Briscoe Finishes Eighth, Leads Team Penske at Kentucky
October 2, 2011
Photo courtesy of Steve Swope
SPARTA, Ky. (October 2, 2011) – Ryan Briscoe led the way during a trouble-filled race Sunday for Team Penske in the Kentucky Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
Briscoe raced from an 18th-place starting position to an eighth-place finish, but teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves encountered problems and finished 19th and 29th, respectively.
Power came into the race leading the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings by 12 points over Dario Franchitti, but an incident on pit lane damaged the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda and led to the tough result. Power is now 18 points behind Franchitti, who finished second on Sunday, with one race remaining in the 2011 season.
After winning his series-leading eighth pole position of the season on Saturday, Power was dominant early in Sunday's race. He led the first 48 laps as no one appeared to have the speed to catch the Verizon machine. But during the team's first pit stop, under the green flag on lap 49, the car driven by Ana Beatriz made contact with the No. 12 car as Power prepared to enter his pit box. Power's car was damaged in the incident and after several trips down pit lane to make repairs, the Verizon car continued but it was down on power for the remainder of the race.
"It's really too bad. The Verizon car was so fast – that was the fastest car I've ever had," said Power. "As we were coming into the pits (Ana Beatriz) just ran into my car as she was coming out. It put a big hole in the side of the car and we tried to fix it but we just lost a lot of speed as a result. We lost about four miles an hour. We were just holding on, trying to do our best after that. It's very tough, but it happens in racing."
Briscoe moved forward from the start of the race in the No. 6 Transitions Adaptive Lenses Team Penske car for his best finish since a third-place result at Infineon Raceway in August. He's now ranked sixth in the championship, just two points out of fifth place.
"It was a pretty good day for the Transitions Adaptive Lenses car," said Briscoe, who won the 2009 race at Kentucky at the wire when he narrowly defeated Ed Carpenter, the winner of Sunday's race. "We had a fast car and we passed a lot of cars coming through the field. My pit crew gave me awesome stops today and we gave it our best, but we just didn't have quite enough pace to get up front with the leaders and fight for the win. It's very unfortunate that the 12 and the 3 cars had the days that they did."
Like Briscoe's team, Castroneves and the No. 3 Cintas Team Penske crew changed engines after a disappointing qualifying run on Saturday. Castroneves also got off to a fast start on Sunday racing from his 16th-place starting position and into the top 10 early on. The car then developed a water leak and eventually Castroneves was forced to retire after only 34 laps due to mechanical problems.
"It's really a shame for the Cintas Team Penske car," said Castroneves, who was trying to earn back-to-back wins on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval. "We changed engines after qualifying and the car was just awesome from the green flag. We were moving up to the front when we noticed a water issue. We came into the pits and once the guys took a look we just lost power. It's just one of those things - it rarely happens but it seems like everything is happening to us this season. Hopefully we can turn things around and finish the season on a positive note in Las Vegas."
It marked the first DNF (did not finish) of the season for Castroneves who fell one spot to 11th in the series standings.
The 2011 season finale – the IZOD IndyCar World Championships Presented by Honda – will take place in two weeks at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Power said it's pretty clear what the team needs to do to secure the title.
"We need to bounce back and keep fighting at Las Vegas. We know we have a fast car, now we just need to get the job done," said Power. "We need to go out and win the race and earn every bonus point possible. We need to have a great weekend and that's what we'll be going out there to do."
Coverage of the IZOD IndyCar World Championships is set to begin at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 16 on ABC-TV.