A two-time winner at Barber, Will Power has now earned top-five finishes in all four races at the venue, teammate A.J. Allmendinger earned back two spots to finish 19th at the checkered flag.
Helio Castroneves - Castroneves took the race lead by passing teammate Will Power on Lap 51 and he led 25 laps on the day, second most behind race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Running on primary black tires while the other leaders were on the alternate red tires, Castroneves surrendered the race lead to Hunter-Reay on Lap 76. With his 36-point day, Castroneves moved into first place in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings, extending his streak of being ranked in the top-three to 13 of the last 17 races.
On needing red tires at the end... “Yeah, but that’s the price we pay. We changed strategy in the middle of the race and we got to make time and that’s what we did.
I thought we would be able to hold on, but it was 15 or 17 laps to go, it was too many laps. The black (tires) were a little bit tough to hold on to with those guys.” – Helio Castroneves
On being the current points leader... “That’s good. We need to keep going that way and hopefully we’re going to be there at the end. So, a good job by the AAA Insurance crew. Everybody did a hell of a job and I appreciate the support.”
Will Power - Power led the race on two different occasions, taking the lead from Hunter-Reay on Lap 27 and passing Charlie Kimball on Lap 45 for a total of nine laps led. He has now led laps in all four series races at Barber Motorsports Park.
Power capitalized on a fuel-conservation strategy to secure the top-five finish, as he pitted only twice (on Laps 30 and 60) during the 90-lap race.
The race got off to a rough start for Power as he was forced off the track due to a crowd of cars going into first turn, which resulted in him falling from second to eighth place.
A two-time winner at Barber, Power has now earned top-five finishes in all four races at the venue.
On his fifth-place finish... “It was a tough start for us – we couldn’t get in the right slot and then committed to a different strategy to hopefully get the Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet on the podium. We thought we had a good plan and just needed a yellow (flag) at any point after Lap 31.
Unfortunately it didn’t come and we fought for the fifth-place finish. It isn’t exactly what we wanted to get out of the weekend but is still a good points day and gets us closer to the top.” – Will Power
On the battle with Castroneves for the lead... “We were holding on to position before pitting and he came up on a good run. It was one of those situations where we gave him room and hoped to get him later in the race.”
A.J. Allmendinger - After starting 10th Allmendinger got off to a strong start and ran as high as fifth place in his first race of 2013. He led the Team Penske trio of drivers on a Lap 7 race restart and held the top position among his more experienced teammates for the next 15 laps.
Allmendinger completed all 90 laps in first open-wheel racing start since the 2006 Champ Car season finale in Surfers Paradise, Australia.
Allmendinger was running in 12th place entering his last pit stop of the day on Lap 62. The IZOD car stalled while exiting the pit box, however, and Allmendinger fell to 21st place as a result. He earned back two spots to finish 19th at the checkered flag.
Sum up your first race of the season... “All in all today was a good day in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevy and there are a lot of positives to take out of it. We had a good start and I thought I was pacing myself well.
We could have had a top-10 day without the couple breaks against us. But I know I can compete with these guys and I look forward to getting even better for Long Beach.” – AJ Allmendinger
On if a yellow flag would have helped him... “I wasn’t looking for a yellow at any point. I don’t think a yellow would have helped us with our strategy. It was a good day with a bad stall (in the pits). After that we were saving fuel the whole way which made it tough to make up ground.”