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Castroneves, Briscoe Finish 1-2 for Team Penske at Texas

June 7, 2009

Photo courtesy of Autostock



FORT WORTH, Texas (June 6, 2009)  - Helio Castroneves pulled out of the pits ahead of teammate Ryan Briscoe on the final stop Saturday night and went on to win the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway, completing a 1-2 sweep by Team Penske.


Driving the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, Castroneves was trailing Briscoe heading into the final round of pit stops on the 176th lap of the 228-lap race, but he used the first stall on pit lane to his advantage to beat Briscoe and the No. 6 Team Penske car out of the pits. Castroneves has now won at TMS three times, tying fellow Penske Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. for the most IndyCar Series wins at Texas.


The win was Castroneves' second in his last three races this season, following his dramatic Indy 500 victory two weeks ago, and the 16th of his IndyCar Series career and his 22nd in American open-wheel racing. It also represented Team Penske's third win of the season and the team's fifth victory at Texas overall.


"We knew we had good cars, so I told the team that we had to finish 1-2 in this race," said Castroneves "When you have cars like this, you have to execute. In the race, Ryan got very comfortable in his car and just took off. We were saving fuel and figuring out our car. Later on, these (No. 3 car) guys were incredible."


Briscoe led 160 laps and posted his second consecutive runner-up finish, as he worked to secure the IndyCar Series points lead after six of 17 races this season.


"We did the best we could, but I just didn't have enough for Helio in the final stages," said Briscoe. "The last 20 laps were some of the most frustrating I've ever driven. I led the whole race and had the quickest car out there, but I just couldn't pass Helio."


Castroneves credited his Team Penske crew, led by strategist Tim Cindric and crew chief Rick Rinaman, for helping bring home the win. "The last pit stop was all theirs," Castroneves said. "They were just incredible. They won the Pit Stop Competition at Indianapolis. They deserve this. They practice all the time. Today it was the No. 3 group that gave this victory to me."


Team Penske has now finished first and second in 10 IndyCar Series races and has gone 1-2 in 37 open-wheel races overall. Castroneves also holds the record for most consecutive seasons with an IndyCar Series win at nine. He has finished among the top three a remarkable 41 percent of the time in his 119 IndyCar Series races.


"It was a great night for Team Penske," said Roger Penske. "We had the best cars we have had here at Texas in a long time and both drivers ran great races. The team worked very hard and we are happy to see that pay off with a 1-2 finish. It is terrific to come out of here with Ryan leading the championship.”


Castroneves is now fourth in the IndyCar Series championship standings, just 13 points behind Briscoe. Both drivers have momentum on their side heading into the next IndyCar Series race, June 21 at Iowa Speedway.

"We're just looking toward Iowa now," Castroneves added. "That's the next step."