Monday, April 12, 2021

INDYCAR: The Penske Chevrolet years (2017-2020)

As Hope Springs Eternal as a New IndyCar season is almost Set to Commence…


Continuing this meandering theme, regarding how long it’s been since somebody other than Team Penske has won an IndyCar race with a Chevrolet engine? The answer should be pretty obvious with my Oh, So Cleverly crafted story title, Hya!


As I know that Ye Oldest IndyCar Blogger Geo. Phillips of Oilpressure Fame is hoping he hasn’t drunk the annual A.J. foyt Koolaid with the addition of SeaBass’ this year, who could finally give ‘Ol superTex’ a long needed IndyCar victory?


But my Money’s on a different bowtie team to end Team Penske’s Streak, when Pato O’Ward wins his maiden IndyCar race this season for Arrow McLaren SP!


Oh Yeah, if you’re Ah-Waitin’ the answer to this trivia? The last non Team Penske Chevrolet win was scored by Josef Newgarden some Gory 5 years ago  for Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) at Iowa on July 10, 2016. Some Bloody 71 races ago, aye Karumba!



Season: June 6th to October 25th

Races: 14


Surely everybody knows about the fractious Breakup, Uhm firing of James Hinchcliffe by Sam Schmidt who formed a new alliance with McLaren to become Arrow Mclaren SP, affectionately known as SPAM! And switching to Chevrolet engines from it’s longtime association with Honda. Giving Chevy five Full-season Bowtie teams in it’s fold.


As Arrow McLaren SP ran two Young Guns with Pato O’Ward returning from the Wilderness and Rookie Indy Lights Champion Oliver Askew alongside him. And Pato came Oh, so tantalizingly close to not only scoring his maiden IndyCar win, but also ending Team Penske’s Streak when being passed for the lead at Road America with a lap and a half to go by eventual winner Felix rosenqvist, now his newest team-mate.


Otherwise Team Penske claimed seven wins, led by Josef Newgarden’s four, who finished runner-up to eventual Six times IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.


Will Power won twice with Simon Pagenaud scoring a lone victory. As Power wound-up 5th, and Pagenaud 8th Overall respectively.



Season: March 10th to September 22nd

Races: 17


The tide for most wins by a manufacturer swung back to Chevrolet’s favour with Team Penske winning nine of that year’s 17 events, albeit Honda won the Engine Manufacturers Crown again. Arse-sumedly due to it having more Teams Overall and thus scoring more points.


The IndyCar Series championship results mirrored the 2017 season, with Josef Newgarden claiming his second IndyCar Series title, followed by Simon Pagenaud. As these two Penske drivers scored seven victories with Newgarden claiming four wins, a la his 2017 Championship season.  


Whilst Pagenaud’s crowning glory was sweeping Ye Month ‘O May by winning that year’s Indy GP and Indianapolis 500, where he started on Pole No less! Before securing his third W’ at Toronto.


Will Power scored two W’s during the year at two venues that start with the letter P, i.e.; Pocono Raceway and Portland International Raceway en route to finishing 5th Overall.



Season: March 11th to September 16th

Races: 17


This was the third and final year of Verizon’s title sponsorship along with ABC’s final IndyCar season. And with the introduction of the Universal Aero Kit (UAK-18) standardized bodywork, the tides of winning dramatically reversed, swinging to Honda’s favour for the first time in years.


As Hondre’ runners won 11 of that year’s 17 events en route to claiming their first Engine Manufacturers Championship since 2011. With five different teams, i.e.; Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.


As Sebastian Bourdais won the season opener at St Pete for Dale Coyne and his alphabet Soup Brigade. While alexander Rossi had a Breakout year at Andretti with three wins, with team-mate Ryan Hunter-reay “The dude:” scoring twice. Thee Mayor ‘O Hinchtown’ (James Hinchcliffe) won for his good Buddy Sam Schmidt at Iowa.


Takuma Sato won at Portland, which finally returned to the IndyCar schedule for the first time since 2007, winning for RLLR, and Scott Dixon won his fifth IndyCar title with three W’s.


As interestingly, this was the latest season that Bourdais, Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe have won races in the IndyCar series.


Meanwhile Team Penske once again was the lone Bowtie winner, taking six W’s evenly split between Will Power and Josef Newgarden. But it was Power’s emphatic  Indianapolis 500 win that was the Cherry on top for Chevrolet that year!


As Penske slimmed down to just three Fulltime entries with Open Wheel Racing vetrans Hulio’ (Castroneves) and JPM’ or Monty’ (Juan Pablo Montoya) moving over to Penske’s newly formed Acura DPi Sports Car team. Although Castroneves was given a drive for Thee Month ‘O May’s events, i.e.; Indy GP & Indianapolis 500 aboard his traditional No. 3 entry.


Perennial European Feeder Series Champions, and 2017 Indy Lights Champion Carlin joined the Bowtie Brigade with Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton as it’s drivers, giving Chevy four different teams in the series.   



Season: March 12th to September 17th

Races: 17


This was the final year of the now forgotten IndyCar Aerokit era, for which Team Penske was the only one of the vaunted “Big 3” flying the Bowtie’ flag. Leaving just other such “Dreamers” as Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) with Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot sharing driving duties for the #20 with J.R. Hildebrand Fulltime aboard the #21. And the beleaguered A.J. foyt enterprises with Young Guns Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz attempting to best El Capitano’, nee Roger Penske’s Chevrolet Juggernaut.


As Penske drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power won 10 of that season’s 17 races, albeit missing out once again at Mother Speedway’, where Takuma Sato Defeated Hulio’, (Castroneves) for andretti Autosport and Honda. Which is still one of my favourite Indy 500’s!


Team Penske expanded to four Full-season entries with the addition of Newgarden moving from ECR, who promptly went about winning his first IndyCar title with four wins, followed by a bitter team-mate Pagenaud, who felt Newgarden had done him wrong during the Gateway Oval-track race if I remember correctly?


As “Symone,” nee Pageantry’ (Pagenaud) finished the season as series runner-up with two W’s as the defending IndyCar Series Champion. And although Power scored the second most wins for Penske that season with three. DJ WillyP’ (Power) came home sixth Overall, one position behind Castroneves. As the Brazilian won his final IndyCar victory at Iowa that year.