INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- March 17, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Sneak Peak 2006: Marlboro Team Penske hopes to bring title to "Captain" 2. Morrow passes Indy Pro Series rookie test 1. Sneak Peak 2006: Marlboro Team Penske hopes to...
INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- March 17, 2006
Today's IRL headlines
1. Sneak Peak 2006: Marlboro Team Penske hopes to bring title to "Captain"
2. Morrow passes Indy Pro Series rookie test
1. Sneak Peak 2006: Marlboro Team Penske hopes to bring title to "Captain": If preseason testing is any indication, Marlboro Team Penske may be the biggest beneficiary from a switch to Honda Indy V-8 engines this season.
Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. ranked near the top of the time charts during each of the practice days, with Castroneves being the most consistent performer of each day. The team takes that momentum into the 2006 season with the goal of giving team owner Roger Penske his first IndyCar Series championship.
"The start of a season always marks a new beginning with a clean slate," Castroneves said. "We've worked very hard the last few years, and hopefully, it will all come together and pay off this season."
Hornish finished third in points last season with victories on the 1-mile ovals at Milwaukee and Phoenix. The two-time IndyCar Series champion said he feels like he has all the tools necessary to win his third season title.
"With the addition of Honda horsepower, I feel very confident that we'll be competing for wins and the championship right off the bat," he said. " I'm looking forward to another great season with Marlboro Team Penske. I know the cars will be reliable, the pit stops will be great, and hopefully, with a little bit of luck, we'll end the season with a championship."
Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, said he's looking forward to Indianapolis, where he'll try to become a three-time winner of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." And like Hornish, he sees himself as a title contender.
"I'm definitely optimistic about our competitiveness in 2006," he said. "I think if Marlboro Team Penske works hard all year, we'll be in good shape for the championship. There are so many good drivers in this series, it won't be easy, but that is what makes winning all the better."
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE
Car numbers: 3 (Castroneves), 6 (Hornish)
Drivers: Helio Castroneves, 30, of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Sam Hornish Jr., 26, of Defiance, Ohio.
Race engineers: Ron Ruzewski (Castroneves), Tom German (Hornish)
Chief mechanics: Rick Rinaman (Castroneves), Matt Jonsson (Hornish)
General manager: Clive Howell
Team manager: Tom Wurtz
TEAM PRINCIPAL'S OUTLOOK
Tim Cindric, President, Penske Performance, Inc.: "2006 should be one of the most competitive seasons for the IndyCar Series as the equality in equipment is going to put even more emphasis on the team and the drivers. We are anxious to get started and feel we must remain focused at each event as the 14-race schedule will really reward consistency. "
2. Morrow passes Indy Pro Series rookie test: Jamie Morrow, a former United Kingdom ZIP Formula winner, Formula Renault racer and Thunder Arabia Formula Ford winner, passed his Indy Pro Series^Ù rookie test with Michael Crawford Motorsport on the road and oval circuits at Homestead -- Miami Speedway on March 4 and 6.
"Jamie was perfect," said team owner Michael Crawford. "He approached it like a true pro. The Indy Racing League was impressed and cleared him to try the oval, where he ran nice, consistent laps, and did a super job. I talked to Butch Meyer, technical director, on my drive back to Indy. He passed Jamie with flying colors."
"The road track was what I'm used to, but I was still pleased to post a respectable time after just 15 laps, particularly as it was my first time in an Indy Pro car," said Morrow. "As for the oval, I got a real buzz going out on one for the first time. It was absolutely awesome. I'm going to tell other UK drivers to try it. Since the test I've had lots of interest from sponsors, which I'm determined to convert into a budget and get racing in the Indy Pro Series."
*** The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast is also carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition opens with the Miami 100 at 12:30 p.m. on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. on March 31 by ESPN2.