A Look Back at Team Penske's 2011 IndyCar Season
December 2, 2011
Photo courtesy of Steve Swope
The 2011 IZOD Indy Car Series season was one of transition and accomplishment for Team Penske. The season saw the three-car team post six wins and eight pole positions while producing 15 podium finishes among drivers Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Will Power. Unfortunately, the year also came to a sad ending with the tragic loss of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon at the season finale, but Team Penske will look back on 2011 and recall many fond memories.
In its second consecutive season with three full-season entries in the IZOD Indy Car Series, Team Penske welcomed new partners, new paint schemes and some new venues to the starting grid in 2011. New partners were featured on all three Team Penske cars. The No. 12 car driven by Power returned with Verizon as its primary sponsor and Meijer and Coca-Cola joined as associate sponsors on the car for 2011. Once again driven by Castroneves, the No. 3 car team welcomed the return of a historically rich partnership with Shell-Pennzoil as they rejoined the sport of IndyCar racing after several years away from the track. Along with the Shell V-Power and Pennzoil Ultra brands, the No. 3 car was equipped with Guidepoint Systems, AAA Insurance and Penske Truck Rental as primary sponsors in 2011. Other new additions to the No. 3 car team included associate sponsors Comfort Revolution and Cintas. The No. 6 Team Penske car, driven by Briscoe, was proud to add IZOD, PPG Automotive Refinish, Transitions Adaptive Lenses and Penske Truck Rental as primary partners for the 2011 season.
The team displayed uncanny proficiency at the new venues on the series schedule as well as at the newly-reconfigured circuits. In the team's second visit to Sao Paulo, Brazil and its first on the new street circuit layout, Power reasserted his dominance as he earned the pole and captured the victory for the second consecutive year at the venue. At the Edmonton Centre City Airport reconfigured circuit it was once again Power who was victorious. Baltimore, the site of a brand new street race in the city's inner harbor, witnessed Power dominate field throughout the event as he claimed the pole, led the most laps and won the race. The other new venue for 2011 was New Hampshire Motor Speedway and once again Power was the team's top finisher as he brought home a fifth-place result.
In his third season competing for Team Penske, Power paced the team, and the series, in races won and poles earned for the second consecutive year. Over the course of the 17-race season, Power tied his personal-best effort from 2010 with eight poles. He also posted a career-high six victories, adding wins at Barber Motorsports Park and Infineon Raceway to his success at new or reconfigured venues and he scored the first oval win of his career at Texas Motor Speedway. To round out his accomplishments, Power once again was the top performing road and street circuit driver as he captured the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship for the second consecutive year and he finished second in the overall championship chase for the second straight year.
Castroneves, competing in his 12th consecutive season for Team Penske, and Briscoe, running in his fourth straight year for the team, endured challenging campaigns that saw them fall short of producing a victory for the first time in their Team Penske careers. The seasoned veterans still produced solid results and offered much promise throughout the course of the eight-month season, and they each earned podium finishes. Castroneves scored second-place results at Edmonton and Sonoma while Briscoe's best efforts included a runner-up finish at Long Beach and third-place results at Sao Paulo, Texas and Sonoma.
The Sonoma race in August was the scene of a historical event for Team Penske as it qualified first, second and third for the race with Power, Castroneves and Briscoe and then finished in the same order. The result marked the team's first podium sweep in more than 15 years and demonstrated the depth of talent and hard work throughout the Penske squad.
As Team Penske looks ahead to the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season, the team is motivated by its consistency as well as the new challenges the New Year will bring. Castroneves, Briscoe and Power will all return as the team will once again field a three-car attack in its pursuit of the series title. Team Penske will be reunited with Chevrolet as the iconic brand rejoins IndyCar competition after a multi-year absence. The excitement for the 2012 season will also be accentuated with the debut of the long-anticipated new car, named the DW12 in honor of Wheldon, who served as the test driver for the next-generation machine.
With the talented and experienced lineup in place, trusted returning and new partners providing support and Chevy power as its driving force, Team Penske is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead in 2012.