Championship leader Helio Castroneves has finally claimed his first win of the 2013 season

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 BRA Team Penske 228 1:52:17.4594
2. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport 228 + 4.6919
3. Tony Kanaan BRA KV Racing Technology 228 + 11.6088
4. Ed Carpenter USA Ed Carpenter Racing 228 + 17.6930
5. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport 228 + 19.5078
6. Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing 227 1 lap behind
7. Will Power AUS Team Penske 227 1 lap behind
8. Josef Newgarden USA Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing 227 1 lap behind
9. James Hinchcliffe CAN 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 USA 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 USA Rahal Letterman Lanigan 223 5 laps behind
22. Alex Tagliani CAN Barracuda Racing 223 5 laps behind
Not Classified        
DNF. Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi Racing 61 Mechanical
DNF. Pippa Mann Dale Coyne Racing 2 Mechanical supports a world free of factory farming. Learn more and pledge your support by CLICKING HERE!

Matthew Lennon
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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.