Notes: Team Penske trio remains intact

Helio Castroneves (left), Will Power (center) and Ryan Briscoe (yellow) will be back together at Team Penske in 2012. Photo Credit: Chris Jones/IZOD IndyCar Series.

Once again, scratch all those rumors you heard about Team Penske downsizing to two cars and with Ryan Briscoe as the likely man out: The Captain’s Men will return in 2012 as a three-car operation.

Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and Will Power will all be back behind the wheel at Penske in 2012, which will be a big year for the team as it serves as the anchor squad for Chevrolet in its return to IndyCar action.

“The combination of Helio, Ryan and Will has been a formidable one on the track and they work very well together as teammates,” said Penske Racing president Tim Cindric in a team release. “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.

“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.”

Team Penske relied on a variety of sponsors for help in 2011, from big brands such as IZOD, Verizon and PPG to smaller entities such as vehicle recovery and tracking company Guidepoint Systems.

 But it appears that all their financial ducks are in a row for 2012, which can only help the team’s focus in terms of competition and performance.

Ed Carpenter is going out on his own.

He and his team owner Sarah Fisher made for quite a pairing in the eyes of many within the IndyCar fanbase, and their victory last month at Kentucky Speedway was one of the highlights of the 2011 season. But the duo won’t be together anymore, as Carpenter has decided to field his own IndyCar team.

“I don’t know that I ever thought that I would have the opportunity to be an owner/driver, but when an opportunity like this comes along you can’t pass it up,” Carpenter said in a release. “I can’t wait to get to work and begin building this team for not only 2012, but beyond.”

With a three-year sponsorship agreement from Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka in his pocket, the step-son of IRL/IZOD IndyCar Series founder Tony George will be the owner/driver at Ed Carpenter Racing. Sponsor and driver have been together for a few years now, with Fuzzy’s (owned by golf standout Fuzzy Zoeller) being on Carpenter’s sidepods during his 2010 season at Panther Racing and on his noggin as a helmet sponsor this past year.

More details will be announced on Friday during a press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Just as Carpenter plans to become an owner/driver, another team is looking to get back into the series full-time. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has performed in a part-time capacity in recent years, but word has come out that team owner and open-wheel legend Bobby Rahal is planning on creating a two-car team for 2012.

RLL has confirmed that they will run Honda power next season, becoming the fourth team to officially align itself with the Japanese manufacturer after Target Chip Ganassi Racing, A.J. Foyt Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports. In addition, the team has announced that veteran motorsports director Tom Anderson will serve as its President of Racing Operations, bringing over 40 years of experience that includes stints at Target Chip Ganassi Racing (where he helped them net four straight CART titles) and Fernandez Racing.

Sounds like Rahal’s going back in with the proverbial foot to the floor.