POWER WINS THIRD CONSECUTIVE RACE IN SAO PAULO AS TEAMMATE CASTRONEVES FINISHES FOURTH TO LEAD TEAM PENSKE
SAO PAULO, Brazil (April 29, 2012) – As the weather stayed dry, Team Penske’s Will Power remained red hot as he captured the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 on Sunday for his third consecutive victory of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
The performance marked Power’s third consecutive win on the 11-turn, 2.536-mile circuit and it followed his previous victories earlier this month at Barber Motorsports Park and Long Beach. Power now has 180 points in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings and he extended his lead to 45 points over his teammate and second-place driver Helio Castroneves heading into next month’s Indianapolis 500-mile race.
Castroneves earned his career-best result on his hometown circuit as he finished fourth while teammate Ryan Briscoe suffered early race contact which resulted in a 25th place finish on the fast and challenging street course.
Sunday’s race was run under threatening clouds, but the course stayed dry for most of the afternoon. Power and his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet won by 0.9045 seconds over Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was in second place behind Power for 38 of the final 50 laps of the race.
With the impressive win, Power also created Team Penske history as this marked the first time in 44 years of racing that the team opened the season with four consecutive race victories.
“The last restart was the key to winning,” said Power, who completed a perfect points weekend by winning the pole on Saturday and leading the most laps in the race. “Ryan (Hunter-Reay) got a really good jump. I was giving everything I had to keep Ryan behind me. Ryan is one of the hardest guys you’ll ever race, it was a real battle. We pushed every lap while trying to save fuel because he never gives up.”
Castroneves recovered from problems early in the race to capture fourth place in the No. 3 Penske Logistics car, his best finish over three races in Sao Paulo. The three-time Indianapolis 500 champion moved from his starting position of 20th to lead the race on laps 53 and 54 before he earned his third top-five finish over the first four races in 2012.
“It was an awesome day in the Penske Logistics car,” said Castroneves, whose car endured contact several times during the race. “I received many messages on Twitter yesterday when people saw my frustration after qualifying inspiring me and they were the ones really driving me today. It was a great call today by (race strategist) John Erickson on the pit strategy and the car was good. I didn’t know how much damage was done to the front until I got out of the car, but it was a great race and I have to thank all my guys – (engineer) Ron Ruzewski, John Erickson, and all the guys on my crew.”
After starting ninth, Briscoe was running well until his No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet lost traction on lap 22 and slid into the tire barrier in Turn 10, a tough right-hander that posed problems for drivers throughout the race. Despite his shortened effort in Sao Paulo, Briscoe remains in the top 10 in the championship standings with 83 points.
“It was a disappointing day for sure, mostly because I thought the No. 2 Hitachi car was performing well,” said Briscoe. “I made a mistake leaving the pits on cold tires and unfortunately it ended our race early. I hate it for the entire Team Penske crew because they worked hard to put together a great car.”
Power has now won nine of his last 19 races and eight of the last 12 on road/temporary street circuits.
“All the credit goes to the Verizon guys,” said Power. “Chevy and Team Penske make it possible. We did it, now we’re three-for-three in Brazil. I was happy it didn’t rain right at the end, but we were ready for any condition. It was a good race and a great strategy by the team. The boys did a great job on pit stops.”