Penske's Ryan Briscoe odd man out?
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Penske Racing is still working on its 2013 driver lineup and that may include changes for IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe.
Penske president Tom Cindric said the team is looking for sponsors for its IndyCar program, which fields three full-time cars. Penske picked up the 2013 contract options on points leader Will Power and Helio Castroneves, but is in limbo right now regarding Briscoe.
"We've told Ryan Briscoe it would be OK for him to go look and try to understand what's out there because our deal will come together late," Cindric said. "And we'll look to see who is available at that time. We haven't told him yes and we haven't told him no, we want him to land on his feet whether it's with us or someone else."
Briscoe won two weeks ago at Sonoma and finished second on Sunday at Baltimore. He's currently ranked sixth in the standings.
Penske formally introduced Joey Logano on Wednesday as the driver for its No. 22, a ride that Sam Hornish Jr. took over in July when AJ Allmendinger failed a random drug test. Although Hornish will finish the season in the car, he'll have to turn the keys over to Logano at the end of the year.
Hornish, a former Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time IndyCar champion, is still in Penske's NASCAR plans.
"We've continued to work on putting a Cup program together for Sam, we just haven't been able to close that process yet," Cindric said. "I foresee Sam driving for us a full season Nationwide next year and hopefully some Cup races, as well."
Cindric said he thinks it is too late in the year to put together a full-time Sprint Cup Series program for Hornish in 2013, and the goal now is to find sponsorship for some races.
Hornish is ranked third in the Nationwide Series but still looking for his first win of the season. In the nine races since stepping in after Allmendinger's suspension, his best finish was fifth at Watkins Glen. He was 11th at Atlanta.
He has made no secret of wanting to get back to the Cup Series, where he spent three seasons before a lack of sponsorship forced Penske to shutter the program. Hornish was out of a ride most of last year, and was disappointed he was passed over for Allmendinger when the No. 22 opened in December.
Now he's been passed over by Logano, who has been on Penske's wish list for some time. Cindric said there's no easy answer as to why Hornish didn't get the job. Logano is 11 years younger than the 33-year-old Hornish, and offered a ton of potential to sponsor Shell Pennzoil.
"When you look at it, you have to try to understand who has the best track record and who has the best fit for the sponsor and the team," Cindric said. "Sam is obviously a good fit for our team, but when you look at in on paper, it becomes a little more difficult."
Cindric said it will be hard to get Hornish anything beyond a partial Cup schedule for 2013 right now.
"I would be surprised if we would be able to put together a full-time schedule for Sam at this time of the year," Cindric said. "We want him in the Cup Series and our goal is to get him there. But right now there aren't any sponsors ready to make that commitment."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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