Castroneves wins at Texas for the fourth time
Fort Worth, TX (Sports Network) - Helio Castroneves won an IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway for a record fourth time by putting on a dominating performance in Saturday night's Firestone 550.
Castroneves, who started sixth, grabbed the lead from Marco Andretti on lap 97 and then ran in front for the remaining 132 laps to become the seventh different winner in eight races this season. The Team Penske driver scored his 28th career IndyCar victory, breaking a tie with Johnny Rutherford for 12th on the series' all-time race winners list.
After taking the checkered flag, Castroneves did his traditional victory celebration by climbing the fence along the frontstretch and saluting the race fans. His previous wins at this 1.5-mile racetrack came in 2004, '06 and '09. He had been in a tie with Sam Hornish Jr. for most victories here. Hornish is now a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
"Texas is awesome; I love this place," a very joyful Castroneves said in victory circle.
With the win, Castroneves took a 22-point lead over Andretti, who ended up finishing fifth. Both drivers entered this race in a points tie. Andretti had led 57 laps before Castroneves took the top spot away from him.
Castroneves also gave team owner Roger Penske his eighth win in 25 IndyCar races at Texas.
"Helio drove a flawless race and a key victory in our season based on where we were in the standings," Penske said. "It probably was the best execution we've had in a long time."
Castroneves's last victory came 11 months ago in Edmonton, Canada. The Brazilian had not won on an oval since September 2010 in Motegi, Japan.
Tire management was more of an issue for teams than fuel strategy at Texas. This race featured a changed to the aerodynamic setup of the cars, producing slightly less downforce. The Firestone tires had a new compound and a left- side construction that gave the cars slightly more grip.
Castroneves' team seemed to have the least amount of problems with the tires, as he held a 15-second lead before the third and final caution came on lap 113 when Oriol Servia spun around. Castroneves pitted during that caution while most other drivers made their stops just prior to the caution.
"It was just the setup," Castroneves said. "We had to do a lot of homework, and it paid off."
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending IndyCar champion, finished 4.7 seconds behind Castroneves in the runner-up spot.
"The drivers had to drive it tonight," Hunter-Reay said. "That was an interesting race. It was hard to even get by some of the slower traffic. You were searching everywhere for grip. I had so many catches out there that I thought I was going into the wall. It's going to be tough to go to sleep tonight."
Tony Kanaan, who won the Indianapolis 500 two weeks ago, placed third, while Ed Carpenter took the fourth spot.
Dario Franchitti finished sixth, followed by Will Power, the pole sitter, and Josef Newgarden. James Hinchcliffe and E.J. Viso completed the top-10.
Hinchcliffe remains the only driver with multiple victories this season (St. Petersburg, Fla. and Sao Paulo, Brazil).
Scott Dixon, who is Franchitti's teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing, and Pippa Mann, driving the No. 18 car for Dale Coyne Racing, were the only drivers who did not finish the race. Dixon retired with a gearbox issue after he completed just 61 laps, finishing 23rd. Mann made only two laps before her engine expired.
06/09 00:16:21 ET