Nobody holds quite the record at Texas as Helio Castroneves. The IndyCar veteran has climbed the fence at the Fort Worth speedway three times before, and this became four today as he crushed the opposition to take his, and Team Penske’s first win of the season today at Texas Motor Speedway.
After some early struggles to get to the front, Castroneves led the majority of the race from the first pit stops onwards and was the only driver able to run on a high line on the circuit nobody else was able to. Watching him pass car after car as he lapped them was a master class in open-wheel speedway racing.
Starting second, Marco Andretti took the lead quickly from Will Power and would have proceeded to open up a gap had the first caution period not come out. Making her return to the series after Indianapolis, Pippa Mann was set to have a big race had she not been felled by a blown engine after only two laps. It was a great shame and hopefully this is not the last we see of her this season.
Upon the restart on Lap 14, Marco resumed where he left off and opened up a gap, holding it until Lap 54 when he made his first scheduled pit stop. After a delay on his first stop caused by a stuck fuel nozzle, he went on a bit of a downhill slide and eventually finished fifth – the last of those on the lead lap.
At the same time as the pit stops were coming to an end, Scott Dixon began to slow on the back-stretch. The Kiwi was just emerging from his own visit to pit lane when his driveshaft broke at pit exit, however he failed to make it back around the circuit and required a tow from the safety crew.
The majority of the race ran under green flag conditions, with the only other incident of the day coming when Oriol Servia – now confirmed as alternating the seat at Panther Racing with Ryan Briscoe for the remainder of the season – spun halfway through Turn 1. Miraculously, the Catalan managed to avoid hitting either the outside or inside wall, and spun in a cloud of tyre smoke, coming to rest in the pit exit, facing the wrong way. After a restart from the safety crew, Servia was on his way again and eventually finished 19th – three laps behind.
From here though, the only thing holding back Castroneves from leading the remainder of the race was the necessity to make his own pit stops. Also running strong all evening was Ryan Hunter-Reay, keeping out of trouble and really pushing, despite having a slightly imbalanced car.
But nobody could touch Castroneves, whose car was running on rails and at one point was maintaining a lead of eight seconds over his nearest rival. So it was then that the three-time Indy 500 winner took the twin chequered flags to claim his first win of the year and to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 22 points, with the ever-consistent Marco Andretti in second place.
Polesitter Power, normally high in the points standings, was in 12th place and 107 points behind his team-mate, meaning it will take a Herculean effort to bring himself back into contention as the series nears its halfway point.
Next weekend, the series heads north once again and to the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin. Always a strong track for the Andretti Autosports team, it will be up to Penske and Castroneves to try to maintain his championship lead.
2013 IndyCar Series Firestone Texas 550 Final Classification (228 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Laps||Result|
|1.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||228||1:52:17.4594|
|2.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||228||+ 4.6919|
|3.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology||228||+ 11.6088|
|4.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||228||+ 17.6930|
|5.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||228||+ 19.5078|
|6.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing||227||1 lap behind|
|7.||Will Power||Team Penske||227||1 lap behind|
|8.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing||227||1 lap behind|
|9.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||227||1 lap behind|
|10.||E.J. Viso||Team Venzuela / Andretti||227||1 lap behind|
|11.||Takuma Sato||AJ Foyt Enterprises||227||1 lap behind|
|12.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||227||1 lap behind|
|13.||Simon Pagenaud||SPH Racing||226||2 laps behind|
|14.||Sebastián Saavedra||Dragon Racing||226||2 laps behind|
|15.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing||226||2 laps behind|
|16.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology||226||2 laps behind|
|17.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||226||2 laps behind|
|18.||Tristan Vautier||SPH Racing||225||3 laps behind|
|19.||Oriol Servià||Panther Racing||225||3 laps behind|
|20.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing||224||4 laps behind|
|21.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||223||5 laps behind|
|22.||Alex Tagliani||Barracuda Racing||223||5 laps behind|
|DNF.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||61||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Pippa Mann||Dale Coyne Racing||2||Mechanical|