Castroneves Discusses Texas Penalty
WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Helio Castroneves’ victory last week at Texas Motor Speedway should have been cause for celebration. Not only was it his first win since Edmonton last July but it also boosted his lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series to 22 points over Marco Andretti.
That celebration, however, was tarnished when INDYCAR officials found infraction on the car which resulted in Castroneves getting fined $35,000 and the team getting docked 15 entrant points — not championship points — when the bracket on the diffuser was improperly attached which resulted in that area being too low.
The entrant points will only Team Penske so Castroneves is able to keep his lead in the standings but it too some of the shine off his big moment at Texas last week.
“I was very shocked because the team did an absolutely amazing job,” Castroneves said Friday morning at The Milwaukee Mile. “For me, I will not allow this scenario to out-shine what we did because even that made my car go actually slower. For us, a simple mistake, does not take away what we did. For us it’s great to have the win; to have this momentum and put all these things behind, because we know unfortunately was a little mistake which I sometimes apply, which I’ve been talking about, the schedule has been very busy for everybody. Maybe details like that happens, not because…. just because people are so tired from turning cars from street course, to road course. Anyway, for me, I was very shocked.”
According to Team Penske President Tim Cindric the car underwent wind tunnel tests last Monday and the mounting on the car would not have created a competitive edge for Castroneves Dallara/Chevrolet.
“Obviously we are very disappointed that the No. 3 car did not pass post-race inspection after Saturday’s race at Texas,” Cindric said in a statement released Tuesday night. ‘The rule in question (126.96.36.199) states that the diffuser exit must measure 7.600.’ After the race, ours was 7.575” because we neglected to tighten the braces that position the rear of the diffuser following pre-race inspection. The way Helio’s car raced did not provide any advantage as a lower diffuser height actually adds drag and reduces downforce. To ensure this is the case, we ran this configuration in the wind tunnel on Monday morning and found that the No. 3 car actually raced with three pounds less downforce and one pound more drag than what it would have had if we tightened the underwing braces properly.”
Castroneves was in complete agreement with Cindric’s statement.
“Correct,” Castroneves said. “I believe just to show that Team Penske didn’t have…when people start making noise…did not have any intention to do what happened. It was just a simple mistake. And with that mistake, they spent the money to put the car in the wind tunnel to prove that it didn’t go to improve the performance. One pound of drag, believe it or not, it cost a lot, especially at Texas Speedway. I’m glad that the setup was so good that even that didn’t let our car go in a bad way.”
However, if Castroneves finished second to a race winner whose car was found to actually have a competitive disadvantage, how would he feel about that? Especially considering that Castroneves was the dominant car in last Saturday night’s Skate-fest at Texas Motor Speedway, where the aero package and the tire combination made the cars fairly undriveable.