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Team Penske Ready to Defend Title at Kentucky

September 29, 2011

Photo courtesy of Steve Swope



FAST FACTS

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

Event: Kentucky Indy 300
Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky
(1.5-mile oval)

When: Qualifying -Saturday, October 1 at 6:00 p.m. ET (Live coverage on VERSUS)
Race (200 laps) - Sunday, October 2 at 2:45 p.m. ET (Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET live on VERSUS)

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


Kentucky Confidence: After three consecutive road course races, Team Penske closes out the IZOD IndyCar Series season with two oval events beginning this weekend in Kentucky. The team has won the last two series races at Kentucky Speedway as Ryan Briscoe captured the checkered flag in 2009 while Helio Castroneves earned the victory last season. Team Penske has a total of three wins, one pole, nine top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in 20 starts at the venue.

Defending Champs: Last season, Castroneves and the No. 3 Team Penske crew took advantage of an alternate fuel strategy to come up a winner at Kentucky. After struggling on one of its pit stops, the No. 3 team brought Castroneves back down pit road to top off with fuel and to make sure there were no issues with a wheel changed on its scheduled stop. The move proved to be key as Castroneves conserved fuel the rest of the way and made it to the end while the other leaders had to stop as he scored his first career victory at Kentucky.

Helio's Old Kentucky Home: Castroneves has produced seven top-five finishes at Kentucky in nine career starts. He's also earned one pole at the venue (2006) and he's led a total of 49 laps at the oval.

Will to Win: Series championship leader Will Power enters Kentucky riding a wave of momentum. The native of Toowoomba, Australia has earned three wins and five top-five finishes in the last six races. Fresh off a runner-up result two weeks ago at the road course in Motegi, Japan, Power reclaimed the series points lead as a result of the finish and he will carry an 11-point advantage over Dario Franchitti into this weekend's penultimate race of the season at Kentucky. Power could conceivably clinch the series title this weekend. If Power wins on Sunday then Scott Dixon is eliminated from the championship hunt and if Power wins and earns every bonus point available and Franchitti finishes 25th or worse Power would win the championship.

Chasing Championships: Power also won the series Mario Andretti Road Course Championship in Motegi as he has captured the award for the last two consecutive seasons. In 2010, Power finished second to Franchitti in the overall championship battle after falling just five points short in the standings. Power also enters this weekend ranked third in the oval course championship fight behind Dixon and Franchitti.

Power's Previous Production: Power has three career starts at Kentucky. Last season, he qualified second and led 83 laps in the Kentucky night race before he lost some momentum late after nearly brushing the wall. Power went on to finish eighth for Verizon Team Penske. In 2009 he finished ninth in one of the six races he competed in for Penske Racing. His other Kentucky start was in 2008 when he drove for KV Racing Technology. In that race, Power finished 26th after a suspension failure on the car ended his day after only five laps.

Bluegrass Briscoe: Briscoe has earned a pair of top-10 finishes at Kentucky - including a nail-biting victory - among his four starts at the venue. Last season, he was collected in an accident just 80 laps into the race and he wound up being scored in 24th place. In 2009, 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. In 2008, he finished seventh in his first season with Team Penske and he scored a 13th- place result in 2005 while competing for Ganassi Racing.

Chief Changes: Team Penske will have two chief mechanic changes this weekend. Sean Hanrahan, who has served as chief mechanic of the No. 3 car for the past two seasons, was injured in a motorcycle accident last weekend and he will be sidelined for the remainder of the season. Matt Jonsson will return to his role as chief of the No. 6 car beginning this weekend while longtime Team Penske mechanic Rick Rinaman returns as chief of the No. 3 car team. Last race in Japan, Rinaman took over as chief of the No. 6 car while Jonsson focused on the development of the Team Penske 2012 new IndyCar program with Chevrolet.

Meet the Guys: All three Team Penske drivers will make appearances in Kentucky on Friday evening, Sept. 30. Power will meet with fans and sign autographs for Verizon at The Cellular Connection, located at 2519 U.S. Highway 227 in Carrollton, Ky. from 6-7 p.m. ET Friday. Power, Castroneves and Briscoe will all sign autographs for fans at the Meijer store, located at 4990 Houston Road in Florence, Ky. from 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET Friday night.

Proud Partners: Team Penske is proud to carry the Cintas brand this weekend. The No. 3 car will be compete with Cintas, the official workplace apparel partner of Penske Racing that makes its corporate home in nearby Mason, Ohio, on the sidepods at Kentucky. Transitions Adaptive Lenses also returns as primary sponsor of the No. 6 Team Penske car this weekend. 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 and Penske Truck Rental in 2011. The team has also welcomed associate sponsors Meijer, Coca-Cola and Comfort Revolution this season.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT THE KENTUCKY INDY 300

Helio Castroneves: "I am very excited to return to Kentucky Speedway to defend my victory from last season. It will be great to have Cintas represented on the No. 3 Team Penske car this weekend and we should be strong as we have a good 1.5 mile oval set-up and I am really looking forward to racing on the ovals. We have been working our way through a challenging season so far and this is the perfect place for us to put it all together and hopefully come out on top."

Ryan Briscoe: "I have a good feeling about the Kentucky race after the team had a good test there last Friday. It will be important for me to finish the season on a high note, starting in Kentucky. We expect our No. 6 Transitions Adaptive Lenses car to be fast and we definitely have some confidence as we won this race in 2009. I always enjoy the very close competitive racing at Kentucky and it will be nice to get back to the ovals again."

Will Power: "We are going into this race working hard to get the absolute most out of our car and our crew. The No. 12 Verizon car ought to be good this weekend since we tested at Kentucky last week, which gave us a strong starting point and a good idea of what direction we need to be going. I am actually really looking forward to getting back on the ovals and the race in Kentucky will definitely be exciting."