Castroneves sails to Kentucky victory

Helio Castroneves stretched his last tank of fuel 53 laps to win the Kentucky Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. It was Castroneves' second victory of the season and his first on an oval. He won at Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham, Alabama in April.

Race winner Helio Castroneves, Team Penske celebrates.
Photo by Indy Racing League.

"You should be interviewing Tim Cindric, not me," said Castroneves. "He won the race for us tonight, what a great call. We didn't have much to lose, so it was worth the risk. After the last pit stop, I just kept making the numbers they asked. We dropped back from the lead pack, but stayed on the lead lap so when they all came back in one last time, we were in the clear."

Panther Racing teammates Ed Carpenter and Dan Wheldon, who led a combined 104 of the 200 laps, were out front when the leaders starting cycling through the pits for 'splash and go' fuel stops.

Carpenter finished second for the second consecutive year.

"This one was definitely more disappointing," said Carpenter. "Dan and I both had great cars all weekend, and Dan was especially fast right from the green. Our last pit stop was really fast and after we all had cycled through I thought we were in great shape, but when I looked up at the scoring pylon I saw the number '3' and I knew Helio would try to go the distance. If he made it, there wasn't going to be anything we could do about it, and that's the way it worked out."

Wheldon had the most dominant car, leading 93 laps on route to his second consecutive podium finish. "The whole Panther racing team has done a phenomenal job to be able to bring the two cars to these last two races," said Wheldon. "Having Ed on board is a fantastic addition and we have a great relationship. The race went very well and the #4 boys did a fantastic job in the pits. The ending was unfortunate. I am bummed that the race didn't turn out different, but it will motivate us for the last two races."

Dan Wheldon, Panther Racing.
Photo by xpb.cc.

After a poor qualifying run, Tony Kanaan started 26th in the 27 car field. Kanaan showed his hand early, picking up ten positions on the first lap. His tenacious driving combined with flawless pit stops, netted Kanaan a fourth place finish. "I promised my fans on Twitter I would pass 11 cars on the first lap. It was only 10. I apologize to all of my followers that I couldn't do it. It was a great race."

Kanaan was quick to note that, "Dan Wheldon deserved to win this one. Racing is never fair, but that's the way it is."

Dario Franchitti finished fifth while series points leader Will Power finished eighth. With two races remaining, Power's lead has been cut to 17 points. "From where we were after the first lap to where we finished the night, it was an exciting race," said Franchitti. "We were second, running behind Dan (Wheldon), but Helio (Castroneves) had the fuel to go to the end and we did not. We finished ahead of Will (Power) which was one of the things we needed to achieve, but it would have been nice to have finished a little further up."

Of the four Andretti Autosport drivers Marco Andretti posted the best qualifying effort. Starting 15th, Andretti wasted no time in making his way to the front, passing seven drivers on the first lap. He ran as high as third but finished sixth.

"We fell on the wrong side of the strategy," said Andretti. "It's still nice to be able to finish inside the top 10, but after running in the top three for most of the night, I was hoping for more out of the finish."

Scott Dixon was seventh, followed by will Power and Danica Patrick. Bertrand Baguette put together a solid run, rounding out the top ten.