Veteran Penske Engineers Savor Candy Style of 2022 Title

September 17, 2022

Will Energy will probably be honored Saturday on the Victory Lap Celebration on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship he secured for Group Penske final weekend. A number of group members will stand with him.

Sure, Roger Penske’s group is usually featured on this sport’s postseason occasions, nevertheless it’s not routine for all. Take Ron Ruzewski, for instance. He joined Group Penske in 2005, serving as Helio Castroneves’ lead engineer for 12 years. Collectively, they received plenty of races, together with the Indianapolis 500 introduced by Gainbridge in 2009, however they by no means hoisted the Astor Problem Cup regardless of a number of shut calls.

“I used to be at all times a bridesmaid,” stated Ruzewski, who’s proven above speaking with Energy.

Previous to the 2019 season, Ruzewski was promoted to managing director of Roger Penske’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES program, liable for practically each element of every automobile the group fields. He shared within the glory of Josef Newgarden’s second sequence championship that yr, nevertheless it wasn’t the identical because the expertise he had this yr.

Ruzewski was Energy’s strategist, a task as soon as held by Penske. Each race-weekend resolution involving the No. 12 Verizon Group Penske Chevrolet this season might be traced again to the Purdue College graduate from western New York. Think about how he felt, a 53-year-old father of two whose racing profession started in 1990 working as an information acquisition engineer for Scott Goodyear’s automobile at Shierson Racing, turning into a sequence champion for the primary time.

“In quick management of the future (of the automobile) as a substitute of being one step eliminated, yeah, that is my first one,” he stated, smiling. “Feels actually good.”

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Ruzewski isn’t alone experiencing that first-time feeling. He stated no less than half the women and men who labored on Energy’s automobile this season are hands-on champions for the primary time. Amongst them: Trey Williams (inside entrance tire changer), Adam Jarus (outdoors rear tire changer) and Eric Crabtree (fueler), and there are a lot of others who help from the safer aspect of the wall.

Sure, championships are received by Group Penske with some regularity, however there are by no means ensures on this aggressive sport.

“That’s why I obtained everybody collectively after the race Sunday earlier than all of us went our separate methods,” Ruzewski stated. “I congratulated everybody and stated how proud I’m to work with them. I made a degree to say for many who have been right here, like John Haslett who has been right here for 40 years and (successful) is previous hat, congrats. However to all of the newbies, I stated you’re within the spoils of what this (sport) is all about. You’ve gotten to style it, and hopefully it makes you hungry for extra.

“It can take some time for them to appreciate there’s lots of people up and down pit street that by no means get this chance, and a few of them have been doing it for an extended, very long time. You actually hope that it sinks in, and so they get that it’s a giant deal.”

Dave Faustino understands the magnitude of it. His foray into motorsports started with a Method SAE program whereas a scholar at Rutgers College. His first style {of professional} racing got here in Method Mazda, then Atlantics. In 2005, he joined Conquest Racing’s Champ Automotive group earlier than transferring to Group Australia, owned by Derrick Walker, for 2007. Walker assigned him to Energy’s automobile.

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Energy and Faustino have labored each season however one since then – that was in 2009 when Energy was first a stand-in for Castroneves after which a part-time Group Penske driver. Which implies, when Energy broke Mario Andretti’s pole document final weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Faustino deserved his share of the highlight.

Faustino has been the lead engineer for 65 of Energy’s 68 poles within the sequence. The exceptions: 2006 at Surfers Paradise and the 2 poles in 2009 (Lengthy Seashore and Edmonton).

“I’m positive there’s no stat guide for race engineers,” Faustino stated, laughing. “Will most likely would have achieved that with any (engineer) as a result of his expertise is so excessive and he is aware of what he’s doing, so I received’t say the (document) is due to me. But it surely’s good to have been a part of it.”

Group Penske stayed in a single day in California following Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, and Faustino observed how recent the celebration felt. In spite of everything, it was the group’s first sequence championship in three years, and the changes made to the group’s sports activities automobile program, notably among the many engineers, had shuffled workers members greater than standard.

Briefly, this was a brand new bunch, actually totally different than when Energy and Faustino celebrated their first title in 2014.

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“Trying on the reactions, it made me really feel like I did after I joined this group,” Faustino stated. “You by no means actually know in case you’re going to get an opportunity to work with driver or have an opportunity at a championship, irrespective of how good you might be. The alternatives don’t usually come.

“I undoubtedly mirrored on that, and I actually took discover of the way in which (others) reacted to it. I hope this will probably be one thing they carry with them, that they really feel ‘I’m a champion; we’re a championship group’, as a result of meaning one thing.”

Ruzewski stated Group Penske carried out like a championship group in 2022. Not solely did its three drivers end within the high 4 of the standings – Newgarden was second, Scott McLaughlin fourth – their crews additionally completed within the high 4 in pit cease effectivity.

“It blows me away that we had been ready to try this,” Ruzewski stated of the 2 accomplishments. “It additionally proves to me that we’re doing one thing proper in all elements – coaching our individuals, making ready our vehicles, the drivers now we have, the instruments they’ve been given, the pit stops the crews executed. It’s good to know that what you’re doing works.”