INDIANAPOLIS – Roger Penske has 17 victories as a team owner in the Indianapolis 500, a record for the historic race, but he is still searching for his first win in the Brickyard 400.
The annual NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is celebrating its 25th running this weekend. Penske has gone to victory lane in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at IMS, when Brad Keselowski drove a Team Penske Dodge to the win in 2012.
Ryan Blaney is competing in both Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 for the Xfinity Series and Sunday’s Brickyard 400 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, weather permitting.
“This is a cool place and special to drive for Roger Penske,” Blaney said. “I have a couple of chances this weekend, and hopefully we can make that happen.”
If Blaney wins the Xfinity Series race, it will be Penske’s second stock car win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If he wins the Brickyard 400, it would be the Captain’s first Cup win at IMS.
The Lilly Diabetes 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at IMS will use the same aerodynamic package used at this track last season, which produced an event-record number of race leaders (eight) and lead changes (16). The package already has been used this season at Pocono and Michigan.
The 2017 Indy-specific package included a taller rear spoiler, use of a restrictor plate (seven-eighths-inch) and aero ducts (similar to brake duct openings) in an attempt to lessen the aerodynamic advantage enjoyed by the lead car at the 2.5-mile track.
“Having raced here before helps,” Blaney said. “Looking at the limited practice time it looks like we’ll get this weekend, all you can do is take previous notes from prior and figure out where you can be better. The more experience helps you anywhere, but especially here because this is such a different race track.
“Nothing is more important than knowledge, and we can apply what we have learned here to this race. I watched my dad race here a handful of times before I raced. I ran in my first race here (Xfinity race in 2012) for Tommy Baldwin, and I remember coming off turn four on the first lap and looking down the long front straightaway and you see this 90-degree wall and thinking that I’m going to run into that wall. You can see a bit better halfway down the straightaway, and you turn off into Turn 1 and it sticks somehow.”
What was one of Blaney’s lasting memories from that first IMS appearance in 2012?
“I’ll never forget that image of coming off turn four and seeing the longest straightaway I’ve ever seen.”