MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PIT NOTES March 15, 2005 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO PHOENIX This weekend Marlboro Team Penske will join the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCarÂ® Series at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) as they compete in Saturday's...
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PIT NOTES
March 15, 2005
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO PHOENIX
This weekend Marlboro Team Penske will join the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) as they compete in Saturday's Indy 200. The Team will be coming to Arizona on the strength of two top-five finishes in the season-opening event at Homestead-Miami Speedway where two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves finished second and fifth respectively. Both drivers will be looking to take the checkered flag this weekend at PIR as each driver tries to add to Penske Racing's success at the 1-mile oval. Thus far, Penske Racing has earned six wins and sixteen poles in Phoenix, including three wins and six poles by Marlboro Team Penske Advisor Rick Mears.
In addition to the Team's past performance at PIR, each driver has found solid results at the track as well. Castroneves has earned two top-three finishes including a win from the pole in 2002. Teammate Hornish Jr. won his first career IndyCar Series race at the 2001 season-opener at PIR, becoming the youngest driver to win an IndyCar Series race. Needless to say, Marlboro Team Penske will be looking for a solid showing this weekend to build upon their legacy at PIR.
"I really enjoy racing at Phoenix International Raceway and the Team has always done very well there (Penske Racing has 6 wins and 16 poles at the track)," said Castroneves. "It's a physically demanding track and it's difficult to get the right setup on the car, so we definitely have a challenge ahead us this weekend. Our performance in Miami gave us a lot of confidence (Castroneves finished fifth and teammate Sam Hornish Jr. finished second) so I'm looking forward to putting on another great show for the fans."
"Phoenix is a track that I always like going to because that's where I won my first IndyCar Series race (2001)," said Hornish Jr. "I'm also hoping to redeem myself for a mistake I made last year (Hornish Jr. was running second when he brushed the wall on lap 81 forcing him to drop five laps down) and hopefully we'll be able to finish well ahead of our 2004 finish (15th). We had a great race at the season-opener in Miami, so Marlboro Team Penske will be looking to carry that momentum into Arizona for another strong showing."
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE WELCOMES NEW ADDITION
The Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 6th was not just the start of the 2005 IndyCar Series season for Marlboro Team Penske. The event also marked the first race for the race team's latest addition, Data Acquisition Engineer Aaron Yeager. Yeager, a three year veteran of the Penske Racing Engine Department, will serve as Data Acquisition Engineer for Helio Castroneves.
Before Yeager joined the traveling team, he served as a support engineer working in the engine department for Penske Racing at the race shop in Reading, PA. Yeager calibrated instrumentation, wrote computer programs as well as worked on tooling designs to facilitate the assembly and disassembly of the engines. He started with Penske Racing in 2002 working at Racing Experience, Inc.
Yeager graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2001 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE ADJUSTS TO NEW FUELING SYSTEM
This season, the IndyCar Series has changed the fueling system each Team uses during its pit stops. The Series has moved from a double point system to a single point for 2005.
In order to account for the equipment change, Marlboro Team Penske has appointed a new fueler to Helio Castroneves' pit crew. John Haslett, who is in his 20th year with Penske Racing has moved from passing tires over the wall for the #6 Marlboro Team Penske car to becoming the fueler for Castroneves' car. The change came when the IndyCar Series redesigned its fuel hoses, which are much heavier and demand more physical strength than the previous fuel hoses and the Team needed someone who could handle the responsibility effectively.
Haslett has not been a full-time member of the over-the-wall pit crew since 1988, when he was the fueler for Danny Sullivan. During the 2003 season, Haslett filled in as fueler for the #6 crew when current fueler Chris Seaman was injured in a pit road incident at Kentucky Speedway.
In 1999, Haslett helped Penske Racing initiate the creation of Philip Morris USA's racing school program. In 2001, he rejoined the race team in the trucking department and worked on the pit crew of the #6 Marlboro Team Penske IndyCar entry during race weekends.
CASTRONEVES AND HORNISH JR. PARTICIPATE IN POKER TOURNAMENT FOR CHARITY
Last Wednesday, Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. were in Las Vegas to participate in the Mobil High Endurance Charity Poker Challenge at the Golden Nugget. Castroneves and Hornish Jr. joined ten other players including Rusty Wallace, Ryan Newman, Travis Kvapil, Buddy Rice, Kenny Wallace and Jason Leffler as they battled it out for $100,000 to be awarded to charity.
Unfortunately, Castroneves was the first player to be eliminated as he decided to go all in with an Ace King; Buddy Rice had a better hand and the evening was over for Castroneves. Despite his early exit, Castroneves managed to win $4,000 for his charity the Brazilian Mission.
"Thanks goodness I'm a racecar driver, because clearly I still have a lot to learn about poker," joked Castroneves after the tournament. "I played against some great competition and it was for a wonderful cause. I was just happy to be a part of it. I think I'm going to start practicing so that the next time I get to participate in something like this, I'll be much more competitive!"
Sam Hornish Jr. was able to finish third at his table, which qualified him for the Wild Card Table. Hornish Jr. then went on to finish third in the Wild Card round as well, which ended his night earning $4,000 to his charity of choice, the Shriner's Hospitals for Children.
"I had a great time playing in the tournament," said Hornish Jr. "It was a lot of fun and all the money went to charity, so I couldn't have asked for a better reason to participate. I want to thank the folks at Mobil 1 for creating this event; they really did a great job. The format was perfect because it allowed all of us drivers to interact with those from other Series."
Kenny Wallace won the event and $50,000 for his charity of choice. The tournament can be seen in four hour-long episodes airing on Speed Channel this May.
PHOENIX PROVIDES LOCAL RACE FOR CREW MEMBER
Just one member of Marlboro Team Penske will not have to make the trek across the Southwest from the Team's headquarters in Reading, PA for this weekend's event at PIR. Helio Castroneves' airjack man, Pat Hozza is a local Scottsdale resident and will have a very short commute as the Team competes in his backyard this weekend.
Aside from fulfilling his responsibilities on Castroneves' pit crew, Hozza is also the motorsports specialist at the Penske Racing Museum located at the Scottsdale 101 Auto Collection.
The museum opened to the public in 2002 and showcases Penske Racing's most memorable racecars including several with Indy winning pedigree. Other cars include Penske Racing's first Formula 1 car -- the PC-1, a Porsche 911 driven by Mark Donohue in the inaugural IROC championship in 1971, and a replica of the 1954 Pontiac Catalina that Roger Penske drove to victory in the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside International Raceway. Additionally, the museum houses various Penske Racing memorabilia chronicling the career of one of the most successful dynasties in all of sports. The Museum is open to the public seven days a week.