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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."



Related Pictures

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9-11 April, 2010, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. #3 Team Penske`s Helio Castroneves, race winner.
9-11 April, 2010, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. #3 Team Penske`s Helio Castroneves.
9-11 April, 2010, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. #3 Team Penske`s Helio Castroneves, race winner with young daughter.
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Chevy Racing sweeps the podium with race winner Sebastien Bourdais (center), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races in Toronto, Canada. Second-place finisher Helio Castroneves (left), driver of the #3 PPV Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, join the celebration. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, races to a third-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, takes over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, took over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
The Team Penske crew of Juan Pablo Montoya simulate a pit stop during practice for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates second place (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on pit road (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads Ryan Briscoe (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on pit lane prior to qualifications for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves heads down the Long Pond Straightaway during practice for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag as he races to victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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