Roger Penske , born February 20, 1937, in Shaker Heights, Ohio is the owner of the Penske Racing Team, a very successful team that competes in the NASCAR, ALMS and Indy Racing League.
Penske Racing returned to NASCAR fulltime in 1991 with driver Rusty Wallace and sponsor Miller Brewing Co. after a 14-year hiatus from stock car racing. By 1998, it had grown into a two-car operation, and for the 2004-05 NEXTEL Cup Series seasons a third team was added.
Penske returned to two full-time NEXTEL Cup teams and a part-time entry in NASCAR’s Busch Series in 2006 with Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman sharing the driving duties. That racing arrangement continues for 2007, but with one slight change: Sam Hornish Jr. has joined the Busch Series driving lineup. All three drivers are sharing the same Busch Series team, headed by Matt Gimbel, but have different sponsors. Penske Truck Rental is sponsoring Busch, while Newman has Kodak, and Hornish has Mobil 1.
This driver lineup provides Penske Racing with a different approach to NASCAR. Instead of young drivers who must be groomed for the NEXTEL Cup circuit, Roger Penske has elected to go with young drivers who possess a great deal of experience.
Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, and Newman, who pilots the No. 12 Alltel Dodge, have not yet celebrated their 30th birthday. However, both possess racing experience and accomplishments beyond their years. Busch owns the 2004 NEXTEL Cup title. Newman was the 2003 SPEED Channel Driver of the Year. Both also have won championships and rookie honors in other series.
The #2 team made its debut in 1991 at the Daytona 500 event where it finished on the 27th position due to a crash.The #2 car was driven by Rusty Wallace, the 1989 Winston Cup Champion. Wallace finished it first season on 10th position with two events won. In the next year, in 1992 he won once and finished on the 13th position. Wallace kept on winning at the Penske team despite the fact that he didn’t win any championship.
In 2004 Wallace made an announcement that the 2005 season will be his last in the Nascar Nextel Cup Championship due to the fact that he wanted to concentrate on his Busch Series team. Wallace finished the 2005 season on the 8th place. In 2005 Wallace was replaced by Kurt Busch who drove also the 2006 season.
The #12 team was not always owned by Penske Racing. At the beginning the team was owned by the German businessman Michael Kranefuss. They made their debut in 1994 at te Michigan event with Robby Gordon as the official driver where they finished on the 38th position due to crash on lap 70.
The team went full time in 1995 season with John Andretti as official driver. The team switched to #37 when it was sponsored by Kmart and Little Caesars. Andretti won the pole position in the Southern 500 event and finished on the 18th position. In 1996 Michael Kranefuss decided to replace Andretti with Jeremy Mayfield before the end of the season but the driver didn’t do too much for the team. In 1997 some improvements were seen and the team finished the season on the 13th position.
In 1998 the team merged with Penske Racing and switched to #12 with MobilOil as the main sponsor. This move turned out to be a major success due to the fact that Mayfield was at one point the leader of the championship. In 2000 Michael Kranefuss decided to sell his share of the team to Penske Racing. After this Mayfield suffered a concussion at the practice session for the Brickyard 400 event and finished the season on the 24th season. In 2001 Mayfield was fired after he posted seven top-10 finishes and was replaced with his little brother Mike Mayfield. After this Penske made an announcement that they will close the team after the end of the season .