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Team Penske's Will Power takes lead early, holds off Castroneves to win Edmonton Indy
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) ' Australia's Will Power held off a hard-charging Helio Castroneves to win the Edmonton Indy on Sunday and narrow the gap on points leader Dario Franchitti.
Power started second, overtook polesitter and leader Takuma Sato a quarter of the way through the race, then held off his Team Penske teammate to win by eight-tenths of a second.
"It was exactly the day we needed," Power said.
Franchitti finished third, 1.2 seconds off the pace in the 80-lap race, run under sunny skies on the road course at the 2.2-mile, 13-turn City Centre Airport.
Power has 350 points in the championship standings, cutting his deficit to Franchitti from 55 to 38 points with seven races remaining.
Franchitti said he threw away a chance for the win near the midpoint of the race, when Mike Conway was leading the other cars on a double-file restart.
Conway didn't accelerate as soon as the green flag came out.
"I didn't see the green flag," Conway said. "It's just something I've got to learn when up front."
Franchitti said he thought he was supposed to wait until the end of the straightaway to accelerate. "I screwed up. I lost a bunch of track position," the 38-year-old Scot said. "I'm disappointed in myself."
The Target Chip Ganassi driver got caught up in the wash and fell back to 10th before working his way back up the field.
"I was catching Will and Helio really quickly, but unfortunately once I got there I couldn't do anything with them. But it was a nice recovery from the whole team."
Power zoomed past Conway on that restart to gain back a lead he had lost briefly on a pit stop sequence.
"I think that pass right there was the pass for the race win," he said.
Castroneves said he was happy with second place, given his season of mediocre finishes.
"It was awesome," the 36-year-old Brazilian said. "After the season we've been having, this is like a victory."
Castroneves actually crossed the finish line first at last year's Edmonton event, but was black-flagged for blocking Power and the race win was given to Scott Dixon.
Tony Kanaan and Justin Wilson rounded out the top five, Danica Patrick was ninth and Sato ended up 21st after his promising start.
Alex Tagliani was one of four drivers issued drive-through penalties for failing to avoid contact. Tagliani rear-ended Graham Rahal on the first lap and ended his day.
It seemed IndyCar officials, after a crash-filled race in Toronto two weeks ago, were taking more of a zero-tolerance approach.
Power said stricter enforcement is needed.
"It will deter people from doing it again," he said.
"They know if they're going to hit someone, they're going to get a drive-through and they're going to go to the back (of the field) as well."
It has been a sore point for Power.
He was knocked out of contention in Toronto when he and Franchitti came together on a corner. The Scot wasn't penalized, but Power said he should have been, labeling him a reckless and "dirty" driver.
He said his feud with Franchitti ended after the warmup Sunday.
"He walked by, and that was the first time we made eye contact and I sort of smiled," Power said.
"I guess we were both playing a bit of mind games with each other. But at the end of the day, you race how you race."