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Penske confirms Supercars exit, McLaughlin IndyCar switch

IndyCar

24 Oct 2020

Credit: DJR Team Penske

Team Penske has confirmed that it is ending its partnership with Dick Johnson Racing in Australia after six seasons.

The US motorsport giant invested in the Supercars squad in September 2014, purchasing a 51 percent stake in the outfit. The team will remain active in Supercars despite Penske’s departure, reverting back to the Dick Johnson Racing moniker for 2021 and beyond.

“I want to thank Roger [Penske] and the entire Penske organisation for all they’ve done for our team over the last six years,” said team founder Dick Johnson. “While we hate to see them go, we understand the tough business decisions that have to be made.

“We’ve worked together over the last six years to build a team that has become the benchmark for performance both on and off the track. With the assistance of Roger and Team Penske we will be in position to build on that success.

“With the full support of Ford Australia, Ford Performance, Shell V-Power and all of our great partners, our team will continue to be a leader in Supercars racing.”

DJR will also remain Ford’s primary partner in Supercars, and is currently working with the Blue Oval on the new ‘Gen3’ Mustang which will be introduced in 2022.

“As DJR celebrates its 41st season in 2021 we’re excited to return to the track next season and continue as Ford’s homologation team, working with Ford Performance on developing the Gen3 Mustangs for 2022,” said DJR co-owner and managing director Ryan Story. “We have been proud to work with Team Penske and represent the professionalism, ethics, effort and success of the Penske brand since 2015.

“We thank Roger Penske, Tim Cindric and everyone at Team Penske for their partnership, their friendship and their guidance. Together, we have built a championship team and cultivated an exceptional group of partners that engage on a business-to-business level that represents the very best of any sporting organization in Australia and New Zealand.

“DJR is in a great position to move forward and we are more energized than ever about the future of our team.”

Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 Event 12 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Bathurst, New South Wales. Australia 10th-13th Oct 2019

Penske’s Supercars venture began with Marcos Ambrose and Scott Pye sharing a single entry for the team in its first full season, with Fabian Coulthard joining for 2016.

Pye was replaced by Scott McLaughlin ahead of the 2017 season, and after narrowly missing out on that year’s title, he went on to win three-straight drivers’ championships in 2018-2020 and the Bathurst 1000 in 2019 (above), while the team also secured three Teams’ crowns in 2017, 2019, and 2020.

“We have enjoyed an incredible six seasons competing in the Supercars series with DJR Team Penske,” said Roger Penske. “Partnering with Dick Johnson and Ryan Story to form DJR Team Penske was an incredible experience that produced success on the track and in the boardroom.

“We have built so many lasting partnerships and friendships, and competing in Supercars has certainly helped strengthen our brand and our business in Australia and New Zealand.

“Unfortunately, with the challenges we have faced in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to readjust our business initiatives for 2021 and beyond.

“We want to thank Dick Johnson, Ryan Story, Fabian Coulthard and all of our team members for their hard work and dedication as we reestablished a championship organization together over the last six years. I know that Dick, Ryan and the team will continue to build on that success moving forward.”

DJR has said that further details of its 2021 plans, including driver lineup, will be announced in the near future.

Credit: Team Penske

McLaughlin to fulfill US dream in IndyCar

Along with Penske’s departure from Supercars, the team’s lead driver McLaughlin will also be leaving Australia, transitioning to IndyCar full-time from 2021.

The New Zealander, who joined DJR Team Penske from the then-Volvo-backed Garry Rogers Motorsport, has made no secret of his desire to race in America, and will join a four-car IndyCar lineup that also consists of champions Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and Simon Pagenaud.

“I’m so excited for the opportunity to take the next step in my career and compete against some of the best drivers in the world in the IndyCar Series,” said McLaughlin. “The last four years racing for DJR Team Penske has been amazing.

“I want to thank every single person on the team, and everyone that has helped me reach this point in my career. I wouldn’t be in position to continue to chase my dream without the hard work of so many people along the way.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of joining one of the most iconic motorsports programs of all time – Team Penske’s IndyCar team. I wish the 2021 season would begin tomorrow.”

McLaughlin has won 48 races for the team between 2017-20, making him one of Team Penske’s most successful drivers in terms of race wins – only Brad Keselowski and Mark Donohue have won more races for the organisation.

He will make his IndyCar series debut this weekend at the season-ending Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He was originally set to compete at the IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis after impressing during a handful of pre-season test outings, but the event was rescheduled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, putting the plan on golf..