Rexall Edmonton Indy
"I Wanted It Bad."
by Esteban Morales
July 26, 2009
Despite having very little passing at the front of the field and ending under yellow, the Rexall Edmonton Indy produced another feel-good story as Will Power, who has been driving for Roger Penske on a limited schedule following Helio Castroneves’ tax evasion acquittal, earned his first victory of the season. Power is no stranger to victory lane, having won while driving champ cars for Walker Racing and KV Racing Technology. However, Power’s Edmonton triumph marked his first win in a Dallara chassis and most importantly, his first victory while driving for Roger Penske.
The weekend began flawlessly for Team Penske as Will Power took pole while teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves lined up second and third, respectively. When the green flag dropped, Power led the field into the first turn without any drama. Behind Power, local favorite Paul Tracy carved his way up to sixth after qualifying a disappointing ninth. Tracy tangled with teammate Mario Moraes in the process, ending Moraes’ day. Tracy soldiered on, ultimately finishing sixth.
The top five immediately settled in with Power leading over Briscoe, Castroneves, Scott Dixon, and Dario Franchitti. By lap 15, Power led by nearly two seconds and continued to open the lead in subsequent laps. Power extended his lead to over four seconds before Briscoe began to respond a few laps before the leaders pitted. Franchitti became the first of the leaders to pit on lap 32, while Power, Briscoe, Dixon, and Castroneves pitted in the next two laps. On lap 34, Tony Kanaan, who has had an abysmal season, encountered his second fire of the season. As Kanaan pulled out of the pits, some ethanol was inadvertently splashed into his cockpit and onto the side of his Dallara. Within seconds his Dallara caught fire and Kanaan scrambled out of the car as crew members from Panther Racing and Team Penske came to his aid. Despite suffering second-degree burns, Kanaan kept his composure and sense of humor. “I wanted to come back and set the world on fire but not in that way,” joked Kanaan.
During the stops Castroneves was able to leapfrog Briscoe for second. Aside from the change, everything remained the same at the front. During the second stint of the race, Marco Andretti, who was struggling to stay on the lead lap, helped keep Power within one second of Castroneves. Despite the slower car, Castroneves was unable to mount a serious challenge for the lead. When the leaders made their second stops of the afternoon, Castroneves dropped two positions to fourth. Dixon emerged in second but locked his cold tires while Briscoe and Castroneves attacked. Briscoe moved around Dixon for second on lap 65 only to lose two positions on lap 72.
Ahead of Dixon and Castroneves, Power continued to dominate and led by over four seconds in the closing stages of the race. With eleven laps remaining, Dixon and Castroneves split Ed Carpenter’s lapped car in Turn 11, allowing Castroneves to dive to the inside and take second. On the penultimate lap, Tomas Scheckter spun his car and hit the retaining wall in the tenth turn. The accident led to the only caution of the event, prompting a yellow-checkered finish. After the race, Power did not seem too disappointed about the race ending under caution. “I wanted it bad,” said the winner. Power added, “I'm very happy. The Penske Racing crew did an incredible job. I'm really enjoying being a part of Penske Racing. I'm not stressed, I'm just taking it one race at a time and doing my best.”