Team Penske Drivers To Start Fourth and Fifth in St. Pete

April 5, 2008

St. Petersburg, Florida (April 5, 2008) - Team Penske put both of its cars in the first five for the start of Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Helio Castroneves led the way with a lap of 1:02.6462 in the No. 3 Team Penske Honda/Dallara. The lap was fourth-best overall, just one tenth of a second behind pole winner Tony Kanaan.
“I’m proud of that lap,” Castroneves said. “It wasn‘t the pole, but it was right there. Everybody from the team put all they had into it, and it showed on the track. Both Team Penske cars are fast, and we‘ll both be right in the middle of it tomorrow.”
Teammate Ryan Briscoe had the fifth-fastest lap and will start inside the third row in his first street race with Team Penske‘s IndyCar Series team. “I’m honored to be here with this caliber of driver,” Briscoe said. “These are the greatest drivers in the world; it makes me proud to be a part of that.”
The first IndyCar Series street race of the post-unification era also was the first for a new, three-round qualifying format in which only the fastest six emerge from each group into the next round - six each from two groups in the first round, then the fastest six from the second round into the final session, which determines the order of start for the first three rows.
Castroneves gave a weary nod of approval to the new format, which eliminated the single-car, single-lap format previously used for the first portion of qualifying on road and street courses.
“Do we have a race tomorrow? Because it was a race today,” Castroneves said. “Everybody was pushing the limit, trying to find space. People ask me if I was surprised that the new guys are this fast. I’m not. We knew they would be contenders.”
Sunday’s race begins shortly after 2:30 p.m. EDT. Weather forecasts call for a 60 percent chance of rain.
“We can‘t affect the weather,” Castroneves said. “If Mother Nature decides to play games with us, it‘s going to be the same for everyone. Right now, our plan is to have a clean race and move to the front.”