Verizon IndyCar Series Race Report - Texas

August 28, 2016

Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Race: Firestone 600
Date: August 27, 2016

No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya

Start:  17th
Finish: 9th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 246/248
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 13th (-184)

Recap: Juan Pablo Montoya restarted the Firestone 600 on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in the 10th position but the hum by Verizon Chevrolet wasn't handling well and fell two laps down to the leader. But a late rally led to a ninth-place finish to place all four Team Penske cars inside the top 10. Montoya raced up to the fourth position at one point and slid back to 13th at another. The shorter runs were better for the two-time Indy 500 winner while the long runs exacerbated the handling problems. It was his ninth top-10 finish of the season. Following an eighth-place showing at Pocono, Montoya logged back-to-back top 10s for the first time since Barber Motorsports Park and the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier in the season.

Quote: "The hum by Verizon Chevy was good on short runs, but we struggled with the long run pace. We restarted last at one point and drove up to fourth. This frustrating season just continues. Every race it's something."

No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves

Start: 3rd
Finish: 5th 
Status: Running
Laps Completed:  248/248
Laps Led:  7
Points Position: 4th (-114 pts.)

Recap: Helio Castroneves was on the verge of disaster a couple of times during the Firestone 600, but the veteran was able to bring the AAA Insurance Chevrolet home in fifth place to remain in the hunt for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Castroneves restarted the race in the seventh spot after starting the race in third on June 12. On Saturday evening, he quickly moved into contention for the win and pressured race leader James Hinchcliffe less than 20 laps into the evening. The three-time Indianapolis 500 champion narrowly missed a crashing Scott Dixon with just under 40 laps to go then got tangled with Ed Carpenter a handful of laps later. However, a well-timed caution allowed Castroneves to pit giving his team enough time to change both front and rear wings and stay on the lead lap. When the action got back underway he was in the mix in the closing laps. He moved up a spot in the season standings to fourth and sits 114 points behind leader Simon Pagenaud with two races remaining on the schedule. It was the seventh top-five finish of the campaign for Castroneves. Consistency has been a hallmark of his season as he is the highest-ranked driver without a victory on the year.

Quote: "That was an eventful night. The AAA Insurance Chevrolet was really good from the very start. We ran up front and led some laps. Then, all kinds of things happened. We caught a break with a yellow which allowed us to come in and change both the front and rear wings. To dodge as many accidents as we did and finish fifth is very good. There were some crazy moves up there at the end that could have ruined just about everybody's day. But we're ready to head to Watkins Glen."

No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start: 7th
Finish: 8th
Status: Running
Laps Completed:  247/248
Laps Led:  0
Points Position: 2nd (-28 pts.)

Recap: Will Power scored his seventh straight top-10 finish with an eight-place effort on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway to remain right on the heels of points leader Simon Pagenaud. The Aussie came into the evening looking at a 20-point deficit which grew just a bit to 28 markers at the end of the Firestone 600. After restarting the race in the fourth position, Power moved to third and was shuffled back to as far as 12th. His Verizon Chevy team had superb green-flag stops, but the stops under caution didn't allow an opportunity to capitalize on that advantage making it difficult for the 2014 series champion to get back in the front pack. Power had won four of the previous six races to put him in the championship hunt despite missing the season opener due to illness. With two races left on the schedule, including a double-points race at Sonoma, he has a chance to supplant Pagenaud at the top of the standings to collect his second series title.

Quote: "Intense racing there at the end, especially with the last restart and with new tires and cool air being a factor.  The cautions in the midst of some of the pit stop sequences made it more difficult to get back up into the top two or three, but the Verizon Chevy was still strong today.  We are still up there in points and Watkins Glen is right around the corner for us. We'll look ahead to next week."

No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start:  6th 
Finish: 4th
Status: Running
Laps Completed:  248/248
Laps Led:  0
Points Position:  1st (+28)

Recap: The opportunity to collect his fifth Verizon IndyCar Series win of the year was right there in the closing laps on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway for Simon Pagenaud, but it was a cool head that preserved his lead in the championship standings. While running a lap down just under 20 laps to go, race control deemed that Pagenaud was ahead of race leader James Hinchcliffe as the final caution flag waved on Lap 231 to put him back on the lead lap. As the last car on the lead lap, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevy team opted to make an extra stop for fresh tires to make a run at the victory. He had a nose on Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan before eventual race winner Graham Rahal swooped in to make it four wide for the lead with six laps to go. Pagenaud wisely backed out of the situation that was headed for nearly certain disaster. As a result, the French driver finished fourth and gained eight points on teammate Will Power in the standings as the two battle for the series crown. Pagenaud started the evening in the 15th position but that was a product of pitting at the end of the cycle when the race began in June. He methodically worked his way into the top 10 and settled there before his final run at victory. This was Pagenaud’s ninth top-five finish of the season as the quest for his first IndyCar championship is in the homestretch.

Quote: "Wow. That was exciting! I don’t think I have any breath left. I thought we were going to get it, but when it went four wide I got touched and pushed me into (James Hinchcliffe) and I had to back out of it or there was going to be a big wreck. The Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevy just got better and better all night. I really thought it was going to come together right at the end when we got back on the lead lap. We were able to come in for tires. Everything nearly came together."

Next Race: The Verizon IndyCar Series migrates north to Watkins Glen International for the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen on Sunday, Sept. 4. Television coverage on NBC Sports Network will begin at 2 p.m. ET with live radio coverage on the IndyCar Radio Network.