Team Penske Long Beach Race Preview
April 9, 2014
Verizon IndyCar Series
No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
No. 3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
· SILVER ANNIVERSARY WINNER: In 1999, Juan Pablo Montoya dominated in Long Beach to score is first career IndyCar victory in the 25th anniversary of the famous street race. Montoya led a total of 40 laps en route to a 2.8 second triumph over Dario Franchitti.
· SOLID START TO 2014: While Montoya does not anticipate many 15th-place finishes during the 2014 season, he was able to see progress in the No. 2 Verizon team during the opening St. Petersburg weekend. Despite a lack of track position he was turning laps as fast as the race leaders during the event.
· THIS IS SPORTSCENTER: On Wednesday afternoon, Montoya will shoot two of the popular “This Is SportsCenter” TV commercials at the ESPN L.A. Live studios. The spots will air on the ESPN Desportes network.
· GRAND PRIX MEDIA LUNCHEON: On Thursday afternoon, Montoya will participate in the Grand Prix of Long Beach media luncheon from 12-2 pm PT. The event will take place in Arena Park, located at 300 Ocean Blvd in Long Beach, and will feature seven other Verizon IndyCar Series drivers.
· FAMILIARITY IS KEY: The Grand Prix of Long Beach will be the first of eight circuits that Montoya will race this season where he has open-wheel experience from his career competing in the CART Series. That familiarity should provide a boost to his confidence this weekend.
THE THE Q & A
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA
THE FIRST INDYCAR WIN OF YOUR CAREER CAME AT LONG BEACH IN 1999. WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT RACE?
"Outside of Indianapolis, there is no better place to pick up your first win than at Long Beach. We started fifth and over the first half of the race I was able to make it up to P1. From that point on we were very dominant, but it was almost for nothing. A caution flag came out with just a few laps remaining, which made it interesting between Dario (Franchitti) and I. I was able to hold him off and I just remember the crowd after the checkered flag. There were so many fans there that day. It was amazing.”
WITH THE TRACK FAMILIARITY YOU HAVE, ALONG WITH HAVING A RACE UNDER YOUR BELT THIS SEASON, WILL YOU HAVE A LITTLE MORE CONFIDENCE THIS WEEKEND?
“I think having a race in the books with the No. 2 Verizon Chevy team is going to make a huge difference. We just needed to unload off the truck a little better. That only comes with time and becoming familiar with the car and the team. I expect to see a big difference when we get to Long Beach. I do know the circuit – although it has changed a bit in 15 years – but I haven’t raced there in these cars, so there is still a bit of learning I need to do when I get there.”
· DODGERS FIRST PITCH: On Wednesday evening, Helio Castroneves will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium as the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Detroit Tigers. Castroneves will appear at the game to promote this weekend’s Grand Prix of Long Beach.
· 2001 WINNER: In one of the most dominating performances of his successful career, Castroneves led all 82 laps of the 2001 Grand Prix of Long Beach to score his fourth career IndyCar victory..
· HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2: The Grand Prix of Long Beach is the first race of the season that the Automobile Club of Southern California will adorn the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. Similar to last year’s promotion of the animated movie “Turbo,” this year the car will feature a promotion of the upcoming DreamWorks movie, “How To Train Your Dragon 2,” which will hit theaters on June 13. In addition, Castroneves recorded a safe driving public service announcement that included promotion of the movie and it will air in select AAA markets.
· CLIMBING THE LISTS: With his third-place finish in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg two weeks ago, Castroneves moved into a tie for 10th-place with Paul Tracy and Gordon Johncock on the career top-three finishes list with 75. In addition, the result elevated Castroneves into a tie for eighth-place with Bobby Unser and Tony Kanaan on the career top-five finishes list with 112.
THE Q & A
TEAM PENSKE SHOWED GREAT SPEED IN THE SEASON-OPENER AT ST. PETERSBURG. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT WILL CARRY OVER TO THIS WEEKEND?
"It was great to see how fast the Team Penske Chevys were at St. Pete. You work hard all off-season, but you don’t really know until you get to the track. I expect all three cars to have the same speed this weekend at Long Beach but I also think the other teams will go to work to find speed. We don’t need to be satisfied where we are, we have to keep working to get where we want to be.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH TO THE VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES?
"The Grand Prix of Long Beach is not just one of the premier races in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it’s one of the premier races in North America. I’ve been lucky enough to win it once. I really want to win one in the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet. That would be huge for me and for AAA. When you start the season off like we do – at St. Pete and Long Beach – there is a lot of excitement. The venues are great. The fans are tremendous. It really helps get the juices flowing.”
· GOING FOR FOUR IN A ROW: The hottest driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Will Power has won three consecutive races dating back to last season.
· IN GOOD COMPANY: Power has scored two career wins in the Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2008 and 2012, respectively. A third this weekend would move him into a tie for second place on the event’s all-time wins list with Mario Andretti and Sebastien Bourdais.
· EYE-POPPING STAT: Since joining Team Penske prior to the 2009 season, Power has led 20.4% of the laps run during that time with a total of 19 victories.
· COMING TO AMERICA: The first race for Power in America came at the 2006 Grand Prix of Long Beach. He had made two previous IndyCar Series starts at Surfer’s Paradise, Australia and Mexico City, Mexico, respectively.
· MAKING HIS MARK: Long Beach marked the first race for Power in a Verizon-sponsored car in 2009. In dramatic fashion, Power qualified the No. 12 entry on the pole. He led a total of 16 laps on the day to finish second in just this second career race with Team Penske.
THE Q & A
AS A FORMER WINNER AT LONG BEACH YOU KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN THERE. CAN YOU START THE SEASON WITH TWO STRAIGHT WINS?
"The No. 12 Verizon Chevy certainly has the speed to contend for wins all season long. It was an awesome feeling to win the first race of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Now I want to win the first two races of the season! Long Beach is a ton of fun - a tough street circuit and a great place to showcase our sport. I’ve been fortunate to win there twice in my career. A third win would be huge for us there with all the history and prestige that is part of Long Beach.”
WHAT DOES THE GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH MEAN TO WILL POWER?
“Long Beach was my first IndyCar race in America and it was my last win before moving to Team Penske, so it’s really a special place to me. Winning at Long Beach is an accomplishment that means a lot to me because it's one of those tracks that is legendary. I think the recognition with winning Long Beach really ranks high on the list and it's very cool all of the history behind the race. When you win your likeness is engraved in Victory Circle and to be there with the legends of our sport is very special.”
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