Tony Renna's tragic accident understandably overshadowed all other events during last week's Firestone tyre tests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but on the day before Renna's fatality, double IRL Champ Sam Hornish Jr made his debut for Marlboro Team Penske.

Hornish Jr piloted the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara-Toyota for the first time with a slightly new look following new boss Roger Penske's apparent disregard for his trademark goatee.

Sporting a new, clean-shaven look, the Defiance, Ohio resident had his first opportunity to take a few laps around the Brickyard under the new tutelage of 'The Captain,' the winningest owner in open-wheel history.

"There were no orders (to shave), but it's a new day," said Hornish of his new look. "I went back and looked at the pictures of the previous Championships and both times we won, I was clean shaven. I figured maybe I jinxed myself at Texas this year."

Last week's test was a good chance for Hornish to acquaint himself with the Team as well as the Toyota engine. "I'm just feeling everything out right now, but I'm pretty excited about the progress that we've made," continued Hornish.

"I want Marlboro Team Penske to feel like they've made the right decision. I try not to get too overwhelmed. This is what I've always wanted to do and where I've wanted to be, so I'm happy about that. I'm excited at the chance to try and do a good job."

Aside from Hornish having the chance to drive the Marlboro Team Penske machine; team owner Roger Penske had the opportunity to see his newest driver on the track.

"His approach is cautious, but direct," said Penske after the day of testing. "I think he's very knowledgeable about the car. He communicates what the car is doing like a pro - he's very calm. We're one team, we don't have a "number one" or "number two" driver. What I want is for both drivers to feel that there is 200 percent support for each of them. We wanted to let Sam know that his joining the team is a big deal for us. It was a big decision for him and we have to make sure we live up to his expectations."

Also on hand for the Firestone tyre test was 2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner and Hornish's new Marlboro Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves.

"I think Sam will be an awesome addition to Marlboro Team Penske," said Castroneves. "I'm looking forward to working with him next season. He's a great competitor and he'll bring some good information to the team."

 

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