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By Eddie LePine

I just made my annual trip to the city of St. Petersburg to attend the first NTT IndyCar race of
the 2024 season, and as usual, it did not disappoint. Beautiful weather, a full field of 27
IndyCars, new drivers, new sponsors, old and new drama were evident.
The team that really seems like they are on a roll and looking pretty unstoppable right now is
Team Penske. Coming off the pole position at the Daytona 500, victory at the Rolex 24 at
Daytona and then at the FIA-WEC race at Qatar, they rolled into St. Petersburg looking like the
team to beat.

As it turned out, nobody could beat them. Josef Newgarden, who was in the winning Porsche
Penske at Daytona, put the Team Penske Chevrolet on pole at St. Petersburg and then
dominated the race, leading 92 of 100 laps.
To further depress the competition, Scott McLaughlin finished second and Will Power finished
fourth, very nearly giving Team Penske a sweep of the podium.
After winning five races in 2023, but only one on a road course, Newgarden was pleased with
the start of the 2024 season.

“I had a lot of fun today,” Newgarden said. “I think it’s so deserving for the work they (Team
Penske) put in. We’ve worked really hard to close the gap. We didn’t have the speed we
needed on road and street courses last year, at least on a consistency basis, and today we
brought that speed. We had the execution, as always.”
Unless the rest of the field can find some extra speed, this may become a long season for them.
Right now, Team Penske is looking in IndyCar (and all other series they compete in) like Red Bull
is looking in Formula One – dominating.

Time will tell how the Roger Penske led squad moves forward. In addition to owning the NTT
IndyCar series, Penske also owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There were some
grumblings among the teams about how much (or little) Roger Penske is investing in the future
growth of IndyCar (most publicly by team owner Michael Andretti).
As always, there is a lot on Roger Penske’s plate, but if past and current performance is any
indication, he will handle it all well.
Now it’s off to Sebring to see if Penske an continue his winning ways.