team penkse

Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Roger Penske was ready for his close-up in popular commercial

Leave a comment

MONTEREY, California – Roger Penske is the only team owner in auto racing history who has 18 “Baby Borg” Trophies in his possession for his team’s record 18 wins in the Indianapolis 500.

Perhaps his next trophy should be an Emmy.

Penske took part in a commercial along with 103rd Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and one of his NASCAR Cup drivers, Ryan Blaney. The commercial was shot at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 7 while NASCAR was in town for the Brickyard 400.

The premise of the commercials is a takeoff on the 2006 comedy, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” with Blaney playing the Ricky Bobby role and Pagenaud playing the Jean Girard role.

The commercial was shot by NBC to promote its coverage of the NTT IndyCar Series and NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series and concludes with Penske stepping in between the two drivers, demanding them to, “Go out there and win races.”

Penske delivered the line perfectly and in just three takes.

“It took me about five minutes,” Penske told NBCSports.com. “They made it very easy for me. We let the guys do all of the hard work. It was fun for me to do. I saw it, and I didn’t make a fool out of myself.

“I’m ready for the next commercial.”

Penske’s ability to deliver his lines perfectly impressed NBC Sports Group President of Programing Jon Miller.

“I assume he’s got his SAG card,” Miller told NBCSports.com. “He has certainly been in front of the camera enough, and he’s quite an ambassador for the sport, so we were not at all surprised by that.”

NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood was also highly impressed with Penske’s ability to turn into an actor in front of the camera.

“We were thrilled that he agreed to do it,” Flood told NBC Sports.com. “It’s one of those special things and the kind of guy he is to jump on board and make it even bigger because we had a ‘Plan B’ if Roger couldn’t do it, and when we got the confirmation, we knew we had something special that was going to happen.

“Roger Penske did the ad with two of his drivers that we shot at the Brickyard last week that got out there. A lot of fun, a lot of great response to it, and that’s things we couldn’t have done in the past. I think that’s part of us leaning in as NBC in trying to grow all of motorsports, and it’s important that every form of racing gets attention, and that’s what we’re pushing, as you know all too well.”

Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden, who will take a 41-point lead over Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi into Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix, also was complimentary of his team owner.

“Wow, I was impressed,” Newgarden told NBCSports.com. “First of all, how did they get him to do a cameo? That was cool. And he nailed it.

“The pressure on Simon and Blaney to nail it, after Roger does it in only three takes? Wow, the pressure was really on them to deliver their lines.”

Pagenaud thought Penske’s first take was the best.

“It didn’t take long for Roger to deliver his line, he was on top of it,” Pagenaud told NBCSports.com. “NBCSN was very excited about the idea. IndyCar CEO Mark Miles made sure we were able to get into Gasoline Alley early that day. It was the Saturday of the Brickyard 400 and it was early, but Roger was probably up since 2 a.m. I’m sure, so it wasn’t early for him.

“It was good, the script was fun and well done. I forced my French and Blaney being the perfect American NASCAR driver and Roger just being himself was just perfect. It shows personality between NASCAR and INDYCAR. NBC is doing such a great job showing both fans on both sides what is going in and it helps everybody get interested in both sports.”

Penske was asked if that is how he normally talks to his drivers in a prerace situation to fire them up.

“That’s not the normal, daily message, but that’s how it helped those two guys get going,” Penske said. “I think NBC has done a great job in all cases on IndyCar. The continuity of having the same partner has made a huge difference. The talent knows the drivers. They know the situation. Guys like Paul Tracy and the experience of Leigh Diffey and the whole group has done a great job.

“It’s about good racing. We have good teams. Lots of competition, new drivers and date equity. And it’s attracting young people.”

Penske believes the addition of NBC Sports to the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series schedule, including the season’s final race on the NBC, has been a big boost to the series.

“Any time you are on network is great,” Penske said. “It’s great for the sponsors, the notoriety for the team and the drivers is very important for all of us as we finish up the season. It’s going to be a great weekend, and I hope we can continue the movement we’ve had and the momentum we’ve had coming up to the last weekend.”

Miami win gives Team Penske victories on all active Cup tracks

Getty Images
2 Comments

Even before Joey Logano won Sunday’s Cup season finale and his first Cup title, 2018 had been a big year for Team Penske.

The organization fielded three full-time cars in Cup for the first time since 2010.

Brad Keselowski gave the organization its second Southern 500 win and first overall win at Darlington Raceway since 1975. He followed that up a week later with Penske’s first Brickyard 400 victory.

Keselowski’s third consecutive victory, in the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, not only marked Penske’s 500th overall win in motorsports, but the first time the team had three drivers finish in the top five of a Cup race.

Logano capped the season off with Penske’s second Cup title after Keselowski won it in 2012.

But Logano also delivered Penske its first victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 43 starts.

Combined with Keselowski’s Brickyard win and Ryan Blaney‘s triumph in the inaugural race on the Charlotte Roval, Team Penske is now the only organization with wins on every active track on the Cup schedule.

Team Penske finished the year with 111 wins in Cup points races since 1972. 103 of those have come on the 24 tracks that currently make up the schedule.

At defunct tracks, the organization has wins at Rockingham (three), Riverside (two), North Wilkesboro (two) and Ontario (one).

Here’s a look at the tracks the other major Cup organizations have yet to win at.

Kentucky Speedway is notable, as a Chevrolet team has yet to win in eight races on the 1.5-mile track.

Hendrick Motorsports (252 Cup wins) – Winless at Kentucky and Charlotte Roval

Joe Gibbs Racing (157 Cup wins) – Winless at Charlotte Roval

Roush Fenway Racing (137 Cup wins) – Winless at Indianapolis, Charlotte Roval, Chicagoland and Kentucky

Richard Childress Racing (108 Cup wins) – Winless at Charlotte Roval, Kentucky, Miami and Las Vegas

Wood Brothers Racing (99 Cup wins) – Winless at Phoenix, Sonoma, Kentucky, Charlotte Roval, Auto Club Speedway, Chicago, Texas, New Hampshire, Las Vegas, Kansas, Miami and Indianapolis.

Stewart-Haas Racing (51 Cup wins) – Winless at Charlotte Roval and Kentucky

Chip Ganassi Racing (16 Cup wins) – Winless at Pocono, Phoenix, Martinsville, Bristol, Charlotte Roval, Chicago, Dover, Texas, Miami, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Atlanta

 

Ryan Blaney: Recent struggles with fast cars have been ‘like an extra slap in the face’

Leave a comment

The last few weeks have felt like “an extra slap in the face” for Ryan Blaney.

The Team Penske driver has earned three DNFs in the last six races despite having fast cars and leading more than 150 laps.

Through 13 races, Blaney is 11th in the point standings. He has led 418 laps, which ranks third behind Kyle Busch (875 laps) and Kevin Harvick (820), who have won four and five races respectively.

“When you have that combination of a team and driver that can win, like Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch who are just dominating, that is trouble for everybody else,” Blaney said Friday of the struggle for him and other young drivers to win this season. “It is hard to break through. The odds aren’t very good. They aren’t really in your favor.”

The odds have worked against the Team Penske driver since the April 16 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Blaney was leading when a wreck in front of him he couldn’t avoid ended his day on Lap 117. He had one top-10 finish over the next three races and then wrecked out at Kansas Speedway 20 laps from the end after leading 54 laps.

In the Coke 600, Blaney felt he had a top-five car, but his No. 12 Ford suffered from a dropped cylinder for much of the race before the engine erupted in flames on Lap 278.

Now Blaney heads to the track where he earned his first Cup win last year after battling Harvick and Busch in the closing laps.

“You want to win every week but when you come back to a place where you have had success that definitely is nice,” Blaney said of Pocono. “Especially after the last couple of weeks. We have struggled the last couple of races after having fast cars. That is almost like an extra slap in the face when you have fast cars and have problems like that. It just makes it that much worse. The good news is we do have fast cars right now and it is a matter of putting everything together, from not getting into accidents to braking. We need to get on the right track here. We are poised to do that.”

Blaney’s Pocono win last year came with Wood Brothers Racing. His transition to Team Penske “has been pretty easy” despite the recent struggles.

“We aren’t quite there yet,” Blaney said. “Obviously there are a couple cars that are beating everybody week in and week out but I think we are right there. We just need to find that little bit and put a weekend together. I don’t know. As far as driving, I could do better. I make mistakes. I hit the wall. I wrecked myself at Kansas with a winning car. Just have to be a little smarter and I haven’t been that this year. I need to get myself cleaned up a little and if we make some gains on the car we will be right there with being at the top.”

With 13 races to go in the regular season, Blaney said the “stress levels” on his team to win “isn’t very high.”

“We aren’t like, ‘Oh, we haven’t won a race yet. Oh my God what are we going to do?’” Blaney said. “When it happens, it happens. You go out each week and you forget last week. Everyone has forgotten it by Tuesday morning when they go in the race shop and focus on Pocono. We will do the same thing after this race whether we win or finish 30th.”