6 December 2010
Penske win IZOD sponsorship, eye up Hornish
A deal with IndyCar title sponsors IZOD saves Penske's three-car line-up of Castroneves, Briescoe and Power for 2011, as the team hint at a return to the Indy 500 for Sam Hornish Jr.
Team Penske has won a multi-year sponsorship agreement from Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation, who are behind the IZOD brand that is the IndyCar series' title sponsor.
As a result, the IZOD sports-lifestyle apparel brand will now sponsor all three Team Penske entries: the #3 of Helio Castroneves, the #6 of Ryan Briscoe and the #12 of Will Power, who finished 2010 as series runner up after being narrowly pipped to the title in the last race by Dario Franchitti.
IZOD had previously been with Andretti Autosport as Ryan Hunter-Reay's primary sponsor.
Last week, Penske announced that retailer Meijer had also been signed as a sponsor, and that oil giant Shell had signed a deal to place Helio Castroneves in its red, white and yellow livery for the month of May including the 2011 Indianapolis 500 which will mark the event's 100th anniversary.
But until today's announcement, there had still been question marks over whether the team had sufficient funding to continue to run all three cars in 2011. The end of a long-term deal with cigarette makers Phillip Morris meant that Castroneves and Briscoe had both been left without primary backers in 2010, and there were concerns that the team might have to drop one car - all signs pointing to Ryan Briscoe being the most likely driver left out in the cold following Power's championship success during the year.
Today's news means that IZOD will be the primary sponsor on Briscoe's car at the Indianapolis 500 as well as other selected races including the yet-to-be-announced season finale. IZOD will also serve as an associate sponsor on all three cars for the whole season.
"Team Penske is excited to build this new relationship with Phillips-Van Heusen," said team owner Roger Penske. "As we saw in 2010, they have put the full strength of their IZOD brand behind growing the sport of IndyCar racing and we believe they will be a terrific partner with our team and our drivers for years to come." Penske's record of 153 race wins, 196 pole positions, 12 national championships and 15 Indianapolis 500 victories in IndyCar competition makes them the most successful team in the series.
"I am really looking forward to driving under the IZOD brand, beginning next season," said Briscoe. "The team behind the IZOD brand clearly has a passion for IndyCar racing and Team Penske will be working hard to bring them a victory in the Indianapolis 500 and, hopefully, a series championship in 2011."
Penske is also said to be looking into whether it can secure funding for a fourth car to run at Indianapolis to give a seat to three-time IndyCar champion and 2006 Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr.
"[Hornish] will run in the January test to get ready for the 500, and, hopefully, by that time we can extend it," Penske is reported as saying. "The other good news is that he could be available to run the (Indy) 500." Hornish is currently without full funding for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season beyond the Daytona 500.
“We always told him if he wants to run Indy again, he needs to raise his hand and we'll figure it out. I don't think that's any different than years past. I think the speculation is coming from the fact that he's one of those in the stock car land, and he we haven't been able to put a program together for him next year," said Penske Racing president Tim Cindric during a teleconference at the end of last week. "That said, I know that the Indy 500 is near and dear to his heart. If he wants to run the Indy 500, we'll figure out a way to run the Indy 500 with Sam Hornish. He's that good."
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