With the Penske Racing teams looking forward to an exciting and challenging 2008 season, the NASCAR, IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series teams can all rely on the rich heritage and tradition of the organization to help pave the pathway for success.
Through all levels of competition this season, Penske Racing will be guided by experienced and talented technical, engineering and support staff. The driver lineups will feature veteran, winning drivers at the top of their game paired with promising young racers ready to carry the Penske Racing banner into the next decade.
The 2008 season began like no other in the history of Penske Racing as the team came out and claimed victories in two of the biggest races of the season. In February, Penske Racing earned its first Daytona 500 victory in style with Ryan Newman capturing the checkered flag in NASCAR’s premiere event and teammate Kurt Busch right on his tail in second place for the team’s first-ever 1-2 Cup racing finish. The super start to the season continued in March as Penske Racing produced the overall and P2-class win in the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring American Le Mans Series endurance race, with Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard earning the victory in the Porsche RS Spyder.
In its 18th consecutive year of NASCAR competition in 2008, Penske Racing returns with two of Cup racing's top stars and an IndyCar Series champion anxious to make his mark in his first full season of stock car racing. Both Busch and Newman have experienced their share of success at the highest level of racing with Busch claiming the 2004 NASCAR Cup title and Newman being named the 2003 SPEED Channel Driver of the Year. They're joined in the Penske Racing stable this season by Sam Hornish Jr. While Hornish Jr. is a Cup rookie in '08, he certainly knows his way around a race car. The three-time IndyCar Series champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner with Team Penske, got a taste of NASCAR racing last season and he's more committed than ever to becoming a winning stock car racer as his career enters a new phase.
Busch enjoyed a resurgence in 2007, qualifying for The Chase and finishing seventh in the final NASCAR Nextel Cup point standings behind a pair of victories, one pole position, 14 top-10 and six top-five finishes. After Pat Tryson took over as crew chief on the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge at mid season, Busch turned it on. He posted nine consecutive top-11 results to earn his way into The Chase and he looks to build on that momentum this season as Miller Lite celebrates its 18th year as primary sponsor on the No. 2 car.
In his eighth NASCAR season, Newman continues to be one of racing's fastest performers. He guided the No. 12 Alltel Dodge to five poles in 2007, ranking second among all Cup drivers. The 2002 Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year winner, scored three straight poles early in the season and he was the only driver to earn a pole sweep in '07, taking the top spot in qualifying in both races at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Newman fell just short of qualifying for The Chase but he emerged as the top non-Chase driver finishing 13th in season points. With Alltel back on board for the ninth consecutive season as the primary sponsor on the No. 12 car, Newman and the Penske team are expecting even better results in 2008.
After becoming the all-time winningest driver in the Indy Racing League, Hornish Jr. makes the transition to NASCAR this season driving the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge for Penske Racing. In 2007, Hornish Jr. learned from his experienced teammates Busch and Newman as he made nine Busch Series starts before competing in the final two Cup races of the season. Familiar with the Penske Racing heritage and formula for success from his IndyCar Series experiences,
Hornish Jr. expects to be one of the top rookies in this season's field.
The Team Penske IndyCar Series program will have a different look and feel in '08 without Hornish paired with the talented Helio Castroneves. The two drivers had formed a winning combination for the team since 2004. But as Hornish Jr. meets a new challenge this season, Castroneves will help groom a new teammate in Australian driver Ryan Briscoe, an experienced open-wheel and sports car racer.
Castroneves enjoyed another solid season in '07, his eighth consecutive year with Team Penske. The affable Brazilian paced all IndyCar Series drivers with seven poles and he captured a victory on the streets of St. Petersburg on his way to a sixth-place finish in the final series standings. Castroneves also experienced winning away from the track as he was crowned champion of ABC-TV's popular "Dancing With The Stars" competition. While he's seen his popularity rise, Castroneves also has high expectations for himself and the team as he continues to pursue his first IndyCar Series title. The two-time Indy 500 winner hopes to showcase his fancy footwork in victory lane as much as possible this season.
Following a strong 2007 season driving for the Penske Racing American Le Mans Series program, Briscoe earned a golden opportunity to join the Team Penske IndyCar Series squad in '08. A veteran of 19 IndyCar Series starts over the past three years, Briscoe produced an impressive result in his lone series start of '07. He qualified seventh for the 91st Indianapolis 500 and went on to claim fifth place for Symantec Luczo Dragon Racing, with equipment that was leased from Penske Racing. He spent the rest of the season starring for the Penske Racing ALMS team, partnering with Sascha Maassen to finish second in the LMP2 class with three victories. The performance earned him series Rookie-of-the-Year honors and now he's ready to carry those winning ways to the IndyCar Series grid driving the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda.
While Maassen and Briscoe enjoyed a stellar American Le Mans Series season in 2007, nothing could top the results of their Penske Racing teammates Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. Dominating in their No. 7 DHL Porsche RS Spyder, Bernhard and Dumas seized eight class wins and eight poles en route to the Penske team's second consecutive LMP2-class championship. The dynamic duo even scored six overall wins during the impressive season. Bernhard and Dumas return to defend their title in 2008.
With Briscoe moving on to the IndyCar Series, Maassen will be teamed with accomplished American road racer Patrick Long in the No. 6 DHL Penske Porsche. Maassen won the LMP2 title for Penske Racing in 2006 and he earned the series' GT title in 2002 and 2003. He'll strive for another championship this season with Long at his side.
Though Long is young in age (just 26 at the start of the season) he brings a wealth of experience on the track. He's already been part of winning efforts at Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Le Mans and he claimed the 2005 ALMS GT2 championship with Jörg Bergmeister at Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. Long teamed up with Bernhard and Dumas for a class win and overall second-place finish last season at Petit Le Mans and he intends to build on that success as a full-time member of the squad this season.
All signs point to a banner season for Penske Racing in 2008 as the organization strives for its 300th major race win while looking to add to its remarkable 21 national championships. With one of the most productive and diverse driver lineups in racing and its dedication and commitment to winning, Penske Racing will continue to set the standard for motorsports excellence.