INDIANAPOLIS – With 13 Verizon IndyCar Series championships, 186 victories and 244 poles to their credit, Team Penske is undoubtedly the top team to ever race in the series. But, despite all those accomplishments, Penske hasn’t been up to part as far a titles go over the last decade.
In fact, since 2007, Penske has just one championship – 2014.
Furthermore, Penske only has four titles since 1995. They won in 2000 and again in 2001 with Gil De Ferran in CART, as well as in 2006 with Sam Hornish Jr. and two years ago with Will Power.
That’s it – until now.
It’s not like they haven’t been close though. Power, could easily have had at least two more championships to his credit over the last five or six years. Then there’s last year. They dominated 2015 and had three cars in the top five of the points standings heading into the season finale at Sonoma. Juan Pablo Montoya had led the standings all season long and held a 34 point lead over Graham Rahal entering the last race of the season.
It was their title to lose.
Instead, Scott Dixon made up 47 points and won at Sonoma last September. With Montoya and Power having an on track issue and taking themselves out of contention early on, they finished sixth and seventh respectively. That allowed Dixon to tie Montoya for the title and took home the hardware as a result of a tiebreaker.
It left a bad taste in the entire organization’s mouth as they had three bullets in their chamber with one race to go, but lost it on their own mistake. Furthermore, they won three races including the Indianapolis 500 and 13 of the 16 pole positions in 2015, but left without the championship.
This year, they enter with three cars again in the top five of the standings, including the top two, the only two mathematically eligible. They’ve won nine races and 10 poles in the 15 events this season and will have one of their drivers hoist the championship trophy on Sunday.
This group didn’t want 2016 to end like 2015. Last year, it was their title to lose and they did just that. The same can be said of several other years. They hope they have learned from those past struggles in the season finales and go out on top.
This year showed that.