Castroneves Proves Texas Tough Run at a record-shattering pace, the outcome of the Bombardier Learjet 500 revolved around the final set of pit stops as both the dominant car of Dan Wheldon and rival Sam Hornish Jr. encountered problems, ...
Castroneves Proves Texas Tough
Run at a record-shattering pace, the outcome of the Bombardier Learjet 500 revolved around the final set of pit stops as both the dominant car of Dan Wheldon and rival Sam Hornish Jr. encountered problems, enabling Helio Castroneves to score his third victory of the 2006 IndyCar season.
In a race slowed only twice by the caution flag, Castroneves posted a winning average speed of 185.710 mph for the 200-lap run, a new track record and the third-fastest race in IRL IndyCar Series history.
The Honda-powered field responded admirably to the furious pace and sweltering temperatures in the mid-90s as Castroneves now holds a 22-point lead in the championship standings after six events.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Wheldon dominated the night, leading 171 of the 179 green flag laps.
But a minor problem changing the right rear wheel on his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda during his final pit stop on Lap 186 dropped him to third as he rejoined the filed and took the defending series champion out of contention for the win.
Indianapolis 500 race winner Sam Hornish Jr. also appeared to have a shot at victory after clever pit strategy early in the race set him up for a brief "splash and go" final stop. But he apparently stretched his run one lap too far, running out of fuel as he approached his pit stall on Lap 192.
Castroneves then emerged from the final round of stops in the lead and held off the fast-closing Scott Dixon and Wheldon for the victory, and a 22-point lead in the championship as the series approaches the mid-point of the 14-race season.
After three consecutive race weekends, plus the entire "Month of May" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IRL IndyCar Series now takes its first week off since May 1, then resumes with the seventh race of the season at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia on June 24.
Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 3rd, finished 1st, third win of 2006, his ninth career IndyCar win, has led in every race this year: "Incredible, it was very hard because there were no yellows. I don't know why, but the track was very slick tonight and that made it tough to run side-by-side like we usually do here. My guys were unbelievable in the pits, and that's why we won tonight. After I came out in the lead, it turned into a sprint race for the last five laps, and they were the longest five laps of my life! I kept looking in my mirrors and saw the Target cars catching me, but catching me is one thing and passing is another. Anyway, they ran out of time and it's a fantastic win for the team. It's too early to start thinking about the championship, but it certainly puts us in a good position going into the second half of the season."
Robert Clarke (President, Honda Performance Development) on Honda performance in today's race: "It was the fastest race ever here in Texas, run in record temperatures, and the third-fastest race in IRL history and I believe all of that speaks volumes about the performance of the Honda Indy V-8. Our congratulations to Helio [Castroneves] and the entire Marlboro Team Penske organization on another hard-fought victory, and to Dan Wheldon for his strong performance throughout the race."