IRL: Team Penske pit notes 2004-06-03

Marlboro Team Penske's Winning Streak Ends at the Brickyard Marlboro Team Penske had an uncharacteristic Memorial Day weekend at the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. After winning the last three consecutive events at the ...

Marlboro Team Penske's Winning Streak Ends at the Brickyard

Marlboro Team Penske had an uncharacteristic Memorial Day weekend at the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. After winning the last three consecutive events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Team recorded a ninth and 26th place pair of finishes, marking the first time since 1992 that they didn't win the race (the Team did not qualify in 1995 and did not race at the Speedway from 1996-2000).

2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was running third on lap 133 when he had a miscommunication in the pits and ended up overshooting his pit. The Team quickly pulled him back into the pit box and serviced the car, however, when he returned to the track he had dropped back to 17th position. Castroneves would battle his way back through the field to ninth place before the race was red flagged due to severe weather. The finish marked Castroneves' fourth top-ten finish at the Brickyard in four attempts (Castroneves won in 2001 and 2002 and finished second to teammate Gil de Ferran in 2003).

Marlboro Team Penske teammate Sam Hornish Jr. had a very strong car all day. By lap 50 he had worked his way from his 11th place starting position to lead the field, marking the first time in his career that he led laps at the Indianapolis 500. With the nine laps led (50-58) in the Indy 500, Hornish Jr. has now led laps at every American track at which he's ever competed in an Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series car.

On lap 97, Hornish Jr. was running second when he came in for his fifth pit stop of the day. Unfortunately, as he came in for a routine stop, a piece of the vent hose got trapped as Hornish Jr. pulled out of his pit box. He would return to pit road once again on lap 100 to remove the piece of vent hose and then again on lap 101 to top off his fuel. When all was said and done, the three pit stops in four laps caused Hornish Jr. to drop to 19th place. On lap 105, Hornish Jr. was collected in an incident between Greg Ray and Darren Manning ending his day and forcing him to place 26th in his fifth appearance at the May Classic.


Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves got to meet one of his favorite performers on Sunday. With the rain delay, came an opportunity for the 29 year-old Brazilian to meet pop singer Jessica Simpson, who was in Indianapolis to sing the National Anthem before the race. As both were busy with other commitments during the morning, it wasn't until the rain had started to fall that they had a chance to meet. When Castroneves got word that Simpson was searching for a fruit plate, he gladly responded and brought her an assortment of tropical fruit.


As if Sunday's excitement at the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" wasn't enough for Sam Hornish Jr., this weekend will be just as exciting. The 24 year-old Defiance, OH native will be getting married to fiancee Crystal Liechty on Saturday, June 5th in Indianapolis. After the wedding and reception, the couple will return to their new home in Ohio for a few days before Hornish heads to Texas Motor Speedway to compete in the Bombardier 500. After the Saturday night race the two will fly to Las Vegas for a few days to celebrate their nuptials.


Sam Hornish Jr. is featured in the July issue of Road & Track on newsstands now. A feature on the two-time Series Champion can be found in the "Profiles in Speed" section of the magazine, which is a series of articles highlighting some of the greatest drivers the sport has ever seen. Other racers featured to date included Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti and Phil Hill.


Rahal-Letterman Racing driver Buddy Rice led the most laps last weekend after being at the top of the leader board five times for a total of 91 of the 180 laps run on his way to winning the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Rice earned three extra points for leading the most laps and sits in third place in the IRL Championship point standings with 129 points. Rice will be presented with his Marlboro Lap Leader Award check for $50,000 during the pre-race ceremonies at the Bombardier 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12th.

In addition, Dave Wilson of IMS Radio 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. Wilson, who guessed that Rice would lead 73 of the scheduled 200 laps in the race, won a MOMO Design Essenziale Watch.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Greg Ray , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Phil Hill , Dan Gurney , Buddy Rice , Dave Wilson , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske