Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes July 19, 2005 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE POSTS SOLID SHOWING IN NASHVILLE Marlboro Team Penske posted two top-five finishes this past weekend at the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, the ninth stop on ...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
July 19, 2005
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE POSTS SOLID SHOWING IN NASHVILLE
Marlboro Team Penske posted two top-five finishes this past weekend at the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, the ninth stop on the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series circuit.
Two-time Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. started 13th and was able to battle his way up to second to clinch his fourth top-five finish of the year as well as his third top-three finish at the 1.33-mile oval in Tennessee. Teammate and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves started 15th and ran a consistent race to position his #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota into fifth when the checkered flag dropped. His effort marked the 30 year-old Brazilian's fifth top-five finish of the season as well as his third consecutive top-five result at Nashville.
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE LOOKS AHEAD TO MILWAUKEE
Coming off of strong performances in Nashville, Marlboro Team Penske will head to Wisconsin this weekend to compete in the ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt 225 at the historic Milwaukee Mile on Sunday. The outlook is promising as the duo of Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves have won the two IndyCar Series short oval (one mile or less) events this season and Penske Racing has recorded five victories at the famed Mile.
Earlier this year in Phoenix, Hornish Jr. earned his second win with Marlboro Team Penske as he led 25 laps on his way to taking the checkered flag marking his record 13th IndyCar Series win. Castroneves finished second marking Marlboro Team Penske's first 1-2 finish of 2005 and its seventh since joining the IRL full-time in 2002. The victory also marked Penske Racing's 34th 1-2 win in its history.
In June, Castroneves took the reigns as he earned his first win of the year in Richmond after leading a race-high 112 laps on his way to his 13th career Indy car victory. Needless to say, this year Marlboro Team Penske has been dominant on short ovals this year, but historically they've always been strong on this type of track. Since 2002, Castroneves has earned two wins from the pole (Phoenix -- 2002; St. Louis - 2003). He's also earned a victory and a pole in Nazareth (2003 win; 2004 pole).
Castroneves has also had his fair share of success in Milwaukee. In 1998, Castroneves scored his first Indy car podium appearance when he finished second and earned his first Indy car pole at The Milwaukee Mile in 1999. "Marlboro Team Penske has done well on short ovals this season, so I'm excited to go to Milwaukee this weekend," said Castroneves. "The Milwaukee Mile is a very historic place for me as it was the site of my first podium in 1998 and my first pole in 1999. I have very strong feelings about this place and I can't wait to get out there on Sunday."
Teammate Sam Hornish Jr. has also proven himself on short ovals earning three victories on tracks one mile or less in length. He earned his first career IndyCar Series win at Phoenix in 2001, as well as his win there again this season; and he won in Richmond in 2002.
Last year marked the first year of IndyCar competition at The Milwaukee Mile as the Series made its debut at the historic track in 2004 and Hornish Jr. displayed that he was up for the challenge as he earned a third-place finish after starting fourth and leading for 34 laps.
"I'm looking forward to racing in Milwaukee again this year," said Hornish Jr. "We finished third there last year and I'll definitely be looking to bring the Marlboro Team Penske car home in a better position this season. I like The Milwaukee Mile because it's a flat, one-mile track that's deep rooted in open-wheel heritage so it's great to be able to race there. I like these types of tracks, so I think we should be in for an exciting race."
In addition to his success last year, Hornish Jr. will have another source of motivation as his family also has roots in the Milwaukee area. Hornish Jr.'s mother, Jo Ellen, is from Milwaukee and the Hornish family still has a lot of relatives in the area. Many of his family and friends will be on-hand to cheer for the two-time Series champion along with fans from his hometown of Defiance, OH.
RAIN CANCELS MARLBORO POLE AWARD IN NASHVILLE
Due to the rain in Nashville this past weekend, qualifying was cancelled and the lineup for the Firestone Indy 200 was determined by practice times. As a result, the Marlboro Pole Award was not presented during the race weekend. The $10,000 bonus for the Nashville pole, will be rolled into a year-end fund and presented to the driver who scores the most poles this season.
IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY
While NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Tony Stewart has been gaining notoriety for his newly adopted "fence climb" when he takes the checkered flag, it's important to take note of how what has come to be one of the most famous victory celebrations in motorsports was born.
On June 18, 2000, at the Detroit Grand Prix, Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves took his first checkered flag in an Indy car. He was so overcome with emotion, that he forgot to pull into the pits and instead stopped on the front straight.
When he saw all the fans cheering on the front straight, he went and scaled the fence to celebrate with them.
"I was so overcome with emotion that all I wanted to do was show how excited I was to all the fans that had come out to the race," recalls Castroneves. "I just stopped my car and my first reaction was to run over to the fence and climb it just to show how much that win meant to me. From there, the rest is history. Most racecar drivers are so calm when they win and I get so overcome with emotion that all I want to do is celebrate with the fans. I think it's a great tradition and something I look forward to doing for a long time to come."
Since that fateful day in 2000, Castroneves has replicated his "fence climb" twelve more times after each victory he's earned including two trips up the fence at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he won the Indianapolis 500 in 2001 and 2002.
"I think it's great that Tony (Stewart) is climbing the fence after he wins, it's good to see drivers showing their emotions when they win," continued Castroneves.
"I'm flattered that he has chosen my way to celebrate. Every time I see a driver climb the fence it makes me smile because I think it says a lot about the excitement that I convey to the fans when I take the checkered flag."