IndyCar Series rookie Justin Wilson has taken the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone victory at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park this morning, with Helio Castroneves second after receiving a penalty for blocking.
Castroneves’ record eighth runner-up berth this season allowed him to gain 13 points on championship leader Scott Dixon – who finished fifth after starting from pole - to now stand within 30 points of the Brisbane-born Kiwi heading into the September 7 championship season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.
Despite only turning two laps in the morning warm-up due to a steering problem, Wilson went on to lead the final 15 laps to claim his first IndyCar Series victory.
His maiden win in the newly merged series follows four from his time in the Champ Car World Series (his last taken at Assen, Netherlands on September 2, 2007) and sees him become the ninth different driver to win during the 2008 season – equaling the record set in four previous seasons.
Wilson started fourth and moved into second on Lap 60. After a restart on Lap 69, Wilson put pressure on Helio Castroneves, who led a race-high 53 laps.
Wilson made two attempts to pass on Lap 72, but was rebuffed by Castroneves who went low and then back high. Race officials penalised Castroneves one position for blocking, and Wilson took the lead on Lap 73.
Tony Kanaan was third, Oriol Servia fourth and Dixon fifth after leading the first 18 laps before he was shuffled back to 18th position following his first pit stop.
Past Nikon Indy 300 winners Ryan Hunter-Reay (2003) and Bruno Junqueira (2004) were sixth and seventh respectively with Junqueira charging an impressive 17 positions from his starting position of 24th.
Australian's Will Power and Ryan Briscoe were eighth and ninth respectively, with Power recovering from front wing damage after a lap 54 battle with Hunter-Reay for sixth position, while Briscoe's result saw him maintain fifth in the standings.
The 2008 IndyCar Series season now continues to the championship finale - the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 September 7 at Chicagoland Speedway, before heading ‘down under’ for the 2008 Nikon Indy 300 on October 23-26.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY…
Justin Wilson (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team, first):
“It was a long tough day, but we managed to stay clean, and we got great strategy and good pit stops,” said Wilson.
“The McDonald’s team was doing a fantastic job. I was so desperate to get a victory this year, my first one in IndyCar (Series) and my first one with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. This means a lot. It’s the most important win of my career.
(About competition with Castroneves): “Helio was racing hard. The first yellow, I was right behind him and that’s how it goes. It was just hard racing. The second time I got a good run out of (Turn 12) and started to overlap, and I had the inside for the next corner.
“Before we got halfway down the straight, he started to come across and I had to lift or we both were going to crash. I was a little upset at the time, but I was relieved when the officials put it right.”
Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Team Penske, second):
“We finished second for the eighth time, but the point is we’re still in the hunt for the championship, and Team Penske is going to try everything we can to win it,” said Castroneves.
(About penalty): “Consistency is the only thing I ask for. I’ve been in this series since 2002, and we never had a situation like this. We always have a warning, and then if you do it again, then you’re going to be penalized. All of the sudden, I didn’t get any warning. It was, ‘Move over, or you’re going to be black flagged.’
“It was uncalled for. I know that (Brian Barnhart) is trying to put pressure on and make everyone disciplined, but two races to go for the championship, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”
Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fifth):
“I don't think it was much of a race, to be honest. It was pretty pitiful. The car was clearly quicker than anybody's. We were saving a ton of fuel up front and sort of having a merry old day, and that changed pretty quickly,” said Dixon.
“We left with a half tank after that caution. I think I was probably the only person or maybe a couple of others. It's just a hard situation when you're in that point when nobody else pits and you have a lot of slower guys that pitted early on and have a lot of fuel and you have to try to pass them.
“That was pretty much the race. From that point on, we were just trying to pull up there.”
Will Power (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, eighth):
“I think the Aussie Vineyards–Team Australia crew did a great job. The car was really quick, but I was just unable to pass (Ryan) Hunter-Reay,” said Power.
“I tried in Turn 7, got a run on him, then backed out at the last moment, which I shouldn’t have done and lost the front wing. The guys did a great job in the pits getting me back out.
“I think at best we could have finished fifth or sixth, so it cost me a couple of spots, but still it was a great day, and I was happy to have a good fun race. I enjoyed it a lot.”
Ryan Briscoe (No. 6 Team Penske, ninth):
“We had a little miscommunication on our first pit stop. We probably should've stayed out on the first yellow, but we came in instead. After that point, I spent the entire race running with slower traffic; in fact I don't think I got one clear lap during the whole race,” said Briscoe.
“We tried to recover and get creative with our pit strategy. I think Team Penske did a good job getting us back into the top 10. It would've been nice to be able to have run up front with the faster traffic, but at least we were able to bring it home in ninth.
“The best news from today is that we were able to clinch fifth place in the championship. I'm proud of my guys, and I think that's the mark of a successful season.”
Brian Barnhart (President Operations and Competition, Indy Racing League):
“We talk about blocking every week in the drivers’ meeting and tell them what they can and can’t do and what the code of conduct is on the racetrack,” said Barnhart.
“(Helio Castroneves) clearly moved his car to impede the progress of a following car (Justin Wilson) and moved his car in response to the actions and the line taken by a following car. That’s what I tell them in the drivers’ meeting every week.
“We made the same decision early in the race with the (Darren) Manning and (Bruno) Junqueira cars, and unfortunately you have to call it like you see it. I think Helio and everyone associated knows that it’s not what’s expected and not what’s accepted of how we race out there. We want to race clean and fair and we need to call them like we see them.
(Did the championship figure into the call?): “You can’t officiate based on points or who’s involved or what position they hold. You have to do it out of fairness and competition.”
RESULTS: DETROIT INDY GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY FIRESTONE
Results of the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone IndyCar Series event at the 2.07-mile The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (4) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
2. (2) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
3. (8) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
4. (3) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
5. (1) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
6. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
7. (24) Bruno Junqueira, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
8. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
9. (5) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
10. (17) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
11. (16) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
12. (15) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
13. (6) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
14. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
15. (19) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 86, Running
16. (10) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 86, Running
17. (14) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 83, Running
18. (13) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 81, Mechanical
19. (18) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 76, Mechanical
20. (11) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 64, Contact
21. (25) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 56, Running
22. (21) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 54, Mechanical
23. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 46, Handling
24. (9) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 32, Contact
25. (22) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Honda, 16, Contact
26. (DNS) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 0, Did not start
- Winner's average speed: 89.911 mph
- Time of race: 2:00:10.7618
- Margin of victory: 4.4058 seconds
- Cautions: 4 caution flags for 11 laps
- Lead changes: 4 among 4 drivers
- Lap leaders: Dixon 1-18, Castroneves 19-58, Servia 59, Castroneves 60-72, Wilson 73-87
- Point standings: Dixon 606, Castroneves 576, Kanaan 481, Wheldon 464, Briscoe 412, Patrick 359, Servia 345, Andretti 339, Hunter-Reay 338, Mutoh 334.
INDYCAR SERIES POINTS STANDINGS – POST RACE 16 – TOP TEN
1 - Scott Dixon - 606 points
2 - Helio Castroneves - 576
3 - Tony Kanaan - 481
4 - Dan Wheldon - 464
5 - Ryan Briscoe - 412
6 - Danica Patrick - 359
7 - Oriol Servia - 345
8 - Marco Andretti - 339
9 - Ryan Hunter-Reay - 338
10 - Hideki Mutoh - 334
14 - Will Power - 301
BOMBARDIER ROOKIE OF THE YEAR POINTS STANDINGS – POST RACE 16
1 - Hideki Mutoh - 334 points
2 - Justin Wilson - 321
3 - Will Power - 301
4 - Graham Rahal - 276
5 - E.J. Viso - 274
6 - Mario Moraes - 232
7 - Enrique Bernoldi - 220
8 - Jaime Camara - 162
9 - Mario Dominguez - 112
INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE NOTES:
- Justin Wilson earns his first IndyCar Series victory. Wilson won four races in Champ Car. His last victory was Sept. 2, 2007 at Assen, Netherlands.
- Wilson’s previous best finish this season was third at Edmonton.
- This is the second IndyCar Series victory for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. The team also won with Graham Rahal at St. Petersburg in April.
- Wilson is the ninth driver to win this season, tying the record for most drivers to win in a season (1996/97, 2002, 2003 and 2005).
- Helio Castroneves finished second for the record eighth time this season. He clinched the three bonus points for most laps led during the race.
- Castroneves made his 111th consecutive start, passing Sam Hornish Jr. for the second-longest streak all time. Scott Sharp holds the record with 138 consecutive starts.
- Tony Kanaan finished third, his seventh podium finish of the season.
- Oriol Servia finished fourth, his fourth top-five finish of the season.
- Scott Dixon finished fifth, his 13th top-five finish of the season.
- Dixon led 18 laps and has led 885 laps this season. He needs to lead five more laps to break Tony Kanaan’s record for laps led in a season set in 2004.
- Bruno Junqueira improved 17 positions during the race to finish seventh, his second top-10 finish of the season.
- Will Power finished eighth, his fourth top-10 finish of the season.
For full media release please visit http://www.indy.com.au
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