Penske might dump Toyota for Honda or Chevy

UPDATE #3 According to SPEED's Robin Miller, he says this rumor is true that Penske will dump Toyota one year early and switch to Chevy in 2006 to keep Chevy from leaving the IRL. If true, where does that leave Toyota without their best team? And SPEED News insinuated that Penske's Ilmor company would provide the Chevy engines, not Cosworth.

But Penske always does his own engines. Just as he had the best Toyota engines, and others before that, what customer is going to now buy a Chevy Ilmor from Penske knowing full well Penske's version of that same engine will always be better?

Will Foyt? He's already been there. Will Ganassi? He saw how much more HP Penske's Toyotas had over his Toyotas this year. Will John Barnes buy a Chevy from Penske? Will Barnes leave the IRL because of this?

Where does that leave Toyota for 2006? Without Penske will they just quit the IRL early?

07/25/05 Upon further analysis on this topic, we still fail to see how this will change the dynamic. To us it's more of the same and will not save the IRL from an untenable position.
1. Wherever Penske is in control of the engine situation, (As in the "potential" Ilmor Chevy deal here) he has always had the "unfair advantage". Look at his present TOYOTA engine. Also, remember his Chevy "A" and "B" situation.

2. Other teams are unlikely to want to get into an engine situation when Penske "CONTROLS" it as he will in Ilmor-Chevy. They know that there will be two "classes" of engines. Roger's and then the other "buyers".

3. HONDA will outspend Chevy 5 to 1, and, other than Penske, will have the best teams. Chevrolet has been through this and we cannot understand why they would do it again…even with Penske. Yes, they will have Penske, but no one else, of any consequence, unless Panther and Scheckter remain at Chevy. Ganassi is unlikely to remain in a situation like they are today at Toyota, with Penske having his own TOYOTA "program." Also, do you think GM will pay Ganassi the $20+ million necessary to field his 3-car team in 2006? They certainly will have to give Penske $20+ million and Panther, say, $15 million. That is over $50 million. That is exactly the reason they have already decided to leave IRL. 07/24/05 Another thought here is that Chevy badges Penske's Ilmor product. Honda stays for a bit. Cosworth then needs to get a manufacturer to badge their IRL engine unless TG changes that rule. If the IRL doesn't change the rule, then Cosworth has to find a manufacturer who will badge it and pay the bundle that the IRL requires for promotion etc.

This could be a move to knock Kalkhoven/Forsythe/Cosworth out of the IRL engine business, rather than let Honda leave and then the IRL finds it has to deal with Kalkhoven and company to get an engine. Then Honda leaves the IRL the year after and Penske/Chevy is the sole supplier of engines to the IRL and we are back to where the IRL started.

If Penske "DUMPS" Toyota in the IRL, this could damage his rumored $70 Million future relationship with them in NASCAR, even if he owns Toyota's biggest dealership.

07/24/05 In order to save the IRL from being engine manufacture less Team owner Roger Penske said Saturday he's had conversations with officials from Honda and Chevrolet regarding engines for 2006. He emphasized he has a contract with Toyota for next year, the final season the manufacturer will participate in the IRL. But he would consider a switch.

"We want to look at our options," Penske said. "We're open to what's the smartest thing to do."

Chevy, which is only powering Panther Racing this season, has stated its intention to leave the IRL at the end of the season, although there have been signs of a softening in recent months.

IRL president Brian Barnhart said Saturday that Chevy officials have stressed consistency with engine rules might convince them to stay. Barnhart plans to deliver that when he announces the rules package for 2007 and beyond.

"They also told me they need more teams and stronger teams," Barnhart said of Chevy. "(Penske) would certainly fit that."

A Penske move to Chevy would be seen as a boost to the IRL, which needs a manufacturer to keep Honda interested and on its toes. Honda does not want to be the IRL's sole engine supplier.

Ganassi Racing could follow Team Penske out of Toyota's camp, but team managing director Mike Hull doesn't expect to. He said Toyota has shown, through strong runs with Penske, that it isn't as far behind Honda and Chevy as some believe. "They've shown that they're able to produce a like product," Hull said of Toyota. "And they've given us every assurance that they will work toward (a strong 2006)."

Penske said his team was at a "15 to 20 horsepower" disadvantage using Toyotas. More at Indy Star [Editor's Note: If Penske breaks his contract with Toyota, we suspect Toyota won't be too happy. Who will Toyota have to contest for wins in 2006 without Penske? Certainly not Ganassi the way that team is running lately. We predicted that the only thing that can save the IRL was if Penske came up with a manufacturer to compete with Honda. If he jumps to the Chevy camp perhaps they will stay in the IRL at least one more year. But Penske always does his own engines, which means either Cosworth won't do Penske's rebuilds, or Chevy will switch their IRL contract to Ilmor and Cosworth will be left holding the bag.]

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