It came down to fuel strategy at Kentucky, as Helio Castroneves went to the back of the lead pack on a yellow flag pitstop when the team paused to inspect a wheel nut. Before the track went green, the Tim Cindric called Helio in again to top off his fuel so he could go longer than anyone else. This gamble turned out to win big as Helio was able to nurse it home for the win on fumes as all the other leaders had to pit with 4 or 5 laps to go.
If Helio’s fuel gambit had not worked out, Ed Carpenter would have won the race. Short time Panther teammates Ed Carpenter and Dan Wheldon clearly had the best cars on the track and finished the race 2nd and 3rd respectively after qualifying 1st and 2nd. Ed voiced his dissatisfaction with the situation after the race by saying its really “tough when you have had a great car all weekend and you lose out to a guy on fuel mileage.”
Will Power also had a strong car all evening but faded to 8th during the last stint of the race. Dario Franchitti’s rather silly looking Dixie Cup car was not really in the picture for the win all evening, but he managed a 5th place finish which narrows the gap to Will Power in the points championship to just 17 with only two races to go. Also of note was Tony Kanaan’s 3rd place finish from 26th on the grid and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 6th place finish from 27th.
For Helio though, this fuel mileage race reminded us all of 2008 at Kentucky when Scott Dixon reeled him in in the final laps as Helio had to back way down on fuel usage and ultimately ran out of gas when he tried to make it to the end.
And here are our race notes and incident log:
1 – Sato wiggles and puts it in the T4 wall. Ridiculous year for KV, but great year for a Dallara parts salesman.
TK was able to work his way up to 16th from 26th in just 3/4 of a lap.
RHR spun in reaction to the accident in front of him but was able to continue.
10 – Restart
11 – Wheldon and Carpenter dicing for P1.
17 – Baugette passes Power for 3rd.
19 – Sato gets grilled by Lindy Thaxton. “how come you suck so much”… “ahh, the car botomed out on high fuel….”
27 – Dario trying to pass Moraes for 7th on the outside. Bad place for a championship contender to be.
32 – RHR up to 15th from 26th on the restart.
54 – Panther cars come in to pit first. Quite the change from their amazing fuel efficiency at Chicago.
59 – PT stays out longest on the fuel run and leads the race for a lap.
60 – After the pit, Power, Dixon, Wheldon, Franchitti, Kanaan, Andretti. Carpenter lost mucho spots on the green flag stop.
72 – EJ is out of the car with brake problems. Wheldon is challenging Power for P1.
80 – Simona was getting lapped low and high and did not see Miera. She pinched him down and Mierra spun into the wall. Simona, Vitor and Briscoe are out of the race with heavy impacts. Briscoe is sitting on the track, apparently sheken up from the wreck.
Yellow flag pits.
Power, Wheldon, Dixon, Franchitti, Kanaan, Andretti, Carpenter
95 – Restart
142 – Green flag stops start.
143 – Power on pitlane.
144 – Wheldon in for green flag stop. Power has a wiggle on the tri-oval trying to pass Marco high. Wheldon has a quicker stop.
Order after green flag stops.
Wheldon, Dario, Andretti, Kanaan, Power, Carpenter
Looks like the leaders are 4 laps short on fuel.
162 – Carpenter passes Power for 5th.
173 – Helio is off sequence and has more fuel. He may be able to make it. Matos also may be able to make it.
175 – RHR pits. Something wrong with the car.
189 – Gil De Ferren says Matos will have to stop.
191 – Kanaan pits for fuel from 3rd.
195 – Wheldon and Franchitti pit, but Carpenter stays out.
196 – Carpenter pits.
199 – Helio takes the checkers.
Helio, Carpenter, Wheldon, Kanaan, Franchitt, Andretti, Dixon, Power