IRL: Motegi: Team Penske preview

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes April 14, 2004 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HEADS TO THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN Marlboro Team Penske will join the rest of the 2004 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series in the Far East for this ...

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
April 14, 2004


Marlboro Team Penske will join the rest of the 2004 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series in the Far East for this weekend's Bridgestone Indy Japan at Twin Ring Motegi. Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. enter this weekend's event in second and fourth place respectively in the 2004 IndyCar Series Championship point standings.

Coming off of two top-ten finishes in as many events; Castroneves will be hoping to get his first major open-wheel victory on foreign soil. While the IndyCar Series will be making only its second appearance outside of the United States, Castroneves has certainly had his fair share of international racing after spending four seasons racing in CART. On Saturday, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner will be making his sixth appearance at the Japanese track (he's competed there once with the IndyCar Series and four times with the CART Series) and will be looking to better his best finish by one place - he finished second in 2001. Castroneves is also determined to improve upon his IndyCar Series debut in Japan last year when he was involved in an accident early in the race and was placed 22nd.

"Unfortunately, we had a little bit of bad luck last year in Japan (Castroneves was involved in an accident on lap 45), so I'm looking forward to going back this season and aiming for a better result," said Castroneves. "Marlboro Team Penske looks to be fairly strong on 1.5-mile ovals this year (Castroneves finished second in Miami and teammate Hornish Jr. won the race) so I think we should be competitive. We didn't do as well as we wanted to in Phoenix and hopefully we can turn it around a bit and bring home a strong finish in Japan. It's always a fun race because the fans are so supportive and enthusiastic and I think we'll deliver a great show for all of them."

Marlboro Team Penske teammate, Sam Hornish Jr. will be making just his second start in Japan after he finished sixth there last year.

"I'm really looking forward to going back to Japan," said Hornish Jr. "It is a completely different experience from anything else we do and a whole new audience for the Indy Racing League. I like Twin Ring Motegi because it is a handling track that allows for passing. I had a decent run last year (Hornish Jr. finished sixth after starting 13th) even though we were down on horsepower so I'm excited to go back this year with Marlboro Team Penske and see if we can win it."


On Tuesday night, Helio Castroneves was in Tokyo to attend a concert marking the conclusion of the INDY JAPAN Credential Passport Campaign, a program organized to create awareness about the Bridgestone Indy Japan in the Tokyo area. Japanese singer, Asami Izawa was featured at the event as she performed her song "Power of Ring," which she wrote after her experience at last year's IndyCar Series event. The song has been featured on the top six FM stations in Japan during the months leading up to the event. Castroneves was at the special concert along with fellow IndyCar Series drivers Tomas Scheckter and Ed Carpenter.


While in Indianapolis for the recent pre-Indy 500 Team press conference, Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. taped a commercial for Firestone at IMS Production's studio. In the spot, the two go back and forth discussing the final few laps of the 2004 IndyCar Series season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. During those final laps, Hornish Jr. caught and eventually passed his new Brazilian teammate on the final lap to take the checkered flag, marking the first time in Penske Racing's 37-year history that a driver has won in his debut behind the wheel for the Team.

The commercial is one in a series of Firestone advertisements that feature IRL drivers reliving some of their greatest IndyCar Series moments. This is the second spot each driver has taped this season. Castroneves also filmed a Firestone ad in which he discusses his experiences with winning the pole for the 2003 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race; Hornish Jr. filmed another commercial for which he relived his memories of winning in Chicago during the 2003 season.


Two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. is among those nominated for the Speed Channel Presents the Driver of the Year Award for the first quarter of 2004. Hornish Jr. earned the nomination after posting a win in the 2004 season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In addition to Hornish Jr., fellow IndyCar Series competitor Tony Kanaan was also nominated as were NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth, NHRA drag racers Greg Anderson and Tony Schumacher, and World of Outlaws driver Steve Kinser.


Catch Sam Hornish Jr. in the May 2004 issue of Automobile Magazine on newsstands now. The 24 year-old Defiance, OH native has a three-page article devoted to him entitled "On Cue," which discusses, among other things, his promise as an open-wheel driver in America.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tomas Scheckter , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Kasey Kahne , Steve Kinser , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske