By: Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
- Power gets 4th win in 2011
- Castroneves takes 2nd for best 2011 finish
- Franchitti finishes 3rd, retains points lead
Power leads Penske 1-2 punch at Edmonton Indy
There was no post-race fuming in the Team Penske pits on Sunday as Will Power won and Helio Castroneves finished second in the Edmonton Indy race ahead of Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti.
The win was Power’s fourth on the season and vaulted the Australian back into the IndyCar series championship hunt at only 38 points behind points leader Franchitti. His previous wins were: Barber Motorsports Park, Brazil and Texas Motor Speedway race 2.
I’m so glad to finish this high.
“This means a lot for our confidence,” said Power. “I’m really happy with the result.”
It was the second time that Power has taken the top spot on the podium at Edmonton, although the race course has been modified slightly since he won here in 2009.
The result was Castroneves’ best of the year to date (previous 4th at Texas Motor Speedway race two).
“I’m so glad to finish this high,” said Castroneves. “We have worked on every single thing, and we finally fixed it and got a solid result.”
Franchitti’s third-place result came after an up and down day for the defending IndyCar series champion. “The final restart went slowly and I lost position,” he said. “I fell back to tenth and got back up to the front; but once I got there I couldn’t do anything with Helio and Will.”
Penske was set to take three of the top four spots at the finish until Ryan Briscoe ran short of fuel on the last lap of the race, yielding the position to KV Racing Lotus’ Tony Kanaan. Dreyer & Reinbold’s Justin Wilson took fifth place, with Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastian Bourdais finishing in sixth.
Andretti Autosports’ Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mike Conway, and Danica Patrick collected prize money for positions seven through nine. Patrick drove exceptionally well on the road course, moving up an impressive 13 spots on the grid from her starting position of 22nd. Briscoe finished tenth.
The racing was less tortuous to the machinery in this Canadian racing holiday than in the previous episode recorded in Toronto. Even as drivers seemed to take particular care to avoid unnecessary bumping and grinding over the 2.6-mile course set up at Edmonton’s central airport there was still plenty of contact.
Hunter-Reay spun pole-sitter Takuma Sato of KV Racing Lotus on Lap 39, taking the Japanese driver out of contention for the win and igniting fury in the pits as KVRL team co-owner Jimmy Vasser sought the ear of IndyCar officials to register his complaint over the incident. Hunter-Reay was penalized with a drive-through penalty for striking Sato’s car at the left rear tire.
A restart on Lap 31 found Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon involved in a collision with KV Racing Lotus’ E J Viso that punctured the left side radiator of the New Zealander’s car. Hasty repairs brought Dixon back into action for a points run well out of contention for a podium finish. Dixon finished 23rd.
Oriol Servia of Newman Haas Racing went off into a tire barrier after making contact with Conway on Lap 26, bringing a timely caution for the first round of pit stops. Servia was able to restart and continue, only to lose the rear wing, setting him even further back in the running order.
Sato yielded his spot on the pole to first Power, then Dixon and finally Franchitti on Lap 20 as he fought the bumpy track conditions, locking up on several occasions over the 13-turn circuit while trying to fend off the chasers.
Ganassi Racing’s Graham Rahal suffered a puncture after being read-ended by Newman Haas Racing’s Alex Tagliani on the opening lap and collected Dragon Racing’s Paul Tracy. Tagliani incurred a drive-through penalty for initiating the incident, which put both the popular Ohioan and the venerable Canadian driver on the sidelines from the outset.
The ambient temperature read 73 degrees Fahrenheit with a 10 mph westerly breeze and 53 percent humidity at the 2:45 PM EDT green flag start.