Team Penske cars damaged in fire

MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (Ticker)—A pair of Team Penske cars were damaged early Wednesday morning, when a transporter caught fire en route to this weekend’s IndyCar race in California.

While traveling to Sonoma for the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway, a fire began on the right side of the transporter, destroying crew member uniforms and equipment. The cars of Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe suffered extensive water, smoke and heat damage, forcing the drivers to use alternate vehicles in Sunday’s race.

No one was injured in the incident.

“We had what we think a fire that started from a wheel bearing about halfway between Cheyenne (Wyoming) and Salt Lake City,” Penske Performance Inc. president Tim Cindric said. “It’s a pretty barren area without cell phone coverage. The guys tried to put out the fire but couldn’t do it, so they unhooked the tractor from the trailer.

“We have a destroyed trailer with a lot of burnt contents. … We’ll take the two cars that are already (in Sonoma) and make them into race cars.”

Castroneves is expected to use the backup No. 3 car in the race, while Briscoe will drive the No. 6 car that participated in testing at Infineon Raceway on Thursday.

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Updated Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008