Castroneves Steals Kentuck Victory Staying on track for another half-dozen laps after his competition made its third round of pit stops, Team Penske's Helio Castroneves was able to stretch that final tank of ethanol from Lap 147 to the ...
Castroneves Steals Kentuck Victory
Staying on track for another half-dozen laps after his competition made its third round of pit stops, Team Penske's Helio Castroneves was able to stretch that final tank of ethanol from Lap 147 to the finish Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway to win the Meijer Indy 300.
Following the third round of scheduled stops, Castroneves emerged at the tail end of a 10-car lead pack, headed for much of the night by Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon, pole qualifier Ed Carpenter and series points leader Will Power. But all of these potential winners - and everyone else still on the lead lap - were forced to make one final stop for fuel during the final 10 laps of tonight's 200-lap event - handing the lead and a second victory of 2010 to Castroneves.
Following Castroneves to the checkers was Carpenter, runner-up in Kentucky for the second consecutive year, and his teammate, Wheldon, who led a race-high 93 laps. All 27 drivers and teams completed the race weekend without a single failure of the Honda Indy V-8 engine. This weekend, drivers logged a total of 10,506 trouble-free miles around the bumpy, high-speed Kentucky Speedway oval.
Tony Kanaan led a revitalized Andretti Autosport team, clawing his way from 26th on the starting grid to fourth at the finish, with teammates Marco Andretti, sixth, and Danica Patrick, ninth. In the fourth Andretti entry, Ryan Hunter-Reay also ran in the lead pack and appeared headed for a top-10 finish until a rear suspension upright failure ended his race on Lap 174.
Will Power led 83 laps, second only to Wheldon, but a slight delay during his third pit stop dropped him to eighth, while championship rival Dario Franchitti's fifth-place finish moved him to within 17 points of Power with two races remaining. Conquest Racing's Bertrand Baguette continued his run of strong late-season performances to round out the top 10 finishers and once again lead the rookie field.
The IZOD IndyCar Series now takes a week off before making its longest trip of the 2010 season - to the Honda-owned 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval north of Tokyo for the Japan Indy 300 on Sunday, September 19.
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) started 8th, finished 1st, 2nd IndyCar win of 2010, his first win at Kentucky Speedway: "You should be interviewing [team vice president] Tim Cindric, not me! He won the race for us tonight, what a great call [to pit on Lap 147, last of the leaders to pit]. We didn't have much to lose, so it was worth the risk. After the [last] pit stop, I just kept making the [fuel mileage] numbers they asked. We dropped back from the leader [pack], but stayed on the lead lap so when they all came back in one last time, we were in the clear."
Ed Carpenter (#20 Panther Racing Honda) started 1st, finished 2nd, also finished 2nd here in 2009: "This one was definitely more disappointing [than 2009]. Dan [Wheldon] and I both had great cars all weekend, and Dan was especially fast right from the green. We had to make a pretty big wing change at the first [pit] stop, but after that the car was great. Our last pit stop was really fast and after we all had cycled through [the stops] 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."
Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on tonight's race: "I think what we saw in Chicago and what we saw tonight is setting us up for a great finish to the season. Dan [Wheldon] ran a very strong race, he's going into Motegi with a lot of confidence and he's done well there before. Dario [Franchitti] is putting a lot of pressure on Will [Power], but Helio [Castroneves] is just so wily. The Penske team are past masters of fuel strategy and they demonstrated that again tonight. It was really nice to see Ed [Carpenter] turn a strong qualifying effort into a great race performance. I know that team is really excited heading into [the season finale at] Homestead."
-source: honda racing