John Menard spent the better part of three decades at Indianapolis Motor Speedway competing against cars fielded by Roger Penske.
The two longtime friends and Indy car owners will join forces in 2016 with Menards serving as a sponsor of Team Penske, the Indianapolis 500’s most successful team.
“I’ve always looked up to Roger and his methods,” Menard said during a press conference March 22 to announce Menards is returning to Indy car racing as a sponsor of the Team Penske No. 22 Chevrolet driven by Simon Pagenaud. “Penske perfect was always the goal. I always stressed that we had to do things perfect because I know guys who could do it that way.”
Menards, an Eau Claire, Wis.-based home improvement company with 297 stores in the Midwest, will be primary sponsor on Pagenaud’s entry for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May, and the Road America Grand Prix this June.
The company, which served as a Verizon IndyCar Series team sponsor for nearly three decades for drivers such as Tony Stewart, Greg Ray, Scott Brayton, Arie Luyendyk, Vitor Meira and Ed Carpenter, will also serve as an associate sponsor on the No. 22 car for the rest of the season.
“Menards has a long and successful history in motorsports and we are excited to welcome them to Team Penske in 2016,” Penske said. “John Menard and the entire Menards company have been longtime supporters of Indy car racing and it is special to have them on board as we celebrate the 50th season of Team Penske and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.”
Pagenaud first saw the unique day-glow yellow car in the paint booth at Team Penske’s Charlotte headquarters last week. He said the car popped then and will look even better on the track.
“Having Menards come back after having done so much for Indy car racing in the past is incredible and to have them join with Team Penske is even bigger for the sport,” Pagenaud said. “I’m still yet to see the race suit, so I wonder what color it’s going to be. But I’m super excited to represent Menards.”
A Menards-sponsored car captured the Verizon IndyCar Series championship in both 1996-97 with Stewart and in 1999 with Ray. Menard cars earned two Indy 500 pole positions in the past – with Brayton in 1995 and 1996. The top finish by a Menards-sponsored car in the Indy 500 came with Meira who finished second in 2005.
“We will be working hard to bring them their first Indy 500 victory with Simon this May and add to our team’s overall success at Indianapolis. If we don’t win, I told John he doesn’t have to pay,” Penske joked.