Helio Castroneves used an alternate tire strategy take the lead from Alex Tagliani during the final pit stops and then made good use of the push-to-pass system to hold off a charging Takuma Sato to take victory on Sunday’s Edmonton Indy, a race that ran without a single caution, the first in nearly three years (Homestead-Miami Speedway, 2009). It is Castroneves’ second victory of the year and vaults him into second in the standings, 23 points behind leader Ryan Hunter-Reay. Power, for his part, enjoyed maybe the drive of the day, climbing from 17th to 10th in the opening stint and eventually getting all the way up to third after the final stops. He would hold that position through the last segment to fill out the podium. Graham Rahal enjoyed his best run since Texas to finish fourth, while Tagliani, who went from fourth to first on the lap one and dominated the first half of the race, faded to fifth in the final stages.
For Castroneves, the victory is a redemption of sorts, given that he nearly won this race in 2010 before a controversial blocking penalty dropped him in the finishing order. “It’s fantastic,” said an elated Castroneves. “I think this place owed us a little bit.”
Team owner Roger Penske was especially complimentary of the driver and team, who perfectly implemented tire and fuel strategy to work their way into the lead. “(Helio) did a great job. It's a credit to the team, obviously when you see the competitive edge that's out there with Takuma (Sato) and all of the other drivers,” explained The Captain. “You can't make a mistake. The fuel economy was important. Today the Chevy engines ran great. I take my hat off to Helio. It was a tough race. When they run that close for that many laps, I've got to take my hat off. Congratulations. And for Will (Power) coming from 17th, it was a great day for Penske Racing."
Sato’s second-place is his best finish of the year and shows his patience is improving. “Yeah, in the end, I really enjoyed it,” said Sato. “I wish that I would have enjoyed it a little more if I could overtake [Helio Castroneves], but you know we were not quite there. He did obviously, a great job, made no mistakes at all, and the tires were starting to degrade a little bit, but that was a part of racing and I knew he had a little bit longer sequence of the push to pass. I used it bit by bit, but also he's reacting all the time the last few laps and he used every single straight. It was very difficult to catch it, once we were very close, but it was not enough close to make a maneuver."
Power was also happy with his effort, especially his recent run of bad luck. "It was definitely an enjoyable drive,” Power explained. “I couldn't catch those guys at the end. They were cruising. It's shaping up to be a pretty tight championship. I think if we started 17th and there was going to be no yellows, and we thought we'd end up third, we'd take that for sure. Man, good day. We're definitely tightening up the championship. It's great to have a good day with the Verizon car. We haven't had that for a long time, so very enjoyable and tough race."
Points leader Ryan Hunter-Reay had a slightly more difficult race. Starting 11th, moved up to ninth early, but is progress would slow after the first round of stops, during which a small controversy erupted with title rival Power. Hunter-Reay, on his outlap after pitting, came up on Power as he exited the pits, but was unable to get by when Power chopped across his front wing. An angry Hunter-Reay immediately requested a penalty, but none was ever handed down. He would eventually finish seventh after a late-race pass of Ryan Briscoe.
Still, he didn’t dwell on it post-race, discussing his day was ultimately hurt by the lack of cautions. "The guys had a solid day today, but we just needed a yellow - we needed something... anything,” said the points leader. “To take an engine penalty on a day like today - at a track with long straights - we expected yellows. Maybe lots of them, but we just didn't get them. It's strange, with all of the marbles we have out there, you'd expect someone to go off or spin or something. I was praying for a caution and it didn't come.
Fellow title contender Scott Dixon endured a troublesome day of his own, with a momentary engine glitch stalling his car on lap 16. However, the engine quickly refired and the 2008 champion recovered to finish tenth. "We had a problem at the start within the first five laps,” Dixon detailed. “Whenever I went into the braking zones the engine would go into neutral. We had a little problem with the anti-stall function in practice, but then in the race it just kept doing it.”
Castroneves’ victory puts him second in the championship, 23 points behind Hunter-Reay. Power sits third, 26 markers out of the lead as the Izod IndyCar Series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in two weeks.
|1||Helio Castroneves||Dallara-Chevy||75, Running|
|2||Takuma Sato||Dallara-Honda||75, Running|
|3||Will Power||Dallara-Chevy||75, Running|
|4||Graham Rahal||Dallara-Honda||75, Running|
|5||Alex Tagliani||Dallara-Honda||75, Running|
|6||Dario Franchitti||Dallara-Honda||75, Running|
|7||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Dallara-Chevy||75, Running|
|8||Ryan Briscoe||Dallara-Chevy||75 Running|
|9||Justin Wilson||Dallara-Honda||75, Running|
|10||Scott Dixon||Dallara-Honda||75, Running|
|11||Mike Conway||Dallara-Honda||75, Running|
|12||James Hinchcliffe||Dallara-Chevy||75, Running|
|13||Rubens Barrichello||Dallara-Chevy||75, Running|
|14||Marco Andretti||Dallara-Chevy||75, Running|
|15||Sebastien Bourdais||Dallara-Chevy||75, Running|
|16||EJ Viso||Dallara-Chevy||75, Running|
|17||Josef Newgarden||Dallara-Honda||75, Running|
|18||Tony Kanaan||Dallara-Chevy||75, Running|
|19||Charlie Kimball||Dallara-Honda||75, Running|
|20||Simon Pagenaud||Dallara-Honda||74, Contact|
|21||JR Hildebrand||Dallara-Chevy||74, Running|
|22||Ed Carpenter||Dallara-Chevy||74, Running|
|23||Simona de Silvestro||Dallara-Lotus||73, Running|
|24||Oriol Servia||Dallara-Chevy||65, Mechanical|
|25||James Jakes||Dallara-Honda||43, Mechanical|