Team Penske Begins Preparation for Belle Isle Return

June 2, 2012

DETROIT, Mich. (June 1, 2012) – Team Penske spent time with an old friend on Friday, running practice laps on the Streets of Belle Isle for the first time since 2008.

The Team’s three drivers all finished in the top-ten of fastest times at the 2.1-mile, 14 turn circuit with Will Power pacing the field. Helio Castroneves tied for the most laps of the day with 23 as Team Penske drivers recorded a total of 62 laps on the day.

Current IZOD IndyCar Championship points leader Power lead all drivers with a fast lap of 72.8355 seconds in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. The three time winner on road/street courses in 2012 enjoyed a productive day getting back in shape for the challenges of a street course after last week’s race on an oval at Indianapolis.

“It was good to be able to get a dry session in today,” said Power. “We still have a few things to work on overnight with the No. 12 Verizon Wireless car. The weather for the race still looks 50/50 so we will take that into consideration, but it was nice to be able to get familiar with the track and overall a good session.”

Indianapolis 500 Pole Winner Ryan Briscoe recorded the third fastest lap of the day at 73.1176 seconds. Briscoe used the practice session as time to get the No. 2 Hitachi car prepared for the challenges of the revamped Belle Isle track.

“It's pretty exciting to be back on a street course in the No.2 Hitachi car,” said Briscoe. “It is a total 180 from Indianapolis, it couldn't be more different. It felt good to get back into a rhythm out there. This track is very physical, but the car felt strong and I am looking forward to a good weekend.”

Castroneves, who won his first career race at Belle Isle in 2000, finished with a best lap of 73.8536 seconds, ranking ninth on the day. The current runner-up in the IZOD IndyCar Championship points standings will chase his second pole at Belle Isle on Saturday in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra car.

“It was a good day for the Shell Pennzoil Ultra crew, they did a good job out there,” said Castroneves. “We were able to run in the dry and now we are going to look into our data to make sure we will be able to go fast tomorrow and continue to get better heading into Sunday.”

Team Penske will look to continue its sweep of pole wins in 2012 after starting the season taking the pole in the first five races. Teammates Briscoe and Power are tied at two for the most pole wins on the season.  Adding to the pressure to perform is the fact that this is a home race for Team Penske.

“Roger (Penske) loves Detroit and wants to showcase Detroit, the city,” said Power. “He just wants the race to go well. Good weather. The way he has presented the track is fantastic. I think it would be great for one of his cars to win. I think he’d love that. Obviously that is what we are here to do and we are going to try our absolute best.”

Practice resumes Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. with qualifying starting at 11:00 a.m. ET.

Live coverage of the Belle Isle race begins Sunday, June 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC-TV.

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