Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes July 1, 2003 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE EARNS TWO TOP-THREE FINISHES IN RICHMOND Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran earned second and third place finishes respectively at this weekend's...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
July 1, 2003
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE EARNS TWO TOP-THREE FINISHES IN RICHMOND
Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran earned second and third place finishes respectively at this weekend's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway marking the fourth top-three finish for each driver in the 2003 IndyCar® Series season.
Castroneves had some difficulty qualifying for the race as he drew the first spot in Friday night's qualification order. Unfortunately, the Silver Crown cars laid a lot of rubber on the track dramatically changing its conditions. Castroneves claimed the 11th spot, but started tenth after the #12 car (Takagi) was involved in an accident during the last practice forcing him to use his back-up car and starting at the back of the field. After starting tenth, Castroneves was with the lead pack in no time working his way up to third by lap 41. He was right behind teammate de Ferran until the second round of pit stops (lap 133) when he was able to beat de Ferran out of the pits and move into second. As the clouds began to move over the track, Castroneves was closing in on the leader Dixon as he was approaching traffic. Unfortunately the rain came red flagging the race on lap 206 and Castroneves would not get the opportunity to challenge for the win.
"I'm very happy with results in Richmond, especially after last year's race (Castroneves finished 17th after contact on lap 8)," said Castroneves. "My car handled well all night, it's just unfortunate that the rain came because I really think I had a car that could've competed for the win. We started in tenth and made progress throughout the race. I moved up to third and on my second pit stop (on lap 133) I got out of the pits before Gil (de Ferran), which put me in second and I was able to stay with the leader (Dixon) throughout the rest of the race. Just before the rain came he was coming up on traffic so it could've been an interesting finish. It would've been nice to win, but it's still great to have finished second, especially after a disappointing race in Pikes Peak two weeks ago (Castroneves finished twelfth). We were able to earn some valuable points and move closer to the lead (Castroneves is third in the point standings, just 40 out of first place)."
De Ferran also had a strong performance in the 2003 season's second of three night races. The 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner started sixth and moved into third on the first lap. He then was able to move into second by passing the #11 car (Kanaan) where he would remain until the second round of pit stops and relinquish a spot to teammate Castroneves.
"Overall, it was a positive result for Marlboro Team Penske," said de Ferran. "I had a good start and was able to jump from sixth to third on the first lap. From there, I was biding my time and waiting for the leaders to catch traffic. I was able to get by Tony (Kanaan) and move into second place and started to close the gap with Scott (Dixon). We had a good first pit stop (lap 61) and got settled in for the second stint. The car was running well and I was able to maintain second place. On our second pit stop (lap 133), Helio was able to get by me. From that point on, we were running flat out, driving a qualifying pace for the rest of the race. We knew rain was coming so we were going all out. My car was more consistent this year than last and the Toyota engine was really good."
With the conclusion of the race in Richmond, Castroneves and de Ferran have earned eight top-three finishes in the seven races run to date. More importantly, Marlboro Team Penske earned some valuable points this past weekend in Virginia with Castroneves securing a lone spot in third, just 40 points behind Tony Kanaan in first. De Ferran moved into fourth, five points behind his teammate.
PENSKE RACING TO MAKE HISTORIC 1000TH OPEN-WHEEL START THIS WEEKEND AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY
Marlboro Team Penske drivers Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves will be making Penske Racing's historic 999th and 1000th open-wheel starts this weekend at the Kansas Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. Whichever driver starts further on the grid will reach a new milestone for the most successful team in American motorsports by adding one more statistic to the record book for Penske Racing.
Penske Racing's legacy began on June 15, 1968 when the late Mark Donohue climbed into the driver's seat marking the Team's first start at Mosport. Donohue would go on to finish the race in fifth, but Penske Racing would continue to succeed for the next three and a half decades.
In the 35 years that Penske Racing has been competing in open-wheel racing, the Team has amassed several incredible records. Following is a brief summary of the results the Team has produced in its first 998 starts:
* 115 Race Wins
* 11 National Championships
* 13 Indianapolis 500 Wins
* 12 Indianapolis 500 Pole Positions
* 141 Pole Positions
* 44 Wins From the Pole
* 32 1-2/1-2-3 Finishes
* 24 500-Mile Race Wins
* 50 1-2 Starts
Patrick Racing is the Team with the second highest number of starts with 777, which includes 45 victories, three Indianapolis 500 wins and two National Championships.
DE FERRAN TO LEAD SEVENTH INNING STRETCH AT WRIGLEY FIELD
Marlboro Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran will be in Chicago on Monday, July 7th to lead Cubs fans at Wrigley Field in one of the most storied traditions in all of sports - the Seventh Inning Stretch. De Ferran will be singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Monday night's game at the legendary ballpark against his hometown team the Florida Marlins. De Ferran will also participate in an on-field appearance during the Cubs' batting practice where he will take photos with some of the players.
SCOTT DIXON WINS SECOND CONSECUTIVE MARLBORO LAP LEADER AWARD
Target Chip Ganassi driver Scott Dixon led the most laps this past weekend for the second consecutive time after being at the top of the leader board for each of the 206 laps run on his way to winning the SunTrust Indy Challenge. Dixon earned two extra points for leading the most laps and is second in the IRL Championship point standings. Dixon will be presented with his Marlboro Lap Leader Award check for $7,500 during the pre-race ceremonies this weekend at the Kansas Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway on July 6th.
In addition, Penny Holder of Carolina Motorsports was this week's winner of the Marlboro Lap Leader Award Media Contest. During each IRL event, journalists have the opportunity to enter an on-site contest to predict who will lead the most laps, and how many that driver will lead, in a given race. Holder, who guessed that Dixon would lead 197 of the scheduled 250 laps in the race, won a Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watch.