Team Penske lands Helio and Power on Milwaukee podium

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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.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III