IRL: St. Pete: Team Penske pit notes 2006-04-06

CASTRONEVES CLIMBS THE FENCE IN ST. PETERSBURG Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves proved his street racing expertise once again at this past Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, when he took the checkered flag after...


Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves proved his street racing expertise once again at this past Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, when he took the checkered flag after leading a race-high 40 laps late in the race. After crossing the finish line, Castroneves immediately went to turn two to climb the fence to celebrate his win, a ritual he initiated in Detroit in 2000 after winning his first Indy car race.

With his victory in St. Petersburg, Castroneves moved into first place in the 2006 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series Championship point standings with a total of 93 points. The last time Castroneves led the IndyCar Series Championship was in 2003, when he entered the Texas race tied with Scott Dixon for the lead. In addition, Sunday's win marked the seventh time the 30 year-old Brazilian has been victorious on street/permanent road courses in his Indy car career and the first time he completed a road/street course race in the IndyCar Series. With his win on Sunday, Castroneves has won at least one race in each of his seven seasons with Marlboro Team Penske.

Marlboro Team Penske teammate Sam Hornish Jr. was running well early in the race, but suffered brake problems after his second pit stop. Despite the challenges, the Defiance, OH native was able to bring his car home in eighth position. Hornish Jr. sits in fourth place in the IndyCar Series point standings with 62 points. With Castroneves' win, Penske Racing now has a record-setting 50 wins on street/permanent road courses and 125 victories overall.


Marlboro Team Penske made it official on Tuesday -- the Team will be entering to compete in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 28th marking Penske Racing's 32nd year of participating in the May classic. The Team, which has amassed a record 13 victories at the Brickyard including three in the last five years, filed entries for three cars and their back-ups. Entries include the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda driven by Helio Castroneves with Rick Rinaman as the Chief Mechanic; the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda driven by Sam Hornish Jr. with Matt Jonsson as the Chief Mechanic; and a third entry with an unspecified driver, car number and Chief Mechanic.


Marlboro Team Penske tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday in preparation for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28th. The Team ran nearly 575 miles in the identical Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Hondas of Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves who recorded the second and sixth fastest laps of the day respectively.

"We're really happy with how everything went," said Hornish Jr. "The car handled well all day, but we're always working to make it better, not only by ourselves, but when we're running in traffic. The track is still pretty green and it doesn't have any rubber on it because it hasn't been used in more than six months, so we definitely expect to be quicker in May. We're faster than what we were last year at the beginning of May, so we're headed in the right direction. We know that we're pretty close to where we need to be right now, and I'm looking forward to a good month of May."

"Today, we were just trying to make sure that the set-up we ran last year is still strong," explained Castroneves. "We really didn't want to push too hard to climb the speed charts because we'll have two weeks to worry about that when we come back next month. The main thing was to keep it clean and try to learn a few things that will help us improve our speeds. We did exactly that, so I am very satisfied." "It's not every day that you can come to Indy and run without any wind, so we really lucked out in that area," said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Performance Inc. "We used the session to do some long, consistent runs so that we can get ourselves to a good starting point for when we return in May. We ran very strong all day, so I think we're in good shape."


Last Sunday, Marlboro Team Penske earned its first victory of the 2006 IndyCar Series season and its 14th win since joining the IRL full-time in 2002. However, the Team did not have much time to savor the win as they had to begin to focus on the next task at hand.

While the casual observer might look at the month of April as a sparse time for the IndyCar Series, that's hardly the case. Despite the fact that the Team does not compete again until April 22nd at the Indy Japan 300, it does not mean that they are not on a tight schedule to stay ahead of the game as the Team continues its pursuit of its 12th National Championship.

Immediately following the race in St. Petersburg, the Team broke down their mobile garage and loaded the trucks to get on the road later that evening. While the majority of the crew flew back to Reading, PA.-based race shop, the truck drivers began transporting the equipment to Indianapolis for Wednesday's Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition, the Test Team drove their transporter with the test cars from Reading to Indianapolis.

On Tuesday, the crew joined the equipment in Indy to begin changing the cars over from the St. Petersburg street course set-up to an oval set-up for Japan. They spent the entire day beginning the process, while the cars from Reading were used at the track on Wednesday.

After the test, the Team will head back to Reading to finish preparing the cars for Japan. The Team will have until next Tuesday to wrap up their work as the transporters will head back to Indianapolis for an April 12th departure to Japan. "Being one of the few Teams not to have a shop in Indianapolis, we are at a disadvantage in this situation. However, we all know the kind of dedication it takes to be involved in this level of racing," explains Marlboro Team Penske Team Manager, Tom Wurtz. "So it really doesn't seem to affect the guys that much. We work to win every race, and to get to that level, hard work is a given. We know that the schedule is going to be very busy during the first part of the season, but it's also exciting to be back out there after the winter months. The strong results we've had early on this year have definitely made the hard work more enjoyable even though the amount of work hasn't changed."


Roger Penske will be at Homestead-Miami Speedway this Thursday, in a different role than most people are used to seeing him in. He'll be on the road course track testing the newest addition to his car collection -- the Ferrari FXX, one of less than 30 produced. Penske and Miami resident Helio Castroneves will both have an opportunity to take a spin in The Captain's most recent purchase in a closed course session the day before the Ferrari Challenge, taking place in Homestead this weekend.

The FXX is the most advanced GT Ferrari has ever created and is designed only to run on closed tracks. The FXX is powered by a V12 engine that features over 800 horsepower with gear changes of under 100 milliseconds. In addition, the car features a telemetry system that can deliver information on 39 different vehicle dynamics.


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