Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines: 1. Briscoe: Power is up to the challenge: 2. Japanese fans greet their "hometown" drivers 3. Testing in Miami 1. Briscoe: Power is up to the challenge:...
Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Briscoe: Power is up to the challenge:
2. Japanese fans greet their "hometown" drivers
3. Testing in Miami
1. Briscoe: Power is up to the challenge: "Maybe my advice wouldn't be the best after last year," Ryan Briscoe jokes.
That would be at Will Power's discretion, of course, as the Team Penske teammates have commonality heading into the Indy Japan 300 on Sept. 19 at Twin Ring Motegi.
Last September, Briscoe increased his championship points margin from four to 25 over Dario Franchitti and 33 over Scott Dixon following the heart-stopping victory at Chicagoland Speedway - the 200-lap race preceding Japan. This year, Power is the championship leader - by 17 points over Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Franchitti.
"He's just got to keep his cool and be focused, which he is," Briscoe said of Power, who will be making his debut on the egg-shaped 1.5-mile oval. "He's up for the challenge."
So was Briscoe in 2009, who started fourth in the 23-car field and led twice briefly and could have further distanced himself from the title pursuers in the season's penultimate race. But as the No. 6 car exited pit lane on Lap 106, it swerved as Briscoe lit up the tires and brushed the inside retaining wall. It also ran over the cone marking the end of pit lane speed zone, which lodged under the car. After multiple stops for repairs and a front wing assembly replacement, Briscoe rejoined the race albeit in 16th place.
"Last year was tough in Japan," said Briscoe, who left Japan trailing race winner Dixon by eight points. "We went there and Ganassi was killing us. They were a lot better than we were around there, and I'm confident this year it will be different. We've been working really hard on our setups for that track, and I'm confident we're going to have competitive cars that are capable of winning.
"It's always easier when you have a fast car and you don't have to start overdriving. That's the first thing; we need to show up with competitive cars and the rest will play itself out."
Briscoe finished third in the '09 championship - a scant 12 points behind Franchitti, which made the Twin Ring Motegi result more difficult to swallow. But it's a 17-race chase on the most diverse set of racetracks in motorsports, which magnifies one miscue or poor result. Conversely, Power's season - five victories, a series-record eight pole starts, only three results out of the top 10 - has put him in the spotlight from the season opener in Brazil.
"I think it's especially impressive how he's dominated on road and street courses this year," said Briscoe, who was eliminated from title contention after a 24th place (contact) at Kentucky Speedway on Sept. 4. "He's just done a really good job and gelled with his engineer, Dave (Faustino), who's also new on the team. They've turned it on and come through with the results. Will recovered well from his accident; he trained really hard over the whole off-season and made sure he was going to be up to scratch from the first race, which he absolutely was."
2. Japanese fans greet their "hometown" drivers: Nearly 400 Japanese racing fans attended a "Welcome" party for Japanese drivers Hideki Mutoh, Takuma Sato and Roger Yasukawa at the Honda Welcome Plaza Ayoma in Tokyo.
The Japanese drivers have been in their homeland for much of the time to promote the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. It's the support of the fans that make racing at home special to the drivers.
"Last year, I didn't have the best race because of the accident I had in qualifying. Towards the end of the race, I could see a fan waving a flag and that really gave me power to finish," Mutoh said. "That was the first experience like that. I respect fans but the fans actually gave me power to finish the race. I had a bad race but it was a good memory. I believe I have extra power because of racing in my home country. Hopefully, I can repay them for their support with a good finish at Motegi,"
E.J. Viso also arrived in Japan early to acclimate to the change in time and spent time with Yomiuri Giants star Alex Ramirez and boxer Jorge Linares. Both Ramirez and Linares are native Venezuela and live in Tokyo.
3. Testing in Miami: Several Firestone Indy Lights drivers and tesms will test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sept. 15 in preparation for the season-ending Homestead-Miami 100 on Oct. 2.
James Hinchcliffe, Adrian Campos Jr., J.K. Vernay, Philip Major, Pippa Mann and Gustavo Yacaman will spend the day testing the 1.5-mile oval.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indy Japan 300 on Sept. 19 at Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 11 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS on Sept. 18. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season concludes with the Miami 100 on Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.