IRL: Kansas: Team Penske Pit Notes preview

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes June 27, 2006 HORNISH JR. WINS RICHMOND This past Saturday night, Marlboro Team Penske was in Richmond, VA for the SunTrust Indy Challenge; the seventh stop on the 2006 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series...

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
June 27, 2006

HORNISH JR. WINS RICHMOND

This past Saturday night, Marlboro Team Penske was in Richmond, VA for the SunTrust Indy Challenge; the seventh stop on the 2006 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series season schedule. While in the backyard of sponsor Philip Morris USA, Marlboro Team Penske stole the show as the Team led each and every lap of the night for its second consecutive win in Richmond. The Team has now won five of seven events run to date, started from the pole position in six of them, and led 722 out of a possible 1,205 laps (60%).

Helio Castroneves started from the pole (the lineup was determined by practice times as qualifying was rained out) and led the first 38 laps. Teammate and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. took the lead from Castroneves on lap 39 and never looked back. Hornish Jr. led the final 212 laps of the race to take his second checkered flag of the 2006 IndyCar Series season.

With his win on Saturday night, Sam Hornish Jr. catapulted into second place in the 2006 IndyCar Series Championship point standings with 247 points, just five points behind Castroneves, who retained his lead. Hornish Jr.'s victory on Saturday night also marked his Series-record sixteenth win and made him the only IndyCar Series driver to earn multiple wins at the ¾-mile oval at Richmond International Raceway.

Hornish Jr. has now recorded five top-five and six top-ten finishes in the seven races run to date this year. He's also led 394 laps, which is 33% of all laps run in competition this season.

Teammate Castroneves was running well all night until the final laps of the race, when he got a flat tire and dropped a lap down to finish tenth. The Brazilian earned 20 Championship points and heads to Kansas with a five point lead in the points battle. Castroneves also continued his streak as the only driver to lead laps in each IndyCar Series race run this season.

MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO KANSAS

This weekend, Marlboro Team Penske will head to Kansas Speedway to participate in the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 on Sunday afternoon. While the pair of Marlboro Team Penske drivers have earned respectable results in Kansas in the past, neither driver has been able to find his way to Victory Lane; so both of them will definitely have their sights set to earn Marlboro Team Penske's first victory at the 1.5-mile tri-oval.

Hornish Jr. has recorded three top-five starts and two top-five finishes at the track (he finished second in 2001 and 2002), but Kansas Speedway remains one of only two 1.5-mile ovals at which he has yet to score a victory (Hornish Jr. has also never won in Japan). Needless to say, the Defiance, OH native will be looking to carry the momentum from last weekend into Sunday's event as he attempts to make it two consecutive victories on race day.

"I'm definitely looking forward to the Kansas race because we've had some success on the 1.5-mile ovals, but for some reason, a victory has always eluded me there," explains Hornish Jr. "I've finished second a couple of times, so I'd like to be able to take that next step and finally get the win. Everything went well at the open test a couple of weeks ago, and the Marlboro Team Penske car was quick and handling well.

Hopefully we'll be able to continue moving forward when we hit the track this weekend."

Teammate Helio Castroneves has also found some success at Kansas recording top-ten finishes in each of his four previous appearances, including a second place finish in 2003 and a third place finish in 2002. The 31 year-old has also started in the top-ten in three of four trips to Kansas Speedway.

"We were pleased with what we were able to accomplish during the test at Kansas Speedway," said Castroneves. "It's always good to get extra track time, and no matter where you're at, you always learn something. It wasn't as warm as what we expect for the race, but hopefully we'll have to make only minor adjustments to the Marlboro Team Penske car to put together a strong showing for the race. The Team always seems able to adapt to different situations, so I'm optimistic that we're going to be well prepared for Sunday."

HORNISH JR. NOMINATED FOR TWO ESPY'S

The nominees for the 2006 ESPY Awards were announced this morning and 2006 Indianapolis 500 Champion Sam Hornish Jr. has been nominated in two categories.

The first is "Best Championship Performance" for his effort at this year's Indianapolis 500; where he won in dramatic fashion when he passed Marco Andretti on the final stretch of the final lap. His .0635 second margin of victory was the second closest in the history of the Indianapolis 500, and his last lap pass marked the first time in the history of the race that the winner has made the winning pass on the final lap. Other nominees in this category include University of Texas Quarterback Vince Young, Tennis player Venus Williams and Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.

In addition, Hornish Jr. is also nominated in the "Best Driver" category with fellow nominees Nextel Cup drivers Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart; IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon; and NHRA driver Melanie Troxel.

"It's a pretty unbelievable thing to be nominated for one ESPY, let alone two," said Hornish Jr. "It'd be even more unbelievable to win. When I was making my way up the ranks throughout my career, I never dreamed I'd get this kind of recognition, it's very exciting to be included in such a group of world-class athletes."

-mtp

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