IRL: Homestead: Team Penske preview

TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO MIAMI This weekend Team Penske kicks off the 2007 IndyCar® Series season under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway as they get set to defend their IndyCar Series Title. In 2006, Sam Hornish Jr. brought Penske Racing its...

TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO MIAMI

This weekend Team Penske kicks off the 2007 IndyCar® Series season under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway as they get set to defend their IndyCar Series Title. In 2006, Sam Hornish Jr. brought Penske Racing its first-ever Series Championship and record 12th National Title. Hornish Jr. returns to the Team in 2007, with Team Penske veteran Helio Castroneves, not only as the defending IndyCar Series Champion, but also as the defending Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner.

Last season, Hornish Jr. found Victory Lane four times and earned four poles on the way to his record third IndyCar Series title in just seven years of competition. Not only did he win the Championship last year, but he also accomplished his life-long dream of winning the Indianapolis 500 after an unbelievable last lap pass of Marco Andretti. Beginning on Saturday night, Hornish Jr. will be looking to top an unforgettable 2006 season as well as win back-to-back titles for the second time in his career.

"I'm definitely looking forward to starting the IndyCar season," said Hornish Jr. "Obviously, our 2006 results will be hard to top after winning the Indianapolis 500 and the Championship, but I know the Team has been working hard in the off season to maintain our competitiveness. One goal I have for myself this year is to win a road/street course race, and I think that I've improved enough during the past two seasons that I should have a good shot of making this happen. Spring testing went really well for us at Daytona and Homestead, so I'm hopeful that we'll be able to return for another run at the Championship."

Teammate Castroneves will also be looking for his first-ever Series title in 2007, as he finished third in the Championship last year. The 31 year-old Brazilian found victory lane four times in 2006 and captured the pole position a Series-high five times.

"I start off every season with one goal - to win the Championship - and 2007 will be no different," explains Castroneves. "We had a strong campaign in 2006, but I think that the competition will be much tougher this year. I think a lot of teams got a wake-up call last season and they've worked hard over the past few months to make sure they are where they need to be. I think it will be an exciting year and I think Team Penske has what it takes to get the job done."

Miami should provide a fitting location to begin defense of the Series title as Team Penske has had some considerable success at the southern Florida 1.5-mile oval.

In 2004, Hornish Jr. became the first open wheel driver in Team Penske history to win in his debut with the Team.

In six appearances at the track, Hornish Jr. has earned three wins, two poles, led a race-high number of laps three times and finished in the top-five five times.

Castroneves has earned a top-three finish in four of his five IndyCar appearances in Homestead, he's finished in the top five every time.

HORNISH HITS THE CENTURY MARK

This weekend's IndyCar Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway will also be a milestone for Sam Hornish Jr. Saturday night's race under the lights will mark the 100th time Hornish Jr. has taken the green flag in an IndyCar.

In his first 99 career starts, Hornish Jr. has earned three Championships, 18 victories including the 2006 Indianapolis 500, ten pole positions, led 3,173 laps, earned 54 top-five finishes and led 62 races. Hornish Jr. holds series records for Championships, race wins, top-five finishes, laps led and races led.

Needless to say, those are some impressive numbers.

CASTRONEVES TO PLAY TENNIS WITH KIM CLIJSTERS

2005 US Open Champion Kim Clijsters and two-time Indianapolis 500 Champion Helio Castroneves will share their expertise in tennis and racing at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park on Tuesday, March 20th, prior to the start of the 2007 Sony Ericsson Open.

First Clijsters and Castroneves will engage in a 12-point tie-breaker match on the tennis court, and then "race" in IndyCar Series driving simulators, full-size cars fitted with plasma screens and a video racing game.

The event will serve as a warm up for Castroneves and Clijsters, both scheduled to compete in major sporting events in the greater Miami area this week. Castroneves, a resident of Coral Gables, will race in the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24, the first race on the 2007 IndyCar Series 17-race schedule.

Clijsters, who's currently ranked fifth in the world, will participate in the Sony Ericsson Open, played March 21-April 1 at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park. The Sony Ericsson Open is the largest non-Grand Slam tennis event in the world, featuring 96 of the top men and 96 of the top women's tennis players on the ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tours.

-credit: tp

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Marco Andretti , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske