Penske's display of Power

Posted by Iannucci | 6/16/2009 | 8 comments »
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USA Today's Nate Ryan has reported that Will Power, driver in exile, will be taken out of mothballs and dusted off for five more races this IndyCar season. The Captain hasn't announced which races but James at 16th and Georgetown logically surmises they will be Richmond, Toronto, Edmonton, Kentucky and Infineon. Regardless, as good as it is to see a solid driver like Power participating here and there, this decision to enter him in just a few races is a bit confusing.

Had Penske decided upon Helio's exoneration to run Power for the entire season it would have made sense since at the time Power was 2nd in the championship points and the winner of the championship gets a little less than a gazillion dollars. Had Penske instead chosen to hand Will a clipboard and told him to wait until Helio or Ryan "I'm No Robot" Briscoe was unavailable that would have made sense because running a a third car - and a third Penske car, no less - is not the most economical of endeavors.

But neither scenario is what happening, so now it's time to play guessing games.

Possibility #1: Roger Penske is pre-empting Chip Ganassi. As you may have seen at any number of word butcher outlets, speculation is rampant the Ganassi racing empire may next year feature a third IndyCar with Danica Patrick. On the off chance there are in fact 50% more Ganassi entires on the horizon, Penske may be looking at having to elevate his game as well by increasing his stable. Letting Will get out and run some solid races is a shot across Chip's bow leting him know that anything he can do Roger can do better.

Possibility #2: Tony George is behind this. As you may have noticed, Vision Racing recently subtracted their number of entries this year. Mr George is always mindful of car counts, so perhaps he had a discussion with his buddy Roger and said "Say, since you're paying the guy, you're paying the racing team, and you have a spare car, how about you run him a few more times and I'll cover any crash damage?" It's totally far-fetched, for sure, but it's still cheaper than running a second entry for his team.

Possibility #3: The Captain is messing with our heads. A few years ago Penske started covering the mirrors on his IndyCars, an act that was met with much intrigue as to what he had done to them that was so worthy of secrecy. More experienced race fans instead wondered if the covered mirrors were intended to divert our attention from some other more significant change to his race cars. Could having Power race a few more times be simply for in-race testing of new Penske designs?

Clearly, I have no idea. This is what he does and this is why he is Roger Penske, and why you and I are not.

8 comments

  1. EnsErmac // June 16, 2009 10:21 AM  

    Possibility #4:

    Penske uses is ALMS pit crew to service the #12 of Will Power and these are the weeks that don't have a ALMS race.

  2. pressdog // June 16, 2009 10:29 AM  

    You forgot my favorite random speculations "there may be snipers in the grandstands" and "snakes in the cockpit." This obviously means Danica to Penske.

  3. mmack // June 16, 2009 11:00 AM  

    Could having Power race a few more times be simply for in-race testing of new Penske designs?

    Well, let's start a rumor here and now:

    1) Penske's got some of those 1994 era Ilmor Mercedes-Benz 209 CID Pushrod V8's covered in Cosmoline and sitting in the back of the Penske South Garage.

    2) Looking for the Penske "Unfair Advantage", Roger will cover the Mercedes-Benz decals with Honda decals, and put a gold foil covered "airbox" over the turbocharger plenum.

    3) One of these 1000+ HP beauties will be quietly slipped beneath the cowl of Power's #12 Verizon machine, disguised as a mild mannered Honda Indy V8. To distract us plebes in the stands, car #12's wheels will be painted neon red.

    4) Will Power will commence to open a 55 Gallon Drum of "Whup-Ass" on any field that he is racing against.

    5) If the plan works, the #3 and 6 cars will have these pseudo "Honda" V8's installed, and Roger will party like it's 1994.

    6) All other teams paint their car wheels shades of neon in a vain attempt to catch the Penske trio.

    OK, you come up with something better!

    ;^P

  4. mmack // June 16, 2009 11:04 AM  

    Option #2: Jeff, you and I are roughly the same age cohort. Remember Total Control Racing? Maybe Will Power is the "Jam Car":

    TCR sets came with "jam cars", a slow moving drone which both racers had to avoid crashing into

  5. redd // June 16, 2009 4:08 PM  

    I think they already have a "jam car" or two...

  6. Iannucci // June 17, 2009 7:57 AM  

    Does Rafa Matos in the Luczo Dragon entry count as the Penske "jam car"?

  7. Scott // June 17, 2009 9:21 AM  

    "Had Penske decided upon Helio's exoneration to run Power for the entire season it would have made sense since at the time Power was 2nd in the championship points and the winner of the championship gets a little less than a gazillion dollars. "

    The number of driver points Power had accumulated was extraneous to the decision. The gazillion dollar paycheck is awarded based on entrant points, not driver's points. Same with pit position and qualifying position for rainouts.

    Roger has stated that the only way he could have run Power for the full schedule with a Helio acquittal was if he had run a third car at St. Pete so that he could qualify for TEAM money.

  8. AZZO45 // June 17, 2009 7:33 PM  

    Penske uses is ALMS pit crew to service the #12 of Will Power and these are the weeks that don't have a ALMS race.


    Just to keep MNI.IRL factually correct...

    Penske doesn't currently have an ALMS team... Porsche lost sponsor DHL & are rumored to be designing a P1 class car (possibly employing hybrid tech.). They sent Roger & Co. to the GRAND-AM series w/ free engines