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Team Penske Indianapolis 500 Race Preview

May 23, 2014




THE RACE

Verizon IndyCar Series
98th Running of the Indianapolis 500
Speedway, Ind.
Sunday, May 25, 2014      

THE CARS

No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Driven By Juan Pablo Montoya
    
No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum 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

· OH SO CLOSE IN QUALIFYING: Despite turning the second-fastest lap of the day last Sunday, Montoya will start the Indianapolis 500 from the 10th position as he did not qualify for the Firestone Fast Nine the previous day. Still, his lap of 231.007 miles per hour shows the No. 2 Verizon Chevy has plenty of speed for the Indianapolis 500.

· NASCAR STATS: Montoya has made seven NASCAR Cup Series starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) with his best finish of second coming in his first race there in 2007. In addition, the former NASCAR race winner has one pole position and three top-three starts at IMS.

· BATTING 1.000: In his last Verizon IndyCar Series race at the IMS oval, Montoya scored a dominating victory by leading 160 of 200 laps to win the 2000 Indianapolis 500. It is his only series start on the historic circuit.

· INDY 500 MEDIA TOUR: Drawing on his NASCAR experience, Montoya visited Charlotte, NC as part of the pre-Indy 500 media tour this week. Montoya was able to successfully promote the race within the NASCAR press corps.
    

THE Q & A

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA

WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 THE SECOND TIME AROUND?

“Everything is different this time around, except for the race track. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is still a place you want to win as much – or more – than anywhere else. To come here with Team Penske is really special. When I was coming up – before I got into CART – we always looked at Team Penske as THE team. Now I’m going to start the Indy 500 with them. It’s pretty surreal.”

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN TAKE FROM YOUR NASCAR YEARS AND APPLY TO THIS INDY 500?

“There are a few things I can probably use to my advantage, but I don’t want to give that away before the race. The biggest thing for me will be that I know pretty much everything about the track. I have past IndyCar experience and NASCAR experience. That familiarity is not something I’ve been able to draw from in most of the first four Verizon IndyCar Series races of the season.”

 

THE NEWS AND NOTES

Helio Castroneves
No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet    

· STARTING UP FRONT: Castroneves will start the Indianapolis 500 from the fourth position, as he narrowly missed out on his sixth career front-row starting spot after a four-lap average of 230.649 miles per hour during the Firestone Fast Nine qualifying round on Sunday afternoon.

· DRIVE FOR FOUR: Helio Castroneves will look to enter rarified air this weekend by winning his fourth Indianapolis 500. Only Al Unser Sr., AJ Foyt and Team Penske’s Rick Mears have accomplished that feat in the history of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

· CASTRONEVES HISTORY AT IMS: In 2002, Castroneves became the only driver to win back-to-back Indianapolis 500s in his first two starts in the race. He is the youngest driver to win the race twice. Castroneves is also only the 10th three-time winner of the event and those wins came in just nine starts, the fewest among all three-time winners.

· 15 WINS ON THE STAND: Castroneves’ bid to win his fourth Indianapolis 500 will be aided by the ultra-successful Roger Penske, who will call race strategy for the No. 3 Chevy. Penske has guided Team Penske to a record 15 wins at IMS among 10 drivers. Team Penske drivers have led a total of 1,980 laps in the Indy 500.

· YELLOW SUBMARINE: The No. 3 Chevrolet will have a familiar look this weekend with the throwback “Yellow Submarine” Pennzoil paint scheme made famous by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Rick Mears.

· CLIMBING THE LISTS: With his third-place finish in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg last month, Castroneves moved into ninth place on the IndyCar career top-three finishes list with 76. In addition, the result elevated Castroneves into eighth place by himself on the career top-five finishes list with 113.
    

THE Q & A

HELIO CASTRONEVES

WHAT IS THE FEELING YOU GET WHEN YOU’VE WON AN INDIANAPOLIS 500?

“There really is no feeling like winning the Indianapolis 500. It’s the biggest race in the world! We are a few years away from the 100th Indianapolis 500. It’s hard not to think back over all that history and all the drivers that came before you to help build this place. On top of that, winning here for Roger Penske just makes it that much sweeter. He has obviously put so much into winning here that it’s great when you are able to reward him with a win.”

WOULD A FOURTH INDY 500 WIN ECLIPSE THE OTHERS, KNOWING WHAT RARE COMPANY IT WOULD PUT YOU IN?

"It’s certainly a very unique opportunity. To make it happen, you have to work. You have to execute. We want to make sure that we have a competitive car to put in that opportunity to make that happen. I'm really confident right now that we have the best equipment out there. It's about being in the right place at the right time because the race is about 500 miles, so it's almost three hours of racing. It would be awesome for sure because only three guys have done that.  However, I do feel that Rick (Mears) did more than that because he helped me with my other three, so he has a little bit more than four.”

 
THE NEWS AND NOTES

Will Power
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet    

· TOP OF THE HEAP: Will Power continues to lead the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings by one point over Ryan Hunter-Reay heading into this weekend’s 98th running of the Indianapolis 500.

· FRONT ROW STARTER: Power will start the race from the third position – his second career Indy 500 front-row starting spot – after posting a four-lap average of 230.697 miles per hour during the Firestone Fast Nine qualifying round on Sunday afternoon.

· POWER AT IMS: In six career starts at IMS, Power has one top-five finish and two top-10 results. He has led a total of 21 laps in those six starts, five of which have come with Team Penske.

· SPORTS SCIENCE: ESPN will broadcast a Will Power feature on the popular segment “Sports Science” this Sunday morning, May 25, on SportsCenter. The focus of the feature is Power’s impressive hand-eye coordination and world-class reaction time time that has helped him become one of the most-successful drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series.  

· SUPERB START: Despite enjoying some strong starts in his Verizon IndyCar Series career, Power is looking to produce one of his best starts to a season with a solid result this weekend. The Toowoomba, Australia native has finished inside the top 10 in the last six Verizon IndyCar Series races, his longest such streak since the 2010 season.

· FORMER INDIANAPOLIS RESIDENT: Power would love to win at the famous Indianapolis oval for several reasons, including the fact that he lived in Indianapolis for five years before moving to the Charlotte, NC area to be closer to the Team Penske headquarters.
    

THE Q & A

WILL POWER

YOU WON THE LAST 500-MILE RACE, AT FONTANA LAST OCTOBER. WHAT DID THAT DO FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE ON OVALS?

“I have worked really, really hard on the ovals over the course of my career and I’m proud of the improvement that I’ve shown. The Fontana win was huge for me last year. Not only was it redemption for what happened to me there in 2012, but I now know that I can win a 500-miler. There is no bigger 500-mile race than the Indianapolis 500 and I think we can do it because this is one of the best cars I’ve had here.”

YOU’RE LEADING THE POINTS HEADING INTO THE INDIANAPOLIS 500. WHAT IS DIFFERENT BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR?

“Everything is different. Anything that could go wrong last year did go wrong at the start of the season. The 2012 Fontana race and how it cost us the championship really got to my psyche. I let it bother me way too much and that carried over into last year. But I’ve since made up my mind that I’m not going to worry about points, I’m just going to drive as hard as I can. It’s working out well this year. The No. 12 Verizon Chevy has been bloody quick and we have another good one for the Indianapolis 500.”