LEBANON, Tenn. (July 12, 2008) – Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves came within a few laps of victory Saturday night at Nashville Superspeedway, but the weather had other plans. Castroneves, who started from the pole position, finished third when rain forced an early end to the Firestone Indy 200, but, had the race gone a few laps longer, he likely would have won.
Instead, Scott Dixon capitalized on a mistake that kept him out on the 1.33-mile concrete oval and in the lead when the rest of the leaders pitted on the 148th lap, relegating Castroneves to a solid -- if somewhat disappointing -- podium finish when rain ended the scheduled 200 lap race after 171 laps.
“It’s not the race we wanted to have, especially the way it finished,” said Castroneves. “I was told that the Ganassi guys had four laps of fuel left. That’s two minutes. If the rain had come two minutes later, we would have won the race. But sometimes you have to be more lucky than good.”
Castroneves continues to pursue Dixon for the IndyCar Series championship and is now 63 points behind the leader after 11 races in the 2008 season. He remains optimistic about his chances after Nashville. “Third may not have been what we wanted tonight, but it’s good enough to keep us in the championship fight,” he said.
Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe didn’t fare as well, being forced out of the race on the third lap when Marco Andretti lost control and put Briscoe’s No. 6 Team Penske Honda/Dallara into the wall. The damage done from the incident caused the retirement of the car, and Briscoe was scored in the 23rd position.
“We just can’t get a break,” said Briscoe. “We’ve had a big string of bad luck the last couple of races. I was trying to settle into the race and was running outside the No. 26 car, and he lost it and collected me. It’s really unfortunate because we thought we learned a few things from Helio’s setup that we hoped would help us, too, but we didn’t have a chance to see. Hopefully we'll be able to put this all behind us moving forward and turn in a good result at Mid-Ohio.”
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues on Sunday, July 20, with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be telecast live at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC, with radio broadcast via the IMS Radio Network.
Results Saturday of the Firestone Indy 200 IndyCar Series event July 12 at the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (5) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 171, Running
2. (6) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 171, Running
3. (1) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 171, Running
4. (7) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 171, Running
5. (2) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 171, Running
6. (15) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 171, Running
7. (12) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 171, Running
8. (8) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 171, Running
9. (18) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 171, Running
10. (20) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 170, Running
11. (14) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 170, Running
12. (10) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 170, Running
13. (21) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 170, Running
14. (3) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 169, Running
15. (22) Bruno Junqueira, Dallara-Honda, 169, Running
16. (17) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 169, Running
17. (16) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 168, Running
18. (13) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 143, Running
19. (4) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 99, Contact
20. (19) Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara-Honda, 66, Handling
21. (23) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Honda, 50, Handling
22. (24) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 45, Handling
23. (9) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 3, Mechanical
24. (11) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 2, Contac
Winner's average speed: 148.072 mph
Time of race: 1:30:04.6499
Margin of victory: Under red
Cautions: 4 caution flags for 37 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 4 drivers
Lap leaders: Castroneves 1-54, Dixon 55-62, Servia 63-67, Dixon 68-89, Kanaan 90-148, Dixon 149-171.
Point standings: Dixon 420, Castroneves 357, Wheldon 351, Kanaan 339, Patrick 266, Mutoh 254, Andretti 253, Briscoe 243, Hunter-Reay 232, Carpenter 222.