27 July 2009
Power takes Edmonton IndyCar victory
Will Power justified Roger Penske's decision, not only to sign him as stand-in for Helio Castroneves at the start of the year, but also to increase his schedule in the #12 by claiming a maiden IndyCar Series win on the runways of Edmonton airport.
On the pace from the start of the weekend, the Australian made the most of pole position, fending off team-mate and countryman Ryan Briscoe into the first corner and then hardly looking back as he dominated from the front. The victory was Power's first in the IndyCar Series, topping his previous best of second from Long Beach earlier in the 2009 season, and adds to the three wins he took in the now-defunct Champ Car World Series.
Justifying Roger Penske's decision, first to hire the out-of-work Australian as stand-in for Castroneves at the start of the year, and then to give him a five-race deal for the second half of the campaign, Power has finished sixth or better in every race he has contested this season.
"I'm very happy," he admitted, "The Penske Racing crew did an incredible job, and I'm really enjoying being a part of Penske Racing. I'm not stressed, I'm just taking it one race at a time and doing my best. I've got to thank Roger for the opportunity, but today was a great day."
Castroneves also got the better of Penske team-mate Briscoe, but had to deal with Ganassi's Scott Dixon, who appeared on course for runners-up honours before the Brazilian pulled off a classic scissors move as the pair lapped the errant Ed Carpenter. Although Power was in control throughout, leading 90 of the 95 laps, Castroneves shrunk a 6.79secs disadvantage to 4.58secs between passing Dixon on lap 85 and the race's only caution coming out on lap 93, preventing any potential shoot-out between the Penske duo as the contest finished under yellow.
"It's a shame that a 1-2-3 team finish slipped away, but our goal was to stop the Ganassi guys, and we were able to do that with Will's win," Castroneves claimed, "When Will came on board, we never had a doubt that he would be a top race contender, and it's great that his win keeps championship points from our opponents. It was a well-deserved win. Penske Racing did an incredible job."
Dixon, meanwhile, admitted that he had found the race to be 'one of the toughest we've ever run'.
"It's definitely a tough circuit, and it gets a lot tougher when you don't have the best car," he acknowledged, "We were definitely hanging on. We seemed to be pretty good for about half a stint on the tyres, but we just abused them too much. After that, it was just so slippery - I just had to hang on. But we gained some valuable points, and I think we've switched with Dario [for the championship lead]."
Briscoe, despite his final set of tyres coming on strong at the end, could not follow Castroneves past Dixon, particularly when the full course caution appeared with two laps to run following Tomas Scheckter's spin. Not only did the yellow frustrate Briscoe, but it also ensured that Power's Penske Truck Rental entry was greeted with the chequers while behind the pace car.
Briscoe thus took fourth, with Ganassi's Dario Franchitti an anonymous fifth as IndyCar's powerhouses returned to the front en masse. The Scot, however, wasn't too enamoured by the antics of Marco Andretti, who he felt had hindered his chances of making up ground on those ahead of him.
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