Team Penske Sonoma Race Preview
August 19, 2010
Drivers: Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Team Penske), Ryan Briscoe (No. 6 Team Penske) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske)
Race: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
(2.5-mile permanent road course)
When: Qualifying - Saturday, August 21 at 5:30 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. ET on Versus)
Race (75 laps) - Sunday, August 22 at 5:45 p.m. ET (5:00 p.m. ET on Versus)
TV/Radio: Versus/IMS Radio Network and XM Channel 145 and Sirius Channel 211
Sonoma Success: Team Penske has enjoyed its share of success at Infineon Raceway since the IZOD IndyCar Series began competing at the circuit in 2005. Helio Castroneves claimed the team's lone victory at Infineon as he won from the pole in 2008. Ryan Briscoe has earned two runner-up results at the venue and collectively, Team Penske has produced six top-five and seven top-10 finishes to go along with four podium results, one win and one pole in 10 starts at the famed wine country road course.
Top-Two Tradition: In the last three IZOD IndyCar Series races at Infineon, Team Penske has finished in either first or second place - Castroneves finished second in 2007, Castroneves and Briscoe finished 1-2 in 2008 and Briscoe earned a runner-up result last season.
Championship Power: Will Power enters this weekend's event as the newly-crowned Mario Andretti Road Course Champion of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season. After unveiling the Mario Andretti trophy with Power at Union Square in San Francisco on Thursday afternoon, Andretti will present the inaugural award named in his honor to Power and Verizon Team Penske in Victory Circle after Sunday's race. Power, who leads the series in wins (four) and poles (seven), currently sits atop of the overall championship point standings with a margin of 41 points separating himself and his closest competitor, defending Grand Prix of Sonoma winner Dario Franchitti.
Back and Better Than Ever: Power has overcome significant adversity since his last official visit to Infineon Raceway. The native of Toowoomba, Australia was involved in an Aug. 22 practice accident on Saturday of race weekend last year. The car driven by Nelson Philippe had spun and stalled in the middle of the track during practice as Power came down the blind downhill Turn 3A corner at high speed. Power's Team Penske entry struck Philippe's car and both drivers suffered serious injuries in the accident. Philippe broke his leg in the crash while Power fractured several vertebrae, chipped his front teeth and suffered a concussion. Both drivers were sidelined for the remainder of the season. Power has made a remarkable recovery from the incident and he returned to lead all drivers in IndyCar Series testing at Sonoma last Friday, Aug. 13 in his first visit to Infineon since the accident.
Previous Power Production: In his lone official race start at Infineon Raceway, Power started third and finished 25th after going off course late in the race while driving for KV Racing Technology in 2008.
Helio History: It has been feast or famine at Infineon for Castroneves, who has produced one pole, one victory and one second-place finish in Sonoma. Accidents prevented the three-time Indy 500 champion from finishing events at the venue in 2005 and 2009, but he has scored top-five finishes in his other three starts at Infineon. Castroneves, who is currently fifth in the series standings, has never qualified worse than fourth in his five starts at the track.
Ryan Review: Briscoe has a solid track record at Infineon Raceway. The third-year Team Penske driver has started and finished second in each of his last two outings in Sonoma. Briscoe also won his first IZOD IndyCar Series pole at Infineon in 2005, while driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Briscoe enters this event ranked fourth in the championship point standings, just 27 points behind third-place driver Scott Dixon.
Sign of the Times: Castroneves and Power, along with select Indianapolis 500-winning drivers, will participate in an IZOD IndyCar Series autograph session at Macy's Union Square in San Francisco on Thursday, August 19 from 6-7 p.m. PT. All three Team Penske drivers will also sign autographs at the Verizon store located at 3138 Jefferson Street in Napa on Friday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. PT.
Start Milestone: Team Penske will make its 1,250th all-time open-wheel racing start on Sunday when the green flag waves to begin the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Winning Combination: With 12 rounds 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 won back-to-back at Watkins Glen and Toronto.
Penske Pole Prowess: Team Penske has earned a noteworthy 10 poles this season, which included a series record streak of eight poles in a 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 10 poles have been won by all three drivers (Power-7, 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).
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT THE INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA
Helio Castroneves: "The race at Infineon is one of the most prestigious events on the series schedule, not only because of the challenging circuit, but also because the area is unbelievably beautiful. The wine country is a special place for the spectators, the sponsors and even for my family. Of course we have to wait to enjoy some of it until after the race, but some things are worth waiting for! Our Team Penske cars have certainly been fast here recently and in the past races. The fans and the facilities at Infineon Raceway are awesome and I am really looking forward to racing there this weekend."
Ryan Briscoe: "I really like Infineon Raceway, with its steep elevations and blind corners. This track will always be special for me since it is the place where I earned my first IZOD IndyCar Series pole position back in 2005. It is always nice to visit the wine country and this is a trip that I truly look forward to making every year. The No. 6 Team Penske car has been fast at Sonoma the last couple of years and Will (Power) tested well there last week. I feel good about our chances for a solid result."
Will Power: "This is going to be another challenging weekend. Dario (Franchitti) is very quick at this track and we know he'll be tough. I went into the event at Sonoma last year wanting to win and I did not get the opportunity to race, because of the accident. I am going into the weekend determined to drive the Verizon Team Penske car into Victory Circle. I love Infineon Raceway. It is a very technical track, a real driver's track, and I am looking forward to racing there this weekend. I plan on working hard, having a little fun and hopefully getting the job done right on Sunday."