Roger Penske set for Newcastle title decider visit

Mark Fogarty

Monday 20th November, 2017 - 6:00am

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Roger Penske celebrates a 1-2 with Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard at Perth

Roger Penske will be at this week’s Coates Hire Newcastle 500 title decider to watch his team’s bid for the Supercars championship double.

Penske is the only heavyweight overseas team owner coming to the new season finale, with impending Walkinshaw partners Michael Andretti and Zak Brown staying away.

The American billionaire businessman and racing legend is coming to Newcastle in anticipation of a potential DJR Team Penske title cleansweep.

It is locked in a do-or-die battle with Triple Eight Race Engineering for both the drivers’ and teams’ crowns, having already helped Ford overthrow Holden for the manufacturers’ trophy.

Penske’s presence at Newcastle has been confirmed by Shell V-Power Racing following the finalisation of his end-of-season schedule.

He is hoping to see either Scott McLaughlin or Fabian Coulthard win the drivers’ title and together clinch the teams’ championship just short of three years since he took control of Dick Johnson Racing.

It will be Penske’s first visit to a Supercars event since the Perth SuperSprint at Barbagallo Raceway in early May and only his second trip this season.

He missed the season-opening Adelaide 500, which he attended in 2015/16, and cancelled his planned attendance at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 to oversee Team Penske’s exploratory sports car entry in the Petit Le Mans IMSA finale on the same weekend.

Penske is making a quick visit just for the Newcastle 500, foregoing his customary call-ins to his Australian business interests.

At this stage, it is only confirmed that he will be at the Newcastle East street circuit on the Saturday and Sunday.

He is expected to fly direct to Newcastle in his private jet from the Detroit area, where Penske Corporation is headquartered, arriving late next Friday and returning straight after the race on the Sunday night.

However, if McLaughlin or Coulthard is crowned champion or DJR Team Penske takes the teams’ title, he is likely to stay for the celebrations and leave first thing on the Monday.

Penske will almost certainly be accompanied by Team Penske president Tim Cindric and other senior Penske Corp executives.

While Penske is coming out for the new season finale, rival IndyCar team owner Andretti won’t be returning until next year.

Andretti was at Bathurst for the announcement of the Walkinshaw Andretti United alliance, but he won’t be back until after the partnership officially begins on January 1.

The first time Penske and Andretti could meet at a Supercars event is the March 1-4 Adelaide 500.

Andretti is planning to be there, but although Penske is likely to combine it with a business trip out there, that won’t be decided until much closer to the event.

Andretti is also scheduled to be at the Bathurst 1000 and might also come out for the Darwin round next June.

McLaren F1 boss Zak Brown, who co-owns WAU minor partner United Autosports, will see the new team in action for the first time at the Australian Grand Prix.

Brown has also indicated to the current team management that he will be at Bathurst and possibly Townsville – although they clash with the Japanese and British GPs respectively.