Team Penske Verizon IndyCar Series Race Report
Track: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Race: Honda Indy 200
Date: July 31, 2016
No. 2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 9
Points Position: 12th (-185)
Recap: As has been the case throughout most of the season, Juan Pablo Montoya had a better car than the results showedSunday afternoon in the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Hawk Performance Chevrolet ran among the leaders in all of the practice sessions but only qualified eighth for Sunday’s race, which left some work to be done for Montoya and the No. 2 team. Several strategies were at work in the early portion of the race which meant that when the caution flag flew on Lap 14 the field got shuffled and Montoya stayed on track to take the race lead. He led for nine laps before heading to pit lane and his first stop of the afternoon. Just prior to the halfway point of the 90-lap race, Montoya had worked his way back to eighth place in the running order. During what was scheduled to be his final stop of the race on Lap 62, Montoya’s chief mechanic and outside front tire changer Vance Welker suffered an injury when the cars of Mikhail Aleshin and Josef Newgarden made contact on pit road and Aleshin’s machine clipped Welker as he was changing the tire on the No. 2 car. Welker was cleared by medical personnel to return to the pits just a few laps after the incident. After returning to pit lane two laps later and falling to 17th place, Montoya gained six spots over the final 25 laps of the race to finish in 11th position.
Quote: “First, I want to say that I’m really glad that Vance Welker (No. 2 car chief mechanic – outside front tire changer) is OK after the incident (in the pits between No. 7 and 21 cars) today. Secondly, the Hawk Performance Chevrolet was good all weekend and it definitely had the speed for a podium finish. For the race, we went with a different strategy and it didn’t work out as well as we would have liked. We went with a different set of (Firestone) red tires that we thought would work well for us during the latter part of the race, but the balance was off after that. We have to keep our heads up and look ahead. We just need to go back and look at things this week and see what we can do differently for Pocono.”
No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 0
Points Position (behind leader): 3rd (-111 pts.)
Recap: A tough stretch of luck and bad breaks continued for Helio Castroneves and the No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet team Sunday at Mid-Ohio. Just as the race was settling in during the early going of the Honda Indy 200, Castroneves, who started seventh on the grid, and defending series champion Scott Dixon made contact as Dixon was attempting a pass. The No. 3 car suffered rear wing damage as a result of the contact and Castroneves eventually went into the grass in Turn 2 due to the car’s mishandling. Castroneves was forced to stop on Lap 22 as the Hitachi team replaced the rear wing and the repairs took longer than expected. The three-time Indianapolis 500 champion fell a lap down to the leaders and into 21st position as a result of the extended stop. The team fought to get back on the lead lap and rallied to a 15th-place finish in the closing stages of the 90-lap event. While Castroneves has yet to win a race this season he’s remained in the points chase thanks to consistency and perseverance. He remains third in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, now 111 points behind championship leader and teammate Simon Pagenaud.
Quote: “The Hitachi Chevy was consistent. Unfortunately, I don’t understand yet what happened with the No. 9 (Scott Dixon) in Turn 2. Obviously, I went to move to the inside. He was on the push-to-pass. I was on the push-to-pass. Unfortunately, I felt a big hit on the back. I didn’t move anything. It is a shame. Not sure what happened. I have to ask him what happened. We stayed out but the sidepod was a little bit off and the rear of the car was moving a lot, especially in the high-speed section. I believe that is where I went off when I was passing the No. 8 car (Max Chilton), the rear just took off. Looks like some of my competitors had a bad day except for Will (Power) and (Simon) Pagenaud – great job for them. They are probably on their way to a good battle for the championship, but we will keep focused.”
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 3
Points Position (behind leader): 2nd (-58 pts.)
Recap: Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet team continued their recent hot streak with a fifth consecutive top-two finish and a runner-up result in the Honda Indy 200. Despite the stout run equaling Power’s best-ever finish at Mid-Ohio, he lost a bit of ground in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings. Power, who is still firmly in the hunt for the title, fell to 58 points behind Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, who won for the fourth time this season. Power made a strong bid for his fourth victory of the season and led three laps on the day. After running behind Pagenaud, the polesitter, for the first half of the race, Power emerged from the final two pit stops of the day one spot ahead of the series leader. On the Lap 66 race restart the two teammates battled for the eventual win as race leader Conor Daly needed to make one more stop for fuel. Power and Pagenaud raced hard but Pagenaud was able to claim the second position and eventually the race lead when Daly came to pit lane. Power finished second, 4.162 seconds behind Pagenaud, for his third career runner-up result at Mid-Ohio. Over the last five events, Power has collected three wins and two second-place efforts. The stretch has vaulted the 2014 series champ to second in the point standings which is amazing considering that Power missed the first race of the season due to illness.
Quote: “Great strategy by the Verizon Chevy team and we did a great job saving on fuel. It was an interesting battle there. I was sleeping on that restart and I regret that. I should have been on it, then I got marbles on the tires. It was a good, clean battle. It was tough but it sucked finishing second, all the effort you put into that race. But Simon (Pagenaud) did a bloody good job and it’s turning into a pretty good battle. Like Simon said, we’re not racing for 11th place. It’s for a win and for a championship and you have to go for it. It was my bad for not being on it on the restart. I regret that, but he’s got to push. I thought of the team on the last corner when we went side-by-side, I had to back out or we were going to crash. It’s racing. It’s tough.”
No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud
Finish: 1st (8th career win/4th in 2016)
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 23
Points Position: 1st (+58)
Recap: Simon Pagenaud battled a strained back throughout the weekend, but that didn’t stop him from taking his PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet to Victory Lane for the fourth time this season on Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Prior to qualifying on Saturday, Pagenaud was unsure if he would be able to get into the car due to the intense pain in his back. However, the Verizon IndyCar Series and Mid-Ohio medical staffs were able to relieve the pain enough for Pagenaud to win his sixth Verizon P1 Pole Award of the season and he would repeat the treatment again on Sunday and be ready to race. Pagenaud led the first 16 laps Sunday before an ill-timed caution flag saw him fall to 12th in the running order after the first round of pit stops. He continued to work his way to the front and he emerged from his final stop of the race running third with 25 laps left. Pagenaud waged a lap-long battle with Team Penske teammate Will Power on a Lap 66 restart. Pagenaud made a memorable pass on Power that was for second place at the time but race leader Conor Daly needed to make one more stop which meant the top car in the Penske battle would be in position to claim victory. Pagenaud’s first career win at Mid-Ohio and his eighth career IndyCar victory allowed him to extend his lead in the championship standings to 58 points over Power with four races remaining in the season.
Quote: “First, I have to thank the IndyCar and Mid-Ohio doctors, who took such great care of me all weekend. I’m not sure I could’ve been able to race without their help. On the track, the PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet was fantastic. The balance was great. We had great pace in the car. I do think we had a little more pace than (Will) Power, which was a help. We needed to put a good race together to stop the momentum of the No. 12 car. I had a feeling my chance was on the restart and it was a great battle. We were side-by-side almost all the way around that track, which I didn’t think was possible.”
Next Race: The Verizon IndyCar Series takes a short break before returning to the track on Sunday, August 21 for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Television coverage on NBC Sports Network will begin at 3 p.m. ET with live radio coverage by the IndyCar Radio Network.