“I think we’ve tried it for 31 years, so it’s about time,” Penske says after earning the rare INDYCAR-NASCAR championship shared seasons

AVONDALE, AZ — For an organization like Team Penske, greatness isn’t something that’s taken lightly. It’s something that’s not achieved for, it’s expected. 40 drivers championships and 18 Indy 500’s later, is an accomplishment to behold. But it’s something that this boy in 1951 never in his wildest dreams expected to happen.

Back in 1951, Jay Penske, Roger’s dad, took his wide-eyed son to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the very first time. It was that day over 61 years ago now, to which sparked Roger Penske’s passion for racing. The younger Penske, wanted to be one of these gladiators. Eventually, he’d become one.

Penske used to race. People forget that. Roger was the 1960 SCCA Driver of the Year in fact. However, one thing that he didn’t do was drive in the Indianapolis 500, the race that started this whole dream and empire of his. He was offered a rookie test but he never took it. Instead, that test went to…

Mario Andretti.

Penske at a young age also had a smart business mind too. That also came from his father. Jay was a successful corporate executive for a metal fabrication company and had always urged his son to become an entrepreneur instead of a race car driver.

So even while racing, Roger would buy older cars, would fix them up and then sell them for a profit. He’d do so out of his family home. So with knowing how to make a buck and a passion that drove him as much joy as racing did, why not merge his passions together?

Roger Penske knew his limits and felt like that rookie test should go to Andretti. I’d say as we sit here six decades later, he made the right choice and helped forge the path for two drivers.

Andretti is an all-time great in Formula One, INDYCAR and NASCAR. Penske is an all-time great in INDYCAR and NASCAR, just as an owner.

61 years after that first visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Penske was on the verge of possibly accomplishing another rare feat that this business mogul has never done before – holding the NASCAR Cup Series as well as the NTT INDYCAR Series championship trophies from the same year.

“I was actually looking at some statistics earlier in the week, and since 1967, we have been multiple champions in seven years, seven seasons, and in three of those seasons, we won three championships,” said Team Penske’s, Walt Czarnecki on Thursday. “So it was either an INDYCAR championship, NASCAR Xfinity owners’ championship, Australian Supercars championship, NASCAR Cup Series, but never, to your point, INDYCAR and Cup. It really would be something that — it would be one of our goals to do it, particularly this year, so you’re absolutely right.

“We’ve been blessed with good teams all those year, been able to accomplish a lot, but still a little bit more to do, and as I said, this will be one of our goals, to win the Cup and win the INDYCAR in the same year.”

Joey Logano celebrates in front of the fans on Sunday afternoon in Phoenix

On Sunday, Joey Logano made sure that it happened. He started on the pole, led a race-high 187 of 312 laps and took not only the win in Sunday’s Season Finale 500, but the championship too. Fittingly enough, both drivers for him won their second career titles in each series.

“I think we’ve tried it for 31 years, so it’s about time,” Penske said on Sunday evening from the Phoenix Raceway after earning his 3rd title as a Cup Series owner.

“What a special weekend for us. I guess what I want to do is say a prayer for Joe Gibbs and his family for the loss he had. That certainly is more important than a win or a championship.

“I just want him to know we feel that as a team, I do personally, and our family.

“Joey did a great job. You’ve seen what he’s been able to do as he’s come on the team, and for us to have two championships in the same year, that’s what we’re here for. That’s the goal we have every year.

“I think we’ve been close, but we got it this year.”

It was a great season for Penske to which they won the first Next Gen race in the Coliseum, won the Daytona 500 back in February with Austin Cindric, won the All-Star race in May with Ryan Blaney and took a 1-2 result and the championship on Sunday.

“Well, I think winning a championship no matter what car it’s in is pretty special,” said The Captain.

“Obviously to win the first race really at the Coliseum and then cap it off here was pretty amazing when you think about it, because during the season, we weren’t quite as competitive as we wanted to be, as we got to know the car. And, again, this teamwork we talk about made a big difference.

“Certainly special, winning the first race with the car and winning the championship. So it was a good omen for us.

“I hate to say one is better than the other, but I’d have to say — put them all together, they’re all first place as far as I’m concerned. What it does as a team, the momentum it gives not only the race team but the 70,000 people that are in our company because they’re all watching. We don’t win every day, do we, but it teaches us how to win and how to stay in the game, and I think that’s what it’s done.

“But really three super days, super accomplishments for the team. I can’t say one is better than the other. I’m just glad to be here.”

Penske has built an enormous empire employing thousands of humans. Everything he touches turns to gold. It’s not a coincidence. It’s because Penske’s fingerprints are all over everything he does. He doesn’t take anything lightly and always surrounds himself with the best.

That’s why for as successful as a year that 2022 has been, it’s something that’s not at all surprising in the very least.

Penske won 9 of the 17 INDYCAR races this season including a victory by all three drivers. In the Cup Series, all three drivers also won here, although one of which wasn’t a points paying event.

“I’m just glad I didn’t screw it up,” Logano’s crew chief Paul Wolfe said. “People always say what’s it mean to — like when we go to Indy, we know how important that is to Roger and the team and being able to win two championships, like I think it’s great.

“I feel the pressure every week, whether I’m racing at Bristol or Indy or trying to get a second championship for Team Penske.

“I know it’s very special, and it’s exciting to be able to be a part of that, of getting both championships this season. But it’s hard to say I’ve worked any differently than I would have if we weren’t going for the second championship for Team Penske today.

“But I know it means a lot, and it’s exciting for everyone involved. It’s tough to do and pretty neat at the same time.”

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