the power of one
The list of IndyCar teams that run more
than two cars full-time is a short one:
Penske, Ganassi and Andretti. Such fleets
are more prevalent in NASCAR, but on that
front, Penske and Ganassi are among the
major-team minority, with just two cars each.
According to Team Penske president
Tim Cindric, fielding an additional NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series entry is a vastly different
proposition to adding an extra IndyCar for
Simon Pagenaud, as it did in 2015.
“There are always economies of scale,
regardless of the series,” he says. “But
when you look at the number of races that
there are in NASCAR compared to IndyCar,
the commitment to run an additional Cup
car is enormous.
“We ran three Sprint Cup cars for quite a
few years. We were sometimes successful
with one or two, but seldom with all three.
“Comparing the amount of investment
and risk you take with every car that you
add in NASCAR, and the amount of funding
needed – you have to remember that to
run a properly-funded Sprint Cup car,
you’re talking about $20-$30 million – with
when more really means more
Cindric says. “The parts are readily
available. They’re not unique to your team.
“But in NASCAR, virtually everything is
produced or sourced by the team, whether
it’s the engine or the car itself. So the
overall commitment regarding staff, the
overall financial risk, and the organizational
logistics – that’s a significant difference.”
All of those races and the scale of in-house
production invariably translates into many
extra staff, which means even more outlay.
Penske shares a lot of its staff across the two
programs (and, to an extent, its entries in
the second-tire NASCAR Xfinity Series), but
Cindric says that the personnel demands of
running two Cup cars far outweigh those
required for twice that number of IndyCars.
“To run four IndyCars and the two
Penske and Ganassi both run fleets in IndyCar, but in NASCAR it’s just two cars each. Here’s why.
NASCAR Sprint Cup cars, we fluctuate
between 350 and 400 employees. But at
least 275 of those would be necessary to
just run two Cup cars.”
Ganassi, whose programs are run more
independently, says that it employs 101
people for its four-car IndyCar team and
192 for its two NASCAR Sprint Cup entries.
IndyCar, where you might budget
somewhere between $5-$8 million for an
extra car, the difference is just enormous.”
While some of the disparity in budgets
can be attributed to the number of races,
the prevalence of stock parts in IndyCar
also helps to contain costs on that front.
“In IndyCar, it’s pretty much an
off-the-shelf car and off-the-shelf engine,”
When Ganassi Racing (MAIN,
NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, they
do it despite running fewer cars
than most of their big-team rivals.
Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski’s
IndyCar compatriots each have three
teammates to lean on. In Sprint Cup, that
would cost Team Penske another $50m.