Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes March 9, 2005 MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HAS SOLID SHOWING IN SEASON-OPENER Marlboro Team Penske started the 2005 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCarÂ® Series on the right foot this past weekend as they earned a pair of...
Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
March 9, 2005
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE HAS SOLID SHOWING IN SEASON-OPENER
Marlboro Team Penske started the 2005 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series on the right foot this past weekend as they earned a pair of top-five finishes in the first race of the season with Sam Hornish Jr. finishing second and Helio Castroneves finishing fifth at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Both drivers ran up front all day and the duo ended up in a tight battle with 2004 Series Champion Tony Kanaan and Vitor Meira for second through fifth place. Hornish Jr. was running third in the closing laps of the race as he waited until the final turn to make his move on Kanaan as he edged him out of second place by a mere 0.0097 seconds. With this second-place finish, Hornish Jr. has now earned four top-two finishes in just five appearances at Homestead- Miami Speedway.
"What a great three-way battle for second at the finish," said Hornish Jr. after the race. "I wish we had been going for the win, but second place isn't a bad way to start the season. We did exactly what we needed to do on the last restart to put ourselves in a position to fight it out at the end. The Marlboro Team Penske car was good all day. We could run wherever we wanted to on the track, we just weren't quite fast enough to go for the win. I've really got to hand it to my crew -- they did an awesome job getting me out of the pits and I think we'll have a lot of momentum moving forward this season."
Teammate Castroneves also had a solid showing earning his fourth top-five finish in seven appearances at the track.
"What an exciting race," said Castroneves on pit road after the event. "I was able to run up front the entire day and Marlboro Team Penske was just phenomenal on pit stops. Homestead-Miami Speedway is such a fantastic facility and that battle for second through fifth at the end of the race was unbelievable. I'm happy both Marlboro Team Penske cars were able to finish in the top five (teammate Sam Hornish Jr. finished second) and I think Toyota's performance today is very encouraging. This was a great way to start off the Championship race and now we just need to maintain our momentum as we head to Phoenix."
CASTRONEVES AND HORNISH JR. TO PARTICIPATE IN HIGH-STAKES POKER TOURNAMENT FOR CHARITY
On Thursday of this week, Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. will be participating in the Mobil High Endurance Charity Poker Challenge taking place at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. The three-hour tournament will pit some of racing's biggest names against one another as they compete for a total of $100,000 for charity.
Castroneves and Hornish Jr. will join Penske Racing South drivers Rusty Wallace, Ryan Newman and Travis Kvapil as they compete in the high-stakes poker tournament with $50,000 going to the winner's charity of choice. The runner-up will receive $10,000 for his charity and every other player will earn $4,000 for their charities.
CASTRONEVES GETS BENCHED BY SHAQ
During Helio Castroneves' whirlwind tour of Miami over the past few weeks promoting Sunday's Toyota Indy 300, the 29 year-old did manage to find a little time to have some fun amidst all of the sponsor appearances and interview requests. Last Friday night, Castroneves attended the Miami Heat/Sacramento Kings games as a guest of Shaquille O'Neal.
In addition to having the opportunity to enjoy Shaq's floor seats, he also had the chance to meet him briefly after the game. The two athletes had a few moments to discuss their respective sports as well as their roles in the Miami sports scene before O'Neal decided to end the meeting by picking up Castroneves and hoisting him over his head in a full bench press maneuver. After this display, it's fair to say that Shaq may have an edge over Helio if he ever decides to try his hand at professional basketball.
TOMAS SCHECKTER WINS FIRST MARLBORO POLE AWARD
Tomas Scheckter won the season's first Marlboro Pole Award at this weekend's Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway after turning a qualifying lap of 215.115 mph (24.8518 seconds). For his accomplishment, Scheckter was presented with a $10,000 check from Philip Morris USA during a post-qualifying ceremony in Miami.
In addition, Patrick Stephan of Track Side Online was the winner of the Marlboro Pole Award Media Contest. During each IRL event, journalists have the opportunity to enter an on-site contest to predict who will win the pole, and what that driver's pole speed will be during qualifying for a given race. Stephan, who guessed that Scheckter would win the pole with a lap of 214.555 mph won a MOMO Design Watch.