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Team Penske Looks for Solid Results in Final Japan Race

September 15, 2011

Photo courtesy of Steve Swope



FAST FACTS

Drivers: Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske), Ryan Briscoe (No. 6 Hitachi Team Penske) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske)

Event: Indy Japan 300
Twin Ring Motegi - Motegi, Japan
(two-mile permanent road course)

When: Qualifying - Saturday, September 17 at 2:00 a.m. ET (Coverage on VERSUS at 11 p.m. ET on Saturday)
Race (63 laps) - Sunday, September 18 at 12:00 a.m. ET (Coverage begins at 11:30 p.m. ET live Saturday night on VERSUS)

TV/Radio: VERSUS/IMS Radio Network and Sirius XM Channel 94

Motegi Memories: Team Penske looks forward to competing at Twin Ring Motegi (TRM) this weekend in the final IZOD IndyCar Series race scheduled to be run at the circuit. The team has raced at the event in Motegi for 12 out of the past 13 seasons, competing on the TRM oval. Team Penske returns as defending champions of the event as Helio Castroneves won from the pole in 2010 at Twin Ring Motegi. Over the years, the team has netted two wins, six poles, 10 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 24 starts at Motegi.

Hit the Road: This weekend's race will mark the first IZOD IndyCar Series event held on the Twin Ring Motegi road circuit. All previous IndyCar events have been run on the oval course, which was damaged in the earthquake that rocked Japan back in March. Team Penske is excited to compete on the road course as the team has earned a series-high 11 road/street course wins over the last two seasons.

Japanese Gem: Castroneves has enjoyed solid success at Motegi over his distinguished career as he's earned two wins and five poles on the oval circuit. He started on the pole at Japan in 2001, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 as he claimed victory there in 2006 and 2010. Castroneves has led an impressive 562 laps of competition at Motegi.

Big in Japan: Ryan Briscoe will make his fifth career start at Motegi this weekend. Briscoe has plenty of experience competing in Japan. He raced go-karts there and served as a Formula One test driver for Panasonic Toyota Racing in 2003-04 before he joined the IZOD IndyCar Series and began racing annually at Motegi.

Twin Ring Ryan: Last season brought Briscoe his top career IndyCar result at Motegi as he earned a fourth-place finish. In 2009, Briscoe suffered heartbreak at Motegi when he hit the wall while exiting pit lane shortly after he had taken the lead of the race. The incident resulted in an 18th-place finish for Briscoe and it damaged his pursuit of the series championship as he wound up third in the title chase that season.

Power Surge: Currently ranked second in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings, Will Power will make his second career start at Motegi this weekend. Last season, Power started third and finished third on the TRM oval. Power expects to be in contention for the win this weekend as he has dominated road and street courses since he joined Team Penske. Since 2009, Power has claimed 11 road/street course race wins. The defending Mario Andretti road course champion of the series, Power leads the current road course point standings as well.

King of the Road: The Mario Andretti Road Course champion will be crowned this weekend as this represents the final road/street course event on the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. Power, the reigning series road course champ, enters this weekend leading Franchitti by 14 points (357-343) in the title chase.

On a Roll: Power arrives in Japan with tremendous momentum for Verizon Team Penske. He is coming off two consecutive race wins at Sonoma and Baltimore and he has trimmed 50 points off his deficit to series leader Dario Franchitti over the past five races. Power enters this event trailing Franchitti by just five points in the battle for the series title with three races remaining, including this weekend's Indy Japan 300.

In With the New: Competing on a "new" circuit at the TRM road course could be a good omen for Team Penske. In 2010 and 2011 the team has scored four wins on brand new or reconfigured tracks in the series. Power won at Sao Paulo, Brazil while Castroneves took the checkered flag at Barber Motorsports Park last season. This year, Power earned victories on the reconfigured Sao Paulo and Edmonton street courses before dominating two weeks ago on the new Baltimore street circuit.

Pole Pursuit: Power will be looking to tie his series record of eight poles in a single season (established last season) during Saturday qualifying. When he won the pole at Baltimore last race, Power tied Johnny Rutherford for 11th on the all-time IndyCar poles list with 23 in his career.

Motegi Qualifying Success: Last season, Team Penske owned qualifying at Motegi as they swept the top three starting positions for the race. Castroneves won the pole as Briscoe qualified second and Power third. It represented the second 1-2-3 start for the team in 2010 (Watkins Glen). The team has already swept qualifying once this season as well as it earned the top three starting spots at Sonoma with Power, Castroneves and Briscoe before going on to finish the race in the same exact order.

Hello Hitachi: Team Penske is proud to carry the Hitachi brand this weekend. Both the No. 3 and No. 6 cars will be compete with Hitachi on the sidepods at Twin Ring Motegi. The team has welcomed several new partners in 2011. Joining Verizon - sponsor of the No. 12 Team Penske car - as primary sponsors this season, Team Penske has partnered with Shell-Pennzoil, Guidepoint Systems, IZOD, AAA Insurance, PPG Automotive Refinish, Transitions Adaptive Lenses and Penske Truck Rental in 2011. The team has also welcomed associate sponsors Meijer, Coca-Cola and Comfort Revolution this season.

Here Comes the Judge: Castroneves traveled to Japan this week from his native Brazil where he helped judge the 60th annual Miss Universe Pageant on Monday night, September 12. Castroneves joined several other celebrities as they selected Leila Lopes, Miss Angola, as the 2011 Miss Universe winner. The broadcast, televised in the U.S. by NBC, was seen by over one billion people across the globe on Monday evening.


WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT THE INDY JAPAN 300

Helio Castroneves: "I am really happy that we are able to race one more time in Japan. It's a little sad that this is the last time we will be racing there at Motegi. I will certainly miss the culture, the fans and the track. I hope we can go back there sometime in the future, but let's make sure we make the most out of this race with Hitachi on the No. 3 Team Penske car and have a lot of fun."

Ryan Briscoe: "I'm excited about racing on the Twin Ring road course as it looks like a track that should suit our Team Penske cars and my driving style. I am very happy to have Hitachi onboard the No. 6 car for this race. It is definitely an honor to be associated with such a great company at this event. I love racing in front of the Japanese fans. They're very enthusiastic and we want to make sure they enjoy this last race at Motegi this weekend."

Will Power: "From what I've seen, the road course at Motegi looks like a fun track and should make for good racing. The Verizon car has been strong on new circuits this year and I always enjoy learning a new track. It is s