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Penske wants full fans at Indy 500, ready for IndyCar opener

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Roger Penske will watch the IndyCar season opener from a suite at Texas Motor Speedway — his first time off the pit stand and on the…
CHARLOTTE, N. C. (AP) — Roger Penske will watch the IndyCar season opener from a suite at Texas Motor Speedway — his first time off the pit stand and on the other side of the fence since his teams failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1995.
His relocation is partly for safety. At 83, Penske is considered at high risk for the coronavirus and he will avoid large crowds by working inside the paddock from a transporter separate from the rest of his team. But as the new owner of the IndyCar Series, he has also relinquished his role as a strategist for Team Penske to avoid conflicts of interest.
“I don’t know if I will be able to stand it. We’ll have a conversation after the show. I guess it will be like a NASCAR race,” Penske, who watches NASCAR events from a suite, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The pandemic has disrupted Penske’s first year as owner of iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series, which suspended its season March 13 just 48 hours before its opening race in Florida. The schedule has been overhauled, his beloved Indianapolis 500 moved to August from the Memorial Day weekend date it held for 73 years, and Penske has spent nearly six months ocused on improvements for his newest properties.
Penske said he is at IMS at least two days a week overseeing massive upgrades. He is involved in every detail, from freshening public bathrooms to paving parking lots, lowering television monitors and creating a lift to an elevated winner’s circle.
Fans won’t get a true sense of the changes to the national landmark built in 1911 until at least August. Its first event, a doubleheader between NASCAR and IndyCar Series, will run July 4 weekend without spectators. In making that decision earlier this week, Penske said it moves the speedway closer “to execute with full fans” for the Indy 500.
“We really wanted to go forward with fans but it wasn’t realistic,” Penske said.

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