Team Penske Pit Notes
February 19, 2009
BRISCOE AND POWER LOOK TO SPRING TRAINING
It's been nearly four months since the final checkered flag dropped on the 2008 season and no one is more anxious to get back behind the wheel than Team Penske drivers Ryan Briscoe and Will Power. The 2009 IndyCar Series season is almost upon us, and the pair of Australian drivers are certainly looking forward to getting back out on the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week.
For Briscoe, 2009 will mark his second season with Team Penske, as he looks to continue the success he found in 2008 and build upon the momentum he established at the end of the season. Not only did the 27-year-old earn his first IndyCar Series victory at Milwaukee, but he also earned two more wins (Mid- Ohio and the non-points race at Surfers Paradise) and three poles during the course of the year. In the final seven events of the season (including the nonpoints exhibition at Surfers Paradise), Briscoe earned two poles and started in the top-five each time; he also earned seven top-ten finishes including two wins and four top-three finishes. With his win in Australia, Briscoe rounded out his open-wheel resume by winning on each type of IndyCar Series track in 2008 -- an oval, a permanent road course and a temporary street circuit.
"I'm really pumped up to get the season started," said Briscoe. "It's been a long off-season, but the upside is that it's given us a great opportunity to spend time in the race shop to talk about how we can improve and be stronger in 2009. We haven't been in the car since Australia and everyone is excited to get out there. We don't get to do a lot of testing throughout the year, so I think we'll really be looking to take advantage of the track time in Miami and at the Barber test so we're ready to go racing when the season starts in St. Petersburg. I'm also looking forward to working with my new race engineer, Eric Cowdin. Our first event together was last October in Australia, so we've set the bar pretty high already. So far we've worked very well with one another and I'm anxious to see what the 2009 season has in store for us."
Briscoe will be joined by a new face to Team Penske at the pre-season tests as fellow Australian, Will Power, will get behind the wheel of the #3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda for the first time on an oval. Power will step in for two-time Indianapolis 500 Winner Helio Castroneves, who has driven for the Team for nine seasons capturing 18 wins and 30 poles, should Castroneves be unavailable to drive, when the 2009 IndyCar Series season begins on April 5th.
"I'm really looking forward to getting in the car next week," said Power. "It's a tremendous opportunity for me to be able to drive for such an accomplished organization as Team Penske. I'm especially excited to test on ovals in the Team Penske car. I struggled on the ovals last year and I'm looking forward to getting some practice in as well as working with my new crew. This Team has definitely proven that they know how to find success on all types of circuits and I can't wait to work with them."
BRISCOE TRAINS IN ITALY
Last Friday Ryan Briscoe returned to his home in North Carolina after spending ten days at Formula Medicine in Viareggio, Italy. The facility, led by Dr. Riccardo Ceccarelli, was founded to provide racecar drivers with a resource to learn about and implement successful training regimens into their lives.
Briscoe spent a significant amount of time at the facility in the early stages of his career, but this trip was the first time he'd been back since moving to the United States in 2005. Fitness has always been a large part of Briscoe's life, as he trains nearly every day.
"I put a great deal of importance on being fit," explains Briscoe. "It's vital to build my conditioning levels so I'm just as sharp at the end of a race as I am at the beginning. Fatigue is something I don't want to feel as the final laps wind down."
Over the course of the ten-day trip, Briscoe underwent evaluations of his cardio and strength conditioning and had a full medical check-up. He spent six to eight hours each day cardio and weight training as well as talking with staff members about nutrition and the mental aspects of racing. Throughout his life, Briscoe has fine-tuned a very specific training and nutrition regimen that really works for him. It's not just about making himself physically fit; Briscoe has also learned that eating the right things at the right time can pay off during a race just as much as strength and cardio fitness can.
"I wanted to return to Formula Medicine for a refresher before the 2009 season started. I needed to make sure that I'm at the top of my game and my performance level is at its highest so we can shoot for a successful season," continued Briscoe.
TEAM PENSKE WELCOMES ERIC COWDIN
Will Power won't be the only new member of Team Penske's personnel when the green flag falls on practice next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Ryan Briscoe will be working with a new race engineer, Eric Cowdin, as he steps into his new position for the 2009 season.
Cowdin joined the Team last fall and immediately found success with the #6 Team Penske car as he and Briscoe teamed up to earn the Australian's third win of the 2008 season at Surfers Paradise. With one race under their belt, you can be sure that Cowdin and Briscoe will look to replicate that success as the 2009 season gets underway.
Cowdin began in open-wheel competition working with Forsythe Championship Racing/Tasman Motorsports Group from 1995-1999. There, he first met driver Tony Kanaan and worked with him in 1996 and 1997 in the Indy Lights Series, winning the 1997 Championship before moving with Kanaan to CART in 1999. He also worked with Cristiano Da Matta in his Championship 1998 Indy Lights season.
In 1999, Cowdin moved to Mo Nunn racing, working with Kanaan during the 2000 and 2001 CART seasons and Felipe Giaffone during the 2002 IndyCar Series Season.
In 2002, Cowdin joined Kanaan at Andretti Green Racing as his race engineer. For nearly six years, Cowdin and Kanaan worked together to win 13 races, ten pole positions as well as the 2004 IndyCar Series Championship.
"The off-season has really given me a chance to settle in at Team Penske," said Cowdin. "You see that this Team is a first-class organization when you're on the outside looking in; but it's not until you become part of the Team that you realize just how truly amazing this group is. Ryan and I have been able to work together a couple times already, which was good to get in before the new season begins. As we look to the first event of 2009, we will definitely take full advantage of the limited testing available to us. We've been working hard at the shop during the off-season and now we'll get a chance to implement some of those things on the racetrack. Being able to test on both an oval and a road course will help us in accumulating data for the upcoming season. Just because we won't compete at Homestead until the last race of 2009, doesn't mean that we won't be able to apply the things that we're going to learn to the races proceeding it. I'm looking forward to next week and I'm happy that the 2009 season is finally here."