IRL: Team Penske pit notes 2007-06-14

TEAM PENSKE TO FACE NEW CHALLENGE Team Penske will join the stars of the IndyCar® Series on June 24th as they compete in the Series' inaugural race at Iowa Speedway. Running at a new track will obviously bring a new set of challenges to Team ...


Team Penske will join the stars of the IndyCar® Series on June 24th as they compete in the Series' inaugural race at Iowa Speedway. Running at a new track will obviously bring a new set of challenges to Team Penske as they prepare to perpetuate the momentum set by Sam Hornish Jr. as he scored his first victory of the season last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

While the Team has yet to compete on the 7/8-mile oval, they have found their fair share of success on short ovals in the past. In fact, Team Penske has earned 24 of its 134 race wins on tracks that are a distance of 1- mile or shorter. Furthermore, the Team has won four of the last seven, and seven of the last 20 IndyCar Series events on short ovals including a victory in Richmond in 2006.

Castroneves will be looking to turn his luck around in Iowa after two consecutive DNF's at Milwaukee and Texas. In Milwaukee, he led the most laps (126) before a rear wing problem on lap 201 ended his day and placed him 16th. He was running in the top-10 for most of the race in Texas before he had contact with a loose tire in an on-track incident, ending his race on lap 197 and placing him 16th again. Hopefully, history will bode well for the Brazilian who has earned three of his eighteen career wins (17%) on tracks that are one mile or shorter.

"I had a chance to test at Iowa in May, and I was very impressed with the track," said Castroneves. "My first impression was that it's a mix of Richmond and Texas. It's small like Richmond, but you can go full throttle all the way around the track like you can at Texas. These two characteristics should create some intense, side-by side racing action. I also think the race will be very physically challenging. Team Penske has traditionally run well on the short ovals, so hopefully we'll be able to continue this trend to find a positive result after a difficult couple of races."

While Hornish Jr. has not turned laps at Iowa Speedway in an IndyCar, he has been on the track during a NASCAR Busch Series test session. After earning five of his record-19 IndyCar Series wins (26%) on short ovals, you can be sure Hornish Jr. will be looking to add number six next weekend.

"I'm looking forward to the IndyCar Series' first race at Iowa Speedway," explained Hornish Jr. "I think that the track is a miniature version of Texas, and we had a lot of success there last weekend, so hopefully it will translate to Iowa next weekend. We should definitely see a lot of twowide and possibly three-wide racing, which will provide a great show for the fans. I haven't run laps there in an Indy car yet, but from what I've heard and seen we should have a great race. I also think that it's a great addition to the schedule because it gives our fan-base from that region of the country a chance to attend a race and see first hand the excitement that the IndyCar Series provides."


While neither Helio Castroneves nor Sam Hornish Jr. has competed in Iowa, historically speaking they certainly have found success in inaugural runs throughout their careers.

Perhaps the most well-known is Castroneves' back-to-back triumphs in his first two attempts at the Indianapolis 500 in 2001 & 2002. Additionally, Castroneves has earned three top-three finishes in his first appearances at tracks including his first career podium finish in Milwaukee (he finished second in 1998); other top-three finishes were at Kansas and Pikes Peak. He's also earned six front row starts in inaugural runs including the pole in Watkins Glen in 2005.

Teammate Hornish Jr. has scored back-to-back victories at both Miami and Fontana in his inaugural and sophomore years at those tracks (Miami 2001 and 2002; Fontana 2002 and 2003). In addition, Hornish Jr. earned top-three finishes in his first appearances at Chicago, Kansas, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Richmond and St. Louis. He also started in the top-five at nine tracks at which he made his Indy car debut.


Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves can be seen on newsstands now in the current issue of ESPN - The Magazine. The 32-year old Brazilian is featured in an article entitled "Gimme that Camera!" which highlights photos snapped by athletes ranging from San Diego Padres Centerfielder Mike Cameron; Miami Dolphins Linebacker Zach Thomas; U.S. Olympic Triathlete Sarah Haskins; to Boxer Laila Ali. In the article, each athlete was given a camera and they were able to submit photos of their choosing as a way to "get on the other side of the camera."

Castroneves took his camera overseas to Japan when the IndyCar Series competed there in April and provided shots of his experiences during the race weekend.

-credit: pr

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