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Oval Return: Penske Racing Heads to Kentucky

July 31, 2009

Photo courtesy of Steve Swope



SPARTA, Ken. (July 31, 2009) - For the first time in over a month, the Penske Racing IndyCar Series team will compete on an oval circuit this weekend when it visits Kentucky Speedway for Saturday night's Meijer Indy 300.

After a successful run on the road and street courses over the past several weeks that saw the team produce two poles, five podiums and a win in three races, the Penske Racing cars will come full circle - literally - this weekend at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.

Team Penske has produced one victory at Kentucky, in 2006 with Sam Hornish Jr., but the team will be looking for win No. 2 on Saturday night.

All three Penske drivers enter this weekend's action on a roll and they hope to keep it going in Kentucky.

Ryan Briscoe remains third in the championship standings, trailing Dario Franchitti by just 11 points for second place and series leader Scott Dixon by 14 points. The driver of the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda owns five second-place finishes and a win in St. Petersburg this season and he's coming off a fourth-place run in Edmonton that kept him in the thick of the championship chase.

Briscoe started fifth and finished seventh for Team Penske last year in Kentucky and he'll need a strong run Saturday to keep his his title hopes in focus.

"Kentucky Speedway is a challenging circuit that I enjoy very much," said Briscoe. "I think night races add a whole different dimension and I'm anticipating a great show for the fans. We've had a solid season thus far and have been able to bring the Team Penske car home in second five times. Hopefully this will be the weekend that we move up one spot and we can earn the win."

Driving the No. 3 Team Penske car, Castroneves owns a pair of oval race wins this season - at Texas and his third career victory at the Indianapolis 500. He's coming off a second-place finish at Edmonton - his top road course result of the year - and he remains fourth in the driver standings, 71 points out of first, despite missing the first race of the season. After finishing second at Kentucky last season, Castroneves owns five top-five finishes at the venue in his distinguished career.

"Kentucky is a tough track to master, because it's very bumpy and very fast. There is hardly any banking, so it's always a challenge to make sure we get the right set-up on the Team Penske car," said Castroneves. "The racing is extremely tight with a lot of side-by-side action, which makes for an exciting show for the fans. I've finished in the top-five there five times, but have never found Victory Circle - hopefully this is the year we lead the final lap in Kentucky!"

The newest winner in the IndyCar Series also is excited to return to oval racing action this weekend. Will Power was dominant last weekend in Edmonton in the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda. He won the pole, led 90 of 95 laps and scored his first series victory and the fourth win this season for Penske Racing.

Power has finished sixth or better in each of his five starts this season and he will be competing in his first oval event since the Indy 500, where he finished fifth in an impressive performance. With back-to-back podium results, Power hopes to continue his momentum and wash away the bad memories of last year's race at Kentucky when he retired after just five laps with mechanical problems while competing for KV Racing Technology.

"It was great to get my first win for Penske Racing in Edmonton," said Power. "Now I want to build on that. I'm excited to get back out there and compete on the oval at Kentucky Speedway. It's a tough track but I know the Penske Truck Rental team will help me figure it out this weekend. I've also got two great teammates to work with and having all those resources definitely adds to my confidence heading into the race weekend."

After an extended practice session early Friday afternoon, IndyCar Series Kentucky qualifying will get underway at 5:45 p.m. ET on Friday evening. Qualifying coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on Versus. saturday's Meijer Indy 300 will also be televised on Versus with live coverage beginning at 8 p.m. ET.