FONTANA, California – After 28 years at Team Penske, team manager Jon Bouslog has made it to the top – the top of the timing stand as the man who calls race strategy for Verizon IndyCar Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya. That’s a pretty lofty spot on pit road as team owner Roger Penske is in charge of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves’ strategy and Team Penske president Tim Cindric calls the shots for Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Will Power.
“Thanks for adding the pressure,” Bouslog quipped.
It was midseason when Bouslog was asked to take over the role from fellow team manager Clive Howell. It was an offer that Bouslog wasn’t sure he was ready to do, despite overseeing Team Penske’s IndyCar operation.
“I wasn’t going to say no,” said the 49-year-old team member from Anaheim, California. “The thing is no matter when guys work their way up through the systems, you are never really ready to do any of it – from truck driver to mechanic, from mechanic to chief, from chief to team manager. You are never really ready – you have to take the risk and if it works, it works. But I was honored they wanted to give me the chance. Not too many people stand up there such as Roger and Tim.
“But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to some fear of failure. But that is what Roger likes to do – put people in positions to have them excel and grow. Roger doesn’t like people to be content because they are not pushing themselves.”
Bouslog has filled many roles at Team Penske since he joined the operation as a young mechanic from a Super Vee team 28 years ago. He started out by driving a truck and later became a mechanic on Danny Sullivan’s car back in the 1980s. He has done every job as a pit crewmember except fuel the race car.
He has endured the wear of tear of changing tires and believes he could still fill that role, pointing to 61-year-old Rick Rinaman who still goes over the wall as a crewmember.
Bouslog joined the team because he pestered then Team Penske team manager Derrick Walker into giving him a job back in 1986. Walker is now the President of Competition for INDYCAR.
“Derrick still asks me about things and it’s great to talk to the guys who built the foundation of this place,” Bouslog said. “Derrick is one of them.”
Working with Montoya has been a pleasure for Bouslog, who previously knew the driver from Colombia as a fierce competitor when he won the 1999 CART championship and the 2000 Indianapolis 500 for the rival Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Team.
This is Montoya’s first season at Team Penske after spending 2007-2013 driving one of Ganassi’s NASCAR Sprint Cup cars and, prior to that, a winning career in Formula One.
“I really like Juan,” Bouslog admitted. “I love working with him because he has a lot of experience. Even in CART I admired him from a distance because he was so dominant. Hopefully, he’ll keep me around because the higher you get into this, the more you have to lose. But Juan has been great for experience. He has won in everything.”
Bouslog, who picked up the nickname of “Myron” decades ago, believe he simply relays messages between engineer Brian Campe and Montoya. Campe, ironically, began his career as a NASCAR engineer.
“I think it’s been really good,” said Montoya, who won the 500-mile race at Pocono back in July. “He knows what is going on and pays attention to find ways to do it better. I think he needs a little more time where he can be more aggressive. I think he wants to make sure he makes the smartest call and not the bravest. Sometimes to win races you have to make the bravest call; not the smartest call.
“He does a really good job and everybody on my pit box does that. I think sometimes we are too conservative and too smart – we need to be a little more bold to get it done. I think Clive Howell did a good job as well but when you are making those calls we have to be OK to take risks. I think Myron wants it really bad so this is good.”
Montoya admires the fact there are so many crewmembers that have spent decades working at Team Penske.
“People love working here and once you get here you understand why,” Montoya said. “Working for Roger Penske is one of the coolest things ever.”
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