« In immediate control of (the car’s) destiny instead of being a step away, yes, this is my first, » he said with a smile. » It feels really good. »
Ruzewski isn’t the only one experiencing this feeling of first time. He said at least half of the men and women who have worked on Power’s car this season are first-time champions. Among them: Trey Williams (inside front tire changer), Adam Jarus (outside rear tire changer) and Eric Crabtree (fueler), and there are plenty of others supporting from the safer side of the wall.
Yes, championships are won by Team Penske with some regularity, but there are never guarantees in this competitive sport.
« That’s why I got everyone together after the race on Sunday before we went our separate ways, » Ruzewski said. “I congratulated everyone and said how proud I am to work with them. I insisted that for those who have been there for a long time, like John Haslett who has been there for 40 years and whose victory is just a memory, I congratulate them. But to all newcomers, I said that you received the spoils of this sport. You were able to taste it, and I hope it makes you want to have more.
“It will take some time for them to realize that there are a lot of people on pit road who never get that opportunity, and some of them have been doing it for a very, very long time. You really hope it fits in and that they realize it’s a big deal. »
Dave Faustino understands the magnitude of the thing. His foray into motorsports began with a Formula SAE program while a student at Rutgers University. He took his first steps in professional racing in Formula Mazda, then in the Atlantics. In 2005 he joined Conquest Racing’s Champ Car team before moving to Derrick Walker-owned Team Australia for 2007. Walker assigned him to Power’s car.
Power and Faustino have worked all but one season since then – that was in 2009, when Power was first a Castroneves understudy and then a part-time Team Penske rider. Which means when Power broke Mario Andretti’s pole record last weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Faustino deserved his share of the spotlight.
Faustino was the lead engineer for 65 of Power’s 68 poles in the series. The exceptions: 2006 at Surfers Paradise and the two poles of 2009 (Long Beach and Edmonton).
« I’m sure there’s no stat book for race engineers, » Faustino said with a laugh. « Will probably would have done this with any (engineer) because his talent is so high and he knows what he’s doing, so I won’t say the (record) is because of me. But it’s nice to have been a part of it. »
Team Penske spent the night in California after Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, and Faustino noticed how fresh the celebration seemed. After all, this was the team’s first series championship in three years, and adjustments to the organization’s sports car program, particularly among the engineers, had shuffled the staff members more than the rest. habit.
In short, it was a new group, certainly different from the one where Power and Faustino celebrated their first title in 2014.
« Watching the reactions, it made me feel what I felt when I joined this organization, » Faustino said. “You never really know if you’re going to have the chance to work with a good driver or have a chance to win a championship, whatever your level. Opportunities don’t come around often.
“I certainly thought about that, and I certainly took note of how (others) reacted to that. I hope it will be something that they will take with them, that they will feel ‘I am a champion; we are a championship team, because that means something. »
Ruzewski said Team Penske performed like a championship team. organization in 2022. Not only did its three drivers finish in the top four in the standings – Newgarden was second, Scott McLaughlin fourth – but their crews also finished in the top four in terms of pit stop efficiency.
“It amazes me that we were able to do this,” Ruzewski said of those two accomplishments. “It also proves to me that we are doing something right on all levels – the training of our employees, the preparation of our cars, the drivers we have, the tools that have been given to them, the pit stops that the teams have executed. It’s nice to know that what you’re doing is working. »