Castroneves Puts Team Penske In Victory Lane


Castroneves remains the point leader and increased his lead over Andretti to 22 points. Both drivers entered the race tied with 206 points apiece.

Helio Castroneves won Saturday night’s Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway. (Al Steinberg photo)

“The car was absolutely on rails,” Castroneves said. “Most of the managing of the tires during the race any time Roger was telling me, save fuel, go fast; honestly we were running lights out. Everything was smooth.”

Castroneves began managing his tires with 40 laps to go and at that stage of the race Kanaan was running fastest laps of any driver in the race. But he had already built up enough of a lead that without another caution period there was no way he could catch his Brazilian boyhood pal.

“In the end Helio, I just wanted to give him the cars he’s coming up on, and said, let him go by, we just didn’t need to get trapped and get ourselves in trouble,” Penske said. “I was just waiting with ten to go and then five to go, and to me, the big move was when he went back by Franchitti, because we let Franchitti go by, there’s no reason wearing the tires out trying to stay ahead of him. I think that was good, and I think his line, he ran high; he could run high, he could run low.

“One thing, he running ten miles an hour slower, so he came up high speed, he had to be careful. His oval skills, what you saw win at Indy three, times you saw it here tonight. I just wait until the end before I celebrate, and that’s what I did tonight.”

While Castroneves was able to excel by managing his tires, the others could not do the same and they complained that INDYCAR officials may have gone too far with the current aerodynamic package and tire setup to ensure good racing.

The action on the track may have been safe, but it was far from entertaining.

“It was like, at times, a race against yourself, just to save the tires and keep yourself off the wall,” Hunter-Reay said. “It was just a very challenging race. “I was searching around for grip, getting into a rhythm, but definitely has the full range of racing here at Texas Motor Speedway from 2008 to now. It’s so difficult to get the package exactly right with the downforce and the tires and the degradation of the tires, and as a series we’re working toward that.

“I think we’ve nailed it perfectly in the past, and we’ll get it right, for sure. But I don’t know, I didn’t watch the race, but it was sure it was sure a struggle in there for me.”

Kanaan believes IndyCar officials need to review all the options before next years race at Texas in an attempt to keep it safe but improve on what happened with the blowout form of racing on Saturday night.

“Firestone has a great tire, but you can’t ask everything, for the tires to do everything,” Kanaan said. “So I think it’s a combination of both. Once we decide the package, the aero package, then we need to go to Firestone, and stay, look, and then we’ll come back here and we do a tire — a proper tire test and we try to make a decision. Because you can’t take my tires went off; yeah, well, unfortunately those aren’t only the things — it’s not the tire’s fault.

“This car has plenty of downforce. You need to remember: We do not want a packed race. That is what we don’t want to have — going overboard a little bit. This car is capable of downforce. Those cars are not made to run at 190 miles an hour. The slower you go, the slower you go, the worse it is.”

Carpenter has been the biggest critic of the current car/tire combination that was used at Texas and had strong feelings about Saturday night’s race that he chose to keep private. But he publically admitted that some of the “raciness” was missing Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

“It was hard out there tonight,” Carpenter said. “I was racing more car more than the other drivers at times. I hope the race was good for the national television audience tonight. This place is one of the toughest oval on the series now. The cars are a handful here. But we’ll take the fourth place and move on to Milwaukee next week.”