Long Beach


Castroneves and Power Both Lead Team Penske Qualifying


Team Penske came up just short in its pursuit of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach pole position Saturday, but if recent history is any indication, the team will be in prime position for a race victory when the green flag flies.

Teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves both qualified for the Firestone Fast Six, with Power earning a third-place starting position and Castroneves securing a sixth-place starting spot. AJ Allmendinger had the ninth-fastest lap in his group during the first qualifying round and will start 14th on Sunday.

Power, the defending Long Beach race winner, was clocked at 67.3987 around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile circuit in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. Power unfortunately was unable to record his planned fast lap as the checkered flag flew before he could start his third lap in the Firestone Fast Six.

“Yeah, it was good, obviously, to get to the Fast Six, and then just how qualifying is at the moment. We got caught out at the end there,” said Power, who managed to win the race from a 12th-place starting position in 2012 despite qualifying second when he and the other Chevrolet drivers took 10-grid spot penalties after changing out engines. “Tim (Cindric) came over the radio and said that you’re barely going to make one more lap. I thought he meant fuel, not time, but it was time. So I got to the start of my last lap, and it was checkered flag. But still, I’m happy with third.”

The current IZOD IndyCar Series championship leader, Castroneves turned a lap of 67.9698 in the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has now qualified eighth or better in his last four races at Long Beach.
“We made some adjustments to the Auto Club Team Penske Chevrolet between the sessions today and improved quite a lot,” said Castroneves, who won the 2001 Grand Prix of Long Beach from the pole. “It’s a shame because I felt that I had a better car than sixth. I’m not complaining, being top six is great, but I just want to make sure we get everything we can out of the car because it is so competitive here.”

Allmendinger, in his second race driving the No. 2 Penske Automotive Dallara/Chevrolet, had a fast lap of 1:09.2001 in the first qualifying session.

“Tough day for the No. 2 Penske Automotive Chevrolet,” said Allmendinger, who competed at Long Beach three times previously and recorded a top-10 finish in 2005. “We thought we had the car in a pretty good place going into qualifying but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get out of it what I needed. I know that Will won the race last year from 12th so that gives us some hope that we can move up through the field tomorrow and hopefully be competitive.”

Power, who also won the Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2008, will start inside the second row and alongside Takuma Sato and behind polewinner Dario Franchitti.

“It’s definitely a good starting position,” said Power. “I look for a good, solid race again tomorrow in the Verizon car.”

Sunday’s 80-lap Grand Prix of Long Beach is scheduled to begin at 4:45 p.m. ET with NBC Sports Network coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


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


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

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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