JOLIET, Ill. (September 7, 2008) – Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, won Sunday’s PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in a thrilling fashion – not only did he fight back from a last-place starting position, but, pushed by teammate Ryan Briscoe, he took the checkered flag a mere 0.0033 seconds, or 12 1/8 inches, ahead of second-place finisher Scott Dixon.
The finish – second-closest in IndyCar Series history - was not without controversy. Scoring monitors initially showed Dixon as the winner, but video replays showed Castroneves hitting the finish line first. Whenever scoring monitors show a margin of victory of 0.006 or less, IndyCar Series officials revert to photo evidence to determine or clarify the winner and the precise margin of victory. Within minutes of the cars reaching the finish line and Dixon being declared the unofficial winner, Castroneves was declared the official winner. He received the news from a reporter and immediately began jumping with joy on live television.
“I won!” Castroneves screamed. “I knew I’d won!”
Sunday marked Castroneves’ first win at the 1.5-mile oval track and his second win of the 2008 IndyCar Series season. Castroneves closes out the 2008 IndyCar Series championship second in the standings, 17 points behind champion Dixon.
“What a wild race,” said Castroneves about the 200-lap event, which included multiple laps of three-wide racing and the photo finish. “What a great effort by Team Penske – we did everything we could to win the championship and executed our plan to win and take the extra points (three) for the most laps led (80). We couldn’t catch up to Dixon in points, but we definitely tried!”
For Castroneves, however, the race win and runner-up finish in the championship were the testament to teamwork and dedication. “I want to thank the entire team - they did a hell of a job,” said Castroneves, who recorded 15 top-five finishes in 2008. “Ryan (Briscoe) was a great help today. Without him, there was no question that I would not have won this race. I did what I could. He really helped me out.”
Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, started on the pole position Sunday and finished third, .0811 seconds behind Castroneves. For a time, he raced one-two with Castroneves, going three-wide on multiple occasions for the lead with Castroneves and the No. 10 of Dan Wheldon.
“It was really great racing there, going three-wide for awhile with Wheldon and Helio,” said Briscoe, who started on pole and led 41 laps on Sunday. “I did my best to help Helio. I thought he might have had it. I was under that rear wing as close as I could get, so hopefully that helped him out. It was just a really good day and a good way to end the season.”
Briscoe closes out the season fifth in the 2008 IndyCar Series championship standings. His first year with Team Penske resulted in two wins, five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes.
While the championship has been decided for 2008, one race remains for Team Penske this year. On October 26, the team will compete in Surfers Paradise, Australia in the Nikon Indy 300. The non-points event will be telecast live at 10:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 25 by ESPN Classic and will re-air at 11 p.m. Oct. 26 on ESPN2. The race will also be broadcast on the IMS Radio Network.
The 2009 IndyCar Series season will begin next March in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Results Sunday of the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 IndyCar Series event Sept. 7 at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (28) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
2. (2) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
3. (1) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
4. (4) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
5. (10) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
6. (6) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
7. (23) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
8. (5) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
9. (16) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
10. (3) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
11. (21) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
12. (19) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
13. (15) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
14. (20) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
15. (24) Franck Perera, Dallara-Honda, 198, Pits
16. (9) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
17. (12) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 196, Running
18. (17) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Honda, 187, Running
19. (14) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 186, Contact
20. (25) Bruno Junqueira, Dallara-Honda, 184, Running
21. (27) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 181, Contact
22. (11) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 177, Pits
23. (26) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 136, Running
24. (18) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 116, Contact
25. (22) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 110, Contact
26. (7) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 87, Mechanical
27. (8) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 74, Contact
28. (13) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 36, Contact
Winner's average speed: 150.648 mph
Time of race: 2:01:04.5907
Margin of victory: 0.0033 of a second
Cautions: 7 caution flags for 53 laps
Lead changes: 22 lead changes among 6 drivers
Lap leaders: Briscoe 1-39, Kanaan 40-77, Castroneves 78-93, Briscoe 94, Castroneves 95, Wheldon 96-98, Castroneves 99-100, Wheldon 101-102, Castroneves 103-105, Wheldon 106, Castroneves 107-130, Briscoe 131, Kanaan 132-140, Duno 141-145, Castroneves 146-165, Wheldon 166, Castroneves 167-171, Wheldon 172-175, Castroneves 176, Wheldon 177-178, Castroneves 179-185, Dixon 186-199, Castroneves 200
Point standings: Dixon 646, Castroneves 629, Kanaan 513, Wheldon 492, Briscoe 447, Patrick 379, Andretti 363, Hunter-Reay 360, Servia 358, Mutoh 346.