Helio castroneves tEam pEnSKE Ind Ycar drIvEr
OUr Ind Y 500 Had ItS pOSItIvES
“at Indy, we learned a lot about
this car and engine. that’s
important going forward”
his year’s Indianapolis 500 was
interesting for a lot of different reasons.
First of all, the weather was dry
throughout practice and for everything
else leading up to the race. That meant
we were able to work on the car and get
it the way we wanted, but it also meant
we had to manage our tires. For the first
time at Indy, we ran with a car that we
didn’t know much about and an engine
we hadn’t run on an oval, so that was a
major challenge, but I think Team Penske
handled it all very well.
Secondly, it was great to see Dario
Franchitti join the three-time winners
club. I’m very happy for him, and I
welcome him to the group. If we couldn’t
do it at Team Penske, then I’m happy
that Target Chip Ganassi Racing could
do it. A 1-2 finish is really remarkable in
the Indianapolis 500, so that’s a great
accomplishment for them.
Before qualifying, we were about
6mph slower than the previous year.
It felt different – definitely different –
but the cars were safe and handled well.
may provides positives:
the Indianapolis 500
didn’t deliver Helio
castroneves a fourth
victory, but it did
information on the
new car and chevrolet
practice, and we were able to qualify well
– Ryan Briscoe on the pole, Will Power
fifth and myself sixth, so I felt like it was a
positive Indy 500 up to that point.
I’m extremely proud of this team. Every
day I see up close how much effort they
put into the entire season in general and
Indy in particular. Sometimes racers get
all the credit when things go well, but we
know this is a team sport. We can’t go fast
During the race, the car was very good
and very comfortable. But, unfortunately,
when we needed the speed in the next
phase, I couldn’t find it, especially on
restarts. First, we chose the wrong lane,
and then we could never get the draft. It
was very weird. We tried high downforce
and we tried low downforce. I had a good
car, but not with a pace I was happy with.
The Chevy was great, but we couldn’t
find the level of speed to contend. The
good news is that we had another top- 10
finish, so it was good for points, plus we
learned a lot about this new car and
engine. That’s important going forward,
because it’s knowledge we can apply later
in the season and again next year at Indy.
This year, his Shell
sponsorship saw him
pumping gas for
drivers at garages
during the Month
of May, while inside
the track, the
adulation was no
more than you’d
F. peirce Williams/Lat
and win without an entire group of people
who put their heart and soul into this, and
I’m happy that I have such a talented,
dedicated group of people on my side.
My favorite parts about Indy each
year are the things that surround the
race – the fans, the events, the emotions
that are so much a part of Indy. This year,
fans and drivers honored Dan Wheldon by
wearing white sunglasses. Bryan Herta
drove Dan’s car around the track before
the race, and it was amazing that three of
his best friends finished 1-2-3 in the race
(Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan).
From Indy, we went straight into a run
of four races in four weeks – Detroit,
Texas, Milwaukee and Iowa. I was looking
forward to Detroit in particular, because
of it being Roger Penske’s race and Chevy’s
hometown. We didn’t get the result our
car deserved, but we were still third in
the IZOD IndyCar Series championship
standings. We’re always thinking about
points, especially when we get into the
heart of the season like this.
I know most people probably won’t
view the 2012 Indy 500 as a great one
for Team Penske, but I think it was a
positive result. Ryan finished fifth and was
very competitive at the end of the race.
Will was strong before he ran into trouble.
OK, so it was bittersweet in some ways.
If you say to someone that you finished
in the top 10 in the Indy 500, they might
think it’s a good thing. But when you’ve
been to Victory Circle there, nothing but
another win is good enough.
By winning this year’s race, Dario has
joined an elite group, and I’m happy to
have company there. Only seven drivers
have won the Indy 500 three times and
it’s always a thrill to be called a three-time
winner of the Indianapolis 500. I’m sure
Dario has been hearing that a lot lately,
but trust me, it will hit him each time he
hears it! It’s a great feeling.
Certainly, Dario is a great driver and
a great champion and he has my
Follow Helio on twitter at @h3lio
and team penske at @PenskeRacing