Team Penske INDYCAR Race Engineers Gear Up for 2023

March 4, 2023

The 2023 NTT INDYCAR Series season takes the green flag on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida this weekend as Team Penske looks for a 12th victory on the 1.8-mile street circuit.

In advance of this season’s INDYCAR opening race, we caught up with the Race Engineers who will be leading Team Penske’s three entries to get their outlook on the season.

Luke Mason – No. 2 Hitachi Dallara/Chevrolet

Mason begins his first season as Race Engineer for two-time INDYCAR Series champion Josef Newgarden. He served as the Performance Engineer for Newgarden in 2022, where the No. 2 car visited victory lane five times and finished runner-up in the Series Championship.

Q. This is your first season as a race engineer at Team Penske. What are your goals and expectations?

A. “The first goal for everyone at Team Penske is to win the Indianapolis 500. That’s at the forefront of what we do here. Everything we’ve done over the off season revolves around what we can do to win that race. We came so close to winning the Championship, so heading into this year we want to tick that box as well.”

Q. You worked with Josef Newgarden last year as a Performance Engineer. Do you think having that relationship will be an advantage in 2023? 

A. “I think being together (with Josef) last year, learning his language as he describes the car, and understanding what he needs from me as his race engineer and what he needs to go fast each race. It's a lot easier having spent that year to build that relationship. We can hit the ground running as opposed to having to go through that process and tip toe around each other at the start of the year.”

Q. Josef and the No. 2 team led the INDYCAR Series in victories in 2022. What steps do you think you need to make to win the Championship? 

A. “If you go back, historically, the success of the No. 2 car has been built on consistency. Josef, throughout the years has always been extremely consistent. I think, for whatever reason, last year we lost some of that. We had good days, with five wins, but then we had some really bad days. I think internally the focus is to really build that consistency back and still have those really good days but turn those really bad days into ok days. I think that’s the key to winning the Championship this year.”

Ben Bretzman – No. 3 DEX Imaging Dallara/Chevrolet

Bretzman begins his second season with third-year driver Scott McLaughlin and ninth overall season with Team Penske. The pairing scored three wins in 2022, including last year’s season opener in the Streets of St. Pete, and finished fourth in the final standings.

Q. Last year was your first full season working with Scott McLaughlin. Can you speak to building that relationship?

A. “It was a pretty successful year for Scott and the No. 3 car. He had massive improvements from where he was in 2021. Certainly, there’s gains you can make year-to-year. Getting him in the car and getting to the tracks in 2021 was good and now we’re expanding on his track history. 2022 was really about how do we get Scott and take him to the next level to really execute on a race weekend and extract the most out of him at each track. Our relationship was great starting late in 2021, and it continues to get better and better.”

Q. Where has Scott made his biggest improvements? 

A. “Scott’s biggest improvements are just overall driving the car. The massive differences between driving an INDYCAR compared to where he came from in the Supercars he overcame. He’s made big improvements in how he mentally prepares for races. He tends to be very hard on himself at times and expects to do well. We’re always looking to take what you can get on a race weekend and sometimes it’ll come out good and sometimes it will not. You can’t necessarily fight your way through the entire field every weekend, so if we have to take a top-five we will. Making sure Scott isn’t dwelling on setbacks and keeping him confident is definitely one of the most important things.”

Q. What’s your outlook and goals in 2023? 

A. “We like everyone else have lofty goals. First is to get Scott his first oval win. Once he knows he can win on any track he’s going to be really dangerous. Certainly, he knows he can win on an oval especially how close he came in Texas. In a perfect world, we win the Indianapolis 500, but we’ll see. Obviously, everyone’s goal is to win the Championship and a ton of races - it’s hard to say you’ll do it. But baseline is an oval win and execute every weekend. We have a successful pit crew, engineers and driver and if we put all those pieces together, we’ll do pretty darn well.”

David Faustino – No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet

Faustino begins his 14th season with Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet as they look to defend their 2022 Championship. To go along with the third title, Will eclipsed Mario Andretti’s pole position record in INDYCAR at the season finale at Laguna Seca last year.

Q. Coming off a championship season in 2022 where do you believe there’s still room for improvement? 

A. “I think in 2022 we had really good racing consistency. Obviously that consistency is what led to a championship. But looking for improvement, I think we could have done better with our starting positions in qualifying, especially on the street courses and some of the road courses. We had to claw our way up a few times and to be honest, got lucky a few times with the way cautions fell and the strategy going our way. We made good decisions to capitalize on that stuff for our race finish consistency. Certainly, our starting positions could get better this year. I think some of the rules changes that INDYCAR has implemented for this year in road and street course qualifying will help the situations where you get a red flag, and you can’t get a lap in. We should be able to win a few more races, only winning one race doesn’t always fly when fighting for a Championship. I’d like to up that number a little bit, and I think starting closer to the front will help that because we certainly have the potential. If there were anymore, I think maybe just cleaning up some race strategy stuff on ovals, but all in all, we’re not looking to change a lot of things, just clean it up a little bit and increase that start consistency.”

Q. With one of the longest tenure race engineer/driver combinations in the sport, how have you and Will managed to keep the working relationship strong? 

A. “We’ve always had a pretty good working relationship. I think if there has been tension, it has been he and I getting frustrated with things. As we’ve both got older, it’s been a good transition for us to take it as it comes and not get stressed out, especially with finish results. We used to downward spiral a little more when we didn’t have a perfect race or qualifying result. I think last year that showed when we had some things go wrong in qualifying and we still kept our wits about us and raced really well. I think he has evolved to realize that it’s important to stay focused on process rather than getting frustrated with outcomes. We’re both much better at focusing on the process now.”

Q. As one of the most accomplished drivers in open wheel history, how has Will evolved over the years? 

A. “I think he’s a little bit more open to varied results but trying to stay on track for consistency instead of just win or nothing, or pole or nothing. When we lost Championships in the 2012 to 2016 range, a lot of that was because of inconsistencies. We had six race wins one year and never won the Championship. He’s evolved to try and keep the consistent results and not make high-risk moves that might take him out when he’s got a top-five in hand. He’s evolved to play the long game better.”

Live coverage of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg begins on Sunday, March 5th at 12:00 P.M. ET on NBC, Peacock and INDYCAR Radio.