IRL: Phoenix: Team Penske race report

"What a great day for Marlboro Team Penske. It's a great satisfaction to win a race. This is only my second victory, and first win from the pole on an oval track. The car was very good in traffic. The race pace was very strong, but it was...

"What a great day for Marlboro Team Penske. It's a great satisfaction to win a race. This is only my second victory, and first win from the pole on an oval track. The car was very good in traffic. The race pace was very strong, but it was tough to make a move and to negotiate the slower cars.

I had a good start and was able to take the lead. I just tried to be patient and stay in the top-five for the first stint. On my first pit stop, I came in too fast which caused me to slide at an angle, and I lost time trying to pull out of the pit box. I don't know why, but the car was very different during the second stint. I had a lot of understeer and ended up dropping from second to third. On the next stop, we made an adjustment to the car and it handled perfectly for the rest of the race. Also, I had been running in fifth gear for most of the race so I switched to sixth -- and realized it was much better and wished that I'd done it much sooner. At this point I was having a lot of fun and just trying to stay in a position to win. My last pit stop was great and I was able to take the lead. I got caught in traffic on lap 168 and my teammate (Gil de Ferran) was able to pass me on the outside in turns three and four.

On the final restart (lap 183), I knew this was my last chance because Gil (de Ferran) was running very strong. When it went green, I got a good jump on him and was able to take the lead. With about five laps to go, I got a bit worried when I started to run into traffic, but I was able to work through it and bring it home. To be honest, I had a lot of 'moments' today but I'm happy it all worked out in the end.

We dedicate this win to our teammate and friend, Gary Buckner."


-- Helio Castroneves, Marlboro Team Penske, 2001 Indianapolis 500 Winner
-- #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
-- 1st place finish, 2nd place in the Indy Racing League Championship point standings, 85 points

"It was a great afternoon for Marlboro Team Penske. The car was handling really well, and we had two great pit stops, which allowed us to stay at the front for most of the day. On the last pit stop (Lap 145), Helio came out just ahead of me, so I knew I would have to push it to get around him. I was able to move out in front (on Lap 168), but then Helio came back to pass me (on Lap 183) for the final time. I tried to overtake him in the final laps of the race, but we were stuck weaving in and out of traffic and I had nowhere to go. We raced hard against each other today and Helio did a terrific job to get this win.

I also want to take the opportunity to dedicate today's result to Gary Buckner, who recently passed away. He worked with Marlboro Team Penske for many years and he was on my crew. Gary was someone that I liked very much and had strong feelings for, so our performance today goes to Gary and his family."


-- Gil de Ferran, Marlboro Team Penske, Two-Time National Champion
-- #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
-- 2nd place finish, 3rd place in the Indy Racing League Championship point standings, 80 points

Notes:

* This is Helio Castroneves' first win at Phoenix International Raceway and his second victory in an Indy Racing League (IRL) sanctioned event.

* This is Castroneves' first Indy car career oval victory from the pole.

* Castroneves' first win on an oval track came at last year's Indianapolis 500, where he won in his rookie start.

* Castroneves' win today marks his eighth career Indy car victory.

* Today's start marks Castroneves' second front row start in as many races in the 2002 IRL season.

* With his win today, Castroneves has 85 points and is second in the IRL Championship standings.

* This is Penske Racing's sixth victory, and fifth win from the pole, at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). The last time the Team won from the pole at PIR was with Rick Mears in 1990.

* Of their 111 Indy car wins, Penske Racing has scored 62 wins on oval tracks with 31 of these on short ovals (1.5 miles or less).

-mtp-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Rick Mears
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske