Team Penske Ends Busy Day By Leading Long Beach Practice

April 17, 2009

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Will Power put an exclamation point on an exciting day for Team Penske by posting the fastest lap during the first day of practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday.

Power was clocked at 1:10.5486 around the 11-turn, 1.9-mile street course in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. The car will be driven by Helio Castroneves in Saturday's practice and qualifying sessions and in Sunday's race.

Power will move to a third  Penske Racing entry -- the No. 12 Team Verizon Wireless Dallara/Honda -- on Saturday. Castroneves returned to the team Friday after he was cleared of tax evasion charges by a federal jury in Miami.

Power, who filled in for Castroneves while he focused on the trial, also will drive the No. 12 Verizon Wireless car for Penske Racing at the Indianapolis 500 in May.

"This is a great opportunity for me," Power said. "This team has made me feel very welcome. It's a first-class team. I really love working with these guys, and you never know what could happen in the future."

Ryan Briscoe also showed speed in Friday's practice sessions, recording the ninth-fastest lap of the day -- 1:11.1416 -- in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Briscoe had an unexpected encouter with the tire wall during the final practice, which limited his track time.

"It wasn't the best opening day for the No. 6 Team Penske car," said Briscoe. "I had a little incident with the tire barrier in the second session that set us back a bit; but, I still feel like we've got a good car. We're going to make a few changes tonight and go for it tomorrow. We were second fastest in the first session today, which is really promising. I think we just need to find our rhythm again and we'll be right back up at the front tomorrow."

Power said he's ready for the challenge of moving to the new team and to welcome back Castroneves. Power also expects the No. 12 Team Verizon Wireless car to be up to speed Saturday.

"The Penske guys are really good and will transfer everything over from this car to my new car," Power said. "They're ready for Helio to drive and are in very good shape. I look forward to a good weekend and I'm happy the way things have turned out for Helio."

Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 5:10 p.m. ET. Sunday's race is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be televised live on Versus.