Team Penske Verizon IndyCar Series Race Report – Mid-Ohio

Verizon IndyCar Series Race Report
Track: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio (2.258-mile, 12-turn road course)
Race: Honda Indy 200
Date: Aug. 2, 2015

No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start: 2nd
Finish: 14th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 0
Points Position (behind leader): 5th (-59)

Recap: In Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Will Power encountered the same issue that plagued two of his teammates – an untimely caution period at lap 65. The 14th-place finish kept Power in fifth place in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, now 59 points behind series leader and Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. After starting second, Power went off course briefly on the third lap and dropped to sixth place before settling in at lap 11. He pitted early to replace his front wing, which was damaged during the opening laps of the race, and he dropped to 18th place on lap 16, but Power gradually began to work his way back through the field. When Montoya pitted from the lead on lap 41, Power moved into the second spot, his race-high running position. Power was in fifth place and strongly contending when he was caught out by a yellow flag after Sage Karam spun on lap 65. Several drivers behind the lead pack had pitted moments before the caution brought about the closing of the pits. Once the leaders came down pit road, they were caught up in traffic as they tried to get back to the front. It was a rare tough result at Mid-Ohio for Power, who finished second in 2012 and 2010 at the circuit after winning the pole position both years.

Quote: “The Verizon Chevy didn’t have a great start today as we had some contact there in the early laps and did some damage to the front wing. We had to come in early and had a long pit stop that put us way behind. It put us at the back of the field, but we had a really fast car. We were able to push ourselves up a few spots and we got lucky with that first caution, which put us in the top five. We had a pretty good shot for a podium finish there from that point until that last caution. If it had just stayed green we would have had a good recovery on our hands. Things just didn’t go our way in the end. We’ll just keep our heads up and look forward to Pocono.”

No. 2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya

Start: 10th
Finish: 11th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 21
Points Position: Leader (465 pts)

Recap: Juan Pablo Montoya overcame numerous obstacles to have a shot to win Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but he saw his chance slip away with a bit of bad luck. Montoya was pacing the field just as a yellow flag flew on lap 65, one lap before he was to come down pit road for his final service of the day. After pitting during the caution period, Montoya and several other lead cars were mired deep in the field with laps winding down. He was able to cross the finish line in the 11th position and maintain his lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, but that lead is now just nine points over race winner, Graham Rahal. Only an oval race at Pocono Raceway — where Montoya won last year — and the season finale at Sonoma Raceway remain on the 2015 series schedule. After starting from the 10th position on Sunday, Montoya moved up to the sixth position by lap 16. The 2015 Indianapolis 500 winner took the lead for the first time at lap 39. After surrendering the lead for pit service at lap 41, Montoya was able to move back into the top spot by lap 49. However, when Sage Karam spun on Lap 65 and brought out another yellow flag, Montoya was caught in an unfortunate situation. He was able to salvage an 11th-place finish before the checkered flag and he will continue to carry the points lead into the penultimate race of the season, at Pocono Raceway in two weeks.

Quote: “Everyone on the Hawk Performance Chevy did an amazing job today. From where we were on Friday to today was a huge difference. We did everything we were supposed to do today and the race was playing out perfectly for us. Unfortunately, we got a caution with about 25 laps to go that we didn’t need. It worked out for some and didn’t work out for others. But we had a great car and we still have the points lead. Ready for Pocono, where we won last year.”

No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves

Start: 4th
Finish: 15th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 6
Points Position (behind leader): 4th (-58)

Recap: Helio Castroneves led the race and ran among the leaders before an untimely caution period cost him a shot at victory and relegated him to a 15th-place finish in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday afternoon. Castroneves is now fourth in the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers’ standings, 59 points behind teammate Juan Pablo Montoya and just one point ahead of Will Power. Castroneves started Sunday’s race in the fourth position and quickly moved up to third after the first lap. He maintained that position for the first stint, but after pitting during the second caution period on lap 23, he emerged in 14th place after a restart on lap 26. Castroneves fought back inside the top five before moving into the lead on lap 43. However on lap 65, a caution period benefited a group of drivers who made it into the pits moments before they were closed for the full-course caution. Castroneves was positioned in 16th place after the stop under yellow and he was unable to work his way back to the front on the tight Mid-Ohio circuit, as he secured a 15th-place result.

Quote: “We had a great race today. The Hitachi Chevy guys did one heck of a job for me and (race strategist) Roger (Penske) put us in great position to capitalize. There was a lot going on out there today, a lot of traffic. We had a great Hitachi Chevy but, unfortunately, the strategy didn’t play out for us. I wish there wasn’t two weeks off before we go to Pocono because I really want to get back on the track soon.”

No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start: 15th
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 0
Points Position (behind leader): 10th (-136 pts)

Recap: Simon Pagenaud took advantage of a caution period and timely pit stop on lap 65 to jump up among the leaders, where he ran strong to finish third in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The effort matched his best finish this season, his first with Team Penske. Pagenaud also finished third in May at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans at Belle Isle Park. Pagenaud started Sunday’s race in the 15th position but used deft strategy to move up to fifth place by lap 33. He kept the PPG Automotive Refinish Chevy near the middle of the pack when he entered the pits just before they were closed because of a spin by Sage Karam on the 65th lap. When the leaders — including Team Penske teammates Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Will Power — were forced to make their stops after the pits were opened, Pagenaud and others found themselves at the front of the pack. The third-consecutive podium finish for Pagenaud at Mid-Ohio kept him ranked 10th in the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers’ standings, now 136 points behind Montoya.

Quote: “It was a great day for the PPG Automotive Refinish Chevy, really. We had the roughest weekend of all. We had some mechanical issues earlier in the weekend, and Chevy and the whole team put a new engine in the back of the car for qualifying and then it was good. It’s funny how it works. We qualified badly and then we have a podium (finish). Good day, good day for the guys, it’s uplifting. We bounced back and congratulations to (race winner) Graham Rahal.”