Roger Penske, left, shared the floor with Team Penkse IndyCar sponsor John Menard, center, and Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud at the grand opening of a Menards Mega Store in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on Wednesday.
Roger Penske is having a dream season, on and off the track.
The legendary Team Penske race team owner has already won the Indianapolis 500 with Simon Pagenaud in 2019. Add to that the fact that his drivers currently lead in the points standings in the NTT IndyCar Series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and even the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Oh, yeah, and there’s a pretty big thing – make that a really big thing — off the track that Penske is proud of these days: He was recently notified by President Trump that he would be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the nation’s top civilian honor.
“What an honor it was to get a call from the President,” Penske said on Wednesday, while celebrating along with Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and team sponsor John Menard at the grand opening of a Menards Megastore near Penske’s Michigan headquarters in Bloomfield Hills. “It was very humbling to understand that I would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I responded to the President, and we’ll be setting up a date for me to go to the White House, probably in the next month or so.
“It’s very exciting for me, for my family, and certainly for our whole team and the people that have been around me to help me get to where I have been in life. This is more than about a sport. This is about your country. This is about you as an individual.”
Penske is no stranger to the White House or the Oval Office.
“I’ve been to the White House twice now, first with Joey Logano when we won the NASCAR championship, so we had the team there,” Penske said. “The President invited us to come back with Simon and the team after we won the 500.
“Obviously, that’s a pretty special time to be able to go to the White House. The President of the United States is a position that’s well respected and certainly the office of the President. That he would take the time – he gave us a tour of the Lincoln Bedroom when we were there – is pretty special and hard to believe. And then to get a phone call several weeks later about the Presidential Medal of Freedom was just amazing.”
Penske was careful when asked to weigh in on the recent controversies regarding U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team members saying they would decline any invite to the White House; he said that he would never turn down an opportunity to bring one of his championship-winning teams to visit the President.
“I can’t talk about other people’s decisions as far as going to the White House,” Penske said. “I respect the office of the President. We’re in the United States. We compete here. We’re from here. We represent the country.
“I think it would have been tough for our team if we didn’t go because many people that work for us started really with nothing that work on our race teams. For them to be able to come and stand in the Oval Office next to the President with the trophy – it’s a lifetime experience.”
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