Can Penske continue its season perfection in Brazil?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With three IZOD IndyCar Series races completed this season, Team Penske is 3-0 in both race victories and pole wins.
When the series kicked off its season on the last weekend in March in St. Petersburg, FL, Will Power claimed the pole, while his teammate, Helio Castroneves, scored the race win. One week later in Birmingham, AL, Castroneves won the pole, but Power took the checkered flag after starting in the ninth position.
Earlier this month, Ryan Briscoe won the pole and Power qualified second in Long Beach, CA, but both drivers were among the 11 Chevrolet entrants who received a 10-grid position penalty due to an engine change. Power started the race in 12th but put on an impressive performance to capture his second straight victory.
Power moved atop the point standings after winning in Long Beach. He presently holds a 24-point lead over Castroneves.
"I think whenever you're winning, the whole team feels very good," Power said. "I think my guys feel very confident no matter where we start now, that it's always possible. I think that's good for them."
The series now heads to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the fourth road/street course race of the season.
Power has won the first two IndyCar races on the streets of Sao Paulo. He started on the pole for last year's event there.
After winning at St. Petersburg, Castroneves finished third at Birmingham and then had a disappointing 13th-place run at Long Beach.
"Unfortunately, the last race we had a little bit of issues with traffic and incidents, but we want to continue carrying this good momentum with the team, especially here in my hometown of Brazil," Castroneves said. "Certainly, there is a lot of hype, and there is a lot of excitement for this race. Everybody is really pumped."
Castroneves is one of four Brazilians competing in this race. Ana Beatriz, Rubens Barrichello and Tony Kanaan are the others.
Barrichello, who is in the midst of his IndyCar rookie season after a 19-year career in Formula One, started on the pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix (F1 race) in 2003, '04 and '09. His best finish in the Brazilian GP is third, which came in '04.
Beatriz will make her first start in the series this season. She drove the No. 24 car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing last year. Beatriz will be behind the wheel of the No. 25 entry for Andretti Autosport in Brazil.
The 2.6-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit in Sao Paulo has been fine- tuned for this year. Circuit designer Tony Cotman noted that the painted turn one runoff, which became a skating rink when wet last year, has been addressed along with a "pretty significant" bump in the transition from the concrete surface of the Anhembi Sambodromo to the asphalt leading into turn one.
"The layout of the track has not changed and the curbs have not changed," Cotman said. "Reducing some of the bumps was among the goals that have been addressed. Also, drainage in five or six locations has been addressed. Now that it's all done, we hope we don't need it."
Rain has been a major factor in the two previous events in Sao Paulo.
When the series held its inaugural race there in 2010, IndyCar officials placed a two-hour limit on the scheduled 75-lap event due to numerous cautions and a brief halt for a thunderstorm that moved over the area. Furthermore, qualifying was postponed to the morning of the race after slippery concrete and very bumpy conditions led to unsafe driving conditions.
IndyCar had to spend an extra day in the South American country last year. Under treacherous rain conditions, 14 laps were completed on Sunday, with most of them under caution for numerous incidents. A multi-car pileup occurred in the first turn of the opening lap. Continuing precipitation and standing water later forced officials to scrub the remainder of the time-restricted race until the following day.
Twenty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Sao Paulo Indy 300.
Series: IZOD IndyCar. Date: Sunday, April 29. Race: Sao Paulo Indy 300. Site: Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Track: 2.6-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit. Start time: 11:30 a.m. (ET). Laps: 75. Miles: 195. 2011 Winner: Will Power. Television: NBC Sports Network. Radio: IMS Radio Network/SIRIUS XM Satellite.
04/26 14:16:10 ET