Power Rebounds With Edmonton Victory
Two weeks after a crash-related “Did Not Finish” appeared to severely dent his 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series championship hopes, Team Penske’s Will Power responded with a convincing victory at the Edmonton City Centre airport circuit, scoring his fourth win of the season Sunday at the Edmonton Indy.
Continuing a six-season tradition of equality and reliability, all 26 Honda-powered drivers completed the race weekend on the challenging Edmonton airport circuit without a single failure of the Honda Indy V-8 engine. The teams logged a total of 8,026 trouble-free miles during the Edmonton race weekend.
Starting second and running in that position on Lap 19, Power moved to the point when pole qualifier and early-race leader Takuma Sato briefly locked his brakes heading into Turn 10, allowing Power to pull alongside and then pass into the hairpin Turn 13. Later in the race, contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay ended Sato’s hopes for a victory as the resulting spin and stall dropped him a lap off the lead pace.
At the front of the field, Power stayed in charge for much of the remainder of the 80-lap contest as other contenders fell by the wayside, including Sato, Scott Dixon [delayed after contact with E.J. Viso] and Ryan Briscoe [forced to make a late-race pit stop for fuel]. For the final 25 laps, the race became a three-way contest involving Power; Helio Castroneves, having one of his best races this year; and championship leader Dario Franchitti, making a strong recovery after falling to 10th while avoiding the crash in front of him involving Viso and Scott Dixon.
But neither Castroneves nor Franchitti were able to mount a challenge to Power’s lead, as the Australian led a 1-2 finish for Team Penske, closing his gap in the championship to 38 points with seven events remaining.
The three Canadian drivers in the field all had disappointing days. Paul Tracy’s race ended on the opening lap after contact from a spinning Graham Rahal. James Hinchcliffe was delayed after mid-race contact with Danica Patrick and finished 15th. Alex Tagliani was penalized after first-lap contact with Rahal that led to the crash with Tracy; then ran as high as second on an alternate pit strategy; but finished 17th when that strategy came up short and he was forced to make a late-race pit stop for fuel.
The IZOD IndyCar Series now takes a one-week break before returning to the USA and the August 7 Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) started 2nd, finished 1st, 4th IndyCar Series win of 2011, 13th career win and 2nd Edmonton victory: “It was so bloody hard there at the end, with my tires going off and both Helio [Castroneves] and Dario [Franchitti] pushing me along. I tried, but I just couldn’t gap them. This means a lot to us. We really needed to bounce back [after not finishing in Toronto] and a win like this will really fire up the team. A 1-2 finish for Team Penske is just what we needed.”
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) started 9th, finished 2nd: “This is a great result. I wanted to win so bad, but after the season we’ve been having, a strong finish is like a victory for us. We had awesome pit stops and everything finally went smoothly for us. I think our braking problems are finally behind us. For the first time this year, the car was balanced under braking all race long.”
Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 4th, finished 3rd, holds a 38-point lead in the drivers’ championship: “I thought I did well to avoid the crash when [E.J.] Viso speared into my teammate [Scott Dixon], but lost some positions as a result. Then on the restart, I screwed up [believing] I wasn’t allowed to pass the car in front of me until the start/finish line, and instead of making up places, I was 10th. But the car was quick in clean air and that allowed me to close up on Will [Power] and Helio [Castroneves]. Tenth to third is not a bad day.”
Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “It was not a good day for Canadian drivers, and that’s unfortunate. But the Edmonton weather brought out a good crowd and made it pleasant to be here. Congratulations to Will [Power] and Team Penske for a 1-2 finish which tightens up the championship once again. It was another flawless weekend for the Honda Indy V-8 engine and we’re looking forward to heading to Honda’s home territory at Mid-Ohio in two weeks.”
By: honda racing