MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PIT NOTES June 28, 2005 CASTRONEVES CLIMBS THE FENCE ONCE AGAIN Helio Castroneves had the chance to do what he loves best last Saturday night at the SunTrust Indy Challenge -- climb the fence on the front straight -- after...
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PIT NOTES
June 28, 2005
CASTRONEVES CLIMBS THE FENCE ONCE AGAIN
Helio Castroneves had the chance to do what he loves best last Saturday night at the SunTrust Indy Challenge -- climb the fence on the front straight -- after taking the checkered flag at Richmond International Raceway. The 30 year-old Brazilian found his way to Victory Circle seven events after winning the 2004 season finale at Texas Motor Speedway last October marking the thirteenth time in his Indy car career that he's led the field on the final lap of a race.
With his victory on Saturday night, he capped a streak of three top-three finishes at Richmond (he finished third in 2003 and second in 2002) in just four attempts at the 0.75-mile oval. Castroneves led a race-high 112 laps on his way to the checkered flag. In addition, his win was made more special because it happened in his primary sponsor, Philip Morris' backyard in front of thousands of employees.
Castroneves' win marked the seventh time he's won on an oval circuit. Other oval wins include: Texas 10/17/04; Nazareth 8/24/03; St. Louis 8/10/03; Indianapolis 5/26/02 & 5/27/01; and Phoenix 3/17/02. In addition, the victory marked Penske Racing's record 123 rd open-wheel victory. For his efforts, Castroneves moved up four spots in the IndyCar Series Championship point standings taking over third place from teammate Sam Hornish Jr. With 206 points, Castroneves is just three points behind the second place standing of Tony Kanaan.
Teammate Sam Hornish Jr. earned his seventh career pole last weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Hornish Jr.'s pole coupled with teammate Helio Castroneves' second place start marked Marlboro Team Penske's first front row sweep of the season and the Team's sixth front row sweep since joining the IRL full-time in 2002.
Unfortunately, Hornish Jr.'s luck didn't hold out on race day as he was involved in a single car accident on lap 165 ending his evening and placing him 18 th . He led 42 laps before retiring due to the accident. Hornish Jr. dropped one place in the IndyCar Series Championship point standings and sits in fourth with 198 points, just eight points behind teammate Castroneves.
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO KANSAS
Marlboro Team Penske will join the rest of the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series this Sunday at the Argent Mortgage Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway at the Series' eighth event of the season.
While Marlboro Team Penske has never earned a victory at the speedway, the Team has posted solid showings earning four top-five finishes in just three years of competition (Castroneves finished second in 2003 and third in 2002; former teammate Gil de Ferran finished third in 2003 and fifth in 2002). This year, the Team will be coming off of a win in Richmond and will be looking to keep that streak alive extending it to two wins in as many events come Fourth of July weekend.
"Kansas is always a very tough race, because it's so hot there," said Castroneves. "We finished second in 2003 and third in 2002, so hopefully this year we'll be able to add a win. We're coming off of events in Texas and Richmond, which are totally different than the race at Kansas Speedway, so that will add a new challenge in our preparations for Sunday. Marlboro Team Penske has been working hard all year and we've had great results over the past few races so I think we'll be in good shape. We just have to be consistent and execute on our pit stops and hopefully we'll be right there at the end."
In addition to Marlboro Team Penske's success at Kansas Speedway, Sam Hornish Jr. will also be looking to add to his strong career at the Midwest oval as he's earned two second place finishes in four attempts. Hornish Jr. will also be hoping to extend his streak of four consecutive top-five starts as he looks to secure his second consecutive pole and third of the season. "I always look forward to racing in Kansas," said Hornish Jr. "After finishing second in 2002 and 2001, I figure I should make it to victory circle one of these days, so I'm optimistic that Marlboro Team Penske can get me there this season. Kansas Speedway is a fast track that combines horsepower and handling, so that's always a challenge. This race is always unforgettable because every year we come here the heat adds another variable to consider when we look at how to approach the weekend."
HORNISH JR. WINS THE MARLBORO POLE AWARD
Marlboro Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. won the Marlboro Pole Award at the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway after setting a track record by turning a qualifying lap of 176.244 mph (15.3197 seconds). For his achievement, Hornish Jr. was presented with a $10,000 check from Philip Morris USA during a post-qualifying ceremony. In addition, Kevin Thorne of Carolina Motorsports was the winner of the Marlboro Pole Award Media Contest. During each IRL event, journalists have the opportunity to enter an on-site contest to predict who will win the pole, and what that driver's pole speed will be during qualifying for a given race. Thorne, who guessed that Hornish Jr. would win the pole with a lap of 174.386 mph, won a MOMO Design Watch.
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE REACTS TO TOYOTA ANNOUNCEMENT
Yesterday, Toyota Motorsports announced that they will be withdrawing from major American open-wheel competition at the conclusion of the 2006 IRL season. The departure will come after being involved in open-wheel racing in the United States since 1994.
"Toyota has been a true partner of our organization in many respects. Although they have declared their intentions beyond 2006, they have assured us that they will continue to support our efforts to win," said Tim Cindric, President -- Penske Racing, Inc. "Penske Racing is fully committed to the Indy Racing League and we will continue to evaluate our engine options for the future."