Team Penske had a good day at the Milwaukee Mile, scoring a double-podium result in the Milwaukee IndyFest with runner-up Helio Castroneves and third-place finisher Will Power (pictured, left and right, hitting race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay with cream puffs in Victory Lane).
Castroneves, who won last weekend at Texas and remains the IZOD IndyCar Series championship leader by 16 points over today’s winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, had to work hard at keeping Power behind him in the closing laps. The two went side-by-side late for second place, but despite a tight squeeze going through Turns 3 and 4, Castroneves kept the position on the outside.
Milwaukee has long been a historically tough place for the Brazilian, who achieved only his third Top-5 result in 13 starts across CART and INDYCAR at the Mile. But today also marked his fourth podium of the 2013 campaign, and that will keep his hopes of finally winning a series championship robust as the focus shifts to Iowa Speedway for next Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250.
“I thought it was a great race, to be honest, because people that used a different strategy, like myself for example, were able to pass people,” said Castroneves, who started 17th on the grid.
“It turned out to be a similar situation like Texas – a lot of people with new tires [were] passing and [they’d] keep going. So for us, we put ourselves in that position. Great strategy by [team owner] Roger [Penske] and the boys.”
As for Power, he finally locked down his first podium result of the year, which has been a struggle for him after contending for the championship in each of the last three seasons. Knowing that Castroneves is fighting for a title, he had to be extra careful while racing him for P2 in the closing laps. Still, it was a close call between the pair.
“I was very mindful coming on Helio, he’s leading the championship,” said Power. “For Penske, it’s all about the team. I didn’t want to do anything desperate. I want to make sure that he maintains the points lead.
“If I could have passed him easy, I would. All in all, [a] very good day. I’m very happy with third.”
Prior to this afternoon’s race, Power had not hit an IZOD IndyCar Series podium since finishing second last August to Ryan Briscoe at Sonoma Raceway. He’s hopeful that today’s result will help him return to being a regular contender as he has been in past years.
“When you have a real big slump, you have to recheck yourself, get back to what actually got you in the position to be a great team,” he said. “That’s kind of the stage I’m in right now. It’s good. You go back to working really hard.”