Penske stars reject need for change amid rare victory drought

Josef Newgarden came close to snatching victory for Team Penske in Detroit last weekend. Picture: Joe Skibinski

Champion Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud are adamant a breakthrough victory is just around the corner for the frustrated powerhouse IndyCar Series outfit.

At the midway point of the 16-round schedule, Penske’s quartet remain winless.

It’s their longest drought since 2015 and has them in danger of their first campaign without a single triumph since the turn of the century.

There have been plenty of close calls already, with five runner-up finishes thus far (three for Newgarden; one each for Will Power and Scott McLaughlin) plus a late heartbreaker in Detroit for Power.

With pressure mounting as Round 9 at Road America awaits this weekend, Pagenaud is adamant the squad is doing everything right to secure a first victory in 2021.

“I don’t think anything needs to change,” said the Frenchman.

“Sometimes in sport it has to come your way, then you look like a superstar. Sometimes you working really well and things just don’t work out, you look like an idiot.

“It’s just a matter of everything aligning well. Performance is there, which is the most important thing. After that we just have to execute. I feel like the momentum is coming, especially on the #22 car. I really do.”

The 2016 title winner added big progress had been made since “starting off on the wrong foot” at the Barber Motorsports Park season-opener.

“It’s just very difficult to win a race right now for everybody I think,” Pagenaud added.

“But you got to wait for your time. When you can’t win, you just got to do the best you can, just score points.”

Newgarden, Penske’s most recent champion and highest ranked driver (fourth) in the current standings, offered a similar sentiment following Detroit last weekend.

“I think we’ve got a lot of the ingredients right,” said the 29-year-old.

“I don’t think we really need to change much, just keep doing our thing… I wouldn’t change a thing.

“Look, you can’t predict these races. You can look like a hero or a zero pretty easily in this sport, so yeah, I wouldn’t ask anyone to change anything. I think they’re doing all the right stuff, it’s just not worked out.”

Sitting 51 points behind series leader Pato O’Ward of McLaren SP, Newgarden is by no means giving up on a third crown.

“We’re in the hunt… we’ve got halfway to go, so a lot of racing to hopefully still be in this fight,” he said.

The race at Road America will start Monday 03:00 (AEST).

The Wisconsin circuit will play host to the IndyCar debut of ex-Formula 1 stalwart Kevin Magnussen, who is substituting for injured McLaren SP driver Felix Rosenqvist.

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