Part-time Team Penske driver Will Power dominated Sunday’s Rexall Edmonton Indy, leading 90 of the 95 laps for his first IndyCar Series victory in just five starts this season, and leading teammate Helio Castroneves to the checkers for a 1-2 Team Penske finish.
Starting from the pole, Power surrendered the lead only to make his two scheduled stops, and frequently led by as many as six seconds until a full-course caution on the penultimate lap closed the gap to just over one second. The caution, the result of a spin by Tomas Scheckter into the Turn 9 barriers, spoiled what would have been the first caution-free race in IndyCar Series history. Still, the single lap of yellow at the end of the race established a new series record for fewest caution-flag laps.
The 23 drivers in this weekend’s field ran a total of 8,270 miles in practice, qualifying and racing on the runways and taxiways that make up the temporary Edmonton City Centre airport circuit; once again without a single engine-related failure for the Honda HI9R Indy V-8.
Much of the fireworks in today’s race came from the battle for second place between Castroneves and Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, with Ryan Briscoe’s Team Penske Honda also freqently in the mix. All three easily out-distanced eventual fifth-place finisher Dario Franchitti.
In the end, a mistake by Briscoe, causing him to brush the wall exiting Turn 9, dropped him back to a fourth-place finish; while Castroneves passed Dixon for the final time on Lap 84, using a “pick” around the lapped car of Ed Carpenter to make his successful move.
Paul Tracy gave his home country fans some excitement early in the race, jumping up from his ninth starting position to sixth on the opening lap, but was unable to advance any further in his KV Racing Honda. In a scary moment, a faulty fuel probe stuck in the open position during Tony Kanaan’s first scheduled pit stop, leading to a fire on board his car and in the Andretti Green Racing pits. With help from crewmembers from the Penske, Ganassi and Panther Racing teams, the fire was quickly extinguished and Kanaan escaped with second degree burns on his hands and minor flash burns to his face and neck.
After three road- and street-course events, the IndyCar Series now heads back to an oval with a Saturday night race August 1 at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.
IndyCar Series Standings (after 11 of 17 races):
1. Scott Dixon 380 points (3 wins) 7. Dan Wheldon 255
2. Dario Franchitti 377 (3 wins) 8. Justin Wilson 241 (1 win)
3. Ryan Briscoe 366 (1 win) 9. Tony Kanaan 239
4. Helio Castroneves 309 (2 wins) 10. Graham Rahal 235
5. Danica Patrick 285 11. Hideki Mutoh 220
6. Marco Andretti 259 12. Robert Doornbos-R 197
Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, 1st IndyCar win of 2009 in 5 race starts: “That was a perfect weekend: pole position and the win. I was just a great day for us. The car was perfect, the pit stops were flawless and I think we led all but a handful of laps. I’m very grateful to Roger [Penske] and Tim [Cindric, team president] for giving me this opportunity. You couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere to work in with great guys and fantastic teammates. I’m loving every moment of this and hope to be with Team Penske for a long, long time.”
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) Started 3rd, finished 2nd: “It was a very physical race today. I had a good battle with Scott [Dixon] early, but after the first pit stop was able to open up a bit of a gap. Then we all got bottled up in lapped traffic, and made an early second stop. I lost time there, and fell back to fourth. But then Ryan [Briscoe] had a bit of a problem in Turn 9 and slid wide, and I got past him. That brought me back up to Scott and again we got caught up in traffic. Scott went one way and I went the other and I was able to make a clean move on him for second.”
Jack Spurney (General Manager, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “I think all of us at Honda enjoy coming to Canada and working with our friends from Honda Canada. We had beautiful weather here in Edmonton, especially on race day, and a great fan turnout all weekend. Congratulations to Will Power and Team Penske, they really dominated the race; and we were relieved to see Tony Kanaan get out of his pit fire with relatively minor burns. They way the Panther, Penske and Ganassi teams responded to Kanaan’s fire was very gratifying to see. They didn’t hesitate for an instant before working to put out the fire and get Tony out of the car. Finally, thanks as always to our associates at HPD and technical partner Ilmor for another perfect race with the Honda Indy V-8.”
Edmonton Race Results
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Rexall Edmonton Indy Race Report
Circuit: City Centre Airport (1.98-mile temporary circuit) Edmonton, Alb., Canada
2008 Winner: Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) 96.967 mph average
Weather: Mostly sunny, warm, 85 degrees F
Fn. St. Driver Team Chassis Laps Average Speed/Notes
1. 1. Will Power Team Penske Honda Dallara 95 109.498 mph average, led 90 laps
2. 3. Helio Castroneves Team Penske Honda Dallara 95 -1.0936 (under caution), led 2 laps
3. 4. Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara 95 -1.3213 seconds, led 2 laps
4, 2. Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Honda Dallara 95 -1.8266 seconds, led 1 lap
5. 6. Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara 95 -4.4652 seconds
6. 9. Paul Tracy KV Racing Technology Honda Dallara 95 -6.3941 seconds
7. 5. Graham Rahal Newman Haas Lanigan Honda Dallara 95 -26.5700 seconds
8. 15. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dallara 95 -26.9169 seconds
9. 10. Robert Doornbos-R Newman Haas Lanigan Honda Dallara 94 Running
10. 18. Marco Andretti Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 94 Running
11. 20. Danica Patrick Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 94 Running
12. 14. E.J. Viso HVM Racing Honda Dallara 94 Running
13. 17. Alex Tagliani Conquest Racing Honda Dallara 94 Running
14. 12. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 94 Running
15. 22. Dan Wheldon Panther Racing Honda Dallara 94 Running
16. 23. Ed Carpenter Vision Racing Honda Dallara 93 Running
17. 21. Ryan Hunter-Reay A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Dallara 87 Running (delayed)-contact
18. 8. Raphael Matos-R Luczo Dragon Racing Honda Dallara 87 Running (delayed)-contact
19. 16. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold Honda Dallara 73 Did not finish-crash
20. 11. Mike Conway-R Dreyer & Reinbold Honda Dallara 63 Running (delayed)-contact
21. 13. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 34 Did not finish-refueling fire
22. 19. Richard Antinucci-R Team 3G Honda Dallara 20 Did not finish-coolant leak
23. 7. Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology Honda Dallara 0 Did not finish-contact
R - IndyCar Series Rookie