They don’t come much nicer or faster than Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe.
Nice in the fact that he is polite and courteous, always ready to talk about racing …
Fast — well, fast enough to have won eight times in IndyCar and to have captured the pole for the Indianapolis 500 in 2012 and qualify second in 2009.
Briscoe, 32, who is driving the No. 8 Dallara/Chevrolet this year for Chip Ganassi Racing, was in the Detroit area Tuesday to pump the start of the IndyCar season at St. Petersburg, Fla., this weekend and to visit Windsor and promote ticket sales to the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix doubleheader on May 30-June 1.
Briscoe also found the time to race against Channel 7 sports reporter Brad Galli at Kart2Kart in Sterling Heights, taking the host of “7 Sports Cave" to school on the technically challenging indoor track.
Briscoe, born and raised in Sydney, Australia, can’t wait for the green flag at St. Pete and the twin bill in summer on Belle Isle.
“I’m serious about winning a championship," said Briscoe, whose best IndyCar Series points finish was third in 2009, when he was driving for Team Penske. “I’m here to run for the championship and nothing less."
Briscoe and Penske parted ways in 2012. But he has nothing but admiration for team owner Roger Penske, for whom he raced in sports cars in 2007 and who gave him another shot in IndyCar the following year.
Ironically, Briscoe began his IndyCar career with Ganassi in 2005 but had a monumental wreck at Chicagoland during the season, breaking his back in several places and both clavicles and losing his ride for 2006.
“They are different (people), but I think from a driver’s standpoint, they are very similar," said Briscoe of his former boss and current car owner, Chip Ganassi. “They have the same goals and objectives and know the basics of what you need to get there."
Briscoe, who lives in Mooresville, N.C., wants to put on a good show, of course, at Detroit in front of Penske and fans.
“I’ve yet to win here (at Belle Isle)," said Briscoe, whose wife is ESPN motorsports host Nicole Briscoe. “It takes a unique set-up to win at Belle Isle. It’s a challenging track. The last couple corners are high speed, smooth. The first two corners are high speed, smooth. And then you go into the Casino area where it is heavy braking and bumpy … and really difficult to hit your marks."
Briscoe believes the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series will be ultra competitive — particularly with former CART champion, F1 winner and NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya joining Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Will Power at the organization this season.
“I expect him to do well and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t," said Briscoe of Montoya, winner of the Indy 500 in 2000 for Ganassi. “He’s been one of my heroes all my life, so it would be disappointing if he wasn’t strong. But I think he’ll be aggressive and I hope I don’t hate him at the end of the year." Detroit Free Press