Texas: Series race report

CASTRONEVES CLIMBS FENCE AFTER WINNING AGAIN AT TEXAS FORT WORTH, Texas (Saturday, June 6, 2009) - Helio Castroneves won for the third time at Texas Motor Speedway, grabbing the lead off a Lap 175 pit stop and going on to a 0.3904 of a second ...

CASTRONEVES CLIMBS FENCE AFTER WINNING AGAIN AT TEXAS

FORT WORTH, Texas (Saturday, June 6, 2009) - Helio Castroneves won for the third time at Texas Motor Speedway, grabbing the lead off a Lap 175 pit stop and going on to a 0.3904 of a second victory over Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe.

"It was an incredible day for Team Penske," the 2009 Indianapolis 500 winner said. "All the credit also goes to Ryan Briscoe and his team. They push us, and we push them, and together, we're pushing towards the top. Having first and second at Texas is not easy, so that's a compliment for everyone."

Scott Dixon, the 2008 race winner, was third and Marco Andretti finished a season-high fourth. Dario Franchitti, the pole sitter, was fifth and Danica Patrick finished sixth.

"We did the best we could, I just didn't have enough for Helio in the final stages," said Briscoe, who led a field-high 160 laps and took over the IndyCar Series championship race with 199 points (three ahead of Dixon). "The last 20 laps were some of the most frustrating I've ever driven. To lead the whole race and have the quickest car out there, I just couldn't pass Helio. The high line was slower.

"At least we came in second. We got points for leading the most laps. The important thing is we're racing for the wins. We'll get our wins. It's just frustrating for tonight."

The win marked Team Penske's fifth at Texas Motor Speedway, tying Panther Racing for most wins at the 1.5-mile oval.

DAY 3 NOTEBOOK:

Michelle Colvard thought she was coming to the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway to watch the IndyCar Series race, get a pit tour and maybe meet a few drivers.

She ended up with the ride of a lifetime.

Colvard, the reigning Miss Wheelchair America, was invited to the track by Vision Racing as an honorary team member. But before meeting the Vision team, Colvard toured Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile oval with Davey Hamilton in the Indy Experience two-seater.

"It was amazing. I can't even relate the experience," Colvard said. "It left me totally breathless. As we were entering the banking, I could feel the Gs pulling my head down. I can't imagine having to do that for 228 laps.".

Colvard, Ms. Wheelchair Texas 2008, was crowned Miss Wheelchair America 2009 on July 26 -- the 18th anniversary of the signing of the American with Disabilities Act.

Colvard, a Houston native, was born with spina bifida and has used a wheelchair since the sixth grade. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Houston and earned her master's degree in Health Promotion from the University Of Texas School Of Public Health.

Colvard, executive director of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities in Houston, emphasizes the importance for people of all abilities to take responsibility for their health and wellness.

"I had no idea I would be in a race car today," she said. "Everybody kept it a secret from me. I can't imagine a better surprise than that."

***

The Indy Racing League Ministry collects food and beverages from the team and manufacturer hospitality units after each of its events, which is picked up by a local charity. Metroport Meals on Wheels was the beneficiary for the second year this weekend. It couldn't come at a better time. With the turbulent economy, the non-profit organization has seen a notable rise in deliveries in recent weeks.

"We don't accept government support so it all comes from the local community and partnerships like this wonderful one with the IRL Ministry," Metroport Meals on Wheels executive director Mark King said. "Last year the food gift -- over 500 pounds of it -- went to provide home-delivered and senior center meals for local seniors. It was a wonderful gift.

"I wish our budget would allow our seniors to have steak dinners every week. Last year, more than 100 seniors at the Roanoke Senior Center enjoyed a steak dinner. When I say 500 pounds, it's wonderful but it's the quality of those 500 pounds that compounds the gift exponentially."

The program is nearing $1 million in food value since its inception in 2003. IRL Ministry also collects unused hotel soap and shampoo from Indy Racing League and team personnel to distribute, and began a green movement this year by collecting aluminum cans and baking/serving dishes and plastic bottles to donate to local charities for recycling.

"We're contributing by not putting things in the landfill," Indy Racing League chef Eddie Wilson said. "It's giving these programs a way to get more cash. Every little thing we can do is going to help."

***

NBA star Shaquille O'Neal is attending his first IndyCar Series race as a guest of Luczo Dragon Racing, with whom he's partnered to raise money and awareness for charity throughout the season. Team co-owners Steve Luczo and Jay Penske have established a unique charity drive that has delivered more than $1 million to charitable organizations worldwide in its two-plus years of IndyCar Series competition.

With the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps as their primary partners of the No. 2 car, much of the team's charitable focus will be on organizations that support servicemen and servicewomen and their families.

"My (step)father had me doing charity work at age 7," said O'Neal, "taking the old army blankets and food and passing them around to people who didn't have food for Christmas. My parents taught me at a young age that my goals are and should be more than just about the things I want to personally accomplish. This is just an outgrowth of something I've been doing for a long time and it's just an honor and privilege to be involved with Luczo Dragon Racing. They do a lot for charity and that's why I'm here - along with having a good time."

O'Neal participated in a simulated pit stop with the Luczo Dragon Racing crew.

"I guess I didn't know what I was in for," said the 15-time NBA All-Star and grand marshal of the Bombardier Learjet 550k - beads of perspiration sliding down his cheeks as he changed the right-front tire of the No. 2 US Air Force entry. "I'm proud to be here with a great team like Luczo Dragon Racing and these great athletes. One thing Rafa said is that you can't listen to music, you have to listen to your guys on the radio. And there's no air conditioning. When it comes to being an athlete, there is the physical part but being an athlete is more mental than anything. It's not easy to drive 228 laps with someone in your ear, trying to be safe at high speeds and trying to win. I consider these men and women phenomenal athletes."

***

Celebrities Call You, a Louisville, Ky.-based entertainment company owned by CW Multimedia International, Inc., announced June 5 that IndyCar Series driver and team owner Sarah Fisher has joined their lineup of celebrities. Celebritiescallyou.com offers consumers the opportunity to send a friend or family member a personalized greeting from their favorite celebrity.

"I want to have Jennifer Aniston call me," laughed Fisher. "This website is so cool! Celebrities Call You has found that niche market for consumers to get a personal touch of the sports and entertainment world. It will be interesting to see how it takes off."

Celebritiescallyou.com is the environmentally-friendly alternative to sending a greeting card. Now you have the opportunity to have a celebrity call any person of your choice. Consumers can send custom messages for $3.99 from celebrities in the Sports, Music, Film & TV and business industries and wish their friends and family any assortment of personalized greetings from, "Happy Birthday", "Congratulations", "Thinking of You", to "Get Well Soon".

"We are adding celebrities weekly to our site and we are proud to have Sarah Fisher as part of our family," said CEO Chris Webb.

BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550K POST-RACE NOTES:

* This is Helio Castroneves' second win of the season and the 16th of his IndyCar Series career. His last win came at the Indianapolis 500 in May.

* This is Team Penske's third win of the season. It previously won at St. Petersburg (Briscoe) and Indianapolis with Castroneves. This is the team's fifth win at Texas, tying Panther Racing for most wins at Texas. Team Penske previously won at Texas with Castroneves (twice), Sam Hornish Jr and Gil de Ferran.

* Ryan Briscoe finished second, his second consecutive runner-up finish. He remains is the only driver to finish every lap this season.

* Scott Dixon finished third, his third podium finish in the last four races.

* Marco Andretti finished fourth, his first top-five of the season. His last top-five came at Kentucky in August 2008.

BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550K POST-RACE QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, winner Bombardier Learjet 550K): "First time when I jumped in a car at Long Beach, I asked if this was a dream and (Tim Cindric) said it was reality. It certainly feels like it's a dream, but I understand that it's not. And that's good news. Team Penske did an incredible job today. It was an incredible day for Team Penske. All the credit also goes to Ryan Briscoe and his team. They push us, and we push them, and together, we're pushing towards the top. Having first and second at Texas is not easy, so that's a compliment for everyone."

(About passing for lead in the pits): "In the beginning of the race, we were saving fuel, but you're also trying to figure out what your car is doing and that what I was trying to do. The car was loose, and there were some moments out there. But we figured out what to do and great pit stops the guys put me up front. In the end it was 50 laps and full throttle. It was the toughest 50 laps that I had to go through, but we held it together."

RYAN BRISCOE: (No. 6 Team Penske, finished second): "We did the best we could, I just didn't have enough for Helio in the final stages. The last 20 laps were some of the most frustrating I've ever driven. To lead the whole race and have the quickest car out there, I just couldn't pass Helio. The high line was slower. At least we came in second. We got points for leading the most laps. The important thing is we're racing for the wins. We'll get our wins. It's just frustrating for tonight."

SCOTT DIXON: (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished third): "There was lots of green running, which is different for Texas. The Penske cars are definitely hooked up. The Target cars weren't too bad. We just need to work on it a bit."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, finished fourth): (About battle with Danica Patrick): "The toughest people out there passing me are my teammates, and I don't get that. I think three out of four of us get what the camaraderie of Andretti Green Racing is."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Energizer, finished fifth): "It was slow. It was just slow all night. The biggest problem I had was the fuel mileage. If they would have told me that from the start, I would have done a lot better and saved fuel. I gave away a place tonight, and I hope it doesn't cost us at the end of the year."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, finished sixth): "All weekend we had a strong car and then during the race, the steering became really heavy, it just wasn't the car we started with. I wish we could have had a top-five finish, but Marco passed me at the end far and square. Overall, I'm content with the sixth place finish for the Boost Mobile/Motorola car."

DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, finished seventh): "For whatever reason, we just lacked a little bit of speed compared to what we had in practice and we geared the National Guard Panther Racing car to be quicker. Again, the Panther guys worked really hard and got us to the end, but we seem to make it difficult for ourselves sometimes. As time goes on, we're going to continue to improve."

TONY KANAAN (No 11 Team 7-Eleven, finished eighth): "It has been the most difficult past three weeks for Team 7-Eleven, but we hung in there and kept our heads up. I wish we had a better finish tonight, but we finished the race with no issues, the guys did a great job in the pits, and I did my job on the track. I happy to have an off week and I think we could use the rest, but look forward to getting back in the car in Iowa."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing, finished ninth): "A top-10 finish is the only positive we can take out of the Texas race. We did gain some ground in the points moving from 16th to 14th but this is the third time I've finished ninth here. I was hoping for a better result. I'm disappointed for the fans in particular because Texas is supposed to be exciting racing, and unfortunately, the cars are too similar now and it weakened the product. I've never seen this race turn into a one groove track before. We want to put on a good show, and I'm afraid this was not it. You couldn't pass and you couldn't pass guys that were a lap down. It doesn't take much of a block and suddenly you find yourself running behind lapped cars all night long. It turned into a fuel strategy, track position, no passing race and no one wants that. Texas is usually the place you should have to be playing fuel strategy gambles. This is a place you should be able to drive from the back to the front and unfortunately it is just not that way right now."

MARIO MORAES (No. 5 KV Racing Technology/Votorantim, finished 10th): "I think we got the most out of the car we could tonight. The car was loose in the middle of the race and I fell back, but during the last stint it was fast. I want to thank the entire KV Racing Technology team. They did a great job tonight. We finished in the top-10 again and earned some valuable points and pick up some spots in the championship standings."

***

The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues June 21 with the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Iowa 100 on June 20 at Iowa Speedway. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. on June 22 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Davey Hamilton , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Mark King , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology , Dragon Racing