Penske Rides Momentum to Maryland
September 1, 2011 | 1:09 P.M. EST
Team Penske would like to be smiling after a second straight podium sweep this weekend in Baltimore. (Photo: Getty Images)
Team Penske’s three-car IZOD IndyCar Series effort is headed to this weekend’s Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix with momentum and history on their side.
The team notched its first 1-2-3 finish in nearly 17 years last Sunday at Infineon Raceway. Will Power took his fifth victory of the season, most of all IndyCar Series drivers, while Helio Castroneves bagged a season-best runner-up finish. Ryan Briscoe had his fourth podium finish of the year in Sonoma, wrapping up the Penske trifecta.
Although this is the first time the IndyCar Series has competed on the streets of Baltimore, Team Penske has a strong history on street courses. Penske drivers have taken 30 victories on street circuits, with the current driver lineup of Power, Castroneves and Briscoe contributing 12 of those checkered flags.
Team Penske has fared well at new circuits recently as the team earned wins on the two tracks that were new to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010 – Power won at the Sao Paulo street circuit while Castroneves claimed victory at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Baltimore is the second of three new events in 2011. Power produced Penske’s best result earlier this year at New Hampshire – fifth.
Power enters the weekend ranked second in the championship standings, now just 26 points behind leader Dario Franchitti. Power trimmed 21 points of off Franchitti’s lead with a perfect points weekend at Sonoma. Power, the defending series Mario Andretti Road Course Champion, has proven to be tough to beat on the street since joining Team Penske. Power has claimed six street course wins for the team since 2009.
““It looks like Baltimore is a fun circuit to drive,” Power says. “I always enjoy going to a new city and a new track. It is both challenging and rewarding to learn a new race track. The Verizon car has been particularly good on the street courses this year and the team is really working well together. I am sure this is going to be another very competitive weekend – we are ready for it. After last weekend the whole team is ready to have another go at it.”
Castroneves and Briscoe also improved their championship standing with strong weekends at Sonoma. Briscoe improved to fifth place in the championship rankings with his third-place result while Castroneves jumped up two positions to ninth in the standings behind his runner-up result last Sunday.
“It’s always fun to go to a new market and get a chance to meet new fans and race on a new circuit,” Castroneves says. “I’m looking forward to this weekend in Baltimore, especially with the Shell V-Power Pennzoil-Ultra car. We are coming off a great result for Team Penske where we finished 1-2-3 and hopefully we can carry over that momentum into another strong result on the street circuit in Baltimore this weekend.”
“This will be my first time going to Baltimore and I’m excited about this great new venue being a part of this year’s championship,” Briscoe added. “The Team Penske cars have proven to be quick on new venues the last couple of seasons and we are all hoping to ride the momentum of our sweep at Sonoma. The No. 6 car will be sporting Guidepoint Systems colors this weekend and we are looking for a strong result as we represent them in this important market.”
The Baltimore Grand Prix could also be a record-book race for Power. With last Sunday’s win at Sonoma, Power tied Bobby Unser, Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy for fourth on the Team Penske all-time win list with 11 IndyCar victories.
Power and Unser tied for the fastest to 11 wins among Team Penske drivers as both racers reached the milestone in just 37 career starts for the team. Power’s next win for Penske will place him in a tie for third place (12 victories) on the all-time win list with Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Jr.