SPARTA, Ky. (August 9. 2008) -- An exciting fuel-strategy gamble saw Helio Castroneves almost win his first race of 2008 on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, but he was able to grab second place in the Meijer 300, chalking up a record seventh second place finish this season. Castroneves remains second in the 2008 IndyCar Series points standings, 78 points behind leader, and Kentucky race winner, Scott Dixon.
It wasn't until the last turn of the last lap that Castroneves' No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda shuddered and ran out of fuel, handing Dixon the win. Castroneves was in 14th spot when team strategist Tim Cindric had the No. 3 team top off its fuel tank with 57 laps remaining in the 200-lap event. It was this strategy, and careful and patient driving by Castroneves, that saw the No. 3 machine take the lead when the remainder of the field pitted for fuel late in the race.
On lap 199, Castroneves knew that he was running low on fuel and increased his pace, appearing to have enough momentum to win as he headed into turn 3 of the 1.5-mile oval. "At that point, I saw the lights on the dash and they were all lit," said Castroneves. "But I still expected to get to the finish line first -- unfortunately Dixon got by me at the last second."
"We took a chance," Castroneves continued. "I still can't believe how close we were. We were just a few hundred yards short. What a great and exciting day for Team Penske -- we're still in the hunt."
Ryan Briscoe finished seventh in the No. 6 Team Penske Honda/Dallara, his eighth top-10 finish in 14 races this year. Briscoe's strong run enabled him to further lock himself into the top-five in the 2008 IndyCar Series point standings.
"We had a solid, consistent run and the car was handling very well," said Briscoe. "It was definitely fun out there. There was a lot of side-by-side racing. I think we had a solid car. We just didn't have enough speed to run among the top three or four, but overall a good day."
The 2008 IndyCar Series season resumes on August 24 with the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at Infineon Raceway. The race air live at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2 and broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network.