For the first time ever a racing organization won both the Indianapolis 500 and the World 600 on a Memorial Day weekend. Fittingly that organization was Team Penske which won a thrilling Indy 500 for a record-extending 19th time on Sunday and followed with a convincing victory Monday in the rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600.
Roger Penske’s characteristic competitiveness shown through on the Indy victory stand. “I think the last two laps, I forgot about being the track owner and just said, ‘Go for it!’” he told an NBC television audience and the four-hundred thousand fans crowded into the venue he’d purchased from the Hulman-George family a little over three years ago.
“After you’ve been on your face for three or four years here in qualify8ing, I can tell you it was nice to see. We won nine races last year, won the championship, and yet we qualified in the back-half of the (Indy 500) field. The guys had worked so hard, and there’s guys that had had better ideas than us. We’ve just got to figure out how to find out what that magic is so we can be out front from the beginning.”Then on Monday, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney turned in a strong drive to win the rain-delayed Coca-Cola at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Blaney took a page from the Newgarden book and went into the stands to greet fans and to give away the checkered flag, a personal tradition.
The only other racing organization to come close to a Memorial weekend sweep is Chip Ganassi Racing in 2010 when Dario Franchitti won the Indy 500 with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray finishing runner-up to World 600 victor Kurt Busch, oddly enough Team Penske’s only 600 victory before Blaney’s.
[Front page image by Rusty Jarrett, Motorsport Images]