Second-Place Run at Sonoma Gives Briscoe Series Lead

August 23, 2009

SONOMA, Calif. - Another solid second-place finish for Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe led to another championship lead change in the IndyCar Series on Sunday.

Briscoe finished second for the seventh time this season and recaptured the lead in the IndyCar Series championship standings with just three races remaining in the 2009 season. It marked the 13th lead change in 14 series races this season.

After starting second in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, Briscoe finished just .2488-of-a-second behind winner Dario Franchitti in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, but the result put Briscoe four points ahead of Franchitti in the standings. Just three races remain - next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, Sept. 19 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan and Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Briscoe's teammate, Helio Castroneves, ran third behind Briscoe for much of the race, before contact with the car driven by Tony Kanaan dashed any hopes for victory. Following the wheel-to-wheel contact with Kanaan, the suspension broke on the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda on the 66th lap, forcing Castroneves off track. He finished 18th in the final running order.

Briscoe said he just couldn't find a place to pass Franchitti, who led all 75 laps.

"I think if I would have had clean air I would have been quicker than Dario," Briscoe said. "With dirty air, there wasn't much I could do. Unfortunately, it is a really tough track to pass on if the guy in front of you doesn't make mistakes. I don't think that Dario made one today, but congratulations to him and his team."

Briscoe thought he might be able to gain an edge on Franchitti by saving fuel, but soon discovered that Franchitti was also in fuel conservation mode.

"I was pretty conservative on the fuel during that first stint and I actually thought I was going to be able to get him by going a lap further," Briscoe said. "I was surprised to see that he went a lap further than me. That's something we need to work on for this track -- fuel mileage -- but the Team Penske car was pretty good today."

Despite the result, Castroneves remains fourth in the standings and mathematically still in championship contention, 126 points behind Briscoe.

"All of a sudden, the right front suspension collapsed going into Turn 2 and we went off the track," Castroneves said. "We were very lucky that there wasn't more damage. It's really a shame because the Team Penske car was great. Now we just have to move on to Chicago. The good news is that Ryan was able to retake the lead in the championship."

Penske Racing driver Will Power, who was injured Saturday in an accident during practice, will remain in Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries, which include compression fractures of his L2 and L4 vertebrae and a concussion.

Power is expected to remain in the hospital for a few more days before being transported to Indianapolis, where he will undergo further examination by IndyCar Series orthopedic specialist, Dr. Terry Trammell. Power is also being fitted for a custom back brace.

The series resumes Saturday night at Chicagoland Speedway in the Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300.

"We're leading the championship," Briscoe said, "Hopefully we can hang onto it."