Marlboro Team Penske completes first season in the IRL> Marlboro Team Penske ended their first complete season with the Indy Racing League (IRL) leading the Series in poles, top-5 and top-10 finishes. Competing with all-new equipment and at ...
Marlboro Team Penske completes first season in the IRL>
Marlboro Team Penske ended their first complete season with the Indy Racing League (IRL) leading the Series in poles, top-5 and top-10 finishes. Competing with all-new equipment and at several tracks on which they'd never raced, teammates Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran were at the top of the charts throughout the year and continually battled for the lead in the IRL Championship finishing second and third respectively. While Marlboro Team Penske did not add another Championship to their records, Castroneves and de Ferran did contribute the following stats to the books: <pre> Helio Castroneves Gil de Ferran Starts 15 14 Wins 2 2 Top-5 12* 10 Top-10 14* 11 Poles 1 4* Races Led 12* 9 Times Led 27 21 Laps Led 351 601 Laps Completed 2952/3100 2694/3100 Point Standings 511 - 2nd place 443 - 3rd place
*Series Leader </pre> * Marlboro Team Penske made IRL history this year by becoming the first Team to earn three 1-2 finishes in one season (Phoenix, Pikes Peak and St. Louis). The teammates had a total of thirteen top-three finishes including four wins, six second-place and three third-place finishes.
* Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. led laps in 12 races to set an IRL record.
* Castroneves was the only driver to have been running at the completion of all 15 IRL events this season. He is only the third driver in IRL history to accomplish this feat (Buzz Calkins - 1999 and Sam Hornish Jr. - 2001).
* Marlboro Team Penske captured the pole at five of the fifteen IRL events (33%) - (Castroneves - Phoenix; de Ferran -St. Louis, Richmond, Nazareth and Pikes Peak), which included three front row sweeps (Nazareth, Pikes Peak and Richmond) and ten front row starts.
THOUGHTS ON THE 2002 IRL SEASON
"It was a great season and the competition was unbelievable," said team owner Roger Penske. "The finish at the final race was a testament to the close racing in the IRL and we're proud to be a part of this series."
"There's no way I can be upset with the results from this season," said Helio Castroneves, 2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner, "Marlboro Team Penske worked so hard this year and I couldn't ask for anything more. I'm a little disappointed that we didn't win the Championship, but I'm very satisfied with our performance this year. I want to congratulate Sam (Hornish Jr.) and his Team; they did a good job all season. I've had a fantastic year and I'm honored to be a part of such a great organization. I'm proud to be involved in the IRL; it's a fantastic Series and the racing was so competitive all season."
"Apart from the disappointment of the last two races (de Ferran was injured in Chicago and was unable to compete at the season-ending race in Texas), this was a really good season," said Gil de Ferran, 2000 & 2001 CART Champion. "I managed to earn a lot of poles, win some races and run up front most weekends and I think we were very competitive at most of the tracks. Whenever you have four guys battling for the title with two races to go it is a pure indication of how tough the competition is and for our first season in the IRL our results were pretty good."
"Although we didn't put our name on the cup, everyone knew we were there," commented Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing, Inc. "As our stats indicate, our Team did a fantastic job throughout the season preparing the cars. We are certainly looking forward to next year and we plan to spend the off-season looking for that little bit that we needed to put us over the top."
MARLBORO LAP LEADER AWARD
The Marlboro Lap Leader Award program was designed to recognize the lap leader at each of the 15 races on the IRL circuit. The driver who led the most laps at each race received a check for $5,000 and there was an additional $15,000 bonus for the lap leader of the Indianapolis 500 and a $10,000 bonus for the driver who led the most laps during the year.
Over the season $100,000 was awarded to five drivers who led the most laps on race day. The following drivers were lap leader winners in 2002:
Sam Hornish Jr. (Miami, Phoenix, Fontana, Nashville, Chicago and year-end bonus - $35,000)
Tomas Scheckter - (Indianapolis, Fort Worth, Kansas and Michigan - $35,000)
Gil de Ferran (Nazareth, Pikes Peak and Richmond- $15,000)
Helio Castroneves (St. Louis and Fort Worth - $10,000)
Felipe Giaffone (Kentucky - $5,000)