Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes April 16, 2003 Marlboro Team Penske has tough weekend in Japan. Marlboro Team Penske had uncharacteristic results at this past weekend's Japan Indy 300 in the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series debut at ...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
April 16, 2003
Marlboro Team Penske has tough weekend in Japan.
Marlboro Team Penske had uncharacteristic results at this past weekend's Japan Indy 300 in the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series debut at Twin Ring Motegi. For the first time in 17 consecutive races, neither Marlboro Team Penske car finished the race, ending the Team's record of having at least one car running at the conclusion of each event since joining the IRL full-time in 2002.
On Saturday, qualifying was cancelled due to rain and the starting grid was determined by practice speeds. The Team focused on their race set-ups during the practice sessions and therefore started 11th and 12th. Helio Castroneves was 11th and Alex Barron, who assumed the driving responsibilities of the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G-Force/Toyota for the injured Gil de Ferran, was 12th.
While the drivers were happy with their cars on race day, both of their days ended with contact during the race. Castroneves was forced out of the race after being collected by the #55 car (Roger Yasukawa) when he spun in front of him on lap 45. Castroneves placed 22nd, his lowest IRL finish to date.
"We had a pretty good strategy," said Castroneves of his progress before the accident. "We were right up there with the leaders. Unfortunately, Roger (Yasukawa) started losing the rear end and he spun. I tried to go to the outside, but then he got me. I tried to avoid it, but there was nothing I could do at those speeds."
In addition, Castroneves was treated for a swollen right elbow and an abrasion on his left foot resulting from the crash. He was released from the track's infield medical center after X-ray's showed no other injuries. He has been cleared to drive.
Castroneves' teammate for the weekend, Alex Barron, suffered similar luck in Japan. After starting 12th, Barron was running as high as seventh place until he brushed the wall on lap 167 forcing him to end the race in 17th place.
"I came off Turn 4 and hit the throttle right where I had all day and the front end pushed into the wall," said Barron after the race. "It was just a glance, but it broke the suspension. The track came to us with the set-up we had and we were running quicker and quicker laps. We'd have been in contention for the lead with the lap times we were running. The biggest disappointment is that we wanted to finish - that was the most important thing."
DE FERRAN - ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
2000 & 2001 CART Champion Gil de Ferran has been making solid progress on the road to recovery since sustaining an injury, which resulted in two fractured vertebrae in his neck and back, during the Purex Dial Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 23rd.
"I'm certainly beginning to see faster and vaster improvements," said de Ferran from his home in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. "Ever since the back and neck braces came off, I've noticed that I'm getting exponentially better now that I can move again. I've been able to begin the rehab process by swimming and working out in the pool and things are beginning to move more rapidly. I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car at Indy."
De Ferran is scheduled to drive for Marlboro Team Penske at the Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 22nd - 23rd.
HELIO CASTRONEVES IN THE NEWS
While 2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves is best known for his driving skills on the track, he certainly has some inside tips to pass on about driving on the streets as well. In the May issue of Men's Journal, Castroneves does just that. He's featured in the magazine's "Trade Secrets" section in which he shares some important pointers on driving through traffic on the highway.
TONY KANAAN WINS SECOND CONSECUTIVE MARLBORO LAP LEADER AWARD IN JAPAN
Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan led the most laps at the Japan Indy 300 at Twin Ring Motegi after being at the top of the leader board for 70 of the 200 laps. Kanaan earned two extra points for leading the most laps before an accident took him out of the race on lap 177. Kanaan will be presented with his Marlboro Lap Leader Award check for $7,500 during the pre-race ceremonies at the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25th.