Castroneves gets first IndyCar victory of the season

FORT WORTH, Texas — Helio Castroneves still knows how to climb the frontstretch fence to celebrate a victory at Texas.

And welcome back to Victory Lane, Roger Penske.

Castroneves led the final 132 laps Saturday night for his and Team Penske's first victory this season, and the fourth of the driver's career at the 11/2;-mile, high-banked track.

Still, this race was different from his victories in the past — 2004, 2006 and 2009 — at a track so often known for drivers getting to go flat-out and side-by-side just about every lap. Different setups and tires have changed that.

"Very, very different, nothing like the previous ones," Castroneves said. "Hardly went flat-out. When I took the lead, I was able to go flat-out. Other than that, the entire race was very, very difficult to go flat. ... Setup is a big part of it, and I'm very fortunate to have the great guys in my group."

Former series champion Sam Hornish Jr. was the only other three-time IndyCar winner at Texas. His last came for Penske, who now has eight victories at the track which hosted its 25th IndyCar race.

Castroneves won with an average speed of 177.257 mph and finished 4.7 seconds ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Motorsports. The combined margin of his previous three victories at Texas was 1.0038 seconds.

Hunter-Reay led 35 of 228 laps.

With six other top-10 finishes in the first seven races, Castroneves entered the night tied with Marco Andretti for the season points lead.

Andretti, who led the first 53 laps after starting on the front row, finished fifth. He dropped to second, 22 points behind Castroneves.

Castroneves took the lead from Andretti, going around him in Turn 3 on lap 96, and stayed there for his 28th career victory. He is the seventh driver to win in eight races this season.

"Running like a Swiss watch," Castroneves said. "Everything was smooth."


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