Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr pulled no punches when discussing the level of work required to get their Toyota engines on par with Honda after last week's test at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

While both drivers were happy with their Dallara-Toyota's on the 2.21-mile Homestead road course, where they spent two days of the three day test, both admitted that plenty of work needed to be done in order to put them in a competitive shape on the 1.5-mile oval.

Honda powered drivers claimed the top six times on the 1.5-mile Homestead oval, and neither defending Homestead race winner Hornish, nor Castroneves felt they would be able to challenge for the win unless there was a drastic improvement before the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at the Florida track in early March.

"The Marlboro car was good on the road course, but we still have a lot of work to do on the ovals," said Castroneves, who was the fastest Toyota powered entry on the oval portion of the test, albeit in tenth place on the timesheets. "Hopefully when we return to Homestead in March, we'll be in as good a shape as we were at last year's race.

"I am so excited that we're going back to road courses, it was awesome to get out and turn left last week," he continued. "I think a lot of people will be surprised at how strong the IndyCars will be on road courses and how competitive those three races will be."

"It was good to be able to get out on the track to see how we stack up against the other teams," added Hornish Jr. "We definitely learned a lot both on the oval and the road course and were able to make gains throughout the test.

"It was a big help to get on the road course for a few days, because it gave me one more opportunity to work on my rhythm and timing. We definitely have some work left to prepare for the year, as I don't feel like I'm quite at the pinnacle of what I can do. We're going to stay focused and hopefully, we'll be on top of it for the season opener."

"Although we were hoping to be better positioned on the time sheets, the testing at Homestead gave us a realistic picture of where we stack up," said Penske Racing president Tim Cindric. "Obviously, we have our work cut out for us as the competition gets better every year. Also, having a year of continuity under our belts with Sam and Helio as teammates should pay dividends this season as well."


Loading Comments...