NEWTON, Iowa (June 18, 2009) - Team Penske has some unfinished business in Iowa and it enters this weekend's Iowa Corn Indy 250 riding high and looking to continue its recent roll.
The team has gotten off to a terrific start in the 2009 IndyCar Series season, with Ryan Briscoe and the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda team leading the series championship and Helio Castroneves and the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda squad ranked fourth in the title chase after winning two of the last three events.
But while Team Penske has made its mark on the first six events of the 17-race season, the team knows that it begins a crucial stretch this weekend with four consecutive races that could help decide the series championship.
Iowa Speedway has proven to be a good track for the team, but one that has also proven elusive in recent history. The 7/8-of-a-mile track designed by former Penske Racing NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace is the only oval on the 2009 series schedule where the team hasn't produced a victory.
Castroneves has run very well at the track over the last two years - leading four times for a race high 92 laps last season, only to finish 14th due to a flat tire - and leading 59 laps in 2007 on his way to an eighth-place finish. After capturing his third Indianapolis 500 victory in May and winning last time out at Texas Motor Speedway, Castroneves is ready to conquer his demons at Iowa.
"Iowa is a very unique circuit, because while it's a short oval, we're still full throttle all the way around," said Castroneves, who is fourth in the championship, just 13 points behind his teammate. "The track is very physically demanding on the drivers, so it makes for a very intense race. We've seen a lot of exciting racing there over the past two years and I can only imagine 2009 will bring much of the same. I think that Iowa Speedway is a fantastic facility, Rusty Wallace did a great job with the construction of the track. He and I have become friends over the past few years and it's been wonderful working with him in Iowa."
On the strength of two impressive second-place finishes in the last two events on the schedule, Briscoe also appears primed for a strong finish at Iowa. In his second season competing for Team Penske, Briscoe has emerged as one of the title favorites winning at St. Petersburg to open the season and leading the most laps at both Milwaukee and Texas before settling for runner-up results that left him leading the championship chase. The Sydney, Australia native finished seventh at Iowa last season.
"Iowa is a really fun track to drive. It's a fast, high-banked short oval, so the racing is similar to running on a superspeedway, but we're turning on a very tight radius," said Briscoe. "The circuit certainly provides one of the more physically and mentally demanding events of the season, and I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge. The Team Penske car has been very competitive the past few events and we've had consistently solid results all season; hopefully we'll be able to capitalize on that momentum and earn our first win in Iowa."
Practice and qualifying at Iowa Speedway are set for Saturday while the Iowa Corn Indy 250 will take the green flag on Sunday afternoon. Live television coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC.