IRL: Pikes Peak: Team Penske Pit Notes

Pit Notes June 11, 2002 Marlboro Team Penske maintains top two places in IRL point standings. Saturday night's Boomtown 500 presented Marlboro Team Penske with their first-ever opportunity to race under the lights and the Team accepted ...

Pit Notes
June 11, 2002

Marlboro Team Penske maintains top two places in IRL point standings.

Saturday night's Boomtown 500 presented Marlboro Team Penske with their first-ever opportunity to race under the lights and the Team accepted this challenge in stride. IRL points leader and Two-Time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was able to extend his streak of top-five finishes to six this season by bringing the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet home in fourth. Not only did Castroneves earn 32 points for the finish, but he extended his lead in the Championship hunt by 44 points over teammate Gil de Ferran.

After Texas, Castroneves remains the only IRL driver to accomplish the following: six top-five finishes; led laps in each race (he led three laps in Texas); and completed every lap run to date.

De Ferran started the race strong moving from 12th to third before losing his gearbox on his first pit stop. De Ferran's pit crew replaced the gearbox and he was able to rejoin the race 39 laps down. De Ferran finished 16th and earned 14 valuable points to extend his lead to 12 points over Sam Hornish Jr.

"The crew did a fantastic job repairing the car and they replaced the entire gearbox. It's a shame we had that trouble, because we had a really good car. But we were able to climb back from 21st to finish 16th so we earned some very valuable points in the Championship," said de Ferran after the race.


This weekend Marlboro Team Penske will join the IRL at Pikes Peak International Raceway, yet another track on which neither driver has ever competed. Both Castroneves and de Ferran have had the opportunity to test this season on the 1-mile oval, so hopefully they'll be able to extend the Team's lead in the IRL point standings.

"Pikes Peak will present Marlboro Team Penske with a whole new challenge because we've never raced there, but, we did test there and were able to get some information about the circuit," said Two-Time Indianapolis 500 Winner Helio Castroneves. "I think the wind will definitely be a factor because the cars are very sensitive to the weather conditions at this track. I'm really looking forward to going there - it will be very exciting to see how we do. We just have to be patient, remain focused and continue to work hard."

"We had a very productive test at Pikes Peak at the end of April," said Two-Time National Champion Gil de Ferran. "We were able to gather data which should help us come race weekend. The track actually feels like a scaled-down version of Michigan Speedway. Marlboro Team Penske is in a good position in the Championship point standings (de Ferran is second with 183 points; teammate Castroneves is first with 227 points) so we need to keep the momentum going with a strong run. I had never been to the area around Pikes Peak before the test. I really liked it and look forward to returning there for the race."


Both Marlboro Team Penske drivers Castroneves and de Ferran have been nominated for an ESPY Award in the Best Driver category. This is Castroneves' first ESPY Award nomination and de Ferran's second consecutive honor. Hosted by Samuel L. Jackson, the 10th Annual ESPY Award ceremonies will be held on July 10th at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Other nominees include Sam Hornish Jr. (IRL), John Force (NHRA), Jeff Gordon (NASCAR), Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) and Michael Schumacher (Formula One).


Manuel A. Diaz, Mayor of Miami, will be presenting Helio Castroneves with a Proclamation from the City of Miami in recognition of his victory at the 86th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race this past May. Castroneves will receive the certificate this Thursday, June 13th at the City of Miami's Commission meeting.


Gil de Ferran has been busy both on and off the track this year. Most recently, de Ferran donated his time and artistic ability at two charity events in his hometown of Ft. Lauderdale. De Ferran donated a hand-painted "checkered flag" themed chair, which sold for $800 at the "Chairs that Care," a fundraising event to benefit the Henderson Mental Health Center and the Junior League of Greater Ft. Lauderdale. The event raised money for these charities through the auction of hand painted chairs created by several well-known personalities including Bill Cosby, Ray Charles and Jimmy Buffet. In addition, de Ferran donated a signed photograph of himself, Helio Castroneves and Roger Penske, as well as two passes to the Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway, which sold for $3,000 at the recent "Harley Dog Days" event benefiting the Auxiliary of the Humane Society of Broward County.


Tomas Scheckter won the sixth Marlboro Lap Leader Award, which goes to the driver leading the most laps in each 2002 IRL event. After leading 107 of the 200 laps at this weekend's Boomtown 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Scheckter earned his second consecutive Marlboro Lap Leader Award payoff - he also led the most laps at the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, for which he earned $10,000. Scheckter will be presented with another check for $5,000 at the Radisson Indy 225 pre-race ceremony this weekend at Pikes Peak International Raceway for his accomplishments at TMS.

In addition, Mike King of IMS Radio Network 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 laps that driver will lead, in a given race. King, who guessed that Scheckter would lead 106 of the 200 laps in the race, won a Maurice Lacroix Siras watch.


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Series IndyCar
Teams Team Penske , CIP