Despite Indy success, Brickyard 400 win still eludes Penske

Entering the Brickyard 400, there’s no greater pressure on any drivers than Team Penske.

Despite Indy success, Brickyard 400 win still eludes Penske
Roger Penske
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford, Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Ford Goodyear tire test

Although Roger Penske holds the record for most Indy 500 wins with 16 — and won the inaugural Xfinity Series race in 2012 with Brad Keselowski — in 22 Sprint Cup starts at the 2.5-mile track, a Penske car has yet to win. 

“Roger does a good job of not putting pressure on people,” said Team Penske president Tim Cindric. “We put pressure on ourselves to try and do things that he hasn't been able to accomplish. We’ve been able to run second four times here and we’ve been racing here since ’94. 

“So when you look at it, it’s the one box of the things that we do that isn’t checked. No different than when we hadn’t won Daytona at that point, everybody wanted to be part of that group that was able to accomplish that. I think the pressure is something we put on ourselves rather than he puts on us.”  

Close, but no cigar

Keselowski and Joey Logano will roll off fifth and 14th, respectively on Sunday. With Team Penske’s current lineup, the drivers’ top result was second last year. Rusty Wallace finished second three times at the Yard of Bricks. 

In 42 starts, Team Penske drivers have posted eight top fives, 17 top 10s and led 272 laps. Winning the race would be particularly special given that this is the Captain's 50th anniversary in racing.

“Even winning that first Xfinity race here at the time with Brad in a stock car, to win a stock car race here was a big deal for us,” Cindric said. “For Roger to say we won here in an IndyCar and a stock car, now we just need to get the Brickyard.” 

Logano who is making his eighth start at IMS on Sunday, has two top fives and four top 10 finishes. He’s led 49 laps — including 28 last year before finishing second to Kyle Busch. When Logano was asked how much pressure he feels coming this track, he replied, “Plenty,” with a laugh. 

“We know how much this race means to him,” Logano said of his bossman Penske. “We know how cool it would be for him.”

Testing advantage

Logano believes that having two full days to test at the Brickyard should help with his result this weekend. 

“It’s a lot different than last year with the high drag package, obviously,” Logano told motorsport.com. “I think we had more off-throttle time and that’s a good thing. We’re going to be lifting more, using a little more brake. The cars are sliding around more — typical of what we’ve seen this year with the ’16 (lower downforce) package. We’re doing the same thing at Indy.

“Directionally, I think we’re going the right way, but it’s still going to be a hard place to race. Anyway you look at it, Indy’s a one-lane race track and it’s very challenging to pass. So the strategy of the race becomes very interesting as far as how you get that track position.”

Logano hasn’t given up on pressing Penske for the opportunity to pilot an Indy car one. Certainly, winning the Brickyard 400 would help his odds. Logano has attempted to sit in an IndyCar cockpit, unfortunately, he didn’t fit. 

“I think we could make me fit,” Logano said with a laugh. “I’m a little taller than the Penske IndyCar drivers right now.” 

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