By Joseph Eigo
CONCORD, N.C– Team Penske has nearly done it all in motorsports, but Monday night they celebrated another feather in their cap after capturing both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 on the same weekend.
Josef Newgarden’s last lap pass in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 brought home team owner Roger Penske’s 19th victory in the 500. Rain showers forced the team owner to wait until Monday to see Ryan Blaney complete the Memorial Day weekend sweep.
“Obviously a big weekend for Team Penske. Watching the Indy 500 yesterday, how that played out, and watching Josef win his first one and watching Mr. Penske win No. 19, that’s really cool to see,” Blaney said. “Especially when that stuff happens, you’re like, well, the pressure is on for us to try to sweep the weekend, especially in two really big races.”
It’s the first time in history a team has swept the two races on Memorial Day weekend.
Penske is on quite the streak right now. In 2022, the team brought home the Daytona 500 with Austin Cindric. They also won the NASCAR Cup Series championship with Joey Logano and the IndyCar championship with Will Power.
Coming into Monday’s Coke 600, Penske and Ford had struggled to find the win column. Logano won in Atlanta this spring, but it had been 59 races since Blaney had won a points race. The No. 12 car has shown consistent speed in 2023, even finding himself near the front late in races on multiple occasions this season. Blaney finally sealed the deal on Monday in his first career crown jewel victory.
He said he reached out to Newgarden after Sunday’s 500.
“I texted him, I bet he’s got 8,000 text messages. I texted him after the race on Sunday and said congratulations and all that stuff. Then, I texted with Roger and Walt and Bud Denker and Tim Cindric but I haven’t had a chance to call,” Blaney said. “I don’t even think he’s texted me back. He might have texted me back after I won too, but I haven’t spoken to Josef yet.”
After the win, Blaney jumped into the stands to celebrate with the fans, just like Newgarden did after his win Sunday.
“I appreciate everyone sticking around, but I saw how excited they were, and I was like, you know what, I’m going to go in the stands like Josef did and have some human contact after five hours of not having it,” Blaney said. “That was a lot of fun. The excitement level of the fans makes us feel good as competitors, and it was really cool to do that. I think some of it was because Josef did it. Some of it was showing my appreciation.”
It’s Penske’s third victory in the 600-mile race all time. They also won in 2020 with Brad Keselowski and 2010 with Kurt Busch.