DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Over the past two years, famed businessman and motorsports team owner Roger Penske has epitomized the phrase often used to describe his drivers: “Penske Perfect”.
The moniker fits, because in looking at the sheer numbers, there’s little that Team Penske hasn’t done over the past two years across virtually all disciplines of professional auto racing in North America.
Penske-owned entries have captured a Daytona 500 victory, Coca-Cola 600 victory, Indianapolis 500 victory, an NTT IndyCar Series title, and two NASCAR Cup Series championships during a 24-month span.
Sunday afternoon at Daytona Int’l Speedway, Penske – known by all as “The Captain” – added an overall Rolex 24 at Daytona triumph to his ever-expanding trophy case.
The 86-year-old watched on in the closing minutes as his Porsche Penske Motorsport No. 7 Porsche 963, shared by co-drivers Felipe Nasr, Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell, and two-time Indy car champion Josef Newgarden, held off the always-potent No. 31 Whelen Action Express Racing Cadillac for top honors.
Nasr drove the entry home during the final stint, and in taking the checkered flag delivered the first overall victory for Penske in the Rolex 24 since 1969 – 55 years earlier.
In that race, Mark Donohue and last-minute substitute driver Chuck Parsons piloted the iconic Sunoco-branded Lola T70 Mk.3B-Chevrolet to the win after 24 hours. This time, it was Porsche – the marque responsible for Penske’s American Le Mans Series success in the mid-2000s – receiving the glory.
For Penske, Sunday’s win marked his third class victory (1966, ’69, 2024) and second overall triumph in the Rolex 24. It was also a moment that allowed him to reflect on his longtime sports car racing history.
“We entered into this partnership with Porsche [again in 2023], [and] they’ve been our partner in automotive and racing for many years,” noted Penske in victory lane after the race. “This is one we wanted [to win].
“Last year at [the 24 Hours of] Le Mans, we stumbled … and we had some good runs last year [in IMSA competition], but to come back here to Daytona and have both cars run for 24 hours and then win the race, it’s hard for me to believe it.”
Over more than six decades of team ownership, Penske perhaps shocked some by declaring the 62nd Rolex 24 at Daytona as “one of the biggest wins we’ve had.”
That doesn’t mean his job in sports cars this year is complete, however.
Penske’s IMSA teams will turn their focus to the full IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, with the No. 6 Porsche 963 shared by Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet, while Nasr and Cameron will co-drive the No. 7. They’ll resume with the 12 Hours of Sebring, last won by Team Penske in 2008, in March.
He’ll also field three cars in the FIA-sanctioned World Endurance Championship, headlined by another twice-around-the-clock classic in the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans at Circuit de la Sarthe.
That race was Penske’s main footnote Sunday, even as he basked in the glory of another Rolex 24 victory.
“Now we have to go for the big one at Le Mans,” he noted with a faint smile.
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