Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
March 15, 2006
HARD WORK PAYS OFF FOR KLEIN
When the green flag drops at the 2006 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 26th, Sam Hornish Jr. and the crew of the #6 Dallara/Honda will be relying on a new addition to its engineering staff in its pursuit of returning to Victory Lane for the second time in three years.
Paul Klein joined the team this January as the DAG (data acquisition guy) for the #6 car after spending the last 12 years working for Penske Racing in various capacities. In this new role, Klein is responsible for collecting and compiling data from the numerous sensors on the car and presenting it to the rest of the engineering team so that they can analyze it and decide on necessary adjustments.
Early on, Klein knew he wanted to work in motorsports, and Penske Racing was conveniently located in his home town of Reading, PA. He didn't waste any time in pursuing his dreams when he signed up for a co-op program with the team in 1994, while still in high school.
"Racing has always been something that's fascinated me. At an early age, I was interested in drag and other forms of racing. The coop program allowed me to get my first real taste of the sport, and even though I was washing engine parts and doing other jobs, it made me realize that was the career I wanted to pursue," Klein said.
After high school, Klein earned a degree in automotive technology at nearby Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, PA. He then joined the Penske organization full time in 1996 in the engine shop, where he worked in various capacities until the opportunity to move up into the DAG position presented itself early this year. Since stepping into his new role, Klein has been hard at work converting the wiring and sensor systems to be compatible with the Team's new Honda engines. He admits to a steep learning curve but is eager to accept the challenge.
"Having been a shop-based engine guy in the past, I had to expand my skill set a bit. For example, I had to learn the Pi Research data acquisition system as well as how to work with a whole new group of guys and get used to how they like things done. Being on the road also adds a lot of pressure. Before, we could just stay at the shop all night in order to get things done, but at the track you have limited time and there are people waiting on you," Klein said.
DAG's play a vital role on all race teams because setup decisions are made based on information that they are able to collect from the racecars. Upon arriving at the track on race weekend, Klein is responsible for making sure the timing and scoring stands are set up and all of the sensors are calibrated and operating before the car is rolled out to the track. Once on the track, he monitors more than 20 sensors, which collect information varying from tire pressure to oil temperature. He then presents it to race engineer Tom German so that decisions can be made about necessary changes to the car. Hornish Jr. agrees that Klein's job greatly affects what's happening on the track. In fact, he thinks that people sometimes take DAG's for granted.
"They're (DAG's) part of the team that the public doesn't often notice, but they take care of data collection, calculate fuel mileage and make sure our communication system is working correctly. So, what they do plays a major role in improving our times during practice and helps us with strategy during the race. Despite this being a new relationship for both of us, I've been impressed with how quickly Paul has picked things up during testing this spring," Hornish Jr. said.
Klein is excited about his new role and the promise of the 2006 season. He thinks the fact that all of the teams will be running Honda engines will really level the playing field and hopefully lead Marlboro Team Penske to its 12th Championship and 14th Indianapolis 500 victory.
"It's going to be exciting for me to be at the track and see the product of our hard work first hand. With Sam's past experience and spring test results, I think we should have a great deal of success this season and, hopefully we'll be able to realize our goal of bringing the championship back to Penske Racing," Klein said.
HORNISH JR. HONORED AT LINCOLN-HAYES DINNER
Sam Hornish Jr. was in Bowling Green, OH this past Saturday night to attend the Lincoln-Hayes dinner as a guest of Congressman Paul Gillmor, the representative from Hornish Jr.'s district.
At the dinner, Hornish Jr. was honored with a certificate of recognition for his accomplishments during his racing career. Hornish Jr. was not only recognized for his achievements on the track, but also for acting as an exemplary citizen in Ohio's Fifth District.
"It was wonderful to be able to meet Congressman Gillmor," said Hornish Jr. "I'm fortunate to have had the chance to attend an event of this nature and I probably never would've had that opportunity had I not been in the position I'm in as a racecar driver. I'm also honored to have been acknowledged by Congressman Gillmor for not only bringing interest to Ohio, but into my district as well."
In addition, Hornish Jr. presented the Congressman with a miniature replica of his helmet to express his gratitude.
CASTRONEVES ATTENDS SHAQ'S BIRTHDAY
Helio Castroneves was in his hometown this past weekend celebrating the birthday of another famous Miami athlete -- Shaquille O'Neal. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner took time out from preparing for the 2006 IndyCar Series season-opener to attend Shaq's "34th Birthday Celebration" held at his house in Miami last Friday night.