Team Penske: Barber race report

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Will Power will carry an 18-point lead over Hunter-Reay into the inaugural Grand Prix of Indy in two weeks.

Will Power - No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet

· Power began Sunday’s race from the front of the field after he won his third career Verizon P1 Pole Award at Barber (2011 and 2012) during Saturday qualifying

· The pole winner wasted little time in jumping out to a commanding lead on rain tires and he stretched the gap to almost three seconds over second place at one point.

· On lap 16, while trying to push his advantage even further, Power went off course his Verizon Chevrolet in Turn 5 of the Barber circuit. He narrowly avoided hitting a tire wall but he fell to second place behind eventual race winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay.

· After switching to “slick” tires, the No. 12 Verizon Dallara/Chevy didn’t quite have the speed needed to contend for the win. However, Power was still able to work hard to produce another top-five finish as he took the checkered flag in fifth place.

· Barber Motorsports Park continues to be one of Power’s best circuits. With Sunday’s finish, the native of Toowoomba, Australia has recorded three poles, two wins and top-five finishes in all five of his career starts at the venue.

· With the result, Power has also earned a top-five finish in all three races to start the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season. He will carry an 18-point lead over Hunter-Reay into the inaugural Grand Prix of Indy in two weeks.

HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO SECURE ANOTHER TOP-FIVE FINISH AT BARBER ON SUNDAY? “The Verizon Chevrolet was really fast on the wet tires and I just got in trouble in turn 5. I kept moving my braking point further and further into the corners and I got caught going too far. It’s tough to not push past the limits with wet patches everywhere. We really didn’t have the pace in the dry anyway, but that sure didn’t help our cause when I went off course. We may have just been a bit heavy on downforce. Still, a fifth-place finish today and we have the points lead going into the month of May.”

Helio Castroneves - No. 3 AAA Insurance - Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet

· Castroneves qualified the No. 3 AAA Insurance Dallara/Chevrolet in the sixth position on Saturday afternoon, as he advanced to the Firestone Fast Six final qualifying round for the first time this season.

· After the long delay to start the race, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner quickly moved into the top five on the first lap of the race with a strong start in the wet conditions.

· Unfortunately, Castroneves made a mistake on a lap 22 pit stop as he inadvertently stopped in the pit stall of Justin Wilson, who was pitted just beside the AAA team.

· The result of the miscue was a loss of nine positions on pit road, along with a “stop and go” penalty on pit lane assessed by INDYCAR. Once the penalty was served, Castroneves dropped to 20th in the running order.

· However, with race strategist Roger Penske championing his efforts, Castroneves continued to post fast lap times as his “never give up” attitude was on full display.

· Castroneves was turning laps as fast as the race leader late in the 69-lap event, but with such a significant loss of track position due to the penalty he could not move up significantly in the running order and finished in the 19th position.

· Castroneves is now eighth in the point standings as he trails leader and teammate Will Power by 59 points heading into the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in two weeks.

ON A TOUGH RESULT SUNDAY AT BARBER... "Man, what a race. The AAA guys did a helluva job once again. Unfortunately I confused our pit stall with the 19 car of Justin Wilson. We were pitted right beside each other and our colors were very similar. I stopped in their pit stall, which was bad, but I also had to serve a stop and go penalty. With the cautions the way they fell, I could never get a full green flag lap to serve my penalty. I feel so bad for the guys because that was completely on me. Thank you to AAA. The Chevrolet was great today. This is a race we shouldn't forget because we don't want that to happen again."

Juan Pablo Montoya - No. 2 PPG Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet

· Montoya qualified the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet in the eighth position Saturday to earn his best Verizon IndyCar Series starting position since qualifying fifth for the season finale race at Auto Club Speedway in 2000.

· Following a two-and-a-half hour rain delay, series officials made the decision to change the Grand Prix of Alabama to a timed race. The event began on a wet surface with all competitors running on “rain” tires. The conditions seemed to suit Montoya as he quickly moved into the top five by lap seven.

· After making his first pit stop of the day at lap 22 to receive Firestone “red” alternate slick tires, the former series champion cycled through to the seventh position.

· On lap 26, Montoya went off course in Turn 11 and had to be restarted. The incident resulted in Montoya falling back to the 22nd position in the running order.

· Over the remaining laps of what eventually was a 69-lap race, Montoya noted that something felt amiss in the handling of his Dallara/Chevrolet. This did not allow him to make up much of the ground lost in the early spin as he crossed the finish line in the 21st position, running one lap down to the race winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay.

· Montoya is now positioned 11th in the series standings, 69 points behind the leader and teammate, Will Power.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FIRST RACE AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK? “We had a good PPG Chevrolet in the wet...I thought it did a pretty good job in the wet. I had a good restart on cold tires. We were going through the “esses,” and I was right behind the No. 9 car (Scott Dixon). He had a big moment, and I lifted then ended up having a bigger moment myself. I went in and I kind of referenced and measured with the wet, and I did the same thing I was doing in wet. He lifted more than I expected and I had to lift a lot more and it started tail slapping. After that, something broke in the car. I don't know what happened. We’ll figure it out and look ahead to better results in Indianapolis.”

Team Penske

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Race report
Tags barber, helio castroneves, indycar, juan pablo montoya, will power