SONOMA, Calif. (August 23, 2008) – Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves took pole position and Ryan Briscoe rounded out the front row in Saturday’s qualifying for the Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at Infineon Raceway. This is the third consecutive one-two start for Team Penske in road and street races; Castroneves and Briscoe also started on the front row at Mid-Ohio and Edmonton in July.
The front row effort was a Herculean effort for both drivers and the team, as it was done in backup Team Penske Dallara/Hondas. The team’s primary machines were damaged in a transporter fire this past Wednesday in Wyoming while en route to the famed permanent road course in Sonoma, Calif. No one was hurt in the incident, but the transporter was severely damaged, along with the vehicles, pit equipment and more.
On Wednesday, the team created a plan for the two backup vehicles, which were already located at Infineon Raceway for a test held last week, and when they arrived on Thursday morning, they immediately went to work. The backup vehicles were converted to primary status and two more cars, plus a variety of pit equipment, tools and uniforms, were immediately dispatched from Penske Racing headquarters in Mooresville, N.C. to northern California.
Quick and efficient work on Thursday resulted in top times in Friday’s practice sessions and front row starting spots for Sunday’s race.
“The guys did an incredible job moving past the fire, turning the page and moving forward,” said No. 3 driver Castroneves, who celebrates his first pole position at Infineon Raceway and his third pole of the 2008 IndyCar Series season. “If there is a team that can rebound, it’s Team Penske. They proved it today. We’re happy with every accomplishment that we’ve made this weekend. Starting on the front row is big for us. We’re going to continue working hard tomorrow and hopefully have a good finish.”
Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 machine, was impressed with the Team Penske crew’s effort this weekend. “Once I found out we were set to race this weekend, I knew we were going to be on our A game,” he said. “The whole crew has just had a lot of extra work to do to get the cars prepared, and it paid off.”
Briscoe also expressed appreciation for his teammate. “Between Helio (Castroneves) and myself, we push each other a lot,” he said. “And that’s a big bonus, having two really fast cars on these tracks. We compare the data after every session, and I’ll pick up a bit where he’s strong and he’ll pick up a bit where I’m strong, and we just try to put it all together, so I think that really helps too. It’s great to have Team Penske sweep the front row again.”
The PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County is scheduled for Sunday, August 24. The race will be telecast live at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network.
Qualifying Saturday for the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County IndyCar Series event on the 2.303-mile Infineon Raceway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:
1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 107.809
2. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 107.787
3. (8) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 107.551
4. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 107.493
5. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 106.746
6. (5) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 106.514
7. (02) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 107.665
8. (17) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 107.620
9. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 107.609
10. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 107.296
11. (96) Mario Dominguez, Dallara-Honda, 107.031
12. (19) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 106.856
13. (18) Bruno Junqueira, Dallara-Honda, 106.524
14. (33) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 107.090
15. (06) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 106.427
16. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 107.014
17. (12) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 106.124
18. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 106.923
19. (23) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 105.849
20. (27) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 106.287
21. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 105.766
22. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 106.137
23. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 105.745
24. (2) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 105.788
25. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 103.708
26. (34) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Honda, 104.325
27. (36) Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara-Honda, no speed