IRL: Indy500: Roger Penkse returns to support Jason Leffler

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 28, 2000 -- Roger Penske attended the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday for the first time since his drivers, Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi, failed to qualify in 1995. The visit came a day after Penske ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 28, 2000 -- Roger Penske attended the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday for the first time since his drivers, Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi, failed to qualify in 1995. The visit came a day after Penske earned his 100th career open-wheel victory when Gil de Ferran won the CART event Saturday at Nazareth, Pa. It ended a winless drought of three years and three days for Penske, who owns 10 Indianapolis 500 victories as a car owner. One of Penske's companies, UnitedAuto Group, is sponsoring the Treadway Racing entry driven by rookie Jason Leffler at Indy. Leffler finished 17th. "It's great," he said about being back in the garages in Gasoline Alley. "Primarily, I'm here to support (owner) Fred (Treadway), the team and Jason. I'm anxious to see how Chip (Ganassi) does." Ganassi, whose drivers have won the last four CART championships, entered the "500" this year with drivers Juan Montoya and Jimmy Vasser. Rookie Montoya, last year's CART champion from Colombia, won the race after qualifying second. Vasser, who led 20 laps during his last Indianapolis 500 appearance in 1995, qualified and finished seventh. "One of our engineers, Ian Reed, has worked on Jason's car and was able to get a little insight (into how the normally aspirated engine cars work) if we decide to come back next year," Penske said. "What we needed to do with Penske Racing was demonstrate we were a viable team. What we proved Saturday is that we are viable. We did it on our home track." Penske, who watched the race from the suites, said the sponsorship arrangement for Leffler provided the opportunity for him to return to the Speedway for the Indianapolis 500. He is a frequent visitor to the garages during the Brickyard 400 as he is an owner of the NASCAR Winston Cup car driven by Rusty Wallace. Penske took one early stroll through the pits Sunday morning and said it was quite a different feeling due to the massive construction project at the Speedway in preparation for the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept. 24. "You don't see the (old) tower behind you," he said. Penske is happy that F1 is coming to the Speedway but will be unable to attend. He is a board member for General Electric and will be in Australia for the Olympics at the time.

-IRMLS/IMS-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Jason Leffler , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Al Unser Sr. , Emerson Fittipaldi , Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske