OF SURFERS PARADISE
SURFERS PARADISE, Australia – Ryan Briscoe became the first Australian driver to win on the Streets of Surfers Paradise, holding off reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon to win the Nikon Indy 300.
Briscoe, who started third in the No. 6 Team Penske car, led nearly two-thirds of the physically demanding 60-lap race. He took the lead for the final time on Lap 43 after the final round of pit stops and held off Dixon as he dealt with traffic in the late stages of the race.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, finished 0.5019 of a second behind the Australian with Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the 2003 Surfers Paradise Champ Car race, finishing third in the No. 17 Team Ethanol car for Rahal Letterman Racing.
Alex Tagliani was fourth in his third start in the No. 36 Conquest Racing car, while Oriol Servia was fifth in the KV Racing Technology Team Australia car.
Pole sitter Will Power, a native of nearby Toowoomba, Australia, led the initial 16 laps, but a mistake in the quick backstretch Esses ended his day when the front-left of the No. 8 Aussie Vineyards -- Team Australia car made contact with the inside concrete barrier.
Firestone Indy Lights driver James Davison is serving as the IndyCar Series analyst for the Indy FM TV announce team. The third-generation driver from Melbourne, Australia finished ninth in the Firestone Indy Lights championship winning a race at Mid-Ohio.
JAMES DAVISON: "It's great to be here, but I'd rather be racing here. Hopefully, I'll get to one day."
NIKON INDY 300 POST-RACE NOTES:
· Ryan Briscoe won for the third time in 2008. He previously won at the Milwaukee Mile and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
· It is Briscoe's first win on the Streets of Surfers Paradise. He previously finished 11th in 2006. He is the first Australian to win at Surfers Paradise.
· This is Team Penske's second win on the Streets of Surfers Paradise. It won here in 1992 with Emerson Fittipaldi.
· Alex Tagliani's fourth-place finish is Conquest Racing's best finish in the IndyCar Series since Laurent Redon finished third at California in March 2002.
NIKON INDY 300 POST-RACE QUOTES:
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, Nikon Indy 300 winner): "What a way to cap off the year and in my home country. It doesn't get better than this. I have to give credit to the guys at Team Penske. My new engineer Eric (Cowdin) did a great job all weekend. I'm just so happy for all the (Australian) fans. It was a great event and we're going to turn up the wick tonight."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished second): "We had a bit bad start and had to shortcut the track and give (Ryan) Briscoe a position back. It was unfortunate because it's so hard to pass on track. The traffic at the end made it exciting. (If there was another lap, could you have passed?): "We were quicker in different spots. He was quicker than me, but we were quicker on the backside. I don't know, if he had made a mistake, we could have got him."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, finished third): "It was a long race with those curbs. They beat the hell out of you. It was nice to get by Dario (Franchitti) in the beginning. From there I picked off good laps. Unfortunately, I got held up by (Alex) Tagliani for good while there, but the guys did a great job in the pits to get us by him, and I did my usual deal at Surfers. I've never been out of the top-five here."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 36 Conquest Racing, finished fourth): "I’m very happy with this result for the Conquest team, Brandon (Fry) and Eric (Zeto) worked so hard on the engineering aspect of the car. They saw potential in Detroit and were very excited with the feedback they received. They were able to take that prepare for this race in Australia. I’m pretty sure that the winter will be much sweeter for this with this good result. Coming here and fighting with Dixon, the champion of the series, Briscoe with Team Penske, it was a great showing for our team. The last pit stop is kind of what cost us a podium. We had a problem with the fuel going in the car and Ryan Hunter-Reay passed us. I think the team finished the season the way we wanted and now we will continue working over the winter.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology-Team Australia finished fifth): "I finished the season with another top-five, which is great, but it was a race where I think KV Racing Technology – Team Australia had the dominant car. KVRT has shown that on road/street courses that we have everything it takes to win. It's just tough racing out there and everything has to go your way. Again, we got very close to a grat race, and actually, I think we had a good race, going from 15th to fifth. We passed a lot of cars on track, which is not very easy these days, so I am very happy with the race. We have the potential to win races together, but we just need to keep working hard."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, finished eighth): "The Formula Dream car was really good today but what got us a top-10 finish was the race strategy. The yellow came out at one point and I was able to pass a few cars and stay upfront. I’m looking forward to my second season with 2009 season with Andretti Green Racing.”
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, finished 22nd): "Obviously, I'm very disappointed. The KV Racing Technology – Team Australia car was very quick. You could see how fast we were at the start of the race. The I backed off to save a lot of fuel, not pushing hard and then got caught out and clipped the inside wall and ricocheted into the next one. It was a really bad mistake, the worst of my life. It's was a very bad day for me and I am very disappointed. I want to thanks all of the KVRT Team Australia for all their hard work this weekend. They really gave me a great car, and it's a shame we could not finish the race."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, finished 21st): "Unfortunately our right rear suspension broke and it’s a real shame. I didn’t hit anything and I think it was just the stress on the part. We worked really hard after struggling the first couple of days and the Team 7-Eleven car was very good for the race. I think we could have finished on the podium so we’re obviously disappointed."
The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens on April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be televised live by VERSUS and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network.