IndyCar » 7 June 2009
Castroneves heads Penske 1-2 in Texas.
Helio Castroneves won for the third time at Texas Motor Speedway, after grabbing the lead at a lap 175 pit-stop and going on to take a 0.3904secs victory over long-time leader - and Team Penske team-mate - Ryan Briscoe.
As he had in Milwaukee, Briscoe was the race's dominant force, eventually leading a race-high 160 laps, but was unable to convert that superiority into victory. Having seen Scott Dixon claim the laurels in the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt 225, the Australian appeared to redress the balance and take his second victory of the season after the season-opener in St Petersburg as he held a 9.9851secs lead over Marco Andretti with two-thirds of the race completed.
However, a lap 150 caution for debris bunched the field, allowing Castroneves to overtake Andretti for second ten laps later, and, when the yellows flew again on lap 173 -after AJ Foyt IV's car made contact with the turn two wall following a front suspension failure - the Brazilian's crew produced a six-second stop for tyres and fuel that got him out ahead of his team-mate
"It was an incredible day for Team Penske," the Indianapolis 500 winner bubbled, "All credit goes to Ryan and his team - they push us, we push them and, together, we're pushing towards the top. Having first and second at Texas is not easy, so that's a compliment for everyone.
"In the beginning of the race, we were saving fuel, but also trying to figure out what the car is doing and what I was trying to do. The car was loose, and there were some moments out there, but we figured out what to do and great pit-stops from the guys put me up front. In the end, it was 50 laps at full throttle. It was the toughest 50 laps that I had to go through, but we held it together."
While the win was Penske's fifth at Texas Motor Speedway, tying Panther Racing for most wins at the 1.5-mile oval, Briscoe naturally cut a frustrated figure after being forced to accept a second successive runners-up finish.
"We did the best we could, but I just didn't have enough for Helio in the final stages," said the new series points leader, and the only man to have completed every single lap in 2009, "The last 20 laps were some of the most frustrating I've ever driven. I just couldn't pass Helio - the high line was slower. To lead the whole race and have the quickest car out there..... At least we came in second, and we got points for leading the most laps. But the important thing is we're racing for the wins, and we'll get our wins. It's just frustrating for tonight."
Dixon, the 2008 race winner, finished third, after also passing Andretti, the Kiwi continuing his recovery after a slow start to the season with a third podium in four races.
"There was lots of green running, which is different for Texas, and the Penske cars are definitely hooked up," Dixon noted, "The Target cars weren't too bad, we just need to work on it a bit."
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