TEAM PENSKE INDYCAR DRIVER
“I believe we’ll be able to compete
for the IZOD IndyCar Series
championship in October”
FIRST TEXAS, NOW FOR THE TITLE
hen they handed me the six-shooters
after winning the Firestone 550 at Texas
Motor Speedway, I said, “You better step
away. I don’t know what I’m doing.” It’s
always fun to wear the cowboy hat and
shoot the guns after winning at Texas.
This was my fourth win there, and I was
having a great time afterward. I even let
one of the crew guys shoot, too.
It hasn’t been as easy as that for the
crew guys lately, though. They’ve been
going non-stop since they left for Brazil
in early May, and it gets even more
intense. We went from Indianapolis almost
immediately to Detroit for the dual race
weekend, then Texas, then Milwaukee and
then Iowa – five events, six races in five
consecutive weekends. Even more if you
consider Indy qualifying an event on its own.
My guys worked on the car until 11 p.m.
on Saturday night at Detroit. The next day,
they had to make repairs during the race
after I got caught up in a multi-car crash.
The car was bent from being hit all around –
both sides and the rear – but they fixed it
and got our No. 3 Hitachi car back on
track for an eighth-place finish that was
critical in the championship race.
It certainly has been hard on the Team
Penske guys, but that’s what they do.
They don’t complain; they just compete.
They inspire me to do the same. After a
fifth and an eighth at Belle Isle’s
double-header, we were tied for the lead
in the championship. After the win at
Texas, we were alone in the lead. So as
long as we’re able to continue the hard
work and consistency, I believe we’ll be
able to challenge for the IZOD IndyCar
Series championship in October.
Overall, the first double-header went
It was fun for everyone and a good result
all around. It was a great way to maintain
our momentum in the championship, so
everyone enjoyed the hat and guns. TMS
provides one of the great Victory Lane
celebrations in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
As soon as we took the lead, the No. 3
AAA Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet came
alive. It was there already, but once we got
out in front, the car just took off. We were
able to manage the tires well and make
the fuel last, and the yellow flags worked
in our favor. It was an awesome feeling.
It’s been seven years
since Team Penske
captured the IndyCar
Series title, Sam
Hornish taking gold in
2006. Roger Penske
(BELOW) has seen
Will Power come
close for the last
three years, but it was
still looking for his
first series title, who
held a convincing
lead after Texas….
CAN HELIO END
His fourth victory
at Texas Motor
into a clear lead in
the IZOD IndyCar
Series points battle.
well, in my opinion. Of course, it was
tough on everyone, but I felt like it was a
success for us and for the series as a whole.
Detroit is bumpy, but the changes to the
layout this year helped with that and the
new straightaway added some more
excitement to the racing. Everyone was
extremely aggressive in the second race,
which hurt some guys and helped others.
But overall I thought it worked,
especially for the series and the fans,
andI believe the twin races at Toronto
and Houston will also work well. At least
they’re more spread out on the schedule
to give the crews more of a break.
There are some interesting statistics
going on this season that show how
diverse and deep the IndyCar series is.
We’ve had seven different race winners,
six different pole winners, three first-time
winners, and the points lead has changed
hands five times among four of us. That,
too, is great for the fans.
Other than that, I was happy to see my
buddy Tony Kanaan win the Indy 500. I’ve
known him since we were kids, and I know
how hard he has worked for it and how
important it has been to him, so I was
proud to see him drink the milk.
A lot of people have asked me about
the race finishing under a yellow flag and
how I feel about it, especially since I might
have had a chance to improve if we had
another restart before the finish. I’m
passionate about this issue. It’s a tradition
to have a race end at its distance. Five
hundred miles is 500 miles.
We are IndyCar. We don’t want to
change the outcome of the race just to
manufacture even more excitement.
Even if I had a chance to go for it with
a green-white-checkered flag finish, I
wouldn’t want to win it that way. The way
Tony won it is the way it was meant to be.
So congratulations to my friend. He
earned it. Now it’s time for me to focus on
the championship. I hope to win races
again this season, but I promise no more
Follow Helio on Twitter at @h3lio
and Team Penske at @PenskeRacing