[Source: INDYCAR press release]
POWER WINS RACE 2 AT HOUSTON; DIXON TAKES SERIES POINTS LEAD
HOUSTON (Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013) — Scott Dixon took advantage of Helio Castroneves’ discouraging race weekend to slide into the driver’s seat of the IZOD IndyCar Series championship chase.
Dixon won Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on Oct. 5 and was runner-up to Will Power in Race 2 to take a 25-point lead heading over Castroneves into the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships on Oct. 19 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval in Fontana, Calif.
It will mark the eighth consecutive year that the series title will be decided in the finale.
Power overtook Dixon’s No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car in Turn 3 of a Lap 40 restart and held on for his second victory of the season (20th of his Indy car career) as the yellow flag flew behind them on the final lap of the 90-lap race for heavy contact involving the cars of Dario Franchitti, Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso.
Franchitti, a four-time series champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, was admitted awake and alert to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center in Houston for a concussion, spinal fracture that will not require surgery and a fracture to the right ankle. He will be kept overnight. Sato and Viso were evaluated at the scene and released.
“On the last lap I caught the marbles and brushed the wall and lost momentum,” said Sato, the pole sitter for Race 1 in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing. “A couple cars passed me as I was offline and in Turn 5. I got very loose and Dario and I came together.”
Dixon started next to Castroneves on Row 1 for the standing start as the starting grid was set by entrant points after a rainstorm washed out the morning 30-minute qualifying session.
“Another win would have been nice,” Dixon said, “but a decent weekend and a good turnaround for us in terms of points. It’s still going to be a tough weekend at Fontana. Twenty-five points, it can go anybody’s way.”
Castroneves entered the third doubleheader of the season with a 49-point advantage. After qualifying a season-low 21st and finishing 18th in Race 1, combined with Dixon’s victory, Castroneves’ lead was sliced to eight. A shifter issue early in Race 1 required repairs on pit lane that dropped Castroneves nine laps down. In Race 2, a broken gearbox housing left Castroneves’ No. 3 entry stranded in Turn 6 of the 1.634-mile, 10-turn circuit.
The crew returned the car to its temporary garage area to replace the gearbox and rear suspension, and Castroneves rejoined the race on Lap 47 (36 laps down to race leader Power) and finished 23rd.
“We’ve had great luck for most of the season. Now, in a weekend, everybody’s dream has become an interesting scenario,” said Castroneves, who had a streak of 12 consecutive top-10 finishes end in Race 1. “I will tell you one thing, this team is a testament to never giving up and I have faith in these guys that they are going to do everything they can to make it happen in Fontana.”
Castroneves was among 23 drivers who tested at the venue Sept. 24 in preparation for the 200-lap twilight race.
“The good news is we had a test there and it was extremely good,” Castroneves continued. “It’s going to be a heck of a race.”
James Hinchcliffe finished third for his first podium since Iowa in June and Justin Wilson followed up on his fourth podium of the season with a fourth-place finish. Sebastien Bourdais advanced from the 13th starting position to finish fifth. Oriol Servia gained the most positions, climbing from 21st to finish seventh in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car.
- Scott Dixon must finish fifth or better at the season-ending MAVTV 500 on Oct. 19 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., to clinch his third IZOD IndyCar Series title, even if his closest pursuer in the championship, Helio Castroneves, earns maximum points.
- Will Power earned his second victory of the season. His previous win came in August at Sonoma.
- Will Power earned his 20th career Indy car victory.
- This is Will Power’s career-best finish at Reliant Park. His previous best was seventh in 2006.
- Scott Dixon placed second to earn his sixth podium finish this season. He won Race 1 Saturday.
- James Hinchcliffe placed third to earn his fourth podium finish of the season. His other podium finishes were victories at St. Petersburg, Sao Paulo and Iowa. His last podium finish came in June with a victory on the oval at Iowa.
- Justin Wilson placed fourth to earn his sixth top-five finish this season. This also was his fourth consecutive top-five finish. Wilson finished third in Race 1 Saturday.
- Sebastien Bourdais placed fifth to earn his fourth top-five finish of the season. His last top-five finish came in September at Baltimore, where he placed third.
- Helio Castroneves finished 23rd, his worst result of the season. His previous low was 18th Saturday in Race 1. His previous low entering this weekend was 13th at Sao Paulo.
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVRT-SH Racing Chevrolet, 24th): “We had brake issues yesterday and still had them today. I wasn’t pushing the car. I got loose coming out of Turn 8 and got into the marbles. It was my mistake. I feel bad for the guys. We still have one more race to go on the oval in Fontana, and I feel we have a good chance there.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda, sixth): “It’s unfortunate because we struggled with time management here all weekend in Houston. We didn’t struggle on restarts nearly as much today, but we had a difficult time managing the red tires in the rear. That’s something that we still need to strive to understand as we move forward. I have no regrets after today’s race, though. I tried as hard as I could, just as the team did. We missed the championship this year, but we can be very proud to be sitting in third. We still have the opportunity to grab second. It’s been a great season overall. We’re disappointed today, but we gave it our all, and we’ll be back ready to fight in Fontana.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, fourth): “The track today was pretty good. It started out pretty slick, but as it rubbered up, the grip got better, and it got very fast. We were pushing harder and harder, every lap. It was a lot of fun, but it certainly feels like there are more bumps on day two! It’s physical; it’s tough. I want to thank everyone on the Boy Scouts of America team. We had great pit stops, strategy and a fast car. I’m pleased to be back in the top five again. We were hoping to be in a position to fight for a win, but Scott and Will, they just took it to another level today. I was pushing James (Hinchcliffe) the entire way, but he didn’t make any mistakes. All in all, a great weekend with two top-fives. Obviously, thinking of Dario and the fans. Hope all are OK. I’m looking forward to Fontana; we were good at the test. I think there is more to come. We will go there looking for the same kind of result. We want to go out there and attack and, who knows, maybe come out of there with another win.”
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Chevrolet, 16th): “Well, what can I say? Extremely disappointing race. We were making our way to the front and earning every single spot on the track when we started 12th and running sixth with a big possibility to get fifth. I had a couple more laps of fuel than (Sebastien) Bourdais, and I was pretty confident that I would be able to pass him. In the last pit stop, we had a big problem in the pits, and that ended up ruining our race. We lost six positions there and pretty much needed to stay there until the end of the race. After I got the white flag, there was an accident in front of me that I couldn’t avoid. It was Dario (Franchitti) and Takuma (Sato), and there was nothing I could do, so unfortunately we ended up being involved in that incident.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda, 14th): “Tough weekend. I got in the wrong box at the start and had to go start in the very back, but we made it into the top 10. My crew gave me good stops, and by the end of the race we were pretty strong, so the team did a good job on that. On the last lap, I caught the marbles and brushed the wall and lost momentum. A couple cars passed me as I was offline, and in Turn 5, the long right-hander, I got very loose, and Dario and I came together. It’s really a shame. Hopefully Dario is OK.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda, eighth): “Obviously, we’re thinking about all the guys involved in that last-corner accident. Not just the drivers, but the fans and the safety team. Hopefully, everyone is OK. Overall, it was a pretty good race for the No. 83 car. We had clean stops, a good race pace, and we just tried to be smart with it. Now we’re going to focus as much as we can heading into Fontana and another 500-mile race to end the season strong.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Angie’s List Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, 11th): “Our pace was good today. We had bad luck with our first pit stop, though, because the yellow flag came out right after we pitted, which lost us a ton of track position. My second stint was not good. Under the long yellow flag, I got pickup on my tires from weaving back and forth too much trying to keep them warm. I fell backward for three or four laps after that. The rest of the race was about trying to charge back. I had a few good moves in the last stint, and our pace was great. It’s a disappointing weekend because I feel that we had more to show with the Angie’s List car, but the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team was so great to repair my car after a few incidents during the weekend. It’s a positive end to the race to come in 11th, though, and now we’re focusing on the last oval in Fontana.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet, 10th): “First, I hope that everybody is OK from the last lap. In general with our race, I didn’t get off the line really well and then got into an incident with (Graham) Rahal. I don’t think he saw me, and I had to bail over the curb and got tangled up there. Then we just started fighting back. I think our car was OK, actually pretty fast, but when you’re in the back, it’s definitely more difficult. So to salvage a top-10 from where we started is pretty good. I want to give a really big thanks to the team for this weekend, as well as to Chevy and the Nuclear Clean Air Energy campaign. It was a really good weekend!”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet, 20th): “Today was just a bad day. We could have salvaged something out of nothing there in the end. It’s a shame that it happened the way it did. It cost us nine championship points for no reason. I’m a little disappointed because at this stage in the game we could have finished top-12. That would have been a win for me, but I’m just really disappointed.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet, 21st): “I think we had another podium going today. We were running third, and then the gearbox broke; it’s another DNF for the DHL Chevy. We have just had horrible luck this year, and I guess we just have to look at it as unfortunately circumstances and bad luck. It is what it is; I just hope Dario Franchitti is OK.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet, 23rd): “Well, obviously this is not how we wanted our weekend to go. We started the race strong in the Shell Pennzoil Chevy, and then I just couldn’t shift the car. To be honest, I’m not sure if we hit something or what. It was a very helpless feeling. I have to say, what an incredible job by my guys to fix the damage. The Shell and Pennzoil crew basically replaced the whole rear of the car, and we were at least able to get back out on track and pick up another position. I feel bad for the team because they’ve worked so hard to get us in a position to win this championship. And there is still a lot of racing left. We know we have a strong car in Fontana. We were fast in the test there last week, and we will definitely be going for it. I want to congratulate Will (Power) on a great win. At least the weekend ended on a positive note for Team Penske. Great job by the promoters here in Houston and Shell and Pennzoil for putting on an awesome event. I hope we can come back and win here next year.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet, third): “First and foremost, I hope everyone is OK. That looked really bad. Nothing else matters. We just want everyone to walk out of here fine. From our point of view, happy to be back on the podium. It’s been a rough stretch for us since Iowa. It’s nice to have a good drive rewarded, especially after what happened yesterday. Big thanks to the Andretti Autosport guys. It’s cool to get the pink car on the podium, too. It’s a one-off deal with the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It’s a great cause. Congrats to Will (Power) and Scott (Dixon). They had a little bit more than we did today. Happy with that, but hope everyone is all right.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet, fifth): “The car was fast, could make quite a few moves early in the race when I was still fresh. And then unfortunately as the track was rubbering in, the steering effort got really, really heavy, and I just couldn’t control the car anymore. So I really had to dial it down and drive to a pace which was definitely not the car’s optimal potential, but we still made it through to P4. And then I made a mistake giving it back to Justin (Wilson). And then after that, I just, I couldn’t even think about passing anyone, I was just trying to keep it off the fence. I feel bad for the guys because the car was really, really good and really fast. Just couldn’t quite use it. The steering was slipping in my hands. Just tore my hand up, and it hurts. So overall not the weekend we were hoping for. But P8 and P5, it’s better than a bunch of wrecks.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet, 12th): “I’m very happy for the No. 6 TRUECar team after having to battle our way from the back of the field. We took advantage of absolutely everything we could. Starting last and finishing 12th took a great job from everybody. We had great pit stops. However, our strategy didn’t go as planned, but we still gave a good battle. We had a strong car, and we were battling upfront for a while. Happy for the No. 7 McAfee car and Bourdais for a top-five finish.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 blu eCigs Honda, 18th): “On the first lap, we got hit by Simona (de Silvestro), and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day. It was going to be very hard to get a lap back on this track, and unfortunately I spun and hurt the rear wing a little later. It’s a shame because the car was really, really fast. I’m not sure we had a 59.5 lap like some of the leaders – I haven’t seen their times – but we certainly could have run the 59s. It’s a shame because the car was very good. I think if we had been up front, we probably could have stayed there, but unfortunately this is what we get for being where we are in the championship. But most of all, I hope Dario and all those guys are OK because that (crash) was scary.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, 22nd): “It was a disappointing day for our Fuzzy’s Vodka team with a clutch problem in the pits on the last stop. I couldn’t get the car out of gear. We had something fall off the car from the bumpy track, and it was tough to handle. It was a rough weekend here in Houston after yesterday’s start. The team just said we had a bad race before Fontana last year and came back to win that 500-miler. Let’s hope that can happen again in two weeks. My job for Fuzzy’s is to be the spoiler for that $250,000 bonus for Tony (Kanaan) and Scott (Dixon) with a win again at Fontana. They are after two-thirds of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Award there. I think we have a strong car again for that event.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, 13th): “We had an up-and-down day, for sure. Most important thing is that everyone is hopefully safe coming out of the day. It was a pretty bad wreck at the end in Turn 5. It looked pretty nasty for a couple of those guys, but I’m happy to know everyone is OK. We were pretty unlucky with the timing of yellows with our pit stops. I made a mistake toward the end of the race, and it ended up breaking our front wing. After that, we were just about finishing the race. It wasn’t reflective of what we had today. I think we had a lot more, but sometimes you have days like this, and other times they’re better, so we will move on.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet, seventh): “Honestly, three laps before the end, I was disappointed that we weren’t a little higher on the grid. But then I realized how many races we’ve been running up front, and something happens at the end. So we got a seventh, which is very decent after starting 21st, and it was a legit drive to the front for the National Guard team. The car was great on track, and we had a very good pit stop at the end, which is just like the Panther guys to deliver when it counts. It was a good day all around – just unfortunate that we didn’t have qualifying because with our speed I’m sure we would have started in the top 10, which would have helped and made things a lot easier. But we’ll take this, and it’s a way to build. You need races like this to start finishing regularly in the top five, on the podium and to get wins.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda, 17th): “It was a tough afternoon. We got up to fourth place, but we struggled with the car all afternoon. We had to pit anyway, and (Sebastien) Bourdais kind of lunged. So I gave him the room, and we lost a couple of spots there. Then we had to pit. After that, later we made the call to pit because the caution came out, and the guys weren’t ready. I don’t think it was their fault, but we lost a lap, and that was that. It’s frustrating, but we will move on to Fontana.”