Dario Franchitti at Milwaukee

Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves didn’t have qualifying results that seemingly would put them in position to challenge for the victory in the Milwaukee IndyFest at The Milwaukee Mile.

Compounding Franchitti’s challenge was a grid spot penalty levied by INDYCAR because of an unapproved engine change. The 2011 and '04 Milwaukee race winner’s Honda engine was changed out before it reached the minimum 2,000-mile threshold.

But both advanced 15 positions in the 250-lap race – the most of any competitor.

“Obviously, we didn’t have a great qualifying effort and then we took the engine change penalty before the race,” said Franchitti, who qualified 17th and started 23rd in the No. 10 Huggies car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. “We started in the back, made some good progress, but it was difficult to pass. The guys made good calls to keep me in the hunt but keeping the car pointed straight was a challenge.

“To pass people was very tough. The cars are so close, so the series might be a victim of their own success right now. We need to start allowing something to differentiate when guys get it right and wrong."

Castroneves, driving the No. 3 PPG Team Penske car, emerged in second following the final pit stop on Lap 213 of 250 on the one-mile oval, and held off Team Penske teammate Will Power to finish second to Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport. It equaled the best finish for Castroneves at Milwaukee in 13 starts.

“It was a great day for us.  Starting from the back, it was tough,” Castroneves said. “We did what we’ve been doing all year that’s worked for us. We had a solid, consistent car and we were patient and worked our way to the front. It’s not a win, but you know what, I’m very, very happy.”

Castroneves takes a 16-point lead over Hunter-Reay into the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by DEKALB at Iowa Speedway on June 23.

“This was a great points finish for us and a good result overall for the team with Will finishing third,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue the momentum at Iowa.”