Briscoe's No. 6 IZOD Crew Wins Pit Stop Challenge
May 28, 2011
Photo courtesy of Steve Swope
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 27, 2011) – Team Penske won the IZOD Pit Stop Challenge during Carburetion Day festivities Friday as final preparations wrapped up for Sunday's 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.
The crew for Ryan Briscoe's No. 6 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Honda won the final round of the competition that features the top crews in the IZOD IndyCar Series facing off, head-to-head. Briscoe's team executed a stop of 7.882 seconds, early 0.6 seconds faster than the runner-up crew from Dario Franchitti's Ganassi Racing team, in the final.
It marked the 13th victory in the competition for Team Penske since its inception in 1977. A Team Penske crew has now emerged as the top team in the last six Pit Stop Challenges.
"This is for all of these guys here," said No. 6 team chief mechanic Matt Jonsson. "The guys on the (Team Penske) No. 12 and No. 3 car also are responsible, as they present such a challenge to us that they naturally raise the bar. The whole crew and Ryan are so cool, calm and collected. That's why the stops are so consistent. The whole team has a never-say-die spirit."
That spirit resulted in a $50,000 check for winning the competition.
"Today was a big day for the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske crew – these guys are awesome," said Briscoe, who also completed final practice Saturday morning as the last tune-up before Sunday's Indy 500. "It's great to win the Pit Stop competition for our title sponsor, IZOD, and I have to thank these guys for the speed and consistency they showed today. We shook down our race car this morning in practice, and it felt good in the car. There's a lot of work left before we get to the race, but if we all execute on Sunday, it'll be a great race for our entire team."
The victory in the Pit Stop Challenge bodes well for Briscoe in Sunday's race. After a practice accident just before qualifying last weekend left him bruised and forced to his backup car, Briscoe will start the Indy 500 from the 26th position and quick pit stops will help him move forward more quickly.
All three Team Penske crews qualified for the Pit Stop competition. Will Power's No. 12 Verizon crew won their opening-round matchup before being eliminated while the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra crew and driver Helio Castroneves weren't able to move past the opening round. The No. 3 team had won the last four consecutive competitions and five times overall before Saturday.
"It was a good practice for the Shell-Pennzoil car today, I am very optimistic about our chances in the race," said Castroneves. "I'm so excited and I can't wait for the green flag to wave on Sunday. I am little sad that our run of pit stop competition victories came to end, but it had to end sometime. It is great that Ryan's crew was able to bring home the victory for Team Penske and I'm glad because winning the pit stop competition is a great way for him to turn around what has been a tough week for him."
Series points leader Power, who will line up fifth on Sunday, also looked strong in the competition after a productive morning practice.
"Great job to Ryan and the No. 6 IZOD team on winning the Pit Stop competition," said Power. "The Verizon guys gave it a good go, we just didn't make it to the end. We had a good practice today - the car had a nice balance and we should be good in the race. Now we will just have to wait for the green flag and see what comes our way."
Team Penske President Tim Cindric also gave a nod to former Castroneves' chief mechanic Rick Rinaman for the Pit Stop Challenge victory. Rinaman is now pit crew coordinator for all three of the team's crews.
"This event is about Matt and these guys," said Cindric. "Rick Rinaman had a big part in getting these guys prepared in the off-season. He's been on the other side of the wall. This isn't about anything more than the pride that comes from winning this particular contest. Our organization spends a lot of time preparing for this because it's a testament to the dedication and execution it takes on race day."
Sunday's 100th anniversary Indy 500 begins at 12 p.m. ET. ABC-TV's live coverage begins at 11 a.m.