2008 SEASON - HERE WE COME It's been nearly seven months since the checkered flag dropped on the 2007 IndyCar Series season and while it's technically called the "offseason," each and every member of Team Penske has been hard at work. Some of...
2008 SEASON - HERE WE COME
It's been nearly seven months since the checkered flag dropped on the 2007 IndyCar Series season and while it's technically called the "offseason," each and every member of Team Penske has been hard at work.
Some of them were preparing racecars for the 2008 IndyCar Series season, which kicks off this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway; some were getting acquainted with their new Team; and some were...well, dancing and adding another Championship trophy to their mantle.
It's been a unique off-season, with newcomer Ryan Briscoe adjusting to his new surroundings and Helio Castroneves strutting his stuff to become the latest "Dancing with the Stars" Champion; but come this Saturday night, each member of Team Penske will have their sights set on one thing: bringing home Penske Racing's second IndyCar Series Championship and 13th National open-wheel Championship. Castroneves returns to his home track at Homestead-Miami Speedway after recording an astounding six consecutive top-ten finishes at the circuit. While he has led laps in five of those six appearances, he has yet to find Victory Circle in Miami. Rest assured, this is the year the 32 year-old Brazilian is hoping he breaks through to capture that win in front of nearly 100 of his closest friends and family members.
Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe will also have his eyes on the prize in Victory Circle, as he'll be chasing his first-ever IndyCar Series win. The 26 year-old Australian has 19 career IndyCar Series starts under his belt and will definitely be looking to improve upon his previous career-best finish of third.
While neither of the current Team Penske drivers has earned a victory at the 1.5-mile South Florida oval, Team Penske has claimed one win in its history. In 2004, Sam Hornish Jr. took the checkered flag in his debut with the Team; marking the first time in the organization's 40-year history that a driver has ever won in his inaugural run with the Team.
The stage is set for Briscoe to become the second consecutive pilot of the #6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda to win in his debut behind the wheel. A Team Penske win on Saturday night would mark just the sixth time Penske Racing has begun a season with a victory; as well as its 84th oval win and 135th overall victory.
"Team Penske is off to a strong start in 2008," said Tim Cindric, President, Penske Racing. "Helio and Ryan both tested well at Homestead and Sebring and we're confident that this is going to be a great year for us in the IndyCar Series."
MEET THE NEW DATA ENGINEER
Ryan Briscoe will not be the only member of the #6 Team Penske crew making his debut on March 29th. The Team will also be welcoming its newest member, Matt Barnes, who will serve as the Data Engineer for the #6 car during the 2008 season. Barnes joined the Team this past January and will be responsible for collecting and presenting data from the dozens of telemetry sensors during practice and test sessions. In addition, he will also be responsible for calculating fuel mileage for the #6 car during each race.
A native of Denver, CO, Barnes graduated from Colorado State University in 2003 with a Bachelor's Degree in mechanical engineering. From there he went to Dorricott Racing, which competed in the Toyota Atlantics Series, for one season where he built the Team's shocks and served as a data engineer. In 2004, Barnes moved to the Champ Car Series taking a job with Rocketsports, where he again served as a Data Engineer, for two seasons. In 2004, Barnes worked with Alex Tagliani and in 2005 he worked with Timo Glock. In 2006, Barnes came to the IndyCar Series where he took a position as Assistant Race Engineer with Rahal Letterman Racing. Barnes would work with Jeff Simmons in 2006 and Scott Sharp in 2007, before coming to Team Penske in January of 2008.
"I'm really happy to be here at Team Penske," said Barnes. "When I started out in my career, I had always hoped I would end up working for Team Penske. This is one of the best Teams to work with, not just in the IndyCar Series, but in all of racing. To become a better engineer, you have to work with the best, and the engineering staff at Penske has definitely proven themselves among the elite. I am very proud to be a part of an organization as top-flight as Penske Racing. Ryan (Briscoe) has been easy to work with thus far; he's an excellent driver who gives great feedback. Plus, he's around the shop a lot, which is nice because he's so involved and focused. I'm really looking forward to the beginning of the season and I just can't wait to get to Miami."
CASTRONEVES HITS THE COURT
On Thursday of this week, Helio Castroneves will be at Homestead- Miami Speedway for something a little out of the ordinary. He will be on "center court" at the start/finish line to play tennis against the number seven ranked player in the world, David Nalbandian as the two face off in a friendly match on a court constructed on the 1.5-mile oval.
In addition, Castroneves will impart a bit of racing knowledge on the Argentinean native as Nalbandian takes a few laps around the track in the IndyCar Series two-seater.
In the past, Castroneves has had the opportunity to play against Kim Clijsters, Martina Hingis, Chris Evert, Anna Kournikova, Xavier Malisse and Lisa Raymond.