Team Penske 2010 Season Review
October 22, 2010
Photo courtesy of Steve Swope
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season was one of change, opportunity, challenge and accomplishment for Team Penske. The legendary team began the season by welcoming Verizon as a full-season primary sponsor and sporting a new look, as its iconic red and white livery was replaced by a sleek black and white color scheme.
The No. 12 Verizon Team Penske machine was added to the stable as it marked the first time since 1994 that the team competed with three full-time entries. After an impressive partial season with the team in 2009, Will Power came onboard as a full-time driver of the Verizon car after he made a full recovery from back injuries suffered in a practice accident toward the end of the '09 season.
Power joined Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves, who returned to the cockpit of the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, and Ryan Briscoe, who once again raced in the No. 6 Team Penske machine. The addition of Power to the full-time lineup placed Team Penske in a formidable position to challenge for wins and the series title.
The race season started off with the team winning a remarkable three races in a row, as Power captured the checkered flag in the first two events at Sao Paulo, Brazil and St. Petersburg, Fla. Castroneves earned the victory at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. to make it three straight to open the season for Team Penske.
Beginning with qualifying at St. Petersburg, the team strung together a series record eight consecutive pole positions, as Power, Briscoe and Castroneves all contributed to remarkable run. In addition, Power went on to establish a new series single-season record by winning eight poles in the Verizon car.
At the Indianapolis 500 in May, Team Penske once again flexed its muscle. Castroneves won his fourth career pole at Indy and the 16th all time for the team in the Memorial Day weekend classic. Power qualified second and Briscoe fourth to give Team Penske three of the top four starting positions. Unfortunately, the race itself didn't develop the way the team had hoped as Power and Castroneves both earned top-10 results after Briscoe was knocked out of the race due to contact with the wall.
After Briscoe bounced back with an impressive victory at Texas for the team, Power added wins at Watkins Glen and Toronto to build his lead in the championship standings. Power also captured the checkered flag at Infineon Raceway one year after his devastating accident at the Northern California circuit and he was crowned as the inaugural winner of the series' Mario Andretti Road Course Championship. Following a win in Kentucky, Castroneves made it two-in-a-row when he claimed victory in Motegi, Japan. The performance marked the 25th career win for Castroneves as a Team Penske driver.
Individually, all three Team Penske drivers put up significant numbers in all statistical categories in 2010. Briscoe earned one victory, three poles; eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes while he led 308 laps of competition. Castroneves brought home three wins, two poles, nine top-five and 15 top-10 results as he led 244 laps. Power scored a series-leading five victories and a series record eight poles while he posted 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes on his way to leading 460 laps of competition.
Over the course of the 17-race season Team Penske produced a series-leading nine victories, 13 pole positions; 28 top-five and 40 top-10 finishes while, as a group, the teams led 1012 of 2414 laps of competition. Power's efforts were rewarded with a runner-up finish in the title chase, while Castroneves and Briscoe finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the final series standings.
Although the team fell just shy of winning the series title as Power finished just five points behind champion Dario Franchitti, it was a very successful season overall. The foundation that was created with the lessons of 2010 provide a solid base to build on as the team prepares to return to Victory Lane and once again compete for the Indy 500 and series titles in 2011.