Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Briscoe lands Penske seat

With the recent announcement of Sam Hornish Jr. joining the swelling ranks of Open Wheelers defecting to RASSCAR. Penske has announced that Ryan Briscoe will indeed take over Hornish’s vacated Indy Car seat for 2008.

Briscoe originally cut his teeth in karting, before moving up to European single seaters. In 2002, Briscoe was hired as a Toyota F1 test driver and became the Friday third driver when Ricardo Zonta replaced Cristiano da Matta.

While rumoured to be in line for a Jordan Grand Prix drive for 2005, Briscoe joined Chip Ganassi’s IRL team instead. And struggling to come to grips with Oval tracks had a horrific crash at Chicagoland on September 11th, breaking both clavicles amongst other injuries.

With Briscoe’s ’05 season effectively over, along with Dan Wheldon becoming available for 2006. Briscoe was expendable, as Ganassi hired the reigning Indy Car champion from Andretti Green Racing.

Thus Briscoe spent the year seeking rides and returned to the Grand American series with Wayne Taylor Racing, along with four races for Dreyer & Reinbold. Briscoe scored a third place finish at Watkins Glen before filling in for the injured da Matta in the final two Champ Car races.

This year, Briscoe became a full time Penske American Le Mans Porsche Spyder pilot, finishing second in the LMP2 category with three wins and two poles. And it seemed obvious that Briscoe was being groomed for Hornish’s seat when he raced for Luczo Dragon Racing at Indy this May. As the team was effectively a Penske satellite operation, campaigning leased Penske equipment for team co-owner Jay Penske, with Briscoe qualifying seventh and finishing fifth…