By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Castroneves feels like winner after Edmonton
2. Inside the numbers – Edmonton
3. Edmonton race draws improved rating on VERSUS
1. 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.
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 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.
2. Inside the numbers – Edmonton: Some numbers to note from the Edmonton Indy at the Edmonton City Centre Airport, the 10th event of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
2: Wins in Edmonton for Will Power, who also won at Edmonton City Centre Airport in 2009.
4: Consecutive top-10 finishes for Dario Franchitti. It was his sixth consecutive top-10 finish.
6: Sebastien Bourdais’ finishing position in the two Canadian events. The sixth-place finishes are his season-best finish for Dale Coyne Racing.
13: Positions gained by Danica Patrick and JR Hildebrand, the most in the 26-car field. Patrick finished ninth in the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car. Hildebrand was 11th in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car.
18: Cars that finished on the lead lap. Most cars to finish on the lead lap this season.
20: Drivers who have recorded at least 1 top-five finish this year after Justin Wilson finished fifth at Edmonton.
28: Second-place finishes by Helio Castroneves in his Indy car career.
44: Straight races for Danica Patrick without a DNF, extending her IZOD IndyCar Series record.
78.9590: Seconds it took Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais to record the fastest lap of the race on Lap 80 of the 80-lap event.
82: Podium finishes by Dario Franchitti, which is seventh on the all-time list.
99: Top-five finishes for both Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, tying Johnny Rutherford for 12th on the all-time list.
103: Top-five finishes for Dario Franchitti, the most among active drivers.
620: Laps led by Franchitti in 2011. He has led 44.3 percent of the laps this season.
1,398: Laps completed by Franchitti, driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, of 1,398.
3. Edmonton race draws improved rating on VERSUS: Overnight ratings for VERSUS’ broadcast of the Edmonton on July 24 were the third-highest ever for an IZOD IndyCar Series race on the network in the 56 metered markets.
The 80-lap race on the 2.224-mile, 13-turn Edmonton City Centre Airport street circuit won by Will Power registered a .39 rating. Through seven races, VERSUS has seen a 25 percent ratings increase over its 2010 season average.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 7 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be televised live at 2 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres on Aug. 7 at the streets of Trois Rivieres. It will be televised on tape delay by VERSUS.