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DATE News (chronologically)
03/24/09
irl
Team Penske tops at both preseason Open Tests
After finishing second and fifth in the IndyCar Series championship last season, Team Penske went to work in the offseason to make itself better. If the results of the two preseason Open Tests are an accurate indication, Team Penske will be the team to beat in 2009.

Ryan Briscoe, who drove the No. 6 car to two victories last season and fifth place overall, topped preseason preparations on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February. The test, with 21 cars on track, was the only tune-up open to all cars to prepare for the 10 ovals on the schedule.

Briscoe turned in the third-quickest lap at the Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park that teams used to prepare for the seven road/street course races on the schedule, yielding the top spot to teammate Will Power.

“It was a very successful two days of testing,” Briscoe said. “Both of our Team Penske cars were fast over both days, and we got a chance to work on a lot of setup changes. We’re looking forward to St. Petersburg. It’s obviously a different kind of track and a different style of driving with the bumps of the street circuit, but hopefully some of what we learned here over the last few days will carry over.”

Power, who was seventh on the oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway, topped the test at Barber by three-tenths of a second over Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti.

“I haven’t spent much time with this team, so I spent the two days gelling with my engineer,” said Power, who drove the No. 3 Team Penske entry. “We’re really working well together now. We found some good things in the car, and we found a car that suits me. We’re happy and we’ll be pretty confident going into St. Pete.”

While the test results were promising, team officials know that results only start to count once the green flag drops on the season-opening race April 5 at St. Petersburg.

“The preseason Open Tests have provided us a great opportunity to go through quite a few setup changes as well as get Will better acclimated to our team,” team president Tim Cindric said. “I appreciate the way our team has responded under difficult circumstances as our test times have demonstrated that we have continued to make the cars better and we are looking forward to having the chance to achieve similar results when it really counts.”

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