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Briscoe Finishes Second, Castroneves Fourth at The Glen

July 5, 2009

Photo courtesy of IMS Photo



WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Team Penske delivered the results it needed to get back in the thick of the IndyCar Series championship chase Sunday, recording a pair of top-four finishes in the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen International.

Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske worked hard to earn a second-place finish behind surprise winner Justin Wilson, while Helio Castroneves drove from the 13th starting position to a fourth-place finish for the team.

The runner-up result moved Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, into second place in the championship standings, just 19 points behind leader Scott Dixon after nine of 17 races this season. Castroneves remains fourth in the title chase, now 56 points out of the lead.

After a tough weekend on the Richmond oval one week earlier that saw both drivers fail to finish the race due to contact, Sunday's performance at the 3.37-mile road course came at the perfect time for Team Penske.

Briscoe, who won his second consecutive pole at Watkins Glen on Saturday and the fifth straight pole at the venue for Team Penske overall, said the difference in Sunday's race came down to tires.  Wilson was using the Firestone red tires - a softer compound that's usually faster than the black tires - while Briscoe was on the typically longer-lasting black tires in the final stint of the race.

"We opted for the black tires at the end, and we knew from qualifying that Justin had another set of reds," Briscoe said. "It looked like I had the advantage as the tires got older, because I was definitely catching him. I was trying to line him up to pass him when we got that last yellow (flag), and when that happened, the tires cooled off. We definitely saw the difference between them on the last restart."

Wilson was able to pull away in the final stages, winning by nearly five seconds to claim the first-ever Indy car victory for longtime team owner Dale Coyne.

Driving the No. 3 Team Penske entry, Castroneves worked his way through the field for a solid finish that keeps him in contention in the points race, despite missing the first race of the season.

"I have to thank Team Penske and my boys," Castroneves said. "They did an incredible job with strategy and giving me a good car. They kept me calm during the rough moments. If you would have told me before the race that I was going to finish fourth, I would have said you were crazy."

Briscoe was engaged in a tough battle with Dixon at the end of the race, holding off the defending series champion over the tense final laps for the second-place result. "I had my hands full defending my position against Scott, who was also on the softer tires," Briscoe said. "But it was a great day. It was very hard-fought."

The series resumes next weekend with the Honda Indy Toronto, a street-course race in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Penske Racing will add driver Will Power to the Toronto field in the team's No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda.

The Toronto race is one of five in which Power will compete this season. He's also scheduled to race at Edmonton (July 26), Kentucky Speedway (Aug. 1), Infineon Raceway (August 23) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 10), joining Briscoe and Castroneves to create a formidable three-car lineup.

Next weekend's Honda Indy Toronto will be televised live on ABC-TV, with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.