Red Flag Hampers Team Penske Qualifying in Sao Paulo

May 5, 2013

SAO PAULO, Brazil (May 4, 2013)  – Three-time Sao Paulo race winner Will Power and current IZOD IndyCar Series championship leader Helio Castroneves were caught out by an untimely red flag during Saturday’s qualifying session and, as a result, both Team Penske drivers will start deep in the field for Sunday’s Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300.

Power, who led both practice sessions Saturday and set an at-the-time track record lap of 80.9264 seconds, had completed only a warm-up lap when a blown engine on the car driven by James Jakes caused a red flag and a lengthy delay during the first round of Saturday’s qualifying session. Power had the 11th-fastest lap of the round in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet around the 11-turn, 2.536-mile street circuit and Power will start in an unfamiliar 22nd position in Sunday’s race.

“Tough break today to not be able to qualify the way we wanted. It’s especially bad because the Verizon car had been so quick all day,” said Power, who started fifth once and on the pole twice for his three wins on the streets of Sao Paulo. “We felt pretty good going into the qualifying and unfortunately didn’t have time to run the lap we wanted after doing a lap on the blacks (Firestone Tires).” 

Team Penske teammate Castroneves will start 18th after a lap of 85.1734 in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. A native of Sao Paulo, Castroneves returned home with a six-point lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship standings, marking the second consecutive event he has entered as the championship leader.

“Today was very frustrating. We try to not leave at the last minute to get caught in one of those situations but unfortunately today was our turn,” said Castroneves, who will look to improve his career-best finish at the Brazilian circuit of fourth in 2012. “It was a very unusual scenario and I hate it for the entire Hitachi team because the Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet was running really well, especially in the practices earlier today.”

With one 10th-place and two podium finishes in the first three races of 2013, Castroneves is one of only three drivers that have finished inside the top 10 in every race this season.

“I’m shocked about our result but we never say never and will give it all we have tomorrow,” added Castroneves. “Our focus will be ending the race still on top of the points.”

Power has dominated the Sao Paulo street circuit, winning all three IndyCar races there, including leading all 75 laps of last year’s race.

“Now we turn the focus to doing the best we can tomorrow and getting the most out of the points,” concluded Power.

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