Team Penske Kentucky Race Preview
September 1, 2010
Drivers: Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Team Penske), Ryan Briscoe (No. 6 Team Penske) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske)
Race: Kentucky Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky
When: Qualifying - Friday, September 3 at 1:30 p.m. ET (5:00 p.m. ET on Versus)
Race (200 laps) - Saturday, September 4 at 8:45 p.m. ET (8:00 p.m. ET on Versus)
TV/Radio: Versus/IMS Radio Network and XM Channel 145 and Sirius Channel 211
Our Old Kentucky Home: Team Penske returns to Kentucky Speedway this Labor Day weekend as the defending champions. The team won the last IZOD IndyCar Series event at Kentucky as Ryan Briscoe captured the checkered flag in 2009. Team Penske has a total of two wins, one pole, eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 17 starts at the venue since 2002.
Close Call: Last year, Briscoe started the race from the third position and led six different times for a total of 37 laps on his way to finishing just .0162 of-a-second ahead of second-place finisher Ed Carpenter in one of the closest results of the season. Briscoe and Carpenter engaged in an epic battle for the lead over the final 10 laps before Briscoe won at the wire.
Ryan's Rising: Briscoe has proven to be a force recently on 1.5-mile ovals, like Kentucky Speedway. In 2009, Briscoe posted two victories on this type of track (Chicago and Kentucky) and all three of his poles this season have come at 1.5-mile ovals (Kansas, Texas and Chicago). His lone win this season also came at an intermediate oval (Texas) and he led a race-high 113 laps last weekend at Chicagoland before falling back to an 11th-place finish.
Castroneves at Kentucky: Helio Castroneves won the pole at Kentucky in 2006 and he also posted his best finish at the track that same year when he crossed the finish line in third place. In all, Castroneves has recorded six top-five results in eight career starts at the track.
Power-ing Up: IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power has two starts at Kentucky, the most recent coming last year when he finished ninth in one of his six starts for Penske Racing. Despite starting at the back of the field when qualifying was canceled in 2009, Power made his way to the front and led 29 laps at Kentucky before posting a top-10 result. His other start at the track was in 2008 when he drove for KV Racing. In that race, Power finished 26th after a suspension failure on the car ended his day after only five laps.
Testing, Testing: After a test earlier this summer at Kentucky Speedway was cancelled due to weather, Power did get some running time recently at Kentucky. The young Australian tested with the Verizon team on August 11 at Kentucky Speedway in preparation for this weekend's event.
Follow the Leader: Power, who won the series' Mario Andretti Road Course Championship this season, enters this weekend's event leading the overall championship standings by 23 points over Dario Franchitti. Despite leading 17 laps and fighting for the win late in the race, Power finished 16th last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in the most recent IZOD IndyCar Series event after a fueling problem on what was scheduled to be the team's final pit stop of the night.
Racing for Kids: Castroneves will appear at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, located at 3333 Burnet Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday, Sept. 2 as part of the Racing for Kids initiative. Castroneves will meet and sign autographs for patients at the hospital and pose for pictures with the children around the Racing for Kids showcar between 12 and 2 pm ET.
Mazak Meeting: Both Power and Briscoe will visit the headquarters of Penske Racing partner, Mazak Corporation, in Florence, Kentucky on Thursday, Sept. 2. Power and Briscoe will meet with Mazak executives and employees and get a tour of the facility at noon before meeting with members of the local media at 2 p.m. ET.
A Spark in the Dark: Team Penske is excited to participate in another night race this weekend at Kentucky. The team has enjoyed tremendous success recently in night races. In 2009, the team claimed victory in three night races on the series calendar (Texas, Chicago and Kentucky) and Briscoe made it four recent night race wins for the team earlier this season when he won under the lights at Texas.
Winning Ways: With 14 rounds of the 17-race season in the books, Team Penske has earned seven 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 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car before Castroneves took the top spot in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Briscoe then scored his first victory of the season in the No. 6 Team Penske machine at Texas before Power went on to produce back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen and Toronto. Power earned the team's seventh win of the year two weeks ago at Sonoma.
Power's Pole Prowess: Power recently earned his record eighth IZOD IndyCar Series pole position of the season. This achievement allowed Power to join the ranks of great open-wheel drivers Mario Andretti, Al Unser, A.J. Foyt, Danny Ongais, Danny Sullivan, Rick Mears, Michael Andretti and Sebastien Bourdais, who have all won eight poles in one season.
Kings of Qualifying: Overall, Team Penske has earned an impressive 12 poles in 14 races 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. The 12 poles have been won by all three drivers (Power-8, Briscoe-3 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 KENTUCKY INDY 300
Helio Castroneves: "Kentucky is certainly a track that is very challenging and it is also a track that provides some great racing for the fans. Going from one mile-and-a-half track to another is a perfect opportunity for Team Penske to bounce back and bring home a strong result. Last year, I finished fourth at Kentucky and Ryan (Briscoe) earned a victory. This is sure to be another very exciting race for the fans and I am looking forward to a great finish on Saturday night."
Ryan Briscoe: "This should be another awesome race for the fans and the drivers alike. These mile-and-a-half ovals make for some exciting racing. The Team Penske cars have a history of being fast on this track and I'm looking forward to rebounding after a disappointing result in Chicago. We won this race last year and I would love to make it two wins in a row. I am looking forward to racing under the lights and hopefully driving into Victory Circle."
Will Power: "I am ready to go racing at Kentucky. Last Saturday at Chicago, I think I figured out how to drive these mile-and-a-half ovals and I am on a mission to finish up front. Last year at Kentucky, I had to start at the back of the field due to qualifying being rained out, but we got up front and led some laps and I managed to finish ninth. This year, the Verizon Team Penske guys and I are ready to contend for the win. After the last race, I am more determined than ever to win an oval race this year."