IRL: Texas II: Team Penske preview

Marlboro Team Penske prepares for battle in the Lone Star State The 2003 IndyCar® Series season is rapidly coming to an end with just one race left on Sunday, October 12th at Texas Motor Speedway. After fifteen races, Marlboro Team Penske ...

Marlboro Team Penske prepares for battle in the Lone Star State

The 2003 IndyCar® Series season is rapidly coming to an end with just one race left on Sunday, October 12th at Texas Motor Speedway. After fifteen races, Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran are both in contention to bring Marlboro Team Penske its third major open-wheel championship in four years and Penske Racing its 12th National Championship overall.

2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves is in prime shape as he heads into the last race tied for first in the point standings with Scott Dixon. Both are seven points ahead of third place Tony Kanaan.

2003 Indianapolis 500 winner and Two-Time CART Champion Gil de Ferran is in fifth place in the Championship point standings, thirty points out of first. While de Ferran may be a long shot to win the Title, he is certainly not out of the running. If successful, he'll be taking home his third Championship in four seasons.

DE FERRAN ON THE HOMESTRETCH

This weekend's Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will be the final race in Gil de Ferran's career. Not only has de Ferran amassed two CART Championships and an Indianapolis 500 win, but he also set the World Closed Course Speed Record at California Speedway with a lap of 241.428 mph while qualifying for the 2000 Marlboro 500. De Ferran has unquestionably left an indelible mark on the world of open-wheel racing as one of the greatest ambassadors of the sport.

EMBRAER TO PROVIDE DE FERRAN PLANE TO FLY HOME AFTER FINAL RACE

To pay tribute to the racing career of 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran, Brazilian-based Embraer, one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers, will provide de Ferran with a plane home to Ft. Lauderdale after the final race of his career. De Ferran and his family will be guests on the fitting "Embraer Legacy" aircraft as they leave Texas and the 35 year-old begins the next chapter in his life.

CASTRONEVES LOOKS FOR LUCK IN TEXAS

Two weeks ago Helio Castroneves was at Texas Motor Speedway for a test session in order to get some track time before the Chevy 500 on October 12th. Not only was he there to prepare his #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota for the upcoming 300-mile race, but he was also there to plant a little good luck before the other drivers arrived at the track. While in Texas, Castroneves did as Texans do and hung a good luck horseshoe above his garage (see attached photo).

Searching for his first open-wheel title, Castroneves is looking for anything and everything that can give him that extra advantage come race day.

"With the points race as close as it is, I don't want to take any chances," joked Castroneves after hanging the horseshoe above the garage. "I have the opportunity to win my first major open-wheel Championship and with these four guys chasing me the last thing I need is bad luck."

CASTRONEVES IN LAS VEGAS FOR ANDRE AGASSI FOUNDATION

Helio Castroneves was in Las Vegas this past weekend to attend the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation "Grand Slam" Event on Saturday night at the MGM Grand. More than 6,300 fans crowded the facility to see Sheryl Crow, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Dennis Miller, Robin Williams, along with surprise appearances by Sarah McLachlan, and Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of the legendary musical group, Tears for Fears. Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster served as the musical coordinator for the eighth year.

More than 2,100 VIP's attended a pre-concert reception and dinner, during which, Castroneves, and his girlfriend Isabella, sat with international singing artist Josh Groban and his date, January Jones of "American Wedding" and "Anger Management." After the concert, Castroneves went backstage to rub elbows with the entertainers before heading to the after party at Emeril Lagasse's New Orleans Fish House at the hotel.

The event featured a silent auction for which Castroneves donated a meet and greet, a two-seater ride, a ride in the official IndyCar Series pace car, and a pair of tickets to next year's 2004 IndyCar® Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which sold for $65,000. Overall the event raised nearly $13 million for the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation.

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Series IndyCar
Teams Williams , Team Penske , Team Penske