Helio Castroneves revealed that an early decision to change strategy at the end of the race at the Watkins Glen International on Sunday was the difference maker after the veteran Brazilian finished on the podium.
The Team Penske driver realised early that he would struggle to make it to the end of the race in fuel saving mode whilst running second behind eventual winner Scott Dixon, so hit pit lane for fuel and capitalised on both James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly running out of fuel on the final lap for his first Watkins Glen podium.
“It was really good,” said Castroneves. “The Hitachi Chevy was actually running smooth. But, unfortunately when I saw the numbers, and the way the set-up for our car, I don’t think we’d be able to save fuel.
“And I told those guys on the radio. Guys, let us think of some other strategy because this is going to be tough to save fuel. I’m glad they were able to pick-up really quick.
“We bailed out right away and were able to push as hard as we could and open up enough of a gap so in the end, I guess the No. 5 and the No. 18 ended-up running out of fuel, so it was a great strategy with Roger (Penske) and the Hitachi car.”
The podium finish was not enough to keep Castroneves in the championship hunt, and is now looking for a decent result at Sonoma in two weeks time to clinch third place ahead of Dixon and Josef Newgarden, with only five points separating the trio
“Now let’s keep going,” said Castroneves. “I know the championship might be over, but it’s not over for Team Penske. So, now we need to focus and go win Sonoma.”