LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 20, 2008) – Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, made a remarkable comeback Sunday, recovering from an early deficit to win the Honda Indy 200 and complete a one-two sweep by Team Penske at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
This victory was Briscoe’s second win in his IndyCar Series career, Team Penske’s seventh win at the legendary 13-turn Ohio road course and the 35th one-two finish in Penske’s storied open-wheel history.
Briscoe, who started second next to teammate and pole-sitter Helio Castroneves, fell behind early as drivers struggled with rain tires on a rapidly drying track. Roger Penske, strategist on the No. 6 car, started the race on rain tires -- as did the rest of the field-- but Penske brought the car into the pits after a majority of the field to change to slick tires after Briscoe slipped from second to fourth place, then quickly had Briscoe come back in, out of sequence, as soon as the fuel window opened. This pit strategy propelled Briscoe into the lead, which he did not relinquish in the final 25 laps of the 85-lap event.
“The Team Penske car was awesome,” said Briscoe. “We ran into a little trouble early on, but we came back. That was all Roger. That was his strategy.”
“It was the only chance we had,” said Penske. “The strategy worked out. What a great drive for Briscoe. I think he’s validated himself as one of the top drivers in the Indy Racing League. To finish one-two is just unbelievable.”
Briscoe also advanced in the championship standings, moving up three spots from eighth to fifth place. It was also his second victory of the season - in June, Briscoe recorded Penske Racing’s 300th win with a victory at The Milwaukee Mile. Since then, he’s struggled with bad luck, suffering on-track incidents in the last two races as a result of others‘ mistakes.
“Finally, something went our way,” said Briscoe. “This is very sweet. What a weekend for Team Penske. It just feels so good to get this win. It's been a rough couple of weeks in the lead-up to here, and this one's sweet for sure."
As Briscoe was winning, Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, was securing second place ahead of 2008 IndyCar Series driver points leader Scott Dixon. That shaved another five points off Dixon’s lead, bringing Castroneves to within 58 points with five championship points races remaining in the 2008 season.
"Ryan drove a heck of a race,” said Castroneves, who chalked up his 27th IndyCar Series pole position on Saturday. “I was just trying to do everything I could, but unfortunately I got held up in traffic. We just didn't have enough, so it's a shame. But second is good."
The IndyCar Series season continues on Saturday, July 26 with the Rexall Edmonton Indy at City Centre Airport in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, which airs live on the ESPN television network at 5 p.m. EDT.
Results Sunday of the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio IndyCar Series event July 20 at the 13-turn 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (2) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
2. (1) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
3. (6) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
4. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
5. (8) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
6. (11) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
7. (5) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
8. (21) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
9. (10) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
10. (15) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
11. (4) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
12. (20) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
13. (9) Bruno Junqueira, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
14. (25) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
15. (22) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
16. (14) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 84, Running
17. (13) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 84, Running
18. (23) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 84, Running
19. (16) Mario Dominguez, Dallara-Honda, 83, Running
20. (7) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
21. (24) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
22. (17) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
23. (26) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 79, Running
24. (19) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 61, Off Course
25. (3) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 41, Contact
26. (18) Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara-Honda, 8, Contact
Winner's average speed: 94.873 mph
Time of race: 2:01:22.8496
Margin of victory: 7.2640 seconds
Cautions: 5 caution flags for 19 laps
Lead changes: 7 among 7 drivers
Lap leaders: Castroneves 1-5, Meira 6-26, Manning 27, Wilson 28-38, Briscoe 39-55, Moraes 56, Power 57-59, Briscoe 60-85.
Point standings: Dixon 455, Castroneves 397, Kanaan 365, Wheldon 364, Briscoe 296, Patrick 284, Mutoh 276, Andretti 263, Hunter-Reay 252, Servia 250.