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Penske expects to keep team intact

Penske is now confident that it has put together a sponsorship package that will allow it to keep Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe on board for the full 2011 IndyCar season

The end of the team's long sponsorship deal with Phillip Morris meant that Briscoe and Castroneves' cars ran without primary backers this season. There had been concerns that the outfit might have to scale back to a two-car line-up next year, with Briscoe's position potentially in jeopardy, but team president Tim Cindric said Penske was now almost certain that all three could be retained.

The team has just announced a new sponsorship deal with Shell and Pennzoil for Castroneves' car for the Indianapolis 500 and has hinted that further sponsor news will soon follow.

"Going forward, the thing that we were most focused on for 2011 is ensuring we could bring the three drivers we have back into the fold for next year," Cindric said. "It seems as though that's going to continue.

"I'm confident that all three guys will be on the track all year next year - that is the best I can tell you today."

Power dominated much of the 2010 season, but was beaten to the championship by Ganassi's Dario Franchitti, who overcame Power's points lead during the late-season oval events.

Cindric was proud that it was Power's newly-added car that had emerged as Penske's main title contender, though he admitted that the expanded team had felt overstretched in the pits, and that missing out on the title and another Indy win hurt.

"If we look back in our history, I think last year is one of the most successful years we ever had when you look at the number of poles and races we won as an organisation," said Cindric.

"But we fell short of winning the Indy 500 and winning the championship. Those are the two marquee things within the series, the two things we strive for. The rest of it is building blocks for that.

"To last year add a third car and have that car compete for the championship, we're proud of that, because for anybody that's been in the business, it's difficult to put a third car in and continue to keep a level of success. When that third car becomes a frontrunner for the championship, it's something that's important, for sure.

"That said, we probably were a little weaker than what we needed to be in the pits. I think we took two A-Teams and we made three B-Teams out of two A-Teams. I think we need to approach this year with three A-Teams in the pit lane.

"When we ran the Indy 500 last year, I felt like qualifying first, second and fourth is a pretty good feat there. We were very strong in the race, we just didn't execute. We need to continue to execute when it's our day."

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