Briscoe looking for good Mid-Ohio race
By ROB HAMILTON
While the 2012 IndyCar season hasn’t gone quite the way Ryan Briscoe had envisioned, the Australian driver is hoping a trip to one of his favorite courses this weekend will turn his fortunes around.
Through 11 races, Briscoe is ninth in the IndyCar standings with only five top-10 finishes. However, in the four previous years, he has three top-10 finishes at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, including a 2008 victory. IndyCar will be at the Morrow County race track this weekend, competing Sunday at 1 p.m. after running practice and qualifying sessions the previous two days.
Last year was Briscoe’s worst finish at Mid-Ohio, as he placed 16th due to some bad luck getting caught out by a yellow flag and losing positions. That one bad experience hasn’t changed his opinion of the track, though.
“I love Mid-Ohio,” he said. “Even last year, we were running well. I love that track — it reminds me of European tracks. These tracks have really flowing corners. You need a lot of rhythm there. It’s just really exciting.”
Briscoe is hoping to repeat his past successes because, with the current parity in the drivers’ standings, a strong finish to the season could vault him from ninth to the top five.
“It is so close,” he said of the standings. “It’s been such a mixed bag. There are so many good teams and drivers that you can’t predict who will finish where. From fourth to about 15th, it’s very tight. If we can be top five after the next four races, that would be a big achievement for us.”
Currently, Briscoe, one of three Penske drivers along with Helio Castroneves and Will Power, has 241 points. Fourth-place Scott Dixon has 301, while fifth-place James Hinchcliffe has 286.
Briscoe was one of many drivers to visit Mid-Ohio last Thursday for the track’s IndyCar testing day. The driver noted that with Mid-Ohio being only the second road course IndyCar has on this season, testing day was pretty important for him and his team.
“We have a different tire we run on at Mid-Ohio, so it’s a chance to go there with this tire and evaluate set-ups. From a driving standpoint, we’re also with Chevy working on engine tuning and drivability.”
One thing Briscoe loves about the IndyCar circuit is the variety in courses, as drivers race on ovals, street courses and road courses during the course of the season. He mentioned Long Beach as a personal favorite street course and Milwaukee as a great oval track.
“I think it’s awesome!” he said. “The greatest aspect of Indy racing is that you can’t just be good at ovals, but have to have diversity.”
In general, though, Briscoe is most at home on road courses like Mid-Ohio, which gives him plenty of reasons to look forward to this weekend. The driver said that he likes most things about the local track.
“It’s a bit of everything,” he said. “Going there with Penske, I’ll have a good car and strong set-up. Add to that my love for the circuit and it’s an overall good package with my driving style and having the right car.”