Confidence-inspiring win for Briscoe Drama ahead with 11 races in next 14 weeks Public to vote for Firestone “Tire”-rific move of the race Drivers reap post-race awards
1. Confidence-inspiring win for Briscoe: While Ryan Briscoe celebrated his first career victory with Team Penske crew members, Roger Penske stood off to the side in Victory Circle at The Milwaukee Mile smiling. Penske, who hired Briscoe in 2007 to drive the Porsche RS Spyder in ALMS, was happy for the young Aussie. Not only happy that Briscoe scored his first IndyCar Series victory and Team Penske’s first since last June at Texas Motor Speedway, but also genuinely happy for a race car driver who had limited success since debuting in the 2005 season. Three DNFs in the first six races of this season – including a pit lane incident with Danica Patrick a week earlier in the latter stages of the 92nd Indianapolis 500 – didn’t inspire confidence. “I think first he really got the monkey off his back, and we knew how good a race driver he was when he ran for us in the Porsche program last year,” said Penske after Briscoe led Scott Dixon across the line under caution because of a late-race incident involving four cars. “I think from the standpoint of his confidence, there's no question that this is exactly what he needed to break the ice. I think we are going to see a real new race driver come above now as we go forward.” Briscoe broke into the series in ’05 with Target Chip Ganassi Racing as a teammate to Dixon. “We saw him as a good driver; Chip had him earlier on and he got himself into trouble maybe without the experience and the bad accident,” said Penske, referring to a crash at Chicagoland Speedway. “We had him come back, had a good physical with him and he passed everything we needed. There was no issue from his accident and he seemed to be confident. So we said let's try him at Indy last year, and of course he finished fifth. That was a first test, and then we put him into the ALMS series last year, and they won two or three races in that car. “To win that first race at any series is so important, because there's just inches between winning or losing.” Penske has been on both ends over a distinguished career. He sported a cap with “300th win” on the front after the victory – 30 years after Rick Mears delivered his first open-wheel win for Penske also at The Mile – for the landmark victory in all forms of motorsport. “It shows the amount of work that has been done by so many people on the team, so many good drivers, so many good pit crews,” Penske said. “I remember when we were sitting there for a long time trying to get our 100th win. Gil de Ferran gave it to us on a short track. To see Ryan be able to race clean with the 9 car with Dixon, it's a great day. “This is a great thing not for me, but for everybody who has committed to us. There are so many people who have been with us for a long time -- 25, 30 years -- and that makes a difference.”
*** 2. Drama ahead with 11 races in next 14 weeks: IndyCar Series fans might want to set their TiVos. On the cusp of 11 races in the next 14 weekends, the battle at racetracks across the United States and Canada could prove to be fiercer than last summer. Already five drivers have claimed victories in the first six races, including three first-time winners. Graham Rahal, Danica Patrick and Ryan Briscoe have all added their names to the IndyCar Series history book. Scott Dixon, the only repeat winner in 2008, leads the point standings by 28 over winless Helio Castroneves. What happens out of the cockpit could add to the drama. When 26 drivers race hard every weekend, tempers are bound to flare. There have already been incidents that have left drivers pointing fingers and laying blame. In the heat of the summer, there could be more. Remember last year when: Danica Patrick confronted Dan Wheldon on pit lane at Milwaukee; Tomas Scheckter hurled his gloves at Marco Andretti at Texas; Six cars crashed in a single accident at Iowa; Sam Hornish confronted Tony Kanaan on pit lane at Watkins Glen; three Andretti Green cars had trouble on the first lap at Mid-Ohio; opponents accused AGR of team tactics at Infineon. Summer 2008 promises to be full of drama. Stay tuned. *** 3. Public to vote for Firestone “Tire”-rific move of the race: Fans will have the ultimate say in who receives a $10,000 race bonus from Firestone. After each IndyCar Series race, Firestone executives pick three “Tire”-rific Moves of the Race, on-track moves where the drivers had to rely on their Firestone Firehawk tires. Fans can vote for the winner at www.indycar.com. Vitor Meira won the fans’ vote from the race at Indianapolis and was awarded $10,000 during pre-race ceremonies at Milwaukee. From the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225, fans can choose from: Oriol Servia passing the leader on Lap 10 restart to get back on the lead lap. Townsend Bell for advancing 11 spots in the first two laps. Ryan Briscoe for holding off a charging Scott Dixon. In past seasons, Firestone has awarded the bonus to the driver who led the lap that corresponded to the total number of races in IndyCar Series history.
*** 4. Drivers reap post-race awards: Ryan Briscoe reaped the benefits from winning the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225. Briscoe was presented an IndyCar Series timepiece from Ritmo Mundo, the official timepiece of the IndyCar Series. Ritmo Mundo presents a timepiece to the winner of each IndyCar Series event in 2008. He also collected the $2,000 Lincoln Welders Hard Charger Award for being the race leader who started furthest back and $1,000 from Bosch. Marco Andretti earned $10,000 for winning the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award. Oriol Servia collected the $2,000 XTrac Award
*** The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Bombardier Learjet 550k on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast in High Definition at 10 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and .indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Jeld-Wen 100 June 21 at Iowa Speedway. The Milwaukee 100 will be telecast at 1 p.m. EDT June 5. .com