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Penske's Indy racing team suffered disaster early this morning when their transporter truck – en route from the team's headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina, to Sonoma, California – caught fire at 4 a.m. on Interstate 80 outside Cheyenne, Wyoming. The two Penske personnel on board managed to escape unharmed, but could not extinguish the fire, believed to have been caused by a faulty bearing in one of the trailer's wheels. They detached the truck cab from the burning trailer and could do nothing more but watch as an estimated $2 million worth of equipment – including two Dallara-Honda race cars – went up in flames.

The truck was bringing the cars and other necessary equipment to the Infineon Raceway at Sears Point for this weekend's race, where Penske's Helio Castroneves hopes to close the 78-point gap on rival Scott Dixon in the third to last race of the season. However Castroneves' car was completely destroyed by the fire, along with that of team-mate Ryan Briscoe. Fortunately the team already has two test cars at the track where they were practicing earlier this week, which will now be converted to race duty. The team has also dispatched another transporter truck from North Carolina carrying two additional cars – useable only for spare parts as they're already set up for the oval-track race in Chicago – along with additional personnel and equipment, which will pick up the two stranded staffers in Wyoming and drop off four more to sift through the wreckage.

Penske has a history of turning adverse circumstances into victory, having won at Kansas Speedway in 2006 shortly after the team's headquarters were decimated in a flood. At the 1987 Indianapolis 500, the team had to replace injured driver Danny Ongais with Al Unser Sr, and ditched its own car in favor of a retired March chassis that was sitting on display in a hotel lobby, which Unser drove to victory at the Brickyard. By the end of the weekend we'll know if Penske's penchant for overcoming disaster will carry through at Sears Point.

[Sources: Indianapolis Star and GrandPrix.com, photo courtesy of Penske Racing/IMS Photo]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I doubt it's sabotage. It started from an overheated wheel bearing.

      ~ Slim ~
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes but who overheated the wheel bearing? J/K

        Also, isn't it somewhat ironic that a truck containing vehicles that will run at very high speeds reliably and in relative safety burned up because of a faulty ball bearing and traveling relatively slowly in comparison?
      • 6 Years Ago

      I feel sorry for those guys, although we can be very glad they weren't hurt.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Fernando Alonso did it!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Fernando Alonso did it
      • 6 Years Ago
      The same thing happened to a Grand Am team this year. I dont recall what cause the fire on their transporter but they also lost everything. That has to suck.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm thinking infared heat sensors on all the trailers from now on.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Small wheels, small tires, small brakes, no ventilation, heavy loaded to the max, high speed and no time to get there, two prima donas truck drivers and you got a race truck going down the road...Lets see the log book......
      and there isn't much on I-80 in Wyoming...
      Try it in the winter, it's gourgeous.....
        • 6 Years Ago
        Prima-donna TRUCK drivers??? Why pi$$ on the two drivers? Just because their cargo is much more expensive / exotic than "regular" truckers' payloads??

        They were in bum-f*ck Wyoming... & had no cell service!!! How many truck drivers do you know that dress like fire fighters??

        Blame the victims because they didn't throw on their red capes & pound on the "S" on their chests to extinguish the fire??? PLEASE!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Strange. They used to put fire suppression systems on most transporters. Guess they stopped doing that?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Awwwwww Mannnnn!!! That sucks for Penske racing, that will put a damper on their racing season. Here's to a speedy recovery...

      ~ Slim ~
        • 6 Years Ago
        I've read news reports & it was on ESPN news? Also this nugget from SPEEDtv.com & Robin Miller:

        "They were oval-track cars we were preparing so we'll have to turn them around and just deal with it. We tested last week with Helio's backup car so we've got that and we'll be scrambling for a few days." (quoting Tim Cindric from Penske Racing)
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