Helio Castroneves fends off Takuma Sato for Edmonton IndyCar win
|By Mark Glendenning||Sunday, July 22nd 2012, 21:03 GMT|
Helio Castroneves denied Takuma Sato a maiden IndyCar victory in a close-fought battle around the Edmonton airport circuit.
Castroneves and Sato had made the lead contest their own in the final stint, but the Brazilian was forced to work hard to keep Sato behind him. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver was the quickest driver on the circuit towards the end of the race and closed down a gap of more than three seconds to get close enough to have a couple of lunges at his Penske rival.
Both drivers leaned heavily on their Push To Pass during the last six laps, and the defensive benefit to Castroneves was enough for him to secure his second win of the season.
Will Power put in the drive of the day to go from 17th to third. One of the keys to his progress was a strategic one; the Penske driver staying out a lap or two longer than his rivals, and gaining an advantage each time. But mostly, he did it by simply being quick - during the middle of the race, he was lapping up to 0.8s quicker than the cars around him, although his challenge faded towards the end.
Graham Rahal backed up his early weekend claims of having a better car than his qualifying performance suggested by finishing 1.5s behind Power in fourth, ahead of Alex Tagliani.
For much of the race, the Canadian had been in charge. He passed polesitter Dario Franchitti shortly after the start, and continued to lead right through the first two cycles of pitstops. But his speed fell away in the third stint, and with it went his hopes of a win on home soil.
Ryan Hunter-Reay overcame his grid penalty to climb from 11th to seventh, finishing just down the road from Franchitti, while the Ganassi driver's team-mate Scott Dixon worked his way into the top 10 after starting 17th.
Unusually, the race ran its full distance without a full course yellow. Only two cars failed to make it to the finish, with James Jakes and Oriol Servia both being sidelined by mechanical problems.
Results - 75 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Helio Castroneves Penske Dallara-Chevy 1h38m50.9294s 2. Takuma Sato Rahal Dallara-Honda + 0.8367s 3. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy + 5.3697s 4. Graham Rahal Ganassi Dallara-Honda + 6.9481s 5. Alex Tagliani Herta Dallara-Honda + 15.2358s 6. Dario Franchitti Ganassi Dallara-Honda + 15.8757s 7. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Dallara-Chevy + 21.5357s 8. Ryan Briscoe Penske Dallara-Chevy + 23.5311s 9. Justin Wilson Coyne Dallara-Honda + 26.3280s 10. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda + 26.6481s 11. Mike Conway Foyt Dallara-Honda + 27.0458s 12. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Dallara-Chevy + 31.4527s 13. Rubens Barrichello KV Dallara-Chevy + 35.1256s 14. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Chevy + 39.8669s 15. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon Dallara-Chevy + 40.8154s 16. EJ Viso KV Dallara-Chevy + 55.1028s 17. Josef Newgarden Fisher Dallara-Honda + 56.0449s 18. Tony Kanaan KV Dallara-Chevy + 57.0272s 19. Charlie Kimball Ganassi Dallara-Honda + 1m04.8947s 20. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Dallara-Honda + 1 lap 21. JR Hildebrand Panther Dallara-Chevy + 1 lap 22. Ed Carpenter Carpenter Dallara-Chevy + 1 lap 23. Simona de Silvestro HVM Dallara-Lotus + 2 laps Retirements: Oriol Servia Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy 65 laps James Jakes Coyne Dallara-Honda 43 laps