Motegi: Team Penske preview

Team Penske Off To Japan, Castroneves Celebrates 100th This weekend, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe will head to the Far East to join the stars of the IndyCar Series at the Japan Indy 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. Not only will the Team be...

Team Penske Off To Japan, Castroneves Celebrates 100th

This weekend, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe will head to the Far East to join the stars of the IndyCar Series at the Japan Indy 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. Not only will the Team be looking for its first win of the 2008 season, they will also be looking to add to the impressive numbers that Castroneves has already amassed in Japan since he first competed there in 1998.

Castroneves will also be looking to extend his lead in the 2008 IndyCar Series Championship point standings, a position he took over after his second-place finish in St. Petersburg. This marks the first time he's led the Championship since heading into the final race of the 2006 season (then-teammate Sam Hornish Jr. went on to win the Championship that year).

In 2006, Castroneves notched the first victory for Penske Racing in Japan after leading a race-high 184 laps. That year, he started from the pole after qualifying was rained out and the starting grid was based on Championship points. Castroneves would go on to win the pole once again in 2007; giving him three starts from the pole (he also won the pole in 2001 when he competed in the CART Series).

In addition, he has earned three top-three finishes and five top-ten finishes in his nine appearances as well as led the most laps in two events and led 17% of all laps run in competition (315).

"Twin Ring Motegi is one of the most unique tracks we run on because each of the turns is different," explains Castroneves. "Normally, downshifting on an oval is a bad thing, but it's the only way to find success on this circuit. Needless to say, this track is quite a challenge for drivers and engineers. I've been lucky enough to start from the pole the past two years and I was able to score my first win there in 2006. I must say that the fence was one of my favorites to climb because it was very sturdy. I hope I'm able to give it another try this season."

Teammate Ryan Briscoe will be looking for his first career IndyCar Series win in Japan as well as his first pole on an oval (his only IndyCar Series pole came at Sonoma in 2005). Two weeks ago in St. Petersburg, the 26 year-old Australian led his first laps behind the wheel of the #6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda when he paced the field for 11 trips around the downtown temporary street course. Hopefully this will give the 2007 ALMS Rookie of the Year the confidence he needs to find Victory Circle this weekend.

"I'm really looking forward to the race in Japan," said Briscoe. "It'll be my second time competing there, and I'm looking forward to the challenge. Twin Ring Motegi is a unique and technical oval, so I think it'll be a lot fun this weekend. The fans are always so excited to see us, which as a competitor, makes it exciting to be there and be able to put on a good show. I'm certainly hoping for a solid finish so I can begin my way up the Championship points ladder."

CASTRONEVES HITS THE CENTURY MARK

This Saturday afternoon, Helio Castroneves will make his historic 100th IndyCar® Series start at the Japan Indy 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. The longest streak among current drivers, Castroneves has accomplished a significant amount in his 100 starts. Here's a glimpse at some of the numbers he's produced since he began racing in the IndyCar Series in 2001:

Two Indianapolis 500 Wins (2001 & 2002)
Two Indianapolis 500 Pole Positions (2007 & 2003)
12 Victories
23 Total Pole Positions*
6 Wins from the Pole Position*
2,496 Laps Led
7 Pole Positions in One Season* (2007)
Six Consecutive Seasons with at Least One Pole Position*
Six Consecutive Seasons with at Least One Victory

* Series Record

"Wow, I can't believe I will be making my hundredth IndyCar Series start this weekend," said Castroneves. "When I look back on it, those races hold so many memories for me -- from the two Indy wins, to my seven poles last season -- I'll tell you, it's been a great ride so far. I'm looking forward to continuing my on-track success and hopefully adding a Championship to my legacy."

-credit: team penske

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Ryan Briscoe , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske