IndyCar » 12 April 2010
Castroneves wins Grand Prix of Alabama
Helio Castroneves took his first road course win for nearly 18 months with a fuel strategy victory at Barber Motorsport Park.
A record crowd witnessed the end of one 2010 IndyCar Series streak, but saw another continue as Helio Castroneves took the chequered flag in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Brazilian's victory, his first on a road/street course race since August 2008, stopped team-mate Will Power's run of wins at two, but ensured that Team Penske continued to enjoy the spoils and a 100 per cent record after three rounds of the new season.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner inherited the lead when long-time leader Marco Andretti had to pit for fuel eight laps from the end of the 90-lap race. Castroneves then held off Scott Dixon by 0.5703secs, then thanked the spectators for attending the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama with his trademark celebratory fence climb at turn nine.
As well as being Castroneves' first IndyCar Series win of the season, it was the 17th of his IRL career, and gives the Brazilian a record-setting 10th season with at least one win, an IndyCar Series record. The win was Penske's 38th in the IRL, and adds to Power's successes in Sao Paulo and St Petersburg.
"I felt like the Team Penske car was better than Marco's but, unfortunately, I just couldn't pass him," the veteran admitted, suggesting he was fortunate that the American needed a splash-and-dash to make the flag, "I was just patient and waiting for an opportunity and, well, I guess we were able to be smart enough to save a lot of fuel.
"Towards the end, we had a yellow flag, but I didn't ask for that - especially when you have Scott Dixon and those guys behind you. I just decided to make sure I did not give any opportunities for those guys, and that's what I did. I knew what the car was capable of doing. Sometimes you've got to count with a little luck, so today was a great day for Team Penske, and especially the #3 guys."
Dixon was happy to bounce back from his St Petersburg disappointment, but was left fuming by a stewards decision to penalise him two places in the early going after he jumped the start.
"It was a good day for Team Target all in all, with both cars in the top three,, but we could have been better off if we would have got around Helio," the Kiwi noted, "It was hard to have the team telling me to save fuel and try to manage the fuel gauge, but still push.
"I feel that the officials made a poor call when they said that I passed Helio at the start/finish line. I got back behind him and he went around the outside at turn one. This track is all about track position and we didn't have the fastest cars, but we made use of what we had."
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