Team Penske can add its name to an IndyCar paddock filled with entrants who’ve undergone significant changes to driver and race engineer pairings since the checkered flag waved over the 2021 season.
Notably, Josef Newgarden’s championship-winning race engineer Gavin Ward departed for Arrow McLaren SP where he’s assumed a bigger role that will influence all of AMSP’s entries. While the move didn’t necessarily come as a surprise, the absence created a need to find a new partner for the team’s most recent title winner.
Multiple sources have told RACER that Eric Leichtle, IndyCar program manager for the Pratt & Miller Engineering firm which supports Chevy Racing’s IndyCar race engineering and R&D projects, has been hired by Team Penske. The same sources suggest Leichtle, who spent nearly 12 years with PME and served as a race engineer within its factory Cadillac World Challenge GT program, will be attached to Newgarden’s No. 2 Chevy effort.
RACER also understands Will Power’s race engineer David Faustino, who won the 2014 IndyCar championship and 2018 Indy 500 with the Australian’s No. 12 Chevy effort, is likely to continue with Power in what has become the series’ longest driver-engineer relationship.
Prior to joining Penske in 2009, Power and Faustino worked together in Champ Car at KV Racing, and with Power’s promotion to a full-time seat in 2010, Faustino rejoined his former driver and has remained in the position for the last 12 seasons.
The last engineering move comes with Penske IndyCar sophomore Scott McLaughlin, who will have Simon Pagenaud’s former race engineer Ben Bretzman shift over to look after the New Zealander. Like Faustino and Power, Bretzman and Pagenaud were inseparable for quite some time – 10 years – prior to the Frenchman leaving for Meyer Shank Racing during the offseason.
And with McLaughlin’s 2021 race engineer Jonathan Diuguid being promoted to oversee the team’s new Porsche Penske Motorsports IMSA and WEC LMDh project, Bretzman – who was initially expected to follow Diuguid to sports cars – was assigned to McLaughlin for an important year in his career.
The final confirmation for all of Penske’s driver and engineer combinations is expected to be made later in the month.