Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes August 9, 2006 CASTRONEVES HEADS TO KENTUCKY IN POINTS LEAD This weekend, Helio Castroneves will head to Kentucky Speedway eight points ahead of teammate Sam Hornish Jr. in the IndyCarÂ® Series Championship ...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
August 9, 2006
CASTRONEVES HEADS TO KENTUCKY IN POINTS LEAD
This weekend, Helio Castroneves will head to Kentucky Speedway eight points ahead of teammate Sam Hornish Jr. in the IndyCar® Series Championship point standings with just three races left in the season. Castroneves will be riding the momentum of his first-ever win at Michigan International Speedway two weeks ago, when he took over second place in the IndyCar Series most wins category with 11 (he was previously tied with Dan Wheldon with ten wins; Hornish Jr. holds the record with 17).
As the Championship battle heats up both Marlboro Team Penske drivers will have their sights set on taking the checkered flag this weekend, and both certainly have the credentials to do so, as each driver has had some success at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. Hornish Jr. won from the pole in Kentucky in 2003 after leading a race-high 181 laps. In addition, Hornish Jr. finished in the top-ten in five of his six appearances at the Speedway, and led the first laps of his IndyCar Series career there in 2000 when he led the field for 38 trips around the circuit.
"Kentucky has always been a special place for me," said Hornish Jr. "Not only have I won there (in 2003), but I also led my first IndyCar Series laps there in 2000. My performance in that race resulted in me getting my first full-time ride in the Series. Kentucky Speedway is a fairly difficult track because of the bumps, plus the surface gets pretty slick when we run in the afternoon heat. After our difficulties in Michigan, I'm really looking forward to getting back out there and continuing our efforts to earn Marlboro Team Penske's first Series Championship."
While his teammate Castroneves has never won in Kentucky he has finished in the top-five in three of his four starts (he finished fifth in 2002, 2003 and 2005). In addition, he's completed 99.9% of all laps run in competition, but led only five of those. Needless to say, Castroneves will be looking to lead a few more laps this weekend in hopes of extending his lead in the Championship and moving one step closer to his first-ever Series title.
"Kentucky is a challenging track, because it's very bumpy and very fast," said Castroneves. "The racing there is extremely tight with a lot of side-by-side action, so Sunday should be an exciting show for the fans. The race always comes down to the final laps, and I'm not expecting anything different this year. We'll definitely look to maintain the momentum from our win in Michigan and put up another strong finish. These last few races are very critical in the hunt for the Championship, and I know Marlboro Team Penske is up to the challenge."
While Penske Racing has competed in Kentucky four times, the Team has yet to taste victory there, making this one of only three tracks on the 2006 IndyCar Series circuit where the Team has not won (Sonoma and Chicago are the other two). Hopefully this year will change that as the Team comes to the Bluegrass State on the strength of a Series-high seven wins, seven poles, 13 top-five and 17 top-ten finishes in the 11 IndyCar Series races run to date.
The Team also leads the Series in laps led with a total of 1,010 out of a possible 2,030 run to date (49.7%).
HORNISH JR. -- LIFE ON THE LANES
This summer has proven to be a very successful one for 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Hornish Jr., as he has found Victory Circle three times. He also sits just eight points out of first place in the IndyCar Series Championship point standings as he enters the final three races of the season, two at tracks where he has already won before.
So, what does the Defiance, OH native do to relax when he's not turning laps in the IndyCar Series? He bowls.
By the end of this summer Hornish Jr. will have competed in three bowling tournaments including the 2nd Annual Sam Hornish Jr. Celebrity Bowling Tournament this past June during the IndyCar Series race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The tournament raised more than $110,000 for the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities, including a personal contribution from Sam of $25,000, which benefits more than 150 charitable organizations throughout Northern Texas.
In addition, Hornish Jr. participated in the Jeff Gordon Foundation Bowling Tournament in Indianapolis this past weekend in conjunction with the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Last Thursday's event marked the fifth consecutive time Gordon has hosted the bowling tournament, which raised $200,000 for Riley Hospital for Children this year. Other celebrity bowlers included Jimmie Johnson, Richard Petty, Chad Knaus, Rusty Wallace, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Vitor Meira, Jeff Simmons and Sarah Fisher.
"I've been invited to Jeff's bowling event before, but I've never been able to attend because of our schedule" said Hornish Jr. after the event. "Since we had a break this past weekend, I decided that it was important to be there to help Jeff out in supporting such a great cause. Obviously, I know how it is to be the one putting on a charity bowling event, so I realize that the event wouldn't be nearly as successful without the support of other athletes and celebrities. And, what a great year for me to lend a hand after winning Indy. I had a lot of fun, and I picked up a few pointers from his event that we'll definitely be using for the 3rd Annual Sam Hornish Jr. Charity Bowling Tournament in Texas next year."
To complete the hat trick of celebrity bowling tournaments this summer, Hornish Jr. will also be participating in Peyton Manning's annual tournament, the PeyBack Bowl, in Indianapolis on August 21st. The tournament will benefit the PeyBack Foundation and will help to raise money for at risk youth in Indiana, Tennessee, and Louisiana.
HORNISH JR. BACK AT THE BRICKYARD
Hornish Jr. was back in Indianapolis this past weekend to support team owner, Roger Penske and Penske Racing drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman at the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hornish Jr. spent the morning with Penske including attending the driver's meeting before the race, where he had the honor of being introduced to the field of drivers.
"They introduced a handful of guests, but I had no idea that they were going to introduce me as the Indy 500 winner," said Hornish Jr. "I was really surprised. Honestly, it was a little awkward for someone like me who doesn't crave attention." Hornish Jr. spent the rest of the day shadowing the Captain and even got to watch the race from atop the Turn 1 Suites with Penske and listen to him on the radio with his drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman (who finished 12th and 13th respectively).
"It was a lot of fun for someone like me who is a fan of all kinds of racing to go to a race and actually get to be a spectator for once" continued Hornish Jr. "Obviously, I was pulling for Kurt and Ryan to bring home a second victory for Penske Racing at the Brickyard this year, but it wasn't meant to be. The last couple of laps after the final restart were pretty exciting, but I think I prefer our style of racing. I did have a great time, though and it was great to be able to support the Team."