IRL: Indy 500: Team Penske Pit Notes 2002-05-15

Pit Notes May 15, 2002 Marlboro Team Penske Indy qualifying recap. The identical Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolets currently sit 13th and 14th in the provisional Indianapolis 500 starting grid after this past weekend's pole day. 2001 ...

Pit Notes
May 15, 2002

Marlboro Team Penske Indy qualifying recap.

The identical Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolets currently sit 13th and 14th in the provisional Indianapolis 500 starting grid after this past weekend's pole day. 2001 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves qualified 13th with an average speed of 229.052 mph over his four lap qualifying run. Marlboro Team Penske teammate and Two-Time National Champion Gil de Ferran qualified 14th with an average speed of 228.671 mph. While both drivers expected more from their qualifying results, they did have one consistent thought - they're both happy to "be in the Show." In addition, the race is a 500-mile event over 3 ½ hours with seven or eight pit stops, so ultimately the starting grid will mean little more than a way to organize the 33-car field at the beginning of the race.

"When we went out on our first run it wasn't as fast as we would have liked, so we took a chance and waved off and came in to make a few changes," said Castroneves after his qualifying run. "Unfortunately, the car was slightly slower on my second attempt and we had to take the time, because we were concerned about the weather. I was surprised, because it looked like the Marlboro Team Penske car was fast enough to win the pole based on how we were running all week. It's too bad that it didn't work out. There's no way I can be disappointed with today's results, because we're in the show and that's what matters. I think we're still in good shape; it's a 500-mile event over three and a half hours with seven or eight pit stops so it doesn't really matter where you start. Now that qualifying is over for us, we can look ahead to the race and hopefully we'll be right there at the end."

"I'm happy we are in the field, but I'm slightly disappointed with the speed," said de Ferran. "To be honest, I didn't feel we had what it would take to put the Marlboro Team Penske car on the pole, but I felt we'd run in the mid-229 mph or low 230 mph range. I'm really not sure why we didn't go quite that fast. The car was handling well and was very consistent throughout the run. I was flat out the whole way around. We'll have to go back to the garage and analyze the data to understand what happened. Now we switch gears completely and focus on race preparation. We'll do full tank runs and make sure we've got a car that will handle well for the race."

Castroneves and de Ferran both remain optimistic for their chances come race day. Here are a few lesser known fast facts about those failing to start the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in the top-ten:

* Last year, Helio Castroneves started 11th on his way to his first Indianapolis 500 victory.

* In 1987, Al Unser qualified 20th for Penske Racing and went on the win the race.

* 23 drivers who have started 11th or lower have gone on to victory.

* Of those 23, two won after starting 13th and one won after starting 14th.

MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE SWITCHES GEARS TO PREPARE FOR THE INDY 500

Now that qualifying is over for Marlboro Team Penske, the Team will use this week to begin its preparation for the 86th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 26th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).

While the track has been closed for the past two days, the Team has been working at their home away from home in their garages at IMS since Monday morning. During this time off track the Team has begun the task of switching the primary and back-up cars from a qualifying set-up to a race set-up.

Beginning this Wednesday, Castroneves and de Ferran will start their race preparation by taking out the #3T and #6T Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolets on long runs to simulate race conditions. These runs will be about 33-35 laps and the Team plans on taking about three longs runs for each driver between Wednesday and Sunday. The cars will run on used tires for these stints in order to conserve the Teams' allotted amount. Throughout this testing time, the Team will also use short runs to scrub the brand new tires to prepare them for race weekend.

While the T-cars will be the ones that Castroneves and de Ferran will be driving on the track this week, the primary car will be undergoing countless inspections such as testing for cracking and problems with the suspension. By the end of the week, the primary car will be transformed into the racecar to be used for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and will feature a completely different set-up than it had during qualifying weekend. After this series of inspections, the only thing that the #3 and #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolets will be missing are their race engines, which are being prepared at the Ilmor facilities in Plymouth, MI. The Team is expecting to have the race engines installed by Carburetion Day at which time they will take them on short runs to shake them down to determine what changes need to be made for race weekend.

Weather permitting, Marlboro Team Penske should be ahead of the game by the end of the week with a solid start at preparing themselves for the biggest week on the racing calendar - the 86th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

The track will be closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week before it opens for final practice on Thursday - Carburetion Day.

-mtp-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Al Unser
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske