IRL: Sears Point: Team Penske Pit Notes

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes August 23, 2005 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE EARN TWO TOP-FIVE FINISHES IN PIKES PEAK Marlboro Team Penske drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves earned a pair of top-five finishes this past weekend at the Honda...

Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
August 23, 2005


Marlboro Team Penske drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves earned a pair of top-five finishes this past weekend at the Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Sunday's race marked the fourth and final short oval event of the 2005 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series season and Marlboro Team Penske produced solid results yet again.

On Saturday, the duo swept the front row (Castroneves won his first pole of the season and Hornish Jr. qualified second) marking the third front row sweep for Marlboro Team Penske on short ovals this season (Hornish Jr. won the pole in Richmond and Milwaukee; Castroneves started second both times).

Hornish Jr. finished the race in second after leading a race-high 71 laps and Castroneves finished fourth, marking the Team's fifth and sixth top-five finishes on short ovals this season. In addition to picking up three additional points for leading most laps, Hornish set yet another Indy Racing League milestone by leading laps in 50 races. He currently leads the IRL in most career laps led with 2,514.

With his second place finish, Hornish Jr. remains in second place in the Championship point standings, 97 points behind leader Dan Wheldon. Castroneves moved into a tie for fifth place with 348 points. In addition, Castroneves' start in Pikes Peak marked his 102nd with Marlboro Team Penske dating back to the 2000 CART season. With this weekend's appearance, Castroneves passed Al Unser Jr. (101 starts) on the Penske Racing all-time start list. Castroneves is currently third in career starts for the Team behind Rick Mears (192 starts) and Emerson Fittipaldi (109 starts).


This weekend will mark the IndyCar Series' second non-oval event this year. The Series' permanent road course debut at Infineon Raceway will provide a new and unique twist to the IndyCar Series schedule. After ten consecutive oval events, how does Marlboro Team Penske switch gears to make sure they're prepared for this weekend's event? "Every track we go to has a different set of priorities that we focus on," explains Tom German, Race Engineer for Sam Hornish Jr.'s #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota. "While road courses are significantly different than ovals, we still have varied focal points at every venue at which we compete. This weekend, we'll focus a lot on braking because it plays an integral role in the drivers' success at Infineon Raceway.

Usually on ovals there is very little braking; the only time that it comes into play is during green flag pit stop situations. On road courses, the drivers will be braking as they go into each of the turns, so it will be vital that we monitor the performance of the brakes to make sure they're not getting worn or overheated." Aside from the braking, the Team will also have to make sure they are prepared with the set-up of the car as it will change significantly from last weekend's event at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

"While the racecar will look virtually the same to the casual observer, there will be major changes made to the structure of the car," continues German. "We'll reconfigure the gearbox, the entire suspension will be different than when we race on ovals, the front wing will be similar to that of a short oval wing, but will also feature new components and we'll be using steel brakes this weekend."

The engineers will also have to take into account the fact that there will be no banking in the turns to help the drivers through the corners, so they will have to use a lot more downforce to compensate for that lack of banking. Another key element for the Team will be for Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. to get into a rhythm of coordinating their downshifting for the various types of turns that they will encounter throughout the 2.2-mile road course. It will be imperative that the drivers learn to downshift correctly for the high speed and low speed turns and coordinate the braking, downshifting and turning simultaneously for each different corner. Another unique trait of Infineon Raceway is the numerous elevation changes, so the Team will restyle the cockpit to aid the drivers. The seat will be revamped to provide a better forward view as well as provide more support on braking. The driver will have a higher perspective and will be sitting more upright so that he can better attack the elevation changes and cornering.

"We tested at Infineon Raceway in April and that provided a lot of important information," said German. "We'll definitely be able to apply what we learned in the spring to this weekend and we'll use the practice sessions to continually evolve the set-up of the car and make sure we're progressing throughout the weekend so that we can be as competitive as possible. I'm looking forward to the race this weekend as I think it will not only be an exciting race, but will challenge the Team to make sure we have the right set-up as well."


The Marlboro Team Penske engineers aren't the only ones who have been preparing themselves for the Series' first permanent road course event. Both two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. have augmented their training regimens to insure they are in peak physical condition for the grueling road course race.

Castroneves has been focusing on weight training by lifting heavier weights at lower reps to make sure his muscles can withstand the strain that they will experience in Sonoma. In addition, he's also working on increasing his stamina by swimming in the open ocean followed-up with a run, which he does at least twice a week. "I think it will be important to make sure I'm in the best condition possible for this weekend," said Castroneves. "At the beginning of the season, I began preparing for the road courses by lifting more weights and trying to improve my conditioning. I've found that the combination of swimming and then running really adds a new dimension to my overall performance as I have built my stamina significantly over the past several months."

Sam Hornish Jr. has added a new component to his regimen by building triathlon training into his workout schedule. At least once a week, the Defiance, OH native swims a ½ mile, bikes 16 miles and runs 3 ½ miles. On the other days that he isn't triathlon training, he weight trains and either swims, cycles, runs, or works out on his rowing machine.

"I've been in good shape the past few seasons, but I wanted to make sure I was in even better shape this year," said Hornish Jr. "With the addition of road course racing this season, physical conditioning has become even more important so I wanted to make sure I was prepared to perform at my best."


Marlboro Team Penske played host to several members of the United States Army this past weekend as a thank you for their allowing Team members to tour Fort Carson and the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, which is the command center for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Several soldiers from Fort Carson were in attendance at the Honda Indy 225, including Colonel B. Shannon Davis, Chief of Staff: 7th Infantry Division and Fort Carson. Before Sunday's race, Colonel Davis met with Roger Penske and presented him with a special coin from Fort Carson on behalf of General Robert W. Mixon Jr., Commanding General: 7th Infantry Division and Fort Carson. Every commander has a coin, which is given to soldiers for excellence as well as a memento for visitors, dignitaries, and VIPs. Colonel Davis was also given a private tour of the Marlboro Team Penske garage and transporters.


Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves won the Marlboro Pole Award at the Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway by turning a qualifying lap of 175.423 mph (20.5218 seconds). For his achievement, Castroneves was presented with a $10,000 check from Philip Morris USA during a post-qualifying ceremony. There was not a winner of the Marlboro Pole Award Media Contest in Colorado as no journalist selected Castroneves to win the pole.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Dan Wheldon , Rick Mears , Roger Penske , Philip Morris , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske