RICHMOND, Va. (June, 25, 2009) - Team Penske returns to a track where it's had a rich recent history of success when it competes in this weekend's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Racway.
Drivers Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe will attack the shortest oval on the 2009 IndyCar Series schedule - three-quarters-of-a-mile - under the lights on Saturday night looking to add to the team's strong start to the season.
Competing in the back yard of its primary sponsor - Philip Morris USA - Team Penske has produced a strong record at Richmond. The team has earned two victories in the seven races its run at RIR, including one by Castroneves in 2005. And a Team Penske car has started from the pole position in three of the last five races at Richmond.
Briscoe enters this weekend as the series leader for the second consecutive week on the strength of three straight second-place finishes to go along with his season-opening win in St. Petersburg. The Sydney, Australia native saw his race end early last season at Richmond when handling issues forced a 15th-place finish. Briscoe will be looking to rebound in a big way on Saturday in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda.
"Richmond is a very challenging track, not only is it the smallest oval on which we run, but it's very physically demanding as well," said Briscoe. "I haven't had the best luck at the track, so we will definitely be looking to turn that around this year. Team Penske has been solid the past few events, so hopefully that will bode well for us next Saturday night. We've been able to finish second at the last three events, which means we're doing a lot of things correctly. Hopefully this weekend, we'll be able to move up a spot and notch our second win of the year."
After winning his third Indianapolis 500 in May and his third career Texas victory earlier this month, Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, will strive to add to his year of "threes" with Team Penske's third Richmond win this weekend. The popular Brazilian racer finished second last season at RIR.
"Richmond is one of my favorite tracks on the IndyCar Series circuit," said Castroneves, ranked fourth in the IndyCar Series standings, just 29 points behind his teammate. "It's one of the smallest circuits we run at, which means we're able to turn laps in about 15 seconds. Because of the speeds and the track size, it feels like you're constantly turning. As a result, Richmond is very physically demanding. Team Penske has been running really well this season and hopefully we'll see more of the same this weekend. We're coming off a tough race in Iowa (Castroneves finished seventh), so hopefully we'll be able to turn things around a bit this weekend and have a solid showing at Richmond."
A testament to its hard work and preparation all season long, Team Penske owns the top two positions in entrants points heading into Richmond, which gives the team the all-important first two positions on pit lane. That could make a big difference in pit stops late in the race on Saturday.
Qualifying for the SunTrust Indy Challenge will take place on Friday and coverage will be televised on Versus beginning at 6 p.m. ET. Saturday night's 300-lap race will also be televised on Versus with live coverage beginning at 8 p.m. ET