Deep Dive with Team Penske Vice Chairman Walt Czarnecki. Also, IndyCar drivers Marcus Ericsson, Kyle Kirkwood, Christian Lundgaard, and Linus Lundqvist
PIT PASS INDY PRESENTED BY PENSKE TRUCK RENTAL AND HY-VEE – SEASON 3, EPISODE 34 – Deep Dive with Team Penske Vice Chairman Walt Czarnecki. Also, IndyCar drivers Marcus Ericsson, Kyle Kirkwood, Christian Lundgaard, and Linus Lundqvist
August 22, 2023
Show host Bruce Martin gets you prepared for this weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway on this edition of Pit Pass Indy Presented by Penske Truck Rental.
Martin has exclusive interviews with Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing, Linus Lundqvist of Meyer Shank Racing, Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Autosport.
Martin also has an exclusive, in-depth interview with Walt Czarnecki, the Executive Vice President of the Penske Corporation and Vice Chairman of Team Penske.
For more INDYCAR coverage, follow Bruce Martin at Twitter at @BruceMartin_500
"Penske" means performance ... and winning
For good reason. Since 1966, Team Penske has won 43 national championships, 17 IndyCar alone. Its 18 Indy 500 victories are a record. And last year, Penske was the first team in history to win both the IndyCar and NASCAR Cup Series championships in the same season. Those are results that are tough to top.
Speakers: Bruce Marti, Marcus Ericsson, Linus Lundqvist, Christian Lundgaard, Kyle Kirkwood, & Walt Czarnecki
This is Roger Penske and you're listening to Pit Pass Indy sponsored by Penske Truck Rental.
IndyCar fans, it's time to start your engines. Welcome to Pit Pass Indy, a production of Evergreen Podcasts. I'm your host, Bruce Martin, a journalist who regularly covers the NTT IndyCar Series.
Our goal at Pit Pass Indy is to give racing fans an insider's view of the exciting world of the NTT IndyCar Series in a fast-paced podcast featuring interviews with the biggest names in the sport.
I bring nearly 40 years of experience covering IndyCar and NASCAR, working for such media brands as nbcsports.com, si.com, ESPN Sports Ticker, Sports Illustrated, Autoweek, and Speed Sport.
So, let's drop the green flag on this episode of Pit Pass Indy.
Welcome to this week's edition of Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental. We are proud and honored to have Penske Truck Rental sponsoring Pit Pass Indy.
We will continue to cover the entire NTT IndyCar Series community, and our partner at Penske Truck Rental will help us tell those stories.
There are just three races to go in the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season as the series heads to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway near St. Louis for the August 27th Bommarito Automotive Group 500.
Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing has a huge 101-point lead over teammate and six-time IndyCar champion, Scott Dixon and a 105-point lead over Team Penske's two time IndyCar champion, Josef Newgarden.
Maximum points for each IndyCar race are 54. That leaves a total of 162 points for the final three races.
Palou is in great shape to wrap up the championship before the final race of the season at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California on September 10.
Palou can clench the championship this weekend if he leaves Gateway with a 109-point lead. To do that, he will have to stop Newgarden, who has won four races at the 1.25-mile short oval, including the last three in a row.
Dixon is also, a former winner having won a race at Gateway in 2020. Palou finished 15th and 12th in a doubleheader at Gateway in 2020, 20th in 2021, and 9th in 2022.
There are plenty of other stories to follow in IndyCar other than the championship. We'll start by talking to a few of the drivers who hope to finish the season strong in 2023 for various reasons.
Marcus Ericsson is sixth in the standings, but only 22 points behind fourth place Scott McLaughlin.
The winner on 106th Indianapolis 500 in 2022 is in the final year of a contract with Chip Ganassi Racing. If he doesn't strike a deal with that team, Andretti Autosport appears to be a potential landing spot for Ericsson beginning next season.
Here's a quick interview I had with Ericsson for Pit Pass Indy.
I am pretty decent singer.
What are some of your favorites? I bet you know a lot of ABBA.
Yeah. I only sing ABBA.
How about Take A Chance On Me?
Yeah, that's always a good one.
Things seem to be moving in a positive direction for you. So, how would you assess things this week?
Yeah, I mean, it's been a season for sure. I think we've had a good year for sure. It's been a while since we were on the podium now, and it's been a while since we won that race in St. Pete's. So, we are hungry for that. I think that's fair to say.
I think last time out in Nashville was a tough weekend. We had a lot of issues in practice and about qualifying because of it, and then sort of played a bit catch up in the race but had a really strong race day. So, this weekend is a good weekend to have a good race.
I promised you that I would not pester you about next year, until August. Well, it's August, so now, I have to pester you about next year. Are you very optimistic?
I'm optimistic I'll be in IndyCar for sure. Yeah, it's this time of the year, it's no news yet for me. We're working on it for sure. I would've liked to have it done a long time ago, but that's not the case. So, yeah, work is ongoing, but nothing is done at the moment.
I'm not sure to be honest with you. Like I don't know how it's going to play out. I feel like every week is sort of anything can happen. And then, yeah, I'm not sure if I'm going to know next week or in two months’ time. That's sort of the honest feeling on that. Yeah.
Currently sixth in the championship, Ericsson addressed his hopes for moving on up over the final three races.
Yeah, I mean, I've been six now, two years in a row, and I think I've been like P4 or P5 before the last race and dropped down to six both times in the last two seasons. So, I would like to be a bit better than six this year. So, that's a good goal.
I think Alex has sort of run away a bit from it, especially from me. So, yeah, couple of good races here and top five in the championship, that would be a good ending.
Probably only going to have one road course race in Indianapolis next year instead of two. Is that something you're in favor of. Go to a different venue to replace this one? Or did you like coming here twice?
No, I am in favor of doing that. I think always very cool to be here and race here. But I think doing the road course and the 500, I think I would prefer to go somewhere else here in August and do another oval, would be my ideal scenario.
Get another oval instead of a second race in the road course. If I had to pick, that would what I would do.
No, but I've heard about it. I'm all for it. Let's go. I mean, we need to figure out how to beat Josef because he seemed to win every single oval, so that makes it a bit boring. But apart from that, I love going to the ovals.
Milwaukee's been on the schedule for so long that Chip actually raced in Milwaukee.
Oh, really? Oh, that's crazy. Yeah.
Another driver from Sweden is 2022 INDY NXT champion, Linus Lundqvist. He is filled in for Simon Pagenaud at Meyer Shank Racing the past two races at Nashville and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, and has looked pretty good for a newcomer.
Lundqvist makes his IndyCar oval debut this weekend at Gateway as Pagenaud continues to deal with lingering effects from his crash at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 1st.
Here's a quick hit with Lundqvist for Pit Pass Indy.
Obviously, winning the championship last year, I think people kind of had an idea what I could do, but they were never really sure until — and you never really know until you get put in the hotspot in one of the big cars.
But I like to think with the preparations that we had going into it limited as they were, we did really good and I'm very happy and proud of the weekend. Obviously, a sad end to it, but the overall performance I was very, very proud of.
Yeah, no, it was great. Great to hear both from him. And obviously, Felix reached out as well and a couple of other guys, which was very nice.
And obviously, it's kind of good to see the recognition from so established drivers like themself and kind of see that, “You know what, you actually did a very good job, and you should be happy with that.”
And I think as well, they know the feeling of putting a car in the wall and the disappointment that you as a driver feel because of that. So, to kind of reach out and help me get through it is definitely nice.
But from a whole start to finish weekend, you had to be very satisfied with the way you started out in your first practice. You made the Fast 12 and you got up to seventh in the race.
So, how satisfying was that until you hit the wall with nine to go?
Yeah, no, like I said, it was a dream weekend from start to finish, but it finished nine laps earlier than it should have. But I was super happy.
I mean, going into FP1, neither me or the team kind of knew what to expect, so then to be kind of on pace straight away. And then FP2 being rained out didn't help us. And then final practice being canceled also didn't help us.
So, going into the race, I'd never done a live pit stop, for example. So, there were a lot of hurdles during the race that I think having that experience is just going to help us now.
Christian Lundgaard drives the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda for Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing and is eighth in the championship. He scored his first career IndyCar win in the Honda Indy Toronto on July 16 after Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing had to make some organizational changes following the Indianapolis 500.
I asked Lundgaard if that was a reason for the team's recent success?
Not really, not really. If you look at it, how strong we were at Barbara, I don't think it's post Indy or post May. We were on the poll before Indy 500 as well.
Sure, we've across the board been stronger since. But I think there was glimpses of our general performance before that and we've just managed to execute more afterwards. And we need to understand why we quite literally sucked at Detroit especially because the next street circuit we went to, we won.
And I think that's an unanswered question right now, in terms of why we struggled so much at Detroit. Because it didn't really seem to matter if it was Belle Isle or Downtown Detroit. It was pretty much the same result.
I also asked Lundgaard about his goals for the remainder of the season.
I mean, it's always a goal. I would say that the goal is now, impossible to reach with Alex obviously leading by that much. And it makes sense. I mean, we're just purely not competitive enough on ovals and we need to solve that out to be able to fight higher in a championship.
What does somebody from Denmark think of NASCAR?
Bumper cars, I guess. I mean, that's obviously how I grew up seeing it. And I guess in Europe in general, you don't really know that they do road courses.
And I think NASCAR is also, known from the fan's perspective of bumper cars. You think that the fans normally obviously come to see the people that win, but they also, want to see the excitement that happens when a car spins around.
As a racer that came from a formula background, are you intrigued by any of these, just how loud and how bulky they are?
No, not at all. Personally, I don't follow sports cars. I don't necessarily have a high interest in racing sports cars.
If my formula career fails, I mean, sure, I would like to do the big endurance races because it only improves you as a driver, having those experiences and hope hopefully win some of those as well.
Another driver who's had a fine season is two-time race winner, Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Autosport. He explains why at this stage of the season, he's taking a win or else attitude over the final three races.
Kind of that was like a jokingly thing that Brian said. I think it was at Detroit or Toronto, whatever it might've been. We were like, “Well, we're kind of in a position now, where we're not going to win the championship. So, do we care if we finish 7th or 11th in points?”
“No, we should probably just start going for race wins now and start proving that we're a race winning caliber team and a championship contending team based on race wins. Because that's all Palou does, is win races. So, we need to do that too.”
We'll be right back to Pit Pass Indy after this short break.
Hey, everybody, this is Josef Newgarden, winner of the 107th Indianapolis 500, and you're listening to Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental.
Welcome back to Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental. We were honored to spend some time with Walt Czarnecki, the vice chairman of Team Penske and the executive vice president of the Penske Corporation for an in-depth interview.
He has been one of Roger Penske's most trusted advisors in both the business world and in racing. Here is my exclusive interview with Penske Corporation executive vice president and vice chairman of Team Penske, Walt Czarnecki for Pit Pass Indy.
Joining us now, on Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental, it's an honor to bring the vice chairman of the Penske Corporation on, it's Walt Czarnecki.
Walt, we're here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The place got to be a little more special to anybody in the Penske Corporation now, that Roger Penske is the owner.
What's it like being back here and how is it different now that your company is the owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Well, as you probably don't know, Bruce, I came here for the first time in 1960 with my father to my first race. He came here in 1934 for his first race.
So, this has always been special in our family long before I met Roger Penske. Didn't miss any of the Indianapolis 500s. It was a tradition in our family for sure.
So, then getting associated with Roger here over 50 years ago, this was of course, a very important part of our racing. Winning here 19 times and then acquiring the Speedway here four years ago was a huge difference.
I think it's something that Roger always wanted to do, and the opportunity presented itself.
This place has always been special to me personally, and certainly more so now, with our ownership of the Speedway and the NTT IndyCar Series.
How much has this been a passion project for Roger? In many ways, he's well into his 80s, but yet this place has given him a lot to focus on, a lot of vigor. How much do you think that this has really rejuvenated Roger Penske?
Well, I don't know that he needed rejuvenation, but I think that with the growth of our company and so many other areas, when this opportunity presented itself, it's something that he always wanted to do and probably never thought the opportunity would present itself.
And when it did, he dove in like he has with everything else, with both feet. So, I don’t know if it's rejuvenation, but rather a second wind might be a better way to put it.
But he's here a lot. His presence is here with the team. I think if you look at the facility, if people saw before and after, they'd see that there's been a tremendous visual difference in terms of the appearance of the track, the whole facility, the guest amenities, and the presentation of the programs. And that's all Roger's hand.
A better question may be, how much has Roger Penske rejuvenated the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Well, that's probably a better way to put it. Of course, this is an American institution for sure. I think Roger has had a lot to do with, I think we're seeing an upward trajectory in IndyCar racing overall. And certainly, with the 300,000 people we had here this past Memorial Day, it's back to what it was.
And I really think that what really the pandemic was in some respects, probably a good thing in terms of the work that had to be done here at the Speedway, that we just didn't dive right in.
So, over a period of two years. So, when Memorial Day came around this past year or this past season, we were ready to go. So, but again, without his hand, I'm not sure would've happened.
Your first Indianapolis 500 was 1960, and ironically, Roger Penske was here that day as a spectator. He always seemed to be the guy that would be — he was friends with Eddie Sachs. He was on the starting growth with Eddie Sachs that day.
Do you find a little irony there that the two of you were both at the Indy 500 that day, and it would be, what, 12 years later before you were really working with him?
It was actually about, let's say 1960. Yeah, it was about nine years later, about 10 years later. And of course, we've been here as a competitor since 1969, Team Penske has.
But I've never really reflected on it that way. I have reflected on the fact of this parallel experience and that he came here for the first time in 1951 with his father, and I came here in 1960 with my father. In fact, he and I have talked about it, that parallel.
How did your love of the Indianapolis 500 and your father's love of it begin?
Well, it began when he just became as a young man. He actually came here with some friends, as I said, in 1934. He knew nothing at all about it. He just got bitten by the bug. Of course, World War II came along and there weren't any races.
And then shortly after the war, my dad developed a friendship with a fellow in Detroit. His name was Joe David, who was a midget car racer. He would go to the races at the Old Motor City Speedway with this fellow Joe David, when he ran, took me as a kid.
And so, when I was of an age at that point, I think I was 15 years old, 16 years old, he said, “Okay, you're old enough to go to the 500.” That's how it all began.
And to my dad's dying day, I think one of the proudest moments for me personally shortly before he passed away, he was able to come here to the 500 with me. And we were part of a winning team. And so, that meant a lot to him.
How did you get involved with Roger Penske?
I met Roger in 1968. I was working for American Motors Corporation. I was in their retail marketing group, but also, had oversight of their racing program when they were racing in the Trans-Am and the NASCAR Grand American Series. And that was my responsibility running that program.
And so, actually our teams competed against each other in the late ‘60s.
And then in 1969, we were able to attract Penske Racing to represent American Motors in the Trans-Am Series. Roger, Mark Donohue.
And it was at that time that we started working together in late 1969, early 1970, he said, “I have an opportunity and starting to build this company. And would you have any interest in coming along and helping?”
I was 25 years old at the time. I had a pregnant wife, and said, “Well, if I'm going to take a chance, this might as well be the opportunity to do it, the time to do it.” And I did.
What was young Roger Penske like? I imagine he was probably stood on the gas as hard as he did then, if not harder than he probably does now.
There's not a whole lot of difference in terms of his vision, in terms of his foresight, in terms of his ability, his work ethic, his ability to attract people, his management style. Not a lot has changed in 53 years, Bruce, really.
The corporation's gotten a lot bigger, obviously. When I joined the company, there were about 200 people. We had one car dealership, four truck leasing locations, and we had a race team with about 10 or 12 employees. That was the company.
It's just now, been a matter of scale, but in terms of his commitment to the company, its people, the businesses that we're in, hasn't changed at all.
When you started with Penske, was it still based in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania?
No. Well, the race team was based in Newtown Square, but Roger and I were actually based in Detroit. That's where our headquarters was and still is today in Suburban Detroit.
He was always ambitious at that time in the stage of his racing career, not only was he involved in NASCAR the first time, but also, had a Formula One team and an IndyCar team, and a Can-Am team. And there was a lot going on out of that race shop.
It was the six-car garage in Newtown Square. How they did it all, I don't know.
In fact, it's funny, I was talking to some people about it very recently at that very point. How they shuffled all the cards and got 52 and made sure that everything worked. And very successful at the time. And then subsequently, of course, moved to Redding in the early ‘70s.
A lot of people may look at Roger Penske as the corporate leader that he is, has his own corporate jet, flies all over. But in the beginning, there was a lot of times where he was in a station wagon going race to race. Tools were in the back. And sometimes some of the races, I imagine probably slept in the station wagon.
I don't think there was any question about it. In fact, one of our very first transporter haulers, they used to call it the Rolling Hilton, because people slept in it. Mark Donohue, and Roger did as well.
And to this day, no one works any harder in the company as well, regardless of what the task might be.
Now, not only are you involved with Penske Racing, you're also, involved with the Penske Corporation. One of which is our sponsors, Penske Truck Rental.
When you see the growth of Penske Truck Rental to become the leading truck rental company in the United States, if not the world, how do you describe the rapid ascension and of the history of Penske Truck Rental?
Well, first of all, we're happy to support your podcast and your broadcast for sure. The company was a regional truck rental and leasing company through the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, primarily in the Northeastern US.
When the association began with Hertz in 1982, we bought all the Hertz truck leasing locations around the country. That gave us a national footprint that we hadn't had before. We were working toward that and building toward that, but that was almost overnight, we became a national company.
And from that, just our same policies of having the best products at the best prices and our people taking care of our customers to the best of their ability. That's the secret sauce for us. And so, it's worked.
And how proud are you when you come into a place like the Indianapolis 500 and you see all the Penske Truck Rental trucks that are used for the vendors, the catering crews, the people like that to get souvenir sales, get things in and out of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, because obviously the month of May is very important for the corporation.
Well, it's true. Not only at Indianapolis, it's true at a lot of the other places we go as well. But again, that's one of the secrets I think, of how we built our race team and how we built our company is this business-to-business relationship with companies.
Again, just because the name is Penske doesn't mean that it's an automatic, we still have to perform for our customers for those reasons I just articulated in terms of the people, the product, and the pricing.
And as long as we do that, and they're satisfied, we're going to continue to do that. And we expect our customers to do that.
And one of the great common threads between Team Penske and Penske Truck Rental is you're going to get a professional operation, a clean vehicle, managed, the showrooms are spotless, just like the race shop in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Exactly right. So, whether it's a truck rental location in Speedway, Indiana, or it's one of our dealerships in California, the experience for the customer in that context has got to be absolutely the very best.
I did an interview one time with Penske Corporation president, Bud Denker, and he described working at the Penske Corporation as saying, “It's not for everyone, but if you can work long, hard hours and you have a drive, a team attitude, you can achieve some great things.”
How do you describe what it takes to be Penske material?
Well, first of all, what Bud said is absolutely accurate. I've said that for years. Our company is not for everybody. Sometimes people come into the company and they're not comfortable, and for whatever reason, that's okay. Our culture is not everybody's culture.
But Roger said from the very beginning, 50 years ago when we began, you don't have to have a Harvard MBA to be successful in our company. You just have to be willing to work hard.
Again, you have to know what you're doing. You have to know your product. But we're not curing cancer. And I'm not demeaning any of any anything that our 60,000, 70,000 associates are doing around the world.
We're renting trucks, we're leasing trucks, we're keeping them clean. We're selling cars, we're servicing cars for our customers. Pretty fundamental stuff.
So, again, you don't have to have an Harvard MBA to do these things. Certainly, I'm not a Harvard MBA and as Roger says, he's not a Harvard MBA either.
But we focus on what we do. We keep our eyes on the ball, and we all work pretty hard to again, satisfy our customers and have the best products available for them.
And also, Roger Penske believes in multitasking even before that word was probably ever created.
Correct. That's right. But one of the things Roger has I think, really excelled at is he's a great delegator of authority.
There are those people who might think that things are done unilaterally in our company. They're not. Roger's very collegial in the way he does things. He secures other people's opinions. He solicits their opinions. He takes them into account. But if he knows that you know your job better than anybody else, you go ahead and do it.
Early on, 53 years ago, I'll never forget when there was just a small group of us in the management of the company, five or six.
And he said one day, “You play the piano. I play the drums. Bruce over here plays the guitar. Fred over here plays the banjo, and somebody else plays the clarinet. You're all very good at your specific task. But once a month, we get together and make music.”
So, we're trying to make music every day now, in this company with, again, Roger's ability to meld all these people together, their specific skill sets and the accomplishment of their task.
Speaking of making music, he was also, among the first to understand the value of the business-to-business relationship when it comes to sponsorship. And now, that is a vital sponsorship model for any team involved in racing.
Correct. And we're fortunate because as we've built our company with our partners and again, Roger's never been afraid to have partners in business. We've had General Motors in business, we've had Hertz as a business partner. We've had GE over the years to help grow the business.
And again, if we can provide a service to one of our sponsor partners, they become a name on a race car, but it's more than a name on a race car. It's a true partnership.
Shell's a great example of that. But again, Shell realizes if they didn't have the very best products at the right prices, we wouldn't be very attractive. Conversely, we've got to be able to provide exactly the value they get.
I like to say that for our sponsor partners that we, Penske, are obliged to provide $5 in value for every dollar they invest with us. And that's our mantra.
That's a pretty good return on investment.
Speaking of multitasking, if you could describe your role as vice chairman at the Penske Corporation.
Oh, gosh. So, for 53 years, I think I've done just about every job there is to do in the company right now. So, I'm actually involved in everything that we're involved in. Of course, racing is a primary love of mine, as is our retail automobile business.
Anything to do with our company, I've been involved in, whether it's truck rental, leasing, retail auto. Probably more time on retail auto and racing than anything else, but still involved in everything we've done over the years. Detroit Diesel, that's another story unto itself.
Now, if you could describe your role with Team Penske. Most of your time is spent with the NASCAR operation, but you are involved with the Indianapolis 500 and certain other IndyCar races. But if you could describe your role with Team Penske.
I would say that my role is more of advisory. A kind of a senior manager. People will bounce ideas off me, whether it's personnel issues, whether it's … I don't profess to be a race engineer. I'm not.
But in terms of our overall presence in the sport, that's my responsibility. I have run race teams, so I understand what it takes to do.
But we've got a great team led by Tim Cindric, but on the NASCAR side, specifically by Travis Geisler, who's our competition director. If there are any major issues that have to be addressed, I'm in touch with those guys every single day.
How important was it to give Roger Penske the victory in the Indianapolis 500 four years after he bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Why wasn't it three years after?
Or he'll say, “Why wasn't it the next year?”
Yeah, exactly. Exactly right. Everyone is important. Bruce, I know that right now, we're walking around with a Speedway credential that has the numeral 19 on it, which is an all-access credential here at the Speedway.
Yesterday, Roger, and I, and Glen and Eddie Wood were talking, and Glen Wood said, “Well, Roger, I want to come back here next year and have a 20 on it.” So, we're always looking forward, always looking ahead.
Well, I know that that is his goal, and his dream is to win 20 Indianapolis 500s, and it motivates him. As I said, the man is in his mid-80s. And time catches up with all of us. He seems to be very good at outrunning the clock, though.
Well, he's also, very realistic about things. And he, I think like all of us, as we get older, we get a little bit wiser. And he does things in a measured kind of a way, as he should. But as long as he's got the energy, as long as he's got the mental acuity, he's going to keep doing what he's doing. And he should.
And also, we see his son, Greg Penske more involved with a lot of the racing operations. Of course, Bud Denker's very involved, the president of Penske Corporation.
And like I said, not only are these people involved with running the world's greatest racetrack, but they're also, involved with running a major corporation.
They've got other responsibilities within our company. That's absolutely right. But we've got a great management team, whether it's the truck rental leasing company, whether it's Penske Automotive Group, whether it's Team Penske, led by Tim Cindric.
I mean, we've got a great management team of men and women in their 40s and 50s who've already been with the company 20 or 25 years.
Michael Nelson, who's our vice president of Team Penske, just celebrated his 25th anniversary with the team. And that's another hallmark of our company. We want to have longevity among the employees.
Roger has a favorite saying, “We want our company to be difficult to get into, but more difficult to leave.” In other words, create an environment where you're satisfied, where you're fulfilled, while still making a meaningful contribution to the company.
And how are you and the other members of senior management able to compartmentalize this needs to be done this day, this needs to be done this time on this day with all the various different companies you're involved in?
That’s a great question. I think it's being fully immersed in everything that you're doing, to have that understanding of what needs to be prioritized and what needs to be compartmentalized. It becomes a matter of prioritization.
And I think Roger operates the same way, and it's a trait that I've learned from him early on when we were both young men in our 20s, I would see that he had this great ability. And so, I try to train myself to be able to do the same thing.
In other words, I put this broom away in this closet and I don't come back till next Thursday, but I remember where I put the broom. Well, maybe that's a simple analogy, but that's the way we do things. But stay focused on what you're doing.
Obviously, you're always looking forward. This year it's going to be pretty tough to catch Alex Palou. There's only three races left, and Josef Newgarden is down.
It's a pretty steep hill, yeah.
He’s now, third, 105 points back. And max points for each race is 54, so the numbers don't look good.
But there's always next year. And you've got very good drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series with Josef Newgarden, two-time champion; two-time champion, Will Power, and Scott McLaughlin. They're all Indianapolis, 500 winners except for Scott McLaughlin.
And don't count him out too soon. And no one's counting him out.
He's definitely going to be a star for the future, that's for sure.
But the future next year, I know that this will only motivate the team even more for 2024.
It certainly will. It's really a disappointment in one sense. You win the Indianapolis 500 and you say you're disappointed. Well, the goal is really the championship too. And I know no one feels any worse than Josef, but he's not going to quit.
But it's our responsibility as team ownership and team management to provide Scott McLaughlin, and Will Power, and Josef Newgarden with absolutely the best equipment and with the best financial and material resources that we can to help them as we go into 2024.
I know that you've got a lot going on. I really appreciate you stopping by and chatting with us. We'll pick this conversation up again at another time.
I hope so.
Penske Corporation vice chairman, Walt Czarnecki, good luck the rest of the NASCAR season. Good luck the rest of the IndyCar season. Good luck in Penske Corporation's business endeavors. And thank you for joining us today, on Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental.
You're welcome. And thank you for having me, Bruce. Pleasure.
And that puts a checkered flag on this edition of Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental.
We want to thank our guests, Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing, Linus Lundqvist of Meyer Shank Racing, Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing, Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Autosport, and Walt Czarnecki, the executive vice president of the Penske Corporation and vice chairman of Team Penske for joining us on today's podcast.
Along with loyal listeners like you, our guests help make Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental, your path to victory lane for all things IndyCar.
And because of our guest and listeners, Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental is proud to be the winner of The Best Podcast by the National Motorsports Press Association.
For more IndyCar coverage, follow me at Twitter @BruceMartin (one-word, uppercase B, uppercase M) _500.
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thanks to our production team. Executive producers are Brigid Coyne and Gerardo Orlando. Recordings and edits were done by me, Bruce Martin and final mixing was done by Dave Douglas. Learn more at evergreenpodcasts.com.
Until next time, be sure to keep it out of the wall.