Favorite Team Penske Racing Memory

June 29, 2020


"Penske Material" provides an inside look at some of the personalities, stories and moments that make Team Penske so unique. 

Team Penske has been winning races since its inception in the 1960s and with over 550 victories and 37 championships over more than 50 years of racing, there have been so many special moments produced by the organization founded by “The Captain” Roger Penske.

Team Penske Material LogoMany of the people working within the walls at Team Penske have their own favorite memories of their time with the team. Some may be of those legendary victories, but some come in the form of more personal and poignant moments they enjoyed with their teammates or in the pride they took in working for the most successful organization in motorsports.

Here are just a few of the special memories shared by some Team Penske team members:
 

Tim Cindric – President, Team Penske

Tim Cindric joined the Penske organization in 1999 and, as President of Team Penske, he oversees all of the organization’s racing programs.

During Cindric's career with Team Penske, he has been part of more than 300 victories and 20 championships, including eight Indianapolis 500 wins, two Daytona 500 victories and an overall win at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

He said his most treasured memory with the team is “finishing 1-2 at the 85th Indianapolis 500.” On Sunday, May 27, 2001 IndyCar Series rookie Hélio Castroneves led the final 52 laps and captured his first Indianapolis 500 victory. Team Penske swept the top two positions as Gil de Ferran finished as race runner-up. It marked Team Penske’s 11th Indianapolis 500 win and the team’s first-ever 1-2 finish in the race. It was also significant because it was the first Indy 500 for Team Penske in seven years after the team did not qualify for the 1995 race and missed the next six years during the CART/IRL divide in open-wheel racing.
 

Travis Geisler – NASCAR Competition Director

As Competition Director, Geisler is responsible for all aspects of Team Penske's championship-winning NASCAR programs and serves as a liaison between Team Penske’s crew chiefs and engineering departments. The Pittsburgh-area native started his career at Team Penske in November 2006 serving as team engineer on the No. 12 car and was then promoted to the position of crew chief of the No. 77 Cup Series team midway through the 2008 season. He was named Team Penske's NASCAR Competition Director at the conclusion of the 2010 NASCAR season.

“Since joining Team Penske, I have had the opportunity to experience lots of great wins and championships have followed,” said Geisler. “But the most memorable would have to be the 2008 Daytona 500. That was my first Cup Series win, which was just amazing.” The 2008 Daytona 500 was the 50th anniversary of the “Great American Race” and to commemorate the event, the winner’s Harley J. Earl Trophy was plated in gold instead of silver. That year Team Penske finished 1-2 and captured its first Daytona 500 victory with Ryan Newman with teammate Kurt Busch pushing him over the finish line to victory.

“A very special moment in Team Penske history,” added Geisler.


Adele Goodman – Executive Assistant

Adele Goodman began her 25-year career at Team Penske in 1995 as a sponsor representative. She has enjoyed many roles and responsibilities with the team, including producing driver’s schedules for six years and also working in the team’s licensing department. The North Carolina native has served as an executive assistant for the last 20 years, as well as the team’s events coordinator.

“If I live to be 100 years old and think back on my racing career with Team Penske, my best and most vivid memories will be of my teammates and the good times, hard times, insane times we’ve all been through together and the weird bond we all have that can’t be explained!” said Goodman. “The NASCAR Induction Party for the team when Roger Penske was inaugurated, working for him as long as I have, it was a very sweet, loving night with all of our Penske family to honor ‘RP’,” Goodman recalls. “There was also that one time that TC (Tim Cindric) ‘fired’ myself, (Human Resources Director) Darlene (DeRosa) and Helio (Castroneves) at the end-of-season party. We dared Helio to announce that the IndyCar team had the next day off, Helio did it, then TC got up and fired us. But it was all in good fun and we’re all still employed,” joked Goodman.
 

Trevor Lacasse - IndyCar Chief Mechanic

Trevor Lacasse joined Team Penske 2006 working on the No. 7 Porsche RS Spyder competing in the American Le Mans Series. In 2009, he transitioned to mechanic on the No. 12 Grand-Am Series sports car team. In 2010, Lacasse moved to the Team Penske’s IndyCar program where he served as a mechanic for the cars driven by Will Power (2010-2012), A.J. Allmendinger (2013), Juan Pablo Montoya (2014-2016) and Josef Newgarden (2017). In 2018, Lacasse was name chief mechanic for Simon Pagenaud’s No. 22 Chevy.

“It’s definitely hard to narrow it down to one favorite memory,” said Lacasse. “But I would have to say that my two wins at the Indy 500. My first win in Indy was 2015 with Juan Montoya and again in 2019 with Simon Pagenaud.  Both are special – you will never forget your first win at the Speedway. But starting from pole and winning with Simon in 2019 was extremely special. Being the crew chief on the winning car and to stand in Victory Lane with Roger Penske celebrating his 18th Indy 500 win is an absolutely incredible feeling and a dream come true.”
 

Ron Ruzewski – IndyCar and Sports Car Managing Director

Ruzewski joined Team Penske at the start of the 2005 season and was focused on vehicle dynamics development. He then joined Castroneves' engineering team in July 2005. Over the last several years, Ruzewski served as the technical director for the team’s IndyCar program after more than a decade working as a race engineer. In 2019, Ruzewski was named Managing Director for Team Penske’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship racing programs and he currently oversees the technical development and day-to-day management of the teams racing in each series.

“There have been a lot of memories over the years because I have been doing this a long time,” said Ruzewski. “It really comes down to two favorites – one being the first time I did an event as a Penske employee wearing the red and white Hugo Boss uniform with the chevron.  Those were iconic colors and by anyone’s standard, it meant you reached the pinnacle of motorsports teams. To know you’re part of this group, the history and the success is pretty special.

“Although, I would have to give the tip of the hat to Indianapolis 2009,” added Ruzewski.  “I was the engineer for Helio Castroneves. Earlier that year he was going through some pretty rough times personally and he was back full-time with us just prior to May.  We set out a focused plan for the month and very methodically took each day as it came, making the best of it and looking forward towards race day.  We executed in a big way that month by winning the pole, winning the pit stop competition and ultimately winning the race. Getting Helio into the group of three-time Indy 500 winners with a solid month given all the distractions that had been surrounding his life prior to that month was such an accomplishment.  The fact the entire team, especially Roger, stood behind him and believed in him was a true testament of what our organization is about.  The fact that Helio believed in us, and myself, to deliver for him was equally as big. Qualification day that year was especially stressful, and we still prevailed. Post-race, they elevated the platform in Victory Lane with Roger, Tim, Helio, (chief mechanic) Rick Rinaman and myself aboard. I will never forget that moment.”


Brian Wilson – No. 22 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) Crew Chief

Brian Wilson, crew chief of the No. 22 NXS Ford Mustang, has several significant memories with Team Penske, because “each victory gave me the confidence in my approach and abilities along the way to reach my current position,” said Wilson. Prior to working with driver Austin Cindric as crew chief of the No. 22 Ford, Wilson spent five consecutive seasons as the race engineer for the No. 2 Team Penske Cup Series car driven by Brad Keselowski and prior to that, he served as the shock specialist on the No. 2 car driven Kurt Busch.

Wilson also served as engineer for the 2010 NXS Championship winning team. That season, Keselowski and the No. 22 NXS team won six races, captured 26 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes in 35 starts. “Winning the Xfinity championship in 2010 with Brad Keselowski and working alongside (Cup Series crew chief) Paul Wolfe gave me the confidence that I could be a good race engineer.”

The Detroit, Mich. native was then promoted to crew chief of the No. 12 NXS Ford. “Winning Charlotte in 2016 for the first time as a crew chief was very special. It let me know that I could be successful in the role,” said Wilson. “Lastly, Austin Cindric’s two back-to-back wins (Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio) last season. Winning with Austin let me know that I do not have to have a Cup Series driver to be able to win at this level.
 

Chris Wilson – Team Penske, Director of Marketing

Wilson has worked in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship for 17 years and he has had more than a few good memories to reflect back on in that series. He began his career with Stone Brothers Racing in 2003 and, in just his second season, the team won the Supercars Championship with driver Marcos Ambrose in 2004 as both of the team’s cars finished 1-2 in the standings. In 2010, Wilson worked with Scott McLaughlin during the current DJR Team Penske driver’s first year in the Supercars top development Super2 Series and he was with McLaughlin when he won the Super2 Driver Championship in 2012. Wilson transitioned to DJR Team Penske and helped celebrate the last two Supercars driver championships with McLaughlin. Prior to the 2020 season, Wilson came to the U.S. as Director of Marketing for Team Penske.

“My favorite racing memory actually took place over two consecutive race weekends in 2018. I was working for DJR Team Penske and fortunate enough to be invited to attend the 2018 Team Penske Marketing Summit in Miami,” said Wilson. “Following the Summit along with all Team Penske partners, I attended the Homestead Finale and watched Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford crew win the 2018 NASCAR Championship, even joining the team at the after party to celebrate. I traveled back to Australia on the Monday to attend the final race of the Supercars Series in Newcastle, New South Wales the next weekend. I joined the rest of the team to see Scott McLaughlin win his first – and DJR Team Penske’s first – driver championship. It was an outstanding result after coming agonizingly close in 2017.”
 

Chris Yoder – Director of Transportation

Chris Yoder, a native of Reading, Penn., oversees all of Team Penske’s transportation drivers, commercial vehicles and street cars that travel over 600,000 miles in any given calendar year.  The position is part mechanic, part manager, and part planner. Yoder has been with Team Penske for 20 plus years and he took over as the organization’s Director of Transportation in 2007.

“Winning the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring with the Porsche RS Spyder was truly something special,” said Yoder. “It was the first time at Sebring that an LMP2 car was victorious over the more powerful LMP1 cars (including Audi and Peugeot), but moreover that victory in 2008 broke Audi’s eight-year overall winning streak at Sebring. It’s something I will never forget.”

So many great memories for so many people that have made Team Penske into the team that it is today. And team members follow the approach and example that Roger Penske established long ago for the organization – the next race presents the next opportunity to create another great Team Penske memory.