IRL: Indy 500: Team Penske Pit Notes 2006-05-22

HORNISH JR. EARNS PENSKE RACING'S RECORD 13th POLE AT INDY After being at the top of the speed charts for six of the seven practice days in preparation of this year's Indianapolis 500 qualifications, Sam Hornish Jr. came one step closer to ...

HORNISH JR. EARNS PENSKE RACING'S RECORD 13th POLE AT INDY

After being at the top of the speed charts for six of the seven practice days in preparation of this year's Indianapolis 500 qualifications, Sam Hornish Jr. came one step closer to accomplishing his lifelong dream of winning the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, as he cruised to his first pole at the fabled track. Registering a fourlap average of 228.985 mph, Hornish Jr. topped his teammate Helio Castroneves, who recorded a qualifying average of 228.008 mph in the battle for the pole on Saturday. The duo earned Penske Racing's first 1-2 start at the Indy 500 since 1990 when Emerson Fittipaldi started from the pole and Rick Mears started second, and the Team's sixth 1-2 start at the Brickyard overall.

After rain plagued Pole Day last week, Hornish Jr. and Castroneves qualified with 30 other drivers on Saturday and now have shifted their focus to race day preparations. As the pair both look to put their face on the BorgWarner trophy this year, Penske Racing will be seeking its record 14th victory at the Indy 500.

When the green flag drops at the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Hornish Jr. and Castroneves will make the Team's 32nd and 33rd front row starts since it began racing at Indy in 1969 and the 73rd and 74th start overall. In addition, Hornish Jr. will have his sights set on becoming the 10th driver to win at Indy for Penske Racing.

While Hornish Jr. will start from the pole, teammate Castroneves will certainly be a contender as he starts by his teammate's side in the middle of the front row. Castroneves clearly knows his way around Indy, in his five appearances at the Speedway, he's earned two victories, a second place and two ninth place finishes. In 2002, Castroneves, at age 27, became the youngest driver in history to win the Indianapolis 500 twice and the only driver to win the race in his first two starts. Louis Meyer won his second Indianapolis 500 at the age of 28 and A.J. Foyt won his second when he was 29 years old. He also became the first driver to win consecutively at the Speedway since Al Unser Sr. won back-to-back in 1970 and 1971. In 2003, Castroneves finished second behind former teammate Gil de Ferran marking Penske Racing's second 1-2 finish at the Indy 500 in three years (Castroneves and de Ferran finished first and second respectively in 2001).

AND THE WINNER IS...

Engineers aren't often in the spotlight in Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series racing, but that changed last week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Marlboro Team Penske engineering team of Tom German, Justin Horning and Tom Janiczek received the prestigious Louis Schwitzer Award for Engineering Innovation and Excellence at a news conference on Friday, May 19th. The award, sponsored by BorgWarner, and presented by the Indiana Section of SAE International, recognizes engineering excellence at the Indianapolis 500 and is named after early racing pioneer and past Indiana Section Chairman, Louis Schwitzer.

The Team was recognized for their efforts in developing a way to adjust the rear wing of the car during the race without increasing pit stop time. The innovation the Team designed is a battery operated tool that allows a tire changer to make necessary adjustments in just two seconds. Previously, rear wing adjustments, which are only permitted by IRL rules at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, would take at least one minute or longer. This is the fourth time that Penske Racing has received this award in its 40-year history. They also won in 1993, 1982 and 1980 for chassis design on the Penske chassis'.

"We're always looking to make changes to the car to compensate for changes during the race. In the past, we had the same amount of downforce at the start and finish of the race. Now we can adjust the downforce during the race and hopefully extend our lead," German said.

"It's a testament to our people when we are recognized for innovative ideas, and this award has a great heritage," said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Performance, Inc. "This innovation is a bit different to some of the previous winners, as it is one of those things that is great to have, but you would rather not use it, as you hope your initial choice on wing angle to the right one."

As part of the award, the Team received a prize of $10,000 and a $1,000 scholarship to an engineering school of the winner's choice. Since Tom German was a former participant in the Formula SAE program, the scholarship was doubled to $2,000. The Team named Rose-Hulman Institute as the recipient of the scholarship money.

ROGER PENSKE SPEARHEADS DETROIT CLEANUP EFFORT

While Roger Penske is best known for his accomplishments in business and racing, he's also becoming well known in his hometown of Detroit as a civic leader. "The Captain" recently served as the chairman of the Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee where he led an effort to rejuvenate the downtown area in preparation for the event.

Penske has now parlayed his efforts into a new position -- chairman of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. In this role, Penske will lead a privately funded, $1.2 million effort to keep the downtown business district in its pristine Super Bowl form.

"This is bigger than the Super Bowl as far as I'm concerned, because this is sustaining value for this city and the future. So for me, it's an issue that I want to be sure I'm a part of," Penske said.

THE GREATEST SPECTACLE IN TURTLE RACING -- THE ZOOPOLIS 500

Sam Hornish Jr. will be on hand for another famous race in May -- The Zoopolis 500. The annual giant tortoise race, which is celebrating its 23rd year, will take place at the Indianapolis Zoo on Wednesday, May 24 at 11:30 a.m. ET.

The race features two giant Aldabra tortoises -- "A.J." (485 lbs.) and "Lyn" (148 lbs.). When the green flag drops, the pair will race from their winter holding area to their summer exhibit.

Hornish Jr. will be on hand to sign autographs, while Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network announcer, Mike King will call the race.

Prior to the race, Hornish Jr. and his wife Crystal will enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the Zoo, which will include swimming with the dolphins and getting a sneak peak at some of the Zoo's most popular exhibits.

-team penske

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Al Unser Sr. , Rick Mears , Emerson Fittipaldi , Roger Penske , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske