Indianapolis 500 Practice: Ryan Briscoe returns to IndyCar cockpit for first time this season

Michael Hickey

In a one-off effort for Chip Ganassi Racing, Ryan Briscoe will drive the No. 8 Honda this month and is expected to contend for the win in the 97th Indianapolis 500. He took his first laps of the month on Sunday and was ranked 17th on the charts.

Ryan Briscoe is overjoyed to be back in the IndyCar Series. In his first weekend of seat time since the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway, Briscoe got accustomed to his new team and car with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Briscoe was left without a full-time seat after last season and spent the winter negotiating with several teams about competing at Indianapolis. He ultimately agreed to terms with Ganassi, the team in which he made his IndyCar debut for in 2005.

Briscoe is the defending pole sitter of the race and finished fifth.

Now that he's back, Briscoe is focused on making the most of his opportunity. In fact, Briscoe doesn't think his eight-month layoff will hurt at all. He says it felt like he never left the Series at all that he has to do is now stay the course and put in consistent lap times.

"When I went out tonight, it was like I never left," Briscoe said. "It just felt normal. It feels good to be back in the groove of things and I'm looking forward to doing more tomorrow. The first part of the week is usual. Everyone is out doing race runs.

"There will be lots of cars on track; there will be drafts. You'll have to look at the average lap times. There are some guys who are better at getting tow laps and posting big times, and then all of a sudden you're qualifying with nobody on track and you see surprises."

Briscoe says he still hasn't adjusted to no longer driving for Roger Penske. He drove the team's No. 2 car since 2007 and still has to look twice when he sees that car, now driven by AJ Allmendinger, go by on the track. But ultimately, he harbors no ill will towards Roger Penske and chalked up losing his ride as a byproduct of the business of racing.

He hopes to be back full-time next season and a strong performance in the Indianapolis 500 will certainly help his cause.

"You never know what's around the next corner," Briscoe said. "You just have to keep with it and stay positive. It's such a small community of people and so many guys that I worked with at Penske are at Ganassi now. And the rest of them I know from having raced at Ganassi in 2005.

"It's so important in this business not to hold grudges, not to burn bridges. You just have to go out there and be professional and just keep doing what we do. I feel like I have a place in IndyCar, and I just have to go out and do a good job."

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