Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes August 24, 2004 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PREPARES FOR HISTORIC FINAL RACE AT NAZARETH SPEEDWAY This Sunday, the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCarÂ® Series will be making its final stop at Nazareth Speedway at the ...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
August 24, 2004
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE PREPARES FOR HISTORIC FINAL RACE AT NAZARETH SPEEDWAY
This Sunday, the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series will be making its final stop at Nazareth Speedway at the Firestone Indy 225. While the IndyCar Series has only been competing on the 1-mile tri-oval for two seasons, the Speedway's open-wheel roots go much deeper than that.
There are few Teams with as close a connection to Nazareth Speedway as Marlboro Team Penske. Not only is Penske Racing Inc. based in Reading, PA - a short drive from the track, but Roger Penske himself is responsible for creating the facility as it exists today.
Since the early part of the 20th century, the facility featured various dirt tracks that provided a venue for several Series over the decades. In 1986, Penske Motorsports Inc. purchased the 90-acre facility in Nazareth and paved the former dirt track as well as renovated the facility to transform it into Pennsylvania International Raceway. Local racing legend Michael Andretti would take the checkered flag at the inaugural event in 1987.
In 1993 the name was changed to Nazareth Speedway and in 1999 Nazareth Speedway merged with International Speedway Corporation and has retained that affiliation ever since.
PENSKE RACING AT NAZARETH SPEEDWAY
Aside from playing an instrumental role in developing Nazareth Speedway into what it is today, Roger Penske has also had his fair share of racing success in the Lehigh Valley.
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE'S THOUGHTS ON NAZARETH
"We have had great success at Nazareth winning seven times in seventeen races," said Roger Penske. "We scored our 100th win in 2000 which was unbelievable, especially when you consider we had new drivers and new team members, it was truly amazing. From that victory with Gil up until today if you look at the number of races we have won, the three Indy 500's, the poles and the Championships, it's been tremendous."
"Nazareth is a very challenging track for both the drivers and the engineers because it has three very different corners," said Castroneves. "Turn one we can take flat out, turn two is off banking and turn three is like two corners. It can be a very long day if the car isn't good but it's a lot of fun when the car is handling well. The Team's been working so hard all season, I hope we can bring home a strong finish this weekend. It would be great to repeat last year's performance at Nazareth, and win the last race at the track. It is Marlboro Team Penske's home track and the Team has so much history there, like Gil (de Ferran) getting Penske Racing's 100th win in 2000. I remember watching races at Nazareth while growing up in Brazil and am glad to have had the opportunity to race there."
"I enjoy racing at Nazareth Speedway and I always have fun competing there," said Hornish Jr. "It's almost like a road course; the only difference is that we're only making left turns. The track is very challenging for the drivers because we have to deal with elevation changes and three totally different corners, plus it's very difficult to pass. Nazareth is a handling track and that's where Marlboro Team Penske has felt the most comfortable this season, so I think we should be competitive there. This weekend is also the 100th race for the IndyCar Series, which will add a new level of excitement as the Series competes here for the final time. It's always been a track where everyone has really enjoyed competing and it's too bad that we won't be coming back."
FRANCHITTI WINS MARLBORO LAP LEADER AWARD
Andretti Green Racing driver Dario Franchitti led the most laps at the Honda Indy 225 this past weekend at Pikes Peak International Raceway after being at the top of the leader board for 128 of the 225 laps on his way to his second win of the 2004 season. Franchitti earned three extra points for leading the most laps and sits in fifth place in the IRL Championship point standings with 319 points. Franchitti will be presented with his Marlboro Lap Leader Award check for $7,500 during the pre-race ceremonies at this weekend's Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway on August 29th. His performance also marked the third time this season that Franchitti has won the Marlboro Lap Leader Award.
In addition, Ron McQueeney of IRL Photography was the 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. McQueeney, who guessed that Franchitti would lead 87 of the scheduled 225 laps in the race, won a MOMO Design Essenziale Watch.