Another busy weekend coming up for Ryan Briscoe

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The balancing act begins anew this weekend for American Le Mans Series full-timer and IndyCar part-timer Ryan Briscoe.

It all starts Thursday with an Open Test for Panther Racing at Pocono Raceway in advance of Sunday’s Pocono IndyCar 400 at the “Tricky Triangle.” After the test is over, he’ll then head off to Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park, where he’ll compete for Level 5 Motorsports on Saturday in the ALMS’ Northeast Grand Prix.

As a result, Briscoe will not be able to qualify Panther’s No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet that day at Pocono and will make his fifth IndyCar start of the season from the back of the field on Sunday.

“It will be a busy weekend between racing the National Guard Chevrolet at Pocono and the Level 5 car at Lime Rock,” Briscoe said in a statement. “It’s great that Panther is giving me the opportunity to race at Pocono even though I won’t be here Saturday for practice and qualifying. Fortunately, I will be able to prepare the car for the race and it was a big bonus having the test day last week and then the Open Test on Thursday to get as much track time as possible.”

Briscoe’s most recent start with Panther at the Milwaukee Mile came while he was going back and forth from France, where he was preparing for his first 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Level 5 camp.

Team managing partner John Barnes said he wasn’t worried about having to start from the back at Pocono.

“I’m not concerned about missing qualifying and having to start in the back of the field; Pocono is a big place and we’ll have 400 miles to help Ryan work his way to the front,” he said in the same statement. “This is the first time we’ve had an extended period of time to test with him and that will pay off for us on Sunday.”

Panther collected its first Top-10 finish since April in the most recent race at Iowa Speedway, as Oriol Servia turned in a seventh-place result on the short oval.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.