MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PIT NOTES July 10, 2006 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO MUSIC CITY After a weekend off from the hectic 2006 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCarÂ® Series season, Marlboro Team Penske heads to Nashville Superspeedway to compete...
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PIT NOTES
July 10, 2006
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO MUSIC CITY
After a weekend off from the hectic 2006 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series season, Marlboro Team Penske heads to Nashville Superspeedway to compete in the Firestone Indy 200 under the lights on Saturday night. The Team will arrive in Music City on the strength of three consecutive victories (Helio Castroneves won in Texas; and Sam Hornish Jr. won back-to-back races in Richmond and Kansas) and wins at six of the eight races run to date.
Needless to say, the Team will be looking for an IndyCar Series record fourth straight victory on Saturday night. While Marlboro Team Penske won at Nashville in 2003 with Gil de Ferran behind the wheel, neither of the Team's current drivers have been able to find their way to Victory Circle at the 1.33- mile concrete oval. Hornish Jr. has finished in the top-three three times in five appearances and teammate Castroneves has earned two top-three finishes in four appearances. With three wins each in 2006, both drivers will definitely be looking to carry that momentum to score their first win in Nashville.
"Nashville is one of the most challenging tracks we run at because the concrete surface makes it difficult to set up the car," said Hornish Jr. "The track is different than any other we race on because of the surface. We finished second there the last two years, so hopefully if we work hard and get a good set-up on the Marlboro Team Penske car we should be able to get out of there with a third straight win and be able to hold on to our points lead."
"While it might seem like Nashville is just another oval for us, it really poses a lot of challenges," explains Castroneves. "This is the only concrete surface we race on all year. It's the same for everyone out there, so the different track surface means more work for the engineers but I know Marlboro Team Penske is up for the challenge. We've had some good runs mixed with a little bad luck, so hopefully we'll be able to work things out and return to victory lane."
HORNISH JR. RETURNS TO THE TOP
Two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. has once again regained his familiar perch atop the Championship point standings on the strength of back-to-back victories in Richmond and Kansas.
The battle for this year's Championship has been a close one; but that's nothing new for the 27 year-old Hornish. At the same point in the season in 2002, Hornish Jr. sat in third place in the standings behind Helio Castroneves and former Marlboro Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran. The lead in the standings would go back and forth between the trio of drivers for the remainder of the season and Hornish Jr. finally clinched the Championship by 20 points over Castroneves in the final event of the year at Texas Motor Speedway. In 2001, Hornish Jr. had a comfortable lead in the Championship at this point holding a 50 point lead over Buddy Lazier. He'd go on to win the Championship by 105 points over Lazier.
A CONVERSATION PIECE
Between Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr., the duo has earned three "Baby Borgs" for winning the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. In addition, both pilots have won their fair share of trophies that make wonderful conversation pieces in their trophy cases. However, the one trophy each of them would love as their newest addition is the guitar a driver receives for winning at Nashville Superspeedway.
"The BorgWarner is obviously the one that everyone wants to win -- because it comes with the honor of winning the Indy 500," said Hornish Jr. "My other favorite trophy is the one I have for earning the Scott Brayton award -- it's something you can't really go out and win yourself, you have to be chosen for it, so it will always have a special place in my heart. The trophy is also unique, because it's a bronze racecar and there's nothing else quite like it. But the trophy you get for winning in Nashville is also one of those that is so unique, that I'd love to win it. The paint scheme is intricate and it's a guitar so there's no other trophy like it. It would make for an interesting conversation piece in my trophy case that people would definitely always ask me about."
"As far as the trophies I've won in my career, I'd have to say putting my face on the BorgWarner is the biggest honor," said Castroneves. "I also love the Texas trophy -- it's a beautiful crystal cup, plus I won cowboy boots and guns too. The one I got for winning in Japan earlier this year is also pretty neat -- its a large silver sculpture that reminds me of the BorgWarner trophy, and then they also gave me a bowling ball, a bicycle and a commemorative plate. I think that every driver would like to add the Nashville guitar to their trophy collection - myself included. It's one of the most unique trophies in all of racing. I don't know how to play, but I tried singing while in Nashville once, and I learned that I have absolutely no future in music. So while it would be great to win a guitar, I think I'd just keep it in my trophy case and stick to racing!"
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE WEATHERS THE STORM
Two weeks ago, Penske Racing's facility in Reading, PA was flooded with four feet of water from the Schuykill River and the race shop was rendered uninhabitable. The race equipment was saved after the Team departed for the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 a day ahead of schedule in order to beat the bulk of the flooding. However much of the equipment used in the shop was lost due to water damage. The Team has since moved its operations to its REI (Racing Experience Inc.) facility in nearby Exeter, PA.
For the first two days, Penske Racing cohabitated with the REI personnel sharing work space. However, over the course of the past week, the Team has set-up it's own infrastructure within the REI facility and is now working independently. Penske Racing is outfitted with four work bays and pre-existing office space. The Team had storage/office space in a building adjacent to REI's main facility that they converted into their current headquarters and subassembly work area. What was previously housed in that space has been sent to Penske Restoration in Detroit to make room for the operation.
"Hats off to Jerry Breon (facilities manager), Mark Stewart (IT) as well as the entire Team," said Marlboro Team Penske Team Manager Tom Wurtz. "We've all got desks, we're connected and we're running at 100%. Obviously, things have changed as far as our surroundings and working environment, but other than that it's business as usual. We've had to adapt to our new facility over the past week, but things are moving forward and coming along nicely."