Indycar-Ryan Briscoe: “Yeah, it’s been tough.”
There’s no doubt Team Penske’s been the hottest team in the IZOD Indycar Series paddock this season. Out of seven races so far, Penske drivers have taken five poles and four wins. Most of the attention has gone to points leader Will Power and Helio Castroneves’ attempt to win his fourth Indianapolis 500 title. Penske drivers been at the front of Chevrolet’s charge back into the IZOD Indycar Series, leading the way in Chevy’s utter dominance of the first four races of the season and only recently being matched on track by Honda. There’s one Penske driver that has not gotten his fair share of attention, though.
Ryan Briscoe sat on pole for this year’s Indianapolis 500, besting Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe by .009 of a mile per hour. He’s had some excellent runs this season, but he’s also experienced his fair share of disappointment. There’s been several races this season where Briscoe has seen a good finish slip through his grasp. He currently sits eighth in points, but if the apples fall a different way, he could easily be near the top. I had the opportunity to speak with Ryan this week. In our discussion, we talked about his goals for the second half of the season, what it’s like to be the teammate of Will Power and Helio Castroneves, his thoughts on the engine battle, and a comparison of the DW12 to the ALMS LMP machine.
Q: Your other teammates started off hot. Do you have any pressure due to their early season success?
Briscoe: For sure. I want to join them with the wins. There’s no doubt. I’ve been pushing hard and I feel like I’ve been running strong. We just haven’t had the race wins so far. For sure we drive each other a lot, and you see your teammates’ success and it makes you push even harder. It’s all good.
Certainly, I feel like after several front‑row starts this year and not having capitalized on those starts in the races, that part of Long Beach where I had the pole and had to start 11th, we got caught up in some bad strategy, it’s been a little disappointing not to really make the most of our races so far this year. I think we’ve had a bit of bad luck on the strategy side mostly. Yeah, it’s been tough.
I think the most important thing is that we’ve been fast all the time, and that’s usually the hardest thing to fix. So if we move forward and keep qualifying right up there in the top six and top three, keep working hard, I feel like the wins are going to come. Yeah, just got to keep pushing.
Q: You always seem to excel at ovals. Seeing that we have one more this weekend and two more left on the schedule, I was wondering what your goals are for the second half of the season?
Briscoe: Yeah, we’re in a really intense stretch right now. We’re in the middle of it. A five race back‑to‑back stretch here, and a couple of short ovals coming up which are crucial, I believe, to the championship. Anything can happen on these tracks.
I think we really need to be focused on running solid like we did at Texas. I feel like it was disappointing not to win Texas, but certainly bringing home the third place was a good point. I think that’s the kind of mentality I need to carry here in Milwaukee and Iowa.
Certainly the rest of the season is to get more podiums and try to snatch some wins here. I think that is going to be the most important thing is to get some race wins because they make the biggest difference.
Q: Also going back to engine manufacturing battles this season, the Chevy obviously started at the season very dominant, but the Honda seems to have caught up. I was wondering what your opinion on the Chevrolet and the Honda battle this season so far is?
Briscoe: It’s exciting. I think both manufacturers are keeping the heat on each other. I think it’s really fun being in this war. The wins are sort of going back and forth a little bit. I don’t think we’ve seen any sort of clear‑cut favorite at this point.
I think it’s a very strong battle, and I can tell you Ilmor is along with Chevrolet are pushing hard to keep the improvements coming and keep the pressure on Honda.
We haven’t won the last couple, and certainly look forward to taking Chevy back on top of the podium.
Q: I’m going to ask you the same question I asked Simon Pagenaud earlier this year, because he and you share a distinction and that is you’re two drivers that have had the opportunity to drive both the ALMS car, and the DW12. I was wondering your comparison of the two cars because I’ve heard they’re very similar?
Briscoe: Yeah, I mean, the rear bumper makes them look kind of similar. Yeah, I don’t know. Honestly, the new car is probably closer to last year’s IndyCar than it is to an ALMS car. But they were close anyway.
I think when I was racing the Spyder we were able to look at some overlays at times between the Penske IndyCars, and there was usually only about a one second difference in qualifying at the same tracks, and that was usually just horsepower from the IndyCar having a bit more.
They’ve always been very similar. I think the way they drive, the biggest difference has always been and still is the fact that IndyCars don’t have power steering and ALMS cars do. Still I find that the biggest difference between them. As far as performance goes, they’re very close.
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