The over-the-wall crew of Helio Castroneves's ...
The over-the-wall crew of Helio Castroneves's #3 Team Penske car won today's Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Challenge with a record-setting final-round time of 7.962 seconds, beating their own 2006 record of 8.0852 seconds. The Team Penske crews were the only ones to complete stops in under eight seconds, accomplishing the feat for both the #3 and Ryan Briscoe's #6.
Briscoe was eliminated in the semifinals when his car stalled, leaving Helio to face Marco Andretti in the final round. The #3 crew, with Chief Mechanic Rick Rinaman at the right front, Matt Rosentel at the left front, Eric Prentice at the right rear, Cory Odenbrett at the left rear, fueler John Haslett, and jack man Pat Hozza, went on to beat Marco's team by almost two seconds.
This is the eleventh win for Team Penske, and the fifth in a row. Three of those wins preceded race wins - Bobby Unser in 1981, Danny Sullivan in 1985, and Helio Castroneves in 2002. This is the fourth win, and third in a row, for Castroneves's crew.
"It's all about these guys and the effort they put in," said Tim Cindric, Team Penske President and race strategist for the #3 car. "If you look at Rick's track record, the dedication that they put into this, it's no accident that they win it. It's a lot of hard work and at the end of the day you can be the fastest and all that but you still have to execute.
"They do a great job, and the trainers back at the shop help them every day, but there's a regimen. It's not an accident that they win. With regard to Roger (Penske), there's not a competition out there, I don't care what it is, that he doesn't want to win."
Despite all the wins, the team does not take this casually.
"This is probably the most gut-wrenching thing that I do every year," Rick Rinaman said. "I don't know what these guys are going through, but it's tough. You go up against guys that are practicing and doing the same things that we are. Like Tim said, it's about execution.
"To do it three years in a row...as many as forty tires being changed and not one mistake. It's a credit to the guys behind me. They work hard, and I can't say enough about Helio and the job he's done for us. And Roger, too. This is for Roger. This is what we do.
"The guy does so much for us, and we're able to give him something back. You know we have another big event to go here, and we want to perform. This is a stepping stone."
Driver Castroneves has a simple take on his role in the competition.
"They deserve it," Helio said. "I'm just there. This one for them is so special. For us, as a driver...if they're nervous, we're more nervous than anybody because you don't want to screw it up. Or you're going to hear it until next year!
"But they are incredible. They've been working off season, and every year it's like that. Some of these guys have been with me for ten years. They know my style, they know what I like. They know what I don't like. The good news is we're all a team. We win together, we lose together. We celebrate together. It's very, very special.
"The month is falling into place. I'm so thankful to have these guys. I know that when I go back and sleep I can trust those guys here, and that's big for a driver."