Penske Racing has confirmed that it has re-signed Australian racing driver Ryan Briscoe for 2012, making it a third consecutive full season for the team's line-up of Briscoe, Will Power and Helio Castroneves.
"We are excited to return with a three-car team in 2012," said Tim Cindric, the president of Penske Racing. "The combination of Helio, Ryan and Will has been a formidable one on the track and they work very well together as teammates."
There had been concerns that a drop in sponsorship money might force Penske to drop down from its three-car line-up, and Briscoe was the driver looking most likely to be forced out in that eventuality despite finishing in sixth place in the 2011 championship, well ahead of Castroneves in 11th. There had been speculation that he might end up moving to Andretti Autosport if there was no longer room for him at Penske
The announcement confirms that the team have managed to find the additional resources to keep their three-car line-up running, and Cindric said that "Our goal all along has been to continue running three cars and thanks to our terrific partners, we have been able to make everything work from the business side."
No announcement was made of the new sponsorship arrangements, and Cindic simply concluded by adding: "Now, all of our focus will be on developing the new Chevrolet IndyCar and getting ready for a strong return to the track in 2012."
Since 2009 the line-up had delivered Team Penske 21 victories and 26 pole positions, with Power finishing runner-up in two consecutive championships by the narrowest of margins. The highlight for the team came this season at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, there the trio locked out the top three positions from the end of qualifying through the entire race to the chequered flag in a matchless display of team and driver capability to thwart their arch rivals at Ganassi.
Following the formal announcement, Briscoe himself quipped on Twitter that: "It's official! I don't have to host Wheel of Fortune next year. Excited to return."
In a separate development, SPEED.com
reported that Briscoe's race engineer Eric Cowdin was to depart the team, possibly to move to KV Racing technology and reunite with Tony Kanaan with whom he teamed up to win the 2004 IndyCar Series championship at Andretti-Green Racing.