NEWTON, Iowa (June 20, 2010) - Team Penske reasserted itself in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship battle by earning three top-five finishes Sunday in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway.
Helio Castroneves led the way with a second-place finish in Sunday's race, and he nearly claimed his second victory of the season in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Ryan Briscoe was fourth in the No. 6 Team Penske car, while Will Power reclaimed the series points lead after he posted a fifth-place finish in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske machine.
Castroneves captured the lead on the 200th lap of the 250-lap race and held it until just 10 tours remained in the race, when Tony Kanaan passed him for the lead. Kanaan went on to claim his first series victory in two years.
"All the credit goes to my guys for this one. They did a phenomenal job of setting up the car. Certainly from qualifying to the race today, they changed a lot on the car, and I mean a lot," said Castroneves, who remained fourth in the IZOD IndyCar championship standings, but now trails Power for the series lead by just 23 points. "Somehow the No. 3 car was always wearing out the left front. When I needed it the most, unfortunately it wasn't there. The tires were great today but they just went away from me over the last 10 laps."
Briscoe, who started eighth, rallied for his second consecutive top-four finish and he is now fifth in the championship standings, just 34 points out of the lead. All three Team Penske drivers battled loose-handling conditions throughout the event but the cars improved as the race wore on. Briscoe ran as low as 12th before rallying late to pass Power and secure fourth place.
"Wow, what a wild race," said Briscoe. "The Team Penske car was really loose. I was sliding around out there quite a bit - I felt like a sprint car driver and it was a little unnerving at times. We kept making adjustments on the car during our pit stops and the No. 6 car guys were great today. I made up positions on every stop today which really helped out. I am happy with a fourth-place finish today - that helps us tighten up the points race."
Meanwhile, Power is back atop the series standings with his effort around the .875-mile track. After claiming his first oval pole and fourth overall this season on Saturday, Power earned his top oval result of 2010. He now leads Scott Dixon by 11 points (274-263) heading into a five-race road and street course stretch of the season.
"The car was very loose today. I had quite a few big moments on the track," said Power, who led the first 32 laps of the race. "I have to say that I did learn a lot and I gained valuable experience that will definitely be helpful in the future. I am really happy with a top-five finish today. The Verizon car is back in the points lead and we are heading into another road course stretch. We are in good shape for the championship and we just need to keep getting solid finishes."
Castroneves said his car was great when his crew helped get him into second place with a fast pit stop late in the race. Shortly after that, Castroneves passed Dario Franchitti for the lead as Franchitti slowed with a gearbox problem.
"When they put me in the front, that was it," said Castroneves. "There was so much clean air, and the car was great in clean air. I was just cruising flat out, but the left front tire started to wear. With about 10 laps to go, Tony got a run on me. There was nothing I could do."
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season resumes July 4 at the Watkins Glen International road course. The race is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ABC-TV.