EDMONTON, Alberta (July 26, 2008) – Keeping himself solidly in the 2008 IndyCar Series championship hunt, Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, led the most laps and scored a second-place finish in Saturday’s Rexall Edmonton Indy at Edmonton City Centre Airport, on a course he’d only seen for the first time a few days before. Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda also had a solid points day with a sixth place finish, a spot he battled for after involvement in a mid-race incident that placed him in the back of the pack, but a combination of pit strategy and driving skill pushed him up to the front.
Although the 14-turn, 1.973-mile temporary airport course was new to both drivers, Briscoe started the 95-lap (scheduled, 91-lap actual/shortened for time) event on the pole position, with Castroneves only a step behind in second spot. This feat was the 50th one-two start in Penske Racing’s open-wheel history.
Castroneves’ podium finish was hard-fought as he hunted down IndyCar Series points leader and race winner Scott Dixon in the closing laps of the event, who he was able to get to within tenths of a second of overtaking. However, on lap 86, Castroneves made a slight bobble in Turn 1, which placed him a few seconds behind Dixon. “I was doing everything I could just to keep up [with Dixon],” said Castroneves, who is 65 points out of first place in the championship point standings. “I was pushing and trying to put pressure on Dixon with every lap, but he never made a mistake.
“The championship is still within reach. I'm just going to keep working hard because it isn't over for Team Penske yet."
This is the sixth time Castroneves has finished second and his 11th top-five finish in the 2008 IndyCar Series season.
Edmonton pole-sitter Briscoe finished in the sixth spot, his seventh top-10 finish in 2008. His race started out well, but on a restart the No. 6 Team Penske machine spun off course after making contact with the No. 20 car, which had made contact with the No. 10. After the incident, Briscoe was in 17th place, but pit strategy as called by Roger Penske, along with a solid driving performance, saw Briscoe climb back up the rankings.
"It was a bit of a frustrating day because I think we had a podium-finishing car,” said Briscoe. “Fuel strategy came into play which moved people around, but it was the trouble on the restart that was unfortunate because up until that point I was having a real solid race.
“Once again, Roger (Penske) worked his strategy and we were able to make up some spots, pass some cars and end up with a sixth-place finish. I guess, all things considered, sixth place was a good result. We picked up some points and were able to solidify fifth place in the championship.”
The IndyCar Series returns to oval racing on Saturday night, July 9 at Kentucky Speedway for the Meijer Indy 300. The race is scheduled to air live on ESPN2 and be broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network.
Results Saturday of the Rexall Edmonton Indy IndyCar Series event July 26 at the 1.973-mile Edmonton City Centre Airport, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (4) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
2. (2) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
3. (6) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
4. (15) Paul Tracy, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
5. (3) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
6. (1) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
7. (9) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
8. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
9. (27) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
10. (18) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
11. (22) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
12. (17) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
13. (23) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
14. (7) Bruno Junqueira, Dallara-Honda, 91, Running
15. (20) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
16. (11) Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
17. (12) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
18. (14) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 88, Running
19. (16) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
20. (10) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
21. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 84, Running
22. (5) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 72, Running
23. (26) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Honda, 68, Mechanical
24. (19) Mario Dominguez, Dallara-Honda, 51, Mechanical
25. (24) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 48, Contact
26. (8) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 44, Contact
27. (21) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 27, Contact
Winner's average speed: 96.967 mph
Time of race: 1:51:05.7039
Margin of victory: 5.9237 seconds
Cautions: 4 caution flags for 19 laps
Lead changes: 9 among 6 drivers
Lap leaders: Briscoe 1-3, Castroneves 4-21, Andretti 22-29, Kanaan 30, Andretti 31-33, Castroneves 34-50, Kanaan 51-56, Foyt IV 57-59, Kanaan 60-61, Dixon 62-91.
Point standings: Dixon 505, Castroneves 440, Wheldon 390, Kanaan 387, Briscoe 324, Patrick 296, Mutoh 286, Servia 280, Hunter-Reay 276, Andretti 276