Leeds, Ala – What started off as a two race deal for Indy, quickly turned into a three race deal for Menards to be on Simon Pagenaud’s Team Penske entry in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016. John Menard and Roger Penske originally agreed to a deal to put the bright colors of the home improvement store on the car for both the road course race as well as the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 as well. Then, right before the press conference to unveil that, Penske told Menard that his colors will be on the car at Menard’s home race at Road America in June as well.
That, in turn with Pagenaud’s strength last year, made Menard want more. His colors would be on Pagenaud’s car for even more races on top of those three last year. Now, that turned into a 10 race deal for 2017.
On Tuesday, we got to see the bright paint scheme for the first time on the new No. 1 Chevrolet driven by Pagenaud in the IndyCar test at the Barber Motorsports Park. Pagenaud, was seventh and 10th respectively in the two sessions, as the defending winner at Barber was excited to get those colors back on the track.
The defending IndyCar Series champion also told me in an interview last week that Menards will be his sponsor in the next race on April 9 at Long Beach too.
On top of that, Penske as a whole was strong on Tuesday as well.
Will Power led the way for the team as the two-time Barber winner (2011, 2012) was third fastest in session No. 1 and quickest in the final session later on in the day. 2015 Barber winner Josef Newgarden was eighth and third respectively while 2010 winner Helio Castroneves was 10th and 11th respectively.
Juan Pablo Montoya also made his 2017 debut with the team, testing the No. 22 Chevrolet that he will drive in both races at Indy on Tuesday. He was extremely quick as he was ninth and fourth respectively in the two sessions.
Overall, Penske was fast and they hope that and their success at Barber over the years translates over to a good weekend in the return next month. Penske drivers have won four of the seven IndyCar races on the 2.38-mile Alabama road course, but if you count Newgarden who’s with them now, they have five of the seven race winners.