Team Penske 2022 INDYCAR SERIES Season Review

December 27, 2022

In an era of sports where parity seems to be the norm, Team Penske has still found a way to stand out in the crowd over the recent NTT INDYCAR SERIES (NICS) seasons. In 2022, Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin and 2022 NICS Champion Will Power combined for nine wins over the 17 races contested. In the last seven NICS seasons, Team Penske has won nine or more races four times (2016, 2017, 2019, 2022). In each of those seasons, a Team Penske driver captured the championship with Simon Pagenaud doing so in 2016, Josef Newgarden in 2017 and 2019, and Power this past season.

Power also reached a special milestone in 2022 as he became the all-time leader in NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole positions. Capturing five poles during the title-winning 2022 season, Power won his 68th career pole during the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, surpassing the great Mario Andretti for all-time INDYCAR record. With his second championship, Power became the 11th driver to win multiple championships for Roger Penske. The team’s 1-2-4 finish in the final standings nearly duplicated the feat of the legendary 1994 squad that won 12 of 16 races to finish 1-2-3 in the standings.

The evolution of Power was on full display in 2022 as he captured his second NICS crown eight seasons after winning his first. Early in his career, Power burst onto the NICS scene as a fiery competitor that could extract the most speed out of his Chevrolet-powered car. It was an approach that allowed him to rack up wins and pole positions at a prodigious pace, yet yielded only one championship in 2014.

While still plenty quick behind the wheel, Power has adopted an even-keel approach that has allowed him to maximize points on weekends where wins may not be in the cards. As a result, he and the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevy team scored an amazing 12 top-five finishes in 17 races during the 2022 season, some of which came from starting back in the pack due to misfortune in qualifying. Power came from the back at Barber Motorsports Park and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to grab podium finishes after starting outside the top 15. He did the same in the final Detroit Grand Prix to be run on Belle Isle, starting 16th and willing his way to a victory to mark his 16th consecutive year with at least one win. The triumph gave Power 41 victories in his decorated career, good for sole possession of fifth place on the all-time wins list.

For the most part, however, Power was completely on his game in qualifying in 2022 as he chased down one of the sport’s biggest legends for the pole record. In addition to the all-time INDYCAR milestone, the Laguna Seca pole position tied Power with McLaughlin for the most poles in Team Penske history.

In 2022, Newgarden narrowly missed winning his third series championship – finishing in the runner up position for the third consecutive season – but he led all drivers with five wins on the year. In the second race of the year at Texas Motor Speedway, it appeared Newgarden may be headed for a second-place finish as teammate McLaughlin had dominated the day. However, a slipup by the New Zealander gave Newgarden a window to the lead, and he made the pass coming off the final corner to score the 600th win in the history of Team Penske.

The following race on the streets of Long Beach saw Newgarden qualify in the second position, but his quick, methodical pace propelled him to a lead that he would not surrender to win once of the most prestigious events in America for the first time.

For the 2022 NICS season, INDYCAR partnered with PeopleReady to launch the “Force For Good Challenge” that would pay $1 million to the driver and team that could win on an oval, a street circuit and a road course, with half of the prize going to the driver for his identified charity. Newgarden and the No. 2 team accomplished the feat in less than half of the season with his win at Road America in June. Newgarden’s share of the purse was dedicated to the Serious Fun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks of Nashville.

A fourth win in the first race of the doubleheader weekend at Iowa Speedway looked to set the tone for a weekend sweep as Newgarden continued his domination into the second race. Unfortunately, a mechanical failure led to a hard crash on Lap 236 that resulted in Newgarden eventually being airlifted to a Des Moines, Iowa hospital. It was a serious setback in his push for a third Astor Cup trophy, but with a quick recovery under the guidance of the INDYCAR Medical staff, Newgarden was back for the next event on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. He would win once more – a fourth career victory at World Wide Technology Raceway – to place himself squarely in the championship battle at Laguna Seca. The Nashville native gave it all he had – finishing second in the race – before falling just short to his teammate in the final standings.

McLaughlin has been one of the most successful drivers in the world over the last half decade, though his 2021 freshman season in the INDYCAR SERIES provided a learning experience for the three-time Australian Supercars Champion. McLaughlin took his rookie lessons to heart as his pairing with new race engineer Ben Bretzman paid immediate dividends in 2022. McLaughlin took the NTT P1 Pole Award and race win – his first NICS victory – in the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. He nearly made it two-in-a-row before teammate Newgarden powered past on the last lap of the second race at Texas.

Following the near-miss at Texas, McLaughlin and the No. 3 Chevrolet team hit a rough patch that saw them finish 14th or higher in four of the next five events, falling to 10th in the standings. However, the season turned around for McLaughlin as he picked up his second career win – this time at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – in Round 9 of the season. If not for a loose wheel that eventually came off the No. 3 Chevrolet in the first race of the Iowa doubleheader, McLaughlin would have finished the season with 10 consecutive top-10 finishes.

History was made by McLaughlin in the 14th round of the championship on the streets of Nashville when he (briefly) set the new Team Penske record with his 61st career pole position. From there, he and Power alternated top pole marks before ending the season tied for the team lead at 62 poles won (Power had six pole positions before coming to Team Penske). The third and final win of 2022 for McLaughlin and the No. 3 Chevy team came from the pole position at Portland International Raceway as he entered the season finale at Laguna Seca with an outside shot at winning the championship.

When the dust settled at the northern California road course, Power had won the 42nd national championship for Team Penske and the team’s 17th crown in North America’s premier open-wheel series. Joey Logano added his second NASCAR Cup Series title – the 43rd national championship for the organization – two months later as Team Penske became the first team to win both prestigious crowns in the same season.

In the New Year, the decorated Team Penske INDYCAR program will take to the track for the first time in 2023 at The Thermal Club on Feb. 1-2 for the annual “Spring Training” test session to prepare for the season. The 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will once again take the first green flag of the year on the streets of St. Petersburg with the Grand Prix of St. Pete, on Sunday, March 5.