. Since then the team has finished in the top five each year, but another crown has proved elusive, until now.

This year the team took a one-two finish in the Verizon IndyCar standings with three time runner-up Will Power finally taking the series crown ahead of Helio Castroneves. Penske's third entry of Juan Pablo Montoya was also a championship contender during the season, eventually finishing fourth in his return to open-wheel racing, ensuring that all of Penske's entries made it into the top five - Ganassi's Scott Dixon took third to prevent Penske from taking a dominant one-two-three finish.

Whilst always challengers, 2014 has proved that Team Penske still has what it takes to take the top spot and dominate open-wheel racing completely.

It has also been a strong year for Team Penske in America's other premier motorsport series with their drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano taking a combined eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins so far this season.

In championship terms, Penske's NASCAR success is nowhere near as renowned as their open-wheel exploits with just one Nationwide (2010) and one Sprint Cup (2012) series championship to their name since they began stock car racing back in 1972.

Both titles came courtesy of Keselowski after he joined the organisation in 2010. Not only did he give Penske his first championships in each series, but he became only the second driver to take the crown in both series.

This year Keselowski made up for a poor title defence in 2013 by entering the championship deciding Chase playoff in the best possible way, taking back to back wins in Richmond and Chicagoland - the final regular season, and first Chase races - to put himself in prime position to secure a second championship crown.

Keselowski's team mate Joey Logano meanwhile comes off a career best eighth placed finish in 2013 and currently lies fifth in the Chase standings with nine races still to go.

Just like the IndyCar squad that they share their North Carolina headquarters with, Team Penske's NASCAR squad enters the closing stages of the season with all of their drivers running in the top five in the points standings - raising the tantalising prospect of Team Penske becoming the first organisation to win both the IndyCar title and NASCAR Sprint Cup in the same season.

Despite recent successes in both IndyCar and NASCAR, dominating America is not enough for Penske, who has also entered Formula One and the American Le Mans Series in the past.

Recently the company announced a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing to compete in Australia's V8 Supercars championship. The move into Australia's premier motorsport competition comes after years of speculation regarding an expansion into the series.

The team, to be known as DJR Team Penske, will be 51 per cent owned by Roger Penske and will field a pair of Ford Falcons with NASCAR Sprint Cup race winner Marcos Ambrose leading the team, returnng to the series where he won two titles before he moved Stateside in 2006. Former British Formula Ford Champion Scott Pye ais expected to line up along side him, although that is yet to be confirmed.

The 24-year old currently drives for DJR in it current guise but he has been linked to Robert Dahlgren's Volvo seat.

It looks as though this year could be Team Penske's strongest year across the board to date - and with international expansion on the horizon next year, 2015 could be even better for one of motorsport's true greats.

All images -, IndyCar Media,,

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