Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE COMPLETES TEST AT PIR Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and twotime Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCarÂ® Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. got their first seat time in identical...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE COMPLETES TEST AT PIR
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and twotime Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. got their first seat time in identical 2006 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Hondas this past week in an IRL Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway.
"It was good to come out and get some experience with the Honda systems to be sure we familiarize ourselves with the functionality of the new engine," said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Performance, Inc. "The test allowed us the chance to make sure we're comfortable with the car before the season opens at Homestead-Miami Speedway at the end of March. It was also important to knock some of the rust off from the last few months away from the track. In addition, the test was an opportune time for Helio and his new engineer Ron (Ruzewski) to begin building their relationship. I feel that there is already a great deal of chemistry on that end and I'm looking forward to a successful season ahead. All in all, it was a productive test and we were able to learn a lot about the new Honda engine as well as get Helio and Sam back behind the wheel."
Castroneves and Hornish Jr. were able to collectively run 486 miles as they ended the session recording the third and fourth fastest laps of the two-day test respectively.
"It was a great test and it felt good to be back in the car after a long off-season," said Castroneves. "We weren't looking to be the fastest this week, we just wanted to get back into the swing of things and work on learning what we could about the new equipment. I also had the opportunity to work with my new race engineer, Ron, so it was important to get in a groove and learn how we'll work with each other this year. We're pleased with our results and I think we established some consistency while familiarizing ourselves with the new package. We wanted to make sure everything went smoothly, and I think we can say that it did. I'm excited to work with Honda again this year; Marlboro Team Penske has had a lot of success with them as partners in the past and hopefully this year will be no different. Another positive thing is that Sam and I are really working well together. It's our third season as teammates and I think we've learned how we can help one another - it's definitely true that two cars out there are better than one!"
"It was our first test with Honda and we just wanted to get out on the track and see how the car handles," said Hornish Jr. "The car performed really well, which I think gives Marlboro Team Penske a lot of confidence moving towards opening day. I'm really looking forward to the 2006 season and I think we'll certainly be in contention for the Championship. Everything is running as expected, if not better."
HORNISH JR. IN TEXAS
Sam Hornish Jr. will be in Texas on Monday January 30th to participate in the Texas Motor Speedway's "10 Years Strong" Anniversary Media Day. In addition to discussing his outlook for the 2006 IndyCar Series season, Hornish Jr. will also talk about the second annual Sam Hornish Jr. Celebrity Bowling Tournament scheduled to take place prior to the IndyCar Series race in June.
Joining Hornish Jr. will be NASCAR Nextel Cup Team coowner Roger Staubach; NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers Terry Labonte and Tony Raines; NASCAR Busch Series driver A.J. Foyt IV; and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Robert Richardson; as well as O. Bruton Smith, CEO and Chairman, Speedway Motorsports Inc.; and Eddie Gossage, President and General Manager of Texas Motor Speedway for the day's activities.
SUPER BOWL BOUND
With Roger Penske as Chairman of the Super Bowl XL Host Committee, it should come as no surprise that Castroneves, Hornish Jr. and Cindric will be attending the Super Bowl on February 5th in Detroit.
Both drivers will join Penske Racing's NASCAR drivers Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch as guests of Penske at the Championship game. While it will be Castroneves' first Super Bowl, it will be the second time for Hornish Jr., who attended the 2004 game between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers in Houston.
CASTRONEVES WINS RACE IN BRAZIL
Helio Castroneves competed in the Mil Milhas race at Interlagos, in Sao Paulo, Brazil on January 21st. The 30 year-old Brazilian, competing in a touring car endurance race for the first time in his career, won the competition in decisive fashion. Joining him behind the wheel of the Aston Martin DBR9 for the 1000-mile endurance race was three-time Formula One World Champion Nelson Piquet, his son and current Formula 3000 driver Nelson Piquet Jr. and French Sports Car driver Christophe Bouchut.
The Team won what is believed to be the fastest race in the event's 50--year history, finishing 5 laps ahead of the field.
"Wow, I don't even know what to say," said Castroneves. "Those final ten laps were the hardest in my life. The race reminded me a lot of 2002 when I won my second Indianapolis 500 -- to be able to win the first time in a touring car is just an amazing feeling. I'm so fortunate to have had this opportunity and to have been able to compete with three wonderful drivers. We had a great team and a fantastic car. I just consider myself lucky to have been in the right place at the right time."