2010 IRL Rd.16--Bridgestone Indy Japan 300

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2010 IRL Rd.16--Bridgestone Indy Japan 300

Postby mlittle » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:06 pm

--Location - Twin Ring Motegi, Japan
--Date - Saturday, September 18th
--Time & TV Schedule - 11:00PM Eastern -Green Flag -12:00AM Eastern, Versus
--Course Type - 1.5 Mile Oval
--Distance - 200 Laps / 300 Miles
--Practice Sessions - Friday, Sept. 17th -8:30-9:30AM & 11:30AM -12:30PM Eastern
--Qualifications - Friday, Sept. 17th - 2:30PM - 4:00PM Eastern
--2009 Pole Sitter - Scott Dixon - 202.031
--2009 Winner - Scott Dixon


PAST WINNERS AT MOTEGI
Adrian Fernandez(2): 1998, 1999
Michael Andretti(1): 2000
Kenny Brack(1): 2001
Bruno Junquiera(1): 2002
Scott Sharp(1): 2003
Dan Wheldon(2): 2004, 2005
Helio Castroneves(1): 2006
Tony Kanaan(1): 2007
Danica Patrick(1): 2008
Scott Dixon(1): 2009
Last edited by mlittle on Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby mlittle » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:07 pm

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TrackMap, Twin Ring Motegi(oval outlined in red)
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Postby mlittle » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:18 pm

Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 Entry List
Raphael Matos, #2 HP-McAfee
Helio Castroneves, #3 Team Penske
Dan Wheldon, #4 National Guard
(R)Takuma Sato, #5 Lotus-KV Racing
Ryan Briscoe, #6 Team Penske
Danica Patrick, #7 GoDaddy.com
E.J. Viso, #8 PDVSA
Scott Dixon, #9 Target
Dario Franchitti, #10 Target
Tony Kanaan, #11 Team 7-11
Will Power, #12 Verizon Wireless
Vitor Meira, #14 ABC Supply Co.
Milka Duno, #18 CITGO
(R)Alex Lloyd, #19 Boy Scouts of America
Justin Wilson, #22 Z-Line Designs
Paul Tracy, #24 GEICO-DRR
Marco Andretti, #26 Venom Energy
Mario Moraes, #32 KV Racing
(R)Bertrand Baguette, #34 RAC Belgium
Roger Yasukawa, #36 CWE-Conquest Racing
Ryan Hunter-Reay, #37 IZOD
Alex Tagliani, #77 Bowers & Wilkins
(R)Simona de Silvestro, #78 Team Stargate Worlds
Graham Rahal, #02 QuickTrim
Hideki Mutoh, #06 Formula Dream-Panasonic
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Mutoh's Generational Ties..........

Postby mlittle » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:31 am

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Even at an early age, Newman-Hass Racing's Hideki Mutoh(seated in the racing kart) had the racing bug in him.........


---MOTEGI, Japan -- By 3:30 a.m., Eiji Mutoh arrives at the Tsukiji Market to inspect the fresh catch – from seaweed to caviar – available for auction two hours later. He repeats the process six days a week, acquiring the freshest and most select for the family’s century-old Hotetora retail shop.

Because of his responsibilities, Eiji has never watched in person his only son, Hideki, compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series. This weekend will be a first. The Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi – about three hours north of the family’s home in Tokyo – will be held on a national holiday weekend translated "Respect for the Aged Day," which was established in 1966 as a day to respect the elderly and celebrate long life. The Hotetora shop will be closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday in observance of the holiday.

"I'm very happy to see him and because the race was on Saturday previous years he never had the chance to come,” said Hideki, who will drive the No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic car for Newman/Haas Racing.

Mutoh adopted his father’s appreciation of automobiles, paging through magazines at home while he should have been finishing homework, and racing. He began racing go-karts at age 12 and quickly climbed the ladder to cars in various formula series in Europe and Japan.

Mutoh, a graduate of the Honda Formula Dream Project, moved to North America in 2007 to compete in Firestone Indy Lights. He finished second in the championship and was named Rookie of the Year. Mutoh also made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the late-season race at Chicagoland Speedway. More awards were bestowed in ’08 – his first full season in the IZOD IndyCar Series with then-Andretti Green Racing – after seven top-10 finishes.

Back in Tokyo, his father opened and closed the doors to the Hotetora shop six days a week. Some day it will be Hideki’s responsibility, but for the past 15 years he’s received his father’s blessing to chase his dream.

“Some day I have to run the fish market because this is generational and cultural,” Hideki said. “I think my dad understands because racing was what I really wanted to do. He could have easily said 'No, you have to sell fish.' But he released me from that kind of culture and I'm sure he had a very hard time because grandpa was pushing him, 'Oh, what's your son doing?'

“I really appreciate my dad. He gave me everything. We are not rich people so at the beginning we struggled to find money to race. I have no words for my dad. He's an old style of Japanese man but he let me go racing. He doesn't watch the races when people are around him but he just watches the races on DVD quietly when he's at home with no one around. He never talks much about racing, but at the same point he never stopped me. It's understood, his support. He doesn't have to say much.”

Mutoh has been enjoying his family’s company in Japan – mixed with the obligatory media outings as being one of three Japanese drivers who will compete this weekend -- for the past week. He said he was more nervous competing in the IZOD IndyCar Series at Twin Ring Motegi for the first time in 2008, starting ninth and finishing 11th, than he’ll be with his father in attendance.

“It was definitely huge pressure because it was the first year and I drove for Andretti, which won the race the year before,” Mutoh said. “Fans had so many expectations that ‘Japanese guy can win this year.’ At the same point, I was very happy to see all the fans in the grandstands and they were cheering me. That was a good memory, but I think I could have done better.”

Last year, a crash during qualifications relegated Mutoh to the 22nd starting position. He finished 14th. “I was more comfortable, but still I had pressure because again people were expecting me to win and kept asking me, ‘Can you win?’ ’’ he said. “Every time I go there I put so much tension on myself and I need to learn how to handle and control that pressure because it’s very hard.

“You get more nervous of course and maybe try some big things to get better position-wise. Last year for example, I started 16th (after the first practice session) and people kept asking me ‘Why are you so slow?’ I thought 16th was not so bad. They were expecting me to finish top five in qualifying and I tried, which put more pressure on me for the race.

“I had a huge crash and physically it was hard for me to finish the race. At one point, I wanted to park because I was getting dizzy. But I saw a fan was waving a flag during the last (caution period from Laps 161-171 of 200). I was asking, ‘Should I pit or not?’ and at the same point I saw the fan was waving the flag and it definitely gave me extra power. I think that’s the reason I was able to finish the race.”

Mutoh, who has two sisters, says he’ll know when it will be time to stop racing competitively and take his place in the family business. It won’t be because of pressure from his father. “I'm the only one to replace my dad, so maybe in 20 years I have to,” said Mutoh, who turns 28 on Oct. 6. “Racing, I cannot do forever. But I can run a fish market until I’m 70. I think my dad understands that.”
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Friendship Day at the Ring..........

Postby mlittle » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:35 am

(originally posted over on IndyCar.com)



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KV Racing's Takuma Sato with fans at Twin Ring Motegi........

---The multi-functional facility atop the mountain – drenched 24 hours prior during the only day it’s rained here in the past month – was shrouded like the Smokey Mountains on this morning. But for the thousands of fans watching the move-in day garage activity, queued up for Takuma Sato- and Hideki Mutoh-guided track tours or wiping off seats in the main grandstand for driver Q&A sessions, it wouldn’t have mattered if it was Mount McKinley.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Sato, wading through a sea of fans wearing green/yellow No. 5 hats (selling briskly for 3,800 yen; about $40 U.S.). “The whole week has been about promotion and meeting the people, and it’s been very positive. Everyone I meet, they’re very excited about IndyCar racing coming to Motegi. It is busy, but in a nice way. We see already the massive amount of fans out there. I haven’t raced in front of the home fans in more than two years, so I think they are ready for that, too. Roger (Yasukawa), Hideki and I racing here is such an exciting thing.”

Mutoh, giggling with a pack of grade-schoolers while explaining the workings of his No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic car, has experienced an extended Friendship Day. “I had a day off yesterday, my first in the past 10, but though I’ve been busy I’ve had a very enjoyable time,” the Newman/Haas Racing driver said. “I’ve met many fans in Japan, and I think they’ll all either be at the race or watching on TV.”

It’s a busy day for everyone. As the sunshine breaks through, Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti exchange stories during a fan luncheon.

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Post-lunch, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Alex Tagliani are exchanging stories about their particular helmets — designs, safety, different models for different tracks — in front of a maxed-out amphitheater at the Honda Collection Hall.

No translation is needed as Kanaan contorts his nose — much to the delight of the audience — to illustrate how it could get hung up while removing his helmet too quickly. That’s probably the most noticeable thing about Friendship Day — about fans in general in Japan — they’re respectful, energetic, fun-loving and thoroughly enjoy the behind-the-scenes opportunity. Just as the photo gallery illustrates.

The mid-afternoon autograph session in front of each corresponding garage is the highlight – for drivers, too. It might be the one place where the line for a photo/autograph of Sato is longer than Patrick’s. “I think it shows how fans in Japan like IndyCar,” Sato says between signing one of his hats and a construction helmet with his car affixed on top. “IndyCar is growing in Japan.”
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Title Fight Continues at Motegi.........

Postby mlittle » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:38 am

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MOTEGI, Japan – Scott Dixon has seen tight championship chases from both sides. He’s partial to the 2008 outcome. That’s when Dixon outlasted Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves by 17 points to claim his second IZOD IndyCar Series title. Entering the penultimate race (Belle Isle), Dixon was 43 points clear. He left with a 30-point advantage. Castroneves claimed a photo-finish victory in the finale at Chicagoland, but Dixon was 0.0033 of a second behind to place a tourniquet on the points bleeding.

Last year with two races left, Dixon was the hunter. Ryan Briscoe came to Twin Ring Motegi fresh off a victory at Chicagoland that gave the Team Penske driver 550 points. Dario Franchitti was 25 back and Dixon had 517. He won the race and vaulted to the top of the standings, setting up a winner-take-all scenario at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Franchitti won, and took it all.

Heading into the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi this weekend, Dixon is third in the standings (-83 points behind front-runner Will Power and -66 to Franchitti). "That's what happens in championships,” said Dixon, who also is 27 points off Franchitti’s pace entering the final race for the inaugural A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy. “I've been involved where you have had this massive lead and it crumbles to nothing for the last race or you have been miles behind and you win in it in the last race.

“I think it's cool. It's what (the IZOD IndyCar Series is) all about.”

Power is making his debut at the 1.5-mile, egg-shaped track, while Dixon has finished first, third and fourth the past three years. Franchitti was runner-up to his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate in ’09 and placed third in 2007. "I’m approaching the last two races trying to win them, but at the same time on the radio, if I am running in a certain position on the track, the team will remind me to remember who I am racing,” said Power, who has recorded five victories on road/street courses this season and has a best finish of fifth on an oval (Iowa Speedway). Obviously, I’d like to finish ahead of Dario. But if I finish second to his first, it’s basically dead even for the last race. We are going into this event with the mind-set of giving it our absolute best."

That’s all Franchitti, who also beat out Dixon in a close duel to the final lap of the season finale in 2007, says anyone can do. “All you can ever do is do your best, but it takes every single person on the team to do their best,” said Franchitti, who has two oval victories this season. “It’s not just a case of ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ You have to give 100 percent in preparation for the race, in setting up the car, and then when you get out there absolutely going for it. You have to do that every week. But you can’t look too far ahead. I’m not looking past Sunday. We’ll see how that goes.”

Championship races the past four years with two events left:

--2009
Races remaining: Twin Ring Motegi, Homestead-Miami Speedway
Ryan Briscoe … 550*
Dario Franchitti … 525
Scott Dixon … 517
* - won third-from-last race at Chicagoland
Champion: Franchitti by 11 points over Dixon and 12 over Briscoe

--2008
Races remaining: Belle Isle, Chicagoland
Scott Dixon … 576
Helio Castroneves … 533*
Dan Wheldon … 452
Tony Kanaan … 446
* - won third-from-last race at Infineon
Champion: Dixon by 17 points over Castroneves

--2007
Races remaining: Belle Isle, Chicagoland
Scott Dixon … 560*
Dario Franchitti … 556
Tony Kanaan … 498
* - won third-from-last race at Infineon
Champion: Franchitti by 13 points over Dixon

--2006
Races remaining: Infineon, Chicagoland
Sam Hornish Jr. … 418*
Helio Castroneves … 411
Dan Wheldon … 394
Scott Dixon … 385
* - won third-from-last race at Kentucky
Champion: Hornish (Hornish & Wheldon tied in points; Hornish won w/most wins vs. Wheldon[4 vs. 2])
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News & Notes from the Ring.........

Postby mlittle » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:41 am

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KV Racing's Oriol Servia, serving as a spotter/driver coach for the team this weekend, greets fans near Motegi

MOTEGI, Japan -- KV Racing Technology drivers Takuma Sato, E.J. Viso and Mario Moraes have an extra set of eyes watching them during the Indy Japan 300. Oriol Servia, who finished fourth in last year’s Motegi race with Newman/Haas Racing, is serving as driver consultant for the team.

“I’m very happy to be in Japan. It’s a race I always enjoyed coming to,” Servia said. “I’m helping KV Racing – the team I drove for in 2008. I had a good result here last year and they thought I could help the team, especially Sato because this is a very important race for him. And I think I can help him. I’ve been in this paddock for 10 years, so hopefully there are things I can see and tell him to do as well as possible.”

---Wheldon Feels Momentum.....
Dan Wheldon earned his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory at Twin Ring Motegi in 2004, and returned for a Victory Circle encore in '05. He's finished in the top 10 in all seven races. Wheldon, driver of the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car, enters the race with second- and third-place finishes in the past two races in his helmet.

"We've got a lot of momentum going right now within the team from our performance at Chicago and Kentucky, and we feel like we're going to continue that this weekend in Motegi," he said. "It's a great racetrack, and outside of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway it's probably my favorite oval track on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. The National Guard boys have been working so hard lately and we feel like we're getting closer and closer to our first trip to Victory Lane together."

---Fisher Goes Pink for Season Finale at Homestead
Team owner/driver Sarah Fisher and primary sponsor Dollar General will partner with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest breast cancer organization, for the Oct. 2 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Fisher will rebrand the yellow No. 67 car, team equipment and gear in pink for the race weekend. Dollar General will make a $25,000 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Sarah Fisher Racing and retail partners Maingate and IMS will collectively donate a portion of the retail sales of all Sarah Fisher Racing co-branded pink merchandise.
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Sato OK After Motegi Crash

Postby mlittle » Sat Sep 18, 2010 5:47 pm

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----There was a collective gasp from the large crowd at Twin Ring Motegi for practice-qualifying day as the No. 5 Lotus car for KV Racing Technology spun and backed into the SAFER Barrier between Turns 1 and 2. Takuma Sato was checked at the infield care center and cleared to drive. A team spokesman said a part failure precipitated the incident.

"I have no idea what happened; I suddenly lost the back end before turning," said Sato, who was on his sixth lap during the first practice session for the Indy Japan 300 on the 1.5-mile track. "Something must have happened. I need to speak to the team and see the replay but it is not normal. It’s disappointing but at least I’m fine. I’m going to jump into the back-up car."

That car was being prepped minutes after the incident for the next session that precedes qualifications. Sato is making his debut on the Twin Ring Motegi oval.
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Penske 1-2-3 Sweep in Qualifying at Motegi........

Postby mlittle » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:02 pm

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Helio Castroneves earned his fourth PEAK Performance Pole Award in five years at Twin Ring Motegi, claiming the top spot for the Indy Japan 300, while IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power (201.463) will share Row 2 with his nearest rival Dario Franchitti (200.964). Castroneves recorded a two-lap average of 201.992 mph on the 1.52-mile oval to lead a 1-2-3 sweep for Team Penske. Ryan Briscoe (201.594) also will be on the front row.

Dario Franchitti will be boxed in by three Team Penske cars and three Andretti Autosport cars in the Indy Japan 300. Extricating himself will require a give-and-take effort -- give it his all over 200 laps and take whatever breaks fall in his lap to further fill the 17-point championship crevice heading into the season finale Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Conversely, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Will Power will attempt to form a triumvirate wedge on a track that's notoriously difficult to pass in an effort to keep Power as the front-runner. Of course, a Castroneves victory from the pole would make the finale even more interesting.

Castroneves earned his fourth PEAK Performance Pole Award in the past five years on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval with a two-lap average of 201.992 mph. The pole winner has won three times and finished second in the seven previous years. “This track is so challenging and I'm very, very excited that we are starting in the top three spots,” said Castroneves, who won in 2006. “Hopefully, we finish like that as well in the race.

“We're going to try to get the win for Team Penske, but the big deal in the points is tomorrow for the race. We're going to make sure that we just execute. We don't need to panic, we just need to execute. So the ball is in our court now and just we can make it happen.”

Ryan Briscoe (201.594), who saw a chance to wrap up the drivers’ title last year wither at Twin Ring Motegi, also will be on the front row. Power, the final qualifier of 25, posted a two-lap average of 201.463 mph. Appropriately, Power and Franchitti (200.964) will share Row 2. “As a team, we're due for a good finish,” said Power, who’s seeking his first IZOD IndyCar Series oval victory. “I'm very happy about the starting positions. We hope we can execute in the race and get some points back.

“I think (in the race it’s) really difficult to pass. I think you're going to have to move through the traffic well. And sometimes this race does come down to strategy. So, as a team, if we just don't make any mistakes, I think we can all finish in a very good position. I think that's going to be the key to winning this race. I've just got to follow these guys and keep Dario behind me.”

Power is making his debut at the track; Franchitti has finished second and third his past two visits. "I think we have a better race car than qualifying car," said Franchitti, who finished first and fifth in the past two oval races. "It’s a great racetrack that really produces great racing."

Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay are behind Franchitti, and E.J. Viso of KV Racing Technology recorded his best start on an oval this season in eighth. Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon will start ninth.

Takuma Sato, who saw limited track time because of a crash early in the first practice session, led the three drivers with Japanese heritage with a 10th-place starting spot. Hideki Mutoh will start 17th and Roger Yasukawa 21st. “I think KV Racing Technology won the day,” said Sato, whose army of fans greeted his qualifying effort with a standing ovation. “It’s a great result for the whole team. After we had such a difficult situation in the morning, the whole team, crew members from all three cars, came together to work on my car.

“Even though I only ran a few laps during the second practice, I want to thank the engineers for giving me a car that gave me the confidence to attack the most challenging oval in the series during my qualifying run. The next step is to review all the data from today and hopefully we will have a good race.”
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Spiderman Wins in Motegi...........

Postby mlittle » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:35 pm

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MOTEGI, Japan – Japanese fans’ exuberance and motorsports knowledge is cited by IZOD IndyCar Series drivers as one of the reasons they enjoy the annual Indy Japan 300 race weekend. Both were apparent when spectators began to congregate at the fencing facing the pit lane stage 10 laps before Helio Castroneves crossed the finish line. The race winner didn’t disappoint the swelling grandstand section after climbing from the No. 3 Team Penske car, waving his arms to elicit a louder cheer before scaling the safety barrier.

Moments later, out of breath but not lacking high spirits, Castroneves rattled off almost as many thank yous to individuals who contributed to his second consecutive victory and second at Twin Ring Motegi from the pole as gifts he received. "Team Penske is about execution and they gave me a fantastic car," said Castroneves, who gained a position on teammate Ryan Briscoe on a Lap 118 pit stop under yellow to take the lead for good. "Every time I wanted to go for it, the car was responding."

Castroneves led 153 of the 200 laps to pass Sam Hornish Jr. as the IZOD IndyCar Series career leader and posted his 23rd Indy car racing victory (tying Tommy Milton for 15th on the all-time list). "It's always a tough race here," he continued. "I trusted my car and trusted my team, which did a great job in the pits."

In Castroneves' wake, Dario Franchitti beat Will Power to the finish line by 0.4997 of a second to claim second place and close the championship points gap to 12 heading into the season finale Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Briscoe, who started second, finished fourth and Danica Patrick advanced seven positions to fifth in the No. 7 GoDaddy car for Andretti Autosport. Teammates Tony Kanaan (seventh) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (ninth) were joined in the top 10 by Newman/Haas Racing's Graham Rahal, who moved up eight positions to eighth, and Dan Wheldon of Panther Racing.

“I was really the only person that could mix it up with Ryan and Helio all day,” said Franchitti, who secured the inaugural A.J. Oval Championship Trophy. “Helio was just in a class of his own in terms of sheer speed, but we could get him on the restarts occasionally. I was fighting as hard as I could with those guys. Will’s guys did a great job in the pits and got him back up into contention.”

Power, whose No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car dropped to 10th on Lap 40 when he lifted off the throttle upon hearing a phantom "yellow" radio transmission, jumped two positions on the final pit stop (Lap 151) and overtook Briscoe for third 17 laps later. He ran down Franchitti in the closing 10 laps (trailing by 0.3246 of a second on Lap 190), but wasn’t able to get past the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry.

“I didn’t get to see Helio much. He was gone,” said Power, who recorded his highest career oval finish. “I had a good (first) experience at Motegi; I know how to run in traffic now. I’ve never finished ahead of (Franchitti) on an oval and one day I’ll get it. Hopefully, this year because if I don’t he’ll win (his second consecutive title).” Added Franchitti, who was in a similar position heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway last October: “We can only control what we do and we did our best.”

Though he gained 53 points for the victory (including bonus points for the pole and leading the most laps), Castroneves and sixth-place finisher Scott Dixon were eliminated from title contention. The “what-if” of a potential victory at Edmonton that was negated by a blocking penalty (the loss of 30 points that would have kept him in the chase) might sting, but there’s still a team goal. “We still have a job to be done to win the championship for Team Penske,” he said.
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