CASTRONEVES CLIMBS FENCE AT RICHMOND RICHMOND, Va., Saturday, June 25, 2005 -- Helio Castroneves scored his first victory and his first trademark fence-climb of 2005 with a victory in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International ...
CASTRONEVES CLIMBS FENCE AT RICHMOND
RICHMOND, Va., Saturday, June 25, 2005 -- Helio Castroneves scored his first victory and his first trademark fence-climb of 2005 with a victory in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway.
Castroneves, who started on the outside of the front row in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, led the final 100 laps on the 0.75-mile D-shaped oval and defeated Dario Franchitti by 0.5588 of a second for his seventh career IndyCar Series victory.
"Today was a fantastic day," said Castroneves, who became the fifth winner in as many IndyCar Series events at the track. "Our car was very good, both cars, mine and (pole sitter) Sam (Hornish Jr.), obviously were very fast. I just couldn't ask for a better result."
Red Bull Cheever Racing's Patrick Carpentier, who started a season-high fourth, finished a season-best third. Tomas Scheckter, who won the race at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11, continued his impressive run by moving from 19th on the starting grid to a fourth-place finish. Dan Wheldon increased his points lead on Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan to 83 after seven of 17 events with a fifth place.
"That was all we had from the ArcaEx car; Helio just had a little more than we did but we pushed as hard as we could," said Franchitti, who led 56 laps and also recorded a season-high finish. "We're quite happy with second place and we'll keep working at it and we'll win one of these things pretty soon."
Castroneves, who led 112 laps, grabbed the lead for good when he reversed the running order with Franchitti during a caution-period stop for fuel and tires on Lap 149. He was able to hold off Franchitti's No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/ Firestone on a final-lap shootout after a caution on Lap 242 when the cars of Darren Manning and Roger Yasukawa made contact with each other and the Turn 2 outside retaining wall.
Tony Kanaan and Hornish lost ground in the points race because of early exits.
Kanaan, the reigning IndyCar Series champion, had his streak of races completed end at 25 when his No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone made contact with the No. 17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone driven by Vitor Meira on Lap 145. The last DNF for Kanaan was in August 2003 at Nazareth Speedway.
"I knew it was going to happen one day," he said. "So today was the day. We didn't start the weekend too good, so let's forget about it and go to Kansas."
SUNTRUST INDY CHALLENGE POST-RACE QUOTES:
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "We were running together out of one, and Dario (Franchitti) went down to the inside. I think he touched me, and I went up into the wall."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "I just got up in the groove a bit fast there and then went wide to avoid Dan and ended up in the marbles."
TONY KANAAN: (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I didn't want to hit my teammate, so I got on the apron and spun. Thank God, I didn't take him out. A tough break for the 7-Eleven guys, the first DNF in a year and seven months. I knew it was going to happen one day. So today was the day. We didn't start the weekend too good, so let's forget about it and go to Kansas."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Menards Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "It could not have been any busier than what it was. It was a real busy moment, and I knew something could happen. Suddenly, Tony (Kanaan) hit Bryan (Herta), Tony spun and I had nowhere to go. I was actually just taking care of myself and even lost some positions. Early in the race, we had a good car."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished 18th): "The car was pretty good throughout the race. It was driver error, I was trying to push it too hard trying to get around Helio. It's a shame. I feel real bad for all of Marlboro Team Penske. It was a big mistake on my part."
DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, finished 15th): "We were really doing well, and I was working my way up when I had my seatbelts come undone. The Target crew did a great job to get them done back up, but we did lose a few spots. I fought my way back into the top 10 and was seventh when (Roger) Yasukawa slowed down quite a bit ahead of me and let (Kosuke) Matsuura by. I went by as well and thought I had the line and was clear when my left rear tire and his right front made contact and put us out. It's unfortunate because the No. 10 Target Toyota was really strong, but we'll just keep doing what we're doing and look forward to a good race in Kansas."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 15th): "It was an unfortunate ending for the DRR race car. We were struggling a bit all weekend, but at the race, I was trying to focus to bring the car to the end. It's always a tough race here, and I wanted to stay away from them and get a top 10 at the end. Unfortunately at the end while I was being passed by Manning, I was forced down on the yellow line and had no where to go. Drivers get impatient and those crashes happen. There was nothing I could do to avoid it. Now we're got to regroup and focus for Kansas, one of my favorite tracks. We've been doing really well on 1.5-mile tracks, so I have every confidence in the team that we'll be strong there I'd be happy to prove that we can run up front and finish up front in the top 10 and top 5."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 17th): "What a sad ending for what otherwise was a great day for the Delphi team. The guys gave me great pit stops. Chris (Finch), my engineer, did a great job. He really did. He took a car that we weren't entirely pleased with and took a gamble on some changes and just hit it right on. It has been so long since I started a short oval and just started moving forward from the beginning. He is switched on, and I am really excited for the momentum we have. We were sitting in a great spot, in fourth place with 50 laps to go. I was trying to catch the leaders and stay ahead of (Patrick) Carpentier and came up upon (Roger) Yasukawa, who decided to block me to the inside going down the front straightaway. I basically had nothing else to do but go down the outside of him, and I had to keep it tight because of the marbles. I had hoped that with him being four or so laps down that he would back out of it. I guess he decided he wanted to race me and his right front tagged my left rear and he spun me up into the wall. That was the end of our night and it was a real shame."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fifth): "It was one of those races where you see what happens to your two closest competitors and it changes your approach. It's always exciting here at Richmond, you just have to be careful, because when your two closest guys go out, you kind of play a points game. That's what I kind of played tonight. I think I could have come third, but with a little bit of caution, I came in fifth. It was a good job for the Andretti Green Racing team. It was pretty crazy out there. I just did my own thing and concentrated on bringing the car home."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished fourth): "I'm very happy with how the Pennzoil Chevy ran tonight. I pushed only when I needed to and didn't take any dumb chances. We were great in the pits, the car was great all night, the crew did a great job -- it was just great all around. We're really happy to bring the car home in one piece. Late in the race, I really didn't want the race to go back to green because there were so many back markers that could have caused a crazy incident, but it ended up working well for me. I just managed to get inside Danny there on that last lap and got fourth. We'll pack both our cars in one piece and get our Pennzoil team ready for another great run in Kansas."
ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished sixth): "The car was really solid all race. The first stop I came in, and I was confused pitting at night. I drove up, but didn't turn in, so it put me back. We fought all the way back forward, so it shows how strong our car was. Coming in sixth, we really needed that, and it just shows that all of the hard work has paid off, and we're really happy with the result. Hopefully, it's the start of a good future for us as we head down the stretch this season. I'm super happy for Patrick (Carpentier), he drove a very smart race finishing third."
BRYAN HERTA (#7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth): "It was a tough day, and I'm disappointed. I thought that the XM Satellite Radio car was going to be very good in the race, but it just got away from us. It was really loose, and we tried our best to make adjustments, but it just didn't work out. Eighth place isn't the end of the world, but it's not what we came here to do either."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished 10th): "The team made a lot changes coming into the race tonight. We struggled in qualifying and we were hoping the car would be better for the race. I knew Vitor tried some things with the car and he was running in the top five and six tonight. So that is encouraging. I happy he was able to get his car competitive. Buddy and I didn't make as many changes and our cars weren't as good. It was an inconsistent car tonight. I was good by myself. But in traffic the car just wasn't very good. At least it was better than Phoenix when the car was just too inconsistent. I think this place could be really fun to drive if we get a good setup for the short ovals. But overall, we had a pretty good experience tonight on this oval. Of course, this kind of racing is much different than other things I have driven. But I am still learning and we'll go to Kansas where the boys finished 1-2 last year. I think we have a good setup for that track."
TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished seventh): "Well, obviously I'm disappointed with the black flag. I was defending my line against the 83, but it was mainly because I was having so much trouble getting by the 91 car. I felt we really got screwed by a back marker tonight that was five laps down. There were two times tonight that I was having trouble getting by that Hemelgarn car. This was a great job by the Panther guys all night long, and it's great to finally get a strong finish in our ROCKSTAR Chevy. I had a great car today, and the race was great. Now, we take this positive team result and move on to Kansas."
BRIAN BARNHART (President and COO, Indy Racing League): (About decision to penalize Enge): "Anytime you weave your car to impede the progress of the car behind you it is not what we are looking for on the race track. I have Al Unser Sr. up in race control with me and we both saw what happened and we both were in immediate and unanimous agreement that was not what we are looking for. It's a tough circuit at 3/4 of a mile and heavy traffic everybody is in. If you get bogged down it doesn't give you a right to weave to prevent the car from behind you to get around you. I felt he crossed the line."
The 10th season of IRL IndyCar competition continues with the Argent Mortgage Kansas Indy 300 at 1 p.m. (EDT) July 3 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Cleanevent 100 on July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) July 21 by ESPN2.