Team Penske Qualifies Fifth and Seventh at Miami

March 28, 2008

Homestead, Fla. (March 28, 2008) -- Team Penske put itself in position to win the first race of a historic new era in open-wheel racing.

Ryan Briscoe will start fifth and Helio Castroneves seventh in Saturday’s Gainsco Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It marks the first race since open-wheel racing was unified last month, ending a 12-year split that hindered the sport.

Briscoe, starting for the first time in the No. 6 Team Penske Honda/Dallara, will start on the inside of the third row after posting a four-lap average of 212.108 mph.

“I’m still trying to get back into things, but it’s been a great start so far,” said Briscoe, who previously raced in the IndyCar Series in 2005. “With the merger it’s been exciting to come out here with 25 cars on the grid. So far, it’s been a great first weekend with Team Penske.”

Castroneves, whose win on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” was the buzz of the racing off-season, got back into the swing Friday with a steady four-lap run of 211.581 mph.

“It was interesting out there today,” Castroneves said. “We didn’t get much track time this morning because of an engine problem. But we were able to get back out there in the second session to work on our race setup. I think we could have done a little better, but we went with a conservative approach rather than take any risks.”

The event also was the first using the IndyCar Series’ new four-lap qualifying format instead of the usual two-lap run. Briscoe, who raced last season for Penske Racing’s American Le Mans Series sports-car team, was enthusiastic about all aspects of change.

“It’s a fantastic honor to be racing with this team,” Briscoe said. “I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow. I’m definitely ready to go.”