Team Penske Owns Two of the Top Three Spots Friday

August 26, 2011

SONOMA, Calif. (August 26, 2011) – Team Penske got the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend off to a strong start on Friday by claiming two of the top three positions in Friday practice at Infineon Raceway. Will Power owned the second-fastest time on the day while Helio Castroneves wound up third in the rundown. Ryan Briscoe was 16th in practice to round out the Team Penske lineup.

Power, who entered the weekend ranked second in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings, clocked the fastest time for the team Friday afternoon at the 2.3-mile road course in California’s wine country. Power turned a top lap of 1:19.5633 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda just eight days after he topped a test of 20 IndyCars at the Sonoma circuit.

“We are very close to getting the car where we need it, it just comes down to sorting out the fine details,” said Power, who won the pole, led the most laps at won at Infineon Raceway last season. “The team will try to think about the changes we can make tonight and see where we can go tomorrow. We tested here last week and it is for sure a driver’s track. It is all about getting the different sectors to come together. It can be tough to get the balance just right. My weekend here last year was perfect and those are pretty hard to come by, but Verizon Team Penske is definitely aiming for that this weekend.”

The 2008 winner at Sonoma for Team Penske, Castroneves was happy with the setup of the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske car from the moment it hit the track on Friday.

“The Guidepoint Systems car was really good today – we had a great balance on the car right off of the truck,” said Castroneves, who was third on the timing chart with a time of 1:19.6638. “Certainly we still have some work to do, but this is good start to the weekend. Now we just have to do our best to keep the momentum moving forward towards a good qualifying result tomorrow and Sunday in the race.”

Despite finishing 16th in practice times with a lap of 1:20.6946, Briscoe said the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental team knows the direction it needs to take for the remainder of the weekend.

“We feel good about the laps we did today in the Penske Truck Rental car, though the speed doesn’t really show it,” said Briscoe, who finished second at Sonoma in both 2008 and 2009 for Team Penske. “We learned a few things in practice and where we need to go. Now we’ll focus on getting into it more tomorrow to keep improving.”

Power’s lap was second only to Dario Franchitti, who leads the Team Penske racer by 47 points in the standings entering the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. Power recognized that it certainly seems as if both drivers will take the championship battle down to the wire, like last season.

“It seems like he’s always there and, from his standpoint, I guess I’m always there,” said Power. “It’s really going to come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes the rest of the way.”

 IZOD IndyCar Series practice resumes on Saturday morning for Team Penske with pole qualifying slated for 5:35 p.m. ET. Live coverage of Sunday’s 75-lap race will begin at 4 p.m. ET on VERSUS.