Motor sports legend Roger Penske talks NASCAR, IndyCar and more


When it comes to racing excellence Roger Penske is the gold standard. From his series-high 161 IndyCar wins, including a record 15 Indianapolis 500s, to his 72 career NASCAR victories, including the 2008 Daytona 500, Penske has visited Victory Lane 353 times in his storied motor sports career.

So far this season, Penske’s drivers have won both IndyCar races, with Helio Castroneves winning at St. Petersburg and Will Power at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Ala. In NASCAR, Brad Keselowski drove to victory at Bristol in March and A.J. Allmendinger finished second in the last NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway on April 1.

Penske, who was Sports Illustrated’s Driver of the Year in 1961, is also one of the top industrialists in the world. Even at 75, the man shows no signs of slowing down and recently sat down to talk with about a variety of topics, including NASCAR, IndyCar and his decision to switch engines. You are joining Ford in NASCAR next year. How are things going with that?

Roger Penske: We’ve had a lot of conversations with Ford leading up to the announcement and are talking to a lot of people in Ford moving forward. … I have not had a meeting with Jack Roush yet. At the end of the day it’s a business and Jack has done a great job. If Ford is successful he will get the benefit and so will we. We have a lot of people calling us wanting to run Dodge. We have a big investment in our engine shop so we are not going to shut the door. That engine shop will operate in some mode because we have transient dynos and things like that. I think we bring a lot to the party. If Dodge is interested in having us build engines as a separate source, then our shop can be available for that. Ralph Gilles of Dodge noted that Ford gave you a long-term contract. Did that play into your decision?

Penske: You want a long-term commitment from your employer if you can. We are in a business where we are contractually bonded with race engineers, drivers and sponsors. We prepare contracts to make sure we are in a position to commit to our people, so a long-term commitment is very important to us. We had very good discussions with Dodge and based on their senior management they weren’t able to make the kind of commitment we felt was necessary to compete at the higher levels. …We haven’t won the championship in NASCAR yet and combining our efforts in ways that are meaningful for Ford would be good. Ralph Gilles and the whole SRT team were very supportive. They understood our position. We had a lot of discussion with them from the standpoint of what we could do. One wins and one loses and that was the pressure for me because we were with Dodge for 10 years.” Are you pleased with where IndyCar is right now?

Penske: One of the great things is we have a full field of cars and will have 27 when we go to Brazil [on April 29]. The new engine programs with Chevrolet and Honda are in pretty good shape. I think Lotus is a little bit behind but [they] have been fielding the five cars they are committed to. Overall, the cars have been good. I like the looks of the cars. It’s a new look and a new season and quite honestly a change always makes it better. Will the change in cars and engines effect influence wins races and titles or will it be you and Ganassi?

Penske: We didn’t want to change cars and go backward. I think the good news is we didn’t have any idea how we would stack up when we came to St. Pete. but the good news is we were all competitive. We feel good about it and I think there are some good drivers there. With new cars and new engines we have a level playing field. We don’t have the experience with some of the subtleties you can build into the car after you’ve had it for a number of years. That is going to be important. Our drivers know they have to perform. Certainly, Chip Ganassi feels the same way about his team. He’s with Honda and we are with Chevrolet so it is a pretty interesting battle just from that standpoint of the engine side. I think resources are sometimes overplayed. We all have exactly the same car and this car is so limited from what we can do in terms of the changes we can make. We can’t change a bracket without approval. … Then it comes down to strategy. We have a lot of engineers and some of our best people are the ones we just hired in recent years. The technology is out there. Sports car people are migrating from ALMS and Grand Am to IndyCar. They see the benefit to racing at the Indianapolis 500 and [with] the series. Part of what makes NASCAR so successful is the driver personalities; people know them and are familiar with them. Where do you see IndyCar right now in terms of personalities?

Penske: When you look at NASCAR we’ve got drivers that have been iconic drivers for 10 or 15 years. We’ve gone through a period with IndyCar where we had two series so we didn’t have continuity. We haven’t had the same schedule with the date equity that you want at these tracks with people coming back every year. … We have Marco Andretti, and Helio Castroneves has always been someone from a fan perspective that people love to see run because of Dancing with the Stars. Dario Franchitti is a superstar from what he has been able to do on the track. It’s more racing in these cities where we get the proper crowds and different demographics. … We have to build these stars around that. When NASCAR is running 43 cars with 38 races and twice in these markets you look at the top 15 people in NASCAR today [and] most of them have been around for five to 10 years, so there is a lot more continuity, so name recognition has been generated. The TV and overall publicity has been generated because of the continuity and that has made a big difference. That is something Randy Bernard needs to do.

I don’t think we have to have 20 races. If we have 15-16 events in the right markets, I think we are trying to decide that now moving into 2013. But we have to have some ovals. Talk about your NASCAR team.

Penske: We are really happy with the driver lineup we have. They are working well together. It’s early days. The cars have been good. We had a fuel problem at Las Vegas, but Brad Keselowski’s run at Bristol shows how good he really is. You don’t lap Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman because you don’t know what you are doing. I think Brad is really focused. A.J. Allmendinger is keen to perform. We’ll get him where he has the confidence. It took Brad a good part of last season to get where he wants. I think we have the equipment and the people to succeed. These guys are on it but it’s a long season. Getting a win early on makes a big difference. It’s so close. We see the same momentum on the Nationwide side with Sam Hornish Jr. He is getting some rhythm and Brad is very competitive. It was 15 years ago that you opened up the track in California. Do you have any interest in getting back into the race track business?

Penske: My son Greg said a number of times that we sold tracks at a time when there was overcrowding of dates, but we wish we had kept Michigan and California. If they were ever up for sale, we would be interested in it. But I’m not exploring it. What will it take to get Will Power over the hump in the championship?

Penske: We just can’t make the mistakes that we made last year. We had pit accidents, and he doesn’t have the experience on the ovals. We were anxious to compete at Las Vegas and then had that terrible accident with Dan Wheldon so everything stopped and we moved on. As a road racer he has shown how good he is and the number of road races on the schedule should play into our hands. He is going to be a factor, as will Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe. These guys are really motivated. Isn’t one way to break up the pack in IndyCar to give the engine more horsepower with less downforce?

Penske: I think by taking downforce off you can run with the horsepower we have today. We need to test at Indy and not run in the packs. With these cars we have now it’s pretty easy to drive flat on the ovals. I think it is something the series will take a look at. Will Phillips [INDYCAR VP of Technology] has done a very good job. He is a good thinker and doesn’t move too fast or make mistakes. They will address some of that. Do you think high-banked ovals are still good for IndyCar?

Penske: I think open-wheel racing side-by-side on any oval is important. You get much higher speeds on the big tracks. At Indy you have to get off the throttle to go through the corners. You have to have some ovals to prepare for Indy. It is where we can run on our schedule; the promoter is important and where we think it will be a good show for the fans. Is it good for IndyCar to have international races?

Penske: We’ve talked a lot about the series going outside of the United States. NASCAR ran a couple of races in Japan and it didn’t work out for them. We [IndyCar] had a reason to go to Japan because Honda was such a supporter to the series. I haven’t seen anybody calling us up to write a big check because we are going to China. The way to make this series better is date equity of races in the United States and then to have a balance of permanent road courses with street races in Detroit, St. Pete, Long Beach and Toronto and places like that, and then have some ovals. If you can have 16 races with one-third on ovals, one-third on streets and one-third on permanent road courses, then you have a balance and have a pretty good schedule and find out who are the best drivers and teams. What markets do you want IndyCar to go to?

Penske: I like Houston because we will be running around Reliance Park so the infrastructure is there. It’s a location that has capital and the proper sponsor with Shell/Pennzoil. Baltimore was a great location — we just had problems with the promoters. I saw a lot of people there with kids and we need to get new people involved in the sport. Long Beach is good. We need to be in different locations. What about the commitment Chevrolet has made to the IndyCar engine program?

Penske: They made the commitment to invest in the brand and there is no question they have committed to IndyCar from an engine perspective but also made the commitment to be involved with the race in Detroit that will be run the week after Indy. The nice thing is from top to bottom within General Motors North America motor sports has support. Do you miss the good old days when you only had seven guys working in your garage?

Penske: We used to drive the truck ourselves with a two-wheel trailer and a station wagon going to the races. Something has changed.


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The Inside Line: Allmendinger closing in on first Cup win

AJ Allmendinger

After finishing a career-best second in last week’s race at Martinsville Speedway, A.J. Allmendinger is confident his first win in the Sprint Cup Series is right around the corner.

Allmendinger came close to his maiden win in NASCAR’s premier series — 0.342 seconds to be exact. Ryan Newman held off Allmendinger during a green-white- checkered finish for the win.

In what has been a sluggish start to the 2012 season, Allmendinger got a much- needed boost with his second-place run at Martinsville, which moved him six positions up to 20th in the point standings. He also recorded his first top- five finish since May 2011 at Charlotte.

Last December, Allmendinger signed with Penske Racing to replace Kurt Busch in the No. 22 car. Todd Gordon also joined Penske to serve as crew chief for Allmendinger’s team. Gordon had been a veteran crew chief in the Nationwide Series.

Expectations are high for Allmendinger this year, and there’s no doubt he’s feeling the pressure.

“Ultimately for me, I put a lot of pressure on my shoulders, because I know these guys that are on this 22 car are used to running up front every weekend, and they are used to having a chance to win races or used to winning races,” Allmendinger said. “I put that on me to go out there and step up to the game.”

Allmendinger began this year on a high note by winning the 24-hour Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Daytona International Speedway in January. But its been a bit of a struggle for Allmendinger since then, as he finished no better than 15th in the first five Sprint Cup races this season. He posted a 34th-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a 37th-place run at Las Vegas.

“We’ve had some bad luck,” he said. “Vegas, we were fast and had the fuel pump issue. Bristol, we were really fast early in the race and had a rear end problem that broke, and that cost us our handling.

“So ultimately, it’s just myself and Todd Gordon. It’s his first year in Cup. Obviously we would like to go out there and set the world on fire, but it’s not that easy. We are just going to keep working hard.”

During his 2007 rookie season in Sprint Cup, Allmendinger failed to qualify for 19 races, including the first four, with Red Bull Racing. Allmendinger spent one more year with Red Bull before driving for Richard Petty Motorsports from 2009-11. He finished a career-high 15th in points last year.

Allmendinger considers this year as not only his best chance to win a race but his opportunity to make the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.

Right now, Allmendinger has accumulated 143 points, which puts him 46 markers behind 10th-place Jimmie Johnson. Twenty races remain before the Chase begins in September.

“I feel like the last two years, I’ve at least got on a good rhythm,” Allmendinger said. “It makes me feel good to know that a guy like [team owner] Roger Penske can look at my talent and say, you know what, he might not have a Cup win and you have [sponsor] Shell-Pennzoil that’s used to winners and champions in their cars, but if we give him the right stuff, he might be able to do that.”

After taking their first weekend off, Sprint Cup Series teams return to racing on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.


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Bobby Likis Share the Mic with AJ Allmendinger, NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver #22, Penske Racing Interview on Car Clinic Radio


Just off a fifteenth place showing at the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, Allmendinger reflected on his first year with Penske Racing last Saturday, “We’ve had fast race cars; we’ve just had a lot of bad luck. I know people can always say that, but we’ve been a lot faster than what we’ve shown.” Then Allmendinger predicted, “I’m really looking forward to Martinsville. I think we can go there and turn the season around and really get the finish we deserve because we’ve had the speed.” Indeed!

During the Likis/Allmendinger bench race, Allmendinger revealed that he is the official spokesperson for Scott® Pro Shop Towels “Take the Challenge” Sweepstakes. The 470-horsepower prize is a 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT which Allmendinger will present to the “Take the Challenge” winner live on Spike TV in Nashville in November. Says Allmendinger, “I love the Scott® Pro Shop Towels partnership, and I’ve already got good mojo about the relationship. I started a go-cart team, so this is a product that my team and I can really use when we’re in the go-cart shop.”

Likis chimes in, “I can second that emotion as I switched my automotive service shop to Scott® Shop Towels from cloth rags years ago. And now I’m looking forward to putting the Scott® Pro Shop Towels to the rugged test.”

Click the link below for the interview with AJ Allmendinger.


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Keselowski Takes First Laps on Repaved MIS


BROOKLYN, Mich. (April 3, 2012) – Brad Keselowski made history at Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday. The Rochester Hills native took the first laps on the newly paved surface at the racetrack during a Goodyear Tire test.
“I feel the decision to pave in October, giving it some time to set was very beneficial,” Keselowski said. “The track should be ready to go in record time for a repave. It should be in great shape when we come back here for the race.”

Keselowski was the first car out at 1:23 p.m., shortly following a rain delay.

He was joined at the test by fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Keselowski tweeted throughout the test, saying the track would reach top speeds on Day 2 of the test on Wednesday.

But that didn’t keep him from reaching 212, enough to break the 194.232 mph track qualifying record set by Ryan Newman in 2005.

“We got going pretty good. We got over 210 (mph),” Keselowski said.

Gordon topped off at nearly 215 mph, he said.

But a Goodyear Tire test isn’t necessarily about how fast the NASCAR stock cars can go, but rather collecting data the tire company can use to build a good race tire for the track’s NASCAR events.

Gordon, who has always liked racing at Michigan International Speedway and considers the racetrack one of his favorites, said there’s a chance to gain a competitive advantage when testing at a newly paved racetrack.

“I think it has some advantages, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “We gather the data any time we can go to any track. Whether it is a repave or not, we are gathering data. But when it is a repave, it is smooth and you get to understand the loads, the grip levels and what the track kind of needs.”

“I love Michigan,” he said. “We want to play our role and help Goodyear develop the best tire for that track.  If we can gather some data that is beneficial to us then we certainly are going to try to take advantage of that, as well.”

This is the fourth time the racetrack has been repaved. The track was built in 1968, and repaved in 1977, 1986 and 1995.

During the latest project, 22,000 tons of asphalt was placed on the surface, enough to construct about 5 ½ miles of a two-lane county road.

Milling of the race track began last August and took approximately three weeks to complete. Three-quarters of an inch of asphalt was taken off the top during the milling process.
The project required three inches of total pavement laid down.

The track was paved in two layers with each layer 1 ½ inches thick for a total of three inches. Therefore, the track is now approximately 2 ¼ inches higher than it was previously.

The two-day test concludes 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. The Turn 1 grandstands will be open for fans free of charge throughout the day. Fans may park in Lot 10, off US 12.
Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is the Great Escape, a venerable NASCAR national park where fans can get away and enjoy the very best in racing and camaraderie. It’s the love of racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike.


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Roger Penske to be honored on “Legends Day” at Indianapolis


Iconic Indianapolis 500 team owner Roger Penske will be saluted Saturday, May 26 during “Legends Day Honoring Roger Penske” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 96th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27 will mark the 40th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500 victory for Penske. Mark Donohue drove Penske’s Sunoco McLaren to victory in the 56th Indianapolis 500 on May 27, 1972. Penske-owned cars have earned 15 race victories and 16 poles – both records by a wide margin – in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“The Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have meant so much to me personally as well as our race teams,” Penske said. “I am honored to celebrate the anniversary of our first Indy 500 win with the fans on May 26, and we look forward to an exciting race weekend.”

Penske will participate in a question-and-answer session with fans May 26 on the Coca-Cola Stage in the Pagoda Plaza, followed by a brief autograph session.

Other featured events on “Legends Day Honoring Roger Penske” will include the annual Public Drivers’ Meeting on pit road adjacent to the Tower Terrace grandstand, autograph sessions with the 2012 Indianapolis 500 starting field of 33 drivers and former Indy 500 drivers, and a huge Indianapolis 500 memorabilia show featuring vendors from the United States, Europe and Australia.

Admission to IMS on “Legends Day Honoring Roger Penske” will be $10 for adults, with children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult.

“It’s fitting to pay tribute to Roger Penske, one of the true icons of the Indianapolis 500, on the 40th anniversary of his first victory at Indianapolis,” said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and chief executive officer. “His teams and drivers have set an incredible standard for excellence and professionalism at the Speedway, and Roger has become a landmark figure of the world’s greatest race. This will be a memorable day for fans and everyone who loves the Speedway in May to honor Roger.”

Best known for his multiple Indianapolis 500 victories with Rick Mears (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991) and Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009), Penske also has scored “500” victories with Donohue (1972), Bobby Unser (1981), Danny Sullivan (1985), Al Unser (1987), Emerson Fittipaldi (1993), Al Unser Jr. (1994), Gil de Ferran (2003) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2006).

Penske Racing holds nearly every record in Indy car racing, with 159 victories, 203 pole positions and 12 national championships.


Source: Racer Global Racing News. Fast

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Miller Extends Partnership with NASCAR, Penske Racing

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla..(January 26, 2012) – NASCAR, MillerCoors and Penske Racing today jointly announced multi-year partnership extensions for the brewer’s two biggest brands. For MillerCoors, the deals with the sanctioning body and one of the sport’s most respected teams solidify its status among the most committed sponsors in NASCAR. In addition, MillerCoors has alliances with seven tracks that host NASCAR races.

Coors Light, the World’s Most Refreshing Beer, is extending its sponsorship as the Official Beer of NASCAR. Coors Light started its official sponsorship with NASCAR in 2008, after a 14-year run as the primary sponsor of the No. 40 car.

Additionally, the millions of fans of the famed Blue Deuce and its popular driver Brad Keselowski can rest easy because Miller Lite, the original light beer with the never watered down taste, has renewed its partnership with Penske Racing. Miller Lite will continue as the season-long primary sponsor of Penske’s No. 2 Dodge driven by Keselowski, building upon an alliance that began in 1991. Miller Lite continues as one of the highest profile season-long primary sponsors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer Andy England said the renewals point to the value of NASCAR as a powerful way to connect with legal-drinking-age consumers.

“We don’t make investment decisions like this without having a great sense of exactly what the alliance will deliver for our brands,” England said. “That’s why I’m so excited about our continued partnerships with NASCAR and with Penske Racing. NASCAR fans are among the most passionate and loyal fans in all of sports, and they love nothing more than getting together with friends to watch the race while enjoying a cold, refreshing Coors Light or a great tasting, never watered down Miller Lite. Our distributors and retailers know that, which is why they’re so supportive of our leadership in the sport.”

The Coors Light partnership with NASCAR includes the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which rewards the driver with the fastest qualifying time each week. It also includes the exclusive right to use NASCAR marks on retail point-of-sale and merchandising materials, in advertising and digital marketing, and through other marketing tools.

Coors Light brings special insight to race fans through its Miss Coors Light program, which began at the start of the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and continued throughout the 2011 season. Miss Coors Light, who will be back in 2012, presents the Coors Light Pole Award to the winning driver, makes appearances during race week at local bars and provides her perspective on NASCAR activities via the Miss Coors Light Facebook page.

“The return of MillerCoors to NASCAR not only ensures that the company will bring back compelling activation that continues to engage and excite our fans, but it also benefits our ecosystem as a whole, which is comprised of tracks, drivers and teams,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. “As a sanctioning body, NASCAR is proud to have Coors Light as part of our stable of Official Partners for whom we create exclusive assets and platforms to drive their respective businesses. NASCAR is the sport that works for business, and we’re pleased to see it working so well for MillerCoors.”

For Miller Lite, its sponsorship extension with Penske and Keselowski comes after an amazing 2011 season, Keselowski’s second full year on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit. Keselowski and his Miller Lite team surged from deep in the driver standings as late as mid-July to win three races, qualify for the Chase and finish fifth in the championship standings.

Keselowski and the Blue Deuce are featured throughout the year in Miller Lite-branded point-of-sale materials displayed in on- and off-premise retail accounts across the country, as well as in advertising and digital marketing. Keselowski and members of his crew also make special appearances at retail accounts to visit Miller Lite customers throughout the season.

“The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge is coming off a very successful season on the racetrack – one where we reached Victory Lane for a sixth-consecutive season while qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,” said Roger Penske. “The continued support of MillerCoors will ensure that this long-standing partnership will remain one of the strongest bonds in professional motorsports. With Miller Lite, we are proud to have one of the few full-season sponsors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That continuity is one of the many reasons Brad and the team are primed for another great season.”

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for one of North America’s premier sports. NASCAR races are broadcast in more than 150 countries and in 20 languages. In the U.S., races are broadcast on FOX, TNT, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, SPEED and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. NASCAR fans are among the most brand loyal in all of sports, and as a result more Fortune 500 companies participate in NASCAR than any other sport. NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), four regional series, and one local grassroots series, as well as two international series. Also part of NASCAR is GRAND-AM Road Racing, known for its competition on road courses with multiple classes of cars. NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races at 100 tracks in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., NASCAR has offices in eight cities across North America. The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the 54th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, will air Feb. 26th on FOX at 1:00 p.m. ET. For more information and a complete schedule, visit Follow NASCAR on or on Twitter: @NASCAR.

About Penske Racing
Penske Racing is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Competing in a variety of disciplines, cars owned and prepared by Penske Racing have produced over 340 major race wins – including a record 15 Indianapolis 500 victories, more than 410 pole positions and 23 National Championships. For more information about Penske Racing, please visit

About MillerCoors
MillerCoors brews, markets and sells the MillerCoors portfolio of brands in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Built on a foundation of great beer brands and nearly 300 years of brewing heritage, MillerCoors continues the commitment of its founders to brew the highest quality beers. MillerCoors is the second-largest beer company in America, capturing nearly 30 percent of U.S. beer sales. Led by two of the best-selling beers in the industry, MillerCoors has a broad portfolio of highly complementary brands across every major industry segment. Miller Lite is the great-tasting beer that established the American light beer category in 1975, and Coors Light is the brand that introduced consumers to refreshment as cold as the Rockies. MillerCoors brews premium beers Coors Banquet and Miller Genuine Draft, and economy brands Miller High Life and Keystone Light. The company also offers innovative products such as Miller64 and Sparks. The new MillerCoors craft and import company, Tenth and Blake, imports Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Pilsner Urquell, Grolsch and Molson Canadian and features craft brews from the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Blue Moon Brewing Company and the Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Company. MillerCoors operates eight major breweries in the U.S., as well as the Leinenkugel’s craft brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and two microbreweries, the 10th Street Brewery in Milwaukee and the Blue Moon Brewing Company at Coors Field in Denver. The MillerCoors vision is to create the best beer company in America by driving profitable industry growth. MillerCoors insists on building its brands the right way through brewing quality, responsible marketing and environmental and community impact. MillerCoors is a joint venture of SABMiller plc and Molson Coors Brewing Company.


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WURTH GROUP Joins Penske Racing as a Sponsor in 2012

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MOORESVILLE, N.C. (January 26, 2012) – Penske Racing welcomes a new partner to its NASCAR Nationwide Series program in 2012 as The WURTH GROUP will sponsor the Dodge Challenger driven by Sam Hornish, Jr. The No. 12 WURTH Dodge will be featured as primary sponsor in seven races as it marks the beginning of a multi-year partnership between WURTH and Penske Racing. WURTH will also be an associate sponsor for the remaining 26 Nationwide Series races and also as an associate sponsor of No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series.

A leading supplier of high-quality automotive and industrial parts, cabinet supplies and fasteners, WURTH has more than 40,000 customers across the nation.

“The WURTH GROUP is a world-wide leader in the automotive and industrial supply business and we are pleased to have them join our team,” said Roger Penske. “Having WURTH as a partner brings value to every aspect of our company and their involvement will enhance our ability to compete for wins and hopefully the Nationwide Series title this season.”

With WURTH on board as a sponsor for 2012, Hornish and the No. 12 team will compete for the full Nationwide Series season, racing with Alliance Truck Parts as a partner as well.

“We are really excited to bring WURTH into the NASCAR Nationwide Series. I am grateful that they have joined our team because it is their support that makes it possible for us to run for the championship this year,” said Hornish. “We know that they will be a great partner to Penske Racing and we will do our best to get the No. 12 WURTH Dodge into Victory Circle.”

While this season marks its entry into North American motorsports, WURTH has been actively involved in European racing for over 30 years supporting teams in various disciplines including the Formula One and DTM Series.

“Roger and his companies are the epitome of excellence and integrity,” said Robert Stolz, CEO of the Wurth Group, North America.”Their commitment to the highest quality and customer service mirrors our own corporate culture. While we have one of the most recognized brands in industrial distribution in Europe and Asia, we are just beginning to roll it out in America. Our partnership with Penske Racing will be of great value to us as we look to expand further into this market.”

WURTH offers an extensive catalog of hardware, chemicals, fasteners and more, providing customers with everything they need to succeed. Small body shops and nationwide fleet maintenance companies alike can benefit from the unparalleled selection and unbeatable service that is synonymous with the WURTH brand.

Penske Racing is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Competing in a variety of disciplines, cars owned and prepared by Penske Racing have produced 350 major race wins – including a record 15 Indianapolis 500 victories, more than 410 pole positions and 23 National Championships. For more information about Penske Racing, please visit

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AJ Allmendinger will look to break into the Chase and win races with new ride

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Of the many new team combinations that will be followed with interest this Sprint Cup season, one of the most interesting dynamics exists at Penske Racing.

Brad Keselowski suddenly is the “veteran” team statesman, and the new kid on the block is AJ Allmendinger, fresh from Richard Petty Motorsports and ready to take advantage of a huge opportunity.

The Dinger was one of the biggest gainers in the off-season shuffle of drivers, crew chiefs and other team personnel, and his goal at Penske this season will be to win races and duplicate the overall Penske effort last year, which put Keselowski and then-teammate Kurt Busch in the Chase.

“This is a challenge that I welcome and look forward to,” Allmendinger said. “The two Penske teams were strong enough to both win races and make the Chase last year, and we’re looking for that same level of success this season. It’ll be important to start off the season on a positive note.

“Testing proved to each of us that, even though we haven’t had much time together, we all have the same goal and are really excited to get going. Testing also showed, though, that the drafting and NASCAR making changes to try and put forth the best racing possible, makes the Daytona 500 just about anybody’s game. I think we’ve got one of the best shots out there, and definitely a team capable of winning at any of the 36 races.”

Penske scored five wins last season, Keselowski winning three times despite a major foot injury and Busch winning twice. Keselowski finished fifth in points, and Busch was 11th.

Allmendinger was 15th in points for RPM.

Allmendinger will be shooting for his first career victory this season. He finished 24th in points in 2009 and 19th in 2010.

“I think it is a very realistic goal to win races and make the Chase this season,” he said. “I think Penske Racing proved last season that working with Dodge as only a two-car effort isn’t necessarily a bad situation. They proved that a smaller group with a strong common goal and clear way of doing things can be just as strong, maybe stronger.

“This is my second time around working with Dodge, and I’ve seen how dedicated they are to our sport. We’re really looking forward to taking them to victory lane this season.”

Allmendinger perhaps will be under more scrutiny than other driver this year.

“We have spent most of our time in NASCAR just trying to survive,” he said. “Getting this opportunity to drive the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge for Penske Racing is truly like a double blessing. I am finally getting the stability I have needed to do my best, but I am also realizing a dream in driving for Mr. Penske.

“Coming from my open-wheel background, Roger Penske and his organization and race teams are just the best of the best. I am committed to representing Penske Racing, Shell-Pennzoil, Dodge and all the other great partners the best I can on and off the track.”

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.

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