Team Penske Verizon IndyCar Series Race Report – Indianapolis 500

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Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Race: 100th Indianapolis 500
Date: May 29, 2016

No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya
Start: 17th
Finish: 33rd
Status: Contact
Laps Completed: 63/200
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 10th (-105)

Recap: Defending Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya encountered early trouble Sunday, spinning on track and making contact with the wall in Turn 2 on Lap 63. The accident ended his day early as Montoya finished a disappointing 33rd in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. By Lap 5, Montoya had dropped from his 17th starting position to 20th. On Lap 31, Montoya moved his Verizon Chevrolet up to second place as the leaders pitted. Once the field cycled through its pit stops, though, Montoya returned to mid-pack, where he stayed until the car spun out on the exit of Turn 2 and made contact with the outside wall. The No. 2 Verizon Chevy was too damaged to return to the track. Montoya was fresh from an eighth-place finish on May 14 in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course. He was attempting to win the Indy 500 for the third time in his fourth 500 start. However, a challenging starting position coupled with an ill-handling car early on in the race resulted in a premature exit for Montoya on Sunday. He and rest of the Verizon IndyCar Series field will get back at it this weekend with two races on the schedule at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans on the streets of Belle Isle.

Quote: “It’s disappointing for Verizon and Chevy and everybody who has worked so hard. The car was just hard to drive and it was a little bit tighter there in that corner and it got away. It was a disappointing day.”

No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves
Start: 9th
Finish: 11th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 200/200
Laps Led: Four times for 24 laps
Points Position: 3rd (-68 points)

Recap: Helio Castroneves led 24 laps on Sunday and was in contention to produce a record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory until an incident with JR Hildebrand left Castroneves battling to get back in the top 10 near the end of the 100th Indy 500. He started in the third row and steadily moved forward in the first half of the race, eventually taking the race lead. On Lap 54, Castroneves moved into seventh place before moving to fourth after pit stops on Lap 66. On Lap 89, Castroneves moved past Ryan Hunter-Reay into second place, and three laps later he passed James Hinchcliffe for the lead only to be passed by Hunter-Reay on a restart at Lap 104. During stops on Lap 117, Townsend Bell’s car collided with Castroneves’ car as they were exiting pit lane, but the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet carried on. By escaping the incident with minimal damage it appeared potentially to be the break Castroneves would need for a fourth visit to Victory Circle in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and he returned to the top position just over 20 laps later. However, contact with Hildebrand effectively ended Castroneves’ contention for the win. Castroneves then dropped to 19th after having to repair damage to the rear wing as a result of the incident before he rallied to finish 11th. Castroneves has won the Indy 500 three times. He was trying to tie the record of four shared by A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.
Quote: “What a car. What a team. I’m very disappointed in the way we ended up. It’s just not reflective of the car that we had and the pit stops that we had. I’m just so proud of the entire Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet team. The car was so strong. We had a car that could have won, but it wasn’t meant to be and we’ll move on to next week.”
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power
Start: 6th
Finish: 10th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 200/200
Laps Led: Once for eight laps
Points Position: 11th (-114)

Recap: Will Power, who finished second behind Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya a season ago in the Indianapolis 500, struggled to recover from an early penalty but still managed to record Team Penske’s best finish in the 100th Indy 500 driving the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. Power quickly moved up to fifth place on Lap 5, then ran among the top 10 before advancing to second by Lap 30. On Lap 48, Power and Tony Kanaan got together while leaving the pits. Power was given a drive-through penalty for a pit safety infraction that dropped him to 31st place. However, after topping off on fuel during the penalty, Power found himself in the lead on Lap 66 as the leaders pitted. He remained there until a restart on Lap 75, when James Hinchcliffe wrestled the lead away. By the midway point of the race, Power was mired in 26th place. He steadily began to climb back through the field during the second half of the race while employing a fuel-mileage strategy as he took the checkered flag in 10th place. It marked the third consecutive top-10 finish in the Indy 500 for Power.

Quote: “Tough day for the Verizon Chevy. It was pretty hectic as we went to the back and then the front again. We tried to save fuel at the end. We were on the same strategy as (winner, Alexander) Rossi but he was getting better fuel mileage and quicker lap times. It was really tough trying to save fuel those last 15 laps and keep our speed within the traffic. We made it as best we could. Despite the penalty, we still made it back to the front, but it just didn’t go our way towards the end.”

No. 22 Menards Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud
Start: 8th
Finish: 19th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 199/200
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 1st (57-point lead over second-place Scott Dixon)

Recap: Simon Pagenaud showed speed Sunday, flirting with contention for the lead the 100th Indianapolis 500 behind the wheel of the Menards Team Penske Chevy before producing a disappointing 19th-place finish due to mechanical woes that snapped his three-race winning streak. Pagenaud continues to lead the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers’ standings, now by 57 points over Scott Dixon, heading into next week’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented Quicken Loans on Belle Isle. Pagenaud dropped back at the start of the race, falling to 13th on Lap 3 before charging to ninth place on Lap 13 and seventh by Lap 16. By Lap 29, he moved up to second place and was positioned to challenge for the race lead. He remained in the top five until a pit stop on Lap 66 in which he was penalized for an improper pit exit. The drive-through penalty dropped him back to 30th, but the French driver battled back into the top 10 by the midpoint of the race. By Lap 118, he was back in third place, but struggles during the second half of the race kept him mired back in the pack. Pagenaud has won seven IndyCar races in his career, including his very first series victory on the streets of Belle Isle – site of next week’s twin races in Detroit.

Quote: “It was a tough day. I really think we had a contending car again this year. Thanks to Team Penske for giving me such a good chassis and such a good understanding of the aero on the car. The Menards Chevy was definitely a good car today before bad luck struck us today. We got a misfire in the engine at about Lap 97 and we had to fight with that the rest of the way. It was just inconsistent power. We kept fighting, though, and still have the lead in points. I really thought we had the car today.”