Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes March 18, 2003 Marlboro Team Penske prepares to defend title in Phoenix. Fresh off of two top-three finishes in Miami, Marlboro Team Penske will be heading to Phoenix this weekend to join the Indy Racing League...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
March 18, 2003
Marlboro Team Penske prepares to defend title in Phoenix.
Fresh off of two top-three finishes in Miami, Marlboro Team Penske will be heading to Phoenix this weekend to join the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series in the Purex Dial Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) on Sunday, March 23rd.
Marlboro Team Penske will be looking to carry the momentum from the season-opener in Miami as de Ferran and Castroneves debuted the 2003 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota in excellent fashion. De Ferran won the first Marlboro Lap Leader Award of the season after leading an astounding 92 of the 200 laps on his way to recording a second-place finish with Castroneves close behind in third.
The Team returns to PIR with high hopes for a competitive race as they look for a repeat performance of last year, when 2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves started from the pole and led 62 laps on his way to his first victory of the season. Teammate and two-time CART Champion Gil de Ferran finished a close second in last year's race after leading 15 laps.
Last year's race in Phoenix marked the first of three 1-2 finishes for Marlboro Team Penske in 2002, which set an IRL record. Here are a few fast facts about the Brazilian duo's performance together as members of Marlboro Team Penske as they look to dominate once again on the 1-mile oval in the Southwest:
* Since joining the Team in 2000, Castroneves and de Ferran have earned seven 1-2 finishes including: St. Louis, Pikes Peak and Phoenix - 2002; Indianapolis and Mid-Ohio - 2001; Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio - 2000
* In six of the seven 1-2 finishes, Castroneves or de Ferran had started from the pole
* In four of the seven 1-2 finishes, Marlboro Team Penske had swept the front row (Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca - 2000; Mid-Ohio - 2001; Pikes Peak 2002)
* De Ferran and Castroneves have won a combined seven races from the pole (de Ferran: Houston - 2001, Pikes Peak & St. Louis - 2002; Castroneves: Laguna Seca - 2000, Long Beach & Detroit - 2001, Phoenix - 2002)
* Since joining the Team, Castroneves has earned nine wins while de Ferran has earned six
* Penske Racing has earned six wins at PIR with four different drivers (Castroneves - 2002; Emerson Fittipaldi - 1994; Rick Mears - 1990, 1989, 1982; Al Unser - 1985)
CASTRONEVES ON PHOENIX:
"Marlboro Team Penske had a very good test last week at Phoenix International Raceway, so I think we'll be in good shape going into race weekend. Phoenix is a challenging track - it's a tight oval where passing is difficult. It will be important that we have a good set-up and can remain consistent throughout the race, because at a track like this, speed doesn't always win. I'm really looking forward to this weekend, it's always good to come back to a track as the defending winner."
DE FERRAN ON PHOENIX:
"Phoenix is a very challenging circuit which is why I like it. The track is very demanding physically and it is difficult to get the car set-up well. Since Marlboro Team Penske had a strong result in the first race of the season and good pre-season testing at this track, we should be competitive in the upcoming race. I think we are as prepared as we can be so we'll have to see how things play out on race weekend."
ROGER PENSKE RECEIVES HONORS AT 2003 DODGE NATIONAL ATHLETIC AWARDS
On Tuesday, March 11th Roger Penske was honored at the Dodge National Athletic Awards in downtown Detroit. The event, hosted by James Brown of FOX Sports, celebrated the 15th anniversary of the awards. Other honorees included:
* NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Ryan Newman
* NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly
* Ohio State University Quarterback Craig Krenzel
* Olympic Gold Medallist Vonetta Flowers