IRL: Indy 500: Toyota race preview

Toyota Looks For Second Straight Indy 500 Win Toyota will be looking for its second straight Indianapolis 500 victory this weekend after Gil de Ferran drove his Marlboro Toyota to victory in the manufacturer's first-ever appearance at the...

Toyota Looks For Second Straight Indy 500 Win

Toyota will be looking for its second straight Indianapolis 500 victory this weekend after Gil de Ferran drove his Marlboro Toyota to victory in the manufacturer's first-ever appearance at the Speedway in 2003.

Despite having only two cars qualify in the top six last year, Toyota-powered cars went on to take six of the top-seven finishing positions including a one-two by Penske teammates de Ferran and Helio Castroneves. In addition, Tora Takagi earned Rookie of the Year honors with his strong fourth-place finish. Overall, Toyota-powered cars led 169 of the 200 laps.

PENSKE LOOKS FOR INDY WIN

#14 Marlboro Team Penske will be looking to increase its record Indianapolis 500 win total to 14 this weekend. The team has fielded winning `500' efforts for drivers Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Al Unser Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi, Danny Sullivan, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Mark Donohue and Rick Mears, who won four times and continues to work closely with the team today.

CASTRONEVES LOOMS LARGE

Over the past three years, one thing has been proven to be true...to win the Indianapolis 500, you must beat Helio Castroneves. In his first three Indianapolis 500s, 96 other entries have tried and only one, Gil de Ferran - has beaten the "Spiderman." The end result has been two victories and a second in registering the finest finishing record in `500' history.

HORNISH IN THE RIGHT SPOT?

While Sam Hornish Jr. would probably prefer to be on the pole for this year's Indianapolis 500, if past history rings true, then the 24-year-old Defiance, Ohio, native might just be in the ideal position to win his first Indy 500 title. In each of Marlboro Team Penske's Indianapolis 500 victories over the past three seasons, the eventual race-winner has started no higher than 10th. Helio Castroneves started 11th in 2001 and 13th in 2002, while teammate Gil de Ferran started from the 10th spot a year ago. Hornish will start from the 11th spot on race day.

INDY WINNERS

While Marlboro Team Penske has won three straight Indianapolis 500s and 13 overall, it's not the only current Toyota-powered race team to win at Indianapolis. Target Chip Ganassi Racing won the 2000 Indianapolis 500 with driver Juan Montoya, while A.J. Foyt Enterprises won the race in 1999 with Kenny Brack. In addition, A.J. Foyt won four Indianapolis 500s as a driver.

TOYOTA TO POWER RACE-HIGH 12 ENTRIES

Toyota will supply engines for a race-high 12 Indianapolis 500 entries this year. Included in the group are one former Indianapolis 500 winner (Helio Castroneves), two IndyCar Series champions (Scott Dixon and Sam Hornish Jr.) and five past IndyCar Series winners (Castroneves, Dixon, Hornish, Scott Sharp and Richie Hearn).

Four drivers will use Toyota power in their first Indy 500s, with Darren Manning, Larry Foyt, Jeff Simmons and Marty Roth all in the hunt for rookie honors. While it will be the first Indianapolis 500 for Simmons and Roth, it will actually be the second race for each at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the last week. Simmons finished second in this past Saturday's Pro Series Futaba 100, while Roth placed 16th after being sidelined with electrical problems. Sam Schmidt Motorsports also will be doing an Indy double this weekend. After winning the Pro Series event with driver Thiago Medeiros, the team will run Riche Hearn in this weekend's Indianapolis 500.

"Quotes"

Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "In the last two years, we've had 21 victories and won four championships, yet, winning the Indianapolis 500 was Toyota's greatest achievement in our racing history and we're hoping to make it two in a row this year. It would have been great to be on the pole this year, but qualifying and the race are almost two separate events here. Gil de Ferran won from the 10th spot last year. The key is to have a good package for 500 miles. We're confident that we have the package, the teams and the drivers to challenge for the victory."

-toyota-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack , Richie Hearn , Larry Foyt , Sam Schmidt , Rick Mears , Bobby Unser , Danny Sullivan , Emerson Fittipaldi , Marty Roth , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Mark Donohue , Sam Hornish Jr. , Al Unser , Thiago Medeiros
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises , Team Penske