Helio Castroneves is Second in St. Pete to Lead Team Penske

April 6, 2008

St. Petersburg, Fla. (April 6, 2008) - Helio Castroneves had a shot at victory Sunday in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He didn’t come away with the win, but he did come away atop the standings.
Castroneves and the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda challenged Graham Rahal on the final restart before finishing second in the first street race of the IndyCar Series season, a showing that gave him the points lead after the second race of 2008.
“At the end, I was really, really trying,” Castroneves said of his late-race pursuit of Rahal, the eventual winner. “I wanted no yellows at that point. The car stopped picking up on the steering, and I think we ended up going more than the life of the tire on that last set. When I saw Graham lock his tires, I was like, ’OK, here’s my chance.’ I kept waiting for another chance, but he never gave me one.” 
Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe led 11 laps in the No. 6 Penske Dallara/Honda before a crash on the 57th lap of the 83-lap race left him 23rd in the final results.
“We had made all the right calls on tires and pitting, but unfortunately I cost us a chance at a win,” Briscoe said. “I was trying to set up the No. 24 car, but I clipped the inside wall, which took us out of the race. It’s a frustrating start to the season because we’ve had great cars with a chance to contend for the win in both races.”
For Castroneves, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner who nearly won the IndyCar Series title in 2006, his standing in the early championship chase is encouraging. Castroneves, who finished fourth March 29 in the season opener at Homestead, leads Scott Dixon by 10 points.
“Second place (in the race) is good for the championship,” Castroneves said. “You always want to win, but we’re leading the championship right now, so it paid off.”
The IndyCar Series returns to action on April 19 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.