By Jack Durbin - Motorsport.com Helio Castroneves and his Marlboro Team Penske team mate, Gil de Ferran, were once again this year the class of the Miller Lite 200 field at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In a repeat of last year, de Ferran...
By Jack Durbin - Motorsport.com
Helio Castroneves and his Marlboro Team Penske team mate, Gil de Ferran, were once again this year the class of the Miller Lite 200 field at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
In a repeat of last year, de Ferran started on the pole, led until the first pit stop. He then was bumped to second place, when the crew of the number three executed a quicker change of tires, and fueling to put Castroneves into the lead.
Castroneves was never headed nor given a serious challenge after that, as the two Penske cars ran one-two the rest of the race. Oriol Servia led ten laps as he stretch his fuel to the limit in order to gain track position.
"Spiderman" Castroneves continued his tradition of fence climbing, as he celebrated his latest win. His dominance of road courses continues, this being his third win in seven road course/street course events this year.
"The team did a fantastic job putting both cars on top. It rained this morning which changed the track, and I had oversteer in the beginning of the race, " said Castroneves. " As the track got better, the car settled in. The first pit stop was the key for us."
Championship leader Kenny Brack and Team Rahal teammate Max Papis made contact on lap 30, taking Papis out of the event and putting Brack several laps down. Brack would finish as the last car running, out of the points.
The Swede thus continued his drought on road courses, having failed to win on those this year, and trailing Castroneves by nearly 3:1 in points on non-oval events.
Team Player's Patrick Carpentier continued his inspired second half of the season with his third podium finish in a row. Paul Tracy (Team KOOL Green) finished in fourth, followed by Mo Nunn Racing's Tony Kanaan.
Dario Franchitti (Team KOOl Green) ran in the top five until on lap 77, he went for a wild ride off course exiting turn one. On lap ten, Carpentier when wide into the grass, Franchitti went with him, but was able to pull off a pass as they were heading back for the paved portion of the course. Memo Gidley (Target Ganassi) lost many hard earned positions as he also took a ride through the grass at turn one.
On lap 51, Adrian Fernandez (Fernandez Racing) ran straight across the gravel pit into the tire wall and embankment at turn four. The impact threw his car into the air and spread tires over a wide area. As the CART safety team reached him, he gave the crew a 'thumbs-up' sign.
Fernandez emerged from the car uninjured. but rubbing his right wrist, which he broke last year. Fernandez's throttle stuck entering the corner, and the engine software did not shut it down. Also his brakes failed, leaving the Mexican a mere passenger.
Michel Andretti and Bryan Herta had their hard luck continue as both dropped out the race early with mechanical problems.
At the finish 16 of the 20 cars running were on the lead lap.
After 13 of 21 events, Castroneves trails Brack by a single point in the championship race. Brack has 104 points, Castroneves 103, de Ferran is 15 points behind at 89, and Franchitti is at 81. Michael Andretti is fifth with 73.
The championship chase now shifts to Europe for the first time, with races on the high-speed ovals of Lausitzring (Germany) and Rockingham (England). However, with only three of the remaining races on ovals, the odds must favor Castroneves over Brack at this point.