|Castroneves charges to victory|
Helio Castroneves dominated the Iowa Corn 300 Sunday for his 30th IndyCar career win over JR Hildebrand and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
After passing pole sitter Will Power in the early laps, Castroneves led 217 of 300 laps in his Penske Chevy to give Roger Penske his first win at Iowa.
Will Power came home 4th and Graham Rahal rounded out the top-5.
With the win Castroneves passes Rick Mears on the all-time win list.
IndyCar allowed the Andretti team to open up the back of the Honda Butt Bumpers like the Chevys are and Ryan Hunter-Reay went from 15th at the start to 3rd at the finish.
It is Castroneves' first triumph since the opener of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader on June 1, 2014. It also gave the 42-year-old Brazilian, celebrating his 20th season in Indy cars, career win No. 30 to move him into sole possession of 12th place on the all-time victory list. Castroneves had been tied with retired Team Penske great Rick Mears, who now serves as Castroneves' spotter on ovals.
"Finally, everything came together," said Castroneves, who also overtook Al Unser for fourth all time in laps led and now has 5,947. "And 30 wins, we just passed Rick Mears, which is my hero. … I'm honored to be part of this organization, and I can only thank Roger (Penske, team owner), (team president Tim) Cindric and the entire team for supporting me. It's easy to be behind you in good times, but they've always been there no matter the time, so for me that's priceless. I'm going to continue focusing on this season, and there's more to come."
Good Oval Debut for Gutierrez
Dale Coyne Racing’s Esteban Gutierrez finished 13th in what was a very impressive oval debut by the rookie driver in a race that saw his teammate Ed Jones finish 18th.
At the start of the race both drivers lost positions with Jones falling to 15th and Gutierrez 20th. However, as he was gaining experience and getting more comfortable with every lap, Gutierrez would continuosly improve his position, climbing to 13th by the midway mark of the race.
That wouldn’t be the end of his climb however as he would go on to pass experienced drivers like Scott Dixon on his way into the top 10. The driver of the #18 Unifin car was sitting eighth when a small shower interrupted the race and after going back to green flag racing with 92 laps remaining, he would run as high second before making his final pit stop.
Following his stop for fuel and tires, the rookie fell back to 14th place but he was able to gain one more spot in the closing laps to cross the checkered flag in 13th position. While he may have only gained five positions from his starting grid, the rookie driver gained immeasurable experience that will help him in future races.
|Hunter-Reay finally did not have to tow a parachute around the track|
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 HITACHI CHEVROLET – Race Winner
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON FINALLY CLIMBING THAT FENCE?
“I’m not as young as I used to be (laughs). I’ll tell you what. What a car! This Hitachi Chevy was unbelievable. Oh my goodness! What a great car. What a great team. What can I say? What a race. I am speechless. I want to thank, obviously RP (Roger Penske) and those guys and my group and my teammates for working so hard together. But the Hitachi Chevy was on rails! We had a little bit of an issue in the beginning, but after we shut off the car, it was great. What a great feeling. It’s just like the first time (laughs)!"
JUST BEFORE THE START OF THE RACE, THERE WAS SPECULATION WHEN YOU WERE ASKED ABOUT YOUR FUTURE. YOUR ANSWER WAS THAT YOU NEEDED TO WIN TODAY AND THEN WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. WHEN YOU SAID THAT, DID YOU THINK YOU HAD THIS GOOD OF A SHOT?
“Listen, we’ve been close so many times and finally our luck was a little bit on our side. We didn’t have a problem with the yellow. The car was on it. Everything that will happen behind the scenes is behind the scenes. I’m just so honored to be a part of this organization. It’s a great group of guys. That was awesome!"
|Castroneves jumps under Power at the start|
YOU TALKED ABOUT EACH ONE OF THE TEAM DRIVERS HAVING A WIN. WE KNEW THIS DAY WOULD COME AT SOME POINT, BUT DID YOU? DID YOU START TO DOUBT WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAD ANOTHER WIN?
“Oh, no, I never doubt. That actually wasn’t even in my thoughts. We have great support and especially with Team Penske. They never gave up on me. We’ve been always there. We’re always good and I’m glad RP is back. Great strategy. And man, what a day! This is like so cool! It’s like winning for the first time (laughs). This is amazing. I just want to thank the Lord, honestly, to give me strength and power; but I have to thank the team. The car was so on rails today. It’s not about believing or not believing, it’s about having everything happen at the right time. We didn’t put a wheel wrong, even through traffic; we didn’t panic when the car was a little bad. I’ll tell you guys. We’ve got to keep digging. Let’s keep working on it!"
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "It took a little while to get the Menards Chevy running fast, but it definitely was at the end. There was so much tire degradation that it was difficult to get a great feel for balance. Essentially, seventh is not bad. It's not what we want to do, but starting 11th and being unlucky with the draw in qualifying are factors. I can't complain about it. That's the sport. We just need to be patient and keep doing what we're doing. At some point we'll get another win. I feel awesome for Helio (Castroneves) – just super happy. Instead of concentrating on me today, I think we all should congratulate Helio. He's been waiting for this win since 2014 and it's kind of unfair considering how competitive he has been."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was one of those not bad, but not great days. The Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevrolet was really good, but we just couldn't get over the hump. Everyone is so equal now that it really is challenging to make up large amounts of ground. We were a little behind the eight-ball after qualifying 16th, but that's the draw sometimes. I really couldn't be happier for Helio (Castroneves). He's been so close so many times. It was a great day for Team Penske."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 2017 Iowa Corn 300 winner): "That was great. I can't thank enough Team Penske, Hitachi, Chevy car group and all our partners, and especially the people in the shop. They don't get much credit, but without their work and effort, we wouldn't be able to do what we did. And again, it's a great team effort because we came here, we tried a lot of different setups between all four cars, and man, I picked the winning one, so it was really good. The car felt really good, and it was just great. In the beginning we missed a little bit on the setup, then we made some adjustments after the first stop or second stop, and the car was fantastic. It was really good. It was a long time (between wins), but you can never stop believing, and my team never stopped supporting me on that and today was great. Everything went great. We didn't have a yellow at the wrong time, we didn't have issues with the tire or anything else or mechanical. Everything was really, really good, and when you have a day like this, you've got to execute.
CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "Tough day. Happy with the first stint – it felt good, got a good start, it was nice. But it was like driving on a knife edge. We improved the car the last session but still not where we need to be. Working hard out there and the car snapped loose and I tried to keep it out of the wall. Hopefully we can develop it more and come back stronger."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "It was a bit of a long day for us, to be honest. We had a really quick car in certain points of the day, but really struggled with the car going loose in traffic. There was a bunch of times where we had really good runs on cars, and as I tried to pull up behind them, we just totally lost the back of the car. We were really fighting that all night long… it was a bit of a battle out there for sure. I feel bad for Mikhail (Aleshin), obviously, and certainly not the finish that we wanted. We probably had a fifth-place car, but unfortunately we couldn't pull that off today. It was nice to get a finish after some of the luck we've had the last few rounds. We head to a street circuit which is what we've been strong at so far this year, so hopefully we can have a good result in the Arrow car in Toronto."
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "We had a loose car all day and felt like I was holding on to my life there that whole stint. I'm not sure how many saves they might have shown (on the TV broadcast) but on that last lap it just went, and I couldn't do anything to save it."
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): "It was a wild one for sure in the Gallagher car today. I really didn't know where we were until we crossed the finish line. At one point we were leading, at one point we were 18th. I tried to run a good race. I was right there at one point with Scott (Dixon) and Tony (Kanaan) and we were battling pretty well and changing spots. They have years more experience than I do, so I was happy to be in that mix with them. We didn't have the package to win it this weekend, but we did the best job I think we could have."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda, 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): "It was a rough day for the NTT Data car. We were just so loose. We tried to fix it with wing adjustments, tire pressure adjustments and cross-weights, but the rear was just loose especially on restarts for us. As we got later on in the run, we could beat up the right front tire and create some understeer which helped. Our only option was to run the high line and as soon as I went on the low line I started to spin out. All in all just happy I didn't crash today."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): "That was an exhausting race for sure. The car was a handful at the beginning of the race, but we were able to make some adjustments throughout that first stint in the cockpit that really helped out. The car definitely came to us as the race went on and we made adjustments in the stops. We were running the same lap times, if not faster, as the leaders multiple times throughout the race. We just weren't able to make the passes we needed to get to the front. The NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing guys did a good job in the pits and were able to get me a few spots on pit lane. We were hoping for a higher finish than ninth, especially with how the weekend was going, but we'll take a top-10 finish heading into Toronto."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I wish we could have gotten the Verizon Chevrolet to Victory Lane, but I don't feel bad at all with where we ended up. It was a good day. Not unhappy at all. The car was pretty loose on that second to last stint, but very good on that final stint. We got another solid finish and scored some important points. But the story of today is Helio (Castroneves). I'm mega happy for him. It's really kind of ridiculous that it has taken this long with how good they've been. Something always seemed to bite them, but not today. I couldn't be happier."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "I feel really sorry for the team. The car was pretty decent in the race, maybe not the fastest, but really consistent through the run. I went out on new tires and the car didn't turn. In Turn 4, the car went straight, got in marbles and there was no way back from that."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 GEHL Honda): "I'm really proud of the GEHL team. I wanted to win today so I'm disappointed with fifth, which is a good thing. We had a good day and got solid points. We would have liked to have gained on Will (Power) and Helio (Castroneves, in the point standings) though. I actually felt I had a car that was equally as good as theirs but the track position became hard. As I said during the broadcast under the red flag, the guys just kept moving up (on the high line), which is fine – that's their right to choose a lane – but that was where I was comfortable running so we lost some space. The guys did a great job, though. We've just got to keep our heads down and keep finishing in the front. We're going to Toronto (street race) now and after what happened in Detroit (two wins, street race), hopefully that setup will translate well and we'll have a great race there too. Yeah I'm disappointed with fifth place, but overall it was a great day. That's four really solid finishes in a row, so we've just got to keep this going."
ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): "It was really, really fun. It was a very nice experience. Obviously being the first time on an oval, I didn't know what to expect at the beginning of the race and I struggled to get up to speed, but after a few laps, I got more and more comfortable and I was using my tools in the car to try to handle it in traffic, which is the trickiest part. I want to thank my competitors because they were very fair to me. It was fair racing, good racing and I really enjoyed it out there today. It wasn't easy with the different lanes and traffic because once you get really close you have a completely different car so you need to anticipate a lot and for that you need a lot of experience. Every time with more and more experience I will be able to anticipate that better, but I think today was a really good start. I also want to thank the team because they were really good on giving me all the tools and the information on doing a good job today.
ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "We missed it with the race setup and the car was a handful to drive today. On the positive side, we brought the car back home in one piece. Now, on to the next one."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "There are a lot of emotions after a day like today. I finished 12th and that's not what I came here to do. It's disappointing from that standpoint. Obviously, I'm happy for JR (Hildebrand) and the result he got for the team, but I'm also just disappointed in my day. It's hard to get past those emotions. We don't totally know what happened; we definitely had a weight jacker failure which sure didn't help anything. Hopefully we'll be able to catch a break with one of my last two races this year and get a good result, hopefully get a win. It's been too long."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "It feels good. I definitely think that under some slightly different circumstances we had a car to win out there. The guys made a great call to pit early and get out into the lead at the end and try to hustle all the way. I think if we'd been on equal tires with Helio (Castroneves) we'd have had something for him there at the end – but all and all really excited for the Fuzzy's Vodka crew to get on the podium here again. They definitely deserved it after the weekend that we had. Hopefully this gets us kicked off for a stretch run going into the rest of the year."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "It was a tough race. We had a great qualifying and the start (of the race) was pretty exciting. I was able to hold a good position. The car was working well, and then about halfway through the stint I started to lose balance and grip and was gradually losing position. By the third stint, we saw something strange with our right-rear tire, it was behaving unusual – the tire pressure never came up. We were so loose that we had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop, which put me down two laps because immediately after we pitted, there was a yellow flag – very, very unfortunate timing. The rest of the race I was trying to un-lap myself and it was a tough one. It is a shame after we had a great start. It's not ideal to finish like this, but hopefully we can be strong in Toronto and collect more points."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): "We got derailed in qualifying and started our race from behind. We could never really gain track position and took a gamble and pitted just before the red flag. If we would have had a yellow we would have been looking good. It was worth the gamble and only cost us two positions. Throughout the whole day, we just never had the track position we needed."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "That was a tough drive. We just made the car better and better through the whole race and I wasn't really happy with the car at all. I have to give big credit to my team and my engineer, Ray Gosselin, for putting the right setup on the car. We finally got it to where I like it – some remnants of the past. A little more straight-line speed and we could've given these guys a run for their money. Congratulations to Helio (Castroneves) – it's great to see him win again. He's been right there knocking on the door for so long. Hats off to the No. 28 DHL team and thank you to all the Iowa fans, we love coming here. Hopefully we can come back here at night some time, because that is my favorite."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): "A really hard day – I'm happy to bring it back in one piece honestly. The car stepped out on me a couple of times and I caught it right up to the wall in Turn 4 once. With the heat and the wind, it was just a really challenging day. I think the balance itself was hit or miss – we weren't great. Overall, we just weren't quite quick enough once the newness of the tires had worn off. It was really about the middle to the end of the fuel stint where we were losing a bunch of time to everyone around us. We'll go back and look at it to try to figure out how to make the No. 83 Tresiba Honda work on a short oval track."
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda): "For most of the race we were trying to tune in and get the car drivable which we were able to do by the end. The last stint was the only time I felt comfortable in the car all day. It's unfortunate because I thought we had a really good race car through this weekend, but the temperature caught us by surprise and I don't think we accounted enough for the effect it had on the car. Congrats to Ryan (Hunter-Reay) for getting on the podium and being where he should be."
|11||98||Alexander Rossi||299||1 LAPS||7.1924||18.433||0||12||Honda|
|12||20||Ed Carpenter||299||1 LAPS||5.4357||18.342||0||4||Chevy|
|13||18||Esteban Gutierrez||299||1 LAPS||2.6120||18.346||0||18||Honda|
|14||8||Max Chilton||299||1 LAPS||0.1971||18.468||2||13||Honda|
|15||83||Charlie Kimball||298||2 LAPS||11.0055||18.617||10||14||Honda|
|16||26||Takuma Sato||298||2 LAPS||13.5234||18.440||0||5||Honda|
|17||27||Marco Andretti||298||2 LAPS||1.6068||18.514||7||20||Honda|
|18||19||Ed Jones||297||3 LAPS||15.4639||18.550||0||8||Honda|
|19||4||Conor Daly||168||16 LAPS||15 LAPS||18.836||0||19||Chevy|
|20||14||Carlos Munoz||130||2 LAPS||2.5852||18.944||0||21||Chevy|
|21||7||Mikhail Aleshin||56||2 LAPS||1 LAPS||18.581||0||6||Honda|
Winner's average speed: 139.702
Time of Race: 1:55:11.2807
Margin of victory: 3.9647 seconds
Cautions: 4 for 44 laps
Lead changes: 12 among 8 drivers
Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Dixon 403, Castroneves 395, Pagenaud 372, Power 350, Newgarden 347, Rahal 337, Sato 337, Kanaan 295, Rossi 290, Chilton 268.