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Jun 11, 2013 - 06:28 AM
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Firestone 550 Weekend Post-Event Notes
Posted by: newsla on Jun 11, 2013 - 06:21 AM
IndyCar News
Firestone 550 Weekend Post-Event Notes


Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves snapped an 11-race winless streak in dominant fashion and took control of the IZOD IndyCar Series championship with a victory in Saturday evening's nationally televised Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway.

 

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Castroneves led a race-high 132 laps for a track-record fourth IZOD IndyCar Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway, moving him past former teammate Sam Hornish Jr., and the first of the season for Team Penske.

It was Castroneves' 28th career Indy-car victory, moving him out of a tie with Fort Worth's Johnny Rutherford into sole possession of 12th place on the all-time wins list. Castroneves' victory, his first on an oval since Twin Ring Motegi in 2010, gave him a 22-point advantage in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship over Marco Andretti, who came into Texas tied for the lead with Castroneves.

"Yeah, the AAA boys did a hell of a job," Castroneves said. "The car was absolutely on rails, and picking up on what Roger (Penske) said at the end, we discussed Jonathan (Diuguid), my engineer this year, he did a hell of a job putting everything what I was looking for."

The win put Penske back into a familiar place - Victory Lane. Team Penske was winless during the first seven races of the season and the organization's uncharacteristic drought stretched to nine, including the final two races of the 2012 season.

Penske added to his success at Texas Motor Speedway as he earned his eighth career victory, most among IZOD IndyCar Series owners.

"Well, I think all of us were on edge because we knew we were better - we have got great competition with the cars and the engines as close as they are and we have great drivers out there," Penske said.

The race was not only dominated by Castroneves, but engine manufacture Chevrolet flexed its muscles by sweeping the top five spots and eight out of the top 10. Castroneves' win was the first for Chevrolet in the IZOD IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway since Tomas Scheckter in 2005.
Nice Work, Rookie

Turner Scott Motorsports rookie sensation Jeb Burton continued his ascent in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings after earning his first career win in Friday night's WinStar World Casino 400. Burton, in just his 12th career truck series start, became just the fourth truck series rookie to win at Texas Motor Speedway. He joins Kenny Irwin Jr. (1997), Travis Kvapil (fall race of 2001) and Brendan Gaughan (Summer and fall races of '02).

Burton led 25 laps, including the final 24, to hold off challenger Ty Dillon by 0.139 of a second for the second-closest truck series finish at Texas Motor Speedway. His win at the age of 20 years, 10 months and 1 day set a track record for youngest truck series winner. He supplants previous record holder and two-time winner Kyle Busch, who earned his first victory at 24 years, 6 months and 4 days.

The win moved Burton 23 points behind NASCAR Camping World Truck Series leader Matt Crafton, who finished fourth in the WinStar World Casino 400.

"I think it's big," Burton said. "We needed to get one and I think we can start clicking them off. We've got the momentum going into Kentucky (Speedway). Every week it's fun to come to the race track. I've got an awesome race team and we work really good together. It's fun again to be back at the racetrack. I've got an awesome team and I couldn't ask for anything more."

The win is the third milestone for the Burton family at Texas Motor Speedway. Jeff Burton, Jeb's uncle, earned his first career Sprint Cup Series victory during the speedway's inaugural Interstate Batteries 500 in 1997 and also became the first two-time Cup winner at the speedway in 2007.
Heroes Among Us

Three heroes were present Saturday evening to serve in the honorary roles for the IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway. Plaza Towers Elementary School teachers Jennifer Simonds and Anna "Sam" Canaday served as co-Grand Marshals and West, Texas Volunteer Fire Department Captain CJ Gillaspie as the Honorary Starter.

Simonds and Canaday risked their lives to protect their students during the deadly tornado that ravaged Moore, Okla. on May 20. Shielding students with their own bodies, the two teachers were able to protect several kindergarten students at Plaza Towers Elementary School during the EF5 tornado that killed 23 people, including seven students from Plaza Towers.

Gillaspie was part of the heroic team of first responders that risked their lives to save those trapped after a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas on April 17. The explosion killed 15 people, injured more than 200 and damaged more than 150 nearby homes and buildings. Of those killed, nine were firefighters from five departments, including five volunteers from West.

Prior to the race, the trio received a rousing round of applause from the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers' meeting and were later presented by Texas Motor Speedway checkered flags signed by the entire field racing in the Firestone 550. Racing legend Mario Andretti also took the time to personally visit with the three heroes and Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan spent time with them on the grid during pre-race ceremonies.

Canaday was thankful to just get away, relax and focus on something other than her recovery efforts in Moore.
"This is great, everybody has been so wonderful," said Canaday, who lost her home and personal vehicles in a more recent tornado that hit Oklahoma. "The invitation here to just let us get away from things for a day or so, I just can't thank them enough."

It was an overwhelming first visit to Texas Motor Speedway for Gillaspie. Getting to wave the green flag was more than just an exciting opportunity, but a symbolic moment for all those affected in West.

"One of my real good friends that died in that fire was one of the best fans of NASCAR and racing," Gillaspie said. "They were here every year. They loved watching racing. Right now, I'm out there for him, waving that flag and for all the victims of West."

The honorary positions were given to Simonds, Canaday and Gillaspie to pay tribute to all the heroes and victims in the tragedies that have hit Texas and Oklahoma over recent weeks and months.
AAA Texas 500 Tickets Go On Sale

Individual tickets for the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR tripleheader weekend go on sale Wednesday beginning 9 a.m. CT.

The excitement of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup returns Sunday, Nov. 3 with the AAA Texas 500. Texas Motor Speedway once again is offering fan friendly deals for the eighth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Fans can take advantage of frontstretch ticket prices that start as low as $49 for adults and $25 for children ages 12 and under in addition to the popular "Backstretch Buster" seats at $20 and $40 per ticket.

The AAA Texas 500 highlights a NASCAR tripleheader weekend that includes the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday, Nov. 2, and the WinStar World Casino 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, Nov. 1. Tickets for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge and WinStar World Casino 350 start as low as $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.

Fans wanting to enjoy four days of NASCAR action can take advantage of the AAA Texas 500 Weekend 4-Pack beginning as low as $121. The AAA Texas 500 Weekend 4-Pack consists of a frontstretch ticket for Camping World Truck Series practice on Thursday, Oct. 31; Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series Qualifying Day and WinStar World Casino 350 race on Friday, Nov. 1; Nationwide Series Qualifying Day and O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge race on Saturday, Nov. 2; and the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 3. The 4-pack also includes access to the exclusive "No Limits" Garage Party presented by WinStar World Casino, discounted concessions, merchandise, camping, parking and more.

Team Penske driver Will Power started on the pole for the 31st time in his career in Saturday night's Firestone 550, but just the third time on an oval. Power started on the pole at an oval event for the first time since Kentucky Speedway in 2001. ... Prior to Saturday's Firestone 550, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) honored reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan with his own bull appropriately named TK500. The bull is set to compete in the PBR's series this season. ... NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie driver German Quiroga finished a career-best third during Friday's WinStar World Casino 400. Quiroga smashed his previous best, an eighth-place finish coming at Talladega Superspeedway last October. ... ThorSport Racing driver Matt Crafton continued his impressive streak by earning his seventh consecutive top-10 finish of the season with a fourth-place finish in Friday's WinStar World Casino 400. Crafton maintained his lead in the championship standings, now 23 points ahead of second-place Jeb Burton. ... Texas Motor Speedway awarded Texas Christian University student Ashton Theiss a $2,500 scholarship as part of the 2013 LugNutz Scholarship Giveaway. More than 40 college students signed up in October to serve as LugNutz, the speedway's promotional street team. Candidates worked three major race weekends and the individual going above and beyond the job description received the $2,500 scholarship.

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