Castroneves Leads Team Penske at Iowa Speedway

June 24, 2012

NEWTON, Iowa (June 24, 2012) – Helio Castroneves produced a sixth-place finish Saturday night on an otherwise challenging evening for Team Penske in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway.

While Castroneves was battling for a strong finish on the .875-mile oval, Team Penske teammates Will Power and Ryan Briscoe both suffered contact that took them out of the race. The finishes affected each driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship chase, though Power maintained his position at the top of the standings after nine rounds of competition.

Castroneves, whose 133 laps led were the most on the night, became the de-facto pole sitter after Dario Franchitti could not finish the warm-up laps after he experienced engine issues. Castroneves said he struggled with a vibration in the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Chevrolet through parts of the race, especially in the final stint, though he was able to hold on for his seventh top-10 finish of the season. His sixth-place effort elevated the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion to fourth in the point standings. He is now just 25 points off the series lead.

“The Penske Truck Rental car ran out front, it seems like the entire night,” said Castroneves. “The positive is that we are moving up in the championship points and getting closer to my teammate (Power). The downside is losing a race that we could have won. A lot of credit goes to my guys, they did a phenomenal job on pit stops all night long. Now it is on to Toronto and hopefully we can keep moving to the top.”    

Briscoe was leading the race on Lap 179 when his No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinishes Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet was involved in an accident with Josef Newgarden. Briscoe’s night showed promise early as he ran second as part of a 1-2 tandem with teammate Castroneves from laps 11 to 32 before he finished 18th after the contact. Saturday’s race marked the first time Briscoe finished outside the top-10 at Iowa Speedway in five career races.

“It’s a disappointing night for sure for the PPG machine,” said Briscoe, who is ranked ninth in the series standings. “My spotter didn’t have time to tell me that (Newgarden) was going low and when he got there he came barreling in and never lifted. It’s a shame because I think on fuel we were in position to win the thing.” 

Power’s race in No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet came to an abrupt end when he made contact with the car of E.J. Viso when Viso tried to pass him on Lap 68 and both cars went into the wall. The incident left Power with a 23rd-place finish and dropped his lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series title chase to just three points over race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“I didn’t get the call that (Viso) was underneath me,” said Power. “I didn’t even know he was there. I feel bad for him. I can’t believe that. I hate it for the entire Verizon crew as well because we had a great car and unfortunately our night ended early.”            

The Iowa Corn Indy 250 was the second consecutive race led by Castroneves and the third consecutive by a Team Penske driver. Eight of the nine races in 2012 have been led by one of the three Team Penske pilots.        

After five consecutive races, beginning with the Indy 500, the series takes a well-deserved weekend off before resuming with the Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday, July 8 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Live coverage will begin at 1 p.m. ET on ABC-TV.

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