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Team Penske Fontana Race Preview

August 27, 2014




THE RACE

Verizon IndyCar Series
MAVTV 500
Auto Club Speedway – Fontana, Calif.
August 30, 2014
 
THE CARS

No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Driven By Juan Pablo Montoya    

No. 3 AAA Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Driven By Helio Castroneves

No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Driven By Will Power

 
THE NEWS AND NOTES
    
Juan Pablo Montoya
No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 
   

· FEELIN’ FONTANA:  Montoya has 13 career starts at Auto Club Speedway. He’s made 11 starts there in NASCAR Cup Series competition, including one pole (2011) and a third-place finish (2009). He earned two top-10 results in his two previous IndyCar starts in Fontana and he clinched the 1999 CART Series title at the track with a fourth-place result.

· SERIOUS SPEED:  Auto Club Speedway is also the track where Montoya recalls seeing the fastest speed he’s ever driven in his career. During a practice session for the 2000 CART Series race in Fontana, the then defending series champion said he glanced down and saw the unofficial speed of 256 mph on his display.

· BACK IN FORM: Entering the 2014 season finale this weekend, Montoya’s results show an impressive return to Verizon IndyCar Series racing this season for the first time since 2000. Entering Fontana ranked sixth in the series standings, Montoya has recorded one win (Pocono Raceway), seven top-five finishes and one Verizon P1 Pole Award this season

· CLOSING THE SEASON STRONG: Despite being eliminated from the Verizon IndyCar Series title chase last weekend, Montoya has had a strong second half of the season in his return to open-wheel racing in 2014. Last weekend’s fifth-place finish at Sonoma Raceway marked his sixth top-10 result in the last 10 races that includes five top-five results.

· ANOTHER CROWN JEWEL?: Montoya is the last driver to win a 500-mile “triple crown” race in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Ryan Hunter-Reay won the first 2014 triple crown event at the Indianapolis 500 in May, while Montoya captured the second crown jewel at Pocono Raceway in July. The native of Bogota, Colombia will be looking to produce back-to-back triple crown wins this weekend.

    
THE Q & A

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA

HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS RACE, KNOWING THE TITLE IS ON THE LINE FOR YOUR TEAMMATES AND YOU WANT TO END THE SEASON WITH A WIN?

"It’s definitely going to an exciting race on Saturday night. We know the best thing we can do to help make sure Team Penske comes away with the championship is get up front and race for the win in the Verizon Chevy. Hopefully, we have all three of our cars racing to the checkered flag and either Helio or Will wins the championship and we can win the race!

HOW DO YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS SEASON, YOUR FIRST WITH TEAM PENSKE AND YOUR FIRST BACK IN INDYCAR SINCE 2000?

“I think it’s been a really good year. We needed to take our time and get comfortable with each other and I had to learn more about these cars because they are so different than what I was driving and even from what I drove back 1999 and 2000. We’ve had a good second half of the season and we were in the fight for the championship almost all the way to the end in the Verizon Chevy. I appreciate Roger Penske giving me the opportunity and I really like racing with Team Penske and getting a chance to win every weekend we go out there. I am already excited about next season and getting a chance to show what we can do. But first, we have some business to take care of at Auto Club Speedway.”
    

 

THE NEWS AND NOTES
    
Helio Castroneves
No. 3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet    

· CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCE:  Castroneves enters this weekend trailing his teammate, Will Power, by 51 points in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings. It marks the second consecutive season that Castroneves has entered the final race of the year at Fontana with a chance to claim the title. He fell just short last season when he finished sixth and wound up as series runner-up to Scott Dixon. Castroneves has finished second in the series championship four times in his career.

· FONTANA FILE: In 10 total IndyCar starts at Auto Club Speedway in his career, Castroneves has earned eight top-10 finishes. He’s won two pole positions at Fontana – in 2003 and 2004 – and he’s finished fifth twice for his best result at the track..

· 226.757 MPH: Castroneves owns the Auto Club Speedway qualifying record with a blistering lap of 226.757 miles per hour, which he set during qualifying for the 2003 race. A two-time pole winner at Auto Club Speedway, Castroneves has the best average starting position of any series driver this season with an average starting spot of 6.0

· AUTO CLUB AWESOME: For the second time this season, Castroneves will race in the Auto Club of Southern California Dallara/Chevy this weekend. He also raced the Auto Club machine to an 11th-place finish at Long Beach back in April and he’s competed in the AAA Insurance car at Barber Motorsports Park and at Texas Motor Speedway.

· THIRSTY FOR 30: A win in this weekend’s race at Fontana would give Castroneves his 30th career Verizon IndyCar Series victory. It would break a tie he currently holds with his Team Penske mentor, Rick Mears, for 11th place on the all-time series win list. Castroneves has won a race in 14 of the last 15 seasons.

· A MIGHTY NUMBER: As the elder statesman of the Team Penske driver brigade, Castroneves has won his fair share of races for the organization. With 399 total wins in NASCAR, IndyCar and sports car competition, Team Penske is one win away from an astounding total of 400 wins.

    
THE Q & A

HELIO CASTRONEVES

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO WIN THE VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES TITLE THIS WEEKEND?

"We have to be smart and we have to be fast. It has been great to compete with Will this season as we both want to bring home this championship for Roger (Penske). Will is in a good position with more than a 50-point lead but with double the points on the line and 500 miles to go, that’s what makes this so exciting! Anything can happen and our Auto Club Chevy team will be doing everything we can to win the race, and hopefully, the title on Saturday night!”

HOW TOUGH WILL IT BE TO SET UP THE CAR KNOWING THAT TRACK CONDITIONS WILL BE CHANGING SATURDAY NIGHT WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN?

"We definitely have to do all of our homework here to make sure we get the race set up just right. The track will certainly be different in practice and in qualifying to what we will see on Saturday night during the race. The night practice on Friday will help us but we also need to be ready to make adjustments once we start the race. Our No. 3 Auto Club Chevrolet team has been great all year giving me a fast car and I know they will be there again for me this weekend. And with the boss (Penske) calling our race strategy, I feel good that we will be there to make it happen.”
    

 

THE NEWS AND NOTES    

Will Power
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet    

· PURSUING THE TITLE: For the fourth time in the last five years, Power will get a chance to race for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship in the final race of the season. As he looks for his first series title, Power carries the largest lead he has ever enjoyed entering the series finale (51 points). There are a number of point possibility scenarios that can play out for Power to capture the crown but the bottom line is if he finishes sixth or better in the race, he will be the champion.

· RETURNING CHAMP: Power will carry a lot of confidence entering this weekend as he is the defending winner at Auto Club Speedway. Leading a race-high 103 laps, Power started from the pole and earned his first 500-mile win in convincing fashion in last season’s finale at Fontana.

· OVAL MASTER?: Long known for his success on road and street circuits, Power has truly become a well-rounded driver this season expanding his prowess to oval tracks. He has produced more points on ovals this season than any driver in the series and has earned four top-10 finishes in five oval races this season, including a win at Milwaukee in the most recent oval race in 2014.

· TAKING THE LEAD: In addition to leading the series standings, Power also tops all Verizon IndyCar Series competitors in several other key statistical categories. He’s led the most laps (615), completed the most laps (2,144), earned the most podium finishes (seven) and has the best average finishing position (6.3) in 2014.

· POWER RISING: At just 33 years of age, Power has already won 24 career Verizon IndyCar Series races. That puts him in 18th place on the all-time wins list. Power is just six wins away from entering the top 10 in career IndyCar victories.

 
THE Q & A    

WILL POWER

HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE DO YOU HAVE AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY AFTER LAST SEASON’S WIN?

"Man, that win last year was just awesome – I said it then and I still believe it, it was best win of my career. To go out and lead the most laps and have such an awesome Verizon Chevy was a great way to end last year and I think it really gave us a lot to build on for this season. Thinking back on that race may help put us in a good frame of mind entering this weekend but we still need to go out and get the job done on Saturday night.”

YOU’VE SAID ALL SEASON THAT YOU NEEDED TO CONTINUE TO BE AGGRESSIVE, IS THAT STILL HOW YOU APPROACH THIS WEEKEND BEING SO CLOSE TO THE TITLE?

“That’s really how we got to where we are now so no reason to change. I think that’s just how we get our best results. Yes, we have a lead going into this race but we can’t rest on that or it will go away fast. We have some tough guys chasing us so we need to try and stay in front of them and do the best we can to try and win here again in the Verizon Chevy and the rest will take care of itself.”