A race that Team Penske would like to forget
A reliable pair of ears in the Team Penske trailer in the Long Beach Grand Prix paddock described this conversation between Roger Penske, scion of auto racing, and rising star Will Power from Toowoomba, Australia.
|Penske Motorsports boss Tim Cindric (L) was not happy on Sunday|
Said Penske: "No one feels worse than Helio (Castroneves)."
Said Power: "I do."
Power sequestered himself in the Penske trailer Sunday after the 37 th running of the race, and he had every reason to seek solace. For the third straight year, he won the Grand Prix pole. And he was looking to win it after finishing second and third the previous two years.
For large portions of the race, Power owned Shoreline Drive. And then faster than you can say Toowoomba, Team Penske teammate Castroneves ran up on the rear of Power's car and sent both of them into the run-off and off the podium.
Team Penske doesn't have many days like Sunday. Not only did Helio gas Power's hopes, but the third member of the team, Ryan Briscoe, gave up the lead on lap 72 and finished second.
Mike Conway won his first race, a great day for the lad from England who was severely injured at the Indy 500 last season. It was notable for Andretti Autosport, whose four drivers had one top-10 finish in the first two races of the season. The rest of the team went flat Sunday - Marco Andretti eliminated because of engine problems, Ryan Hunter-Reay suffering a mechanical problem while he was leading, and Danica Patrick finishing seventh by virtue of collisions and attrition.
But nothing like the Penskes.
Coming out of a yellow flag on lap 66 under IndyCar's new double-file restart rules, Briscoe stayed on the inside line as he entered the turn, with Power just on his right.
Castroneves was third.
"I braked into the turn, released, and then braked again, and this time (when I released) my car just kept going," he said. "It doesn't feel good to take a friend and teammate out. I've been involved in those kind of situations before."
But as the hittee, not the hitter.
Castroneves said the double-file restart, a not-too-popular new rule this season, contributed to the incident.
"Absolutely," he said. "It's been the topic of the season. I'm obviously not adapting to it well, but they create opportunities for these kind of incidents."
"(My) car was strong today," Power said. "It's definitely not the finish we wanted. I'm not sure what happened other than being hit by Helio. That happens, especially close racing like this with the double-file restarts."
Briscoe said his soft tires contributed to Conway's move but conceded Conway had the best car at that point. Long Beach Press Telegram