Team Penske Reigns Supreme at Mid-Ohio Traditionally a strong team at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with 1-2 finishes in CART races using Honda power in both 2000 and 2001, Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe led teammate Helio Castroneves to a ...
Team Penske Reigns Supreme at Mid-Ohio
Traditionally a strong team at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with 1-2 finishes in CART races using Honda power in both 2000 and 2001, Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe led teammate Helio Castroneves to a third Honda-powered victory sweep in Sunday's Honda Indy 200.
Starting on the outside of the first row alongside pole-qualifier Castroneves, Briscoe was the final driver to change over to dry weather racing slicks after late-morning showers led race officials to declare the event a "wet" race, requiring the entire 26-car field to start on treaded "rain" tires on a damp, but rapidly drying, track. Most of the field changed over to slicks on the fourth and fifth laps, but Briscoe didn't make the swap until Lap 6, dropping him to 15th.
But a decision by team owner Roger Penske to go "off sequence" on pit stops and stay on track during a Lap 25-29 caution period moved Briscoe back up to fourth, and fuel conservation during the next stint got the Australian into the lead and back onto the same pit sequence as the rest of the field. Dale Coyne Racing's Bruno Junqueira attempted a similar strategy, but was forced by low fuel to pit out of second place with just seven laps remaining. He finished 13th.
The 26-car field recorded 10,874 miles in practice, qualifying and racing this weekend at Mid-Ohio, again without a single engine failure for the Honda HI8R Indy V-8 used by all competitors in the IndyCar Series.
As a result of the larger fields following reunification with the former Champ Car World Series, IndyCar drivers and teams have run 171,999 miles this season. This equals the total mileage recorded in all of 2007, with five races remaining in the 2008 championship. There has been just one recorded failure this year -- on the Vision Racing car of Davey Hamilton during practice for the Indianapolis 500.
Following Junqueira's late pit stop, Castroneves finished second for the fifth time this season, making up five championship points on third-finishing Scott Dixon. KV Racing Technology teammates Will Power and Oriol Servia completed the top five finishers. Panther Racing's Vitor Meira was strong early in the contest. The Brazilian was one of the first drivers to pit for dry rubber, at the end of the first lap, and went on to lead 21 laps in the first half of the race. But he lost ground during the mid-race pit stops to finish sixth.
Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 2nd, finished 1st, 2nd IndyCar Series victory of 2008: "What a great weekend for the team. It couldn't get any better. We probably stayed out too long on rain tires at the start, but what great pit strategy by [team owner] Roger Penske to get us to the front of the field.
Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 6th, finished 3rd, continues to hold a 58-point lead in the IndyCar Series drivers' championship: "It was kind of a strange race for us, right from the start there seemed to be no real rhythm to it, for us, anyway. I think a lot of teams started thinking 'fuel mileage' and 'pit strategy' right from the start. The car was good, and the pit stops were great, but we could never get enough momentum to make a serious run at either Helio [Castroneves] or Ryan [Briscoe]. But third was great for the championship, and we're taking a healthy lead into Canada next week."
Will Power (#8 Team Australia/PK Racing Honda) Started 12th, finished 4th, best finish since winning the Grand Prix of Long Beach in April: "It seems like we had a lot of traffic to contend with in this race, but that's been true on the short ovals, too! This was a great comeback for the team, as we didn't start the weekend with a very quick car, but the team never gave up and kept making improvements all the time. In the race, both KV cars were really quick, and that's why we both ended up in the top five today."