Thursday, 20 March 2008 00:31
Team Penske 2008 season preview : -
There wasn't a lot of quiet at Team Penske's IndyCar Series shop this off-season. When team members weren't busy cheering on two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves as he competed on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," they were helping newcomer Ryan Briscoe get acclimated to the team.
The team hopes the pairing of the energetic and outgoing Castroneves with the affable Briscoe translates into the team's second IndyCar Series championship in 2008.
"The 2008 IndyCar Series season is starting with considerable momentum provided by the unification of the two open-wheel series," said team owner Roger Penske. "We're confident at Team Penske that we are poised for success this year with the combination of a strong crew, veteran driver Helio Castroneves and our new IndyCar Series team member, Ryan Briscoe."
Castroneves, who enters his seventh full season in the IndyCar Series, won a record seven poles last year, but that translated into a lone victory on the streets of St. Petersburg.
"I want to win the championship and Indy a third time," Castroneves said about his goals for 2008. "We've been close so many times, especially last year – we didn't have to pit but the rain came.
"I think it's being in the right place at the right time. Last year, unfortunately we were in the wrong place a lot. You can't predict that. We've got to continue working hard. One thing I know, you have to be there. Because one day the door will open and hopefully it will open this year.
Briscoe returns to full-time competition in the IndyCar Series for the first time since 2005. Last year, his only start came in the Indianapolis 500 where he finished fifth driving for Luczo Dragon Racing. He also raced for Team Penske's American Le Mans Series team.
"It's an exciting time for me," Briscoe said, who paced the recent Open Test at Sebring International Raceway. "So far, my acclimatization with Team Penske has been great. We've had a couple of really good tests, working really good with my engineer, Tom German, and the mechanics and everyone. I'm feeling quite comfortable within the team. I'm feeling as those there's a lot of motivation from everyone. I'm going to go out there and do my best, and I really just want to be on a road of improvement, because I know I've still got a lot to learn with Indy-car racing."
Penske Racing Capsule;
Car Numbers: 3 (Castroneves); 6 (Briscoe)
Drivers: Ryan Briscoe, 26, Sydney, Australia; Helio Castroneves, 32, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Team Manager: Tom Wurtz
General Manager: Clive Howell
Race Engineers: Ron Ruzewski (3), Tom German (6)
Chief Mechanics: Rick Rinaman (3), Matt Jonsson (6)
Top 5: 14
Top 10: 23
Laps Led: 735
Best Start: 1st (St. Petersburg, Motegi, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio, Belle Isle)
Best Finish: 1st (St. Petersburg, Texas)
Running at Finish: 26