Power relieved to keep points lead
|By Matt Beer||Monday, May 30th 2011, 03:45 GMT|
Will Power said the fact that he retained his IndyCar Series points lead was the only comfort he could take from a poor Indianapolis 500 for the Penske team.
The championship leader finished only 14th in the series' premier race, having fallen to the tail of the field when he left his first pitstop with his left rear wheel not properly attached. As well as forcing him to do a lap on three wheels under yellow, the incident also caused brake damage that needed repairs.
But with main title rival Dario Franchitti only finishing 12th as his fuel strategy went awry in the closing stages of a race he had dominated at times, Power still managed to come away from Indianapolis 16 points ahead in the standings.
"There's no question, we were certainly on the back foot from the beginning," said Power. "I guess getting back to 14th was not too bad. Just glad the non-championship contenders won the race. Congratulations to Dan Wheldon, bloody awesome job."
None of the three Penske cars was a contender for pole or victory at Indianapolis this year, with Ryan Briscoe the most competitive of the trio in the race until he crashed in a late tangle with Townsend Bell.
"I saw Townsend brush the wall in Turn 4," said Briscoe. "Everyone was going down the inside. I was just following through on the inside into Turn 1. I just think he didn't know I was there, and he just came down and pinched me. As soon as we made contact, the wheels interlocked. And that was it."
Three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves could only finish 17th in Penske's third entry.
"The turbulence of this season has continued," he said. "We had a very big vibration at the beginning, and we had to do an unscheduled pitstop. And then we had a flat tyre.
"So it was one of those things. In the end, we were just trying to do something crazy, but unfortunately we couldn't do it."
Third-place finisher Graham Rahal said he had been surprised by how much the Penske cars were struggling every time he raced with them on his way through the field from 30th on the grid.
"I raced with Briscoe a couple times, passed Helio a couple times, passed Will. They didn't have it," said the Ganassi driver. "You could see Briscoe just did not feel comfortable all day. I'm pretty surprised that they weren't faster."