Detroit — The best are now bigger, and better, and Roger Penske seems to be able to keep all of his talented drivers happy.
Team Penske dominated the 2014 IndyCar season.
Will Power won his first championship, and the first for Roger Penske since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006. He finished just ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves, as the series came down to its last race, at Fontana.
The third Penske driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, was fourth, in his first season back in IndyCar after seven in NASCAR and a stint in Formula One. It was Montoya's first season with Team Penske.
Fifth in the final standings, and one of two non-Penske drivers in the top five, was Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Over the winter, Penske hired Pagenaud.
"The Captain," Roger Penske, does not play.
His stable is full, and all the horses are thoroughbreds.
So far, an Australian (Power), a Brazilian (Castroneves), a Colombian (Montoya) and a Frenchman (Pagenaud) seem to be getting along. And the racing results to date are so formidable, the four-driver team increasingly feels as though the intramural competition is the series' battle of the season.
"I think it does feel that way, and it was there from the beginning," Power said Wednesday. "We felt that even in preseason testing.
"It's exactly the way I thought it would be. It's what's happening."
Montoya drove brilliantly to win the Indianapolis 500 in a hot car, with Power second. The four Penske cars ran in the top six for more than half the race, and Castroneves eventually finished seventh and Pagenaud 10th.
And that was on a big oval.
The Penske boys, arguably, are even better on the road courses, where their manufacturer, Chevrolet, has dominated the only other manufacturer in the series, Honda, at the start of the 2015 season.
Entering the Dual in Detroit — the two races at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on Belle Isle — Montoya (272 points) is first in the drivers' standings, Power (247) is second, Castroneves (206) is fourth and Pagenaud (142) 11th.
They race each other now, perhaps more than against some of their rivals from other teams. In the past, they have even run into each other and had some issues with each other's driving, when they raced for different teams.
But, somehow, they are not only excelling in the series, they are getting along.
"It's working well, actually," Pagenaud said.
"It's a big advantage in terms of how to set up the car for the race weekend, how many risks you can take on that, and if you take some risks and get lost, you can still rely on a teammate's setup."
But when the Penske boys go up against each other for position on the track, Pagenaud said, racing is racing.
"On the racetrack during the race, well, it's pretty intense, for sure," Pagenaud agreed. "I mean, we're racing to win, but we're teammates so we have the same car. So it is really intense.
"But we all get along really well, and it seems to have worked out for the whole team. I think the biggest thing is like we showed this past weekend, at Indy, we all worked together to help Team Penske."
They do have their moments, though.
When Power passed Pagenaud for second place on Lap 85 at Indianapolis, ABC reported that Pagenaud complained to his race engineer about Power's tactics.
But the help was there later in the race, too, when Pagenaud pitted on a yellow flag and asked his engineer what the setups were on his teammates' cars, so he could compare them with the performance of his car.
Roger Penske, known as "the racer" he once was, has no team orders for such situations. And his reputation all up and down pit road is for giving each driver the best car he can.
"That's the nice thing about Team Penske, you know? And that is really why, when I moved, when I was looking at what I was going to do for this year.
"There's no number one. There's no number two. Everybody has a chance. There's no team orders.
"At the end of the day, it's the best guy in the team who wins.
"It's tough, too, because we're all competitive. We all want to win. But, so far, I really enjoy it."
Montoya's reputation as an aggressive driver — some even charged he was reckless — preceded him upon his return to the IndyCar series. He fairly drove the daylights out of the Indy 500, bringing his car from 30th to first.
Along the way there were some fairly late passes in the corners, including of his own teammates.
But Montoya maintains that a team philosophy persists.
"Every other team you race for, you try to figure out how to screw your teammates, to beat them," Montoya said, in an interview with ABC. "And here it is, how can you work better together to beat everyone else?"
In the same interview, Power marveled at Castroneves's hope for complete convergence.
"Helio, he's a guy who likes to keep harmony in a team," Power said. "I haven't found a teammate like that. But he really likes the peace, he doesn't want conflict."
Castroneves smiled his million-dollar smile, so familiar to race fans in Detroit over the years.
"Because I want to come to an environment and have fun, like I'm having," he said. "I want to beat everybody. But sometimes you've got to accept that might not be your day."