12 April 2010
Castroneves wins Grand Prix of Alabama
Dixon's team-mate Dario Franchitti brought the second Target Chip Ganassi car home in third spot, his first podium of the year erasing memories of a major shunt during testing at the Barber facility in pre-season.
"The team was working hard on the fuel strategy today, and I am pleased to be on the podium and sit second in points after starting in seventh today," the reigning series champion admitted, "Will Power and I were side by side at the end there but, with so many lap cars in between us, it was really hard to fight for the positions."
Polesitter Power had to pit for the final time on lap 63, which dropped him to seventh, but recovered to fourth place and retains the championship points lead by 32 over Castroneves, with Franchitti third, as the series heads to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this coming weekend.
"In the strategy meeting before the race, we talked about it and we knew that a caution in the early part of the race would not be to our favour," the Australian noted, "We made the best of it though, and the #12 car was fast today. The guys did a great job in the pits, and we are still in the points lead heading into Long Beach. It is great having Helio win, which makes it three wins to start the season for Team Penske, and I think we are going to be strong [at Long Beach]."
Andretti's fifth place was his best of the season, and his best on a road course since Watkins Glen last year, but he couldn't disguise his disappointment at not being able to keep his lead to the end.
"We have to be happy to put the Venom car into the top five, especially after our finishes on road courses last year, but I think maybe we could have stretched out each of our stints a bit longer and gained on fuel one lap at a time," he sighed, "Helio just went longer than us each time and that was the difference at the end. He was able to go that much farther and we fell short."
The estimated three-day total attendance for the inaugural event exceeded the goals of race promoter ZOOM Motorsports, which estimated more than 86,000 fans attended the three-days of racing at Barber Motorsports Park - including an estimated record crowd of 53,555 fans on Sunday alone.
"The attendance more than doubled the largest event ever held here previously at Barber Motorsports Park," said ZOOM president and CEO Gene Hallman, "The Indy Racing League product is a fast-growing and very demographically-dialled product for consumers in this market. Being the only race on the calendar in the 'Deep South', we were able to draw a lot of IndyCar fans into Birmingham, which helped us from a tourism perspective. The Indy Racing League is a tremendous partner and helped us immensely in this first year."
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