Helio Castroneves captured the race lead on Sunday by using a timely pit strategy with 23 laps remaining and never looked back as he went on to win the caution-free Edmonton Indy. Castroneves’ efforts led an impressive performance for Team Penske, as all three of its drivers led at least one lap and finished among the top eight, highlighted by two podium results.
Castroneves started fifth on Sunday and ran strong early on as the only one of the leaders racing on the black primary Firestone tires. He was positioned second behind Alex Tagliani with 24 laps remaining when team strategist John Erickson made the shrewd decision to bring the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Chevrolet into the pits. Tagliani pitted on the next lap and when he re-entered the race course, Castroneves was inches ahead after the Penske pilot ran a strong out lap to hold onto the lead.
Castroneves, a three-time runner up finisher at Edmonton, held off Takuma Sato in a tight battle over the last 20 laps but never relinquished the lead. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has now finished in the top-10 in each of his five races in Edmonton, including four podium finishes.
- All three Penske drivers led at least one lap at Edmonton
- Helio Castroneves gets first Edmonton win after three second-place finishes
- Ryan Briscoe scores fifth straight Edmonton top-10 run
- WIll Power comes from 17th to third without a yellow flag
“I was a little concerned about the pit stop to be honest because I had to make a big out lap,” said Castroneves, who also won the season opener at St. Petersburg. “I was so focused and I forgot actually to use the push to pass which you could make a little bit (more) comfortable, but in the end what a great strategy. Today was a great result for us, a result we were looking for. Well deserved for the entire Penske Truck Rental team and great for the championship, as well.”
With his 27th career IndyCar victory, Castroneves improved to second in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings and he’s now just 23 points behind series leader Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Team Penske teammate Will Power drove the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet from a 17th starting position to a third-place finish. A two-time winner in Edmonton, Power has now finished in the top-five in five of the seven road/temporary street circuits in 2012 and continues to lead the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship standings. Power was aggressive throughout the race as he made his way through the field after absorbing a 10-spot starting grid penalty when the Verizon team made the decision to switch engines after Saturday qualifying.
“It was definitely an enjoyable drive and it’s great to have a good day with the Verizon car,” said Power. “It’s shaping up to be a pretty tight championship. I think if we started 17th and there was going to be no yellow (flags), and we thought we’d end up third, we’d take that for sure. Man, good day.”
Though Power fell to third in the championship with Sunday’s result, the three-time race winner in 2012 actually closed the points gap on Hunter-Reay and is now just 26 points off the lead.
Not to be left out of the success, Ryan Briscoe, who started on the front row, drove the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet to an eighth-place finish. Briscoe’s effort marked his fifth consecutive top-10 result at the 13 turn, 2.224-mile street circuit at Edmonton City Centre Airport.
“We felt strong today and the Hitachi car was able to run a good race,” said Briscoe, who remains ninth in the series standings. “Unfortunately we couldn’t fight much there at the end because we had to go to the used red tires from qualifying. We are still pleased with our finish and it was a great day for Team Penske and Hitachi.”
Sunday’s race marked the second time in 2012 that Team Penske teammates have been on the podium, with Power and Castroneves taking first and third, respectively, at Barber Motorsports Park. The result also was the third time in the last four races at Edmonton that two Team Penske teammates finished on the podium.
"(Helio) did a great job,” said Roger Penske. “It's a credit to the team, obviously when you see the competitive edge that's out there with Takuma (Sato) and all of the other drivers. You can't make a mistake. The fuel economy was important. Today the Chevy engines ran great. I take my hat off to Helio. It was a tough race. When they run that close for that many laps, I've got to take my hat off. Congratulations. And for Will (Power) coming from 17th, it was a great day for Penske Racing."
“Luckily I was able to use my experience in my favor to win this race,” said Castroneves, who passed Rodger Ward for the 13th on the all-time IndyCar wins list with Sunday’s victory. “I guess the fire is still inside. I won't stop. I will keep going as long as I can because I love racing. Certainly I love to be where I'm at, as well. In the end of the day, you want to keep winning because that's what keeps driving us.”
Sunday’s race was the first caution-free event since the race at Texas Motor Speedway in June 2011. It was the first caution-free race on a road or street course since the Champ Car World Series race at Portland in 2007.
Source: Penske Racing