Power and Castroneves Finish 1-2 at Edmonton
July 24, 2011
Photo courtesy of Steve Swope
EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (July 24, 2011) – Will Power edged teammate Helio Castroneves on Sunday to win the Edmonton Indy in what proved to be a very productive day at the City Centre Airport street circuit for Team Penske.
Power's No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda beat Castroneves' No. 3 Penske Truck Rental car to the finish line by just .8089 of a second for the team's first 1-2 finish of 2011 and Power's fourth victory of the season. Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who was headed for a top-five result before he was forced to pit for fuel on the final lap, finished 10th in the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda. The result completed a strong points day for the team.
With the win, Power closed to within 38 points of leader Dario Franchitti in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings. Franchitti finished third on Sunday. All three Team Penske drivers are now in the top-10 in the championship as Briscoe remained sixth and Castroneves moved up three spots to ninth in the standings with the Edmonton effort.
After starting second on Sunday, Power captured the race lead for the first time when he passed polesitter Takuma Sato on lap 19. After surrendering the top spot when he made his first pit stop of the day, Power reclaimed the lead on a lap 29 race restart. After the final pit stops of the day cycled through, Power was once again at the front of the field and he held off Castroneves and Franchitti to lead the final 24 laps en route to his 13th career Indy car victory.
"It was so bloody hard there at the end with Helio and Dario pushing me along," said Power, who posted his second win at Edmonton to go along with his 2009 victory for Team Penske at City Centre Airport. "To finish 1-2 is really a good result for Team Penske. We've had a little bit of a rough time lately but we know what we're capable of in the second half of the season. It's a good result for the team and for Verizon as well."
After moving up quickly from his ninth-place starting position, Castroneves pursued Power throughout the final stint of the race, but never got an opportunity to pass his teammate. The runner-up performance marked his top result of the season and the 99th top-five finish of his career.
"This is a great result for the Penske Truck Rental car," said Castroneves, who has finished inside the top-10 in all four of his starts at Edmonton. "I wanted to win so bad but, at the end of the day, after the season we've been having, this is like a victory. We had awesome pit stops and everything went smoothly. We finally fixed the brakes because I was quite busy in Turn 1 during our practice sessions. Once we had good balance in the car, then I knew what I needed to do. I was able to avoid a lot of accidents. It was just fantastic to be up at the front in the end."
Meanwhile, Briscoe looked to make it three Penske cars in the top four before fuel became an issue late in the race. He was running in second place when he came in for his final stop of the day, a few laps before the other race leaders. The team thought they'd be able to make it to the end of the race but Briscoe had to pit for a splash of fuel as Power headed for the checkered flag. Briscoe fell from fourth to 10th as a result, but he still earned his seventh top-10 finish of the season.
"It was great racing out there today and a great result overall for Team Penske," said Briscoe, who has never finished outside the top 10 in four career races at Edmonton. "We had some awesome battles with Helio (Castroneves) and (Justin) Wilson. It's just a little disappointing that we had a top-five car but we finished 10th. We didn't get a full fill on the yellow (flag) stop so we ran short on fuel and had to pit at the end. We really needed a yellow flag to make it and we just didn't get it. It's too bad but the Penske Truck Rental car ran great all weekend."
For Power, the keys to victory were the Verizon team's strong performance on pit lane and his ability to manage his tires while holding off the tough competition late.
"The Verizon guys gave me great stops again today," said Power. "When I came out (of the pits) I had on reds (Firestone alternate tires) and thought, 'I have to look after them, so I will really be gentle.' Then Helio was right there and I'm like, 'Man, I've got to go.' I had to ask (race strategist) Tim (Cindric) if that was for the lead. He said, 'Yeah, go!' I just held on there at the end."
The victory marked the 157th all-time Indy car win for Team Penske and it was the 33rd 1-2 finish in the storied history of open-wheel racing's most successful team.
The IZOD IndyCar Series season resumes on Sunday, Aug. 7 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the 12th of 18 races in 2011. Live coverage on Versus will begin at 2 p.m. ET.