Helio seeks Championship hardware on “home track”; Danica holds 5th in points
South Florida resident and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves finished fourth this weekend at Kentucky Speedway to maintain his fourth-place position in the IndyCar Series Championship. His Team Penske teammate, Ryan Briscoe, battled Ed Carpenter for the final 23 laps, with Briscoe prevailing at the finish by a nose. During that final stretch, the duo was never separated by more than a split second and frequently ran side-by-side.
Danica Patrick finished 8th to maintain her hold on 5th place in the points standings, with the Champion to be crowned Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It was the closest-ever IndyCar Series finish at Kentucky and the 11th-closest finish in Series history. Aerodynamic rule changes implemented this week coupled with the debut of a "power assist" button—providing drivers an additional 5-20 horsepower for 12 seconds with each use—resulted in an exciting 200-lap race with 23 lead changes among seven drivers. When the IndyCar Series decides its Championship at the Oct. 10 Firestone Indy 300, drivers will have that extra tool at their disposal to make more daring passes on Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 18-20 degree-banked oval: a push-to-pass button.
"Unbelievable. I have to say, great package,” Castroneves said post-race of the new power-boosting device. “That ‘push to pass’—at the beginning we didn't really feel anything but then all of the sudden, man! It was incredible! I got a little greedy towards the end, I went way high and then I started coming back again and it was awesome, awesome. I had a lot of fun.”
As the leaders made their final pit stops on Lap 177 (of 200), Carpenter headed a four-car pack that included Briscoe, Key Biscayne’s Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon. Carpenter, who had initially taken the lead on Lap 128, first had to fend off Kanaan, with Dixon and Briscoe side-by-side and just behind the lead pair. But Dixon faded in the final 10 laps to an eventual seventh-place finish, while Briscoe got around Kanaan and began his attack on Carpenter.
Carpenter and Briscoe then ran side-by-side from Lap 192 onward, while fellow Miami residents Kanaan and Castroneves had their own side-by-side fight for third place. On Lap 195, Castroneves slid up out of the groove in Turn 2, dropping him to his fourth-place finish. Briscoe and Carpenter continued to swap the lead, each using the "power assist" button to edge ahead of the other at different points on the track.
Great seats are available for the Oct. 9-10 NextEra Energy Resources SpeedJam Championships, featuring the series-crowning Championship finales of the Firestone Indy Lights, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car and IndyCar Series.