IRL: Team Penske Pit notes 2002-08-27

Marlboro Team Penske regains lead in IRL point standings -- continues to top charts this season, Marlboro Team Penske drivers 2000 & 2001 CART Champion Gil de Ferran and 2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 Winner Helio Castroneves dominated yet ...

Marlboro Team Penske regains lead in IRL point standings -- continues to top charts this season,

Marlboro Team Penske drivers 2000 & 2001 CART Champion Gil de Ferran and 2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 Winner Helio Castroneves dominated yet another weekend at the Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway. Both drivers were at the top of the speed charts right off of the truck on Saturday and stayed there until the checkered flag dropped on Sunday. During qualifying, de Ferran earned his series-leading fourth pole of the season and teammate Castroneves qualified third marking his seventh top-three start in the thirteen races run this season (54%).

Sunday marked de Ferran's second win of the season; he earned both victories after starting from the pole (his other win was at Pikes Peak) and he became the first driver in Indy Racing League (IRL) history to accomplish this feat. With Castroneves' second place finish the Team earned its third 1-2 finish this season (their other 1-2 finishes came earlier this year at Pikes Peak and Phoenix); another series record.

With two races left in the season, the IRL Championship points battle is still wide open. By finishing second Castroneves regained first place in the IRL Championship with a total of 437 points. De Ferran's win put him just one point behind teammate Castroneves with 436 points.

Marlboro Team Penske has been doing exceptionally well on the short ovals (less than 1.25 miles) this season and the race in St. Louis was more of the same. Of the five tracks that are 1.25 miles or less (Phoenix, Nazareth, Pikes Peak, Richmond and St. Louis) Marlboro Team Penske has earned eight front row starts, eight top-three finishes and three wins.

There have been only three drivers this season who have led the points battle this season (de Ferran, Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr.) and it looks like it will come down to the final lap of the final race to see which driver will come out on top. The gap in points has ranged from 8-61 points between first and third place and is currently at eight. With the Championship still up in the air Marlboro Team Penske needs to continue to stay focused for the final two races of the season at Chicagoland Speedway (9/8) and Texas Motor Speedway (9/15).


De Ferran and Castroneves have been with Marlboro Team Penske for three years and have been adding successes to the history of the Team with every race. The following are some of their accomplishments from this season:

* Castroneves is in first place in the IRL Championship point standings with 437 points. Teammate de Ferran is just one point behind with 436 points.

* De Ferran currently leads the series in poles (4), laps led (601) and laps completed (2633).

* Castroneves currently leads the series in top-ten finishes (12) and is tied with Sam Hornish Jr. for races led (10).

* De Ferran and Castroneves lead the series with top-five finishes (10) and are the only two drivers to have been running at the completion of every race.

* Marlboro Team Penske made IRL history this year with their three 1-2 finishes in one season (Phoenix, Pikes Peak and St. Louis). To date this season, the teammates have a total of thirteen top-three finishes (this includes four wins, six second-place and three third-place finishes).

* Marlboro Team Penske has captured the pole at five of the thirteen IRL events to date (38%) - (Castroneves - Phoenix; de Ferran - St. Louis, Richmond, Nazareth and Pikes Peak), including three front row sweeps (Nazareth, Pikes Peak and Richmond) and ten front row starts.


Castroneves will be testing this week at Chicagoland Speedway on Tuesday, August 27th and Wednesday, August 28th to prepare for the Delphi Indy 300 on September 8th. The race at Chicagoland Speedway will mark the seventh time in the 2002 IRL season that Marlboro Team Penske will race on a track at which they've never competed (the others were Texas, Pikes Peak, Richmond, Kansas City, Nashville and Kentucky). In conjunction with this test, Castroneves will be available for interviews on Wednesday between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Lisa Boggs at 312-951-0599.


Castroneves won this past weekend's Marlboro Lap Leader Award, which goes to the driver leading the most laps in each 2002 IRL event. After leading 85 of the 200 laps at this weekend's Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway, Castroneves earned his first Marlboro Lap Leader Award of the season. He will be presented with a check for $5,000 at the Delphi Indy 300 pre-race ceremony on September 8th at Chicagoland Speedway.

In addition, Ken Roberts of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 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. Roberts, who guessed that Castroneves would lead 83 of the 200 laps in the race, won a Maurice Lacroix Siras watch.


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