by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.July 2, 2011 9:54 am UTC No Comments
It had been twenty-three years since Penske first brought the sponsorship to his Indy car team. Busch has shown great success through the first half of the season with one win, four top five’s and three poles in the first sixteen races of the season. Busch’s win at Infineon Raceway was done in dominating fashion; leading fifty-two laps of the 110 lap event.
Pennzoil first joined forces with Roger Penske in 1983 along with premiere Indy car driver Rick Mears. The combination would go on to capture victory at the Indy 500 just one year later. Over a five year period Pennzoil cars would win the 500 four out of five years. In 1984, Mears in the Pennzoil Z-7 Special would post a record-winning speed of 163.612 mph. Danny Sullivan would win in 1985-the famous spin to win race. Also in 1985 Mears, in the Pennzoil car, sets Indy’s fastest lap ever-204.937mph and Al Unser wins the CART PPG Indy Car World Series Championship.
In 1996 Pennzoil would enter NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series for the first time with Bahari Racing and 1995 Busch Series champion Johnny Benson. He would go on to become the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year and drive the car for two years. Also in 1996, Pennzoil became the official oil of both the Brickyard 400 and the Indy 500.
The Pennzoil sponsorship moved to Dale Earnhardt Incorporated for their inaugural year in the Cup series in 1998 with Steve Park behind the wheel. Park would pilot the Pennzoil Chevys for all or part of five years and pick up his only two Cup Series wins. Park finished in the top ten 35 times and won four poles. Kenny Wallace would be behind the wheel of the ride in 2002 while Park recovered from injuries. Following the 2003 season Pennzoil would diminish their role in NASCAR; becoming a part time sponsor, utilizing several brand names for several teams.
Richard Childress Racing would bring Pennzoil and Shell back to the Sprint Cup Series in 2007. In the season-opening Daytona 500, Kevin Harvick claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory in a restrictor plate race with a dramatic final lap pass over Mark Martin by .020 seconds in a green-white-checkered finish. It was the closest margin at the 500 since electronic scoring started in 1993. The race was on the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor at Richard Childress Racing, Dale Earnhardt.
Four days after Harvick won the Daytona 500 in his inaugural race with Shell-Pennzoil as a primary sponsor, Team owner, Richard Childress, was asked by NASCAR to downsize the Shell logo on the car and on Harvick’s fire suit; making the Pennzoil logo more prominent to avoid conflict with official NASCAR fuel sponsor Sunoco.
Harvick would go on to win three more times with Pennzoil and Shell; while capturing thirty-two top-five finishes in four years.
Pennzoil got its start in racing in the early 1930′s at the Indianapolis 500 as a sponsor of the highly successful car of Russell Snowberger. In the next five years, he finishes every Indy race he enters-always in the top 10. Amazingly, 27 other race drivers voluntarily select, and run on Pennzoil as well. Pennzoil had made an impressive beginning, and over the years became the lubrication of choice for drivers in all forms of racing.
With drag racing in its infancy in the 1950′s, Pennzoil representatives furnish oil to up and coming race drivers. The familiar Pennzoil oval is seen on many early dragsters throughout America, most notably on the winning machines of teenage driving prodigy Eddie Hill. In 1958 Pennzoil officially sponsors the fastest rising star on the NHRA circuit, Don “Big Daddy” Garlits.
The 1960′s saw NHRA drag racing grow as fast as quarter mile speeds, a growth to which Pennzoil was a principal contributor. They were the first major oil company to develop a racing oil exclusively for cars running on exotic fuels. Throughout the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s Pennzoil lubricated machines dominate top fuel, funny car and pro-stock categories. Pennzoil has used by many top names in drag racing including Garlits, Connie Kalitta, Bill Jenkins, Jimmy Nix and Don Prudhomme.
Jim Hall and Al Unser blow the crowd away with the revolutionary “ground effects” Chaparral at the brickyard in 1979. Painted bright Pennzoil yellow and with Pennzoil in its veins, it leads the race for 100 laps before retiring with a broken water pump. The next season Johnny Rutherford is behind the wheel of the Pennzoil Chaparral and drives to an impressive win at Indy and goes on to win the national championship and is named “Driver of the Year.”
As the second half the Sprint Cup season gets under way and the quest to make it into The Chase for a Sprint Cup Championship heats up Kurt Busch, Roger Penske and Pennzoil look for more wins and more championships to add to an, already impressive resume.
Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowNovember 3, 2009 10:10 am UTC 1 Comment
So, there I was Sunday with the house all to myself; TV tuned to the NASCAR pre-race ordeal (sound muted), laptop in my…lap, tweeting away, enjoying the repartee, waiting for my afternoon of seat-edged rapture.
And some sumbitch killed my race.
There was more four-wide action at the Bono trailer park than there was at Talladega Super Speedway. Had to be.
I could have set up my chair on an I-75 overpass and watched double-file cruisers for three and a half hours. Some of the cars would have looked better too. That’s right. This race sucked so bad it made me re-start my campaign against the Ugly Little Toad of a car we race now.
There was a bunch of chat before the race about NASCAR’s announced ban on bump-drafting in the corners. Not popular it seems with drivers or fans. But, could that be blamed for the lousy race? This looked like the very first COT race at Talladega. Bad.
With eight laps to go, Ryan Newman’s scary wreck woke everyone up. That’s two ‘Dega races in a row where the roof flaps on the cars (Carl Edwards was the other) acted more like aelerons than anchors. There’s something bad going on with this car.
For years, the Talladega races have been a showcase for what NASCAR should want casual fans to see when they tune in. Exciting, colorful side-by-side-by-side-by-side racing, with tons of passing with a who-knows-who will win, suspense to it.
And some sumbitch killed it.
Photo credit: Round girl Jen by BethAnne Heisler for OnPitRow.com
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowMarch 12, 2009 1:07 pm UTC 6 Comments
Mindy even has a NASCAR trivia question for you fans of such stuff.
There’s that, assorted brain farts and how not to win fans and influence holiday giving. Watch it all right here on Bench Racing TV.