Castroneves Wins In Thrilling Chicago IndyCar Series Season-Ender;
JOLIET, Ill. (September 7, 2008) -- Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, won Sunday's PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in a thrilling fashion -- not only did he fight back from a last-place starting position, but, pushed by teammate Ryan Briscoe, he took the checkered flag a mere 0.0033 seconds, or 12 1/8 inches, ahead of second-place finisher Scott Dixon.
The finish -- second-closest in IndyCar Series history - was not without controversy. Scoring monitors initially showed Dixon as the winner, but video replays showed Castroneves hitting the finish line first. Whenever scoring monitors show a margin of victory of 0.006 or less, IndyCar Series officials revert to photo evidence to determine or clarify the winner and the precise margin of victory. Within minutes of the cars reaching the finish line and Dixon being declared the unofficial winner, Castroneves was declared the official winner. He received the news from a reporter and immediately began jumping with joy on live television.
"I won!" Castroneves screamed. "I knew I'd won!"
Sunday marked Castroneves' first win at the 1.5-mile oval track and his second win of the 2008 IndyCar Series season. Castroneves closes out the 2008 IndyCar Series championship second in the standings, 17 points behind champion Dixon.
"What a wild race," said Castroneves about the 200-lap event, which included multiple laps of three-wide racing and the photo finish. "What a great effort by Team Penske -- we did everything we could to win the championship and executed our plan to win and take the extra points (three) for the most laps led (80). We couldn't catch up to Dixon in points, but we definitely tried!"
For Castroneves, however, the race win and runner-up finish in the championship were the testament to teamwork and dedication. "I want to thank the entire team - they did a hell of a job," said Castroneves, who recorded 15 top-five finishes in 2008. "Ryan (Briscoe) was a great help today. Without him, there was no question that I would not have won this race. I did what I could. He really helped me out."
Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, started on the pole position Sunday and finished third, .0811 seconds behind Castroneves. For a time, he raced one-two with Castroneves, going three-wide on multiple occasions for the lead with Castroneves and the No. 10 of Dan Wheldon.
"It was really great racing there, going three-wide for awhile with Wheldon and Helio," said Briscoe, who started on pole and led 41 laps on Sunday. "I did my best to help Helio. I thought he might have had it. I was under that rear wing as close as I could get, so hopefully that helped him out. It was just a really good day and a good way to end the season."
Briscoe closes out the season fifth in the 2008 IndyCar Series championship standings. His first year with Team Penske resulted in two wins, five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes.
While the championship has been decided for 2008, one race remains for Team Penske this year. On October 26, the team will compete in Surfers Paradise, Australia in the Nikon Indy 300. The non-points event will be telecast live at 10:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 25 by ESPN Classic and will re-air at 11 p.m. Oct. 26 on ESPN2. The race will also be broadcast on the IMS Radio Network.