Team Penske Mid-Ohio Preview
August 4, 2010
Drivers: Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Team Penske), Ryan Briscoe (No. 6 Team Penske) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske)
Race: Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio
(2.4-mile permanent road course)
When: Qualifying - Saturday, August 7 at 12:35 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. ET on Versus)
Race (85 laps) - Sunday, August 8 at 3:00 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. ET on Versus)
TV/Radio: Versus/IMS Radio Network and XM Channel 145 and Sirius Channel 211
Mid-O Memories: Team Penske has a remarkable history at Mid-Ohio. In the 25 open-wheel races that have been held at the course since 1980, Team Penske has won seven times, including four in a row from 1992-95 when Emerson Fittipaldi and Al Unser Jr. each won two races in a row at the venue. A Team Penske driver has won the pole in each of the last three races run at Mid-Ohio (Ryan Briscoe - 2009 and Helio Castroneves - 2008 and 2007). After a disappointing finish to the previous race in Edmonton that saw Castroneves penalized in a controversial call as he was headed for victory, Team Penske will try to return to winning form this weekend.
Winning Combination: In the majority of its victories at Mid-Ohio, Team Penske has demonstrated an uncanny ability to sweep the top spots in the finishing order. In five of its seven wins at the track, Team Penske has finished in the first and second positions. The team claimed the top two spots in 1992 (Emerson Fittipaldi followed by Paul Tracy), 2000-2001 (Castroneves followed by Gil de Ferran) and 2008 (Briscoe followed by Castroneves). In 1994, the team scored an impressive 1-2-3 result with Unser Jr. capturing the checkered flag followed by Tracy and Fittipaldi. That result stands as the team's last 1-2-3 finish at a road circuit.
Power Play: Will Power heads into this weekend's event with a substantial lead in the overall IZOD IndyCar Series Championship and the driver of the Verizon car is poised to clinch the series' newly-created Road Course Championship and earn the Mario Andretti award. Power has a 50-point lead in the overall standings and he has a 96-point advantage in the Road Course Championship with defending series champion Dario Franchitti his closest competitor in each category. If Power finishes 24th or better in Sunday's race he will clinch the road course title and he will also claim the crown if he wins the pole and just starts the race.
Solo Power: In his lone race at Mid-Ohio, Power started 12th and finished fourth for KV Racing Technology in 2008. The finish represented the top result of Power's rookie IndyCar Series season. Power was an observer at Mid-Ohio last season as he raced in selected events in 2009 and he was not scheduled to drive at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Team Penske.
Briscoe's M-O: Mid-Ohio has proved to be one of Briscoe's best tracks. Last year he earned the pole in qualifying and then went on to finish second in the race. In 2008, he earned his first IZOD IndyCar road course victory at the historic circuit. Entering this weekend's event, he is ranked fourth in the championship standings, just 25 points behind Scott Dixon.
Helio History: Castroneves owns two wins and two poles at Mid-Ohio in his distinguished open-wheel racing career. He topped qualifying at the circuit in both 2007 and 2008 and captured the checkered flag at the venue in the CART Series in both 2000 and 2001. Overall, he owns four podium (top-three) results in seven career races at Mid-Ohio. Castroneves currently occupies the sixth position in the championship standings.
House of Honda: Briscoe and Power, along with several other IndyCar Series drivers, will visit separate Honda plants in the Ohio area on Thursday, August 5. Briscoe will be in attendance at the Honda Research and Development Americas facility in Raymond, Ohio while Power will visit the Anna Engine Plant in Anna, Ohio. The drivers will tour each facility, meet plant employees and sign autographs at each location that afternoon for Honda, the exclusive engine manufacturer and sponsor of the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Testing, Testing: Team Penske has tested at the Mid-Ohio circuit twice in the last several weeks. All three cars and drivers put in a full day of testing at the venue on June 30 and Power participated in a Firestone tire test at Mid-Ohio on July 28.
Penske Production: With 11 races of the 17-race season in the books, Team Penske has earned six victories thus far in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series. The team won the first three races of the season with Power claiming victory at Sao Paulo, Brazil and St. Petersburg. Castroneves took the top-spot in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama making it three consecutive wins for the team. Briscoe then scored his first victory of the season at Texas before Power went on to score wins at Watkins Glen and Toronto.
Pole Profile: Team Penske has earned a noteworthy nine poles this season which included a series record streak of eight poles in row beginning with the second race of the season at St. Petersburg and ending in Toronto, where Justin Wilson outpaced Power by a mere .322 mph to win the pole. The team's nine poles have been won by all three drivers (Power-6, Briscoe-2 and Castroneves-1) and they were earned at all types of tracks (road course, street course, short oval, 1.5 mile oval and superspeedway). Team Penske has won seven poles at Mid-Ohio, including the last three in a row.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT THE HONDA INDY 200
Helio Castroneves: "Mid-Ohio is fun place to race. I am looking forward to building on the success that Team Penske has had at this great track. We have done well in both qualifying and the race over the years at Mid-Ohio, so I feel confident going into this weekend that we will have positive results. After Edmonton, I am just excited to get back on track and do what I love to do. The fans at Mid-Ohio are dedicated and supportive, which makes this a terrific event."
Ryan Briscoe: "Mid-Ohio is where I scored my first ever IndyCar Series road course win and I'd love to do it again. Our Team Penske cars are always very fast and I'm really looking forward to the event. We have been steadily improving our consistency over the last few races and this is the perfect place to continue that trend. I think our momentum is building and Mid-Ohio is a track where we have a history of solid results."
Will Power: "I think this is going to be another tough race weekend. Most of the teams and drivers tested at Mid-Ohio recently, so everyone knows the track. The competition is probably as close as it has ever been in the history of the series. I am going to do my best to drive the Verizon car to the front and hopefully build on our points lead this weekend."