Team Penske Does the Texas Two-Step Team Penske's Helio Castroneves joined the ranks of two-time IndyCar race winners for 2009 and teammate Ryan Briscoe took over the drivers' championship lead Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, ...
Team Penske Does the Texas Two-Step
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves joined the ranks of two-time IndyCar race winners for 2009 and teammate Ryan Briscoe took over the drivers' championship lead Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, when Castroneves passed Briscoe during the final round of pit stops and went on to win the Bombardier Learjet 550.
After starting second, on the outside of the front row, Briscoe dominated much of the action at the high-banked 1.5-mile speedway, taking the lead for the first time from pole qualifier Dario Franchitti on Lap 11 and leading 160 of the 228 laps. But during the last scheduled pit stop on Lap 176, it was Indy 500 winner Castroneves, who had saved fuel during the middle portions of the 550-kilometer race, getting the quicker service and emerging with a lead he would not relinquish to the end.
Tonight's event completed a run of five IndyCar races in eight weeks, beginning with the Grand Prix of Long Beach, three weeks of activity around the Indianapolis 500, and three additional oval events, during which there were no in-race failures for the Honda HI9R Indy V-8 engine.
Slowed by only three cautions at a near-record pace, Castroneves' average speed of 172.677 mph was the fourth fastest in IndyCar Series history at Texas Motor Speedway.
Behind the lead Penske pair was defending race winner and series champion Scott Dixon, the only other two-time race winner this season. Dixon had his own teammate, Franchitti, either just ahead or in his mirrors throughout most of tonight's contest. But Franchitti ran short of fuel on the final lap, falling to fifth place behind Marco Andretti on the run from Turn 4 to the checkers.
For his part, Andretti put on the charge of the race in the closing laps, battling his own Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick -- as well as Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon -- to move from seventh to fourth in the final 20 laps. Patrick would finish behind Franchitti in sixth, followed by Wheldon and Kanaan. Ed Carpenter rounded out the finishers running on the lead lap with a ninth-place run for Vision Racing.
After eight weeks of nearly continuous action, the IndyCar Series now takes a one-week break before resuming June 21 at the Iowa Speedway short oval with the Iowa Corn Growers 250.
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) Started 4th, finished 1st, 2nd win of 2009, 18th career IndyCar victory: "Man, what a great win! I think Ryan [Briscoe] was really going for it, especially in the beginning. But fuel saving paid off for us tonight. On our last pit stop, we jumped in front. What a great group of guys, they won the race for me. This was all about the Number Three team. These guys are incredible."
Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 2nd, finished 2nd, moved to the championship points lead: "I just couldn't pass Helio at the end. The cars are so evenly matched, it's real hard to pass and I just couldn't get it done. It's very frustrating to come in second after dominating the race. It's nice to have the points lead, but winning the race, that's why we're here. Helio had an advantage leaving the pits on the final stop, and there was nothing I could do."
Jack Spurney (General Manager, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "Night racing in Texas is always exciting and tonight was no exception. We had a good crowd here and the fans saw a fast, entertaining race. Congratulations to both Helio and Ryan; Team Penske put together a very impressive performance here tonight. It's been a long stretch of races for our associates at HPD and technical partner Ilmor, an almost-continuous run since Long Beach back in April, but they met the challenge and passed with flying colors."
-credit: honda racing