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Construction on Belle Isle for Grand Prix begins today

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With just 52 days remaining before the return of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, work on the infrastructure and facilities at the 2.1-mile Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit has officially begun.

Several dozen workers were on the island today erecting grandstands and moving massive concrete barriers into place with heavy equipment. Bike riders and joggers navigated around the construction areas.

The event, which was last held on Belle Isle in 2008, will run June 1-3 and will feature the stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, the Pirelli World Challenge Series and the Firestone Indy Lights Series. The race will be shown on ABC (Channel 7 in Detroit) at 3:30 p.m. June 3.

“It’s quite an experience to watch a vibrant island park like Belle Isle turn into a first-class racing venue before our eyes,” said Bud Denker, event chairman for the race. “The island will be literally changing every day as we prepare for the return of the Grand Prix to the Motor City.”

Back in 2008, British driver Justin Wilson won the race when Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves was penalized for blocking tactics.

The event was cancelled in 2009 because of the chronic state of Detroit’s economy. It has been revived through the joint efforts of the city of Detroit, Birmingham motorsports legend Roger Penske, the IndyCar Series and local auto manufacturers and sponsors.

[Source:Freep.com]

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Briscoe’s Runner-Up Finish Leads Team Penske at Long Beach

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 17, 2011) – Ryan Briscoe led Team Penske on his own personal charge back into the IZOD IndyCar Series championship race Sunday with a runner-up finish in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Briscoe brought the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda home in second place behind winner Mike Conway, as he helped wash away the memories of two disappointing results to start the 2011 season.

“This feels so good,” said Briscoe, who entered the race weekend ranked 23rd in the series standings and wound up seventh in the championship after the runner-up result. “For a while I thought we were going to get the win today, but Conway was lightning fast. I really had nothing for him at the end. It’s an amazing day and an exciting weekend.”

While Briscoe celebrated his best result of the young season, his teammates recovered from an unfortunate accident. Will Power and Helio Castroneves collided on a restart late in the race, after both drivers spent most of the afternoon running inside the top-five. Power, who won his third consecutive pole to start the season on Saturday, fell back in the field after suffering contact from Castroneves on a lap 66 double-file restart. Power rallied in the closing laps to finish 10th. Though he fell to second in the championship, Power only trails Dario Franchitti by seven points in the early race for the IZOD IndyCar Series crown.

“The Verizon car was strong today,” said Power, who led 29 laps in the race. “It’s definitely not the finish we wanted. I’m not really sure what happened on the restart. I got hit from behind by Helio (Castroneves) but sometimes that’s what happens in racing – especially close racing like this with the double-file restarts. We drove back to finish 10th and made the most of it. It wasn’t a great day for points, but Verizon Team Penske will keep working hard and move forward.”

Castroneves finished 12th in the No. 3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske machine after recovering from the dustup in Turn 1. With Sunday’s result, Castroneves fell to 12th in the point standings.

“First of all, the Auto Club Team Penske crew did a great job today,” said Castroneves. “To be running inside the top-five for most of the race was just amazing. As far as the restart, I’m really not sure what to say. I feel terrible for Will (Power). I wasn’t even trying to pass, but we just made contact. Will is my teammate, and of course you just can’t take each other out. It’s just very unfortunate and I have to say I’m sorry to the team. Good job to Ryan, he deserved at least a second-place finish today. And congratulations to (Mike) Conway on the win.”

Briscoe, who was involved in accidents that weren’t his fault in the first two races of the season, was fastest in practice at Long Beach in Friday and Saturday, but struggled in qualifying and started 12th in Sunday’s race. He took the lead after his race strategist, Roger Penske, brought him to the pits before a full-course caution slowed the field.
“Another great call by Roger Penske,” said Briscoe, who led a race-high 35 laps on Sunday. “It just felt good to get out and lead some laps and be back in contention today. We got a good result and are back on the podium. It’s a huge confidence boost for myself and all of the crew guys.”

The IZOD IndyCar Series resumes May 1 with the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The event represents the last of four consecutive road/street course races to start the season before activities begin surrounding the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 in May.

[Source: PenskeRacing]

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General

Power Claims Second in IZOD IndyCar Series Opener

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 27, 2011) – Verizon Team Penske’s Will Power battled back from a difficult start, that also affected his teammates, to finish second Sunday in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – the 2011 season opener for the IZOD IndyCar Series.

The defending champion at the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg street circuit, Power started from the pole position but was shuffled back during a mishap on an early restart during the 100-lap race. He fell back to seventh place but battled back to finish second behind Dario Franchitti.

Meanwhile, Team Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves also saw their cars damaged due to contact at the start of the race, but after making repairs, both drivers returned to action and finished in 18th and 20th place, respectively.

Power’s effort was a solid start to the 2011 season for the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda team, which finished a close second to Franchitti in last season’s championship standings. “I’m just glad to get good points in the first race,” said Power, who won the pole Saturday and produced a victory from the pole last season at St. Pete. After his car was hit from behind early in the race, Power fell back in the field but he recovered to post his ninth podium result in his last 10 road or street course races.

“It was a very interesting start today,” added Power, the series’ defending Mario Andretti Road Course champion. “Dario Franchitti got me fair and square at the beginning. When we had all of the restarts after caution periods, we got hit hard and (the car) went into neutral. We dropped to seventh position but were able to get back up to second again. I was in survival mode after getting hit. I struggled a lot on the black (Firestone tires) today and I was trying to hold (Tony) Kanaan off as he was hounding on me from behind.  It was a good start to the season for Verizon Team Penske.”

Team Penske’s other two entries battled hard to recover from early damage suffered in a first-lap incident that claimed several cars. Briscoe’s No. 6 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Honda suffered suspension damage and lost a portion of its front wing early in the race, and the resulting repairs left Briscoe five laps down to the race leaders. He made up several spots on track before taking the checkered flag in 18th place.

“It was a frustrating day today for the IZOD Team Penske team,” said Briscoe. “It’s a shame because we had one of the quickest cars on the track. The guys made some adjustments to the car last night, and it paid off because we were fastest in the morning warm-up session. Overall, it’s a shame because IZOD has come on board this year, and I wish we could’ve had a better result for them today. It’s not the finish we wanted today but we’ll come back ready to win some races.”

Castroneves’ No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske Dallara/Honda was also involved in the melee in the first turn. The team was forced to the garage area to repair the front left suspension before Castroneves returned to the track 15 laps behind. The three-time Indianapolis 500 champion also fought back to salvage a top-20 result.

“Our Guidepoint Systems car was fast today after the first-lap incident – you could see it in our lap times,” Castroneves said.”The guys did an incredible job putting the car back together after the left front suspension damage. The Team Penske guys were amazing. As far as the incident, I’ll have to look and see what happened, but it seems like I locked up the rear on the car. It’s very disappointing, but we never gave up and we know we’ll have better results next race.”

The IZOD IndyCar Series resumes April 9 at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala. Team Penske returns as defending champion of the race as Castroneves won in the inaugural event at the challenging road course in 2010.

[Source: Penskeracing.com]

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Team Penske Turns First Laps of 2011 at Barber Test

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LEEDS, Ala. (March 1, 2011) – Team Penske took to the track at Barber Motorsports Park for the first laps of the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series season on Tuesday. Drivers Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Will Power all spent considerable time on the track getting re-acquainted with their cars, engineers and crews.

For the drivers it was a welcome opportunity to get back in the cockpit and on to the track. For the engineers it was a chance to try a few of the ideas they were working on in the off-season and for the mechanics it was an opportunity to get back into the flow of a day at the race track.

The day was smooth and productive for all three crews and drivers. There were no official timed laps, but all of the teams were pleased with the work they accomplished.

“It felt great to be back in the car,” said Helio Castroneves. “Today was mostly about getting back in to a groove and finding our rhythm. We spent the first part of the day just getting comfortable and then in the afternoon we were actually able to test a few things out on the track. Overall, it was a very productive day and I certainly look forward to coming back for the open test in a couple of weeks.”

“I was happy to be back in an IndyCar, it has been a long time away from the car for all of us,” said Ryan Briscoe. “We spent the morning just kind of knocking the rust off. This afternoon we were able to get into our test program and it was a productive afternoon. We are already looking ahead to the open test and we are excited to get the season underway.”

“We had a great day on track, it felt like I had not been out the car at all and was almost surprised at how I immediately felt comfortable,” said Will Power. “I can’t wait to come back for the open test and then get down to business in what is sure to be one of the most competitive seasons in IndyCar history.”

Team Penske will next take the track at the open test March 14 -15 at Barber Motorsports Park.

[Source: Penskeracing.com]

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Guidepoint Systems to Sponsor Team Penske IndyCars

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MOORESVILLE, N.C. (February 2, 2011) – Penske Racing announced today that Guidepoint Systems has joined Team Penske beginning with the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Guidepoint Systems, an industry-leading vehicle tracking service, will serve as both a primary and associate sponsor of the team’s No. 3 and No. 6 IndyCar entries.

Guidepoint will sponsor the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Dallara/Honda driven by three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves at five races this season and Ryan Briscoe in the No. 6 Guidepoint Systems machine at two events in 2011.

Based in Madison Heights, Mich., Guidepoint Systems deliver a variety of services to vehicle owners and fleet managers. GuidePoint is available through more than 2,500 new and pre-owned dealerships, including Penske Automotive Group dealerships, nationwide.

“We look forward to building this relationship with Guidepoint Systems and we are excited to welcome another new sponsor to the IZOD IndyCar Series,” said Roger Penske. “Guidepoint is a key partner for us in our automotive business and we will continue to grow with them both on and off the race track with Team Penske.”

In addition to serving as a primary sponsor for select events this season, Guidepoint Systems will also be a full-season associate sponsor on the No. 3 Team Penske IndyCar under the terms of the multi-year agreement with Penske Racing.

“It is a great opportunity to partner with Penske Racing to showcase the safety, security, convenience and pin-point accuracy of Guidepoint Systems location-based services,” said Rand Mueller, founder and CEO of Guidepoint. “Team Penske is a proven winner and we look forward to working with Helio, Ryan and the entire team beginning this season.”
Guidepoint is a complete system that integrates global positioning satellites (GPS), advanced wireless technology, the Internet and 24/7/365 response centers to provide stolen vehicle recovery, driver safety & convenience, vehicle tracking and fleet management services.

Sold through more than 2,500 new and pre-owned dealerships nationwide, Guidepoint integrates GPS, advanced wireless technology, the Web and 24/7/365 response centers to deliver a variety of services to vehicle owners and fleet managers. Rated the No. 1 stolen-vehicle tracking solution in 2007 by international research firm Frost & Sullivan, Guidepoint also offers a variety of driver safety, convenience, fleet management and vehicle tracking services. Visit www.guidepointsystems.com or call 1-877-GPS-FIND.
Penske Racing is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Competing in a variety of disciplines, cars owned and prepared by Penske Racing have produced 332 major race wins, 396 pole positions and 23 National Championships. The team has also earned 15 Indianapolis 500 victories. For more information about Penske Racing, please visit www.penskeracing.com.

[Source: penskeracing.com]

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INDYCAR: Double-Wide Oval Restarts New For 2011

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One of the loudest complaints from Indy car fans during the past few years has been the boring, strung-out, follow-the-leader restarts on oval tracks.

But that’s all going to change in 2011.

Starting with this year’s Indianapolis 500, two abreast restarts (aka NASCAR style) will be in vogue for the first time since CART tried it the late ‘90s.

“Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi say it works with NASCAR and creates better racing and that’s what we’re supposed to be about,” said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard.

“I believe this is a very positive move that Brian (Barnhart, chief steward) is making and as it’s a lame duck year for the car and we promised our fans better competition and value, so this fits.”

Bernard intends to discuss the new restarts with the drivers and owners Tuesday prior to his State of Union press conference but his mind was pretty much made up after hearing from the fans for the past 10 months.
The drivers have been hearing rumblings about the new restarts for a couple months and many of them were against it.

“It’s going to be pretty wild, that’s for sure,” said Will Power, who captured the most victories (five) and finished runner-up in the IZOD IndyCar championship.

In addition, the restart zone on ovals will be moved up closer to the start/finish line instead of between Turns 3 and 4, another move to get the field more bunched up.

Road courses and street circuits will remain single-file restarts.

Another rule change, which should be positive with the competitors, is that pit selections will now be based on qualifying from the previous race instead of entrant points.

The way it’s been structured, the teams on top of the point standings were always guaranteed the last spot at pit out – a huge advantage.

Bernard is also expected to announce that the Edmonton race, dropped from the schedule because of conflicts with the city and the promoter, is back on for July 24th.

Octane Motorsports Events took over the financially-strapped but well attended event and originally balked at paying for circuit changes. The race was cancelled in early November but an outcry from city merchants and local race fans prompted a change of heart from the city council.

[Source: Auto Racing]

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Auto Club Builds On Partnership With Penske In NASCAR Sprint Cup, IndyCar Teams

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Penske Racing and the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) will take their partnership to a new level beginning in 2011.The two organizations today announced a multi-year extension of their sponsorship agreement as the Automobile Club of Southern California and its affiliated clubs will sponsor Penske Racing teams competing in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the IZOD IndyCar Series.

AAA will sponsor the No. 22 Dodge driven by 2004 Cup Series champion Kurt Busch in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In addition, AAA will also extend its support to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2011 as a sponsor of the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda piloted by three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves.

“We are excited to broaden our racing affiliation with the Penske organization,” said Thomas V. McKernan, Auto Club CEO. “The extension of our agreement is just one part of our ongoing relationship with Penske which includes a truck rental member discount program and Penske auto dealerships in our vehicle purchasing program. Since starting with Penske Racing in 2008, we’ve experienced good results through our activation programs. Expanding our relationship with the Penske Racing organization to include its outstanding IndyCar team allows us to reach a distinct, diverse fan demographic, and we expect great results there, too.”

Under the new agreement, the Auto Club will be displayed as primary sponsor for the No. 22 Dodge driven by Busch in the March 27 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch will also drive the AAA Dodge at the June 5 race at Kansas Speedway and the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 6 as part of the Chase. AAA will also be a co-primary sponsor at two other events during the 2011 season – April 17 at Talladega Superspeedway and July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – and will serve as a major associate sponsor for the balance of the season on the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge.

“The Auto Club has been a great partner with Penske Racing and I’m looking forward to welcoming them to the No. 22 Dodge team next season,” said Busch. “We will work hard to make sure the Auto Club car will be running and finishing at the front.”

Castroneves will compete in the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske IndyCar at the Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 17. Castroneves will also drive the No. 3 AAA Team Penske machine at the doubleheader event at Texas Motor Speedway on June 17.

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to drive the AAA car and represent the Auto Club,” said Castroneves. “We’ve won at both Long Beach and Texas in the past so hopefully we can welcome AAA to the team and the series with some victories in 2011.”

The Auto Club’s sponsorship of the Team Penske IndyCar program marks another milestone in the Club’s long racing heritage. The Auto Club was one of the first organizations to sanction open-wheel automobile races in Southern California over a century ago, and AAA was the first organization to sanction the Indianapolis 500.

“We are pleased to extend our agreement with the Auto Club and build on our relationship,” said Roger Penske. “The Auto Club and AAA have been longtime partners with Penske Truck Rental and they have been a terrific sponsor on our NASCAR teams. We look forward to adding to the relationship beginning next season with the No. 22 team and in the IZOD IndyCar Series.”

The enhanced agreement with Penske Racing allows the Auto Club and its affiliated clubs to not only better serve its members, but will also provide an effective, highly-visible additional platform to promote its insurance products. The Auto Club’s sponsorship has also included member and employee benefits and discounts and community outreach.

[Source: PaddockTalk Perspective]

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Penske Unveil 2011 Lineup

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The Shell Oil Company and the Penske Corporation have unveiled their IZOD IndyCar Series car line-up for the 2011 season. An agreement between the two companies was signed back in April, and last night it was announced that we will see the #3 car of Helio Castroneves race with Shell V-Power Pennzoil branding at the 2011 Indianapolis 500. As part of the deal the Brazilian’s car will have a new livery of red, yellow and white to represent the colours of the Shell Oil Company.

Castroneves, who has won the Indy 500 three times with Penske Racing, said:

“I am very excited to be working with Shell and Pennzoil this season and I’m proud to have the opportunity to drive the beautiful Shell V-Power-Pennzoil Ultra car in the 2011 Indianapolis 500 representing the No. 1 premium gasoline and Pennzoil’s most advanced motor oil in the U.S. Shell and Pennzoil have such a great history in IndyCar racing and they have certainly had some special moments with Penske Racing at the Indy 500. I hope we can create a little bit more history together this May at Indianapolis!”

The link-up will see Shell and Pennzoil as the official fuel and motor oil supplier to the Penske Corporation, and from next year onwards will see the two working together to offer insights into motor oil and fuel technology.

Outside of IndyCar, Penske’s Kurt Busch will have Shell Pennzoil branding on his #22 car throughout the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Castroneves who grabbed pole at last year’s Indianapolis 500 but finished 9th will be looking for a record equalling fourth Indianapolis 500 victory next May.

[Source: The Checkered Flag]

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