The NTT IndyCar Series is well on its way to returning to business as usual by the end of this season, and that is in no small way due to Roger Penske’s leadership in tough times.
Penske purchased the series, as well as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, from the Hulman Family at the start of 2020, and almost immediately found himself in crisis mode as the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world.
Ever the man that can bring results, Penske worked through all the hard decisions that needed to be made, put together a plan to get the series through the tough spell.
As restrictions slowly ease, he has set the series on course to come out of the pandemic as strong as before, if not even stronger.
The attention to detail that Penske brings to the series is not lost on the drivers, as Graham Rahal recently discussed in a media session.
The 14-year veteran has seen quite a few changes in his time in the sport, and feels that IndyCar is headed in the right direction overall.
“We have a lot to thank in Roger [Penske],” said Rahal. “I know we all keep saying that.
“Where would we have been, a theoretical question, 16 months ago if the ownership was different? What challenges may we have faced that Roger stabilized our sport and gave us a chance to live?
“I am maybe too involved in the business side. I was worried about the TV ratings [for the Indy 500]. Then a great rating comes, the best we’ve had since ’16 and the highest ever on NBC.
“Those are positive signs, I don’t care how you look at it, for our sport. I was excited by that. It gave me a lot of energy.
“We’re in a critical year with TV contracts, things like that. I think the series is headed down the right path.
“We’ve got to be very thankful for that, to see where we’re at today. Everybody is doing a great job.”
Recently, the series successfully hosted 130,000-plus fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500, the largest crowd seen in America since the pandemic began.
For the next two races, including this weekend’s double header at Belle Isle, Detroit, the venues have announced that the paddock areas will be open for fans as well as the grandstands, further bringing the series back to stable operations.