IRL: St. Pete: Penske Pit Notes preview

IN MEMORY OF PAUL DANA Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series Driver Paul Dana suffered fatal injuries in a practice crash March 26th before the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A fund has been established in Paul Dana's memory....

IN MEMORY OF PAUL DANA

Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series Driver Paul Dana suffered fatal injuries in a practice crash March 26th before the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A fund has been established in Paul Dana's memory. In lieu of flowers, the Dana family has asked that donations be sent to the following:

Paul Dana Memorial Fund for Renewable Energy
C/o National Bank of Indianapolis
107 N. Pennsylvania St., Suite 100
Indianapolis, IN 46204

In addition, a memorial service for members of the IndyCar Series community to celebrate Dana's life is planned for 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 30th at the site of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"It's definitely hard to lose a colleague," said Castroneves. "It's tough to see that happen to a person that is doing the same job that you're doing. It's an unfortunate reality, but all the drivers here understand the risk involved and we all know the danger of the sport. We are here because we love what we do. It's tougher for those that stay here. It's been a difficult past few days and my thoughts are with his family."

"We all feel bad about what happened in Miami," said Hornish Jr. "We never want to see anybody get hurt, and it's just a tough situation to be in. My thoughts and prayers are with Paul's family and friends."

MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HAS IMPRESSIVE SHOWING IN MIAMI

Marlboro Team Penske was at Homestead-Miami Speedway this past weekend for the IndyCar Series season opener. The Team finished in fine form as they brought the #3 and #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Hondas home in second and third respectively after both drivers combined to lead a total of 187 of the 200 laps. Two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. won the $10,000 Marlboro Pole Award on Saturday in dominant fashion shattering the track record set in 2004 by Buddy Rice by nearly two-tenths of a second after registering a lap of 24.4625 seconds (218.539 mph). Teammate Helio Castroneves also broke the track record qualifying second with a lap of 24.5131 seconds (218.087 mph), as the duo swept the front row, marking the ninth time the Team has done so since joining the IRL fulltime in 2002 and their 45th time in Penske Racing history.

Things continued to go the Team's way during the race on Sunday as Hornish Jr. led a race-high 145 laps. Unfortunately, Hornish Jr. came in for his final pit stop under green flag conditions and just as he entered pit road, a yellow flag came out as the #11 car (Tony Kanaan) made contact with the pit wall. As a result, Hornish Jr. went a lap down on the field, as the new leader (Castroneves) was able to pit under the yellow flag. When racing resumed on lap 178 Hornish Jr. was in fifth (8th including lapped cars) and managed to battle his way up to third where he would take the checkered flag.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was in a position to win the race on Sunday as he led a total of 42 laps including the last nine, but fell just short as the #10 car (Dan Wheldon) made a pass in turn 4 of the final lap to take the checkered flag just 0.0147 of a second in front of Castroneves, marking the ninth closest finish in IRL history.

MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE GEARS UP FOR ST. PETERSBURG

Marlboro Team Penske will be heading northwest from Miami to compete in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday. After disappointing performances on last year's temporary street and permanent road courses, the Team will be looking to redeem themselves this season as they hit the streets of St. Pete.

Last year, the Team competed on three temporary street and road courses and finished with just one top-ten result between Hornish Jr. and Castroneves (Hornish Jr. finished seventh in Watkins Glen). While the pair qualified in the top-six five times including Castroneves' pole at Watkins Glen, they just couldn't get the desired results on race day. Both drivers were caught up in on-track incidents in four of their six starts.

This season, Marlboro Team Penske will be looking to get back into form as Penske Racing has historically done very well on temporary street and road courses. As the weekend approaches, following are the results Castroneves and Hornish Jr. will be looking to add to this weekend:

Of the 124 wins Penske Racing has earned since 1969, 49 have been on street or permanent road courses.

53 of Penske Racing's 155 pole positions have been captured on a street/road course, including the first pole in the Team's open-wheel racing history which Mark Donohue scored in Sonoma in 1970 and last season's pole in Watkins Glen for Castroneves.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves has captured six of his 13 victories while turning both right and left.

The 30 year-old Brazilian won his first four races on street and permanent road courses, including downtown street races in Detroit and Long Beach (he won in Detroit in 2000 and 2001; and he won in Long Beach in 2001).

Castroneves' first major open wheel series win, at Belle Isle in Detroit in 2000, marked the introduction of his now famous post-victory fence climb celebration.

Castroneves' wire-to-wire victories at Long Beach and Detroit in 2001 marked only the second time in CART history that a driver led every lap in two races in a single season (Michael Andretti accomplished this feat at Toronto and Laguna Seca in 1992).

"Street courses are a challenge because they change from year to year as a result of the normal wear and tear of being an actual road," said Castroneves. "Plus, the asphalt is very abrasive on the tires. Last year, I didn't get a lot of experience with the track during the race, so we'll try to make up for some of that inexperience during practice. I'm also going to be working on getting used to the lack of traction control that's been mandated by the league for the road races. Overall, I'm very excited to get back on the track after Marlboro Team Penske's great results at Homestead. Hopefully, we'll be able to carry that momentum into this weekend and get a win."

"I'm looking forward to running at St. Petersburg," said Hornish Jr. "I feel like I progressed a lot on the street and permanent road courses last year and with the testing this season, I feel confident about this weekend. Going from a mile and a half oval one weekend to a temporary street course the next is a big change, but I definitely think Marlboro Team Penske is up for the challenge. We're carrying a lot of momentum into this race; we started off well in Miami and while we didn't get the result we were hoping for, we're still happy with a third place finish. We were able to earn a solid amount of points last weekend and we're just going to keep trying to collect as many points as we can each race. Our main goal this season is to win the Championship."

MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE TOPS SPEED CHARTS IN ROAD COURSE WARM-UP

Marlboro Team Penske tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway's road course on Tuesday to prepare for this weekend's race in St. Petersburg. After a full day of testing, Castroneves and Hornish finished first and second respectively. Castroneves was over two-tenths of a second quicker than teammate Hornish Jr. as he recorded a fast lap of 60.5399 seconds. Hornish Jr. turned a lap of 60.7747 seconds, which was just over two-tenths of a second faster than Bryan Herta who was third quickest.

"The test went well today and we're happy with what we were able to accomplish," said Marlboro Team Penke Manager, Tom Wurtz. "We improved our times from Spring Training and today's session provided an ideal warm-up for this weekend's race in St. Petersburg. Helio and Sam had enough time to run full tank stints and qualifying runs, so it was a good opportunity to refamiliarize everyone with running on temporary street and road courses."

THAT'S A LONG WAY

From the time Marlboro Team Penske hit the track in practice for the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway until the time the checkered flag drops on the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the Team will have run an estimated 1,900 miles between its drivers. That means that the identical Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Hondas will have logged enough miles between the two race weekends and the Open Test to drive from St. Petersburg to Salt Lake City.

-mpr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Paul Dana , Mark Donohue
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske , HART