Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes March 2, 2004 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE STARTS SEASON WITH 1-2 FINISH Marlboro Team Penske's newest driver Sam Hornish Jr. couldn't have asked for anything more in his first race behind the wheel for Roger Penske,...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
March 2, 2004
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE STARTS SEASON WITH 1-2 FINISH
Marlboro Team Penske's newest driver Sam Hornish Jr. couldn't have asked for anything more in his first race behind the wheel for Roger Penske, as he earned his record 12th Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series victory. Hornish Jr., in his inaugural run piloting the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota, led the final lap of Sunday's Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finished ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves by a mere 0.0698 seconds.
"It's just a great day to be able to come out here in my debut with Marlboro Team Penske and have a win," said Hornish Jr. after the race. "Everybody really welcomed me in and made me feel at home. I'm excited to start off the year this way and I'm looking forward to a lot of good things down the road."
Castroneves took the lead on lap 189 and would fight his teammate off for the next ten laps, as they dueled it out in front of the Brazilian's home crowd. However Hornish Jr. proved to be too much for the two-time Indy winner as he passed Castroneves on the inside in the final lap and charged ahead to take the checkered flag.
"That was a great race," said Castroneves after the event. "I've been in this situation before [with Hornish Jr.], and this time I told myself he's not going to pass me on the outside. If I had let him go outside, I wouldn't have been able to sleep tonight. If he wanted to beat me, he was going have to go on the inside and unfortunately that's exactly what he did."
"I think for us to come out and execute in the first race is really a testament to our Team and something we've been working towards throughout the last six months," said Tim Cindric, President, Penske Racing, Inc. "With Sam stepping in for de Ferran (who retired at the end of the 2003 season) and not missing a beat is a true testimony to the dedication of everyone at Marlboro Team Penske."
"It was a great race today," Hornish continued as he discussed his thoughts on his new Team. "I mean, there I was right behind him [Castroneves]. I kept looking at his rear wing, and I was tucked up right behind him, trying to help us break away from the rest of the pack so it was just the two of us fighting for the win. I thought, 'how different.' It's all the same, but it's different because I can see my red gloves every time I turn. I can see the orange on the wind screen. I look in the mirrors and I see the orange wing - it's a bit different, but it still is just as much fun."
SAM IN THE RECORD BOOKS
* Hornish Jr. is the only driver to have won in their debut race in the 37- year history of Penske Racing
* Hornish Jr. has won four of the past six IndyCar Series races; and finished second or better in five of those
* Hornish Jr. has won three of the four races in which he's competed at Homestead-Miami Speedway
* Hornish Jr. is the only IndyCar Series driver to win three events at the same track
* Sunday's victory marked the third time Hornish Jr. has won the season-opener - an IndyCar Series record; he also won the first race of the season in 2001 and 2002
* In each of the last three seasons the winner of the first race has gone on to win the championship
* Hornish Jr.'s win coupled with Castroneves' second-place finish marked Marlboro Team Penske's sixth 1-2 finish in the Indy Racing League and Team Penske's 33rd 1-2 in its 37-year history
* Marlboro Team Penske is the only Team in Indy Racing League history that has started the season with a 1-2 finish
CASTRONEVES WINS FIRST MARLBORO LAP LEADER AWARD OF 2004
Philip Morris USA announced this weekend that the Marlboro Lap Leader Award will continue for the third consecutive year as part of its sponsorship commitment in the 2004 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series. The $182,500 program continues the successful IRL lap leader award, which started in 1997 and is designed to recognize the lap leader at each race on the IndyCar circuit with a check for $7,500, with the exception of the Indianapolis 500 where the lap leader will receive a $50,000 bonus.
The driver who leads the most laps in a race will be presented with his $7,500 check during the pre-race ceremonies at the following race. In addition, there will be a $20,000 bonus awarded to the driver who leads the most laps overall during the 2004 IRL season.
Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves earned the honors of capturing the season's first Marlboro Lap Leader Award after he led 85 of the 200 laps in Sunday's Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on his way to a second-place finish in the season-opener. As the lap leader, Castroneves earned three extra points and is currently second in the IndyCar Series Championship standings, just seven points behind teammate Sam Hornish Jr.
In addition, journalists will once again have the opportunity to participate in the Marlboro Lap Leader Award program by entering an on-site contest to predict who will lead the most laps in a given race. Ballots will be available in the press room starting with this past weekend's Toyota Indy 300 and continuing at each event (with the exception of Japan). The journalist who correctly predicts the lap leader and is closest to the number of laps led, will be awarded a MOMO Design Essenziale watch. The presentation will take place in the press room after the official box score has been distributed.
There was not a winner in the media contest in Miami, as no journalist selected Castroneves to lead the most laps in the race.
HORNISH JR. TO PARTICIPATE IN CELEBRITY BOWLING TOURNAMENT
This Wednesday night, two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. will be participating in the Celebrity Pro-Am bowling tournament in conjunction with the PBA Classic, being held in Indianapolis from Thursday through Sunday. Hornish Jr. will team-up with several members of the PBA including PBA Hall of Famer John Petraglia, current "Bowler of the Year," Walter Ray Williams and Pete Weber, a candidate for the "2004 Bowler of the Year" this year.