Rising to the Championship Challenge

November 3, 2020

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

Nothing about 2020 has seemed normal. Racing fans and competitors have experienced a season unlike any other this year as the COVID-19 pandemic first silenced the engines back in March and since racing became one of the first sports to resume competition back in May, the strict safety protocols and restricted attendance by participants and fans at events has presented some unique challenges.

While everything has felt unusual and out of the ordinary this season, the challenge for Team Penske on the track has remained the same. The organization’s teams that have raced in the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Australian Supercars Championship all entered the 2020 season with the same goal and even the challenges of a global pandemic have not derailed Team Penske’s quest for race wins and championship pursuits at each level of competition.

Remarkably, Team Penske has produced 38 victories through last weekend’s racing, including wins in every series where the team races in 2020. The organization has also produced 26 pole positions this season and what is perhaps the most impressive aspect of this most unusual year is the team has been able to contend for the championship in every series entering the final round of racing.

Team Penske has already claimed one title in 2020 with Scott McLaughlin and the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford team winning its third straight Supercars championship last month. Josef Newgarden and the No. 1 Chevrolet team rallied from more than 100 points back to race for the INDYCAR SERIES title as they won the season finale in St. Pete to finish just a few points shy of capturing back-to-back titles. After winning four out of the last five races, the No. 7 Acura Team Penske team led by drivers Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor won last Sunday to take the lead in the IMSA DPi class point standings and they will race for the title on November 14 at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

And this coming weekend, Team Penske has the rare opportunity to score a NASCAR championship double play. Austin Cindric will compete for the Xfinity Series crown on Saturday in the championship race at Phoenix, while both Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano make up half of the Championship Four fighting for the Cup Series title at Phoenix on Sunday with each driver racing to win their second series title for Team Penske.

“We needed everyone to work together in order to return to the track in a safe and smart manner this season,” said Tim Cindric, President of Team Penske. “We all faced many challenges and strict protocols when we returned to racing during this global pandemic and I think our entire industry should be proud of our collective efforts as we wind down the 2020 season. For Team Penske, this season has really shown the strength, the focus and the discipline of our organization. The fact that our teams will have had at least one car in contention for a championship entering the final race of all five series where we compete is a testament to the hard work and commitment of all of our team members.”

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From working adjusted schedules at the team’s facility in Mooresville, NC to keep team members safe and follow social distancing guidelines, to enhanced safety measures in the shop and at the track, to reduced personnel and condensed schedules on race weekend, teams have done whatever it takes this season to keep the wheels turning. For the Team Penske teams, the 2020 season has brought a different way to prepare and execute, but the organization has been able to maintain its premier level of performance and success.

“Everyone has shown a great ability to adapt and be flexible in how we have approached this season once we returned to racing,” said Cindric. “Our process has been very different than how we have worked in the past, but our team members have been diligent in following the protocols. As we have adjusted to the changing environment this season, our teams have done a great job focusing on their performance and delivering results week in and week out.”

The production this season has been impressive across the board. By the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, Team Penske will have won more races than any other team in Supercars, INDYCAR and IMSA competition. In all, 10 of the organization’s 11 full-season entries have won at least one race this season, with only the No. 6 IMSA DPi team not having made a trip to Victory Circle yet in 2020, though the team did dominate last weekend’s Monterey Sports Car Championship race before finishing second behind the No. 7 Team Penske Acura. For the first time in its storied 54-year history, Team Penske won four races in one magical weekend back in July when all five racing series were in action. During the #Penske8Wide weekend, the team produced NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS), INDYCAR and Supercars victories. Cindric won the NXS regular season championship before earning a chance to race for the title this weekend and for the first time in the Cup Series playoff era, Team Penske will have two drivers battling among the four contenders for the crown on Sunday in Phoenix.

While the accomplishments in 2020 have been remarkable, there is still plenty of work left to be done.

“Our teams have worked so hard to get to this point, now we need to go out and make the most of the opportunities that are in front of us,” said Cindric. “There’s no better way to bring one of the most unusual racing seasons in history to a close than with a championship for Team Penske.”



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