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Helio Castroneves wrecks team's chances to win

Driver slams into the back of teammate Will Power's car with 19 laps to go, putting both out of contention at Grand Prix of Long Beach.

April 18, 2011|By Jim Peltz

Helio Castroneves was beside himself after climbing from his race car.

The Team Penske driver not only had ruined his hopes of winning the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but he also had ruined those of teammate Will Power, the pole-sitter.

On a restart with 19 laps left, the two were among a leading group of drivers barreling down Shoreline Drive and then trying to squeeze through Turn 1, a sharp left-hander.

But as they braked for the turn, Castroneves slammed into the rear of Power, spinning out his teammate. The wreck left Power with a 10th-place finish.

"I'm really not sure what to say," said Castroneves, who finished 12th. "Will is my teammate, and of course you just can't take each other out. I have to say I'm sorry to the team."

Power took the high road.

"Sometimes that's what happens in racing, especially close racing like this," he said of the incident.

Restart file

Despite all the controversy about "double-file restarts" now being used in IndyCar racing, they didn't quite materialize at Long Beach as they had in the season's previous two races on curvy road courses.

The cars are now supposed to restart double file, or side by side, after caution periods, which has led to more collisions. Before this season, they started single file.

But owing to Long Beach's unique layout, the restarts ended up being mostly single file anyway — as did the start of the race. As the cars slowly exited the hairpin Turn 11 and moved down a long stretch of Shoreline Drive — where they take the green flag — the cars were largely strung out, especially behind the leaders.

"We were so spread out, I was actually quite happy" when the race began, said Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who finished second after leading a race-high 35 laps. "After that, [on] the next restart, I was leading and it was definitely a nice place to be on restarts."

And finally

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is known for his salty language as star of television's "Hell's Kitchen." But as the grand prix's grand marshal, Ramsay added a word of politeness when he gave the command to start the race, saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, please start your engines."

james.peltz@latimes.com

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