Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes June 7, 2005 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PREPARES TO COMPETE IN TH LONE STAR STAT E Marlboro Team Penske will head to Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) for the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCarÂ® Series season's first...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
June 7, 2005
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PREPARES TO COMPETE IN TH LONE STAR STAT E
Marlboro Team Penske will head to Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) for the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series season's first race under the lights as they compete in the Bombardier Learjet 500 on Saturday night. So far this season, the Team has one win (Hornish Jr. at Phoenix), one pole (Hornish Jr. in Japan) and four top-five finishes. In addition, Castroneves and Hornish Jr. lead the Series in average starting position (Castroneves has an average starting position of 4.2 and Hornish Jr. has an average of 4.6) as they've collectively started on the front row six times in the five events to date.
While the Team has never won a night race in Texas, they will be bringing a unique record to the track. The last four times the IndyCar Series season ended in Texas, either Sam Hornish Jr. or a Marlboro Team Penske driver has taken the trip to Victory Lane. Furthermore, three of those wins came after the driver started from the pole.
In 2001, Hornish Jr. earned his first career win from the pole at the 1.5-mile oval at TMS, when he led a race-high 114 laps on his way to his third victory of the season. He also clinched his first IndyCar Series Championship during the 2001 season finale. Hornish Jr. would replicate this performance a year later, when he started third and led 79 laps on his way to earning his second consecutive win (he won the previous race in Chicago that season) and his record fifth victory of the season. Hornish Jr. would also win the IndyCar Series Championship for the second year in 2002.
"I always enjoy coming to Texas, because that's where I got to celebrate my IndyCar Series Championships in 2001 and 2002," said Hornish Jr. "The track is fast and there is always a lot of side-by-side racing, so the fans are definitely going to see a great show. We will work hard to be sure the Marlboro Team Penske car handles well in traffic and hopefully we'll be able to keep it up near the front all night."
Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves will also be looking to continue his momentum at TMS as he is the last IndyCar Series pilot to have taken the checkered flag at the track. Last year, Castroneves earned his first win of the 2004 season in stellar fashion as he started on the pole and led a race-high 104 laps on his way to victory.
The race not only marked the Brazilian's fourth Marlboro Lap Leader Award of the year, but it also represented his fourth straight pole (and fifth of the season), which tied Billy Boat's record for most consecutive poles set in 1998.
"I'm looking forward to going back to Texas this weekend," said Castroneves. "Marlboro Team Penske was very strong there last year and I'm hoping we'll be able to achieve the same success this time around. Things will change a bit from the last time we ran at Texas Motor Speedway as we'll be racing at night, which always adds new challenges in getting the right set-up to adjust to the cooler temperatures. We'll be facing tough competition this year, but I think if we stay focused we should be right there at the end."
In 2003, former Marlboro Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran ended his professional driving career in fine form as he started his final race from the pole and led 68 laps on his way to his third victory of the 2003 season. This win in Texas marked the Team's first victory at TMS.
HORNISH JR. HOSTS CELEBRITY BOWLING TOURNAMENT FOR CHARITY
Sam Hornish Jr. will be hosting the 1st Annual Sam Hornish Jr. Celebrity Bowling Tournament on Wednesday, June 8th in Texas. The tournament will benefit Speedway Charities, Texas Chapter, which is designed to raise much-needed funding for more than 150 charitable organizations throughout Northern Texas.
Hornish Jr., an avid bowler, will join other IndyCar Series drivers including teammate Helio Castroneves, Vitor Meira, A.J. Foyt IV and former IndyCar driver Johnny Rutherford, as well as IRL President and COO Brian Barnhart. Other celebrity bowlers include Dallas Cowboys Terry Glenn and Keith Davis; ABC/ESPN's Jamie Little; Olympic Gold Medalist Dana Vollmer; NASCAR Craftsmen Truck Series drivers Ron Hornaday, Jack Sprague and David Starr; and Professional Bowlers Association star Danny Wiseman.
"I'm really looking forward to hitting the lanes on Wednesday," said Hornish Jr. "The tournament is going to help a wonderful cause, so I'm proud to be associated with such a great event. Hopefully we'll have a solid turnout and will be able to make this an annual tradition."
HORNISH JR. WINS MARLBORO LAP LEADER AWARD IN INDIANAPOLIS
Philip Morris USA continued its Lap Leader Award program for one race during the 2005 IndyCar Series season at this year's Indianapolis 500. Sam Hornish Jr. won the Marlboro Lap Leader Award as a result of leading a race-high 77 laps at the Brickyard. For his effort, Hornish Jr. will receive a check for $50,000 at a pre-race ceremony during the Bombardier Learjet 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 11th.
CASTRONEVES TESTS AT WATKINS GLEN
Just two days after his fifth top-ten performance in as many attempts at the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (Castroneves finished ninth at this year's event), Helio Castroneves headed to upstate New York to participate in an IRL compatibility test at Watkins Glen International to prepare for the inaugural IndyCar Series race on September 25th. Marlboro Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing were invited by the IRL to conduct a three-hour test prior to the Open Test scheduled for June 15th.
"I think we learned a lot at the Watkins Glen test, even though we didn't run that many laps," explained Castroneves. "We used the session to get familiar with the track and make sure we were comfortable with the circuit; we weren't necessarily looking for speed. The track is great -- I love the layout and I think it will make for a challenging race. I can't wait to come back later this year."