IRL: Nashville: Team Penske preview

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes July 13, 2004 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO MUSIC CITY Marlboro Team Penske will be squaring off against the other teams in the 2004 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series this Saturday night under the...

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
July 13, 2004

MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO MUSIC CITY

Marlboro Team Penske will be squaring off against the other teams in the 2004 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series this Saturday night under the lights at Nashville Superspeedway as they prepare to defend their title of the Firestone Indy 200.

Last year in Nashville, the now-retired Gil de Ferran led 49 of 200 laps on his way to clinching his second of three victories in his final season behind the wheel of an Indy Car (his other two wins came at the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 and at the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway). While de Ferran won't be piloting either of the identical red and white Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyotas this weekend, there will be two drivers with their eyes on the prize as two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. take charge of the #3 and #6 machines respectively.

For Castroneves, a trip to Victory Circle would mark his first win of the 2004 IndyCar Series season. In addition, a victory for the 29 year-old Brazilian would mark his fourth top-five finish and seventh top-ten result of the year. Castroneves should certainly be a contender this weekend as he's had quite a bit of success at the 1.33-mile oval since joining the IRL full time in 2002. In the two starts he's made in Tennessee, Castroneves has started on the front row both times and earned one top-three finish (he finished third last season).

"The Firestone Indy 200 should be very exciting. The fans are great and I hope they come out to watch us as it's always a good show," said Castroneves. "Nashville is a concrete track so it takes time to lay rubber down. In the past, the abrasive surface has affected the tire wear, however, with the smaller fuel tanks this season, the window between pit stops will be shorter so tire wear should become less of an issue. Marlboro Team Penske has been giving it their all this season. We finished third last year and I'm hoping for another strong finish this year."

Marlboro Team Penske teammate Sam Hornish Jr. should also be in good shape come race day as the 24 year-old Defiance, OH native has had impressive showings in Nashville. Hornish Jr. has led nearly one third (31%) of all laps he's run at the superspeedway (185 of 598) and he's earned one third place finish (2002) and one front row start (second in 2001). On Saturday night, Hornish Jr. will be looking for his second victory of 2004 (his first win came at the season-opener in Miami); as well as his second career victory and seventh top-five finish in a night race (Hornish Jr. won at night in Richmond in 2002).

"I really like Nashville Superspeedway because it is somewhere between a short track and a superspeedway," explained Hornish Jr. "You need a good handling car that works well in traffic to win. Executing quick, clean pit stops will also be important. I've led laps every time I've raced there - just not the last lap - so hopefully I can change that this year and bring Marlboro Team Penske another win."

Needless to say, with the 2004 season at its midway point, Marlboro Team Penske is working hard to achieve its second victory of the year.

HORNISH JR. TO PARTICIPATE IN DEFIANCE SUMMER CRUISE IN

This Wednesday, two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. will be in his hometown of Defiance, OH at the "Summer Cruise In," an annual car rally organized to benefit a local charity.

Members of the Defiance community and surrounding areas will gather at the Northtowne Mall to display their cars, trucks and motorcycles. The event, in which car clubs from all over northwest Ohio participate, will benefit "Neighbors in Need," an organization that raises non-perishable food and monetary donations for local food banks.

The event is open to anyone who would like to show off their vehicle and each person in attendance is asked to bring a non-perishable food item for "Neighbors in Need." In addition, attendees will be able to participate in a 50/50 raffle with half the money going to the winner and half to charity.

Sam Hornish Jr. will be in attendance at the event and will be signing autographs from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Penske Merchandise Trailer.

-mtp-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , CIP