IRL: Indy 500: Team Penske pit notes 2003-05-13

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes May 13, 2003 HELIO CASTRONEVES WINS FIRST INDY POLE AND PENSKE RACING'S RECORD 12TH Marlboro Team Penske was at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this past weekend to qualify for the 87th running of...

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
May 13, 2003


Marlboro Team Penske was at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this past weekend to qualify for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25th and what they did was nothing less than make history themselves. On Saturday, May 10th, Helio Castroneves was looking to start his quest for a record third consecutive Indy 500 win on the right foot by attempting to earn the pole position, and what happened could not have been written any better by the world's best screenwriters.

Castroneves, who turned 28 years old on Pole Day, wanted to give himself the best present he could -- his first pole at the Brickyard. Unfortunately, that would have to wait as tornado watches plagued the track for the entire afternoon, washing qualifying out until Sunday. While this might have disappointed most, Castroneves maintained his focus and went to work on the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota the next morning. Harsh winds and cloudy skies made Sunday's qualifying conditions extremely difficult and while most teams went out to qualify, Marlboro Team Penske spent the day working on fine-tuning the pair of red and white cars to adapt to the changing weather conditions. For Castroneves, things looked bleak, as he could not find the speed with which he'd been running earlier in the week. However, when it came time to qualify, Castroneves found that "little bit extra."

At 4:39 p.m., Castroneves strung together four consecutive laps for an average speed of 231.725 mph, 0.719 mph faster than his closest competitor, to earn his ninth career IndyCar pole and take one step closer to his historic third consecutive win. Not only did Castroneves score his first pole at Indy, but this also marked Penske Racing's record 12th pole in 28 years of competition at IMS and the first pole for Toyota, who are competing at Indy for the first time this year. Needless to say, his pole made quite a nice birthday present for himself as well as the ideal mother's day gift for Castroneves' mom, Sandra, who was on-site to share in his accomplishment.

Castroneves' teammate and two-time CART Champion Gil de Ferran had his share of trouble on Pole Day as constant wind gusts made qualifying conditions difficult. De Ferran used most of the day to get comfortable in his #6 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G-Force/Toyota and was able to go out at 5:09 p.m. and put together a four-lap average of 228.663 mph to put him tenth on the starting grid.


Castroneves' performance on Sunday marks the first time a driver has sat on the pole when attempting his third consecutive Indy 500 win on race day.

Castroneves has now added a pole to his dominance at Indy and will be in prime contention for a "Three-Peat" as well as the opportunity to further contribute to Penske Racing's dynasty at Indy. Following are some statistics about Penske Racing's success in qualifying as well as what some of the Team's past polesitters have been able to accomplish at the Brickyard:

* Penske Racing has earned 12 poles in 70 attempts (18%).

* The Team has won from the pole five times.

* Al Unser Jr. scored the last pole for the Team in 1994 and went on to win the race.

* The last two times the #3 car was on the pole was in 1991 with Rick Mears and 1981 with Bobby Unser, both went on to win the race.

* The Team had consecutive poles from 1988-1991.

* Castroneves' start on May 25th will mark the Team's 30th front row start in 70 attempts (43%).


While Helio Castroneves will be practicing on the track at Indy extensively over the course of the next two weeks, he will certainly have some time away from the track as well.

During this time, Castroneves will be very busy traveling across the country for media interviews, appearances and other commitments. After capturing the pole, Castroneves returned to his home in Miami and participated in a media day highlighted by an appearance on the national Hispanic show "Despierta America." While there, People Magazine also photographed him for an article to run during race week.

Next week, Castroneves will be in Los Angeles on May 19th where he will be fulfilling interview requests as a guest on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "The Best Damn Sports Show Period."

Castroneves is also featured in the June issue of Esquire Magazine with a Q&A in the "Man at his Best" section; as well as the May issue of Vogue Hombre where he is featured in the "Mundosport" section with a photo essay from the 2003 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In addition, Castroneves will be featured in the "Insider Section" of TV Guide scheduled to run the week of the race, as well as in a Q&A segment to run in Sports Illustrated's "Scorecard" section.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Bobby Unser
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske