Roger Penske approves of shorter NASCAR schedule, Cup-IndyCar doubleheaders

Daniel McFadin
NBC Sports

The Captain has spoken.

Roger Penske, one of two owners to field cars in both NASCAR and IndyCar, would like to see the two worlds merge for doubleheader weekends between the Cup Series and IndyCar.

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In an appearance Friday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive,” Penske discussed the possibility of a doubleheader in relation to also shortening the NASCAR schedule.

“I would love to (see) us run on the same weekend,” Penske said. “It would be fun to fans to see the difference of the IndyCars and also the NASCAR cars. … We’re going to have to disrupt some of this as we go forward. That might be one of the things to do.”

Penske’s words come with the weight of being the defending Cup championship owner and the reigning Indy 500 winning owner, which resulted in two trips to the White House since April. Team Penske is also coming off Joey Logano‘s win Monday in the Cup race at Michigan.

The discussion of potential a Cup-IndyCar doubleheader has been prevalent since May, with Cup drivers expressing their support of it along with IndyCar President Jay Frye, who said it “would be a game-changer in a good way”

But earlier this month IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said that while he’s “not opposed” to it, he called the prospect a “long shot.”

Said Penske, “We’re going to talk about two races on one weekend, because one of the things we have to do is take a look at this (NASCAR) schedule and the future because when you think about 36-38 weekends, if we can take five or six of those and make those doubleheaders and let our guys go home.”

NASCAR is experimenting with a doubleheader weekend next year by holding two Cup races at Pocono Raceway June 27-28.

“We do that in Supercars in Australia, we run Saturday and Sunday, typically a smaller race on Saturday and the big event on Sunday and we have seven crew members with each car, plus a couple of engineers and a team leader,” Penske said. “We do that with one car at the track.”

Penske sees financial and personal benefits to tightening up a schedule that runs from February to November.

“It can be done and again I think that’s something we’ve got to look at from cost perspective,” Penske said. “From a personal perspective I think we’ve got to think about the life these guys have on the road and what we need to make them be home more. Those are things that I know that (NASCAR President) Steve Phelps and certainly (CEO and Chairman) Jim France understands.

“And we’re going to see changes probably in the rules, we’re going to see changes in the schedule, I think we’ve got to tie it together with our media partners … and say ‘What’s better? How can we make this sport better?’ People maybe want to see shorter events. People’s timeline that they have to be able to watch some of these events, is it three hours? Is it an hour-and-a-half? What gives us the best results from a commercial perspective as far as I’m concerned.”

 

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