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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.
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates with team owner Roger Penske after winning the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, and his team perform the traditional kissing of the bricks after racing to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, drinks the traditional bottle of milk while celebrating his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, crosses the finish line as he races to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finishes second. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Andy Frame/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya is congratulated by his Penske team mate Helio Castroneves after clinching victory in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Penske team mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power race side-by-wide during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya crosses the line ahead of Penske team mate Will Power to win the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud on track in the Penske #22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Mike Harding for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud waits in the Penske #22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud climbs into the Penske #22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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