IRL: Richmond: Team Penske preview

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes June 22, 2004 Marlboro Team Penske Looks Ahead To Richmond This Saturday's race at Richmond International Raceway marks the second night race of the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series and Marlboro Team...

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
June 22, 2004

Marlboro Team Penske Looks Ahead To Richmond

This Saturday's race at Richmond International Raceway marks the second night race of the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series and Marlboro Team Penske will be looking to improve upon their fourth and twelfth place finishes in the Series' first night race (Texas) as well as move up in the Series point standings (currently Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. are third and seventh respectively).

Historically, Richmond has been a track at which Castroneves and Hornish have done well. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves has one front-row start and one second-place finish in just two appearances at Richmond International Raceway. In addition, Castroneves has made 11 starts on short ovals since joining the IndyCar Series full time in 2002; in that time he's earned seven top-three finishes including victories at Nazareth and St. Louis in 2003 and Phoenix in 2002. In those 11 events, Marlboro Team Penske has earned 15 top-three finishes, including five victories; and six poles.

Teammate and two-time IndyCar Series Champion, Hornish has also had his fair share of success in Richmond as he's started in the top-three twice in his trio of appearances as well as earned a top-five finish in each of those attempts; including a victory in 2002.

"We had the opportunity to test for Toyota a few weeks ago at Richmond," said President of Penske Racing, Inc. Tim Cindric. "We are looking forward to a good result this weekend as both of our drivers tested under the track record and we feel well prepared going into this event."

SPOTTER'S GUIDE TO RICHMOND

When Marlboro Team Penske takes to the track at Richmond International Raceway this weekend, it won't just be Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. who are keeping tabs on the competition out there. There will also be two other Team members who will be keeping a very close eye on all of the action going on around the track - Marlboro Team Penske's spotters.

Marlboro Team Penske's General Manager Clive Howell and Team Manager Tom Wurtz fulfill spotting responsibilities for the #3 and #6 cars respectively and will be making sure they are surveying all of the action on the track at this weekend's SunTrust Indy Challenge from their perch high atop the suites in Turn 1. The spotter's stand is different at each track and sometimes it presents spotters with unique problems. In the case of Richmond International Raceway, the way the stand is positioned and because the infield is so small the transporters partially block the view of the track coming out of turn 3 between turns 3 and 4. While the impact of this is minimal because the cars are out of sight for a nearly negligible amount time, it still does present a tricky situation by having to work with those conditions.

The ¾-Mile oval at Richmond provides a unique challenge for the spotters as the track is the shortest oval on the 16-race IndyCar Series schedule. The shorter distance means that the driver's reaction times are cut down and situations can arise much more quickly, simply because the field is occupying a lot less space. Howell and Wurtz will need to pay special attention not only on who is in close proximity to their drivers, but also on what else is happening around the track. With a circuit as short as this, an accident halfway around the track comes up very quickly, so it's necessary to watch both the pack that the driver is currently in, as well as the packs ahead of them.

Aside from making sure that their car stays on the track and out of trouble, spotters also have a lot of other responsibilities that they undertake to assist their Team in hopes of reaching Victory Circle.

Spotters provide key information to the person calling the race, in the case of Marlboro Team Penske, Howell is in direct communication with Tim Cindric who calls Castroneves' races and Wurtz is in constant contact with Roger Penske, who calls Hornish Jr.'s race. Throughout the 200 laps on Saturday night at Richmond, the spotters will be relaying key information back to the Team. Howell and Wurtz will communicate things such as the effectiveness of the racing line their particular driver is taking in relation to other drivers on the track, the status of the track - whether or not there is debris or if it is in good shape, any damage to the car, who is or isn't turning onto pit road, and weather patterns developing over the track or in the distance. The spotter is in a unique position to report upon many variables and factors that simply cannot be seen by the rest of the Team down on pit lane.

In addition to reporting on the race and developing information, spotters also work with one another and develop a strong rapport throughout the season. Throughout the race, the Team is requesting that Howell and Wurtz work with the other spotters based on how the car reacts in front of or behind a particular driver. Furthermore, the spotters also work with backmarkers should the race come down to the final laps and they need to move out of the way in order to preserve track position. Generally, the spotters help one another out when they can, as each knows the favor will get returned down the line.

PENSKE INDUCTED INTO CLEVELAND SPORTS STARS FOUNDATION HALL OF FAME

Last Friday night, Roger Penske was inducted into the Cleveland Sports Stars Hall of Fame, an organization that recognizes Cleveland's greatest sports legends. Several other Cleveland personalities were also honored at the ceremony including late Cleveland Browns owners Al Lerner and Arthur McBride; former Browns Michael Dean Perry and Kevin Mack; 2004 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee Bob Brown; and former Manager of the Cleveland Indians Mike Hargrove. Michigan International Speedway Public Address announcer Jim Mueller was also honored with a special Director's Award.

The event took place at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Cleveland and President of Penske Racing, Inc. Tim Cindric was present to accept the award on Penske's behalf.

KANAAN WINS MARLBORO LAP LEADER AWARD IN TEXAS

Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan led the most laps at the Bombardier 500 two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway after being at the top of the leader board for 145 of the 200 laps run on his way to winning his second race of the season. Kanaan earned three extra points for leading the most laps and leads the IRL Championship point standings with 210 points. Kanaan will be presented with his Marlboro Lap Leader Award check for $7,500 during the pre-race ceremonies at the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway on June 26th. His performance also marked the second time this season and fifth time in two years Kanaan has won the Marlboro Lap Leader Award, bringing his total earnings to $37,500.

In addition, Steve Snoddy 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. Snoddy, who guessed that Kanaan would lead 118 of the scheduled 200 laps in the race, won a MOMO Design Essenziale Watch.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Roger Penske , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske