Castroneves feels like winner after Edmonton
Mopping perspiration and maybe a tear of joy from his face after a physical and hard-fought 80 laps on the 2.224-mile, 13-turn City Centre Airport circuit, Helio Castroneves couldn't conceal the broad, unforced smile behind the towel.
|Beaten again by his faster Penske teammate, Will Power, Helio Castroneves was just happy to be back on the podium|
A runner-up finish to Team Penske teammate Will Power in the Edmonton Indy - where victory in 2010 was snatched away in the closing laps by penalty issued for blocking the challenge of, ironically, Power - was his most-satisfying result in an otherwise disappointing IZOD IndyCar Series season.
Castroneves is still looking for a victory to extend his series record to 12 seasons, but this payoff was a fine consolation prize after starting ninth. It was Castroneves' 28th second place (two behind Bobby Unser, Al Unser Jr. and A.J. Foyt on the all-time list), and he and Tony Kanaan (fourth place) tied Johnny Rutherford for 12th on the career Indy car racing list with 99 top-five finishes.
"I'm so glad that finally this momentum, it's changing," said Castroneves, who had only one top-five finish (Texas 2 in June) entering the race weekend.
It's been an uncharacteristically uneven season for the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, with finishes above 12th in four of the five road/street course races before the fourth IZOD IndyCar Series race in Edmonton (where he also was runner-up in 2008 and '09). On the ovals, Castroneves has posted top-10 finishes in four of the five.
"This season, the way it's going, it's a great result for the team," said Castroneves, who advanced three spots in the championship standings to ninth.
Castroneves moved to third behind the cars of Alex Tagliani and the front-running Power on Lap 39 and inherited second when Tagliani pitted on Lap 49. He was on Power's tail from Lap 57 after the final round of service stops to the final straight. At the same time, IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Dario Franchitti filled Castroneves' rearview mirrors.
"Once we were up there, it was just like good old times," said Castroneves, who was never more than eight-tenths of a second off Power's pace in the final 20 laps. "I was really catching Will. As soon as we put the reds on, I was just going for it, going for it. I had one or two chances, but it's one of those things I wanted to pass, but the way my season was going, it was hard.
"He was just smart enough to be in the right place, used the 'push to pass' to not give me a slight chance. With that, he was able to win a very good race. But for us it was awesome."
Power closed to 38 points of the championship lead entering the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 7.