One of the top teams in all of motorsports, Team Penske is a perennial favorite for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, as well as NASCAR's top titles as Penske Racing South. On the IndyCar side, the 2012 season was a success on many levels for Team Penske, with three teams in the top six in points, six wins and eight poles between the three teams, and the Mario Andretti Road Course trophy for one of its drivers. Unfortunately, the thing that is missing from the successes is the one thing that means the most to all racing teams: the overall championship, which Penske driver Will Power lost on the last night of the season. Here's a look at how all three Team Penske drivers did this season.
Will Power - for the third straight season, Power finished as the runner-up for the IndyCar title, this time to Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay. While Power's strong suit is road racing - as it should be as the winner of the Andretti Road Course trophy - the ovals are his downfall: he had a best finish of eighth on the five ovals, and just one of his 16 race wins in IndyCar competition has been on an oval. Power also got hot at the wrong time: he won three straight races in the first four events of the season but never made it back to the winner's circle.
Helio Castroneves - Castroneves finished fourth in points, with two wins - the season-opener at St. Petersburg and the Honda Indy Edmonton - and 12 top 10 finishes in 15 races. Castroneves improved greatly on his disappointing 2011 season, where he finished 11th in points - his worst open-wheel finish since his early days in CART in the late 1990s. Castroneves is a fan favorite, as witnessed when he returned to Dancing With the Stars as part of its "All-Stars" edition in September - he received a standing ovation before he even danced a step; unfortunately, those fans forgot about him soon thereafter, as he and partner Chelsie Hightower were voted out of the competition in Week 3.
Ryan Briscoe - Briscoe finished sixth in final points for the second consecutive season, winning once at Sonoma and finishing in the top 10 eight times in 15 races. Like his teammate Power, he lacks some on ovals, but not to the extreme that Power does: Briscoe did finish third at Texas and fifth at Indy, where he started on the pole. Briscoe could be out of a ride with Penske for 2013, however: the team is looking to secure sponsorship for the third team, and already has Power and Castroneves under contract; Briscoe has been given the OK to speak with other teams.
Paula is a long-time auto racing fan who also covers the sport at Examiner.com and Skirts & Scuffs.
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