HOMESTEAD, Fla. (October 8, 2009) - A memorable 2009 IndyCar Series season will come to an exciting conclusion for Team Penske this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway and there's no shortage of drama.
Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, can win the series championship with a strong performance this weekend for the team. With three wins this season, including two on 1.5-mile ovals (the same as Homestead-Miami Speedway), the native of Sydney, Australia trails series leader Scott Dixon by eight points and second-place runner Dario Franchitti by just three points. No matter how Dixon and Franchitti finish, Briscoe can win the championship by winning the race and claiming one of the three bonus points available for winning the pole position (one point) or leading the most laps in the race (two points).
Last season at Miami, in his debut race for Team Penske, Briscoe saw his race end early due to contact and he wound up finishing 19th. This season, following two successful tests at Homestead (he posted the fastest time in Spring Training testing at the venue), Briscoe knows he can do something special in Saturday night's Firestone Indy 300.
"There are only eight points separating (Scott) Dixon, Dario (Franchitti) and myself, so the championship will basically come down to a 'winner take all' scenario this weekend," said Briscoe. "I feel good about ending the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. We've had two good tests there this year - one this past winter and another a couple of weeks ago. I don't see why we wouldn't be the car to beat out there. Personally, I can't wait for race weekend; I'm extremely motivated to do well in Florida and win this championship for the team."
While Helio Castroneves would certainly like to see his teammate win his first IndyCar Series title, he also desperately wants to produce a victory at Homestead. Castroneves, who won his third Indianapolis 500 in May, has never reached Victory circle in his adopted hometown. Though he owns four podium results and six top-five finishes in his previous starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the resident of nearby Coral Gables hasn't crossed the finih line first - something he hopes to remedy on Saturday.
Though he has been eliminated from the title chase and sits fourth in the series standings, Castroneves also wants to be able to close out the season strong and if he captures the checkered flag, he knows he'll take points away from Franchitti and Dixon and that will help his teammate.
"I'm looking forward to ending the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway," said Castroneves. "Living in Coral Gables makes this my hometown race, so I always have a lot of friends and family out at the track to support me, which is awesome. I'd love to finally notch a win here at the track - no Miami resident has ever done that, so I'd like to be the first! Unfortunately, I'm out of the championship hunt, but you can be sure I'm going to be supporting my teammate Ryan as he goes for the title. A perfect scenario would be me winning the race and Ryan finishing second to earn the championship."
Friday's activities will feature practice and the all-important qualifying session when the most crucial pole of the season will be up for grabs. Qualifying will be seen live beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET on Versus.
On Saturday, the Honda Indy 300 to decide the 2009 champion will also be televised live with Versus coverage set to begin at 4 p.m. ET.