By Jeff Olson
Helio Castroneves pulled out of the pits ahead of teammate Ryan Briscoe on the final stop Saturday night and went on to win the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway, completing a 1-2 sweep by Team Penske.
Castroneves was trailing Briscoe heading into the final round of pit stops on the 175th lap of the 228-lap race, but he used the No. 1 pit stall to his advantage to beat Briscoe out of the pits. Castroneves has now won at TMS three times, tying fellow Penske Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. for the most IndyCar wins at Texas.
The win was Castroneves’ second in three races this season and the 16th of his IndyCar Series career and 22nd in Indy-style racing. It also was Team Penske’s third win of the season and the team’s fifth win at Texas.
“We knew we had good cars, so I told the team that we had to finish 1-2 in this race,” Castroneves said. “When you have cars like this, you have to execute. In the race, Ryan got very comfortable in his car and just took off. We were saving fuel and figuring out our car. Later on, these guys were incredible.”
Briscoe led 160 laps and posted his second consecutive runner-up finish, giving him the IndyCar Series points lead after six of 16 races this season.
“We did the best we could, but I just didn’t have enough for Helio in the final stages,” Briscoe said. “The last 20 laps were some of the most frustrating I’ve ever driven. I led the whole race and had the quickest car out there, but I just couldn’t pass Helio.”
Scott Dixon also couldn’t gain any ground on Briscoe in the waning laps and settled for third, which kept him third in points behind Briscoe and Dario Franchitti, who finished fifth behind charging Marco Andretti.
Dixon said the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara-Honda wasn’t up to the pace set by the Penskes. “The Penske cars were definitely hooked up,” Dixon said. “The Target cars weren’t too bad. We just need to work on it a little bit.”
Following Franchitti was Danica Patrick in sixth, Dan Wheldon in seventh and Tony Kanaan in eighth. Ed Carpenter and Mario Moraes rounded out the top 10.
The series resumes June 21 at Iowa Speedway.RESULTS:
Pos Driver Team Gap
1. Helio Castroneves Penske 228 laps
2. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 0.3904s
3. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 2.2461s
4. Marco Andretti Andretti Green + 4.3745s
5. Dario Franchitti Ganassi + 4.7695s
6. Danica Patrick Andretti Green + 5.2980s
7. Dan Wheldon Panther + 7.6203s
8. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green + 8.5009s
9. Ed Carpenter Vision +18.7088s
10. Mario Moraes KV + 1 lap
11. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan + 1 lap
12. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon + 2 laps
13. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold + 2 laps
14. Alex Tagliani Conquest + 3 laps
15. Justin Wilson Coyne + 3 laps
16. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision + 3 laps
17. Sarah Fisher Fisher + 6 laps
18. Jaques Lazier 3G + 18 laps
19. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold + 43 laps
AJ Foyt IV Foyt 170 laps
Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 153 laps
Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1 lap
Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 1 lap
EJ Viso HVM 1 lap