Helio Castroneves and his #3 Team Penske crew took the Checkers/Rallys Pit Stop Competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the second year in a row. He beat his teammate Sam Hornish Jr. and the #6 Team Penske crew in the final round. The team cleaned house, with the pair scoring first and second in the qualification round as well as the finals. This is the tenth pit stop victory for the team, and the third in a row.
"These guys are just incredible," Castroneves said. "First of all, I want to thank Team Penske: Roger and Tim. They gave me a great group of guys. Those guys are just incredible.
"It was a great team effort. They practice all off season. That's why we got in here - because they work extremely hard. This is their competition. I was worried I would screw it up, and thank God I didn't. To have both teams, not only my guys but Sam's guys, shows that it's extremely awesome to be a part of the organization."
Crew Chief and outside tire man Rick Rinaman sees today's victory, along with Castroneves's pole, as two down, one to go.
"We come here with three races in mind," Rinaman said. "The run for the pole, the pit stop, and then we've got the race. We're not quite there yet. We have one more to do.
"This puts us into the race with a lot of confidence in ourselves. And not just ourselves - the 6 car guys too. To make it to the finals is a very challenging thing. We've got two teams now that are going to fight for the win. That's what it's all about. We've accomplished two things. Now we set our sights on the race."
The competition itself was a tour de force by Team Penske. After topping the time charts in qualifications, the two crews put in solid runs against Scott Sharp and Vitor Meira, whose teams had worked their way to the semi-finals. None of the sandbagging tricks from last year came into play - just skill and speed. In the semifinal round, Castroneves's team's time of 7.677 seconds was the fastest in the history of the competition, breaking their own record of 7.7375 seconds set last year.
In the final against Hornish, Castroneves stalled his car at the initial launch. The team quickly started it, and he launched after Sam was in the pit box. Because scoring is based on the time in the pit box, the late arrival did not earn a penalty and Helio emerged with the faster time, 8.335 seconds for his #3 car versus 8.888 seconds for the #6.
Team Penske won $65,000 out of the $100,000 purse.
To thank his crew for their efforts, Helio presented each one with a Ritmo watch worth about $1000.