When Roger Penske let Simon Pagenaud go at the end of last season, it was not an easy choice. But The Captain felt that operating three cars instead of four would help the organization as a whole. As is almost always the case, Roger was right.

Heading into the season finale at Laguna Seca, all three Penske drivers have a shot at the title. Will Power has the best opportunity to hoist the Astor Cup on Sunday, as he holds a 20-point edge in the standings over teammate Josef Newgarden.

Scott McLaughlin is only in his second season, but the three-time Supercars champion has quickly adapted to the IndyCar series. Fresh off his third win of the season, McLaughlin is carrying a ton of momentum into the weekend. He has finished 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, and 1st in his last five races and still has a very slim shot at the championship.

While Scott may be a longshot, there is a realistic scenario where the trio can sweep the top three spots in the final standings. That is something they have not done since the 1994 CART season when Al Unser Jr won the championship ahead of teammates Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy.

Newgarden would welcome that scenario. “It would be great to finish with all of us in the top five, it would be nice if we were 1-2-3 ideally. We have good opportunities to win the championship outright. Getting one Penske car in that position is critical for all of us. We are working hard to bring fast cars to the track and then do the job on race day as always.”

“Consistency is what is going to win the day though. That’s the big piece that moves a little bit for us. I don’t know how the race is going to play out. We’re going to go and play to win. We’ll see what happens. We’re going to try to win that race and go for broke.”

Although he has just one of the team's nine victories this season, Power has been consistently excellent. He only needs a podium finish on Sunday to secure his second championship. If he does it without winning the race, Power would become the first champion since Tony Stewart in 1997 to have won the championship without multiple race wins.

Power is older, but he is also in a better headspace now. “Just years of experience, honestly. I’m better than I was. Better than I’ve ever been. I’m definitely smarter and way smarter and way calmer than I’ve ever been. Now, I’m very serious, especially at the race track. I’m very focused on the task at hand. I understand it can go any which way. I’m in the best form of my career. Mentally, I’m the best I’ve ever been and I’m extremely fit. I’m feeling good.”

“I look at the top four drivers as all equal. It’s going to come down to who finishes in front of who. It’s going to be a tough fight and so it should be. They are all really, really top-notch drivers. You will have earned it if you win the championship.”

As good as Penske has been this season, Power sees one area where they have improved the most. “We haven’t made a huge transformation this year. We have the best pit crew and the best prepared, fast cars. We’re just executing now. That’s the big difference.”

With three wins, three poles, and seven podium finishes, McLaughlin believes he is in the perfect place with Penske. “Josef is the hardest teammate I’ve ever had in terms of pace and raw speed. But he makes me better and I make him better. I enjoy that. It was a huge weight off my shoulders when I won at St. Pete. I feel like a more complete driver this year and have really enjoyed that and had a lot of fun doing that. We’ve been fast enough to win the championship this year, but things haven’t gone our way.”

“I think 2021 was a big kick in the butt for a lot of people and showed how tough this championship is now. It made Josef and Will think of what they needed to improve and become even stronger. Will is a new man. He is measured and calmer. Josef is the complete package. To have those two teammates have made me better and I’m driving better than I ever have my whole career. I put it down to the competitiveness between the three of us.”

"I really think the three guys have melded together," Penske said. "I think Josef has been a real support tool for Scotty and I think the two of them are working well with Will. We’re pushing each other, which you can see in the results. When we came back from four cars to three, we got a lot more focused on these three guys. That’s been an improvement and a good move as we were moving back into the sports car business. We wanted to be sure we have a solid IndyCar team, because that’s where we came from with success."