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10 anni fa Roger Penske vinceva la sua prima Daytona500. E non poteva non farlo in grande stile: doppietta con Ryan Newman davanti a Kurt Busch. E così si portarono a casa il trofeo placcato d'oro in occasione della 50esima edizione della gara più prestigiosa della NASCAR.



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Does Roger Penske ever have time to stop and smell the success of a record 16 Indianapolis 500 wins and 200 career Indy car triumphs?

The Hall of Famer is a lot of things, but he isn’t one for reminiscing.

“I’m not sure I’ll ever be on an easy chair on a front porch,” said Penske, 81. “I might be on my boat, maybe.”

That’s as close as “The Captain” comes to wanting to acknowledge the past. He’s always full speed ahead.

“Look, I’ve said racing is my golf game and fishing trip every weekend,” he said. “I’m hooked.”

Once again, he’ll field four Chevrolet-powered race favorites in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday. Simon Pagenaud starts second, Will Power third, Josef Newgarden fourth and Helio Castroneves eighth.

“Roger always tells me, ‘Keep looking forward. Don’t look back,’” said Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “Roger is just a go-er. He gets things done. That’s why he is where he is.”

Pagenaud, who won a series title in 2016, can’t foresee a day when his boss stops to dwell on accomplishments.

“Roger is an extremely competitive person, extremely,” Pagenaud said. “He finds that happiness by going for more. I don’t think he’s ever satisfied, like we can’t be. You can only say you’re satisfied when you retire, but Roger doesn’t want to retire.

“That’s been his whole life, really, if you look at it. What’s next? What’s next? He’s onto the next thing, whether it’s his business or the race team. There’s always a new project. That’s what keeps him going and interested.”

Penske attended his first Indianapolis 500 with his father in 1951. He raced for several years, winning a NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model race in 1963 at Riverside. He turned down a rookie test at Indianapolis for business reasons and eventually retired from driving in 1965.

What started out as Penske Racing debuted in 1966 in the 24 Hours of Daytona. His first Indy 500 entry was in 1969. Since then, he's built an empire that is the ultimate standard by which all others in motorsports are measured against.

Mark Donohue delivered the first Indy 500 win in 1972. Rick Mears, now Team Penske’s driver coach, won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” four times. Castroneves has celebrated three wins at IMS. Newgarden, in his first season with Team Penske, delivered Penske's 15th career Indy car season championship last year.

And it’s about more than just winning races. It’s building a successful bond with businesses that see the value to sponsoring Team Penske cars to promote their profiles.

“We can use racing as a common thread through our business,” Penske said, “because it helps us promote our products and we have business-to-business contacts that come to us through the racing program, so it’s an integral part of our business.

“I’ve always said I’m looking out not the rear window but the front window. To me, it’s what we can do next. How can we bring our team together? Today, we have almost 60,000 associates in our company. We’ve got to keep this mission going, the quality, the integrity of our organization – that’s my real goal every day.”

Penske gets so fired up even now, he says he wishes he could drive one of his cars. Because he can’t, another goal is to see his talented drivers grow as individuals, as people in the industry, and be successful on and off the track.

“It’s a constant,” said Team Penske president Tim Cindric, who was hired in 1999. “That’s the key. Roger doesn’t have a way of stopping, in his day-to-day or anything else. He has a way of looking at what’s the next thing. It’s all about the project, it’s about how to build something new and different, it’s about how to accomplish something he hasn’t done before and still maintain the level of success that’s expected.

“Not only at the racetrack, it’s all about how do you get better? This is my revenue goal. This is my next one. This is my next one. The goal line continues to move. It pushes all of us. But he’s not one to stop and reflect.”

The closest Cindric has seen Penske become reflective was when the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special gala in 2016.

“There was a point in time where we all stopped and kind of retraced the tracks that he had been down from the beginning,” Cindric said. “I think it really hit him when he saw the number of drivers, I think he had 81 drivers drive for him at that point, and all but a couple living drivers were actually at the event that January.

“To see all those things and have him go through the reflection … we put through a video of everything that (longtime broadcaster) Tom Brokaw narrated. The fact that Tom Brokaw narrated it and that we were going to have (comedian) Jay Leno as one of the hosts for the party, it kind of sunk in with him that this is a big deal. He was blown away by what the history was all about.”

But then, inevitably, it was time to move on. Cindric repeats one of Penske’s oft-uttered lines.

“I can’t retire,” he’s said. “I have too many people counting on me.”

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L'anno prima i 200 (!) cavalli in piu' avevano nascosto le rogne del telaio, per qualificarsi provarono qualunque cosa, dalla macchina dell'anno prima esposta al museo, alla reynard, alla lola prestata da Rahal ma evidentemente non era destino. Poi fondamentalmente la combinazione ganassi-reynard-honda ha vinto tutto quello che c'era da vincere.




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