Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes September 21, 2005 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE LOOKS AHEAD TO FINAL ROAD COURSE RACE OF THE SEASON This weekend, Marlboro Team Penske will travel to upstate New York to join the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCarÂ® Series...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
September 21, 2005
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE LOOKS AHEAD TO FINAL ROAD COURSE RACE OF THE SEASON
This weekend, Marlboro Team Penske will travel to upstate New York to join the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series for the season's sixteenth event at the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix Presented by Argent Mortgage on Sunday, September 25th.
The Team heads to the historic permanent road course as the defending winners of the last three Indy car races at this venue. Penske Racing's Rick Mears won the last open-wheel event at Watkins Glen International in 1981 and Bobby Unser brought Penske Racing to Victory Circle with back-to-back wins in 1980 and 1979.
"Watkins Glen will always be a special place for me," said Rick Mears. "Each win means a lot, but that victory in 1981 was especially great because it was the last open-wheel race that was held at the track. Plus, Watkins Glen is such a historic circuit that's seen so much racing across all forms from Formula 1, to Indy cars to NASCAR; so I'm really looking forward to going back there. The people at the track have done such a terrific job raising the level of the facility, while maintaining its historical character and I think the fans will be in for a great event."
Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. will both be looking to redeem themselves at the final road course event this year as neither driver has completed either of the season's two previous races on street and permanent road courses at St. Petersburg and Infineon Raceway.
In St. Petersburg, Castroneves started second, but had contact with the #14 car (A.J. Foyt IV) on lap 13 placing him 20th place. Hornish Jr. started sixth, but was involved in an accident with the #2 car (Tomas Enge) on lap 86 and was placed 15th. At Infineon Raceway, Castroneves started second, but was involved in an accident on lap 20 with the #33 car (Ryan Briscoe) and the #16 car (Danica Patrick), which ended his day and placed him 21st. Teammate Hornish Jr. started fifth, but experienced clutch problems on the first lap of the race. His Marlboro Team Penske crew was able to work on the car and get him back out on the track where he went on to finish 17th.
Castroneves and Hornish Jr. are coming off of second and third-place finishes at the last IndyCar Series race in Chicago, so momentum is strong as the Team heads down the homestretch of the season.
While the 2005 IndyCar Series Championship is out of reach for both drivers, they will have their sights set on moving up in the point standings as Hornish Jr. sits just 12 points out of second place; and Castroneves can move into fourth which is just 13 points away.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
While the cars that fans will see at this weekend's permanent road course race will look virtually identical to the IndyCars that race on ovals, the entries will be very different "under the hood" as they hit the track at Watkins Glen and will require much more maintenance than at an oval race.
There are several changes that are made to the Marlboro Team Penske cars to prepare them for the rigors of left and right turns. Not only will the Team have changed the gearbox, brakes, suspension, cockpit and wing configurations to compete at Watkins Glen; but it will also have to pay very close attention to the way the car is holding up under the tremendous stress a road course can put on a racecar.
"We'll have to keep a constant eye on the wear and tear of the cars this weekend," explains Clive Howell, General Manager, Marlboro Team Penske. "Everything changes when the cars start turning right as well as left because the car has to endure so much more strain. Things break on the car thatyou never thought would cause problems. Additionally, we have to change the brakes each night because the drivers will be using them so much more. On ovals, we'll go through a set of carbon brakes maybe every four or five races, but on a road course we use steel brakes and the drivers go right through them."
In addition to making sure each part on the Marlboro Team Penske cars is up to standard and functioning properly, another detail that the Team will have to get used to is making sure they are prepared for pit stops.
"At Watkins Glen, we'll be fueling from the opposite side of the car," continues Howell. "Pit stops will be a mirror image of how they are on ovals, so obviously that will take some getting used to. We were able to practice pit stops at last week's Toyota Test, and that was how the St. Petersburg race was configured, so we have had some practice with the pit stops, but it's just one more thing that we'll have to think about."
Marlboro Team Penske will be focusing on making sure each part on the car can withstand the punishment that Castroneves and Hornish Jr. will put on it as they push the envelope at this weekend's final street/permanent road course event.
Furthermore, each crew member will have to maintain their focus to adjust to the different pit configuration to insure the drivers get in and out of the pits effectively.
CASTRONEVES AND HORNISH JR. PARTICIPATE IN SIRIUS RADIOTHON
Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. participated in the recent Sirius NFL Radiothon for Hurricane Relief to show their support for the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. The radiothon took place on Tuesday from 6:00 a.m. until midnight and listeners were urged to call in to donate money as well as bid on auction items. Both drivers donated a mini-helmet to the auction on Sirius.com with proceeds going to the New Orleans Saints Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund as well as fulfilled interview requests during the broadcast. Other celebrity participants included Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Don Shula, Archie Manning, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox and Kansas City Chief Tony Gonzalez.
HORNISH JR. RIDES FOR CHARITY
Two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. used his weekend off to spend time with his father, Sam Hornish Sr. and help a worthy cause. Hornish Jr. and his dad rode in the Indy Racing Ride 2005, a round trip motorcycle ride from Indianapolis to Nashville, IN. The ride concluded with a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"It was a really fun day," said Hornish Jr. "Not only did I get to spend some quality time with my dad, but it was for a good cause too. They had a great turnout for a first-year event and I'm looking forward to it being even bigger next year. I think it was great that the ride ended with a lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, because that provided the participants with a memorable experience."