TMS Media Relations | Jun 04, 2014
FORT WORTH, Texas (June 4, 2014) – Texas Motor Speedway is more than 1,000 miles from Team Penske’s headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., but for the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers of the organization and its legendary team owner Roger Penske, a visit to the Lone Star State is their home away from home.
Team Penske has maintained a stranglehold on the competition when it comes to Texas Motor Speedway, winning eight of the previous 13 Verizon IndyCar Series races, and eyeing a ninth victory at Saturday’s Firestone 600 set for 7:30 p.m. CT on the NBC Sports Network.
Helio Castroneves is one of five different drivers to secure a victory for Team Penske during that span, including his record-breaking fourth Texas Motor Speedway victory coming in last year’s Firestone 550. The race was rebranded the Firestone 600 this year as 20 more laps were added to the event to extend it to a 248-lap/372-mile event.
“Every time you win a race multiple times it’s your favorite race,” said Castroneves, whose win last year broke a tie with Sam Hornish Jr. for most career INDYCAR wins at Texas. “Texas is a place that seems to be good to us. They keep changing a little bit of the rules and you kind of keep readapting yourself. It’s always good to race in Texas.”
Added teammate Will Power, the current Verizon IndyCar Series championship points leader who won one of the Twin 275 races at Texas in 2011: "My teammate absolutely destroyed the field last year. No excuses on the car front. That is just confidence on ovals. We just have to turn up there, see what we got, and try to have a good weekend."
The aero packages have changed but Team Penske’s dominance has remained steady. Adjustments to the new DW12 chassis – implemented in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012 – have played a role in putting the race in the hands of the drivers, suiting the team’s drivers. The Firestone 600 is the eighth race of the season, but just the second oval event on the 18-race schedule.
Last year, Castroneves quickly adapted to the aero package and left little in doubt as he led a race-high 132 laps en route to the victory. This weekend, INDYCAR will allow teams the option of increasing downforce levels by roughly 300 pounds versus the maximum available in 2013 in an effort to continue Texas Motor Speedway’s tradition of creating exciting finishes. In the 25 previous races at Texas Motor Speedway, 16 have finished with a margin of victory of less than one second, including eight being decided by less than one-tenth of a second.
“When they have a lot of downforce anybody could drive, but now they keep making the car difficult and now you’ve got to pick your lane,” Castroneves said. “That’s where you separate the people that are able to drive those types of scenarios. I think as a team we are able to set up the car better that way and it shows a big difference.”
Team Penske’s newest driver addition Juan Pablo Montoya will make his first race appearance in an open-wheel cockpit at Texas Motor Speedway since making the jump back to INDYCAR after seven full seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Montoya, who made 14 career Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway, returns to a track with familiarity.
With backing of Team Penske and his previous on-track experience, Montoya is excited about returning to Texas Motor Speedway and maintaining the organization’s long-standing dominance.
“It’s a great track for the team,” Montoya said. “Helio has done really well, Will (Power) has started running well on ovals there. It’s exciting. It’s a place that I know really well. I think with my oval experience there with tire degradation and everything should take, especially with it being a long race. It’s all about being smart and making good decisions all night and hopefully it’s good enough all day long and all night long so you are really good when it matters.”
Tickets for Saturday’s Firestone 600 are still available. Fans can still take advantage of the "Family 4-Pack" special, four Firestone 600 race tickets, four hot dogs and four Coca-Cola products for $79. Tickets for the Firestone 600 are available by contacting the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
Roger-Penske, Verizon-IndyCar-Series, Team-Penske