Return of fourth IndyCar entry possible, Penske says

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Return of fourth IndyCar entry possible, Penske says


Return of fourth IndyCar entry possible, Penske says


Roger Penske and Tim Cindric made a calculated decision to downsize Team Penske’s NTT IndyCar Series operation from four cars to three at the end of the 2021 season, but that doesn’t mean the choice is a permanent one.

Penske parted ways with Simon Pagenaud after seven years, shuttered the championship- and Indy 500-winning No. 22 Chevy program, moved race engineer Jonathan Diuguid off of Scott McLaughlin’s No. 3 Chevy timing stand, and apportioned other key personnel to support its new Porsche Penske Motorsport sports car program.

Diuguid, Penske’s man in charge of the GTP/LMDh project, and the rest of the PPM crew will spend the year preparing the hybrid prototypes to go racing in IMSA and the WEC in 2023, and according to The Captain, once the big factory effort is up and running, a return to fielding four Indy cars is not out of the question.

“We would always consider it; that’s an option,” Penske told RACER. “This year, we’re taking the time and effort to get the people ready for this sports car project with Porsche, but that’s certainly an option.”

Two primary factors will inform Penske’s decision on whether he should stay with the three-driver trio of Josef Newgarden, Will Power and McLaughlin, or look to add a new fourth driver to the mix. Coming off a year where Newgarden was the only championship threat to come from Team Penske after he placed second in the standings — Pagenaud was next in eighth — it remains to be seen whether the leaner driver rotation can pose a stronger threat for the title.

Another area Penske will monitor closely is the free agent market. Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi and Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay are among the leading prospects who could be on the move after their contracts expire at the end of the season, and there could be one or more drivers from inside the IndyCar paddock who could be interested in joining Team Penske.

“We’re watching all of that,” Penske said. “We’ve got three good guys this year we can focus on. It’s gonna be an interesting year.”