Castroneves Starts 2012 Win A Victory In St. Pete

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 25 2012

Helio Castroneves ended a long victory drought Sunday in Florida. (Phillip Abbott LAT Photo USA)

Helio Castroneves passed Scott Dixon for the race lead with 26 laps to go and went on to win the IndyCar Series’ season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday afternoon.

The victory was the 36-year-old Team Penske driver’s first since he won in Japan in 2010.

With the result, Castroneves, who had qualified fifth fastest, gave Chevrolet a victory in its first race back in the series as an engine supplier.

“Last year was a big struggle,” Castroneves, who went winless in a season for the first time in 11 years, said. “This is a dream come true.”

After crossing the finish line, Castroneves stopped his car on the portion of the street course named after the late Dan Wheldon. There he performed his traditional climbing of the fence.

Dixon finished second in a Honda-powered Dallara, over 5 seconds behind.

Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport, powered by a Chevy, was third. James Hinchcliffe, also of Andretti Autosport, was fourth.

Fifth was Ryan Briscoe, Castroneves’ teammate.

Rounding out the top 10 were rookie Simon Pagenaud, pole-sitter Will Power, E.J. Viso, Charlie Kimball and Justin Wilson.

Defending series champion, Dario Franchitti, finished 13th.

Rubens Barrichello, in his first IndyCar Series race after retiring from Formula 1, finished 17th.

Target Team Ganassi’s Dixon and Castroneves were on the same pit schedule and were running in that order respectively when the took their final stops of the day with about 30 laps to go. After the stops, Dixon remained the leader but with Castroneves right behind and with J.R. Hildebrand in the lead.

Castroneves put a move on Dixon on the outside, made it past and quickly blew past Hildebrand. Dixon had a hard time getting past Panther Racing’s Hildebrand and when he finally did, he was 4 seconds behind Castroneves.

“How about that,” Castroneves said of the pass. “I made it stick.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

Results Sunday of the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 1.8-mile St Petersburg Street Circuit, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (5) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevrolet, 100, Running

2. (6) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 100, Running

3. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevrolet, 100, Running

4. (4) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevrolet, 100, Running

5. (2) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevrolet, 100, Running

6. (16) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 100, Running

7. (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevrolet, 100, Running

8. (12) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevrolet, 100, Running

9. (22) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 100, Running

10. (15) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 100, Running

11. (19) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 100, Running

12. (10) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 100, Running

13. (9) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 100, Running

14. (7) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevrolet, 99, Running

15. (17) Alex Tagliani, Dallara Lotus, 99, Running

16. (23) Oriol Servia, Dallara Lotus, 99, Running

17. (13) Rubens Barrichello, Dallara-Chevrolet, 98, Running

18. (24) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevrolet, 98, Running

19. (18) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevrolet, 96, Mechanical

20. (11) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 75, Mechanical

21. (26) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara Lotus, 73, Mechanical

22. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 73, Mechanical

23. (25) Katherine Legge, Dallara Lotus, 59, Mechanical

24. (21) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara Lotus, 22, Mechanical

25. (8) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevrolet, 21, Mechanical

26. (20) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 19, Contact

Race Statistics

Winners average speed: 90.113

Time of Race: 1:59:50.9863

Margin of victory: 5.5292 sec.

Cautions: 3 for 15 laps

Lead changes: 9 among 7 drivers

Lap Leaders: Power 1-11, Briscoe 12-20, Dixon 21-36, Sato 37-46, Franchitti 47, Dixon 48-68, Castroneves 69-70, Sato 71, Hildebrand 72, Castroneves 75 – 100

Point Standings: Castroneves 50, Dixon 42, Hunter-Reay 35, Hinchcliffe 32, Briscoe 30, Pagenaud 28, Power 27, Viso 24, Kimball 22, Wilson 20.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 25 2012
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