Penske Racing confirms Will Power UPDATE Ryan Briscoe received an opportunity in 2007 with Penske Racing that he says changed his professional life. He's advised fellow Australian and new teammate Will Power to make the most of his most recent motorsports opportunity.
Power, 27, a native of Toowoomba, Australia, was introduced during a news conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the driver of the No. 3 Team Penske car for preseason testing sessions. The balance of the year's driving responsibilities for the No. 3 car, including the IndyCar Series season-opening race at St. Petersburg on April 5, will depend on the timing and outcome of Helio Castroneves' pending federal court case.
"The way I look at it, we have three drivers at Team Penske," Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said. "We'll determine who drives which one of those two cars depending on how everything sorts out. We remain hopeful that Helio's situation will have a positive outcome and the team is fully behind him. While Helio prepares for his court case, we're excited to welcome Will Power to the team.
"The most important thing for us in 2009 -- not only is (Castroneves) our driver, but our friend -- is to do everything we can to support Helio going forward with what he's going through. But under these circumstances, our job is to make sure that in racing you're as prepared as you can possibly be. That's what Roger (Penske) has always set a precedence for; it's what our organization is known for, is preparation. We need to be sure in 2009 that we're ready to go and we're ready to win as many races as we can for not only our sponsors and for our organization but also all those that work for us.
"Will has already proven that he's a terrific racer and we think he's going to be a good fit with Team Penske."
Power recorded two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the Aussie Vineyards - Team Australia car for KV Racing Technology during his initial IndyCar Series season. He also won on the streets of Long Beach in Champ Car's final race and started from the pole in the exhibition race on the streets of Surfers Paradise, Australia, in late October. That race was won by Briscoe.
Power produced strong performances in the British F3 and World Series by Renault championships before moving to the United States in 2005 to compete in the Champ Car World Series. He captured the series Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 and claimed three wins and six pole positions in two-plus seasons.
"I'm really looking forward to helping these guys out for the 2009 season," Power said. "I know there were a handful of drivers in the mix. I feel very privileged that they chose me. I'm really going to give this 100 percent. No matter what the outcome is, I'm very happy to be here."
Briscoe joined Penske Racing's American Le Mans Series team for the 2007 and was selected to drive the No. 6 Team Penske car in the IndyCar Series, replacing Sam Hornish Jr. who moved to stock cars. It was the second go-round in the series for Briscoe, and he responded with two regular-season victories and three pole starts.
"We're excited to welcome Will on board," the recently-engaged Briscoe said. "More than anything it's a huge opportunity for him. I know the feeling, so I'm excited for him. Team Penske focuses on teamwork a lot. It's something Helio and I have that works really well. I know he's extremely fast and I think we'll get on well together. He'll help at preseason testing and we'll just have to wait and see what Helio's outcome is. We've all got our fingers crossed that everything comes out OK."
Castroneves, whose federal trial on tax evasion charges begins March 2, was upbeat during the news conference.
"It's a little bit strange to be in this situation, but it's good to have Roger Penske and the team behind me," he said.
Castroneves, 33, has won 14 IndyCar Series races for Penske since 2001, including the Indianapolis 500 in 2001 and '02. He finished second by 17 points to Scott Dixon in the 2008 championship.
"We support Helio Castroneves and Penske Racing's decision to allow Helio to focus on his upcoming court case," said Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division of the sanctioning Indy Racing League. "Helio has played a significant role in the continued growth of the IndyCar Series on and off the racetrack. He is a true star in every sense of the word. His two Indy 500 titles and 14 career IndyCar Series wins, combined with his infectious personality and widespread popularity, have made him a real fan favorite and we appreciate all he has done to promote the League.
"Few of us will forget his late-season charge in 2008 on eventual series champion Scott Dixon as he fell just short of his first IndyCar Series championship in Chicago after a dramatic last to first run. We wish Helio and Team Penske the best during this process and hope to see Helio competing for the championship in the near future." IndyCar.com01/13/09 Penske Racing announced today that driver Will Power will join the Team Penske IndyCar Series program in preparation for the 2009 racing season.
Power, 27, is coming off an impressive rookie season in the IndyCar Series where he established himself as one of open-wheel racing’s rising stars. The native of Toowoomba, Australia will pilot the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda during preseason test sessions. The balance of the year's driving responsibilities for the No. 3 car, including the IndyCar Series season-opening race at St. Petersburg on April 5, will depend on the timing and outcome of Helio Castroneves’ pending court case.
“We remain hopeful that Helio’s situation will have a positive outcome and the team is fully behind him,” said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing, “While Helio prepares for his court case, we’re excited to welcome Will Power to the team. Will has already proven that he’s a terrific racer and we think he’s going to be a good fit with Team Penske.” zzzz
Power will work closely with fellow Aussie driver Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, as the team contends for the 2009 IndyCar Series championship.
“It is a tremendous opportunity for me to join one of the best teams in all of racing,” said Power. “I'm looking forward to the start of the season and assisting Team Penske in its preparation for 2009."
Beginning his rise up the open-wheel ranks by emerging as one of Australia’s top young talents, Power also excelled in European competition. He produced strong performances in the British F3 and World Series by Renault championships before moving to the United States in 2005 to compete in the Champ Car World Series. He captured the series Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 2006 and claimed three wins and six pole positions in two plus seasons in Champ Car. In 2008, Power won on the streets of Long Beach in Champ Car’s final race, and after joining the IndyCar Series, he earned his first series pole in front of his home crowd at Surfers Paradise, Australia.